The Half-Term Duo - Part 4

Ok, this is definitely the last part I promise. In case you’re late to the party I’m recalling my recent trip away in Patsy - my first as a solo, and indeed single - caravanner.

Right, Thursday. With nothing on until the evening there was no rush to get up but given that as per usual I’d been awake since the early hours, being shaved, showered and dressed by 9am still felt very much like a lie in.

Talking of showers I’ve been using Patsy’s quite a lot on this trip. I like the convenience of it even though it’s not as good as the on site ones. I generally run two Aqua Rolls so just need to make sure the water heater has had long enough. I’m gradually making little tweaks to the way I caravan.

The Crystal Palace site was due to close at the end of this year (2018) but received a reprieve for at least a year, so I planned to give it the full Legs Down treatment - Site Arrival & Site Tour videos and a Site Review for Cover4Caravans. The Site Review will be based on my weeks visit during half term in February when I’ll actually be doing some sightseeing. The Site Arrival footage is ready and waiting so I took the opportunity  to have a walk around with the camcorder It’s not a big site and there are more attractive ones on the club’s network but it’s still a pleasant place to stay. And very convenient.

This trip wasn’t about sightseeing but I did fancy a wander around Camden - probably one of my favourite parts of London and, fancying a change I took the bus instead to the Elephant & Castle, swapping to another that would continue north. I do prefer the bus - it’s cheap for a start and you get to see things too. Outside of rush hour I’ve always managed to get a seat on the top deck and nearly always in the front. You don’t want to be in a rush though, but I wasn’t so it didn’t matter.

20181025_145553I had a good wander around Camden, particularly the Stables Market area just north of the Regents Canal. It still has an alternative feel here and the smells from the food stalls are a delight. The main road through, whilst still having the odd shop sporting studded leather and the like seems increasingly dominated by London bus fridge magnets and other tourist tat. It’s clearly very popular with said tourists like me though as it was very busy everywhere.

Rather earlier than planned I got the bus back into the centre. My troublesome knee was starting to give me a bit of grief and a sit down for a bit wouldn’t hurt. The journey was much quicker than I thought so I was soon on foot again traversing the busy pavements from Cambridge Circus through to Covent Garden and my next destination which wont surprise you to learn, was a pub.20181026_153924

The Nell Gwynne sits in a tiny passageway that exits onto The Strand. I’d actually done a bit of real research and this looked a pleasant place for a pre theatre ale or two and a bite to eat. And so it was - a great little traditional boozer - not a pub company’s idea of a boozer. Hot food was limited to toasties which suited me just fine as did the house ale which was less than four quid a pint. A positive bargain in central London.

20181025_190508Handily, just to the right of the passageway was the Adelphi Theatre home of the musical Kinky Boots and my last planned port of call. With all original music by Cyndi Lauper it was a completely different beast to Bat out of Hell but equally as entertaining and enjoyable and I came away with a real buzz that could only be muted by a pint before getting the bus back to site. I reflected on another good day and how much I had - so far at least - been able to enjoy caravanning alone and getting out and about on my own.

Friday, and my last full day in London. I was up and about at a time some would consider early, packing up what I could in readiness for an early departure Saturday, hoping to avoid the inevitable shopping traffic on the Purley Way. By eleven I was on the bus again to meet friends from Brighton who were arriving at London Bridge station for an afternoon of sightseeing punctuated by a beer here and there before the main event - the er, mighty QPR v Aston Villa at their Loftus Road stadium in Shepherds Bush.

First stop after we’d met up was the Old Operating Theatre by St Thomas’ Hospital. Maybe not the most obvious tourist destination but fascinating none the less. The history of surgery can be found in the ante room along with some rather gruesome looking tools of the trade from back in the day as well as body parts in jars in various states of decay and disease. The operating theatre itself is laid out exactly as it would have been for an operation. If you do go - and it’s well worth an hour or so of your time at least, National Trust members get a discount. Look out for the cutting below that shows the er, cure for an ingrowing toenail. Eek!

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Crossing the Thames brought with it the opportunity for some unashamedly tourist photos and eventually to the area known as Temple, home of lovely quiet courtyards and the cream of London’s lawyers in the areas know as Middle Temple and Middle Temple. Situated between Victoria Embankment and the hustle and bustle of Fleet Street it really is a pleasant place just to wonder or pause and enjoy a drink and a snack.

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At the heart was Temple Church, built by the Knights Templar and the effigies of the Knights can be found here. Apparently a scene from the Da Vinci Code was filed here too.

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By this time we’d worked up a bit of a thirst, so a couple of pubs along Fleet Street got the benefit of our custom as did the Nell Gwynne, whose praises I’d been singing.

Then it was time to start heading west with a bus taking us from The Strand past Victoria and down the Kings Road in Chelsea. We stopped for supplies  - pork pies and scotch eggs - and to deal with an increasingly urgent plumbing issue before arriving eventually in Shepherds Bush to meet up with more friends prior to the game.20181026_194711

Well, it was entertaining and QPR won too. We held on until the 90th minute but didn’t stay for injury time as the boys had a train to catch. After swapping underground lines at Oxford Circus I waved them off the train at Victoria and continued to Brixton where there was a mercifully short wait for the number 3 bus.

I’d decided not to leave the heating in in Patsy before I left which was a definite mistake as the thermometer read just 7 degrees as I got in. A stint of both gas and electric with the fan at full tilt along with a bar heater warmed things up fairly quickly.

20181027_083059My packing up the day before had paid off and I was away before 9am Saturday morning, and Patsy was settled back in her storage bay before 11am. One minor blot on the landscape was another hint that Rosie’s clutch was approaching the end of it’s life with the slightest of slips as I overtook a bus on the A23. It’s an expense I’m not relishing but ready for when the times comes.

So, the end of the trip and in many ways as important as the very first one back in 2012 when we embarked on our caravanning journey. That first trip proved to us that we could caravan and enjoy it - as a couple and this one has proved that I can do the same on my own. Here’s to the next one - and I can’t wait.

Until next time, thank you as always for reading and taking an interest.

Cheers & Beers

Rich