Friday, 19 June 2015

Lemonade by the river

One of the things we said we'd do, come retirement, was get on a bus and see where it went to.  So today we decided to do just this.  We had planned to get a 37 to Putney and then a 337 on to Richmond, but just missed a 37, and the next bus due was a 35.  So we caught that and then waited for a 337 at Clapham Junction.  This had the big advantage that we were the first people on, so we could sit in the front upstairs.

It took about an hour to get to Richmond, the bus going via Wandsworth (I see the old Arndale Centre is now rather poshly called Southside!), Putney, Mortlake, East Sheen and finally turned off the South Circular to arrive in Richmond. We got out at the bus station, which was only about five minutes' walk to the river.  As suggested on the maps, we walked to the middle of the bridge to look at the view:

We were then both thirsty and uncomfortable, so we went down to a cafĂ© on the bank beside the bridge, which sold us some incredibly delicious lemonade that was minty but not too sweet. 
And, when we had drunk it and made ourselves comfortable, we walked back up through Richmond to the station.  The old Dickens and Jones is now a House of Fraser - I was glad to see it is still a department store.  I remembered that there had been a wonderful children's bookshop in Richmond, but I have no idea where it was - I've just looked it up and found that although it closed some years ago, the owners have opened a new one, but we didn't see it.

We didn't have much time, as the Swan Whisperer wanted to be back in time for figure club, so we caught a train straight back.  We were lucky in that it was a semi-fast train, and didn't stop at places like East Sheen, Mortlake, Barnes or Wandsworth Town, but only at Putney and then Clapham Junction.  It came in on Platform 4, and there was an Overground sitting on platform 2, so the Swan Whisperer and I decided to race each other home - he went on the Overground to Clapham High Street and then walked, and I took a 35.  I am mortified to have to confess that he got there first, but only just - no windows were open when the bus went past the flats, but by the time I had got out and crossed the road, he had opened a few!  So it was judged too close to call!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

RAF Northolt Open Day 2015

This was my - asked-for - birthday present from the Swan Whisperer.  At first we thought we wouldn't be able to go, as tickets were sold out, but they released more tickets if you went on public transport.  They said that Ruislip Gardens Tube Station was about 10 minutes' walk from the entrance.  Which, indeed, it was - but what they didn't say was that it was about twenty minutes' walk from the entrance to the actual site! 

And the weather didn't co-operate at all.  It wasn't really raining, not really, but there was very thick, low cloud, and most of the flying displays had to be cancelled.  We couldn't even have the Queen's birthday flypast, and, indeed, the news says that much of the flypast in central London had to be cancelled.  So although there was a Chinook helicopter
driving about, it couldn't go through its paces, and another aircraft landed and stayed that way.

And it was cold!  We decided to avoid the fast-food trucks and their queues, and instead bought rather delicious Portuguese ham and cheese rolls, and later went back to that stall and bought two strawberry tartlets, which were equally delicious, but rather sticky.  We wandered round the area, looking at a few aeroplanes (they said there would be 30 in the static display, but there so weren't - about five or six at most!) and vintage cars and fire-engines.
There was a modern fire-engine, too, and a queue of children waiting to make its siren sound.  There were also a set of pedal-cars in the shape of vintage planes which the children were very much enjoying - I couldn't take a photograph, for obvious reasons.

We found a bench and sat down to eat our strawberry tartlets, in front of the arena where the RAF band were playing, and very nice too:
There was an ancient bi-plane buzzing around while this was happening, but none of the shots I aimed at it came out!  Ah well.

After this, we decided to call it a show, and set off on the very long walk back to the bus stop (we regretted not having caught the bus up to the gates), but just as we did the sun came out, and the Sally B, the only Flying Fortress (B17) bomber still flying, was able to come and display:

We thought we'd just missed a bus, but luckily another came along so fast behind that we had to run for it!  And again, we almost had to run for our Central Line train, but it meant no waiting.  And by the time we got back to Brixton, the sun had come out - too late, alas, to rescue the day.  Which was enjoyable, but really, since what one goes for are the flying-displays, a little bit of a bust.  Oh well, what do you expect in the British summer?

Saturday, 6 June 2015

UK Summer Motorhome and Caravan Show

As regular readers of this blog may or may not know, the Swan Whisperer and I are intending to buy a motor home and travel around Europe now that he has retired.  To this end, we have been visiting various dealers, looking on the web, and generally doing our homework to see what sort of machine we want.

Today, as part of that research, we visited the UK Summer Motorhome and Caravan Show at the Kent County Showground today.  It was fascinating - not only lots of new and used motorhomes and camper vans on sale, but also loads of accessories, and the kind of stall you only ever find at shows, whether game fairs, country shows or shows like this one.  I always enjoy pottering around and looking.

But today was fairly serious, and we have ended up with a variety of choices, although some are pretty much out of our price range.  But we know what we're looking for, which is the main thing.  Something like this, if we can find a nice one, would be perfect.  Or perhaps this, but they are too new to have any second-hand models yet, and it is just outside our budget as it is.  This one, the previous model in the Sunlight range, is available second-hand, but it is a bit longer - over 6 metres, rather than just under.

Well, we will eventually find the perfect one.  And if anybody knows of a French bed, half-dinette low-profile coachbuilt motor home for sale, let me know!

So we came away, and both of us went fast asleep as soon as we got home!