Thursday, 15 December 2016
We picked up Boy Two from Senate House shortly after 10:00 am and got a bus down to Waterloo Bridge, and then walked down the steps to the South Bank - but not a Christmas Market hut in sight. Frantic Googling not only ate most of my phone's battery but also discovered that there were markets on the Queen's Walk (near the Eye) and at Bankside. As we were near the Queen's Walk, we went there first - but despite the fact that it was 11:00 nothing was open, and there were only about five stalls anyway. Huge disappointment.
So we decided we'd try Bankside. Since it was the Swan Whisperer's birthday, we thought we'd be extravagant and get a river bus down there, but of course we just missed one! Still, we had the tickets, so we wandered about the Eye. Boy Two asked if we could go on it, but we explained that it was very expensive and the kind of thing we reserved for a birthday treat - we did actually wonder about treating the SW, but he thought not. We said we might take him next birthday.... Anyway, we wandered round the souvenir shop, with the caveat that "We're not buying anything today" (the boys have been brought up to respect that, and don't nag, which is wonderful); both Boy Two and I fell in love with stuffed Corgis with Union flag coats on, but resisted temptation!
After which, it was time to go back to the pier, and we duly caught our riverbus to Bankside. We nipped into Tate Modern to use the loos there, and then explored its Christmas market. Also disappointing, although the stalls were open. We had the obligatory mulled wine - a non-alcoholic punch for Boy Two - and the SW and I both had a Bratwurst in a roll. Boy Two said he would prefer a hamburger, so we got him one - the biggest you ever did see, but he ate almost all of it, most of the onions and half the bun before admitting to being "a bit full up now"! So we mopped up and then walked to London Bridge for a bus back to Walthamstow so that he could have a nap if he needed to, which he did. So, I may say, did the Swan Whisperer!
All in all I was very unimpressed with the Christmas markets this year. Time was, they would stretch down between Waterloo and Westminster bridges, practically, and were splendid with gingerbread and other stalls, but not this year.. I believe there is a third around More London, but we didn't go there, and I don't intend to.
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
However, we got up at 7:00, as planned (in fact, I got up a little earlier and turned the hot water on, but then went back to bed again), and were away by 08:30. Before sunrise, although not before dawn..... we drove across country to Tréport/Eu enjoying the sunrise over the "big sky", and then up to Abbeville and so to the motorway. We reached Cité Europe about 11 and did an enormous, mostly Christmas, shop, and then were lucky enough to get a berth on the Shuttle going an hour earlier than the one we'd booked. We spent the crossing eating lunch, and only realised afterwards that by UK time it was actually only 12:15.... oh well.
A swift and easy drive home, where we arrived by 2:00, and then an hour's hard work and we got everything put away. Although as we are using the van as an extension of No 6 over Christmas, we have just put a bedspread on the bed and left the towels in the bathroom. Now just the laundry to do, and to take the motor home down to Sussex on Friday, and that is it for this year. Next trip early in the New Year..... Barcelona, perhaps?
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Monday, 5 December 2016
Sunday, 4 December 2016
Saturday, 3 December 2016
I had sat the alarm for 08:00 this morning, but by the time we got away it was 09:30 and we had wasted at least an hour's daylight. Tomorrow, even though it is Sunday, we will be up at 07:00 and, I hope, away earlier. Or out for a walk, but the days are so short it is a pity to waste daylight.
We set the Satnav to take us to Saint-Brieuc, but decided not to go into the town itself. The first part of the trip we went across country, and then along a nearly motorway-standard N road, stopping for lunch at a service area. Our own lunch, I hasten to add, not what was provided by a café. Then we drove on, catching a glimpse of Mont Saint Michel in the distance, and up the coast to this town, Paimpol. We are in a very nice aire, nobody else around, with services. It cost €4, and there is free parking in the town, but we need services.
