Now’s the perfect time to visit our empty capital | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

The staycation conversation rumbles on because those who would normally disappear to Spain or Turkey have had their holiday confidence rattled.

By Alun Newman
Monday, 16th August 2021, 6:52 pm
Updated Monday, 16th August 2021, 6:52 pm
Alun reckons there's never been a better time to visit London.
Alun reckons there's never been a better time to visit London.

So much has now happened that if another country switches from the red list back to amber, then on to green, you can see people's eyes glazing over.

And for many, it’s just been too much and the end result is UK-based fun for most.

I’m in awe of those families who have still got enough left in the emotional tank to get excited.

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When France became available (green list) they were jumping on the Portsmouth to Caen ferry at lightning speed!

How do these people find such confidence and enthusiasm? Maybe it’s the prospect of being locked in with the children over the school holidays.

It could also be that there are bargains out there.

The footage coming in from the south of France shows very few tourists. Campsites which would be heaving in normal times are nearly empty.

They have loads of capacity and maybe some savvy Brits spotted a high-risk holiday bargain?

I certainly didn’t have that level of confidence.

There would be fall-out if I disappeared to a country and then had to quarantine for 14, 10 or five days.

However, there were some bargains here too.

Sure, Cornwall is now just over £1m for four nights in a burnt-out shepherd's hut near Newquay.

Devon was the same with it costing just over £1m to rent a stale scone in someone’s back garden.

These people weren’t being greedy apparently, they were just responding to market forces. Who even says that phrase without people making gestures behind your back?

In my opinion, the bargains here are in the cities. With fewer people flying in and fewer people working in them, London is fantastic.

I decided to escape with one of my children for some bonding time in the form of a long weekend. It was great.

Hotels right near the centre which are reasonably priced (for London). Food’s always cheap in London as the choice and competition is massive. Even better, there were fewer people.

It was bordering on easy to cross the road. I only nearly got run over three times which is a massive improvement for me. One of those didn’t count because it was someone on a Boris bike.

Far and away the best bit was booking online tickets to free museums with no queuing!

Imperial War Museum, straight in. Science Museum, straight in. It was fantastic. There was no waiting in a zig-zag of slow-moving human soup.

To add to this excitement, I found a restaurant selling ‘The Best Pizza in Europe’. Now that’s quite a claim.

This family had won ‘Best Pizza in Sicily’ and then ‘Best Pizza in Italy’ and had brought franchise number three over to the UK.

It was located in a back street and it was packed.

I didn’t explain the legacy to my son. He just thought it was time for food.

I didn’t want to auto-prompt the idea that this place ‘could’ be special and that he could be in for a life-changing experience.

At about £12 a pizza it wasn’t bad. Nothing was normal on the menu. No pepperoni. No Hawaiian. Not a whiff of an artichoke.

Nevertheless it followed the well-established pizza rules. Dough, tomato, cheese, wood-fired-oven.

The food arrived and after getting through about a quarter of the monster pizza my son was tucking into, he looked me in the eye and – I swear this is true – said to me… ‘Dad, this is the best pizza I’ve ever had.’

And there you have it.

While there may not be any holidays abroad, there is obviously bargain fun and also life-changing experiences to be had in our very own cities.

Boom! I’m addicted to big bangs

Recently a considerable portion of Fawley power station was blown up in a controlled demolition. Feel free to check it out on the BBC News website for Hampshire.

I realised, while watching it for the third time, I’m addicted to towers being blown up. This addiction had been hidden from me up until now.

There's something about towers being blown up that so many of us love to watch. Only a few weeks before I enjoyed watching four North Yorkshire cooling towers being blown up. There are four more to come so the fun’s not over.

Part of the addiction hinges on the possibility something might go wrong. Tower demolition addicts know the fun really starts when either the explosives don't blow correctly or, for the ultimate treat, they blow incorrectly and the tower falls down a bit and then, as the dust clears, it’s still standing.

I assume if it’s too dangerous to approach they call in an F-15 fighter for a missile strike. My problem started at Hamworthy, near Poole, and two large towers which were part of the power station. They were demolished in 1993 and I drove to Poole to watch the destruction. Thirty years on and I still don't know what called me to this event. It doesn't matter but what’s important is many people reading this will also have a similar compulsion.

If I see on the web ‘watch video of tower demolition - aerial view’, I’m off. For those fans of such internet clickbait, there’s more demolition at Fawley next year. I’ll keep you posted. Boom.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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