Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Number 100 Route

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Yes, the hundredth route!  we had thought of balloons, champagne being prohibited on buses and anyway contra-indicated for mid morning bussing, but instead had the great pleasure of the 63 Regular, taking advantage of not having to go to work any more. So Linda, Roger and I met at Elephant and Castle, sent loving thoughts to Mary in Devon, and got on board the single decker at 10.45.   We had a few minutes to notice the large amounts of new residential building around the Faraday memorial roundabout.  Indeed, new build accommodation was to be a theme of our day.

  We went past South Bank University, which advertises itself as 6th for graduate starting salaries in 2010, and then past the Obelisk at St George's Circus to head up Blackfriars Road to the river, passing Southwark Tube Station and the building work for Blackfriars Station before reaching the river.  Blackfriars Bridge was originally known as Pitt Bridge, apparently, and Victorian commentators regretted the building of the railway bridge so close to it.  It's a pity that the route is a single deckers, as it proved impossible to photograph the charming little black friar in the plasterwork of one of the buildings on the north bank.

The bus was not at all busy as we headed up to Ludgate Circus, and then right to go round three sides of St Paul's Cathedral.  We spotted a charming little statue in the Gardens at the East end of the Cathedral, but did not climb down to see who it was, and I have not been able to discover it on the web.  We also admired the drinking fountain on the other side of the road, next door to the Information Centre, before swinging round left to go past the other side of St Paul's and up towards Little Britain and the Museum of London, now re-opened after its major redevelopment programme.  Speeding down towards Moorgate, we passed a couple of racks of the hire bikes, one full, one empty, before passing the church of All Hallows on the Wall and turning into Broad Street.

Linda and I felt a stab of nostalgia as we turned into and out of Liverpool Street Station bus station, and on down Wormwood Street to get to Aldgate Bus garage, where we once met Kate.  Still fairly empty and pretty fast, our bus took us down Minories toward the Tower of London, passing Royal Mint Street. The actual mint is now in Wales, I believe, but wherever they are,  I do wish they would get around to a £5.00 coin, as the last few notes I have handled have been extremely tatty.  Other coins go 1,2,5, or 10,20,50, so why not 100,200 and 500.  But I digress.

At the Tower we turned left, to go to the landward side of St Katharine Dock, and take a little twiddle through some housing areas and to pass the Captain Kidd Pub and Phoenix Wharf (now, of course, apartments) and King Henry's Stairs.  The bus was on cobbles found here, so it was quite a knubbly ride.  We were the 'wrong' side of the River Police HQ, since their main focus is the River.  I had a brief reminisce about the excellent visit I made to this Thames Division HQ when I was working on the river

We saw signs to the pirate ships at Tobacco Dock, but it seems that the dock is a failed retail dream and the pirate ships are replicas.  We shall take a walk down there one day soon and have a look.  more interesting were views of St Paul's Shadwell not, as we had speculated, a Hawksmoor, but still attractive.  Then we came to Cable Street, scene of the great anti Fascist protests of 1936.  There is a long but very interesting discussion of it here, but if you are short of time, I'll pull out of it the fact that children in school playgrounds were playing 'Jews and Fascists' rather than 'cops and robbers' or 'cowboys and indians' through those years.  In Cable Lane, we saw the Blue Plaque to Sir William Perkin FRS, who was baptised in St Paul's Shadwell and lived around here.  He developed the first aniline dye when he was only 18 (in 1850):  mauveine became so popular that 'Punch' printed a cartoon of a police officer saying 'mauve along there'.

We were impressed by the Cycling Superhighway along here:  a great deal more convincing that the one we has seen in Wandsworth:  wide enough, segregated from motorised traffic, and quite enticing.

Arriving at Shadwell Station, we hopped off, only to realise that we were not at the end of the route.  Fortunately there was another 100 immediately behind, so we travelled the one more stop to St George's Town Hall, to disembark at just before 11.30. The journey had taken less than 45 minutes, despite the fact of going through the city of London, and over and round a number of traffic calming measures.  Trips are obviously faster if no-one wants to get on or off a bus:  for much of the way there were only one or two other passengers with us.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Number 99 Route

Bexleyheath Garage to Woolwich

Monday August 16th 2010

The claim that the route starts at Bexleyheath Bus garage is actually a bit misleading, as the first point to board is a rather nifty bus-only lane squeezed between the shopping centre and the entertainment complex that is central Bexleyheath. The queues indicated this was a popular spot to board a bus with your morning shopping – but not this route apparently, which though a double-decker was never remotely busy at any point.

