Tag Archives: London

London road-trips: The Walking (Night) Camper Van #4

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It’s been quite a while since we took a London road-trip. I’m sure by now you’re all familiar with the concept of the walking camper van – it’s time to introduce you to the walking night camper van. Think night bus, but with less vomit and inane conversation to contend with.*

As is the nature of night transportation, our route will deviate from the day-time one – it will no doubt be less direct, less convenient, but more jolly.

We’re starting from the Curzon cinema on King’s Road, just after midnight – mainly because that’s what suits me, and I’m the driver. Here’s the route:

King's Road to Lambeth Bridge

The playlist for today includes ‘King’s Road’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and ‘Hairdresser on Fire’ by Morrissey.

And here’s our passenger:

* There may still be some vomit and inane conversation to contend with.

Stop 1) Sloane Square

First we’ll turn left onto King’s Road and walk all the way down to Sloane Square. At this hour on a weekend night, the streets are filled with young, drunken Sloanies.

‘Zachary! Zachary! I’ve just spoken to Tabitha – they’re going to JuJu. Do you wanna go with?’

Dazzled by upturned shirt collars, long, tanned legs and sparkling teeth, it’s easy to be disoriented. But if you can drag your eyes away, the side streets of Chelsea are really very pretty – if in a highly-sanitised way – with their pastel-painted houses and Narnia lamp posts.

As the name would suggest, King’s Road’s gentile and expensive associations are not new. It originated as Charles II’s personal route to Kew, and it remained a private road until 1830.

Disembark here for smart bars, cafés and restaurants, if you’re feeling flush, or just a spot of night-time window shopping in the designer stores.

Stop 2) Pimlico

From Sloane Square we’ll turn down Lower Sloane Street and then take a left onto Pimlico Road. It’s instantly quieter, though there are still groups of people on their way home – or to the next stage of their night out.

Pimlico was built as a southern extension to Belgravia, but unlike its exclusive neighbour, its grand Regency buildings sit alongside social housing and humble newsagents. So close to the river, it is perhaps unsurprising that the land here was once marshy, until it was reclaimed in the early nineteenth century from soil excavated during the creation of St Katharine’s Dock.

English: Shop fronts in Pimlico Road Most of t...

Pimlico shops

At this part of Pimlico Road, the shops are all smart-looking design and antiques. When the road splits, we’ll take the right hand branch past The Orange Public House and Hotel – an attractive relic of an earlier age – and St Barnabas Church. On the left side of the road, Peabody buildings reach upwards, looking surprisingly French.

We’ll follow the road as it becomes Ebury Bridge Road, passing the junction for Victoria Station.

Disembark here for rail and coach connections with the rest of the country, although your options may be limited at this time of night.

Stop 3) Millbank

We’ll take the left hand branch of the fork in the road here and walk almost the whole length of Warwick Way. Towards the end, we’ll take a right onto Tachbrook Street – home to a vibrant market during the daytime – which we will walk the full length of to reach Pimlico Station.

Here we’ll cross over and take a left onto Bessborough Street which we’ll follow all the way to busy Vauxhall Bridge Road, which is part of the London Inner Ring Road.

We’ll cross straight over and take Causton Street (to the right of the Random House group building), following it round until we reach a right hand turn onto the quiet of Cureton Street. We follow this all the way round to the right until it reaches the red brick buildings of John Islip Street, which we turn left onto and walk all the way down. This road takes us behind the Tate Britain, which we can admire from the outside (it’s obviously closed at this hour).

Eventually this road turns into Dean Ryle Street, which again we follow all the way until it reaches Horseferry road. This road was named for a ferry which used to transport the Archbishop of Canterbury between Lambeth and Westminster Palaces, along roughly the same trajectory as Lambeth Bridge traces today. There is no one else on the bridge tonight, and it’s nice and quiet for somewhere so central.

Lambeth Bridge

Final Destination: Lambeth Bridge

A right turn here brings us to Lambeth Bridge itself, our final destination. Time for a cup of tea before bed.

Thank you for travelling on the walking night camper van. We would like to wish you a pleasant onward journey and look forward to seeing you again very soon

London road-trips: The Walking Camper Van #3

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Last week’s shock heatwave notwithstanding, it looks like autumn is here in earnest, so it’s high time we took another road-trip to see how the city’s coping with the change in season.

You may want to add waterproof/warm layers to the usual checklist items.

