Sunday, 27 March 2016

Suffolk plus Easter in Aylesbury

Tue 21st Mar  By car to Suffolk

Our first stop was in Northampton to see our solicitor and to sign a few papers. James’ father was a solicitor and taught James never to sign anything without reading it first.  However, there were many pages of paragraphs, clauses and sections, but signatures required in just three places, so we signed and took away some paperwork to read through later.

Our satnav helped us get out of Northampton and we were soon on our way to Maggie and Clive’s place in Carlton near Saxmundham in Suffolk. We had a glorious day for travelling, and a relaxing evening with them.

Wed 22nd Mar  Suffolk

We had a look at our post which is sent to their address, and we took them out to lunch at the White Horse at Badingham. This had recently changed hands and the food, atmosphere and prices were all agreeable.

Maggie and Clive outside the White Horse at Badingham.

We then visited the most interesting Badingham Church of St John the Baptist. The ornate porch and the huge font both date back to the 1480s. There is also an unusual hammer beam roof with angels.

The church at Badingham

Then a brief journey to Sibton to see some family graves – James’ grandparents on his mother’s (McDougall) side, and his aunt Mog and Uncle John. Grandfather Rory McDougall used to be the rector here.

The graves at Sibton

Back to Carlton to put the car to bed for seven months, under a tarpaulin, with battery disconnected.

Under wraps

Then we watched some old video from the last century, showing us in our more athletic days, when Maggie and Clive had a sailing yacht and took it through the French Canals. There was a brief glimpse of Chris Coburn on his narrowboat Progress, returning from Dunkerque with the little ships.

Thu 23rd Mar  Suffolk to Aylesbury by train

Looking out of the window in the morning we were delighted to see a Brambling, a bird a bit like a chaffinch. We had never seen one before.  The daffodils were out in all their spring glory.


The house and moat

Maggie kindly gave us a lift to the station, where we boarded our train to Ipswich, and then to Liverpool Street, Marylebone and Aylesbury.

Out with the bus passes to return to the boat where we lit a fire, and said hello to Hugo.

In the evening we went to the first of several events connected with Easter. This was a meal to commemorate the last supper, and relate it to the Passover event in Egypt. It was very good, particularly so as we were in an upper room.  We missed this last year as Easter was later, and we had left by then.

The last supper commemoration

Fri 24th Mar  Good Friday in Aylesbury

We walked round to the church cafe, More+, where we had agreed to meet Phil and Anne for a farewell chat. A lovely atmosphere once again.  

Later, as it was a beautiful day, we moved the boat onto the fuel pontoon, where James loaded four coal bags onto the pallet on the roof. This would have been a difficult job from the stern.  There was one more, which we put in the bows.  The current one in use is in the stern, and we anticipate we will finish it before we set off.

A beautiful sunny day

Lots of people were cleaning their boats and doing some maintenance in preparation for spring. Barry and Mary on Hartwell left for the summer. We would probably have done the same if we weren’t concerned about missing Easter Sunday at the church.  Sadly, the forecast for Monday is not as good as we had hoped, with a lot of rain. We will monitor the situation.

Hartwell sets off up the canal

Later we walked once again to More+ where people were gathering for fish and chips, and a contemplation of Good Friday.  There was a cross where we could exchange our red pieces of wool for white ones, where our sin had been washed clean by what Jesus did for us.

The Good Friday Cross

The forecast for Monday became worse, with strong winds as well as rain. Malcolm and Julia were in the cafe, and we agreed to talk again on Sunday.

Back to the Canal Basin, where the bar was open so we joined the group of boaters there.

On the news later, our Monday storm had been given a name: Katie. 

Sat 25th Mar   Aylesbury

We had a leisurely morning and then went to the site office for our development. We were kitted out in high viz jackets, hard hats, and steel toed boots, and given a grand tour of the apartment block. We were pleased to see that the door to the second bedroom was in the position originally shown on the plan, instead of halfway along one wall as we thought it would have to be.

Hard Hats

 The view of the park and canal from the balcony

The view of the apartments from the park

We also sent an email to our solicitors with a few queries about some of the clauses in the contract.

The people on Jake, the boat next door, arrived with various items to stow, and announced that were leaving today.  A strong wind and heavy rain later caused them to change their minds.

We discovered that Simon and Pat from Daedalus were around for one night, so we invited them for drinks on Gabriel. It was good to catch up with them, as we thought we would be gone before they came back. They are going to the K&A and then the Fens, so we are unlikely to coincide until we meet again back in Aylesbury in November.

