Sidcup Road 1972
In June 1972 I returned to Sidcup Road in the company of Martin Hoogendoorn on Puch and Jopie Kloostra on Zündapp.
|Jopie Kloostra HMS Juliana
This year we would not travel via Belgium but we opted for an easier crossing, from Hoek van Holland to Harwich.
Hoek van Holland is just a short spin from the south of The Hague were we lived in those days and a more logical route for us than a route via Belgium.
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. On the very morning of our departure for The Hook of Holland, my Puch broke down as we were set to leave. The piston seized and my ride was out of commission.
There was still time for a lightning repair but a spare Puch cilinder and matching piston were not readily at hand. The only spare set I knew of, was currently on my good friend Auke Jongbloed his Puch. Not a fast set but better than nothing. But would he agree on me taking it for the duration of my holiday and leave him without transport? Perhaps not.
Why risk a no? I went to his house and his mother answered the door. Yes, Auke
was still asleep. Can I have the key to the basement please, I need something from your cellar? Of course dear, no problem, you know the way.
I raced downstairs and quickly deinstalled his set, leaving a nasty surprise for Auke, a gaping hole where the cilinder used to be and a piston-rod sticking out of the carter. What can I say? I was desperate.
Dashed home and installed Auke his set on my Puch and made it to the Ferry on time. Well afterwards he was okay with it and did not mind at all. A real pal!
(And yes, after 45 years and over we are still mates, believe it or not)
On the Ferry I gave my team directions of how to get to that field on Sidcup Road.
Coming from Harwich, follow the A12 all the way to London until it connects with the North Circular Road (A406). Then head south for Woolwich and cross the Thames on the Woolwich Ferry. Continue south on the South Circular Road (A205) until you get to Lee, take a left turn on to the A20 Sidcup Road and watch out, you are nearly there.
After roughly 400 meters Sidcup Road passes under a railway line. Passed that, the Dutch House is on your right, the field is on your left, you have arrived.
Nothing could be easier but nevertheless, also this time we got separated like the year before, albeit fortunately not for the duration of our stay. On arriving at the South Circular road, Martin took an unexpected turn that caused Jopie and me, in the busy traffic of London, to loose site of him. Separated again, really?
Come to think of it, he most likely made a good decision and I must have missed the proper exit. When Jopie and I finally arrived at the field at Sidcup Road, Martin was already busy putting up his tent.
However, he chose the small section of the field just west of a small stream called ‘River Quaggy’.
We helped him move and made camp at the original 1971 HQ spot.
On this map I have marked Martins original campsite, before I made him move to my original 1971 HQ.
Jopie returns from our unoffical BR toilet, obviously releaved.
Martin has found Lynns old torn Levis that I disposed of the previous year and were still there behind the fence.
||Small Ben (with a lock of Lynns ginger hair)
Well in the days that followed we did all touristy things. The Zoo at Regent Park, went to Carnaby Street and Madame Tussauds in Baker Street.
Baker Street also houses The London Planetarium. I remember arriving at the box office at five minutes to two and asked for three tickets for the two o’clock show.
I am sorry sir, was the answer, the two o’clock show has already begun.
How can that be, I said, it is not two o’clock yet. The witty retort of the cashier I will never forget:
”If you want to argue with Big Ben, don’t come to me!”
|Flea Market Carnaby Street
||Zoo Regents Park
||formula 1 - Jim Clark
||Martin and the Guillotine
||Ben and Charles Dickens
||Jopie and the Guillotine
Some of the touristy things we did:
One night Jopie Kloostra got the fright of his life. I heard him scream for a torch and a knife. He had a large creepy crawly in his sleeping bag. Stabbed it to death with his knife, in the process piercing the floor of his tent and decapitating what proved to be a Stag Beetle. I kept the head of the beastie as a souvenir for years after until it got lost in the mist of time.
|Martin Hoogendoorn en Ben Kalkhoven Treasures Of Tutankhamun
Also in 1972, something noteworthy, The British Museum held an exposition of The Treasures of Tutankhamun, which offered a rare opportunity to see that famous death mask of the young pharao without having to travel to Cairo.
I don’t know how we knew of this exposé, perhaps mister Hepper think of pepper told us. Anyways, we took the opportunity and made our way to the museum.
We were in for a shock when we arrived there. We saw ourselves confronted with what must be one of Britains most famous pastime, namely standing in a queue to wait for your turn to get in.
Probably part of the thrill of going to a museum.
The larger the queue, the greater the thrill.
