Monday, 23 March 2015

Our last week in Aylesbury and a trip to Suffolk

On Sunday 15th we were back at Broughton Church for the morning service.  We had a lady called Ruth from Tear Fund, and she spoke about the feeding of the five thousand. She was full of enthusiasm. Because we had another appointment I was not able to share Tear Fund experiences with her.  Several people gave their condolences to Hazel.

Back at the canal basin we were late for Jane and Alex’s cream tea but they were still there so we sat down to enjoy a scone with them.

On the Tuesday we drove to Suffolk where we had a very enjoyable time with Maggie and Clive. 

Part of the reason for the visit was to leave our car there for the summer. We had bought a car cover from Halfords, and we parked the car just inside their gates, disconnected the battery, and arranged this cover, which only just fitted. It was just as well that we had bought a larger size than they had suggested.

James was able to arrange SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) online. For some reason the effective date was fixed by the computer at 1st March, although by then it was 17th March, and we were expecting to make it effective from 1st April. We will return in November and re-tax the car, and drive it back to Aylesbury.

The following day was Clive’s birthday, and we had offered to take them both out for a meal.  Clive chose the Bell at Middleton, a very unspoilt country pub, where we had a very pleasant meal.

 The Bell at Middleton

From there we moved on to Minsmere, where we timed it well to spot a bittern from the Island Mere Hide.  We saw Marsh Harriers as well as a range of ducks and other water birds. Sadly we have never seen a bearded tit although they have been present. A little egret was quite close by, and it was vibrating one of its feet to stir up small creatures from the marsh bed.

Muntjac deer at Minsmere

Little Egret

On the Thursday we loaded all our bags into Clive’s car for the journey to Ipswich to pick up a hire car.  On the way we had time for a light lunch at the pub in Walberswick, which was delightful.

We were due to collect the car from Thrifty Car Hire at 2pm.  We are used to hiring from Enterprise who only need to see a valid driving licence. Thrifty wanted a lot more.  Living on a narrow boat we don’t have utility bills. However, we did have a letter from the Pension service, another from the tax office, plus letters from RCR and CRT (two boating organisations). We also had one from Nationwide bank plus a bus pass and a driving licence.  Thrifty wanted a bank statement from the bank whose card we were going to use. As all our banking arrangements are online we don’t have statements.  We couldn’t get online to access the accounts as we had left some vital information behind on the boat. We offered to pay cash but they wouldn’t accept cash. It was a very stressful 45 minutes, before they agreed to waive their rules as they could see we were genuine customers.  James should have read the small print!

The drive back was uneventful, and we were in plenty of time to see the theatre production of “The curious incident of the dog in the night time”. It was excellent, and the stage management was superb.

On Friday we did a lot of shopping before returning the car, initially to the wrong place – they had moved since our confirmation was produced.  It was strange taking the bus back to the boat, knowing that we were now carless.  Our coal and gas had arrived at the basin, and James put some on the roof pallet in preparation for cruising.

The Saturday was work party day in the canal basin.  Hazel painted the walls in the bar / kitchen area upstairs. James strung a line of marker buoys together, swept out the pump-out cupboard, and helped Hazel with the painting.  In the evening there was a fish and chip supper and a quiz. Our final evening in Aylesbury.

Next week: We start the summer season’s boating by heading up the Grand Union.

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