We had thought it might repeat some of the other routes we were riding today but only at its extremities. The 99 heads very rapidly downhill and East towards the river, and in fact parallels one of the railway lines leading to Dartford and thus through endless Thirties and later inner suburbia. It was not the leafiest of routes as most home-owners had turned their front gardens into off street parking. This is not a new trend so we hoped this area was not prone to flooding, where the water then has nowhere to go?

The 99 touches the railway line at Slade Green, where we passed our old friend the 89 waiting to start its journey – it seemed quite a while ago but in fact only 3 weeks, such is our current rate of progress! Unlike the 89, which heads pretty much straight out, the 99 does a twiddle, serving the local population – there were more unpaved front gardens here, so more to admire plus the range of recent building styles for family homes. These obviously pre-date the current trend for ‘make a quick buck’ housing developments, which only seem able to put up the ubiquitous 2 bed, 2 bath blocks of ‘luxury’ flats which is not what families want or need.

We had to admire the driver’s skill in negotiating some tight turns through suburban streets: even if he had the benefit of odd priority markings from time to time it was no mean feat. .

Slade Green Road and Manor Road, where only the 99 ventures, brings you very close to the Erith reach of the Thames, and while there are vestiges of the old industrial areas – aggregates abound – this is far less busy an area than it used to be. The people of Erith can speak more eloquently about Erith and its history.

From the picture of the Thames clipper at Erith we guessed that the larger ships came this far, docked after which their cargo was transported into London on smaller vessels. We could not see across the Thames here, as it is significantly wider than where we are used to crossing. As Jo so memorably said for the 97 it’s the ‘houses in between’ that stop you seeing the Thames!

Erith town centre was that mixture of derelict pubs and sparkly new supermarkets, with the odd bit of civic art thrown in. Jo and I were guessing the Nordenfelt (the dead pub on the one-way system) was some kind of town twinning with Scandinavia. However my resident military advisor tells me it’s a gun, both military and naval – so take your pick.

Having left Erith and its delights behind, the bus heads uphill again to Belvedere (beautiful view in Italian) and Bostall Heath. At this stage someone I knew got on the bus so while I was exchanging news, comparing employers (Bexley vs. Lewisham) and explaining what I was doing on the bus and not at work (!) I sort of missed what we were passing. My ex-colleague kindly told us we were going the wrong way for Bluewater (see the 96) thus not getting the point.
While I had not been paying attention, the bus climbed up the hill into Bostall Heath and Woods which extend from Abbey Wood to Plumstead. The Friends of Bostall Woods website is not the most well maintained (the web must be littered with abandoned websites?), but the range of fungi found looks truly awesome. No foraging for us today, but time to admire the extensive view down into Plumstead and Woolwich, where we were heading. The 99 is the only bus going this way so is clearly the best access for exploring the woods further.

Plumstead and Woolwich sadly held no novelty for us. As you may have been noticing, we have been spotting round London what are usually referred to as ‘ghost signs’ – old advertisements painted onto the brick sides of houses, usually on main roads. Clearly we are not the only people interested in capturing and locating them . . Not only have they been catalogued and archived by area but now in an interesting development an enterprising advertising agency has started producing ‘false ghost signs’ to sell you Anchor butter. They have chosen good places for the hoardings where the brick colour matches well.

The other thing we spotted on our descent into Woolwich was the claim from a fencing firm that they offer ‘fox proof fencing’ – a claim that surely follows on from the ‘fox bites baby’ scare of recent months. Has anyone else noticed that Blake Morrison’s novel ‘South of the River’ rather eerily foretold these events?

Seemingly not a very popular bus until the last leg of the trip, when it took on some more passengers through Plumstead, but a good outing, up the hills and down to the river (twice), and all in just under an hour, as promised.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Number 98 Route

Willesden Bus Garage to Holborn
Monday January 18th 2010

This route was the return trip for the three of us as our Index Route 52 had left us conveniently at Willesden Bus garage – although grey and almost foggy the weather seemed quite balmy in comparison to our last 2 trips out, braving the snow!

