London Spring 2021 | The Jigsaw Project | Part 2

Sunday 30th May

For those that missed or managed to avoid Part 1, you can find out the reason for this trip and the blog title on my sister blog A Load of Nonsense HERE. A huge thank you to those that read it and for your kind comments.

I woke to an overcast morning and in fact the temperature had dropped sufficiently overnight to warrant the deployment of the cute little 2 bar electric fire to warm things up whilst I lay, with a cuppa contemplating the day ahead. With a whole week to complete my project I initially thought about having a day ‘off’. Patsy could certainly do with some more attention lavished on her but breakfast and a nuclear strength coffee saw me booted - and yes even coated - and at the bus stop by 9:30am. Ok - the coat wasn’t necessary but neither was it too warm for one, the sun still yet to put in an appearance. Standards….

First port of call was Islington, a straightforward journey on the good old No.3 to Brixton, then the tube, changing at Victoria to Angel, the first two addresses on the list being only a few minutes walk away in the quaint Camden Passage, just off the main drag.

No. 41 Was once occupied by Gordon Gridley antiques - established in the early seventies by an  English teacher who turned his passion for antiques into a second income, eventually opening the shop. Said to be the oldest antiques shop in the Passage, Posh Totty Designs have occupied the unit since 2017.


No. 2 is home to the Camden Head pub and has been since 1849. Such was the er, narrowness of said passage, ahem, I was unable to capture the image as featured on the jigsaw with the DSLR, or even with my phones’ wide angle lens. Looks very similar to back then though.


Next up was a butchers, just a 10 minute’s or so walk away and just south of Angel Station. 399 St John Street was occupied by J.R Wall & Co when the original photo was taken and now by Turner & George, the building’s listed status means the white tiling indicating the name of the original owner (bland) remains.


My next destination should have been a simple bus ride away - however blue and white police tape fluttering and a rather mangled looking police van at a junction by the tube station meant a trudge further down St John Street, turning right by an eerily quiet Smithfield Market and the old Port of London Authority building.


A left turn brought me on to Farringdon Street, getting a good look at the Holborn Viaduct, supporting the A40, built in the 1860’s.


The junction of Farringdon Street and Fleet Street is Ludgate Circus and was the next address to be ticked off the list. 12 Ludgate Circus was the home of a pub since 1870, once the The King Lud pub, renamed Old King Lud and latterly Hogshead before closing in 2005. Now occupied by a fast food chain.


I had achieved my target of four and could have easily hopped on a bus to cross the Thames and eventually home but there were three more that were within the capabilities of my knee, so I set off down the infamous Fleet Street noting how quiet everywhere had been so far. There was evidence of how important Fleet Street had once been to the British newspaper industry and I wondered how the many pubs were now coping without thirsty journalists to keep refuelled between - or during - assignments.


Anyway, back to the matter in hand. 145 Fleet Street is home to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and there has been a pub here since 1538. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and P.G. Wodehouse are said to have visited. The death of it’s resident African Grey Parrot by the name of Polly made international news in 1926.


Fleet Street becomes The Strand, where I found what used to be the Wig and Pen club - frequented as the name suggests by journo’s and lawyers. It is said to be one of the few buildings in the area to survive the Great Fire of London in 1666, however it wasn’t so lucky in 2018 when it was hit by a London bus. The club closed in 2003 and is now the home of a Thai restaurant.


Further on still, was The George on The Strand; still very much a pub today.


St Clements Dane church splits the Strand in half by Aldwych and I grabbed a pew behind it to wolf down a packed lunch, looking over to the Royal Courts of justice opposite The George. The sun had burnt through now and it was nice and shady. There was very little pedestrian or vehicle traffic and it was a pleasant place to sit.


The No.59 bus took me across to Waterloo Bridge and on to Brixton, ‘supplies’ being procured at the Sainsbury’s Local, the staff at which are amongst the most polite, friendly and helpful I’ve come across. The usual No. 3 took me back to the site for a beer in the recliner and a most welcome nap before dinner. The site was still full, one pitch at least being occupied by those who were to attract the attention of the wardens several times, not least for having visitors on site, general rowdiness and rubbish strewn everywhere. Draw your own conclusions, I’m saying nowt else.

A night in front of the TV followed - it may have come to your attention that I’m yet to indulge in my more usual ‘research’ but I’m waiting until after the long weekend when things are quieter. A beer in nice pub garden in the sun will go down a treat.

