Sunday, 3 February 2019

Aylesbury (Brexit and the Post Office farce)

Apart from a brief thaw on Friday, when some areas of ice disappeared, the cut has been frozen over since the last update.  We had some snow at the end of last week but only two or three inches so Aylesbury didn’t grind to a halt.  We did go over to Wendover to clear Ann’s driveway and put salt on the road outside her house; she has a slope to negotiate to get onto the main road so Karen wanted to be sure it was safe for her.

Ducks, gulls and geese happy to be standing on the ice in Aylesbury basin
Although I said we had bought everything boat-wise for France we decided to get new sack barrow wheels.  Our current tyres are pneumatic and therefore prone to punctures.  We will probably be using the barrow more often over there as fuel points are few and far between so boaters often have to get their fuel from the local garages and this means wheeling the jerrycans to and fro.  I ordered some spare wheels with solid rubber tyres so that we are not stymied by an unexpected puncture.

We haven’t completed the list of non-boaty things yet and on Friday I popped into the Post Office to get our International Driving Permits (IDP). For those of you who have arranged your own IDPs you will know that it’s a fairly simple process.  Not so over the last few months with the uncertainties over Brexit.  It seems that every few weeks, the Government issues new procedures for the PO staff.  A job that should have taken five minutes at most for one person ended up taking two of them over half an hour.

First of all, they couldn’t find the latest process update.  A call to another branch ended up in them finding a new process had been received that morning but they hadn’t even opened the package!  It then took them about five minutes to read through the changes but there seemed to be so much panic that they were just skipping through the paragraphs with glazed expressions.

An IDP with the all-important words, ‘Convention of Road Traffic of 8 November 1968’
One of the girls started completing mine while the other girl carried on serving other customers.  My server ended up being talked through the process on the telephone by a staff member from yet another branch.  I won’t go into details of all the farcical things that ensued but she ended up with indelible ink all over her hands and my IDP; she used a glue stick to attach the photograph because they had run out of glue and there were countless other things.  Several times I wanted to put her out of her misery and say that I would go elsewhere but for some reason I wanted to see how it all unfolded.

When she handed me my document the first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t the correct one for most European countries!  She had used a permit that was only valid for driving in Brazil, Iraq and Somalia – those countries only recognise the Road Traffic convention of 1926.  The rest of the world are split between 1949 (The Geneva convention) and the one we needed, 1968.

So the process started again which was just as well as there was ink everywhere and you could hardly see my face in the photograph. I also noticed that the main five things that have to be copied from my passport and UK driving licence were incorrect.  E.g. instead of my name she had written the classes of vehicles I could drive, instead of my address she had written my date of birth.  The trouble was that the description for each item was in French and she was guessing at what each meant.

The French descriptions alongside the (finally) correct details
So, she started again with me helping her whilst the other girl did Karen’s in parallel.  As I said it took over thirty minutes for what should be a simple task but at least we got them in the end.

Also, it means our job list is easily manageable over the remaining few weeks.  I have included the main items here, so I have something electronic to refer to 😀
  • Get a green card
  • Buy Eurotunnel ticket
  • Pass VHF radio exam
  • Pick up ropes and fenders from Braunston
  • Arrange insurance for the period boat is in transit
  • Put SSR (Small Ships Register) number on side of boat
  • Inform insurance company that boat is now in France
  • Buy a VNF licence (the boat licence for France).  No need to get a refund in the UK one as it runs out at the end of March
  • Get French SIM card for boat internet
  • Get French mobile phone
  • Arrange for somewhere to stay in Migennes whist waiting for the boat to arrive
  • Make sure Buddy passes his second titre test
The last one could be a stumbling block.  He gets his next test done tomorrow and if he fails that then it's back to the drawing board.  The chance are that he won't as he had another rabies jab before the test to help improve the chances of passing.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I have fixed the leaks in the sea valve outlet for the black water so that's another tick on the job list.

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