This was a double decker and from the outset as busy upstairs as down – and this was mid-morning. Willesden is very multi-cultural and nowhere is this better evidenced than on this route as we passed, not necessarily in this order, a Brazilian Protestant Church, the Islamic College for further studies, the Hijab Centre (any number of attractive head wear), the True Buddha Temple and, once we got onto Willesden Lane, the very colourful Shree Swaminarayan Temple on the corner of Deerhurst Road towards Brondesbury. Along here the 98 is the unique route.

Willesden Lane is very clearly following an old lane which must have been developed in late Victorian times, as some of the houses stem from that era with the ‘gaps for the missing teeth’ filled by a variety of later dwellings, some of them proudly clad in bold Cotswold stone.

Said Willesden Lane of course comes out onto Kilburn High Road, which is always slow – Width of road? Volume of traffic? Pedestrians straying off course? – I have never been able to figure it out but clearly the bus timetables allow for this stretch of the highway.

Kilburn gives way to Maida Vale and a whole lot more choice of bus routes – we all love the turn of the century mansion blocks that grace both sides of the road and can only imagine what their interiors look like (doubtless some nosing through estate agents’ sites might satisfy our curiosity?) and then of course we passed under a rather clogged Westway, past both Edgware Road tube stations (and pity the poor souls now left hovering at the District /Circle one as the Circle no longer lives up to its name and is now journalistically the interchange from hell .

Today counts as our 7th trip along the Edgware Road (only 2 to go!) so the only novelty we could spot today was a cake shaped like a pink dolly’s pram – perhaps for a christening? Church Street market was open. It could even become a tube station if local campaigners have their way.

The journey up Oxford Street from Marble Arch was in fact quicker than Kilburn High Road – Selfridges had lovely new windows for spring though unfortunately our photographer was focussing on Parklife, where apparently from January to April 2010 24 life-size robotic dinosaurs will be roaming free – a novel way of using the Oxford Street ‘empty lot’. ‘Free’ is also not quite the right word for an experience which will set you back about £12 and can be had for ‘nowt’ in Crystal Palace Park. By the time you read this of course the dinosaurs will be long gone – not in Crystal Palace though!

TFL had already warned us that:
"OXFORD CIRCUS WC1: From 0800 Saturday 16 January until December 2010, Routes 8 55 98 N8 N55 N98 and N207 are diverted eastbound between Oxford Street (Wardour Street) and Museum Street due to works to upgrade Tottenham Court Road Tube station and enabling works for Crossrail. Buses will not serve Tottenham Court Road Station in this direction.
Diverted via Newman Street, Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road, Chenies Street, Gower Street and Bloomsbury Street."

Actually we were quite pleased to be on this diversion as it offered a change of scenery – smaller and more quirky shops along Goodge Street and right past the Eisenhower Centre, which was also of course a deep shelter, and on through bits of Bloomsbury and Bedford Square with their publishing houses and the Senate House for the University of London. Our bus rejoined its rightful route by Red Lion Square and we alighted and were able to admire the statue of Fenner Brockway.

Something of a bus of two halves with the cultural expansiveness that is Willesden and the London Borough of Brent and then through the heart of the West End, but still very much to the time-table.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Number 97 Route

Tuesday 24 August 2010

We - Linda and I - were travelling on a Tuesday because I had had motherly duties in Milton Keynes on the Sunday and Monday.  I was quite pleased, as the weather for the start of our journey was a great deal better than yesterday's: at least at first...

Thanks to the marvels of TfL, and especially different bits of the Overground, we were at Leyton Station good and early;  but by the time we had found the lurking place of our bus, and been told we had to walk along to the first (request) stop, it was almost 10.00am before we started our journey and found ourselves back at the station in short order.  The view of the Olympic Swimming Centre is phenomenal, and we noted, as before, that many businesses and shops have taken the 'O' word into their titles.  We loved the colourful gardens and also admired the handsome town hall.  Soon we were passing the new flats being built close to (and as a business venture by) Leyton Orient Football Club, and then a large open space, which proves to be Leyton Green,with an almost villagey feel to the houses around it.

 The hanging baskets in Leyton were of a very high standard, though we agreed for the umpteenth time that this has been a very good year for petunias.  Pubs round here were interesting.  The one called The Shoe Laces does not have its own website, so as always I can't tell you what significance the name has.  The King William IV is of course easier:  he's the King whose failure to have legitimate children 'caused' Queen Victoria.  Having been in the Royal Navy, and hit his head on the deck above when standing for the Loyal Toast, he ordered that officers in the navy could drink to the King sitting down. We admired, as on previous visits, the reliefs along the wall of Tesco's in Lea Bridge Road, and also noted Islamic Impressions, a shop clearly promising a wide range of goods.
This brought us to Walthamstow's bus station, which we know well, from numerous visits, but we did not pause, but whipped round it and back out the way we had come.