Sun 27th Mar   Easter Sunday!  He is risen!

The clocks changed so we lost an hour somewhere.  Up early for band practice at 9am.  We had seven in the worship band, but only three monitor speakers, so it was hard to hear what we were doing. However, we made a joyful sound with some great Easter songs.  A shared breakfast at 10am started the service, which included a time of communion. It was a wonderful time of celebration. They also had us both up at the front to talk about our plans for the summer, and to pray for us.

The weather forecast now shows rain on Easter Monday morning until about lunchtime, and then fine after that, so we arranged to meet Julia and Malcolm tomorrow at 1pm on Gabriel for our trip to Marsworth

In the afternoon Aylesbury Canal Society held an Easter Egg hunt, so were pottered around the basin in beautiful sunshine.  We then had tea and cakes, and more cakes and puddings. It was more or less our farewell to the boaters.

Spoils from the Easter Egg Hunt



There was a lot of rain around and we had a wonderful Easter Rainbow for our final afternoon. It then started raining very hard. Katie has arrived.

Easter Rainbow

Gabriel ready to go (mostly)

Plans for next week: a cruise via Leighton Buzzard to Milton Keynes

Monday, 21 March 2016

A busy week of changed plans in Aylesbury

Mon 14th March – returned back from France.  Found our car OK in the car park at Stansted, restocked in Tesco, and drove back to Aylesbury.  In the evening we went to Chesham Folk Club for their singers night.  As it was to be our last time until November, they made us sing two songs instead of one each time, and then we finished off the evening. We sang Antiques, Rochdale Nine, Push Boys Push, Jericho, Low Bridge, Leaving of Liverpool.

Tue 15th – We had two appointments: James saw the physio, and Hazel had an asthma clinic. In the evening we were singing at the Queens Head in Wing: Antiques, from Clare to here, Chickens, and Rythm of the rain.

Wed 16th: Hazel went for coffee with Annette, the lady from the next boat who has recently had a baby. It was too cold and windy for painting the front deck as planned, so James caught up with the blog instead. In the evening we both went to Jack’s house for a church band practice.

Thu 16th: Life group at Eric and Norma’s – the last one for us in this house, as they are moving into an apartment near ours in a few months time.

Fri 17th: day off. No appointments but Dave and Caryl Ingoldby rang up and said they would come to visit today. A lot of coal moving, cassette emptying, vacuuming, and cooking then took place. Then they phoned to say they had broken down near the M25 junction with the A42. They ended up being towed back to Chertsey.  James tried to book the Half Moon at Wilstone for Sunday lunch with Adline and Barry, but they were full, so booked the Anglers Retreat at Marsworth instead.  Booked an appointment with the solicitors in Northampton for Monday afternoon to sign some papers relating to the apartment.

Sat 18th: Hazel’s nephew Adam brought partner Dan for lunch on board. Good to catch up with them. Then we went to More+ cafe for St Patricks Day supper. We finished off the evening with five Irish songs: Molly Malone, Clare to here, Athenry, Whiskey in the jar, Wild Rover
Adam and Dan

More+ Cafe

Sun 19th: up early as James was in the worship band – practice and sound check at 9am for  Palm Sunday service at 1030am. Got a message from Barry to say that Adline had a migraine and they couldn’t come.  Cancelled the reservation at the Anglers. Got a message from Dave and Caryl to say they would try again on Monday to visit us. Sent an email to the solicitors to move our appointment to Tuesday morning, on our way to Suffolk. Went to the Half Moon at Wilstone in the evening for a singaround. Athenry, Clare to here, Red Velvet Steering Wheel, All my trials.  Booked for lunch the next day with Dave and Caryl

Mon 20th: Hazel went to the dentist for some attention on her final wisdom tooth. James found a place to get his hair cut. Had a message from Dave and Caryl to say she had gone down with a bad cold, so would have to postpone their visit once again.  Instead of cancelling the lunch booking, we rang Eric and Norma and took them to lunch. We found that the pub had booked us for the wrong Monday, but there was still a place for us. It was a very nice meal. James had game pie, with rabbit, venison and pheasant – excellent!

Got a call in the afternoon to say that we can see inside the apartment at the weekend. Booked it for Saturday morning.

Tomorrow we go Suffolk (via Northampton) to see Maggie and Clive and to drop off our car for seven months. We return by train on Thursday for Easter celebrations before boating begins on Easter Monday

We are buying an apartment

When we arrived in Aylesbury in November 2014, there was some building work going on, with some new houses being constructed, overlooking the canal basin.

