30 August 2021

Bank Holiday Excursion

 Last week, we had noticed the 452 bus that went, we discovered, from Vauxhall to Kensal Rise, and we agreed that on our next Expotition we would take it and see where it went.  Well, to Kensal Rise, obvs, but where was Kensal Rise and how did the bus get there?

We started off by getting a P5 into Brixton and then a 2 up to Vauxhall - I had thought we might take the Tube, but a bus was coming.  It is a very grey and dull day, but not raining.

At Vauxhall bus station there wasn't long to wait for a 452. 

At first, it followed the route of the 196 from Vauxhall, down past Nine Elms Sainsbury's and the new Tube Station, Springfield Church, and so on, but where the 196 turns left, it goes straight on, past Wandsworth Road station, and so to Cedars Road, where it turns right, and follows the route of the 137 across Chelsea Bridge, up Sloane Street (I was surprised to see cafés in the middle of Sloane Square) and into Knightsbridge (incredibly slow, as always). 

Then it turns up Kensington Gore, and goes past the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial,

and so on to Kensington High Street, turning right up Kensington Church Street, passing Notting Hill Gate and then Ladbroke Grove.  Just before the Regents Canal and the Westway it did a quick dive into a big Sainsbury's - how useful of it - and then came back on to the main road, and so up to Kensal Rise Station.

We got off the bus and went to look for a cup of tea.  In fact, most of the cafés, we discovered too late, too late, were on the other side of the road, and had we crossed, we would have had a wide choice.  As it was, we found a Gail's Bakery with benches outside, which was nice (we had jackets today!).  The Swan Whisperer had a cup of coffee and a granola bar, and I had a cup of Earl Grey - I don't know what the brand was, but it was delicious.  I would have liked something to eat, but decided it would spoil my supper if I did, so resisted temptation. 

After we had finished our drinks, we saw there was a southbound 452 coming, so we caught it and stayed on it as far as Sloane Square, where we got off and walked across the square to see how it had changed.  Peter Jones is covered in scaffolding and looked almost derelict, but I think it was open.  At the other end, the Royal Court Theatre is still there.  I took a picture of the cafés.  

And then we caught a 137 all the way home!  I had been farsighted, for once, and made a pork and bean casserole, which I put into the slow cooker section of the Instant Pot.  Unfortunately, I think I should have cooked it on high rather than medium, as the potatoes and carrots are still crunchy, but nothing that 5 minutes or so in the pressure cooker function won't cure. 

21 August 2021


 Next month, apparently on 19 September, the new branch of the Northern Line opens to Battersea Power Station station.  Now, it so happens that I'm preaching that day in a church not far from the new Nine Elms station (which is next door to the enormous Sainsbury's at Nine Elms).  So obviously, the thing to do will be to get a bus to Battersea Power Station station and get a tube up to Nine Elms (and, if necessary, a bus back one stop to the church), and then after the service we'll go up to Nine Elms again (perhaps having a coffee in Sainsbury's while we are there) and then on the Tube again one stop - a very long stop, apparently, the longest in Zone 1 after the Drain - to Kennington, and then change and come back to Clapham North.  Well, we shall see.

But although we knew where Nine Elms station is going to be, I had no real idea where the Battersea Power Station station will be.  However, the Swan Whisperer said he'd often gone past the site on his runs, so today we decided to go and explore.

We had been going to get a 137 up to Battersea Park and take it from there, but just missed one, and there wasn't another one signalled, so we thought we would cross the road and get a P5 to the end of its route, which turned out to be just opposite the new station. 

I was rather amused by the legend "Thessaly Road Bridge" on what was patently a railway bridge,

but we agreed it must be the bridge across Thessaly Road!  Anyway, I had half expected to walk straight to the 137 stop, which is a bit further away, but we decided to explore a bit.  The Swan Whisperer says that every time he comes, the roads he can use are slightly different, as the whole place is a vast building site, with huge blocks of flats springing up here, there and everywhere, including in the former power station.  I know the American Embassy is somewhere round there, but not sure where.

