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18 Aug: Elstree to Hampton Court

posted 23 Aug 2013, 04:33 by South Herts   [ updated 15 Nov 2015, 22:17 ]
Looking forward to a different type of Sunday outing, three of us met for the feeder ride from St Albans to meet Bill at the main start in Elstree.  Richard had a nice straightforward route for us to follow: straight down Watling Street we flew, quiet on a Sunday morning, as we went through Radlett (one of many places I had never been to), and very soon arrived at the meeting point in Elstree.  Soon after then, Carol and Steve turned up (having opted for the train).
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As we waited for Bill we had an eerie feeling we were being watched, then we noticed a giraffe was peering over the hedge.  You do see some strange things when you’ve just woken up; Bill soon turned up and we were on our way.  Taking a plethora of back streets and parks Bill led us on a meandering and quiet ride around our capital.  An amazing bit was when we shot down an alleyway only to emerge opposite the truly impressive Neasden Hindu Temple (Shri Swaminarayan Mandir).  This place was stunning and the first Mandir in Europe to be built from stone using traditional methods.

Our first stop was the world famous Ace Café on the North Circular: home of bikers from all over and every kind imaginable was there.  It has to be said that it was the noisiest stop of the year.  We had the fortune of bumping into some bikers from Germany; they were touring to the Isle of Man on classic BMW’s, with one of the machines supposedly dating from 1949.  Great to see two motorcycling cultures brought together in this historic cafe.  Also at the café was a commemorative plaque for David (Screaming Lord) Sutch, head of the onetime Monster Raving Loony Party.

After leaving such a place behind, we made our mad way over to Hampton Court.  More back alleys and quiet roads greeted us and we passed the Brompton bicycle factory.  Then Bill took us through Gunnersbury Park and Sion Park, which has some great off-road parts to it.  Fortunately there were no dogs around to chase us today.

Hampton Court itself is a stunning building and well worth a visit; there is some wonderful architecture on display.  We had a lovely picnic lunch down by the Thames and waved at the punters on the steamboat (that had no steam).

After lunch we made our way over to Kew Gardens to catch the over ground train home.  Not the longest ride going but one of the most interesting and a great day out thanks to Bill.

Neil 18/08/2013