Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Number 11 Route

Tuesday 28 April 2009 Aah, Liverpool Street Station, clean and calm, with no sign of massed, dancing mobile phone users. I paused to admire the Kindertransport Memorial. The team, enhanced today by Renee, assembled in very good time, and we awaited the 11, which arrived at 10.20. The driver said he was only going to Chelsea as there were long hold-ups in Westminster, but we knew we could always move onto another one. As we went through the city, there was much to see, and we particularly noticed the statue of George Peabody. Another passenger pointed James Henry Greathead out to us in front of St Pauls. She also ensured that we noticed the Mithraic Temple. We agreed that this was an excellent route, full of interest and we hadn’t even left the City! but then on through Fleet Street, where we noted the Express Building, and the HQs of several provincial newspapers, as well as the Protestant Truth Society, a strangely NON-ecumenical concept in the 21st century. Next came St Clement Danes Church, with statues of Dowding and Harris outside it and we were into the Strand: the Courts of Justice, King’s College (from where some of us had watched the 1977 Silver Jubilee Procession) Somerset House and then into Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall. This is where we realised what the bus driver had meant, as it was very slow, with plenty of time to see the various protesters in Parliament Square and the heavy police presence. The Queen was in Westminster Abbey, at a ceremony for the Yeomen of the Guard, on this the 500th anniversary of the death of their founder, Henry VII. On to Victoria Station, eventually, and then to Sloane Square, where our bus terminated, having taken over an hour to get that far. But another soon came, and we made our way along the King’s Road, admiring the posh shops, as well as the Pheasantry with its plaque to the ballet dancer Astafieva. One more enjoyable sight was the Worlds End Nursery before we reached Fulham Town Hall at 11.50 and decided enough was enough, returning to our real lives by tube rather than taking any more buses.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Number 10 Route

Monday 20 April 2009
Mary and I barely had time to survey the wonders of Hammersmith Upper Bus Station before hopping onto a 10, admiring the driver's very cool hat on the way. It was about 11.25. Hammersmith was very slow, presumably because of whatever had shut the flyover, so we had time to observe not just Marco Pierre White's Belvedere Restaurant but also a blue plaque to Alma Cogan (don't miss the juke box if you click the link!) We also passed Capita's Offices. They were bidding to run the SATs, since obviously controlling the Congestion Charge is just the qualification needed for organising school exams.
The route was the same as the 9 until we got to Hyde Park Corner, and then it was up Park Lane (lovely tulips), and along Oxford Street for the umpteenth time. We again noticed the slow progress on that huge building site opposite Selfridges, so this time I have found out why: it's all been in the hands of the lawyers. Past the 100 Club and up Tottenham Court Road and so through Euston Station and to King's Cross, and home to lunch in the sunny garden.

Monday, 20 April 2009

The Number 9 Route

Monday 20 April 2009
This outing was unique: we think it is the only time when two consecutive numbers make an easy journey. Linda had family duties, so Mary and I met at Aldwych
on yet another sunny day. At 10.24, we boarded a genuine antique routemaster although we knew we should have to get another 9 at the Royal Albert Hall. I hope none of our readers is foolishly nostalgic for these things. Let us just say that you could smell old tobacco on the upstairs, twenty years on, and when a child fell forward, the rail on the seat in front was not at all padded. The Strand was quite slow because of water works (where isn't?) but we reached Waterloo Place and then Piccadilly, passing St James's Church, and then a blue plaque to show that Lord Palmerston lived along the road. Hyde Park Corner yet again meant that Mary had to endure the lecture on the various memorials there (see the Number 8) and then we were into Knightsbridge, passing the Paxton's Head Pub, apparently renamed in 1851 when the Crystal Palace builders used to drink there (what was it called before? Duke of Grafton). At the Albert Memorial we got onto a modern 9, and pressed on, past Kensington Palace and then noticing the dozens of bike racks in the middle of Kensington High Street. The former Commonwealth Institute is up for sale, and looked very depressing, but we saw a blue plaque for the cartoonist Low to cheer us up. Hammersmith was very bunged up by whatever accident had closed the flyover, but we reached the bus station within an hour and got straight onto a number 10.

Friday, 17 April 2009

The Number 8 Route

14 April 2009

Following the grey weekend some of us had had, bright sunshine greeted Linda and me at Victoria and we climbed onto the Number 8 at about 10.25. We swept along Grosvenor Place and round Hyde Park Corner, passing the Australian War Memorial and the New Zealand War Memorial
Turning into Mayfair was a bit of a surprise, as we had thought that only chauffeur driven mercs - not buses - patrolled those streets, but Berkeley Square was looking lovely, we soon reached Oxford Street and travelled the rest of its length, once again impressed that the Photographers’ Gallery actually gets its name announced on the buses: other museums on the whole don’t. We travelled eastward for some time, seeing a cyclist on a recumbent as well as passing the statue to Rowland Hill. On past Liverpool Street Station, and a huge construction project along the Bethnal Green Road (could it be Crossrail? Or a new road?) We were impressed by Peach the Estate Agent with painted spiders and bugs on its strange office and by some smart retirement homes along the – very straight - Roman Road. By now into the part of London that is intersected by a number of waterways, including the Hertford Union Canal, we were on the A12 for a brief while before arriving at Bow Church at 11.40.

Our return trip is for another time, but we must mention the charming man at Bromley by Bow tube station who let us use their staff loo.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Number 7 Route

On 6 April 2009, Linda and I met in sunny Russell Square and got on the Number 7 just after 10.20. I asked the driver to change the destination so I could take a photo. Past the British Museum, with its smart new pedestrian crossing, and a blue plaque for George du Maurier. We went all the way down Oxford Street, noting the entertaining Bombardier Beer ads on almost every bus shelter, and round Marble Arch, with the less amusing sight of a ghost bike. Then up the Edgware Road and round to Paddington, passing another Fleming plaque, (see the 6) this time ‘Penicillin’ Alexander Fleming who made his discovery at St Mary’s Hospital. We noticed that Kensington and Chelsea was still looking pretty affluent, and then passed into Hammersmith, and another couple of hospitals (buses are always passing hospitals!) and HMP Wormwood Scrubs before reaching East Acton where our bus terminated and we were able to step straight onto our next.