Stop 1) York Way

We’ll start off along the same route as our first trip. It’s still unseasonably warm, but there’s definitely more of a nip in the air than there was last week and the evenings are drawing in. Crunching over cornflake-like leaves, we pass cosy-looking kitchens on Camden Park Road, the warm light and delicious smells emanating from them making Lambeth Bridge seem a long way away. Disembark here for the Amy Winehouse shrine in Camden Square (not really my thing, so I’ll keep the camper van going, if it’s all right with you).

The new developments on York Way are really shooting up (the signs promise ’20 new streets, 10 new squares’), closing part of the pavement and nearly obscuring our reassuring glimpse of the BT Tower. But look over there – the London Eye, even closer to our final destination!

London Eye from afar (it is there, honest!)

Passing over the canal, a flock of birds keeps up a raucous dusk chorus as the sun finally disappears. Time to put on the headlights!

Stop 2) King’s Cross

There actually seem to be more people milling about on the streets than usual, and something of a party atmosphere in the air. We’ll have to swerve here to avoid that group of young dancers practising their moves in the middle of the street, all clad in matching leggings and UGG boots.

We’ll avoid the crowds outside the station this time, instead looping over the ends of Pentonville and Gray’s Inn Roads.

Stop 3) Bloomsbury

We’ll scoot down the little alley alongside the Camden Centre to get onto Tonbridge, then Hastings, then Judd Streets, following the same route (more or less) as our first trip. Taking a left off Guilford Street and into Queen’s Square, we pass the legendary Great Ormond Street Hospital again.

Crossing the square, we’ll take Old Gloucester Street past the fantastically atmospheric October Gallery and onto Theobald’s Road.

Request stop – Covent Garden market

Covent Garden Market, London, UK, Christmas 2008

Covent Garden Market

We (well, I) have an errand to run in Covent Garden market, so from here we’ll take a right onto Great Queen Street, follow it all the way along and across Drury Lane (looking out for the Muffin Man, of course), past the statue of a ballerina in Broad Court, down Long Acre and into the bustling theatre district around the market. Alight here for shops, bars, cafés, clubs, street entertainers, stalls and restaurants.

Stop 4) Waterloo Bridge

Our errand accomplished, we’ll forge a path through the crowds milling outside restaurants and queuing to see The Lion King in the Lyceum, across the Strand and onto Waterloo Bridge. Disembark here for Somerset House and other riverside delights.

The view from Waterloo Bridge is possibly my favourite in London, even (or perhaps especially) in the dark. See? Hmm, well maybe my phone camera doesn’t really do it justice, but you get the idea.

From Waterloo Bridge, blurrily

It’s quite blustery here, but say what you like about pollution levels in London, it still feels like fresh air after a day cooped up in the office. As we near the south side of the bridge, look right to admire Pipilotti Rist’s knicker lanterns outside the Hayward Gallery and the remains of restaurant Dishoom’s recreation of Mumbai’s Chowpatty Beach. Alight here for the many attractions of the South Bank.

Stop 5) Waterloo station/Lower Marsh

Having travelled through the underpass, we’ll emerge by the main entrance to Waterloo station, feeling very, very grateful that we don’t have deal with South West Trains today (if you are alighting here to connect with an overland train, you have my deepest sympathies).

We’ll pass the multistorey bike rack and the taxi rank and marvel at the sign prohibiting the movement of barrows across the station’s booking hall floor.

Crossing over Station Approach Road, we’ll pass onto Lower Marsh. I love this local street – it has everything you could possibly need; Thai greasy spoons, a traditional English greasy spoon, a swanky deli, a Cuban bar/restaurant, funky ScooterCaffe (where you can sip super-strength coffees, beers or wine with Lambeth’s arty crowd) and the most wonderful vintage/retro shop, Radio Days.

Final Destination: Lambeth Palace

We’ll cross the main road and go under the railway bridge, listening to the screech of trains along the tracks. In daylight we could take a short cut through Archbishop’s Park, (in which I do believe just about every sport is represented in a tiny space) but since it’s dark we’ll have to content ourselves with listening to the sound boxes of William Blake’s poetry between Carlisle Lane and Hercules road.

Emerging at the top of Hercules Road, it’s only a short hop to the right (moving briskly past Finecrown Patisserie to avoid being tormented by the smells of fresh croissants) to Lambeth Palace.

Now this is moving beyond my remit as your driver (is it a bad time to mention I don’t have a licence and have never driven a non-virtual vehicle?)/tour guide, but I heartily recommend spicy roast vegetable risotto and hot ports when you get home, in keeping with the autumnal feel and as a reward for our long walk.