Anyway, the place was very obviously turning into a "district" with shops and bars and restaurants all over the place, and a lovely terrace by the river.

  We might have eaten out, but it was a bit early, and neither of us had jackets (we did have macs, but no other coats or jerseys) and we thought we might get cold sitting out - and I, for one, am not prepared to sit indoors in a crowded restaurant yet.  

So we walked under Grosvenor Bridge, and then there was a lift up to street level - we made rather fools of ourselves as we kept pressing the wrong button and staying put rather than going up, but we got there in the end.  And then it said the bus would be in 7 minutes, but actually, it came at once.  We stopped at the nicer vegan café when we got off the bus, and thought of eating there, but the same objections applied as by the river, so came home and have had beer and now the SW is cooking sausages and mash.  More photos on Facebook.

24 June 2021

June Holiday, 24 June

The last full day of our holiday.  This morning we walked round the Elsecar centre.  I wouldn't say I was overwhelmed by it, but I wasn't underwhelmed, either.  Can one say one was whelmed?  Anyway, most of the buildings are turned over to the sort of shops you would expect that sort of place to have  - craft shops (one was lovely, I nearly bought some wool there!), bespoke furniture makers, vegan body products etc.  I did buy some shower gel I had been wanting.  

However, apart from the shops there were a great many plaques telling you the history of the site, the FitzWilliam family who owned the site and the ironworks and so on. That bit was interesting.  The heritage railway would have been lovely had it been working.... 

But this holiday is nearly over, and we had to head south.  I wanted to stop about half way between Elsecar and No 6, but this campsite is slightly more than that.  We stopped at a local Morrison's for diesel and shopping, and at Rutland Water for lunch, very pretty (and a very nice lunch from Morrison's), and then drove here.  They are building a viaduct for HS2 so we are diverted and although the diversion was easy to follow, the machine got absolutely covered in mud from the works - it has been raining slightly, not hard, on and off all day!  The camp site is like all of them; most are very nice except the one in Berwick, and even that wasn't bad. 

But what I do hate in this country is having to go on motorways most of the time.  In France or Germany there is nearly always an alternative route, and you can tell the Satnav that we're not using motorways today, thank you, but here there isn't really an alternative.  And who knows when we will be able to travel to France or Germany again? 

23 June 2021

June holiday, 23 June

I haven't done much today except a quick shop in Lidl. We went there first and then drove to Harrogate, which is very pretty, and then on round Leeds until we got here, which is Elsecar (I keep thinking of Elsie Carr from the "Katy" books). Sadly, the heritage railway is still closed and the actual heritage centre seems to be artisanal shops, rather like Merton Abbey Mills. The Swan Whisperer, who had a quick look, says they are ok, but.... Anyway, I'll have a look in the morning.

Meanwhile, here is tonight's view from my bed. 

22 June 2021

June Holiday, 22 June

The Swan Whisperer went for a run this morning, and said it was really lovely.  I'll take his word for it!  I used the sanitary block for my shower, although they do say to use your own facilities if you can.  Then after a leisurely breakfast, we drove over to the Park and Ride - which isn't actually very far, but across a quite dangerous roundabout - and caught the bus into Durham.  

After looking round the market for a bit, caught the shuttle bus up the hill to the Cathedral, and spent a very happy hour wandering around there and taking photos.  At 12:30 they had Holy Communion, so we attended that, and then went into the Cloisters.  Unfortunately, the café was there, and the Swan Whisperer suggested we had lunch.  Big mistake - not the food, nothing wrong with that, but trying to make them understand that what we wanted was one soup and sandwich combo, plus soft drink, and one jacket potato with cheese, plus a slice of cake and a coffee - you would have thought nobody had ever ordered anything from them before!  Hopeless!  But the food was very good, actually. 

Before we moved on, I visited the Ladies, and was amused that they said no more than two people at a time - how on earth could they tell, when you couldn't even see the cubicles from the entrance, never mind whether they were occupied or not!

