London Calling…

We are not city people. Far happier hiking through a remote wilderness or cycling along country lanes and cycle paths than battling through crowds in soulless shopping malls or congested streets. So it was with mounting trepidation that we headed south towards the Caravan & Motorhome Club’s site at Crystal Palace so we could catch up with Hannah who for some inexplicable reason (to us at least) has chosen London as a place to live and work. 

The Club has two main sites serving the great capital city – Abbey Wood, which we stayed at last year, and Crystal Palace. Abbey Wood was a lovely site and despite its proximity to the city was surprisingly quiet and detached from the hustle and bustle which surrounds it. It’s also very popular and invariably full due to its ideal location and ease of access into London from the station, a mere 10 minutes walk away. 

So this time we booked Crystal Palace which, although not as convenient as Abbey Wood for metropolitan access nevertheless offered a ride on the Number 3 bus from right outside the site entrance to whisk us up to Piccadilly Circus in a mere 55 minutes! Using the bus meant that all of us (including Jack) would be able to travel and as much as I was looking forward to seeing Hannah again, she was looking forward to seeing Jack. 

As has become the way with our best-laid plans on this trip things didn’t happen as envisaged. Unfortunately, a couple of days previously Annie had come down with a severe bout of laryngitis, felt rubbish and couldn’t speak a word, so meeting up with Hannah had to be postponed as we’d missed the one day on which she was available!

Unlike Abbey Wood, Crystal Palace was not a good site. Looking a bit old and tired now and dominated by the massive nearby BBC transmission tower our stay here was not pleasant being accompanied by a soundtrack of Littledicks in their chavved-up wanker-wagons screaming about the place, their cacophony regularly punctuated by blasting horns and sirens. Peaceful it was not. 

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The BBC transmission tower rather dominated the view!

Leaving Annie in her sick-bed, Jack and I had several walks in the nearby Crystal Palace Park, which was easily accessed from the site and gave some welcome relief from the drabness of its surroundings.

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View of the tower from Crystal Palace park. Note the remains of the Crystal Palace building
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Looking south across the park down an impressive flight of stairs. The original building must have been extremely impressive!
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One of the many impressive Sphinxes that were part of the original building (with dominating tower in the background!)

Thankfully, we only had to endure this site for two days as we’d booked it purely to meet up with Hannah, so it was with great pleasure that we relinquished our pitch early (well, early for us) on the Monday morning and commenced the battle with London traffic to get out of there towards our next destination which was to be the Hunter’s Moon site near Wareham in Dorset – far, far away from city life!

It took over an hour just to get through the outskirts of London onto the M3 motorway and head off towards peace and tranquility. How people manage to endure that on a daily basis is utterly beyond us but then we’re all different eh?

We stayed for over a week at Hunter’s Moon enjoying being back in the countryside and had many walks and cycle rides in the nearby Wareham Forest revelling in the clean air, tall trees and big skies – our kind of place!

 

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View from the hill – on a bike ride in Wareham Forest
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Sitting outside the van, in the sunshine on February 15th. Amazing!

Inevitably though, the subject of “meeting up with Hannah” soon surfaced again and a date in her unbelievably full diary was offered as a potential time. Having just escaped London, returning to either Abbey Wood or Crystal Hovel Palace was out of the question so we settled on the oddly named Wyatts Covert Caravan & Motorhome Club site near Rickmansworth with a brief stay at Henley on the way.

Henley was as wonderful this time round as it had been previously and the weather was beautifully sunny for our short stay. Whilst there we explored the delights of the town, had a long walk along the Thames (not literally, of course) and took a bus into nearby Marlow. 

Although Jack is becoming more accustomed to travelling by bus, he still isn’t entirely comfortable with it and is visibly apprehensive before boarding. Once inside, he lies flat to the floor, legs splayed and with claws scouring the lino as the bus moves off and he slides backwards. His relief as we disembark is tangible.

 

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Henley market square
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Henley from across the Thames – note the weather!

 

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Marlow swans out in force

 

Wyatts Covert was chosen as the next destination because it satisfied the dual requirements of being far enough outside of London to be acceptable and yet near enough for access by train and tube. Once again though, Annie had to make a solo trip to see Hannah due to dogs not being allowed on the tube, so Jack and I enjoyed a lads day out by going for a bike ride then watching the aircraft activity at the aerodrome adjacent to the site (it’s a guy thing!)

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Cycling alongside the Grand Union canal whilst at Wyatts Covert site
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…such gorgeous weather!

When Annie returned I was updated with the latest news from the World of Hannah. One of the main topics of conversation, apparently, was how our lives have now seemingly reversed:

Hannah – complaining about getting up at 6am five days a week, working long hours, enduring a stressful lifestyle, eating on the run, never having any money* and having to fit general chores like shopping, cleaning and all the other mundane stuff that comes with “being an adult” into her life. 

Us – adopting a more student-oriented lifestyle, never getting up much before 9:30am, enjoying a lazy morning before doing something fun in the afternoon, then slipping gracefully into the evening, opening the wine and casually preparing something delicious and healthy for dinner. 

No wonder she refers to us as “unemployed slackers” Ha! The words “pot” and “kettle” spring to mind!

(* Hannah’s version of “having no money” has still allowed her to have Tea at the Ritz, spend a week in Portugal and go skiing at Christmas! If only we were that poor…)

With “catching up with Hannah” finally ticked off the list, freedom returned and over the nightly winefest future plans were contemplated.

Surprisingly, London didn’t feature in any of them.