|Site of the Marsworth airfield where a Wellington bomber squadron was based|
Now we are in 2019 we both know we have to get on and finish all those things we need to get done before we move to France. The ‘Things to do before we go’ and ‘Things to buy before we go’ lists are getting nice and short now which is good. The trouble is, many of the things left are those in the ‘difficult’ or ‘not much fun to do categories’ – a bit like what used to happen when we worked.
One of these was to program our VHF radio to ATIS mode which is a fancy way of saying make sure it works in mainland Europe. When modern VHF marine radios transmit, an identifier is automatically included; for boats in UK waters the identifier is an MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identifier) number. We already have an MMSI number to identify our boat and now have had to get an ATIS number which is what the rest of Europe uses. These numbers mean the receiving stations know who is calling before any voice contact is made.
Anyway, long story short, I programmed in our ATIS (Automatic Transmitter Identification System) number and the result was that we can only use two channels and both of those are channels that are illegal to use. The VHF radio frequencies have been allocated channel numbers and these are pre-programmed into radios, so operators don’t have to fuss about remember and selecting complicated sequences of numbers. For example, in inland waters of France, most locks and other stations are contacted on channel 10. We now only have channels 15 & 17 available so the radio supplier is trying to find out what has happened.
I’ve mentioned before that Karen and two of our daughters are into knitting and similar crafts like sewing and crochet. Karen was rather pleased with herself on Wednesday as she finished knitting a cushion cover which we both agreed looks really good:
|Newly completed cosy knitting cushion cover|
Back to radios, on Wednesday I completed the first part of the Marine Shortwave Radio course and passed the first theory test which means I can now attend a further theory and practical exam (pre-requisites for travelling in mainland Europe waterways). I will be doing this in February back at Willow Wren in Stockton and, as this is near where Chris & Sue live, will take the opportunity to catch up with them and their puppy, Bracken.
We have registered to receive VNF notices by email; these are the equivalent to the UK notices issued by CRT. They inform recipients of closures and restrictions on the canals and rivers, whether planned maintenance or emergencies such as breaches or fallen trees.
|Our first VNF notice was received on Wednesday|
The notice above is warning boaters of a new sand bank that has appeared on the Rhine and has not been marked by buoys yet. No doubt we will receive another when the marker buoys have been put in place.
Over the last couple of days, we have also been outside and had several walks around the area. On Thursday we walked north across the fields and one of the first sites we came across was the former Marsworth airfield used by a Wellington bomber squadron. You can see from the picture at the top that it is amazingly flat and level.
A bit further on we passed below a hill that has lynchets along the southern side. Unfortunately, they are covered by a wood, so they cannot be seen.
|Lynchets hidden in the wood|
Lynchets were formed in medieval times from constant ploughing across the face of hills and look like terracing. It wasn’t until I was researching them that I found out that the correct term is lynchet – a new word for me. Here is a picture I took from a blog called Landscapism.
|Lynchets in Dyrham, South Gloucestershire|
On Thursday, our morning walk took us around the four reservoirs at Marsworth. These reservoirs were built as feeders to the Grand Union canal. They are great places for walkers, fishermen and bird watchers as well as pleasant places to moor by as we have in the past.
|One of the reservoirs|
Anyway, enough of this blog writing, it's time to get back to those do lists 😅