Thank you for travelling on the walking camper van. We would like to wish you a pleasant onward journey and look forward to seeing you again very soon

Panorama of the London skyline. Taken from the...

London skyline

To Sea in a Sieve: By boat to Ireland

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Having lived in Dublin for four years, as well as having often visited family in Ireland as a child, I have had ample opportunity to experience the Holyhead to Dublin ferry . . . and ample opportunity to decide that it was definitely not for me.

Don’t get me wrong – normally I love travel by boat. And I’m usually pretty hardy when it comes to any kind of motion sickness, too (except when faced with a special set of circumstances involving an empty tummy, a hot car and winding Italian mountain roads, but that’s a different story). It’s just that something about crossing the stormy Irish Sea cooped up indoors in a bustling ferry café seemed guaranteed to bring out the nauseous in me.

But since moving back to London, I’ve noticed a steady increase in airfares to the Fair City (particularly since I would rather swim the 460-odd kilometres than give Mike O’Leary so much as a penny of my money). And of course there are environmental implications to all those fifty-minute hops across the water. Finally, when icy conditions grounded most flights in and out of London airports last Christmas and it suddenly looked as though all my Irish friends were going to be stuck joining my family’s festive cracker-pulling and charades around the dinner table, sailing appeared again as a viable option.

So when I needed to book a last-minute trip over recently, and flight prices were cruising at an altitude of around £200 minimum, I decided to give the boat another chance.

And it must be said, there are many immediate and obvious benefits to not travelling by plane. Arriving at Euston a mere hour before my train was scheduled to depart, I found that I was actually excessively early and had more than enough time to buy a cup of tea and a paper. I was already in good spirits, having been able to avoid the nerve-testing torture of decanting all my toiletries into tiny overpriced Boots bottles for fear of the extortionate rates for checking in a bag.

On the train, I had booked a seat with a table and a power socket, and could have worked away on my laptop (or caught up on episodes of Camelot) the whole way to Holyhead, had I wanted. As it was, I found myself more than adequately enterained by people-and-view-watching.

Holyhead station

Holyhead train station

And that’s another thing about not travelling from A to B in a sealed, air-conditioned tin can – you have a much greater sense of your journey, and of the towns, cities, villages and countryside you are passing through. Would I have ever known that Crewe Heritage Centre, with its lovely old vintage trains (I’m not a trainspotter, honest!), is right by the station otherwise? Or that the track passes alongside the castle walls at Conwy? I certainly wouldn’t have been able to watch the air ambulance practise emergency lifts out on the water; or to idly admire the shadows of seagulls on its foamy surface.

There’s also something rather romantic about the land-and-sea journey, which seems to connect in a much more tangible way with the generations of people travelling to, but more often from, Ireland. To mark my profound comprehension of a long and tragic history of forced emigration through poverty, occupation, famine, or simple lack of employment – the latter linking to my own maternal grandparents who emigrated to Yorkshire in the 1940s – I began to hum the theme tune to the Titanic, and couldn’t dislodge it from my brain for the rest of the weekend.

My fellow rail-and-sailors were an interesting crowd. The train was packed and a lot of people seemed to be planning rather longer trips than me – the aisles soon filled with oversized suitcases. Aussies and Americans abounded, to my surprise. There were also a lot of mongrel accents. I found myself particularly riveted by the soap opera that was my neighbours on the table across the aisle. She was a glamorous fifty-something, with long, straight, blonde hair and a leather jacket. Accompanying her were four children between the ages of about six and twelve. She had an accent that sounded 100% cockney . . . until we were about forty minutes out of Euston, at which point three of the children started vomiting into their paper bags/laps (depending on their reflexes) and she turned pure Dub.

“Sorry!” she exclaimed to the poor soul who was sitting next to her. “Dey don’ normally get loike dis til we gerr on de boa’!”

Still, with that piece of information in mind, at least I had the option of choosing a different part of the huge ferry to base myself in for that leg of the journey.

In fact, I was so taken with the spontaneous nature of the journey once you decide not to go by plane that my boyfriend and I booked another boat trip back for the end of the month – on this occasion travelling by car rather than train.

