Thursday, 31 January 2019

Aylesbury (only two months to go)

If you remember we rushed back down the Aylesbury arm last week so we could moor in the basin while the predicted cold spell passed.  If we’re going to get iced in for a while, then it’s sensible to be somewhere near services and not stuck out in the country.  As it happened, the big freeze hasn't arrived yet and for the last week there has just been the odd smattering of snow and the cut frozen over some mornings but nothing serious.

Walking back up the Aylesbury arm with a pathetic layer of snow and some ice on the water
The main focus for the next few weeks is to catch up with friends and family before we disappear to France.  Of course, we also have to keep on top of the ‘do lists’ for getting ready for France and, possibly the most important, is having a day a week tracking down VR boxes. 

This has become more important as my son, Steve, is heading the family leader board at present and Karen and I need to get our respective scores well ahead before being in a country that doesn’t have Victorian post boxes, or indeed post boxes depicting any British monarch.

Matthew, Karen’s eldest has been on holiday in Argentina and Patagonia since the new year and surprised us all by sending a picture of a Victorian pillar box from Buenos Aires.  It was only after investigation I found that the Brits owned the Argentinian postal service from 1880 to 1946!

We spent a lot of last Friday scouring the villages around Hemel Hempstead and both found a few new boxes.

A particularly pretty box that Karen spotted in Great Gaddesdon (made by Smith & Hawkes in Birmingham between 1856 and 1871)
We were feeling confident that with a few more trips we would get well ahead of the game but on Saturday Steve uncovered six unrecorded pillar boxes in Hove and Brighton.  Those towns are ideal as they have a great many Victorian villas which seemed to have a high proportion of boxes compared with the population.  This is what we have also found in spa towns like Harrogate and Ilkley.

Saturday morning in the basin – still moored outside Waitrose
Catherine and Ann came to visit on Saturday and they and Karen popped over to the cinema to see the new Mary Poppins film.  I took the opportunity to get the valve sorted out on the poo tank. 

Karen always finds it better to be out of the way when I’m doing jobs due to the (apparently) large amount of swearing that goes on.  I managed to fix the problems but then uncovered a leak which I decided to worry about another day.  Don’t worry, the leak only happened when the valve was on the ‘sea’ setting which we are not allowed to use in anger on the canals over here, so it was only water from the cut.  Also, when I’ve been testing the whole thing it has all been with canal water.

Ann’s eldest daughter with her eldest daughter before their trip to the cinema
Colin & Liz popped around on Sunday morning for a cuppa and Colin did the final measuring for some more shelves he is building and installing for us.  Liz had two boat trips booked for the day and they disappeared just before lunch to take the first party.

Trip boat leaving for its first trip of the day on Sunday
Our plan for Monday was to wash the outside of the boat; a job we never relish doing in the winter.  But, as we are moored right by a water point, it’s an obvious thing to get done without having to cruise anywhere.  We were going to start with the roof and had just started taking things off and stacking them on the quayside when Judith & Nigel turned up. 

To be honest we were really pleased as it meant we could put everything back and invite them inside – the boat cleaning could wait until another day.

Later on, on Monday, Alison came over; she is Karen’s oldest friend as in longest standing.  We had a lot to catch up on and stayed in all afternoon and evening without even venturing to the pub although we made sure we had plenty to drink on board of course.

We went for a walk with Ali on Tuesday morning before she left and, after lunch, went for a good walk with Nigel.  We visited the sites of the medieval villages of Quarrendon that Nigel and I went to see last December but Karen missed out on as it was when Buddy wasn’t well.

Tuesday morning - Ali seemed to survive her first stay on a narrow boat
We drove over to Wendover on Wednesday to meet up with Miranda, one of my oldest friends as in longest standing.  Coincidently her mother lives in the town as does Karen’s mum and Miranda comes up once or twice a week to care for her.  Another coincidence is that Karen and Miranda both went to secondary schools in Wintney in Oxfordshire but neither they nor their parents knew each other then.

Later in the afternoon we finally got to the end of the boat related things we have to buy for France: a continental to UK adapter for shoreline hook-ups.  We’ve ummed and aahed about getting one as we have only used an electric hook-up once in the UK, at the end of the Llangollen canal in North Wales.  From what we have heard, and seen when looking around France last summer, many towns have them available at their moorings, so we decided to get one.

It’s frozen hard this morning (Thursday) and all the water fowl are standing on the ice.  Karen just remarked that they must all get well fed by the public as they never come up to our hatch for food like they would do anywhere else we have moored in the country. 

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