With the high winds and heavy rain we are currently experiencing, my arse is twitching a bit about towing to London at the end of the week for a short break between Christmas and the New Year. I don't know why because I tow with a big heavy 4x4 and the van is fitted with ATC.
Anyway, the pitch is booked at The Caravan Club site in Crystal Palace and we have tickets to see The Commitments at The Palace Theatre on Shaftsbury Ave (Hopefully their ceiling will be fully intact).
This got my memory racing back to the very first time we towed up and into London just after Christmas 2006. Again we had a pitch booked at Crystal Palace (where else can a family of 4 sleep in London for £20 per night?) and show tickets in my back pocket (We Will Rock You), and again we were promised horrendous storms.
Sat in the house on the evening on December 29th 2005 we watched the weather forecast anxiously. herself and I had a little look at each other when @DerekTheWeather cheerfully announced what was coming in off the Atlantic towards us (it was due to hit us at around 11pm and stay for 2 days).
It was decision time. Do we call the whole thing off? Or do we leave now instead of the morning and try and outrun the storm?
Show tickets were bought and paid for, so we quickly phoned everyone we needed to to let them know what our plans were, hitched up and hit the road in under 20 mins. @DerekTheWeather was a little out on his time keeping; as we climber the slip road at J48 we were launched sideways as we crossed the Loughor. Luckily no one else was silly enough to be on the road!
The winds eased a little as the M4 moved inland, but crossing the Seven Bridge was interesting to say the least. We managed to outrun the storm, and on my chin straps I informed herself that we would pull into Heston services in Greater London to get some kip at around 2am.
The storm caught us up and the van rocked like an orgy was taking place inside for the rest of the night!
As regular readers will know, I am hearing impaired. Sometimes my lugholes play tricks on me because of the frequencies that I have lost. I woke to the sound of wind howling outside (we'd not bothered to open up the black out blinds) and informed herself I was going outside to wind up the legs ready for the off.
I put on my coat, zipped it right up, and gingerly went to open the door. Frightened that the wind may blow it off its hinges (taking my fingernails with it) I opened it carefully inch by inch. The air outside was still, the sun was shining, but I could still hear the howling wind!
I looked up to see a 747 on its final approach to Heathrow!!! We'd only parked up for the night under a bloody flight path!!
Towing into Central London is an interesting experience. You get lots of stares because folks don't see that many caravans on the road, and traffic can be both busy and aggressive. I always get myself in the right frame of mind, and by the time I get to Earls Court other road users are mounting pavements to get out of my way as I AM COMING THROUGH.
Taxi drivers in London are full of bluff, and when it comes down to it they will always give way (time off the road after a collision is lost money), and I work on the principle that if a bus can go down the road so can I. I actually get a buzz from it, but herself's fingernails seem to be permanently embedded in the dash as we make out way through Tooting and Clapham towards Crystal Palace.
We like breaks in London over Christmas, it's an excuse to get out and about, and to give the Quality Street a rest. We repeated it in 2007 (Avenue Q) and again in 2009 (without the van - Travelodge 1 night - Dreamboats and Pettycoats) and again in 2011 (without the van - Travelodge 1 night - Rock of ages).
Herself and I are stopping in 'The Smoke' for two night, and I had considered looking for a budget hotel, but this year the cost is coming out at anywhere from £180 upwards against a pitch cost of £26 per night. It's a no brainer really. The extra fuel will be covered by saving £50 on 48hrs parking and the rest will go in beer tokens!