Since we were heading for a party in Waterford, this time we drove to Pembroke and got the boat from there to Rosslare. Tiny Pembroke is a huge improvement on Holyhead (but, then, it wouldn’t be hard), though you have to drive down some seriously remote-feeling country lanes to get to the port. Ours was an overnight boat so we decided that, after a week of work, and with a weekend of hardcore socialising ahead, we could more than justify a cabin. You don’t get much for your money in terms of size or luxury, but when compared with the prospect of squeezing into an upright chair in a brightly-lit bar, surrounded by squawking children – which could just as easily refer to an airport as the communal areas on a ferry – it was worth every penny.

And arriving into Rosslare before 7 a.m. was a rather lovely experience. The tiny part of me that doesn’t consider itself a Londoner is definitely a Dubliner, and too much countryside brings on claustrophobia attacks after a day or two. But even I had to admit that in the soft early more morning light, the quiet roads, hazy hills and lush fields of County Wexford were a sight more scenic than Dublin’s North Wall.

I don’t imagine I’ve seen the last of the Aer Lingus and BMI departure gates at Heathrow. It cannot be denied that there are times when flying is really the only practical choice. But it is nice to feel that there are options. And I’m already gleefully considering the possibilities of Christmas gifts that don’t have to be liquid-free and squeezable into a carry-on bag!

London road-trips: The Walking Camper Van #2

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I had a few potential subjects lined up for my latest post, but given the events earlier this week in London (and later in Manchester, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, among other places in the country), I felt there was really only one suitable option.

The riots have provoked as many different reactions and opinions as there are people in this city. But, at the risk of sounding mawkish, the image that has stood out most for me among all the violent scenes on our TV screens and in our newspapers is that of volunteers of all ages, backgrounds, genders and ethnicities coming together to clean up the mess afterwards. (The councils have undoubtedly done amazing work too, but I am speaking of course of the grass-roots Riot Clean Up movement that sprang up overnight on  Monday.)

Londoners don’t have the best reputation around the world, or even the country. We’re accused of being unfriendly, aggressive, rude. All these things may seem true, may even be true at times. But actually, we’re very proud of our city, and pretty fond of each other, when it comes down to it.

So, come on, camper van trippers, let’s remind ourselves what we love so much about this place. We’ve learned some lessons from our last trip. 

And, in addition to the usual checklist items, you might like to bring a broom, and some sturdy gloves and bin bags. You never know, we might encounter some London wombles in need of another pair of hands.

We’re going to vary the route a bit this time, to keep things interesting. Map 2

Stop 1) Camden

We’ll follow the same route as last time until we reach Camden Road, at which point we’ll turn right and walk all the way along to the end, past playgrounds, cafés, pubs and Camden Road overland station.

Anybody in London in the days since Monday night can’t have missed the sirens in the background of every conversation, in addition to a greater number of police men and women and community support officers out on the streets. But in general the atmosphere now is calm, and here we pass a young man joking with a pair of police women and plenty of people chatting out in the evening sunshine.

Hippy Camden was one of the areas targeted in Monday night’s riots, but today almost all the shops are open as normal, the street is clean and the tourists are back out in force.

Disembark here for market stalls selling a range of merchandise of varying quality, trendy clubs and shisha cafés, or a chilled-out drink by the lock.

Stop 2) Albany Street

Crossing over to Parkway we’ll move quickly past these men drinking and chatting through the window of the Dublin Castle pub, trying to ignore all the delicious smells emanating from a wealth of restaurants, and keep going straight until we reach a left turn onto Albany Street. This road runs along the outside of Regent’s Park (passengers should, of course, alight if they wish to take a stroll through the beautiful park). It’s a long, straight and – yes, OK, then – rather dull street, so now seems a good time for a car game. Or maybe a singalong? Perhaps ‘I Predict a Riot’ by the Kaiser Chiefs (who, incidentally, joined in with post-riot clean-up activities), or ‘Panic’ by The Smiths, to keep our spirits up?

We do pass the Territorial Army’s Regent’s Park barracks, which were once home to the Royal Horse Guards, so it’s not entirely without interest.

Stop 3) Great Portland Street

Over the road and past the exclusive, high-end shops and restaurants of Great Portland Street, which was developed by the Dukes of Portland and forms the boundary between Fitzrovia and Marylebone.

There are lots of pretty buildings and window-shopping opportunities here, but unless anyone needs a break for ‘powdering noses’ (as my tour guide on a school trip to Greece insisted on calling it), we’ll plough on.

Stop 4) Oxford Circus/Soho

Right, any passengers wishing to disembark here should do so as quickly as possible, before hoards of determined shoppers mow the rest of us down.