Right, that’s it for Day 2, now 12 premises visited of the 42 and I’m happy with my progress far. The remaining ones are much closer together in Central London and the next few days will hopefully make further significant dents in that list.

Until Part 3…

  • Public transport journeys made: Bus 3 to Brixton, Underground to Angel, changing to the Northern line at Victoria, Bus 59 from The Strand to Brixton, Bus 3 to Crystal Palace. Total cost capped at £5.60

London Spring 2021 | The Jigsaw Project |Part 1

Crystal Palace | 28th May to 4th June | 60 miles @ 28mpg | Pitch 33

Friday 28th May

Time for Patsy’s second outing of the year - if you don’t count her little sojourn to the service centre in the winter to get her little problem with damp sorted - and it’s to the club site adjacent the mighty erection that is the Crystal Palace transmitter, for what is my 11th visit to this oh so handy but sadly under threat site.

With term finishing on the Thursday I’d booked to go away on the Friday and it had been in the calendar for a while - ever since the club announced an extension to the site’s lease last year in fact. So when my my manager announced a month ago that we were required to attend an INSET day on said Friday he was politely appraised of the situation - the short two word reply I decided would be better kept to myself. As it happens it wasn’t an issue. Just as well.

With arrivals not permitted until 1pm there was no rush but even so, I did regret not hauling the majority of the gear down to the car until the morning. I’ve never got the hang of travelling light but given my sartorial er ‘bent’ it’s not really an option. One has standards to keep up though I suspected that given the weather forecast the two long leather coats selected for the trip might well be redundant.

Such was my uncharacteristic organisation I even had time to call in to get newly MOT’d Rosie a spruce up on the way to the storage yard. These days I’m happy to hand over some folding, the racquet of CBA swatting away any thoughts of doing it myself mostly.

Pre flight checks were executed surprisingly efficiently - no air needed in the tyres and Patsy’s nuts were suitably tight. I hitched up ahead of schedule and even sat for a bit, not wanting to risk arriving early. Even Rosie seemed to look pleased at the prospect of hauling lardy Patsy through the pot holed South London roads, perhaps conscious of the fact that I’ve spent a bit of time on Auto Trader recently. I’m not looking to change just yet but it’s worth seeing what’s out there and for how much. Her annual mileage has dropped considerably as I don’t use her for work and pretty much all journeys are with Patsy attached, but at 141,000 miles she’s in the autumn of her years.


The journey itself was as expected. There was the inevitable stamp on the brake pedal and launch skywards of the middle finger accompanied by the usual expletives but this time not at the mini roundabout by the site entrance but as I joined the A23 outside Brighton, a Peugeot pulling out then accelerating with all the pace of an arthritic tortoise. 


Once inside the M25, 3rd gear predictably became a distant memory. It’s how it is and was not much worse than usual, things improving somewhat after the Purley Way. I pulled up on site just shy of of two hours after leaving storage being allocated Pitch 33 which, if memory serves, is one which neither of the two Patsy’s had graced with their presence on previous visits. It’s never cheap here, particularly during the half-term holidays but I’d bought some Club vouchers last year when the offer was on and they made a big dent in the bill.

I made a half-arsed attempt at reversing, getting the old girl thereabouts then finished things off with the motor mover, the battery seemingly having kept kept replenished by the solar panel. An 80watt folding job that I’d bought from a colleague with vague ideas about going off-grid at some point, it was heavy and unwieldy in it’s original form so I separated the two panels and used just one, it sitting snugly in the front window whilst in storage.

Set up was completed reasonably swiftly - after nine years touring with nearly three alone I’m starting to get the hang of it. I sat down in the recliner with a beer and a sandwich five minutes earlier than hoped, at 1:55pm, announcing to social media world with the usual photo, that legs were down.


The beer and sarnie preceded a nap then, somewhat refreshed I set about cleaning Patsy’s windows. No dedicated cleaner here, just a branded multi-surface household polish and a microfibre cloth and they came up great. That just left most of the bodywork - I’d done the back, front and lockers whilst away at my local site, Brighton on the previous bank holiday, but the rest would have to wait. My belly was informing me that dinner was the next item on the agenda.

Saturday 29th May

A reasonable night’s sleep, partially fuelled by London Pride but I was still awake early. No matter, it was a pleasant morning and I enjoyed the relative lie in with a cuppa and a good book.

11am and breakfasted, showered and tarted up in the usual shirt, tie, waistcoat and leather trews, it was time to head into ‘town’ for the whole point of this trip - and the blog title.