This was the day of the GCSE results, so our bus had a few more young people than is usual (we are too early for them in the holidays and much too late for them on schooldays) mostly they seemed quite happy.  After George Monoux College and the huge roundabout over the M11 we passed Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium and headed uphill.  We knew we were in Winston Churchill territory (his constituency was in this area) when we saw both Estate Agents and Fish and Chip Shops bearing his name.  Chingford Mount has a 1930s feel, with some attractive tiling on the public buildings and well- maintained houses.  We were also impressed by the expanse of Chingford Mount Cemetery, at the top of the hill.  Mansfield Park clearly has nothing to do with Jane Austen, but played a part in the life of an even more glittering celebrity.

Chingford War Memorial was looking very bright, and soon we passed Chingford Green and Chingford Library, to reach Chingford Station at 10.45.

We enjoyed being back in the East again after our Western and Southern jaunts or recent weeks.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Number 96 Route

Monday 16 August 2010

Any bus that goes from Woolwich to Bluewater is going to be a part of a very full day, given where we start from, and this was no exception.  Linda and I had a bit of a walk from the bus that brought us to Woolwich, before we found the headstop, climbing to the top deck of the 96 at 12.25.

We had been promised a sunny day with temperatures of 23 or 24, but it was in fact cold, autumnal and overcast. I suppose we have too much faith in the word 'forecast', imagining that it means something more than it does.  Past the entry to Woolwich Market, and we came to the Riverside Royal Arsenal apartments that seemed to have made little progress since we were here in the early 50s (bus numbers not years). We were going alongside the river, though it was seldom visible because of the 'houses in between' though I admit that the song references other parts of London.  We had a change of driver as we passed the East London Bus Group's Garage, and came to Plumstead Station with a nearby Tandoori restaurant called the Ghandi (whereas the Mahatma's name is more usually spelt Gandhi).

  The bus was very busy, with the upstairs almost full for much of the way. A garden and hardware shop was advertising fox repellent, obviously a big thing with foxes so much in the news this summer.  All we know is that they sneer at those electronic deterrent things.  What had once been a school still carried the LCC coat of arms, but seemed to be disused now.  The cemetery, however, was still functioning, and the terracing up the slope seemed to ensure efficient land use.

We were slowed down by road works - it looks like a new roundabout  - and then passed a farm, or at least a paddock with some horses (we townies get very excited about things like this) before coming to a pub called The Duchess of Edinburgh.  This is very puzzling, as the pub sign is of a 16th century lady, sort of Jane Grey looking, and yet the only Ds of E I can find are either the one who then became our queen, or one who married Queen Victoria's son Alfred.  Oh, yes, and a clematis.  This wasn't our only pub sign worry:  we also passed the Guy Duke of Warwick;  a couple of buses ago I wrote a lot of stuff about the King Maker, and the end of the Wars of the Roses, but again, this pub sign (which we hadn't seen before) shows a late Tudor person. But I digress.

Meanwhile our 96 had reached Welling, where many people got off, and we admired the cannons in the middle of the town, as well as noting a Wimpy burger bar.  We had thought that the brand was extinct, but it is alive and well on the borders of Kent.  I've put in the link so you can see where the name came from...  We were delighted to see both a fabric shop (Loose Linens) and the Welling Sewing Centre, since home sewing seems to be a bit of a dying tradition.  Welling also has an HQ for the GMB union. The road then headed straight as a ruler for Bexleyheath, following the 89 route for some way, with some slow traffic because of the 'major gas works' in Church Road.  We were amused by the biblical implications of the property lawyers, Cain Associates (how to ensure that your brother does not inherit?)

On the outskirts of Bexleyheath, huge numbers of people got on outside the giant Asda, so that the bus was completely full.  I think this is only about the second time this has happened to us on a double decker. We headed out of Bexleyheath along Arnsberg Way, named for one of Bexley's twin towns, which is near to one of the Dambusters' dams, the Mohne.
We headed on towards Crayford with the wide open spaces of Bag Hill Wood on our left, and signs to Hall Place, before coming to the Greyhound Stadium and the clock tower, installed in 1902 by what was then the Rural District Council.  Then we moved into Kent, and came rapidly to Dartford, where quite a few people got off, confounding our surmise that we were all going to the shops in Bluewater.  The other remarkable thing about Dartford was its Church Tower, with the clock faces offset rather than central, and its feet in the River Darent.

