Every time. Every time, it lives up to expectations. What is it about this ride? On Saturday morning, I was asking myself why I don't do this every Friday night. Lots of reasons of course, but one thing is for sure. My other half, who normally has heard enough about rides, this time, was all ears and ... asked if she could meet me in Whitstable next time around. Yes, yes!
However ... next year, the full moon will not be during the August Bank Holiday (I think the Bank Holiday weekend made the harbour atmosphere that little bit more special).
The ride starts with a good dose of night time London, all lit up in different ways: Hyde Park Corner, Buckingham Palace, Westminster with Big Ben, the London Eye, OXO Tower and Tower Bridge. Sights people come from all over the world to see. Then onto the south side of the river, where we go through Bermondsey and onto Greenwich, Dartford and beyond.
I like the spot which marks the boundary between London and 'nearly in Whitstable'. It has a good feel of old London with new generation taking place - the area is called 'More London', as etched into the Water Benches fountains.
These 'Water Benches' are just next to another water feature, which is called the Rill. Its a cut through the paving with water running down. I find it absolutely extraordinary, I like it, but its such a trip hazard!
Photo by Tim Hall (see link below)
Next thing you know, you are at Andy's Cafe. At least we all call it Andy's Cafe. While I was queueing I was trying to make sense of its real name:
Maybe the owner used to be Andy Snacks, and the cafe was called 'The Andy Snacks Cafe' (still doesn't sound right, does it). Then the new owner wisely thought to keep the original name, but never proofread the new shop fascia design. There again, it could be rhyming slang that has gone right over my head ...
We went at quite a pace I thought. Granted we stopped a lot for regrouping, but when we were going we were flying. Dawn, sunrise, early morning at the Milton Regis stop (people were out buying papers by then), the thought of breakfast by the sea ...
The location for breakfast can't be better, on that balcony overlooking the sea. The cricket came on on the screen, the bar opened, ... then some people with time schedules started to leave to catch the train back to London, some people without time schedules were settling in, some people with time schedules kept planning to get the next train.
And I went off to the harbour to have oysters and champagne. You can't go to Whitstable three years in a row and not have oysters. It had to be done.
La vie est belle
After half a bottle of champagne, everybody was my best friend of course. The oyster seller explained why I can't take oysters to London, which I thought was marvellous. I couldn't thank him enough for being so honest. £4 for six oysters - fantastic!
I took my time, people watching, visiting the fish market, strolling back to the station eventually ... but would you believe it, it appears from a post on the cycling forum that 'the settlers' would have taken a train after me!
Photos are on the slideshow till the next post or here: Clicky
And there are some fantastic shots taken by Tim here: Clicky