Briefly, during the latest lockdown I did a jigsaw which I recalled my parents having when I was kid, entitled Pubs & Shops of London. Having completed said jigsaw I set about finding out more about the businesses featured, curious as to how many more still existed some 40 years on. If you’ve not yet face-palmed and clicked or tapped away you can see my blog post HERE.

My plan is to photograph each one as it is now and recreate the montage of the original jigsaw - 42 addresses in total - and so set off, DSLR and packed lunch in back pack to make a start.

Having originally considered sticking to buses only I soon changed my mind and hopped off the No. 3 bus to join the Tube at Brixton, changing at Victoria and onwards to Sloane Square, my plan being to knock off the places in West London.

Well, best laid plans and all that - except that had I bothered to check - you know like a seasoned traveller would have done - the Circle and District lines were on the blink - announced by the nice lady who also seems to reside in the cupboard under the stairs on the buses. I emerged, fillings loosened, at Victoria to get on a bus.

Herds of elephants have been appearing in Chelsea - made from the Lantana plant and to highlight the coexistence between man and animal - pretty topical if you think about the recent pandemic. There are 100 in total and I managed to ’capture’ a few. Find out more HERE


Anyway, back to the matter in hand. First up was 138 Kings Road, Chelsea, once The Markham Arms and now a bank but being Listed, many of the original features remain. Then and now:


A short walk that felt longer thanks to bunion crushing winklepickers - how I suffer for my vanity - brought me to the Fulham Road and The Kings Arms. It may surprise you to learn that I didn’t use the excuse of research to stop for a pint. Whilst we can now ‘go in’, I’m not sure visiting multiple busy premises is a good idea just now. Shame about the scaffolding but no matter. Two down, forty to go.


More pavement pounding brought to Sillwood Terrace and The Anglesea Arms, very much still alive and kicking I was sorely tempted by a pint here but it was rammed anyway.


Back to the Fulham Road and on a bus to Knightsbridge, passing Harrods on the way, then a short walk around the corner to Paxtons Head, still a pub.


An entrance to Hyde Park was just across the road and my fifth and final location was the other side. I took lunch overlooking the Serpentine feeling considerably overdressed - though not overly concerned by such - and reluctantly thankful that I’d eschewed wearing a longer leather coat. Standards I know but there’s vanity and not looking a complete douche bag, never mind melting. The skies were clear and it was a fabulous day.


Across from Hyde Park and behind Hyde Park Place was Connaught Street and the premises of a business that departed around 2006; Somers and Kirby, possibly a butchers but now occupied by a dentist.


And that was it for the day. Aching feet managed to propel me back to Hyde Park Place for the bus to Victoria, swapping to the Tube for the ride to Brixton, pausing for supplies before boarding the trusty No. 3 for the ride back to the site and a much needed beer in the recliner before dinner and TV.

A good day - these were probably the most widely spaced and I was chuffed to have made a dent in the list. It did feel surreal visiting places on a jigsaw I must say.

More to come, soon. If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading.

For the record: Public Transport journeys made: Bus 3 to Brixton, Tube to Victoria, Bus 11 to Kings Road, Bus 414 from Fulham Road to Knightsbridge, Bus 148 from Hyde Park Place to Victoria, Tube to Brixton, Bus 3 to Crystal Palace. Total cost (capped) £7.40.

Guest Blog Post - Easter 2021

After two failed attempts to get the planned Easter trip underway, in the run up to the weekend and will they/won’t they allow travel; a Plan B was formulated. So, in accordance with the rules re social bubbles and allowing travel from 29 May, Plan B was on. We decamped to the caravan on the drive staycation mode for 9 days of R&R, changes of scenery a plenty and expeditions around the Cheshire countryside. Richard made good time as the roads were clear and duly arrived early that afternoon. After settling in and a rest, as the weather was so kind, we would eschew cooking and head to Parkgate on the Wirral for some of their famous fish and chips. As you will see from the photos, the views were spectacular and a pleasant stroll up and down the front made for a particularly good start to the trip.


As we are both members of the National Trust, we have found this invaluable during COVID, making the most of being able to visit the gardens and parks most of the time. We like visiting the houses too but will make return trips when allowed to see them again. We had planned several days out at such places, equally, they were well set up for mobility scooter access, which as most of you know I am temporarily having to use post foot surgery. Fortunately, Rosie had been given a clear out before making the trip North as boot space was at a premium to take the mobility scooter. It proved to be worth every penny as we got to see almost everything we had planned, some real laugh out loud funny moments too but more of that later..

