Town Basin, Aylesbury
We went to the Byfleet Boat Club Christmas party. A good meal and a live band, with great company. Also some very silly goings on. This was the final BBC event for us, as one of the conditions of membership is that we must go on the rota for hiring out rowing boats to the public. Whilst we enjoy doing this, and meeting people, we are not prepared to travel from Wales, or the Huddersfield Canal or wherever we are in order to do this. So, sadly, we have had to resign after 16 years. It is all part of moving on.
Byfleet Boat Club Christmas Party
Rather than drive back, we stayed Saturday night at the Queens Head annexe (a private house in Byfleet which we had to ourselves). In the morning we went to Weybridge Methodist Church, where it was good to see lots of our friends.
We also went to the Aylesbury Canal Society Christmas party in the local Wetherspoons pub. This was a little more “normal” than the Byfleet one.
Aylesbury Canal Society Christmas Party
The water in the basin fluctuates a bit, and there has been an old working boat at the entrance, stranded on the silt as the levels have been too low. In the middle of December the levels rose briefly, and two guys arrived to move the boat into the basin. They didn’t start the engine, but instead, they used poles to manoeuvre the vessel through the lift bridge and backwards onto the other side of our pontoon. Our new neighbour is Fulbourne, a “Large Woolwich” town class narrowboat built in 1937 for GUCCCo (Grand Union Canal Carrying Company). The boat is owned by a consortium of enthusiasts, and we have seen it at Little Venice Cavalcade and elsewhere.
Fulbourne arriving to become our neighbour
Our daughter Amanda has just bought a house in Poole, so went to visit her and stay overnight. The house is ideal for her, with a cabin style office and workshop in the garden, where she can set up her kiln for her glassware. She has a lodger who has also moved with her, and this helps with the bills. She also has an accounting job with McCarthy & Stone, who run retirement homes.
On the way back we visited our neighbours in Portmore Quays who were having a drinks party. Sadly our tenants were not there, but it was pleasant catching up with the other residents.
Another weekend we went to the carol service at Rickmansworth, organised by our friend Henry Kingsnorth, on behalf of Boaters Christian Fellowship. We collected BCF friends Tim and Tracey, and guide dog Oakley, from Winkwell, near Hemel Hempstead. The ancient pub near their boat, the Three Horseshoes, had a chimney fire, and all the patrons and staff were being evacuated to the garden and car park. There was a lot of smoke, but no serious damage as far as we could tell.
Three Horseshoes on fire
The well attended carol service was canal side, by Batchworth Lock, and involved a choir and a brass band. An excellent evening, followed by a visit to an Indian restaurant on the way back.
Rickmansworth Carol Service
Another carols event we attended was in the Plough, a pub near us in Aylesbury. Put on by Bourton Community Church, it was a good time to proclaim the reason for Christmas, joyfully and unashamedly, to the pub regulars and staff.
We wanted to hold a carols and folk songs event in the canal society clubhouse, similar to the successful and popular ones we have had at Byfleet Boat Club. We established a date and put up a poster, and started preparing some songs. A few days before the event, we had a visit from one of the committee, who said that we needed to cancel it as very few people were planning to come. Apparently they had seen our Canal Ministries and Boaters Christian Fellowship logos on the boat, and they were afraid of being preached at. Sadly we agreed to cancel it. Maybe next year. As it happened, we both had colds coming on, so would not have been at our best. It transpired later that several people had been planning to come, and they were disappointed that it had been cancelled.
The Sunday before Christmas Bourton Community Church did not hold a service, so we went to Aylesbury Vale Community Church on the outskirts of Aylesbury. They had an enormous birthday cake for Jesus which really highlighted what Christmas is all about. Christmas seems to have been hijacked by Santa Claus and all the materialism.
Happy Birthday Jesus!
Christmas Day itself was a family affair. We collected our son Oliver from Farnborough, followed by Hazel’s dad Arthur from Southampton, and journeyed on to Poole, where Amanda hosted a Christmas meal for everyone. Greg, Jessy, Jasmin and Claudia drove from Leatherhead to join us and they stayed overnight. We drove back to Aylesbury the same day via Southampton and Farnborough. At least there were very few lorries and vans on the roads.
The final few days of the year brought some sharp frosts, and ice on the water.
Sunrise over Aylesbury