Yesterday afternoon, I was picking up Autocar’s long-term Nissan Leaf after its first service and I was suddenly struck by a monumental realisation. My entire day’s travel, both public and private, would be purely by electrical power.

Our Leaf is coming to the end of its year at Autocar, but Nissan wanted us to experience putting it in for a service before it is returned. The press office advised me that the nearest specialist Leaf dealers were in Aldershot (not very near to Battersea) or Penge. I had to look up Penge on the map and found it hidden in that rarely explored bit of South London, between Crystal Palace and Croydon.

After a while away from the Leaf, getting back into it reminded me just what a superb inner-city car it is. Smooth, silent and unbeatable in a 0-30mph sprint. I dropped the car off and was told that it would take ‘at least’ three hours. A short enough turn-around for me to stay in the area and pick the car up later in the afternoon. But I needed a cafe where I could camp out with the laptop. The helpful chap in the service centre suggested I walk up the road to the local tram and head for Croydon.