It meant plenty of train and bus travelling to get to the grounds. We caught the first train from Wymondham to Cambridge and then from Cambridge to London. From Liverpool Street by Underground to South Kensington, South Kensington to Southfields and finally a bus to the ground. Ironically they call it London Underground but on the latter part of our journey we were very much on a track raised above the ground and houses.
Entrance to the championship arena was via a bag check and we had a security guard with a good sense of humour (must be a rare thing). Had time to eat sandwiches close to the scoreboard and then a quick visit to the tennis museum before our official tour which took approximately 90 minutes.
Wimbledon looks very different with virtually nobody there. Our only other visits have been when the place has been awash with people during the championships. Our guide Nick had a rather drole sense of humour as he took us round various areas. Sadly we weren't allowed in the locker rooms etc as this is still a members' club. That's where the class thingee comes in. The club has around 500 members - many of whom are honorary members through winning tennis titles. That means it's virtually impossible to become a member without being proposed by numerous people, awaiting somebody to keel over and then finally being accepted to what is an elite group of people. All reminiscent of being a member of Lord's Cricket Ground.
This all smacks of elitism and obviously the rules of the Wimbledon Club are hard and fast, even down to the championship sponsors not being allowed to advertise on the courts themselves. Players must wear white (unlike in the other grand slam tournaments where coloured clothing is acceptable). Wimbledon is also the only grand slam played on grass.
We were allowed into centre court and court number one where new grass is busy growing for the 2016 championships. As soon as the 2015 tournament was finished the grass was ripped up and replaced. It seems incredible to think that many of the courts are used for just 13 days a year and the rest of the time are rested and refusrbished. Apparently for the Olympic games all the gangway numbers had to be replaced because they were in the wrong type font. Here is a place where the rules and regulations do matter and a place where in the past ladies and gentlemen were probably heard to mutter "it's rules like these that made the Empire great."
Times have changed, but Wimbledon remains something of an anachronism. We visited the Media room, outside courts, Henman Hill (or Murray Mount depending on which way you look at it) and many other areas to get a decent overview of something that looks and feels strangely smaller without the thousands of people. That's probably an illusion made possible by the ease of getting around empty grounds rather than having to shuffle slowly through the masses during Wimbledon fortnight.
Revisited the museum at the end of the tour and realised that my old Fred Perry wooden racquet wouldn't be out of place in the building. The men's singles trophy and ladies singles' plate are both on display and are solid, heavy and massive.
Then it was the return journey of bus to Southfields, South fields to South Kensington, South Kensington to Leicester Square, bus to Liverpool Street, train to Norwich and finally a train from Norwich to Wymondham. On the way we ate at a small Vietnamese restaurant in Garrick Street where the food was inexpensive and wholesome.