I, for one, can’t get down Argyll Street and into Soho quickly enough. Here we will have a well-earned refuelling break in gorgeous Flat Planet café and pick up our first ever non-virtual passenger! Isn’t she lovely?

Carnaby Street is, to my mind, a much more pleasant shopping experience, though still a far cry from it’s origins as a market in the nineteenth century, and an alternative hang-out for quirky, liberal types across the mid-twentieth century.

Carnaby Street 1

Carnaby Street

Soho itself has a long-standing association with the entertainment business (which extended, in the last century, to include the sex industry). It might have lost its edgy crown to the likes of Shoreditch and Dalston, but it remains a very pleasant place to pass an evening.

Crossing over Beak Street, we’ll pass through the romantically named Golden Square, turn right onto Glasshouse Street and then left onto Regent Street.

Passengers for the salubrious neighbourhood of Mayfair should alight here and cross over the road. The rest of us will continue down to hectic Piccadilly Circus.

Stop 5) Waterloo Place/The Mall

Turning right onto the continuation of Regent Street, we’ll follow the road all the way down as it becomes Waterloo Place (ooh look at the newly-weds!),  and admire the statue of the Duke of York at the top of the steps by the same name.

Descending the steps (passengers for the endlessly diverting Institute of Contemporary Arts may hop off here), we’ll cross the dramatic stretch of The Mall, with its Union Jacks billowing in the breeze.

Stop 6) St James’s Park/Horse Guards Road

All is mellow in St James’s this evening, with groups sitting around enjoying boozy picnics, and the peace only occasionally disturbed by the screech of geese on the lake.

A sudden roar from Horse Guards Parade makes us jump, but it’s only the crowd at one of the beach volleyball test events ahead of next year’s Olympics.

Stop 7) Westminster/Millbank

Turning left off Horse Guards Road onto Great George Street and then right onto Little George Street we get our first clear view of what is surely the most iconic London image – Big Ben himself. Passing the statue of George Canning (eighteenth/nineteenth century statesman), his cloak slung jauntily across one shoulder, and then skirting the edge of the Democracy Village camp, we’ll turn onto St Margaret’s Street, passing the Jewel Tower on our right and Parliament, of course, on our left.

We could keep going along Millbank, but I suggest cutting through the peaceful Victoria Tower Gardens.

Victoria Tower Gardens, 2005, with the Buxton ...

Victoria Tower Gardens

From here we can see across to our pretty Albert Embankment, which, as I have just learned from Bill Bryson’s At Home, was created in the late-nineteenth by Sir Joseph Bazalgette as part of the development of London’s first proper sewage system. So it’s not just a pretty face!

Final destination: Lambeth Bridge/Lambeth Palace

Here we are, back in good old Lambeth. And, really, with views like this, what’s not to love about this city?

Thank you for travelling on the walking camper van. Please make sure you have all your possessions before disembarking. We would like to wish you a pleasant onward journey and look forward to seeing you again very soon.

London road-trips: The Walking Camper Van #1

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I know you’ve scarcely had time to settle into the swing of life on the roadside, but I’d like you to join me now for the first in my mini-blog-within-a-blog series.

 You’re familiar with the concept of a walking bus? Usually employed as a more healthy and environmentally-friendly way of getting children to school, they collect ‘passengers’ along a pre-arranged route from A to B. Allow me to introduce you to the concept of the walking camper van. We all know that walking is one of the best ways to get to know a city – even your own city. So I’ve decided to make mini-walking road-trips from my office in Kentish Town to my flat by Lambeth Bridge a regular activity. (Look, it should be pretty much a straight line.)

And you’re all coming with me!

So, let’s do a quick checklist first: portable music-playing device with appropriate playlist? (I suggest ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Lambeth Walk’ and ‘Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner’ as essentials). Bottle of water? Appropriate footwear? No, me neither. 

Never mind, let’s go.

If you wish to disembark the camper van at any time, please ring the bell. (Yes, there’s a bell in my camper van. It’s imaginary – I can have anything I like in it.) Oh and ditch your A-Z – or, in this day and age, switch off your smartphone’s GPS – please. Part of the fun is getting lost and, after all, would I ever steer you wrong?

Stop 1) York Way

Our starting point is the corner of Leighton Road and Torriano Avenue in one of the more picturesque corners of Kentish Town. All we need to do is to go straight down Torriano Avenue, crossing over Camden Road and continuing straight down Camden Park Road until we reach York Way.

