London | February 2020 | Part 5

Friday 21st February

With the knee getting some relative rest on Thursday I was looking forward to getting out and about again, my destination being Richmond. I’d copied a suggested walk from a travel guide A DK Eyewitness guide if memory serves - and this was on my reserve list for my previous visit to Crystal Palace back in October.

The most straightforward route according to the Transport for London Route Planner was a train from Crystal Palace to Clapham Junction, changing for Richmond station, the starting point of the walk. The beauty of the London Transport system was that, rather than buying tickets I could just tap my debit card registered to my Oyster account and still get the benefit of daily fare capping. It would make a change from multiple bus journey’s and be considerably quicker too. Nursing my knee - and not wanting to muddy newly polished boots - I eschewed the walk through Crystal Palace park to the station, instead hopping on a bus that would take me at least half the way, leaving just a short walk down Anerley Hill before throwing myself at the mercy of Southern for the first leg to Clapham Junction.

Richmond Green was the first point of note after crossing the road from the station, the impressive red bricked Richmond Theatre overlooking. As you will see from the photo’s it was overcast and still windy but at least dry as I made my way around the edge of the green  and towards the towpath besides the Thames.


Richmond gets it’s name from Henry, victor in the War of the Roses as he named it after the town in Yorkshire where he held an earldom. Clearly a wealthy suburb for the most part with a plethora of huge 4 x 4’s, utilised no doubt to drop off the little darlings at some Prep School probably 200 yards away, I had actually been here before. Back in May the annual Army v Navy rugby match took place at nearby Twickenham. The Army won comfortably, much to the delight of my friend, a former Para and Falklands and Northern Ireland veteran. Necessary celebrations continued in a pub just off the green and it’s fair to say recollection of the area was a little er, hazy.

_DSC0294Anyway, back to the present. The route took me down a side street with an attractive parade of cosy looking whitewashed houses, the view being improved further thanks to the sign for a pub at the end. It was still too early though, even for me.

I emerged at the Thames just by Twickenham bridge and turned right, following the tow path as it bordered to the right first Old Deer Park and then further on, Kew Gardens. The Thames was high, muddy and running fast. Not particularly alluring but there were plenty of rowers out practicing, a diminutive cox barking orders from the front.

On the opposite bank could be seen first Isleworth, once a small village but now very much a suburb and dormitory of London. Further on, nestled in Syon Park was Syon House and beyond, some modern waterside apartments at Brentford, near where the Grand Union Canal joins the Thames.


The area may be a very agreeable place to live if pockets are deep enough but being on one of the flightpaths to Heathrow, not particularly tranquil. Jets were constantly arriving from the east but did at least provide some photo opportunities.


The tow path, once solid, had become increasingly muddy and any hope of keeping the boots clean were forgotten as I turned inwards at Kew bridge. Kew Gardens would have been the obvious next port of call  but the knee was beginning to grumble as was the belly so I decided instead to head for the station of the same name, pondering some pub grub but settling instead for a sarnie from a Tesco Metro on the way.


Next to Kew Gardens station however was The Tap on the Line, a smart looking Fullers boozer with a garden out front. Thankfully the garden was quite sheltered from the wind as the pub was packed with diners. I took my pint of ESB outside and watched the world go by whilst deciding on my route back to the site. The pint was superb as always - I’ve found that with Fullers’ pubs you can generally guarantee two things - they ain’t cheap and that the beer is superbly kept. Both were true again today.


Kew Gardens was on a branch of the District Line, which would take me to Victoria, changing for Brixton, where I procured some supplies in the Sainsbury's before getting the number 3 bus back to the site for, first a snooze then a nice cosy evening in.

