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CAMPING IN LONDON

The camp-site at Crystal Palace was as nice as the one at Charmouth, with lots of trees, grass and lovely ablution blocks. Although right on a busy road, we were never disturbed by traffic noise. The bus stop was 5 minutes down the road, and the trip into London took about 40-50 minutes by bus and tube. David disconnected the battery of the van, and we each bought an Oyster card and loaded a 7-day Travelcard onto it. For £33 each it gave us the freedom of unlimited travel for the week. Our accommodation cost £110 for the week, so all the essentials were then taken care of.
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On Monday we explored Trafalgar Square area
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and went to the National Gallery [free!] to enjoy the fantastic works of art. Sadly the JM Waterhouse exhibition Sandi was longing to see ended on 13/9, and there wasn’t really any significant Pre-Raphaelite painting in the Gallery. We ate our corned beef bread-rolls at the fountains, having decided to make lunch daily to try to avoid expensive temptations!. We could not believe that all the pigeons [barring a few old renegades] have gone; no doubt chased away by some pest-controlling hawk. We both had happy memories of feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square many years ago.
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We walked around Soho for a while and came across this arch with the meaningful inscription.
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China Town is such a buzz [super lekka], with red lanterns adorning the streets and Chinese restaurants +++.
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We stopped to buy a few supplies in one of the little food stores, but basically went in just to look at all the amazing ingredients. Sandi loved it, then back home to Crystal Palace campsite to recover from serious “Disney foot”! [A term coined by the Nye boys when we visited Disneyland yonks ago, and their feet became too tired to continue walking.]

Tuesday was supposed to be partly spent at the Indian market in Ealing, Wembley, but that was a bit of a bomb-out, as we spent hours getting there and wandering up and down the wrong end of the very long Ealing Road. Anyway, it was what it was. We then went off to meet Buz [Dave’s best man], and walked in Regent's Park with him before going back to his flat for dinner.
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It was good to catch up with him, but it was rather late by the time we finally left there, getting back to our little house-on-wheels way after midnight.

Wednesday we finally found the right section of Ealing Road and the fab pukka Indian market, filled with great fresh produce and wonderful herbs and spices [and cheap punjabi suits which Sandi couldn’t resist so bought 3 for the grand total of £17.50 !!] We passed this fabulous Hindi temple under construction in Ealing Road; it looked like an intricately carved sand-castle.
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Then, with rucksack loaded with veg supplies including juicy ginger and fresh turmeric root,
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we made our way back to the city and visited the British Museum [free too], which was so huge it was overwhelming [but very grand] – couldn’t do more than see the ancient Egyptian exhibition, but definitely worth another visit in the future. The fact that the camera battery went flat 5 minutes into the excursion meant we had to capture the rest of the memories with our eyes only.
Seated Sakhmets

Seated Sakhmets


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Then it was a much-anticipated treat of an eat-all-you-can Chinese dinner in China Town, and then the highlight treat of a live show -"We Will Rock You" at the Dominion Theatre thereafter. It was difficult choosing just one show out of the many on offer, but we had missed this one when it was in Cape Town. It was FANTASTIC!! worth every penny of the [half-price] tickets we bought. The live band played Queen's music to perfection, and the actors [singing, OTT acting, and dancing] were totally outstanding. We finally limped home, exhausted but happy, and had to lie in a bit the next day, because we were so whacked!!

In the afternoon we had made an appointment to visit the Haven Centre for breast cancer sufferers in Fulham. The director, Caroline, showed us around the centre; a beautifully appointed, converted and decorated old church building. How we would love funding to set up a clinic of similar style and purpose back home. We'll keep dreaming and manifesting!
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After that we headed back to King’s Cross where we met old pal Jonathan Shopley for a catch-up and supper.

London markets were on the cards for Friday, so we browsed Spittalfield Market, which was very plush, and Petticoat Lane [complete trash on sale there now], then Shepherd’s Bush [now nothing like the memories Sandi had of it when she last visited a few years back when Jamie was living there]. We then headed to Kew Gardens by tube. The open-grounds parts of Kew Gardens were underwhelming [compared to Kirstenbosch gardens], but in fairness, it is probably also the wrong season to visit.
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Sandi was delighted by a huge pine tree sporting little pine cones, like candles on a Christmas tree.
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The old glass house was interesting as it was filled with tropical and medicinal plants.
Bottle palm

Bottle palm


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The lily house had a selection of lovely waterlilies
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Loofah fruit

Loofah fruit


Nepenthes ampullaria

Nepenthes ampullaria


and the modern Princess of Wales House contained a tremendous variety of flora from tiny stone cacti to glorious orchids.
Colchicum autumnalis

Colchicum autumnalis


Swamp Bay Magnolia

Swamp Bay Magnolia


Stone cactus

Stone cactus


Passion flower

Passion flower


Orchid

Orchid


Orchid

Orchid


A most fascinating Day-of-the-Triffids-like plant: Aristolochia grandiflora or pelican flower from the Caribbean

A most fascinating Day-of-the-Triffids-like plant: Aristolochia grandiflora or pelican flower from the Caribbean


Variegated leaves

Variegated leaves


Little robin red breast

Little robin red breast


Underground there were some exotic creatures such as this Green water dragon
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Kew Palace is the smallest palace of the Royal family and is situated in the grounds.
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We got back early-ish (7pm) [1½ hours on public transport - aaaah London!] and Sandi made us a delicious prawn curry supper in the van, inspired by the turmeric root and Indian spices from the Ealing Road marketplace. Kitchen prep area is "pens-en-pootjies" on the bed, as there's no room for us both to stand in the "kitchen" area of the van, so when it comes to the cooking part we either swap places, or one of us has to stand outside! The joys of compact living.
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We decided to take it easy again the next morning, as the wind was howling and we were rather tired of hours and hours on buses, trains and underground. We thought of seeing a movie but decided to meet up with Buz on the South Bank, before wandering up to Covent garden for a leisurely supper at Wagamama. Seems we always end up there when in London, to which Jamie, Lissi, and Greg can attest, as we took them there for meals.
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London was great, but we were exhausted every day, suffering from Disney foot, Kew knee, Brixton toe, and Evangelist ear [black woman screeching the gospel at our regular bus stop in Brixton!]
To us it will always be a vibrant city, filled with wonderful experiences, and with so much to still see and do, we hope to return one day before the Zimmer frames get us.

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…
...for there is in London all that life can afford."
- Dr Samuel Johnson, 1777

Posted by davidsandi 01:00 Archived in England

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