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Published: October 18th 2013
As we mentioned yesterday we needed a plan to get ourselves into London and to take the car back and to make it as simple as possible in one of the more congested cities of the western world. We think we have worked it out and now today we will put it to the test.
Google maps were telling us 2hrs 20mins, as long as traffic flows were normal, but can we rely upon normal in London? Our instincts are telling us to add at least a half hour to anything Google suggests and the same for our GPS. We have a return time for the car of 11.30am so leaving at 7.30am and allowing 3 hours would still give us half an hour up our sleeve, just in case.
We were up at 6am, showered and breakfasted and ready to go on time at 7.30am realising that we would be joining the morning rush hour where the road took us near the larger towns.
All started out well and with the fastest route programmed in we made good progress in light traffic on the roads linking a number of villages we had passed through at some stage
over the past two days as we headed east towards Oxford which was the largest town in the way on our route.
Our route which was the A40 was clear most of the way until just outside Oxford where we came across a guy riding his motorcycle at 40kph right in the middle of the road with a queue built up behind him. He had a learner plate but really that shouldn’t have been any excuse for the position on the road he rode on. Eventually we got our opportunity to pass but that was the start of where our arrival time started to go backwards.
Thankfully the Oxford ring road was quite efficient and we were soon on the M40 with three lanes in each direction and moving along quite nicely at 80kph with the arrival time just slipping back ever so slowly.
However, once we came off that and got onto an internal ring road that travels around London our progress really slowed down as we encountered traffic signals and much heavier traffic. Missing a couple of turns didn’t help too much either as getting back on track usually took us down streets that were
narrow and often needed another couple of turns to get back to where we needed to be.
Once we crossed the Thames our pace picked back up but we were now not going to make it to Lewisham before 11am and then we still had to get to Kings Cross station to drop the car back.
We had a stroke of fortune though as we pulled up outside the wine bar that our host runs and where we had to pick up the key, as there was a car park right outside the place.
We quickly introduced ourselves and the lady looking after the place showed us our apartment down a lane behind the wine bar. From the outside it looked a bit dodgy but inside it was perfect and will suit us very nicely with bedroom upstairs with a settee and a TV and downstairs a kitchen and lounge with settee and a toilet/shower.
We just left the entire luggage in the apartment and jumped back in the car and headed for the other side of the river and Kings Cross station.
The GPS took us to the eastern side of the congestion side
whereas we were expecting to go to the west where Google maps had us going .So what had been in our memory from when we looked at Google last night was out the window and we just had to follow where Serena took us.
Now driving in London is not that difficult and other motorists are courteous even if you do react a bit slowly as the GPS catches up with some of the quicker turns that were required.
All the way we kept the big red C signs on our left as Serena kept us out of the congestion zone and the GBP10 fee for crossing the line. And that included one occasion when a closed road ahead of us meant a diversion that took us up and down 3 streets that weren’t in the original route plan according to the GPS.
We were relieved to make it as we noticed the rental car company sign ahead of us and at 11.45am we were only 45 minutes behind schedule. They obviously gave us some time in leeway as there wasn’t any extra charge for being a bit late.
With the sky darkening over and rain looking likely we decided to head back to the apartment and have lunch there and see what the weather held for the afternoon.
So we got ourselves down underground to the subway and topped up the Oyster cards that hadn’t been used since 4 years ago and got on a train to Black Friars station where we needed to connect to the over ground railway to Crofton Park, the station which is just across the road from the apartment in Lewisham.
As we emerged to the covered station at Black Friars we realised that our plan was the best as rain was falling steadily outside the glass covered station.
Half an hour later we were home and having hot soup for lunch to warm us up as with the rain the temperature had dropped appreciably. And we spent the rest of the afternoon watching a bit of TV and catching up on some reading we hadn’t seemed to have had time for in the last few days.
With the luxury of two TV sets I was able to watch the England vs. Montenegro World Cup football match from Wembley live on ITV while Gretchen watched programmes she wanted to watch upstairs.
The weather forecast for tomorrow looks OK with cloudy skies and cool temperatures and we will probably do some outdoor activities because Sunday is forecast to be wet!
With efficient heaters both up and down stairs we soon had the apartment feeling toasty (whoops sorry to bring up that word ‘toast’ again)
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