Saturday 22nd February

Awake early as per usual but I don’t fight it, happy to lie in bed with a cuppa, swapping between the current novel and the pad to catch up on what’s going on in Twitter land and also to get some ideas on what to do on my last full day. The weather forecast would obviously influence that to some degree but not to the extent that I imagined. The high winds were coming back and a glance at the forecast for Sunday - my intended day of departure - indicated a change of plans were necessary. Very high winds were predicted on the South coast - 70mph plus - and there was no way I was towing in that. Monday was little better so I made the decision to head home. Disappointing of course but a very sensible one and after a swift pack up I was on the road soon after 10am. As expected the Purley Way was getting busy but certainly not as bad as could be. It was clearly getting windier as I headed south but Patsy stood her ground, even on the exposed sections of the A27 where, as I’ve said previously, the cross winds can be quite severe. Back at the storage yard, the battery had recovered sufficiently to motor move her ladyship into her resting place. Rosie manged 28 mpg on the journey home which, given the prevailing conditions - mainly head winds - I was satisfied with.

And that was the end of my 10th visit to the Crystal Palace Caravan & Motorhome Club site, where our caravanning adventures started eight years ago. Find the blog posts of that trip HERE.Quite possibly the last too but it had been a real good one, made all the better by the company of friends.

As I type this it’s just a week to go now until my next trip where I’ll be heading to the North West - coronavirus related guidelines permitting of course. It’s an area of Britain I’ve yet to explore much, so very much looking forward to that.  Until then, thanks as always for reading.

Cheers & Beers


London | February 2020 | Part 4

Wednesday 19th February

After an early breakfast - well early for some, we’re talking 9am here - we set off again in the direction of Greenwich. There were a variety of ways we could get there but in the end I settled for the Number 122 bus, the stop for which was handily placed just around the corner from the site. This took us to to Lewisham where we changed to the Number 180 which took us to Greenwich. It made a welcome change from the usual Number 3 and, once again getting seats on the top deck we were at least able to see a different part of town. It was at this point dry, if a little chilly and certainly breezy as we got off outside the Naval College.


Wednesday, my day of departure arrived but not until late afternoon. We were booked to see Greenwich Museum and Observatory. A mixture of buses and we duly arrived. Obviously, with a keen eye on the clock, we knew it would need a repeat visit to do it all justice, probably a couple of days to see it all. It was a cold and mizzle day, but we warmed ourselves up with a lovely strong coffee in the undercroft of part of the historic Naval college. We then ambled up to the Observatory and had a good look round, we soon ditched the audio guides we had been given and preferred to use our eyes and read. It was interesting to think how it must have looked when it was first was built and the view was almost predominantly grasslands.

The walk up to the observatory took us through the grounds of the Maritime Museum, but that would sadly have to wait another day. It was nice to see the daffodils out though and even in the increasing mizzle there were some stunning views from outside the observatory. In fact I was taken with the whole area and Greenwich as a whole is on the list for a return visit.




There was an amazing museum style room of all types of clocks and maritime navigation equipment including speaking clocks, GPS and some beautiful crafted brass instruments. The detail and adornments, which were not strictly necessary, were fascinating to see. Of course, there was the compulsory photos of standing astride the meridian line, the only other time I have done that is abroad. A couple of spots of souvenir shopping completed the visit. We then adjourned to the on-site café, which being half term was exceedingly busy and rather on the small side. However, we were fortunate enough to get a table and welcomed a great bowl of lentil and carrot soup, plus crusty sourdough bread and a sandwich for another very nice meal.



Sadly, it was time to start thinking about getting back to site and collecting my things and getting me to the station in time. We had one more treat in store and that was taking the Thames Clipper boat taxi from the pier back to Westminster bridge. It was overcast and raining but still possible to see sights from a different perspective. Landing at Westminster pier rather than the planned London Eye side saved us quite a walk and by now both of us were feeling the effects of the past few days.

Yes, the weather did take the edge off what was, in every other respect, an enjoyable journey taking in a number of London's’ iconic landmarks. Definitely one to repeat in better weather but it served it’s purpose and gave us an alternative route back to the site, hopping on the Number 3 again near Parliament Square.



Another bus journey and we were then ready to go to the station. We said our goodbyes until the next time and an uneventful, for once, journey back home. A very happy few days was had which were just the tonic after some pretty awful weather.