From the outskirts of Dartford, the bus is non stop to Bluewater, with a bus lane where you might think the fast lane would be. And so we arrived at the quarry with the shops in it, at 13.45. Linda had of course been here before, but her preferred memory was of a walk some years ago with a local friend, when they all laughed at the thought that anyone would ever visit a shopping centre built in the middle of nowhere...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Number 95 Route

Tuesday 10 August 2010

This was the 5th of our Heathrow-ish buses today, and the weather had been unpleasant, but were we downhearted? No!  Having been fortified by coffee and sandwiches at Terminal 5, we were well up for rain and further exploring.

We got on the single decker 95 close to Southall Town Hall, where even the pavements are a comment on the predominant ethnicity of the area, with attractive little inset designs.  We did take a picture of a pavement motif, but mistakenly took it as a movie, and I can find no web pictures.  Sorry!  Apparently more South Asians live in this part of London than anywhere in the world except, well, South Asia.  

It was 3.25, and the bus was full from the start, shoppers going home, but also people aiming for the tube, judging by where people got off.  The residential streets we went through began in a poetic vein: Burns Avenue, Kingsley Road, Masefield Road and so on, but as we came into Dormers Wells we went all military, with Allenby Road, before moving on to some English counties.

People were still standing as we moved into Greenford, and past Ravenor Park and the war memorial, and then paused for a change of driver at Greenford Broadway.  On down Greenford Road and cross the A40, we came to South Greenford Station and then into Perivale.  We went parallel and close to the big road for some way, before crossing the River Brent, one of several waterways today.  Down on the Hanger Lane gyratory, some people got off, but the main exodus was for Park Royal Station, suggesting that the Piccadilly Line is more popular than the Central Line.

On along Western Avenue, the traffic going in the other direction was stationary for a long way, but we were making rapid progress, the driver presumably hoping to achieve the very tight theoretical timing of the route.

After St Catherine’s Church, with the saint depicted complete with wheel, we passed the Phoenix High School, and the Defectors Weld pub whose strange name seems insufficiently explained on its website, and the handsome Lloyds bank, with its smart tiling.

So we came to White City Station, or Westfield as it has become known, not, as we expected, turing into  the Bus Station, which we know well, but rather passing on, to terminate across the Road from Shepherds Bush Green, at 4.35, somewhat outside the time promised at the bus stop in Southall.  A long day, but really very interesting!

The Number 94 Route

Piccadilly Circus to Acton Green

Tuesday May 4th 2010

This was in fact our second attempt to do this route, which we had started last week but had to abandon due to illness of blogging partner. Somehow in a week the traffic round Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street had become stupidly blocked and slow, due partly to the pavement works round Eros where they seemed to be extending the walking areas. The slowness down Regent Street gave us time to wonder why clothes manufacturers doing quite well in one area all decide to branch out and sell home furnishings – along here are examples such as Zara Home but other examples include Next, M&S, Laura Ashley, all of whom had started with frocks??
We were also on the look out for more elephants, this being in fact Week 2 of their 6 week stay in London and they are perfect for cheering up dull corners, brightening tourist spots and pleasing children of all ages. There were some fine ones close by in Regent Street and traffic so slow we could almost get on and off to photograph and then two more looking a bit abandoned close to Marble Arch. Once past Oxford Circus the bus picked up speed and kept going steadily in a straight line due west without deviation or hesitation, from time to time playing catch up with another 94 ahead.

Of course this part of London, from Marble Arch to Notting Hill, is famous for having large hotels overlooking the delightful greenery that is Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and  this walk gives some detail of what is worth looking at round here. Those crumbling are getting a face-lift and we really fell for the hoarding surrounding the site. I see the Times refers to this stretch of road as a ‘boulevard’ which I guess is fair enough. We did spot some horses in Hyde Park so that completed the Bois de Boulogne resemblance …

Most of the buildings are in good repair and we also spotted, but failed to photograph a large ‘ghost advert’ coloured into the London Brick for Dundee Marmalade. Other shop fronts, which caught our eye were ‘Frame Set & Match’ – an independent picture framers.