If we wanted to see the treasures of Tutankhamun, we would have to stand in line as well.
A little sign, next to the line of people who came prepared with thermos and sandwiches, read:
“Approximate waiting time from this point : Two hours”
When I was born and patience was handed out, I was in the back of the queue as well so when it was my turn, hardly any patience was left, so I was born with next to none at all. “Ja daaaag!” dan maar geen Tutankhamun!
We decided to give it a miss and headed for the main entrance. There was no queue for going in the Museum itself, only the one for the entrance to the exhibition.
We bought our tickets and walked towards the steps leading to the museum.
In the picture you see Martin and I standing in front of the museum and in the background you see pupils in school uniform. As we got near the entrance we saw that a group of school children were led past a sign that read “Treasures of Tuntankhamun only - this way”.
We looked at each other, smiled, and teamed up with this class. Nobody challenged us or checked our tickets.
It was apparently assumed that we belonged to this group.
And there it was in a glass display, climate controlled, Tutankhamuns death mask. I still can remember how unimpressed I was at the time.
I did not see it’s beauty, I saw the effects of the teeth of time, for me it was far from perfect. You know, when archeologists dig up an frozen princess from artic tundras and claim her to be beautiful and in perfect condition,
even after being interrred for millenia?
Perfect, really? Come of it! Being devoid of live and buried for a very long time turns one into a nightmare in my book.
Having said that, it was nice though to have had the opportunity to see this mask, in spite of not being impressed by it.
Well, maybe I was too young to be able to value it’s true beauty.
|Jopie playing Golf
Back at our campsite again we got to meet the locals. Anthony and Gary rode our bikes and a friedly local Golf player gave us lessons in teeing off.
And then one fine day, Lisa, Jane and Sandra walked into our lives:
From left to right
Sandra R, Jane G and Lisa, last name unknown to me.
Jane took a fancy for Martin and Sandra took a shine to me. For me this was a bit of a problem because I was already going steady with Lynn, my future fiancee and later wife. I made this no secret to Sandra and it meant I could and would not be so huggable as Jane and Martin proved to be towards one another. I liked Sandra very much but I did not want to be disloyal to Lynn. I carried a tress of her ginger hair on a golden chain for all to see.
To make things a little confusing, although Lisa was perhaps 13 years of age at the time, in a few years time the age difference would be less obvious and I considered Lisa a looker as well as Sandra.
I felt myself drawn towards all three of them, Lynn, Sandra and Lisa.
Anyways, we al became great friends and our party of friends grew to 8 in total.
On the left you see Jane and Martin, next to them is Lisa. I think the girl in the middle was brought in to team up with Jopie (the Londoners called him Yogey) but either he or she did not seem to be that keen. It may explain why she looks a bit disgruntled in these pictures.
The boy goes without a name as well, I am sure he must be the brother of one of the girls but unless he sees this column and clarifies this to me, his name eludes me.
On the right you see Sandra and me, I had my arm about her but because of this picture and considerations for the homefront, I let my arm disappear behind London Bridge.
The picture on the right was taken after our trip to the city and als was our last day in London.
|On the St George back in The Hook
On the day of our departure for Holland, Jane and Sandra came by to say goodbye.
Martin took Jane aside and shared some private moments with her.
And I stood there looking at the beautiful Sandra R.
She was dressed at her Sunday best. Beautiful shoes and a nice ladies handbag and all, waiting for things to happen.
I feel terrible even now, thinking back at that moment in time.
Stupid adolescent autistic that I was, I felt so torn between her and Lynn that I could not bring myself to do a proper farewell or to say words of comfort or even to compliment her for the obvious effort that she had taken to present herself in such a dignified way.
I started my Puch and drove away. Thinking back at that moment in time,
I feel that she must have felt at least a bit disappointed about the way things ended.
No sooner had I arrived home or letters arrived from Glassbrook road.
A jealous Lynn got her hands on one and took it upon herself to write the sender a stinker. That must have been the last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I never heard anything again from poor Sandra R.
Sandra R, if you ever get to read this, I owe you a very big apology.
March 5 2017
This is a picture of the Dutch House across the road from our camp site.
Nobody drank alcohol at the time so we had no reason to go there.
For us it was just a landmark.
We went in only on one occasion during the weekend but if you did not know how to Jive, you had no business being there.
"You don't know how to Jive?" "Sorry no, I don't".
"Well, bye then, off you go."
That was a real dignity stripper.
We did not stay in very long.
|Puch Cilinder and Piston