Tuesday arrived and we awoke to clear blue skies, sun and rather warm. A leisurely breakfast and we were soon on the road to the first NT visit, Tatton Park, near Knutsford. Owned by the Egerton family until handed over to the NT it a massive area with huge swathes of parkland with deer, formal gardens, a working farm with children’s petting zoo, a couple of lakes and finally the old stables and stable yard converted into a refreshment, shop, and toilet facilities area. We started off by doing the tour of the formal gardens, seeing many examples of apple trees, trained to perfection and the Victorian greenhouses up against the wall with the greatest sunshine on them, all restored and maintained to an extremely high standard.


All of which was totally accessible, and we were taken to an easy entrance to go into the formal gardens and join the well laid and thought-out one-way system which we were to encounter at each of our visits. Whilst working our way down to an unusual monument in the far distance, we encountered a Japanese Garden. Closed now but you could take photos in the entranceway. On the return leg of this part of the visit, we decided to take a detour, hmm, hindsight is 20:20. I imagine you can guess what happened next! I think we found out that a shopmobility scooter is particularly good but off-roading is not its forte! Thankfully, I did not get too stuck and a bit of shoving and pushing we got through.


A scrumptious al fresco lunch of sausage baps, coffee and cake in the sunny stable yard was next. We then decided to do some exploring of the wider parkland, the visitor information centre being helpful as to what was accessible and what was not. It was a gorgeous, warm, and sunny afternoon, plenty of people about but all felt very safe. We stuck to the main driveways and made our way down to the two lakes, a not inconsiderable distance so a real trial to see how far the battery would last – it did very well this time.. The only downside was a person in an SUV who was obviously way too important to slow down for people and scaring the life out of Richard and I by shooting past me. I do not think she had seen me at all. We then made our way back to the car park, it was so lovely and warm, ice creams, 99’s with raspberry sauce were the order of the day before we started to make our way back to base. Richard had even managed to get the start of a suntan. We ended the trip by a quick drive down Knutsford High street, it was not worth parking up as, although there are some lovely shops, pubs etc, none were open still. A quiet evening watching TV, catching up ended a very pleasant day.


Wednesday was the day for Speke Hall NT right by Liverpool John Lennon’s Airport. A place I had never visited as well as Richard. A quite different building as it is Tudor and predominantly faced in wood in a black and white style. There was a typical Cheshire farmhouse on the way to the main house itself. Another excellent one-way system was in place and the usual old stables and barns refreshments and toilet facilities in place. We had opted to go in the afternoon, which was a good idea as seating was not as plentiful as at Tatton Park. We walked around the gardens and the wider land of the estate. We managed to find a path which takes you up to the end of the runway at the airport, but no planes were flying. As a bit of fun, we decided to follow the children’s Easter Trail and found a pathway with some unusual sculptures and photos. Of course, someone had to sit in the oversized chair and have his photo taken, shame I did not have any bunny ears!! Only one little blip on the access was a sharp lip on a little metal plank across some damp ground. I managed to stand up on one foot whilst we pulled it onto the plank. We rounded off the trip with the usual coffee and slice of most delicious Victorian Sponge sat outside in the glorious sunshine.



On the way back we made a short detour to visit Frodsham and its very wide main street – there are some incredibly old buildings here and plenty of information boards and blue plaques made for some good photo opportunities.


In normal times, there is a weekly street market, something which has run in various guises for many hundreds of years. I have, coincidentally this morning, learnt that it is now back in operation. Plenty of farm stalls and Cheshire cheese abound. It is also one end of the Sandstone Trail, the other end being in Whitchurch, Shropshire. We then made for base, another superbly cooked evening meal by Chef Easy and a relaxing evening rounded off another good day.

It is now Thursday, how quickly the time is flying by. We awoke to a much colder and cloudier day but thankfully no rain was forecast, and this proved to be the case.

However, we had a return visit to make first, given that in December it had been pouring down so outside walking was called off. We made for Port Sunlight, the plan was to take the photos of the village and the monuments as it was dry.


This was accomplished in a short time, so we then made for another part of the River Mersey at New Ferry. It was a place I had visited some years ago, so changes to road layouts made it a little difficult to find but we managed. The place has memories for me as my maternal grandmother and father had rooms in one of the houses straight after they married. My grandfather was a policeman, so this was a familiar set up of the time. We sat by the river and drank our coffees and watched a ship go past and a boat, which we honestly thought was on the verge of sinking! It turned out to be a type of dredger.


