Gandalf the Grey is nestled underneath a rather famous landmark on the London Skyline. No, it’s not the Big Ben, or the London Eye; it’s the radio transmitter mast at Crystal Palace!
We’ve had this break booked in for some time, and have been carefully monitoring whether we’d be able to able to travel and actually make the trip for some time too. The reason for the visit was to make use of our historic Royal Palaces membership which we invested in for the coming year: in February.
After a fairly smooth journey to London on Friday morning we had a very quick set up before jumping on the conveniently located number 3 bus which stops near enough outside the campsite and takes you all the way to Westminster. We then made our way west on the District line towards Kensington. We paused for a drink before making our way to Kensington Palace; childhood home to Queen Victoria and many of the young royals over the past few years; including Princess Diana and even now, HRH Prince William and the Duchess Kate.
Kensington Palace turned out to be a highlight of our visit. They focused on 3 different eras of Royals, one of which was Queen Victoria and there were quite a few original items on display that belonged to the young Queen, including an old dress from when she was 12 years old and her Coronation Robe.
Because of a Covid tickets are pre book only and we hit jackpot as we were the only ones there! We had a very happy few hours wandering around taking in every room. Personal highlights for me were seeing a room where court composer Handel played and seeing a dress of Princess Diana’s.
After our visit we took a wander around Kensington Gardens, enjoying the bright Autumn sunshine and the fact that we’d escaped terrible weather in Norfolk!
We popped for a drink at another pub in Kensington before making our way to our previous booked table at a local Thai, which was fabulous! New laws had just come in meaning we needed to wear masks which we were more than happy to do as we entered and exited pubs and restaurants, and the whole system was working well and we felt safe.
Saturday dawned bright but chilly and were were up fairly early admiring the Crystal Palace mast through our pop up windows! We took the number 3 bus again, this time alighting at Brixton before jumping on the tube to Borough Market. We had a drink at the historic National Trust pub, The George, a Galleried pub underneath the Shard, before picking up fish and chips at Borough Market.
We then walked along the River Thames to Tower Bridge before crossing it and entering The Tower of London.
Like yesterday it was very quiet, there were no queues for the Crown Jewels, we could take our time and when there were areas that clogged up (the Bloody Tower) we were able to stand back and wait for others to clear out. It was amazing seeing not only the Crown Jewels but all the other coronation equipment such as the 12th Century spoon that is used and even an 11th C chess piece.
We really enjoyed our visit, but there is just so much to take in, I will admit, I got a bit over tired at one point!
From here we walked to another favourite spot of ours, St Katherine Docks.
By now the weather had become a bit chilly and drizzly, but we enjoyed our drink on the gallery at The New Inn.
We decided to walk all the way down the North side of the river for 3 miles towards Embankment and Westminster. We passed an old section of the Roman City wall which was pretty impressive. Everywhere was just so quiet, considering it was a Saturday evening it felt eery.
Part of us liked it, part of us found it a bit weird! Either way we were pleased to have London near enough to ourselves though! We managed to bag the best seat in the house at The Tattershall Caste, a floating barge pub, moored directly opposite the London Eye so had a couple of drinks here before making our back back to Horse Guard Parade for our bus back to Crystal Palace.
We had a great time using our Historic Royal Palaces membership. As a charity they really are struggling right now with the devastating effects of Covid on their finances. I worry that they will struggle to continue looking after these historic venues for much longer, so if you are able please think about booking a visit. They have got such strict covid procedures in place, we felt so safe, and the staff were genuinely overjoyed to see us having had month of no visitors.
Crystal Palace, we’ll be back another time to tick off some more of our ever growing London List!
Until Next Time