Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Number 69 Route

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Mary, Linda and I met at Walthamstow bus station, only to be told that the area was being closed for some works, so we moved to the stop outside the huge supermarket instead.  The 69 soon arrived and we set off around 10.35, destination Canning Town. We had been here before, on the 48, not to mention the 58, and again we noted the large number of religious venues, including the London Healing Centre, and the Waltham Forest Nur-ul-Islam Centre, a Mauritian organisation, with an interest in sports.

But we also enjoyed 'Sweet Choice' with its offer of 'endearing food', cheering because there were a lot of boarded up and empty shops.
Then as we came into Leyton, we passed the handsome ex-town hall, now on the verge of becoming studios and business premises.  We also had fine views of the Olympic site, before forking left down Crownfield Road, with very determined attempts to calm the traffic.  
A number of shops cater for the East European market, though few as comprehensively as this one.  A number of shops were also looking towards 2012 and calling themselves 'Olympic' this or that.  We swept past St John's Church and through Stratford, passing Plaistow Station, and then crossing the Northern Outfall Sewer, part of Bazalgette's great works, and a pleasant embankment to walk along, should you wish to get to Beckton on foot.  The East London Cemetery next door is large, but seemed well tended;  it has an area which is in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

As we passed Rathbone market, we were intrigued to notice an ex-pub, now flats, called Dick Turpin House, since w had always associated him with the Great North Road. However, he turns out to have been a local lad.  We knew we were approaching Canning Town Bus Station as we could see the huge road junction under which it nestles. The Dome was so close that it was hard to believe it was actually across the river.  We arrived at the handsome bus station after only 50 minutes, which seemed to pretty good, as we had swept eastwards and then back towards the west, through varied scenery, with dense population but also a surprising number of open spaces, looking ravishing in the spring sunshine.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Number 68 Route

Wednesday 11 March 2009

This route was travelled more than a year from the moment of its posting on the blog, as it was the return route from West Norwood, following the outward trip on the 2.

I was on my own, since both the other 'ladies who bus' were still in gainful employment.  A short walk from West Norwood bus garage brought me to Knight's Hill and a brief wait saw me on board the 68, which forked right almost immediately to take me up the Norwood Road and so to Herne Hill and Tulse Hill.

After both King's College Hospital and the Maudsley, we were into the Walworth Road and to Elephant and Castle,  I had thought that West Norwood was down Croydon way, rather than being north of Streatham, so was impressed by the speediness of the whole thing.  Of course going into London, even outside the rush hour, was slower than coming out had been, but not much.

After Elephant and Castle we were quickly to Waterloo Bridge, passing the Necropolis Railway Station  (do you think the story that the platform bar had a sign that said 'spirits served here' is a myth?) Waterloo Bridge may not have Wordworth, but it does have Wendy Cope.

We rounded Aldwych, with barely time to notice the pretty medallions decorating the Indian High Commission, and headed up Kingsway and through Boomsbury. There was the promising sight of Russell Square with many buses we have yet to take, and passing Tavistock Square always gives us the chance to think of the people who were on the Number 30 bus on 7 July 2005.
And so to Euston, well within the advertised 57 minutes for this time of day.

The Number 67 Route

Monday 19 April 2010

Mary, Linda and I did not have to wait long at Wood Green and boarded the 67 at 11.30. The bus was quite busy as we headed down past the shopping centre and the many shoe shops to Turnpike Lane Station, and then down West Green Road to Black Boy Road.  The housing is quite dense around here, as confirmed by the fact that we passed 3 primary schools in the first five minutes of our trip, including Chestnuts Primary school, by a small green area called Chestnut Park, although most of the trees seemed to be London Planes

We saw Papa Jonas Vie-Court's Congolese Restaurant, but sadly it does not seem to have a website although the Florentia Clothing Village does!  We also passed St Ann's hospital, still associated for many people with the tragedy of Baby P.  The Police Station is just across the road, but clearly proximity did not make communication any more effective.

Soon we were in Stamford Hill, passing Lubavich House as well as many shops serving the needs of the local community, perhaps the strangest being a Kosher kebab shop.  As we headed towards Stoke Newington, we spotted a political, or perhaps anti-political poster by Dr.d  impressively up to date as the Goldman Sachs story only broke on Friday.

Down into Dalston, and we were in among the works for the East London Line extension,  as well as admiring a beautifully tiled Mosque.

We were also taken with the clock outside a hardware shop. Mary was delighted that we passed Ridley Road Market, where she used to shop when she was a student, as well as the Metropolitan Hospital, where she did her first job, and the Fox pub where she and her co-workers used to unwind.  We were, though,  less happy to see a ghost bike outside the Fox.

The Geffrye Museum is clearly having major works done on its grounds, as there were diggers and large bags of soil lying around.  Its beautiful trees make it hard to take a decent photo, however.

Heading straight for the Gherkin, we passed a second impressive mosque, as well as the beautiful church of St Leonard's Shoreditch, built by George Dance: clearly the early 18th century was a good period for architects - we were about to pass Christ Church, Spitalfields, built by Nicholas Hawksmoor.