Building work in progress November 2014

When we returned in November 2015, the houses had been finished, and the adjacent block was being built as apartments. We havebeen looking for a canalside property for a year or two, and this was too good an opportunity to miss. We have put down a deposit on a second floor two-bedroom apartment, with a balcony overlooking the canal, but not the basin.

December 2016 – apartments under scaffolding

January 2016 - Ice in the basin

The plan is to let it unfurnished initially, and then eventually move into it when our live-aboard boating days are done.  Completion date is going to be in August, so we will need to hire a car and come back from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to take possession, and ensure things like curtain poles, mirrors and door stops are in place, and to leave keys with a letting agent.

February 2016, looking from the south

In the photo above, the large blue plastic sheet marks our balcony. On the other side of the canal there is a park, so we won’t be overlooking other houses.

Feb 2016 the view from the park

Hopefully, soon we will be able to show some interior pictures, when we are allowed in.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Our visit to the Dordogne

We flew with Ryanair from Stansted to Limoges, and the flight was on time and straightforward. We had booked an Opel Corsa hire car, but we were upgraded to a diesel Renault Kangoo, which was very satisfactory, booked through Easycar, at half the price of the Ryanair offering.

Ryanair at Stansted

Our visit to France was to spend some time with Phil and Cyndi and see what they have been doing with their property near Jumilhac-le-Grand.  They have a cottage which is now a gite, sleeping five, as well as a barn which has been divided into two.  They live in one part, and the other is a second gite, sleeping six.  Both the gites have swimming pools, essential in the summer.

The fitout is superb, with comfortable beds and a spacious layout, and we really enjoyed our time there.  We didn’t take any photos of the accommodation, but the website is

Phil and Cyndi

We did a lot of sightseeing and took over 200 photos, but we are going to limit this to a selection of around 30.

We paused at Jumilhac-le-Grand for a chateau photo. It is quite an impressive pile, but was not open to the public until later in the season.

Jumilhac-le-Grand Chateau

We went on to Brantome, being re-routed via Nontron because of a car rally which closed some of the roads. Brantome is surrounded by water, being on an island on the river Donne. There is a large old abbey and an ancient bridge over the river by a weir. There is a hotel on the site of an old mill which looks lovely. We noticed at lot of trees everywhere that had been severely pruned back. Apparently they do this every two years.

Brantome Abbey and bridge

Brantome hotel by the water

Pruned trees

After lunch in Brantome we drove on to Bordeilles, passing some strange rock formations, cut into shape by a river in ages past.

Rock formations

At Bordeilles we visited the chateau area where there is a medieval fortress and a renaissance chateau. The views from the top of the tower were excellent.

Bordeilles fortress

Red roofs at Bordeilles

The renaissance chateau

The weir and mill at Bordeilles

On the way back we visited the small village of St Jean de Cole where there is a chateau and an old church. We found that all the churches were open for visitors to look round.

 St Jean de Cole chateau

St Jean de Cole church

On another day we visited Perigeux where there is an amazing church with several domes.

The church in Perigeux

We also explored a supermarket where there was a wonderful selection of cheeses. No cheddar or Stilton, though.  It is odd that French cheeses are available in Britain, even though there aren’t many French people, but in France, which seems to be full of British ex-pats, you can’t find English cheeses.

Cheese display

Later on in the week we had a challenging day as we visited Oradour-sur-Glane, where, on 10th June 1944, six days after D-day, Nazi troops rounded up all the inhabitants of the village and executed them. The men were taken to various barns around the village and machine-gunned, and the bodies were covered in hay and set alight.  The women and children were locked in the church which was put on fire. 642 people died that day, and the burnt-out village has been set apart as a memorial to the victims and as a warning about the consequences of war. There are old cars, bicycles, sewing machines and beds still visible among the ruins. It was a sobering experience to wander round the empty shops and houses and then visit the cemetery afterwards.

Oradour car

Oradour sewing machine

Oradour melted church bell

Oradour tram station

Oradour cars

Here are some of the other sights and places we experienced:

Puyguilhem Chateau


St Yrieix

Segur – old buildings

Segur – the chateau

Segur – the river


Hautefort Chateau

Hautefort formal gardens

Hautefort servants tunnels

Tourtoirac Cave

Classic cars at Toutoirac

There was a lot to see and do, and we look forward to returning some day to fill in some gaps.

We now have just over a week before we set off boating again.