The Swan Whisperer went out for a walk and then we had a cup of tea before we walked into town and had dinner at a random, but very good, creperie. And then back, and more or less straight to bed, although we did put the heating on for ten minutes, and boiled the kettle for bottles and tea. He is now charging his phone and checking the sports results... Which I am so not interested in, but he persists in taking me anyway.
Friday, 2 December 2016
We couldn't really let the year end without another short trip in the motor home; after all, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a booze cruise!
We couldn't leave on our usual 10:30 pm crossing as the Swan Whisperer had a rehearsal for the Christmas Show, so we were never going to be able to leave London much before 9:30 pm. In fact, the next crossing was not until 1:30 am, arriving in France at 03:00 local time. Eek! However, we managed it, but by the time we had made our way to the car park (and they have changed the exit from the Eurotunnel yet again), turned on the gas, sorted out windows and blinds, etc, it was at least 3:30 am. I had travelled in pyjamas, on the grounds that I wouldn't need to get out of the van once I was in it, and had spent the crossing curled up in bed, so it didn't take too long to snuggle down.
Needless to say, we didn't surface until after 10:00 am this morning! And there was a late breakfast and some shopping before we got away. The Carrefour looks amazing, and French supermarkets do Christmas so much better than ours do! Lots of foie gras, smoked salmon, champagne, etc....
Anyway, we got away at last and headed to the Aire du Baie de la Somme for lunch, and then on as far as Falaise, where we are parked up for the night. And drinking wine....
Saturday, 12 November 2016
Our seats were in either the first or the last carriage, depending on which way we were going! And there were several route reversals during the day. They gave us a printed itinerary, so we knew where we were and whether we were in time or not.
It was a very grey and dreary November day, with very little colour about. As always, perhaps the nicest part of the journey was the Mid-Sussex line, aka the Arun Valley Line, which runs through the water-meadows of the Arun valley, and passes Arundel Castle.
After Hastings, we headed back to - I was going to say Birmingham by way of Bethnal Green - but back to St Pancras via places like Sevenoaks, St Mary Cray, and then Rochester again to rejoin HS1 at Ebbsfleet. It was dark by then, of course, so one couldn't see much, and I was a bit stiff after sitting all day, but we had had plenty of opportunities to get up and move around and stretch, so it wasn't as bad as it might have been!
All in all, a very enjoyable day, and on-train sales, raffle tickets (no joy, of course) and a silent auction which I didn't participate in raised about £2,500 for the Royal British Legion.
But would somebody please tell me why it is easy to find the King's Cross exit from the Victoria Line platforms, very close to it, but utterly impossible to find the Victoria Line platforms from the King's Cross entrance????? There seems to be a wormhole that means whatever way you go you have to walk down endless claustrophobia-inducing tunnels with horrible lighting.....
Saturday, 5 November 2016
We nearly didn't go - the Rostelecom Cup was on all afternoon - but dragged ourselves away from the television after the ice dance, and got a 159 bus up to Piccadilly Circus. This was nearly a mistake as it took about half an hour to cross Westminster Bridge, which seems to have been reduced to one lane in each direction. However, once it had done that, Whitehall and Trafalgar Square were relatively free, and we got off at Regent Street/St James and walked across Piccadilly Circus to the start of the show.
The actual vintage cars only took up part of the street; the first part was about vintage racing cars, rather dull really, except there was the late great James Hunt's racing car.
It was quite interesting - probably not worth a special trip to London, but certainly worth a visit. Presumably this happens on the first Saturday in November every year, so there will be other occasions.
Tuesday, 1 November 2016
The walk started off outside Nunhead Library, which is closed for redevelopment until 5 December, but is really rather an enchanting building. We then stopped on Nunhead Green to talk about the area - a craft beer shop and an enormous estate agents providing proof of gentrification! Then it was along Linden Grove (where Charles Dickens apparently installed one of his mistresses) to the cemetery.