Then we came to Toynbee Hall, with its Blue Plaque to its founder Jimmy Mallon, and Canon Barnett Primary School, named for the husband of Henrietta Barnett, whose parish this was.  After a quick turn around Aldgate East Station, we were at Aldgate, arriving an exact hour after we had left Wood Green.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Number 66 Route

Romford Station to Leytonstone Station
Monday April 12th 2010

In order to get thus far we had already been under the Thames and out from Stratford so were not impressed that we waited over the expected 12 minutes for our 66 to start us off from Romford Station. Once again we found ourselves a year on from our last visit back in Romford on a non-market day, but by lunch-time in the school holidays Romford was still pretty busy and this route, like many of the others makes sure you pass the key shopping centres at Liberty and the Romford Mall – smaller and quieter. The pedestrianised areas are all well sign-posted, and bus is probably the best approach to this part of London, situated as it is not far from two major roundabouts, signs to the M25 and a whole lot of dual carriageways.

We of course were heading (not for Chicago or LA) but back into town and Leytonstone and the most direct way – if you don’t opt for the Central Line – is arguably down the A12 dual carriageway on Route 66. We were 12 miles from central London (much less than 2,000 miles all the way), as the many motorway boards told us, and swept on through lingering only by a few early shops – office clearance showing the death of the filing cabinet as they piled up on the pavements. After that it was fast driving along the quaintly named Whalebone Lane North to get, most aptly to the Moby Dick crossroads. If you ‘Google’ Moby Dick at Crossroads you get an excellent heavy metal YouTube clip of a band called Black Dog, or possibly the other way round! However more prosaically there was and still is a pub of that name.

The only route along here takes it pretty fast as most of the stops seem to be requests – we agreed that with the Central Line so key to this area the bus ‘fills in the gaps’, sometimes considerable, between stations, but most commuters would go for the tube. Some stretches had rows of inter-war housing, with blossomy front gardens still well maintained, other bits had larger warehouses named randomly ‘Doors-R-Us’ or even ‘Lamps-R-Us’. Signs to Goodmayes Hospital reminded Mary of some early experience in mental health medical training.

Our speed was curtailed by the Gants Hill roadworks, which had been due to finish this year, but it seems not so we’ll update when we are next round here. This gave us time to contemplate the teeny weeny balconies on the new build by George Wimpey – handy for the tube though. Still the sole bus we passed Redbridge Station close to the M11 and a very large road intersection – apparently a speciality hereabouts.

Thames water seem to be housed in a pretty and older pumping station and there are some squeezed in allotments, possibly prone to flooding from the River Roding, just before you get to Wanstead Station – lacking the art deco charm of the Piccadilly Line the Central Line stations are utilitarian and in need of some TLC, which we noted Wanstead is about to get in the form of a face-lift and better access.

Somewhat to our surprise the bus turned off the A12 at this point and what we glimpsed of Wanstead Place impressed us with its villagy feel – a Green, older houses, and even some Almshouses, so obviously is worth stopping off. Then lo into yet another Roundabout – this time the Green Man, a very popular motif in East England – location of a Close named after locally-born writer John Drinkwater, whose most quotable lines appear to be the seasonally appropriate “And not a girl goes walking / Along the Cotswold lanes / But knows men's eyes in April / Are quicker than their brains.” From here we took a little 1-way access into Leytonstone Station, where clearly cafĂ© society has arrived, and joined the passengers heading for the Underground.

Well you can tell by all my desperate references to stations passed and route numbers that the bus was short on drama, history or landscape, in short: I did not get many kicks on Route 66, which did its number in something over the promised 23 minutes.
Short route = short blog.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Number 65 Route

Tuesday 6 April 2010

We - Linda and I - were on our second bus of the day when we boarded the 65, at 11.20, at its head stop at Ealing Broadway station, and were enjoying a beautiful sunny day for our trip. Ealing Broadway was busy with traffic and shoppers, but we were able to glimpse the Blue Plaque for Lady Byron, a remarkable woman who managed to walk out on the most romantic poet of the 19th century having failed to convert him to her virtuous way of life.

Soon after South Ealing Station we passed the Assyrian Society of the UK, a group which represents the Christians of Iraq, who speak Aramaic (like Jesus) and who have been persecuted by just about everyone. (Until now we had only known them as the people whose cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold.)

On a lighter note we found a hair dresser called 'Angels; which offered half head highlights for £50 and full head for £60: as Linda said, it made the full head look a bargain.

We admired Ealing's handsome hanging baskets, along with other signs of spring as we reached the river at Brentford, and saw signs for the Thames Path as well as the Musical Museum. We were under the Heathrow flight path, of course, but were insulated from the noise inside our bus.

The standpipe tower at Kew Bridge Steam Museum was the next landmark, and then we crossed Kew Bridge to follow the long wall of Kew Gardens. At this stage an inspector boarded, the first we have had for many weeks, though we have had inspectors on bendy buses.

We reached South Kew, and passed the grounds of London Welsh Rugby Club and then Falcons Preparatory School, apparently based in an old fire station, with its strapline 'Boys will be boys, ours lead the pack'.

Richmond is very smart, and we admired shops and houses as we went past Richmond Rail Station before popping round the Bus Station and heading on towards Ham. The Poppy Factory and the Star and Garter Home led us to the spot where the Capital Ring crosses the Thames Path and then on to Ham Polo ground and Richmond Golf Course, at which point we passed into the Royal borough of Kingston upon Thames.

On this visit we passed Tiffin Boys' School, well separated from the Girls, and with the motto 'faire sans dire' which looks to cynical ex school teachers like me to be a good working rule for school students. We passed the two bus stations to reach Brook Street at the end of our trip at 12.15. The sunshine and clear signs of spring made this a very pleasant tour of some of the smarter bits of West London.