4.13.09 Into London!

London Travel Blog

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4.13.09 Into London!


We made it!  We drove through Central Zone London and lived to tell about it.  It was less than 60 miles via fast motorway into London and then we took the Great Western Road, or something like that through downtown London.  Most of the streets have speed cameras, which are highly effective in keeping all traffic to the speed limit of usually 40 mph through town.


Only two hiccups in our plan:  First, the road we needed to take had a 10’0” low bridge.  Hmmm, we measured Sugar the other day at 116”.  That is 9’8” which is way too close- no way am I risking Sugar on that bridge!  So we turned left and our GPS recalculated while we sweated it.


Then we were sent down a small street with cars parked on both sides.  I’ve learned to look waaaay down the street to see if we’ll make it before the turn.  Once you turn out of the traffic lane, you have to have a guided backup to back into traffic again.  Neither Jazy nor I enjoy that.  Fortunately, the road appeared clear ahead and traffic coming the opposite way kindly yielded to us.  We did have a “diversion” when our road was closed (again sweated it), but we were finally able to go under a larger bridge and made it to the campground.


Traffic was not overly busy due to the holiday, but lights would have two lanes going straight and then they would immediately become one through the light due to parked cars on the left.  So that was tricky merging when people were intent on beating the motorhome, but we only got a few mean looks.  I wonder, “Do people really think that this great big motorhome, driving through Central London, with Irish tags and the steering wheel on the left is local and knows the roads?”  So we cut ourselves some slack and stayed the course. 


Along the way, we noted signs saying things like “Restricted Zone:  Mon-Fri” and the daytime hours.  While this is a Bank Holiday today (Easter Monday), I’m betting we qualify for whatever “fee” gets mailed to the Behans, who absolutely must share with us all the little notices that we acquire, so we can pay them. 


We are definitely within the Emission Zone as well, so I think there is a daily fee for driving here if we’re not registered.  Online it said that we had to register 10 days in advance and by the time I figured out that it needed to be done in order to get to the campground, we were too late.  So if Sugar is not already registered as an “outside-the-UK, but new enough to qualify” rig, then we’ll have a daily fee for today and when we leave.  We should have followed the Church’s book directions.  It was like a free bus tour that you didn’t want.  Ha!


London was beautiful, looking like a fairy garden with all the dogwood and cherry trees blooming!  I convinced Jazy to breathe and pull out the camera to take a few pics.  I’ll have to organize and share some of those.

Good news!  Crystal Palace was able to get us in for the full week!  Jackie and the others in the office were very kind, called Abbey Woods CG and cancelled for us, and got us joined with the Caravan Club.  Joining cost 45L for the year, so we can use it when we return to Great Britain in the summer too.  Most importantly, it saved us 49L on our visit here this week, so that is good. 


This campground has the most convenient London transportation of the 4 London campgrounds and is only 16L per night.  That is really inexpensive, particularly for a major city!  Paris campground, by comparison, is 50 Euros a night.  Shoot, Seattle KOA is over $50 a night.  And this is a lovely campground.


We set up, for the first time, Sugar’s awning, the awning mat, the table and chairs.  As one camper happening by said, we “look very civilized.”


Our camping neighbors beside us are from Greenwich, which is a suburb of London, and just a train or tube ride away.  In fact, we are planning on riding out there to see my old place in Lewisham and seeing the Greenwich Mean Time clock at 0 Longitude.  But last week, the teacher of their younger son asked the class who had been to London and only two kids in the entire class raised their hands! 


So with that, they packed up the Volkswagen with pop-top and tent and came on out to do London for the school holiday.  Their set up is very neat with a sort of pop-up-camper overhang on their pop-top on the van- and they did not have any worry about that 10’ bridge in central London.


Camping tent/awning gear is very innovative now.  We saw many tents at the Go Outdoors camping store by our Oxford campground- they were fascinating with things like various private rooms, extra foyer with rain flap and ground barrier (so you can take off your rain gear before climbing into the actual tent with your bedding), etc.  The kids were enthralled with the idea of tent camping.  I would require a high-quality self-inflating air mattress and sleeping bag before I attempt tent-camping again.  But I do like the freedom of adventure traveling in a small vehicle and connecting it with a tent/awning room.


It is after 2pm.  The bikes are ready and we’re going to explore the park here (we’re near dinosaur territory), the grocery store, get our transportation Oyster passes for London, and plan our itinerary so we can explore the city tomorrow.


We really, really like the feeling of staying in one place for a whole week!  What a relief not to have to move again until we head down to the Chunnel.

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photo by: ulysses