Easter Bank Holiday 2005

Friday March 25th
Commons Wood Caravan Site between Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield. A small pleasant site, with excellent showers. Caravan Club members only though.

Saturday March 26th
Right job getting into London. A bus from the QE2 Hospital outside the site took us to Welwyn Garden City station. Daily travel cards are only £12.30 each! The train was replaced by buses from Welwyn Garden City to Finchley Park. Overground then to King's Cross and Underground to Leicester Square to find tickets for Acorn Antiques. It's sold out for weeks! After a quick coffee, off to Earls Court for the Ideal Home Show. We came out of the station and couldn't see the Exhibition Centre anywhere. We must have missed a sign somewhere, because as we approached the Centre after getting directions, we passed another door from the station! Good exhibition. We spent too much, like you do. The journey home was much quicker, thanks mostly to finding that the underground ran all the way to Finchley Park. Just a bus back to WGC, picked up a Chinese and a taxi back to the site.

Sunday March 27th
Having spotted on Saturday that public transport is minimal on a Sunday, we decided not to go into London. Being a Bank Holiday weekend, we decided to go the Galleria shopping centre in Hatfield. It was shut. A shopping centre shut on a Sunday! We started walking back towards the station to find a bus to somewhere open. We met the same bus driver again, who told us that the majority of WGC was shut too. Hatfield House, home to the Earl and Countess of Salisbury, (see header pic) seemed to be the only place open. £8 each entrance, but what a place! It looks big from the car park (room for campers), but most of it is hidden from this angle. A very well preserved residence, along with its gardens. An interesting feature is the steel roller-shutters on every fireplace, operated by a handle set into the mantlepiece. Their installation followed a mishap in 1835, when the elderly and slightly wobbly countess knocked over a candlestick in her bedroom and destroyed the west wing. The rest of the house was saved by a combination of the wind changing direction and the heat melting the lead water tanks in the roof. It's open from 1200 to 1600, plus an hour either side for the gardens, which is about the right length of time.

Monday March 28th
Time to go home, via the Galleria in Hatfield. This is worth a visit. Mostly clothes, but M&S has one of its Outlets here.

We came away having reinforced our view London is good for an occasional break, but too much like hard work to really relax.

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