Better late than never – possibly, as we’ve been back from our Christmas holiday getaway for over a fortnight. Mind you a friend and fellow blogger – amongst other things – has recently published a blog about a trip from August – so that makes me feel a little better!
Right, where were we. Ah yes. Christmas. The main reason for stopping in Cambridgeshire was to spend time with Trev’s Mum aka HRH and the aforementioned Trev cooked a fantastic meal on Christmas day, utilising our slow cooker from the caravan for the beef which was gorgeous. His sister and brother-in-law joined us from Norfolk for the day and a good time was had by all. During the morning whilst Trev was busy in the kitchen I also got to try some chilli beer thanks to Trev’s other bro-in-law who lives next door. Four different strengths were on offer and, being a vindaloo, or at the very least madras fan, the first two were no challenge at all. The third one however was a different story, and rather than gently sipping it a gulped back a large mouth full. Oh stop it, really. Anyway. Mistake. I entered a state of suspended animation, unable to speak, or more crucially breathe for what seemed a lifetime. Fortunately, some champagne was proffered and gratefully accepted to quell the inferno. No sooner had my senses returned to normal then we were on the fourth of the beers. We were expecting the worst but it was surprisingly innocuous, leading us to the conclusion, that they’d labelled the bottles wrongly.
We’d hope to catch up with some some friends too but once again time beat you us. Even research expeditions were limited to a quick pint in the excellent Duke of Wellington in Willingham whose enthusiasm for real ale means there is always something new to try.
The prophets of doom in the met office were true to their word and our pitch was well and truly flooded by the time it came to leave on Saturday morning. Whilst I love caravanning, there were moments that morning, packing up in the cold and wet, with cold wet feet and my continuing hacking cough that it – momentarily – lost its magic. Queues at Gatwick airport suddenly seemed very appealing!
Our destination was to be Crystal Palace – south London for the uninitiated – and the 75 mile journey could not have gone much easier. In fact I found it very easy as Trev was driving! Soon after midday we were pulling up at reception and by 2pm we’d set up, gone for a pint (yes, just the one, honest!) and a burger at the excellent Wetherspoons in the Crystal palace triangle and settled down for the rest of the day.
Sunday saw us flash the Oyster cards for the first time as we headed over to Shepherd’s Bush in west London to meet up with friends and to see QPR take on Crystal Palace in the football premier league. We have no affinity with either club but our friend is a QPR fan and we were staying in Crystal Palace. Moreover both sides were languishing near the bottom of the league. Obviously, some pre match er, research was called for but we managed not to miss kick off – just. The game itself was OK, though it was clear why both sides were where they were in the league. The result, 0 – 0 was about right.
Keith and Tony joined us for part of the first bus journey – crawling along past Hyde Park before getting off at Victoria to continue their journey by train back to Brighton. We changed buses at Elephant and Castle pausing for for sustenance – both solid and liquid before you ask – before returning to the site via Peckham.
Monday saw us back in the heart of London, but not before meeting up with a couple of guys for coffee in the morning. I’d posted on the Freedom Club message board where we’d be staying and Paul & Terry got in touch to say hello. We had an enjoyable chat and promised to meet up again the following day.
The second of our pre-booked activities was the theatre and we decided to go into the city early and get something to eat prior. We left it a little too late and had trouble finding anywhere with a table as the matinee’s had all just turned out. We ended up in the upstairs of a tourist trap pub. The food was average, no more but a hastily downloaded voucher on my phone went some way to offsetting the eye-watering beer prices. Service was not included according to the bill. It was barely visible in the pub either.
The play in question was Great Britain at the smart and well preserved Theatre Royal, Haymarket. A satire on phone hacking and other questionable activities by a national newspaper hacking and the subsequent scandals and court cases. It was easy to spot who the characters were based on although names – and sometimes sex – was changed to protect the guilty. As probably befits a national newspaper office, the language was industrial but it was amusing without being laugh out loud funny. Certainly a play for our time but its limited appeal means it’s short run has not been extended. Fans of ‘Hustle’ amongst many others, would recognise Robert Glenister as the foul mouthed editor.
A little research was called for and we found a quiet pub on a side street just away from Trafalgar Square for a post theatre er, de-brief.
Tuesday saw us again meet with Terry and Paul for coffee in the morning, then once again heading into central London later on. The Adelphi theatre on the Strand was the destination this time, and another relatively new production, the musical Made in Dagenham based on the film of the same name and telling the story of the fight for equal pay by the women working in Ford’s car factory. We were early so took a stroll around Covent Garden taking in the atmosphere.
All in all, a great show. Impressive sets and some great original songs made it a very enjoyable evenings entertainment and a bucket full of cough sweets ensured I could keep shtum during the quieter parts. We eschewed the chance if some late evening research however and headed back to the warmth of Patsy.
New Years Eve was a quiet affair. We’d never really intended to go into central London for the celebrations and decided against a tour of the local boozers as per last year. Instead, we met Terry and Paul again for an early evening meal then all retired to Patsy to talk and drink in the new year and very enjoyable it was too.
And that, essentially was that. Another trip done and a good time largely had although certainly towards then end I was feeling jaded and below par. Suffolk was lovely, even in winter and we always enjoy our time in London. We splashed out a bit this time on entertainment but there is so much to do that needn’t cost the earth. We already have some plans for our next trip to ‘the smoke’ whenever that may be, and you wont be surprised to learnt that a little ‘research’ may be involved…..
So, at the time of typing its three weeks to half term and our next break. We’re going to keep a close eye on the weather and book at the last minute, the Isle of Wight being favourite at the moment. No other concrete plans have been made as yet but the Easter and/or Summer holidays may well find Patsy on a ferry again.
So, until then….