Everyone met up at my house at 10.45 and we left, on time(!), at 11.00. There were eight of us – Mat & Antony (Scouts), Tony, Carol & Michelle (Ventures) and Dave, Jop and myself (leaders). The actual journey itself wasn’t too bad, except it was very hot. We stopped off on the M1 at a service station for some lunch at about 13.00. After restarting, we arrived at the camp site at around 14.40. As we were driving in, we met the Bailiff on the way out! He was just off to meet his grandchildren and said that he would be back in around an hour. So we were left to do a bit of sunbathing.
Once the Bailiff came back, we got the keys to the buildings (we cheated and didn’t camp this time!) and got set up. While some of the group set up the rooms, the rest of us went shopping.
With the shopping finished we returned for a quick tea and it was then off into London itself for a ‘London Walk’. Fortunately the Tube was behaving, and we arrived at Tower Hill on time for the start of the ‘Jack The Ripper Haunts’ walk. There were so many people wanting to take the tour that it had to be split in two. It was a very interesting and informative tour. We got to see some of the bits of London not normally seen by tourists and also learned a bit about The Ripper and the conditions of the Victorian East end of London.
We got back to the site completely knackered!
We actually got up at a respectable time and after a good breakfast set off into London again.
First stop was Hyde Park to watch the 41 gun salute for the Queen Mother’s 101st birthday. You don’t actually realise the scale of what is going to happen until some soldiers walk onto the field by their ammo boxes. Moments later horses come thundering down the field pulling the gun carriages. The guns are then set up and on the stroke of midday, they start to fire one by one. Our ears rung for a few minutes after they finished firing – I’m glad they were only blanks!
Jop and Dave then hired a rowing boat and Mat and I hired a peddle boat for half an hour on The Serpentine – how very civilised!
After a bit of persuasion from Carol and Michelle we then went to Harrods. Our favourite bargains were £50 per kg for some mushrooms and £6500 for an antique chair! Once we had bought the place up we went on to Covent Garden for a quick look round.
Our final stop for the day was Oxford Street. On passing the theatre staging Les Miserables, Dave and Jop decided that they would like to ‘take in a show’, so they went to get tickets for that evening’s performance. They were lucky and got reasonable cheap tickets, so they went back to the camp with Antony while the rest of us carried on to Oxford Street. As we were on our way, we got caught in a major downpour – no matter where we go, no matter what we do, we always get wet!
As we got back to the site Dave & Jop were leaving for their evening of culture and so we had our tea and chilled out for the rest of the evening. A slight diversion was that my cousin popped round to say ‘Hi’ (his family live just round the corner from the campsite).
After a more leisurely start and later breakfast, during which Dave & Jop told us about their adventures after the show in Soho, we set off on our travels once more. We travelled down to Tower Hill and crossed over The Thames on Tower Bridge. We then had a walk along the South bank of The Thames towards the Tate Modern art gallery. We had a quick look round, it certainly is an impressive building (it’s an old power station), with some interesting exhibits.
As time was pressing on we had to carry on down The Thames towards Westminster to the London Eye. The views from The Eye are very impressive, especially on a fine clear day, which we had. We could even see Alexandra Palace which is just up the road from where we were camping.
Once finished on The Eye, we wandered up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square for a few photo opportunities.
After we got back to the site, it was time for the traditional end of camp BBQ. Jop & Dave did a splendid job of cooking and, as usual, we had too much to eat again. My cousin turned up again and helped us out with the food.
Got up a bit earlier than usual as we had to pack up and tidy up before going out. Also, we had to make sure that our uniforms were looking smart and pressed properly as we were off to the Houses of Parliament.
Just as we set out for the Tube, it started to throw down with rain and wet got drenched (again…….). Fortunately, by the time we arrived at Westminster we had all dried out. We met up with our local Member of Parliament, Paul Farrelly, who had arranged a tour round Parliament for us. The Palace of Westminster is a fascinating place, full of history and the actual Commons chamber is a lot smaller than it looks on T.V.
Back at camp, we had an improvised lunch, packed up and left at 15.30. We finally got home just before 19.00.
All of us were knackered, but a good time was had by all.
Written by Nick