Friday, 11 July 2008

TBH 871
Ducks, geese, swans, coots and moorhens are our constant companions as we cruise around the English canals. They all have their own peculiarities however: ducks quack all night and wake us up at 4 am by nibbling the weed which attaches itself to the boat below the water line. When we get up, they are fast asleep on the bank, heads tucked away to avoid our angry looks; swans attack the boat when we venture near their nest; Canada geese only appear in multiples of 50; coots are likely to nest in a bush so that if the young do not get the hang of flying on their first attempt they end up in the drink; and moorhens appear to be poor parents, often leaving their young with unhatched eggs whilst they go out on the town. One characteristic all these birds share is that they know boats dispense bread. If a duck glimpses a human face or limb the boat is surrounds by birds of all kinds within minutes. Except on the Coventry canal arm. Whenever we threw food out here the birds flinched and moved away. Whey are the water-birds of Coventry scared of flying food?
It is over 20 years since we have been to Coventry by canal and generally the environment is cleaner and tidier. The canal basin is certainly much smarter. The ring road which runs around the city appears to be effective as we encountered very little traffic as we walked around the city centre. The bus station is well designed and functioned efficiently when we used it and the Transport Museum has been renovated. We visited this late one afternoon but had missed the guided walks which they offer at weekends. As we expected visitors for tea the next day and Margaret had a cake and scones to bake we decided to return the next morning and catch the one o'clock tour. One of the staff we had been chatting to caught up with us later and said they would run a tour at noon for us so that we would not have to hurry the baking. Now that is customer service. For fairly obvious reasons the museum majors on road transport and has many features for the younger visitor. I was particularly interested in the locally manufactured cars. Despite its rather staid name, Standard was quite innovative. As a child, our first car was a 1954 Standard Vanguard Phase II. Black of course. The gear change was on the steering column and it had a pair of reversing lights. There are cars around today which do not have even one reversing light.

This picture is actually of the the rare DIESEL version but the bodywork was identical.

As you may have worked out by now, the registration number of our Standard Vanguard was TBH 871. When there was fun in collecting car numbers ie: there was time to write one down before the next car passed, we used to know which counties were denoted by most of the letter groups. Bucks, where we lived, first used BH and when these were exhausted they adopted KX. Both of these seemed appropriate to me. Why they went on to use PP I could not understand.

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