It was really lovely! It is, of course, on of the Magnificent Seven suburban cemeteries established in the 1830s and 1840s when London's churchyards were overflowing. It was used for burials for over 100 years, but closed in 1969. And left to rot for the next 20 years, while wildlife and nature took over. And, of course, there was a lot of urban exploration, drug-taking, and downright vandalism going on. Eventually the cemetery was bought by Southwark Council for £1, and eventually it was restored - there are Friends of the Cemetery who volunteer to help keep the walkways open and so on.
some scouts who had drowned in a disaster off the Isle of Sheppey, near a World War 1 cemetery.
From the top of the hill, there is a protected view of St Paul's Cathedral, but it was too foggy to see it today!
Contrary to popular perception, it wasn't in the slightest bit spooky - it was lovely and peaceful. Apart from people walking their dogs, of course, but then, how lovely that they should have such a big space available for to do that in! It really is a lovely place, and I would happily go back if it wasn't slightly awkward to get to!
Friday, 28 October 2016
We knew where we had finished our last tour, at the end of the Regency period, but weren't quite sure how to get to it without going through the whole museum, but it was fairly well signposted, and after one false start, fortunately terminated by the Boy's need to visit the loo, we found where we had been, and headed on through the Victorian section, where they have mock-ups of shops as they would have been back then. And a very splendid penny-farthing bicycle, which neither of us could imagine riding. And so on through the sections until we reached the point we had reached three years ago, where there are model trains and things to play with. And, just as three years ago, he was promptly engrossed and spent a very long time playing!
So then to lunch at Pret's - the Boy had his current favourite tuna and cucumber baguette, and drank 3/4 can fizzy lemonade, and I had a their falafel mezze salad and some coffee. I do like Pret's coffee! Then we went back and eventually found the bus stop - I had got turned around and needed help from my phone to find where I was, compared to where I meant to be - and waiting for a 56, which took us up through Islington and Hackney Downs and past the Lee Valley Ice Centre and Riding Centre. We changed buses at the Bakers Arms and went the rest of the way on a W16.
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed. It ought to have been fascinating, but somehow it wasn't. Archaeologists had discovered two cities near Alexandria, called Thonis-Heracleieon and Canopus, and the exhibition showed some of the things they had excavated. Which were good, especially the heads of two sphinxes, one of which looked exactly like my old headmistress....
The selling point was supposed to be the links between the Greeks and the Egyptians back in the day, but mostly they concentrated on who worshipped what, and how, which was very dull. I'd have loved to have seen more about how ordinary people lived, and what they did. But I suppose that sort of thing doesn't survive long immersion in the Mediterranean, whereas votive statues and so on do....
Ah well. En route to the museum, I was amused to notice the signs at Tottenham Court Road station which will, one day, direct the traveller to "Crossrail" - presumably they are now going to have to change these as it's going to be called the Elizabeth Line instead! What a waste. Very slow journey home on the 59, there must have been a diversion somewhere as the Royal Mile down to Aldwych was gridlocked.
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
So home, and unpacking and putting away and tidying up.... and on Friday the van will go home to Sussex until the next time. When and where that will be we don't know yet. Probably at least one more holiday this year.
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Sunday, 25 September 2016
Saturday, 24 September 2016
Friday, 23 September 2016
Thursday, 22 September 2016
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Monday, 19 September 2016
Sunday, 18 September 2016
Today was mostly housekeeping - changing sheets and towels - and driving to Berlin. SW went out for a walk when we got here, but I have done absolutely nothing except read, and have enjoyed it very much. Campsite crowded, but we knew it would be. Not at all bad for a capital city one.
Saturday, 17 September 2016
Friday, 16 September 2016
Thursday, 15 September 2016
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Today was a rest day, and Hann. Münden a very lovely town in which to spend it. We have done very little, apart from walking round the Old Town in the morning, and a load of washing this evening. Also deciding that we want to stay on the FTR until we get to Bremen, so not going to Braunschweig tomorrow but to another town that is on the route, whose name escapes me, but where I gather we can park right in the town centre, and to which we can get to via various noteworthy sights.
It is still very hot, but the forecast tells us the weather will break tomorrow night.