I must admit to feeling a bit low as I drove back from dropping Sandra off at Streatham Common station for her journey home. The sign of having such a good time and sharing experiences with others I guess. However, that evening I was to have company again, in the shape of Rob who had got a pass for the evening - his words not mine - and we had a wander up to the Crystal Palace ‘triangle’ indulging in some ‘research’ at a number of hostelries and a good chinwag about all things caravanning and more. The Postal Order - a Wetherspoon’s - had the benefit of our custom for a second round, hardly surprising at less that two quid a pint. An enjoyable evening and just the tonic.

Thursday 20th February

With rain promised for most of the day - and duly delivered, I planned and executed a perfect winter caravan day, cosy warm, radio, reading and one or two naps. Whilst I like to get out and about as much as possible, the rest would do the knee good and I really didn’t fancy trudging about in the rain. Yes, I know there’s no such thing as inclement weather, only unsuitable clothing - or something like that, but  I like unsuitable clothing. Although I suppose leather does keep the rain off. Unlike many I don’t possess any suitable ‘outdoor gear’ and have no intention of changing that.

I would be heading out again though, for the third show of the week, and the weather duly obliged with the rain stopping mid afternoon. Duly tarted up I headed back into town on the dear old Number 3 again, getting off at it’s terminus in Whitehall near Horse Guards Parade. When we first came to London in the caravan, some eight years ago, the route used to finish at Oxford Circus. Then it was shortened to Trafalgar Square. A consequence of traffic, extended journey times and working hours for drivers I would imagine.

Anyway, the first port of call was the The Red Lion, a busy Fullers pub full of a mix of tie-less suits - many no doubt from the nearby government departments - and tourists. I was about the only one wearing a tie. For once I eschewed the London Pride, opting instead for the ESB which was excellent.

Thirst temporarily sated I walked up to Trafalgar Square then in the rough direction of Covent Garden, procuring a sarnie for tea, then partaking of round two in a nice little boozer called the Lemon Tree, managing to grab a rare seat in the window to watch the world go by over a very fruity plum Porter.

It was still a  bit too early to go to the theatre so I returned, for what was to be for the final time this trip, to the Lyric - a favourite as I’ve said before  - before heading to the Apollo in Shaftsbury Avenue.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie was the show in question and what fun it was. Unashamedly camp and full of foot tapping songs it tells the story of a teenager called, funnily enough Jamie, who’s ambition was to be a er, drag queen. There was the sombre, tender moments of course as is de riguer in a musical but ultimately a feel good show that was uplifting, entertaining and funny too.

Thank you for reading, Part 5 - the final part, coming soon.

London | February 2020 | Part 3

Tuesday 18th February

Another exciting day ahead and the weather, at least initially played it’s part. Our starting point at Lambeth Bridge meant another ride on the dear old Number 3 bus, making it’s steady progress through the likes of Gipsy Hill, Herne Hill and Brixton.

Today was a significant day sartorially - not often you’ll come across that in a caravanning blog - as I donned my old ‘Matrix’ coat for the first time in a number of years. It’s quite fitted so has not been an option up until recently. Clearly, the er, real ale, merlot and cheese and biscuits diet has been paying off. Bar my first long leather coat - which I’ve had for over twenty years - all are second-hand, having been procured from eBay. They garments’ relative unpopularity meaning there were some real bargains to be had.

With the roadworks still in place on Crystal Palace Parade - the same roadworks that were there on my last visit in October - the nearest stop to the site heading into town was still suspended. To save our legs we jumped on a bus to take us in the opposite direction, crossing the road and joining the Number 3 at it’s starting point. Thanks to Transport for London’s pricing structure this didn’t cost us any extra - always a result in my book!

