London February 2019 - Part 1

Imaginative title eh? The recent half term break – a week early for us – saw me, once again, drag Patsy up the A23 to Crystal Palace. Yes, it was only October when I was there last but with the threat of closure hanging over the site I wanted to make the most of it. So how did it go?

I had originally planned to go up on the Saturday – not the best day to be on the Purley Way particularly if aiming for a midday arrival – but then with some caravanning pals coming to Brighton for a few days, I wanted to catch up with them; so decided instead to go the Sunday which is normally a bit quieter traffic wise. Yeah, right.

I'd done very little in the way of preparation but was over at the storage yard in good time Sunday morning to load Patsy up and complete the pre-flight checks – conscious of how much longer it takes with just one. I am getting a bit more organised and a bit slicker but even so I still left fifteen minutes later than planned, though once again successfully navigated the tight right hand turn in one go, helped in no small part by both of Patsy's neighbours being absent and getting much more a swing out as a result.

I didn't spare the horses once on the open road, keen to try and get there as soon as possible, even cycling the dashboard display so I didn't have the MPG reading glaring at me. Rosie seemed happy enough and Patsy is a bit lighter these days. Decent progress was soon halted once inside the M25 and for most of the rest of the time on the A23, I barely made it out of second gear. The section known as the Purley Way being particularly miserable thanks to the lure of the retail parks on a very wet Sunday. There were too, in greater numbers than usual, those that just had to get in front of that pesky caravan no matter what and I had to stamp on the brakes more than once, the middle finger getting plenty of air soon after.

So, I was pretty relieved when I finally arrived and even more so after I'd darted quickly into Patsy to relieve my aching bladder before heading to reception to check in.

Pitch 27 was to be Patsy's home for the next few days and thanks to space opposite it was a nice easy reverse with no levelling ramp needed. I did engage the services of the motor mover for the final approach but was quite happy with my efforts. Set up was swift and Her Ladyship was soon warming through nicely though it was clear that the pot holed South London roads had undone my good work – as well as a few screws - in quietening the heater fan down.

I'd brought some of my prepared meals from home and devoured one of those before setting up the telly for the first time in ages. Proximity to what is – or certainly was - one of the most powerful transmitters in the country meant I didn't have to raise the aerial, much less fiddle about with the signal strength meter and was soon watching England demolish France in the Six Nations.

Having dinner for lunch meant there was a vacancy for later so, after the rugby had finished, I took a wander up to the Crystal Palace 'triangle' - about a 10 minute walk away – to procure some supplies – namely snacks and some er, 'research' samples.

I don't know what overcame me but the bag suddenly became remarkably heavy shortly after I left the shop and I can only assume I'd picked up a bug of some sort as extreme thirst followed almost immediately. Fortunately my malaise had brought me to a halt right outside an establishment ideally suited for remedying of such complaints and when I emerged half an hour or so later I felt much better....

Anyway, I was soon back in Patsy who was now lovely and toasty. The telly was on, a beer and snacks were to hand and my ‘boy’s were keeping me company – that’s Teddy, Hamish and Dipsy in case you were wondering who I’d brought home. I was back in my little home from home and about as content as could be, considering. It was good to be back.

Monday morning brought with it the promise of some sunshine and with temperatures set to climb a bit it was looking like a good week for some sightseeing. First on the list was Little Venice, an area I’d heard a bit about – it was supposed to be pretty and photogenic and so clearly deserving of my attention.

Well, I got there. Eventually. It was a bit of a tortuous journey involving three buses and a massive snarl up in Brixton which caused quite a wait for the second. It didn’t really matter though – my time was my own and whilst I could have get there more quickly – and more expensively – on the underground at least there’s something to look at from the bus. On the tube the only view you get is of people studying their phones and trying desperately to avoid eye contact with another human.

It was a short walk from the bus stop at Warwick Avenue, but soon paused at Rembrandt Gardens to unleash the DSLR and neck some coffee from the flask. Yes, I was in full on economy mode, at least until later. I even helped a young lady with some selfies involving a handbag – after she’d eyed me warily and decided that the weird looking geezer in the long leather coat wasn’t a serial rapist.


This the where the Regent’s Canal splits off, heading south east to the Paddington Basin or east along past Regent’s Zoo to Camden and beyond. I’d no idea how far it was but threw caution to the wind and hoped my knee would cope – which it did, just about. It is a very pretty walk once you can get on the tow-path and you get a glimpse of some truly stunning houses along the way. I thought about putting an offer in on one but decided getting Patsy in and out of this part of London would be a bit of a ‘mare…..

We – back when there was a ‘we’ - walked the latter part of this once before. Back in 2013 I think and we’d been to Primrose Hill to take in the view. This time Camden was a lot less busy. Heaving, rather than rammed and I had a wander around, bemoaning, as before, the gradual diluting of the studded black leather and PVC with tourist tat and designer gear.

Medication was required for me stiff and aching knee but unusually for me I chose wrong, picking a pub that had no hand pumps. I should have turned tail and gone elsewhere but was really ready for a sit down and social media catch up. The beer was too cold, too gassy and with a flavour akin to grapefruit. At least it was wet.

It was here that the sad news came through that Trev’s sister Maggie had passed away after a long illness. Suddenly the beer wasn’t important. Her death wasn’t unexpected but no less sad and I really felt for her husband and two boys. With Maggie’s passing that’s four out of HRH’s five siblings all gone, far too young.

Subdued but with thirst at least quenched I caught another bus for a mooch around Soho but with the knee soon grumbling again I decided it was time to head back, catching the dear old number three bus at the top of Whitehall. There’s a number of pubs here but I chose one down a side road – I only needed a pee but it seemed rude not to buy a drink as well, ensuring that, by the time I eventually got back to the site my bladder was, once again ready to burst.

After the days exertions a quiet evening in was in order. The TV stayed off but with a good book, the radio on quietly and the company of good friends on Twitter to hand I was back in my happy, cosy little home from home.