A Festive Threesome Part 2 - A Confession

Yes, I have something to tell you, something that I need to get off my chest, before you find out some other way. But it’ll keep a bit longer.

Part 2 of the Festive Threesome should have come, appropriately, from our second stop; Cambridge, our home town or at least place of birth. I’m proud to say that although I wouldn’t want to move back. It’s changed a lot over the years, is bigger and busier, but not necessarily better. The classic view of Kings College from the backs is still one to be savoured though.

But no, time has flown by and we are now back in dear old Crystal Palace for the final stop in our trio. We will be here for new year but have made no plans as yet as to where and how to see it in.

Right, time to get you up to date, so here goes.

Thursday 19th, and Tunbridge Wells was the destination of the day for the Blogger in Black and his Portly Partner – that’s Trev by the way. 22 miles or so northwest, the pot holed and crumbling roads making old Jessie's suspension clunk and bang even more than usual. Finding parking proved easy enough and we soon emerged in to the city centre.

Now, We’ve been through Tunbridge Wells a few times, on the way to or back from Cambridge when we’ve had enough of the M25. In fact when we were doing our place up nearly nine years ago we were backwards and forwards from Cambridge to Brighton every week. It seemed an attractive place, and we’d mentioned several times about coming to visit.

Anyway, we strolled down to The Pantiles – possibly Tunbridge Wells most photographed feature and paused for photos. A Georgian colonnade with cafes, restaurants and specialist shops, it was pretty enough but very quiet and not particularly enticing on a cold December morning. I am sure on a summers day or night with the terraces full there would be a great atmosphere but to be honest we were a little disappointed.

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There may have been more to see, but with neither of us having slept particularly well thanks to the raging winds – and before you ask, no I didn't have a curry - we headed back to the town centre for caffeine replenishment before heading back to the site. The Kent countryside is well know for it’s oast houses – used for drying hops and we at last managed to get some pictures of them. A large penny farthing bike mounted by the roadside announced our arrival in the pretty village of Sissinghurst which counts Private Eye editor and Have I got News for You stalwart Ian Hislop as one of it’s residents.

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Back at the site, we were able to use the barbeque for the first time this trip – for some lamb burgers procured in Hythe.

Friday and with more rough weather forecast we decided to up sticks a day early for our journey to Cambridge. The crisp bright morning gave me the chance to grab some photos of the site before we left. Certainly a pretty site in a great location but more geared for better weather.

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The journey up to Cambridge was pretty unremarkable, with mercifully short queues at the Dartford Crossing. We had planned to pull in to the services there and swap over driving but having gone around the roundabout and glanced at the queues we continued round and rejoined the road north. Trev was driving and was happy to continue – and I was happy to let him.

Our home for the next week or so was the Caravan Club site at Cherry Hinton. Some may recall that this was the last stop on our three month British Isles Tour last year. We elected to put the awning up – the big inflatable one had travelled with us – and the light was fading by the time we declared job done.

To  be honest the next few days went by in a bit of a blur – and not entirely due to too much  er, ‘research’ either. Saturday morning we went to see friends up in Bury near Ramsey and had a good catch up fuelled by copious amounts of tea – and surprisingly few biscuits. Lunch time we called in to see Trev’s Mum, aka HRH for the first of many visits. We were to return later on in the day to summon a doctor as a chest infection had taken hold. Not good news at any age but particularly when you’re 88, however antibiotics and HRH’s resilience have done the trick.IMAG1297

We utilised Cambridge's excellent Park and Ride service to do a bit of shopping in the City Centre – or more precisely to change something that Trev had bought in Tunbridge Wells, because it was too erm, small. I wasn’t planning to buy anything but, Trev encouraged me to try on a pair of jeans, which I ended up buying, and it is here that I have to make a confession. They were slim fit of course, more suited for someone 20 years younger, but I’ve never cared about that. No, the things is, they were NOT black. Yes, you read it right. NOT black.

Ok, so now that has sank in, I can tell you that they were grey, which at least is related to black and and are very nice. Trev reckons they really suit me and they were even the chosen attire for Christmas Day Lunch at a pub north of the city, and a WHITE, yes white shirt. I know, standards are slipping everywhere. A black tie, jacket and gloves helped to partially resume normal service, or at least my melanophilic version of it!

More heavy winds bought another sleepless night and questioned our reasoning in putting up the awning. We were up several times during the night, re-pegging and securing the edges with anything heavy. the winds eased around 4am but performed a spectacular encore a short while later with rain, the ferocity of which we’ve never seen before in the ‘van. And Pasty has seem most weathers as regular Nonsense! readers will know. To our relief daylight revealed no damage.

Of course travelling always presents new opportunities for research into my hobby and that research has been quite extensive. Check out my new dedicated ‘Ale Archive’ blog here.

We managed to meet up with another friend for a visit to the cinema and a couple of visits to the pub but due to circumstances our free time was limited and we were unable to catch up with as many people as we would have liked. There will be another time though.

A couple of more opportunities for photographs presented themselves. Great St Mary’s Church, overlooking the market square in Cambridge is always snappable as is the village green in Histon, where I was born.

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So, almost there. We travelled down from Cambridge to Crystal Palace this morning along the M11 and through the Blackwall Tunnel, another journey surprisingly free of traffic. Once sited and with tannin and sugar levels restored to usable levels we walked up to the shopping area for a few bits and bobs and a quick haircut – for me anyway. A quite night in is on the cards for this evening but planning on a walk in the (Crystal Palace) park tomorrow and a meal out (with some accompanying ‘research’) later on.

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