So, anyway, we moved on and would have liked to have visited the Castle and/or the Heritage centre, but everything was closed until July, so we couldn't.  We went back down the hill, and I visited the local Tesco, and then we found where the P&R bus went from - which wasn't where we had thought, but never mind - and one eventually came. 

When we got back to the car park, the SW suggested that before we went back to the campsite, we had a cup of tea and then headed off to see the Angel of the North, and that is exactly what we did!  It was amazing - far more impressive than you would think if you'd only seen photos.  

And so back to the camp site and we sat out for  bit until I got too hot and came indoors.  The SW is still sitting out, and I expect will do so until supper is ready.  

There are more photos on Facebook, by the way. 

21 June 2021

June Holiday, 21 June

We were not sorry to shake the dust of the campsite off our wheels this morning, although the trains hadn't been as noisy as we had feared. 

First port of all was a Tesco, where I did some shopping, including some peaches and nectarines which were £1.29 a punnet if you didn't have a club card, and only 49p if you did.  Rude not to, really!

We nipped into Scotland, slightly as a protest about people from Manchester not being allowed ("How would they know?" asked the Swan Whisperer, and, indeed, nobody tried to stop us).  We went past Coldstream and Kelso to Jedburgh, where the SW had a peep at the Abbey. 

We decided to go and have a look at Hadrian's Wall, and stopped off at a few places.  The trouble is, I was - and am - very tired today, so didn't feel able to walk much, and all the sites were a long way from the car park except the first, which charged £9.00 to go in and so difficult to know whether it was all open or only part of it.  So we didn't go in, but we did see quite a lot of the Wall just driving along, and here is a rather distant view of Housesteads. 

We then drove on south a bit to this campsite outside Durham, which we shall visit tomorrow.  The Swan Whisperer has gone for a walk and to explore public transport options - there is a P&R not far away but it is yet to be determined whether one can walk there.  The SW has just come back and says not, so we will take the van over. 

We have had very beautiful scenery today;  I always say nowhere is as beautiful as Sussex, but Northumbria and the Borders run it pretty close!

20 June 2021

June Holiday, 20 June

Today is Sunday.  We were always planning to go to Lindisfarne today, but the tides were such that the causeway was not available until this afternoon.  So we thought we would go to church, if we could find one in the area, and a bit of googling led us to Ford parish church, about six miles from where we had spent the night. 

Of course, the first order of the day was breakfast in the café, and very good it was too!  Only the Swan Whisperer ordered a latte instead of a flat white and said it was too milky, even for him.  

We found the church in good time and there was plenty of parking, which was great.  Service was, as it almost  always is in Anglican churches, a Communion, very odd to have it without the Cup, but in these Covid days.... And it's not as if this is totally unknown - Catholics always seem to do it that way. 

Anyway, after church we still had a couple of hours to fill so we drove down the Northumbrian coast road as far as Seahouses, passing Bamburgh Castle en route.  We parked up there and had lunch, and then drove back to Lindisfarne. 

It really is a pretty little town; because of its peculiar situation, there aren't the commuter houses you get round most other villages.  Most people who live there are involved in tourism or farming.  

We went to the Heritage Centre and saw some good films about the local wildlife, and a documentary about the Viking raids.   There were some lovely pictures of the Lindisfarne  Gospels, too, but sadly the interactive displays were closed due to you-know-what. 

We then walked down to the Priory, but I think you had to have booked, or there were too many people, or something.  But if you went into the churchyard it was free, and you could see most of what there was to be seen, so we did that.  And there were splendid views over Lindisfarne Castle and so on.  And, although I didn't take a photo, the statue of St Aidan which had featured prominently in a recent sermon at Brixton Hill!

We then drove on to the camp site, but it really isn't very nice.  The first pitch they gave us was so sloping that, even on the ramps, I couldn't have cooked. So we asked if we could possibly have another one, which was okay, but the electricity here doesn't work.  We have found a socket that does work  - and anyway, we don't really need it, having done quite happily without the last two nights, but still, we are paying for it.  But the worst is that the site is very near the East Coast main line, and trains go roaring past every few minutes.  Oh well, it's the first site I haven't liked.  And we have champagne, so.....