Monday 22 February 2010
While we are never inclined to complain, we are really bored with this cold, wet weather, which ensures that our photos give barely an impression of this long and interesting trip. After a 20 minute wait at Clapham Park for the 'every 6-8 minutes' 57, Mary, Linda and I headed upstairs hoping to thaw, only to find cold air blowing onto us from above.
Clearly there was a general problem with the service, as we did not see a 57 in the opposite direction for the first 30 minutes of our journey . But we did not pass any hold-up sufficient to explain it. We were, as so often, impressed by our driver's patience and competence, when other road users hadn't got as far as the page on box junctions in their copies of the Highway Code.
Still, off we went, and soon passed the Knights Youth Centre, and then a ghost bike on the railings where the South Circular meets the A23. The cycle lanes in the boroughs through which we travelled were so narrow and intermittent, I suppose we should be glad there were no more.
On a more cheerful note, Streatham Hill has the attractive white Wavertree Court, with its (Dutch inspired?) roofs, as well as Dr Dolittle's Pet Shop and a hair dresser to add to our collection ('Cutting Room', which we assume to have a cinematic resonance).
The Waaberi Community Centre proves to offer support for the Somali community in South London and we also passed the 'Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministry' (a Nigerian Church), before coming to the Wandsworth Oasis Charity shop.
The bus was very busy, no doubt because of the long wait, with many young people getting off for South Thames College as we turned right off Mitcham Lane, and more getting on and off at Tooting Broadway Station. Through Colliers Wood, with the Wandle flowing very high, we came into Merton. South Wimbledon station was a bit baffling, as we were coming from the north and had not reached Wimbledon itself yet; but we soon did, with the Polka Theatre (fond memories for Linda from when the children were young) and then the New Theatre, before popping into and out of the Sir Cyril Black bus depot (Wimbledon’s MP from 1950-1970, since you ask).
Then it was on to Raynes Park, with the playing fields of Wimbledon College intermittently visible behind the large houses. We went across the Beverley Brook Walk which looks attractive, and the A3, which doesn't, to reach the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. Apparently Saxon Kings were sometimes crowned here, but the 'Royal' these days is authorised by a charter of 1965. We were actually in New Malden, with many private roads, some gated, off either side of the bus route. Soon we came to Kingston Hospital, and into the town, although without glimpsing the Thames. We did, however, pass a number of schools, notably Tiffin Boys' and the Royal Grammar School, before arriving at Fairfield Bus Station, and the end of our journey, well within the 95 minutes advertised time, which left us ever more baffled about the gaps in the service.