We arrived in Dubai on the 10th April and Alan our pilot friend came home the next day. We walked and swam every day and visited a couple of malls which is all we really wanted to do. It was nice and relaxing as always and Alan’s house is very quiet and comfortable. We had a couple of nice meals with Alan and met his
lovely daughter Samantha who had not long before landed a good job with Kempinski hotels. She is the only Austrlian out of 400 staff at the hotel.
Alan kindly took us to the airport on the 15th April and we flew Qatar airlines and transfered at Doha.
After the super efficient and modern airport in Dubai, Doha was still using the archaic system of stairs and buses to get to and from the terminal. We had a good flight however and arrived to a sunny but cool London.
We had booked a shuttle from Heathrow to the Victory Services Club for 18pounds each which took us right to the door which was very handy.
The next day we took the tube to Clapham Junction and Fiona (Maurice’s niece) who had very kindly had kept and aired our winter woolies,coats,hats and gloves. Her two little boys Joe and Sam had grown quite considerably since we last saw them in November.
We had a lovely dinner with friends David and Gerry who we had met in India at the Ayurvedic Yoga Villa back in December and we went and had a cocktail in a small bar and then to a nice European type restaurant in Soho called “La Giaconda” which had an
Australian chef. Gerry kindly dropped us back to the Victory Services club close to Marble Arch.
The following day we avoided the crowds for Maggie Thatcher’s funeral and went on the train to Sydenham Hill to visit my mother’s old friend who is over 90 but very much on the ball.
We actually took the train to Sydenham and discovered that we had got on the wrong train line.
We needed Sydenham Hill station so had to then catch a bus and walk up a very steep hill to the nursing home. Everyone however was very helpful and pointed us in the right direction and the
woman bus driver even stopped and chatted to us before we alighted.
In the afternoon we went and found Lukey Williams who works for Graf the diamond merchants in Bond St which is like Fort Knox with two security guards one outside and one in a locked portico inside
the front door.
On Thursday night we caught the tube to Bermonsey and David picked us up and we went for a delicious “dosa” meal in Tooting and then to an old pub nearby for a drink.
On Thursday the 18th April we caught a taxi to Kings Cross station and then a train up to Hitchin to pick up “Van Mauriceson”. It was an exciting day. The staff there were wonderful and made us
very welcome. They invited us to stay for a couple of days while we kitted the van out and got used to it. One of the girls took us to Stevenage and we loaded up with the essentials – sheets, duvet,
pillows etc. We spent the rest of the day unpacking our bags (a good feeling) and finding spots for everything. The van is very compact (read small) but is very well designed and finished beautifully.
The next day we made a list of other things that we needed and bought some of the items from the shop at the caravan park and then went into Letchworth to get the remainder of goods that we decided we couldn’t do without.
After fitting everything in we still had a couple of storage units to which we can eventually add a few more food items.
We set off on the 20th April for Broxbourne to see Barry Canterford who used to work for Autoglym in the UK and was kind enough to let us use his address to send all the essential paperwork needed for the van and various caravan club publications.
We then went to our friends Ruth and Michael Williams who live in a lovely part of the Chilterns. We had wonderful weather on the Saturday with not a cloud in the sky and the next day was lovely too. It would have been perfect if it had been 10degrees warmer! We had a wonderful afternoon tea at the “Compleat Angler” in Marlow on the river. The following day was spent at Halfords and TK Max getting more things we had forgotten and wanted for the van and then we were back on the Tuesday to Hitchin to pick up our Satellite dish for the TV. We thought that we had by then covered most essential items and a few indulgent items like the whole hazelnut German chocolate from Aldi that I remembered from years ago!

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