Sandra recalls:

Tuesday morning was much better weather wise, and this was the day booked for the London Eye, something I had never done before. We duly arrived in London and spotted a lovely independent coffee shop right on the river, both of us remarking how similar position wise it was to the one we had visited last year in York. I was both excited and slightly nervous at the thought. I need not have worried as the late morning sun and relatively clear skies made for some amazing views and was a memory that will stay with me for a long time.


Some may recall that I did this a number of years ago with Trev but was delighted to have the opportunity to do it again, in it’s 20th year of operation. As before visibility was pretty good although this time I left the DSLR at home.

We’d considered continuing our walk along the South Bank, as I did last year, but the clouds were darkening, the wind was getting up and, being by the Thames it was pretty chilly too. We decided to turn tail, hopping on a number 453 bus at Westminster Bridge before transferring to the tube at Oxford Circus.


We then made our way over to Notting Hill, another area I had not visited before. The Portobello Road made for an interesting stroll down, looking at some of the more genuine antique shops and avoiding the sadly, multiplying tourist tat shops which are springing up.


The weather was starting to turn inclement and we had spotted what looked like a good place for lunch - the Prince Albert. We were to be very pleased that we did, both from the food and drink perspective but equally as the sky had turned very dark and it was pouring down. We both had chicken and leek pies with mashed potato – they were delicious, home made and of a sensible portion size. We followed this with treacle sponge and a chocolate brownie. Replete, noticing the weather was improving, we made our way towards the second theatre show, via Covent Gardens. A nice meander around there and listening to a very good busking quartet passed time very well. We had time for a drink in another pub right by the theatre and passed a little while watching the bike lane road crossing to the side of the pub. There were, what seemed like hundreds of them coming through in packs and as they pulled up at their traffic lights, it was amusing to see them jockeying for start position and racing across the road. They just kept on coming. Of course, there were the few who decided red lights did not apply to them and weaved in and out of traffic in close your eye moments.

The classical quartet, in the undercover area were very accomplished and, for a novice when it comes to anything other than funk or disco, easy on the ear too. Whilst we could have stopped for a drink here - no doubt for the price of a small mortgage - we headed instead first to the Nell Gwynne, one of my favourite London boozers, just off the Strand and roughly in the direction of the theatre. It was quite noisy, a group clearly having been engaged in ‘research’ for some time. We decided to move on and, once having located exactly where the theatre was, took refuge from the returning rain in The Wellington, on the corner of the Strand and Aldwych. Whilst London Pride is one of my all time favourite beers, so is Timothy Taylors’ Landlord and clearly it’s journey down from Yorkshire had done it no harm at all.


As on Monday night, we had taken our baguettes with us fully intending to repeat the previous night and eat them in the theatre before the show started. Unfortunately, the security guards at the entrance were not impressed and refused to let us take them in, citing theatre policy regarding food. It was, by now, starting to drizzle again and we opted to quickly eat our sandwiches in the fire escape doorway of the theatre along from the entrance. It was certainly novel and caused much humour on both our parts!

The show we had booked to see was the ‘Play that goes Wrong’. I had heard good things about it and there are now several touring shows all around the country. Another very full theatre, even though not first night. We were again treated to a show of a very high standard and it caused much laughter once more. A steady ride home on the bus completed another fabulous day.


This was truly hilarious, again proper laugh out loud comedy. A different beast to the Upstart Crow so I’m not going to compare but the timing was spot on with the visual gags and slapstick executed to perfection. There was no small amount of proper acting too, the cast playing their roles as aspiring actors in an amateur dramatic production superbly, the frustration and desperation slowly increasing as disaster envelopes them, with hilarious consequences. The same company present ‘A Comedy about a Bank Robbery’ which I saw in October and there is now another - ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ - which, if anything like the other two, will be well worth a watch.

Our journey back was across Waterloo Bridge this time, taking the 59 bus from Aldwych and swapping to the 3 as routes converged near the Imperial War Museum. A welcome drink back at Patsy as she returned to habitable temperature brought an end to another enjoyable day.

There’s more - eventually! Part 4 out soon. Thanks as always for reading,

Cheers & Beers