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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Rich



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