Sandra (left) and Jane (right)
Sandra (left) and Jane (right)
Sidcup Road 1971

As I get older, it is currently the year of our Lord 2017, my thoughts often wander back to my younger days. All to do with the climbing of the years I’m sure.
The other day the beautiful Sandra R (full name known) of Glassbrook Road London came to mind.
I can still see her face in my mind as I drove away from that field on Sidcup Road on my Puch, back in 1972,  leaving her distraught I’m sure to my eternal regret.
In this picture you can see Sandra in her white skirt. The other person on the right is Jane G. (full name known)

How did I ever end up in that field in London and where exactly again was it located?
I remembered a few keywords from that time, Sidcup Road, Lee, The Dutch House and a railway track next to the field.

It was not very difficult to find the spot, thanks to Google earth.  The yellow pin marks the spot where Edwin and I made camp :
Sidcup Road Lee

It all goes back to the year before, 1971, when I and three Dutch friends planned a holiday in
The company existed of Bert van der Padt on Puch, Auke Jongbloed on Puch, Edwin Zwart on
Zündapp and yours truly also on a Puch, be it a very fast one, on a par with Edwin’s Zündapp that
was heavily souped up by Jopie Kloostra. Bert his Puch was a wonky one and later proved to change
the entire outcome of the holiday because of it’s poor state of maintenance.
So on a fine day in 1971 we set off from The Hague to Oostende in Belgium to catch the ferry to Dover. We did
the short crossing in a few hours on a Ferry, the ‘Queen Fabiola’.
From Dover we followed the A2 to Canterbury where we made camp and stayed the night.
Fabiola Ferry Auke Jongbloed Port of Dover Auke and Bert Canterbury Breaking up camp
Fabiola Ferry Auke Jongbloed Port of Dover Auke and Bert Canterbury Breaking up camp
The next day we continued our way to London, to the best of my mind with the intention to camp at Crystal Palace Camping site in London. We would never arrive there.

In order to be allowed to take our foreign mopeds on the British roads, we had to apply for international licence plates. Really big ones with to big letters HH making us look like Germans from Hamburg. Anyways, we believed that these plates would allow us to use the Motorways so we could follow the A2 all the way to London, even when it changed into the M2.  And so we did.

We where making nice progress on this M2 and on a certain moment Edwin and I, riding the fast Puch and Zündapp, did a terribly dangerous thing.  We dived in the slipstream of a large lorry and raced at full throttle just meters behind the lorry at 60mph, for what must have been 10 to 15 minutes.  Unknown to us, at the very moment we started to do that, Bert’s Puch blew a head gasket.
That was the end of the line for Auke and Bert.  Of course, Edwin and I where already miles ahead of them and after some time we stopped our bikes in order to wait for them, thinking they would arrive and catch up in minutes. Well, minutes turned into hours or so after which a highly annoyed Auke showed up and demanded the toolkit that we carried on one of our bikes.  After giving us a piece of his mind,  he hurried back to Bert. Edwin and I felt no urge to follow so we waited, and waited and waited….
Until the Police showed up and told us that we where not allowed to be on a Motorway with our mopeds, HH registration or not.
Waiting for Auke and Bert (M2) M2 Near Sittingbourne (A249)
Waiting for Auke and Bert (M2) M2 Near Sittingbourne (A249)
The Police directed us off the M2 onto the A249 in the direction of Maidstone.
Bert and Auke we would not see again that holiday until we were back home.
They later told me that they went back to the campsite in Canterbury in order to wait for a new gasket from Holland. What can I say, Auke and I are still mates, even after that history.

The A249 took us to a more southernly route to London, via the A 20 all the way to the London South Circular Road. That is how this brought us past that field in Lee. It is adjacent to Sidcup Road, the last stretch on  the A20 before it connects to the A205, the London South Circular Road.
Looking at the map nowadays, from Maidstone on this is all M20 but not so 45 years ago in 1971.
I have no memory how we got to Lee, well it was either the A-or M20. Was it still all an A-road in 1971 from Maidstone to London?  I don’t remember any more.
I assume that having done it already once, driving on a Motorway a second time after the Police told us not to, would certainly not have stopped us from following a Motorway again.

Why did we stop and make camp at a field in Lee and not proceed to Crystal Palace I do not know anymore. I mean, it is just a field without any facilities whatsoever.
Anyways, Edwin and I stayed there the rest of the time until we returned home again.
We would get curious visitors that where ever so friendly. Local boys and girls came by for a chitchat.
Little boys could sit or ride on the Puch and girls would help me keeping the Puch nice and shiny.
And a certain mister Hepper (think of pepper he said) who lived nearby, walked his dog there and said we could trouble him for fresh water and would keep an eye on our tent when we are away to the City.
Local girls help cleaning the Puch Making it shine
Local girls help cleaning the Puch Making it shine
Peeling the spuds Edwin Zwart at Tower Bridge My Puch and Edwin at the back Edwin Zwart in Carnaby Street
Peeling the spuds Edwin Zwart at Tower Bridge My Puch and Edwin at the back Edwin Zwart in Carnaby Street
Our toilet facilities existed of an open concrete building across the railroad. We would have to climb a fence and go up the ramp, cross the rail and do a number two in a sheltered environment, courtesy of British Rail.
(these pictures are from 1972, a year later but storywise it fits better in here).
Pointing the way to the loo Look, there it is! Obviously releaved...
Pointing the way to the loo Look, there it is! Obviously releaved...
It proved to be a cheap holiday as well. We payed no fees and mister Hepper think of pepper said that gypsy law applied to us. This meant that no public official could or would drive us off the field if we only stayed there a short time. We had a camping gas cooker and prepared our own meals.

When we returned to Holland I told my friends of that nice cheep place in London.
A year later I returned to Sidcup Road with Jopie Kloostra and Martin Hoogendoorn.
That is when we made friends with Sandra and Jane amongst others.

To be continued in Sidcup Road 1972.

Ben Kalkhoven March 4 2017