Dunham Massey NT was the location of choice for today, near Altrincham. Again, another place I had not visited. A Georgian house this time and its simplicity was in stark contrast to the Tudor house the previous day. As before, the trip was split into two sections, a tour of the formal gardens and a short walk in the parkland which has deer. We decided to have a coffee first to warm up, sitting on a scooter can be very cold indeed. The daffodils were in huge swathes all over the area and the tulips were starting to open so, although there was no sun, the colourful display with the trees in blossom was beautiful to see. The guides were extremely helpful advising us of where to avoid, one little stone bridge over a watercourse, easily avoided. There was a huge pond, as opposed to a natural lake and what looked like a mill race. As we neared the end of our visit, on the way back to the car, we found the mill which it was for. It looked like it was workable but seemed like a missed opportunity to make flour to sell. Perhaps just the current situation. A brief sojurn into the parkland yielded a couple of photos of a very brave male deer with resplendent antlers but it was too cold to venture far so we made back to the car.


Friday, by contrast, was yet another beautiful day, clear blue skies, warm and sunny. The morning was spent chilling at the van, I had a secret plan underway, so it was a case of making sure we stayed in the van until just after lunch. I had arranged to meet a couple of friends for a walk round part of the river and see a few sights. Fortunately, the rules had changed so meeting outside was allowed and we all had camping seats to sit on in the lovely weather. Richard did not know anything of this, so it was a pleasant surprise, and an incredibly happy and convivial afternoon and early evening was spent in each other’s company. We had opted to cook pizzas back at base which are easily cooked and eaten outside. It certainly made for a difference experience eating pizza on the side driveway in the sunshine but oh so nice to be able to meet other people safely at last. As per usual, several ales were consumed, all in the name of research of course!! Some of which will, no doubt, make an appearance in the Ale Archive.


Saturday was yet another fabulous day weather-wise, Richard now had quite the suntan! We were due to make a brief visit to New Brighton, having been there before, to meet up with one of my friends. It was quite breezy by the coast, but the arrival of cappuccinos and brownies certainly helped. My love of coffee/tea and cake is well known! After a pleasant chat, we then moved on to drive round the top end of the Wirral Peninsula visiting Hoylake and West Kirby. The Marine Lake at West Kirby is particularly noteworthy, especially if you have not seen it before as it can look like people are walking on water, (they are not).  Totally accessible to all but not recommended to walk round or wheelchairs if the tide is completely in. Toilets and refreshments are available here and a supermarket just off the front. All in all, another great day and tired but happy we made for base.


Sunday loomed and we had ordered in a lovely roast beef Sunday lunch – this from a local pub who have started doing deliveries during lock down – it was a fabulous meal and something I would do again. Portions were such that we left dessert for later – a lip smacking caramel apple pie and custard! It was another lovely afternoon, so we decided to visit Delamere Forest for a walk round the lake – again totally accessible to wheelchairs, that route being about 2.5 miles long, so a fully charged battery is a must!! Since I last visited, admittedly several years ago now, there is a brand-new visitor centre with all the necessary facilities, a good car park, fee payable on departure. The only thing which was missing were some signs and it took a bit of searching but we were soon on the route. The lake dates to prehistoric times following the end of the last ice age. It is home to huge flocks of geese and other birds and, of course, lots of plants and trees. We enjoyed our stroll round the lake, pausing every now and then for photos and a break. We got to within a ¼ mile of the car park and a quick look at the battery meter and it was on orange and flickering – to say I was worried was an understatement. The route is mainly flat but there are several rises near the start/finish of the route. I turned back the power to hopefully conserve it but all too quickly it turned to red and then started flickering – oh no!! Richard was an absolute hero, he took over pushing me to help with the power, we finally made it back to the car, somewhat later than planned but we did it!! Thank you, Richard. After all that exertion and with Richards imminent departure the following day, an early night and an episode of Line of Duty beckoned.


Monday – Today was the day for doing last minute shopping at Costco. Time to stock up and refuel Rosie. As Richard was due to depart Tuesday morning, we had a quieter day, sorting things out and packing up.

Tuesday. Day of departure. A prompt breakfast, making a packed lunch for Richard on the way home. Then a quick coffee and it was time to say goodbye. A lovely holiday was had. And here’s to the next one!