Saturday, 19 February 2011

Spring is Springing!

It only seems a few days ago that I woke up each morning and could see my breath. It seems like yesterday that I would trudge along a snowy towpath along the canal to the boat, which was frozen in the canal. What a difference a few weeks make in this little country!

After having been moored for the past few weeks on the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal, we decided earlier this week to move on.

The Aylesbury Arm is much under-rated to my mind - sure, it's a bit shallow (though we heard from a British Waterways Mainenance man working on one of the locks that it will be dredged this summer), and sure, mooring is a bit tricky - but....

The Aylesbury Arm goes from Marsworth to Aylesbury, and passes through the lovely village of Wilstone - home of a great little village shop and the pub where the last witch trial in England was held! It is scenic, and very quiet - both things I like!

After leaving The Aylesbury Arm getting our monthly pump out of ...well - you know... we headed up the Grand Union and decided to try the Wendover Arm. This little arm of the canal has recently been restored, and we'd heard it was pretty. It was pretty, but it is also short - and mooring was hard - we only stayed one night.

We are now near Tring Station in the Tring Cut - a huge ravine where the canal passes through some of the Chiltern Hills. Though signal is bad, it's convenient, as a train station is only a few minutes walk away, and parking is easy.

So, we're hanging in there, and glad for the good weather.

Oh, and to make my Canadian friends jealous - the picture is of a Primrose and some snow-drops. Taken this week. Can YOU see snow? No. I thought not. No more complaining about English weather!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Where I grew up, most buildings that were over 100 years old had a little plaque on them saying so. If the building was 200 years old, it was probably a museum.

When I first came to the UK, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of physical history that surrounded me. Walking down the same streets in London as Samuel Pepys, going into the castle where Anne Boleyn grew up - it was fascinating.

After having lived here for a few years, though, my attitude changed slightly. So much history all around meant I started to tune it out a bit - when everything is historical then historical things are a little less special. When I lived in Canada, I loved looking at Victorian architechture. In the UK, there is SOOOO much Victorian architechture! Besides, Victorian- that's, what, like only 150 years old? Psssh! Brand new by English standards.

Still, though, from time to time, something bowls me over and reminds me of the sheer wealth of history in this little island and makes me appreciate it a bit more.

On Tuesday, to celebrate Drew's birthday, we went for a drive through Oxfordshire. We visited a few churches, as we often do, and one of them - St. Andrew's, Great Rollright, featured the door carvings in the picture.

The zig zag pattern is Norman.... people have been worshipping in this building for probably over 800 years - 800 YEARS! - and people still do.

It's a bit humbling to come across someting like that Norman Doorway- yet to the congregation of that church, it's just the door to their church. Seeing it gave me goosebumps - and reminded me of that feeling of excitement I first had when I came to this old country almost 12 years ago.

Oh, and next time you visit a church - Norman, Victorian, or anywhere inbetween, pop a few quid into the collection box at the back - it's not about supporting "the church" - it's to help make sure those buildings will still be there in 800 years time.