Now, there’s no getting around it, York Way is not pretty. See?

But, hey, getting to know a city also involves seeing it’s ugly side. And York Way – once an important route between Grays Inn and High Barnet – is not entirely without it’s charms. Well, maybe ‘charms’ is overstating it, but there’s the disused York Road Tube station – a stop on the Great Northern, Brompton and Piccadilly Railway line (now abbreviated to the catchier Piccadilly line) between 1906 and 1918.

Then a few minutes later we pass Regent’s Canal on the right, with barges lined up and people drinking cans in the rare July sunshine. And look, over there – that pinhead on the horizon is the BT Tower.

So you see, civilisation is not so far away.

And another definite perk of travelling along York Way is that we won’t encounter many other tourists wandering around here.

Stop 2) King’s Cross Station

Now, this is more like it, eh? Bustling King’s Cross has been a transport hub since the mid-nineteenth century, but with the transfer of the Eurostar terminus here to St Pancras from Waterloo in 2007 (as a south Londoner, I’m still smarting at the insult), and the ongoing restoration and development of the station, we can expect even bigger things. Or, at least, disruption for commuters for years to come. Hurrah!

In the meantime, feel free to alight here for an array of trendy bars and cafés. Otherwise, let’s hurry past this class of French students having their packed lunch  . . . at 7 p.m. and this young couple who for some reason are descending the stairs with one pair of crutches between them. Hmmm.

Over the road, we’ll take a left onto Judd Street.

Stop 3) Bloomsbury

Things are on the up and up. Bloomsbury might not be as aesthetically pleasing as it was when first developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it still conjures an air of dusty academia, literary genius and tortured inspiration. We’ll carry on down Judd Street as it turns into Hunter Street and then Grenville. Disembark and take a left here for the wonderful and moving Foundling Museum in Brunswick Square, which tells the story of the hospital that was once London’s first home for abandoned children. If that all sounds a bit depressing, the museum also has a lovely airy café overlooking the roller-blading youths out on the square.

Bloomsbury: Great Ormond Street Hospital for C...

Great Ormond Street Hospital, Bloomsbury

Continuing up along Grenville, and passing the pretty Colonnade on our right, we then turn right up Guildford Street, through narrow Queen Anne’s, then right onto Great Ormond Street, site of the famous children’s hospital to which J. M. Barrie left his royalty earnings from
Peter Pan
.

Stop 4) Covent Garden/Holborn

And here we are on Shaftesbury Avenue. Fine, fine, we may have taken a wrong turning around about Theobald’s Road, but I promise this will be good. We’ll keep going this way until we hit Charing Cross Road, filled with second-hand book shops and more than enough tourists to make up for the lack on York Way a thousand times over. The camper van is going to have to seriously slow down here, but do feel free to alight for the theatre district. Or maybe you want to pop up to Chinatown for a bit of dinner?

We’ll continue down to the Embankment and cross over the Hungerford/Golden Jubilee Bridges. Along the way, a pair of young Indian men ask us for directions (but strangely don’t seem to want a lift), which is a sure sign we look like we know where we’re going. Which we do – we’re on the home stretch now. Pausing briefly to admire the view in either direction along the river, we arrive on the South Bank.

Stop 5) The South Bank – Albert Embankment

Again, it’s going to be slow-going for the camper van along this stretch, as we turn right along the riverfront. Tourists mill around watching the myriad street performers, queuing for the Eye and spilling out of the Aquarium. You’re welcome to disembark here and join the throng.

Otherwise, we’ll push on through to Westminster Bridge. If you fancy a close-up visit to Parliament, hop off here and cross the bridge. Otherwise, we’ll go through the underpass and wallow in the peace and quiet on the other side. I don’t know what happens to all the tourists at this point, but from here all we have to contend with are the couples smooching against a backdrop of Big Ben, and the occasional jogger. Bliss!

6) Final destination: Lambeth Palace

Here we are! Lovely Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, with its charming garden museum, is our final stop. Or, at least, where we empty the camper van. (I’m not sure we’re quite ready for me to invite you back to my flat). But Vauxhall is a stroll to the south, Waterloo an amble to the north, and the Tamesis Dock is the perfect pub-on-a-boat in which to put your feet up and aim paper airplanes at Dave, Nick, and the rest of their cronies in Parliament over pints and nachos.

Thank you for travelling on the walking camper van. We would like to wish you a pleasant onward journey and look forward to seeing you again very soon.