Saturday, 20 February 2016

Outings from Aylesbury November and December

The first thing we did when we arrived in Aylesbury in October was to go to Suffolk to spend some time with Maggie and Clive and collect our car which had been parked there under covers for 7 months.

We decided to take the train this time, and it involved several changes.  As was Sunday, the local buses were not running so we took a taxi to the station, then a train to Marylebone, two tube trains to Liverpool Street, then two trains to Saxmundham, changing at Ipswich. We have a lovely ride through the Chilterns with the autumn colours at their best. Very exciting for us boaties.  Maggie and Clive met us at the station, and we stayed two nights with them.

 Children on a train journey

The next day the car started first time, and we had a pleasant pub lunch at a country hostelry and a bit of sightseeing, including seeing Framlingham Castle from a viewpoint on a road we have never been down before.
 Clive, Maggie, Hazel

Framlingham Castle

In the evening we went to see the starling murmuration at Minsmere.  Hazel and Clive decided not to bother at it was forecast foggy, but Maggie at James went birdwatching in the gloom. Trying to see starlings in the fog was a challenge, and sometimes we could hear them just out of sight in the murky half-light. At one point they all landed just in front of us and we could hear their excited twittering in the reeds.  I am pleased to say there were a few other people out doing the same thing, so we are not completely isolated with our eccentric ideas. The evening was far more memorable than watching telly.
Minsmere fog

Starling murmuration

A few days later, our good friends Nick and Jan were over from Australia, and we met up at Basildon Park, along with Sue, whom we haven’t seen for decades. It was great to catch up.  We looked round the house, and explored the grounds, where we found an intriguing “Hazel Hideout”.  We also found a poem which is useful for anyone with a log burning fire.

Hazel Hideout

Logs poem

Hazel, Sue, Nick, Jan at Basildon Park

Other outings included visits to the Tring reservoirs and the canal near Marsworth. There is plenty to see and do in the area.

Marsworth reservoir in November

Startops End reservoir

Canalside cottage at Marsworth

Moss on the stones at the canal edge

2016 outings in due course

Monday, 8 February 2016

Aylesbury: life in the canal basin

Here we are moored once again for the winter in the Aylesbury Canal Society basin. We arrived at the end of October and for a few days we had a temporary mooring in front of the club house. Now we are stern on to the quayside, with a purpose built ramp for ease of access (Thank you Ray).  This means that Hugo can get off when he wants, and there are a few bushes around for him.

Temporary mooring position

Final winter mooring position

The arrow points to us

It also means that we are near an electricity point, so we have plugged in. No running of the engine to charge the batteries, and our immersion heater gives us plenty of hot water.  We have run a hose across the bows of the three adjacent boats to connect the nearest water tap to our filling point, and we need to fill the tank about once a week.

Our Squirrel stove is on continually, and this warms the boat quite sufficiently for most weather.  We have a small electric convector heater which we switch on occasionally in the bedroom in the bows when we feel a draught.  Coal is delivered to the canal basin on Wednesdays, and, as long we remember to order it, this is reliable.  There is an assortment of wheelbarrows to use to bring the heavy bags to the boat. There is also somewhere to leave the bags until we need them.  We can also order gas the same way. We find we are using less gas, because we always have a kettle on the Squirrel stove, so we don’t have to boil water from cold.

Diesel this year is 52p per litre. This is frustratingly cheap, as we are not using any! We filled up the tank at the beginning of November, and won’t need any more until after we set off and we reach some good value boatyards in mid April near Weedon on our way north.

There are washing machines and driers as part of the facilities for moorers so we are not using our own washing machine. We want to keep the water clear in the marina.

We don’t have a boat on our port side, and we can look out across the water to the sterns and bows of other boats on pontoons facing us. We have a ringside seat on Mondays when boats go in and out of the dry dock, being towed up the ramp on a winch. Sometimes they move from there to the wet dock, where they get beautifully painted by a couple called Andy and Sue.
A boat lining up for the dry dock

Recently we saw a kingfisher using the tiller of one of the boats opposite as a fishing point. He was there for an hour. There are lots of small fish which tend to hide under the boats. The next day there was ice on the surface so presumably he went to find somewhere else.

Ice on the water
Frozen moorings

We also had a good view of an incident on the road, when a horse box caught fire.  Fortunately the horses were led to a nearby field, and no-one was hurt.  The fire brigade were prompt in their actions, but road surface was ruined and had to be repaired.  See

The horse-box fire

There are about a dozen occupied boats here so there is always someone to talk to. The ages range from a week old baby with the couple on the next boat to a lady of 101 on a boat with her 97 year old husband.

There is a licenced bar, which we open informally on Friday evenings, and they stock some decent cider after some gentle hinting.  The first lot was a 35 pint bag-in-a-box which somehow got punctured and had a leak. The cardboard box became soggy, so we put the bag in a bucket, and took the cider from there. The bag still leaked, so there was cider both outside and inside the bag.  We managed to get about twenty pints out before the cider started to taste peculiar.  We now use 3 litre cider boxes which are probably slightly more expensive, but they are more manageable.  We both take a turn in running the bar.

The clubhouse

We have our car, which we stored in Suffolk for the summer, at James’ sister’s house. It is very handy while we are staying in one place.  We don’t need it when we are cruising.  It has only let us down once, when we left the internal light on for two days.  We borrowed a battery charger and it was fine.
Sunrise over the moorings

We are here until the end of March.  We plan to leave on Easter Monday, heading north for the Huddersfield Canal.  We hope to be back at the end of October for our third winter.  We have registered with doctors and dentists within walking distance.

Lot’s more to say, particularly about the church here in Aylesbury, and the folk music scene locally, and a few outings and visits we have made.  These will follow in due course.