Just by Queensway we missed a Blue Plaque but some research indicated it was probably that of John Claudius Loudon of whom I confess I have never heard but I guess his style of gardening is very much one that it is still with us.

We continued straight as a die through Notting Hill, with its two independent cinemas and then the upmarket shops of Holland Park, which include a beautifully kept branch of Lidgate the butcher and Daunt Books.

Once in the swing of things the bus seemed little deterred by the complexities of the Shepherd’s Bush roundabout. Like Goose Green down in East Dulwich it was thought that the name could be an echo of the place where shepherds could have rested with their sheep coming in from the West Country to the London market at Smithfield. Anyway today the name is more picturesque than the reality – now also known as the Holland Park roundabout, from where we pressed on westwards down the Goldhawk Road.

Though this part of London is something of a transport hub from here on the 94 seemed to be pretty much on its own as it passed some delightful residential areas with houses built with charming gables, well tended and the full panoply of spring flowers. This part of London, Bedford Park, was built very carefully and thoughtfully during the last quarter of the 19th century by a range of architects including Norman Shaw and today much of it is a conservation area.

The bus finishes in a quiet corner of Acton Green with conveniences free to the bus drivers but at a cost to the casual passer by, which is as it should be. A pretty straightforward East West route, which more or less follows the Central Line, took us about an hour, and left us with a pleasant walk to our next route.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Number 93 Route

Putney Bridge Station to North Cheam (Priory Road)

Tuesday July 20th 2010

Mary J & I started this route in a very relaxed state having spent an enjoyable 2 hours in Bishop’s Park and Fulham Palace (just across the road or along the Thames Path from the starting point of the Route 93) but by the time we finished we were slightly more rattled.

It was clear from the moment the driver said he was not ‘going all the way’ that he was in a tearing hurry. The route advertises itself as taking 35 minutes, which we thought ridiculously optimistic. Mary, who was my guest and attentive photographer today as this route is very much one she grew up with and knows its highlights and lowlights, doubted she could make that time in a car.

We tracked our way back across the Thames where the tide had receded far enough to allow a man to be standing on a mud flat (taking photos?). Though we had already been down Putney Hill earlier today (just shows how little you really see) this time we noticed a blue plaque to Charles Swinburne, the Victorian poet – very apt, we thought, as he goes with the period buildings – plus on the same plaque Theodore Watts-Dunton (1832-1914) who, my research indicates, was a poet and critic but also Swinburne 's minder after he lost the plot after too much of the Victorian equivalent of a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle…

Although the traffic was flowing more freely it was interesting to note how many more passengers there were around so the bus filled up quite fast. At the top of the hill the 93 bears left round  Tibbet's Corner .

It’s a complicated junction, necessitating pedestrians to go via the underpass and brave the local ‘flashers’. (At least that was the case 35 years ago, Mary says – and no it wasn’t Swinburne, but perhaps they have cleaned up their act.) Talking of ‘cleaning up their act’ no mention of Wimbledon can pass without reference to  The Wombles, the original re-cycling family  (health warning if you play this one).

The number 93 is the way to go and we sped down Wimbledon Parkside with large and gracious houses well set back to our right and Wimbledon Common to our left – I was rather surprised to see a lone young mother pushing a double buggy emerging from the woods as this did not strike me as the obvious place for pram pushing, even at the height of summer looking quite deserted and awaking uncomfortable memories of Rachel Nickell. The speed of the bus accounts for the paucity of photos of this bit of the trip!

Nonetheless, it was a nice leafy ride and soon we were out of Wandsworth and into Merton borough and Wimbledon Village – as upmarket as most of the London ‘villages’ where the activities on offer include both riding and golf when you tire of the pretty little shops – I say no more. Wimbledon does retain remnants of a ‘working village’ with its Masons’ Yard and of course the nearby Windmill Museum

Still no lingering, and the bus embarked on the steep descent into Wimbledon town centre, managing by dint of the bus lane to overtake queues of traffic held up by the ubiquitous gas main works. Had we paused mid-hill I think there was a fine view over towards the Surrey hills. Wimbledon Town Centre has all it should have – nice old library, rail and tube stations, Victorian theatre built 1881, with the nearby Polka Theatre for children and even a YMCA should you wish to stay over .

Ever in a hurry, the 93 zipped on heading steadily south along the Northern line . I was reliably informed that the Baital Futuh mosque was converted from the former Express Dairies depot with lots of parking where the milk floats used to be – an imaginative bit of re-cycling for what now claims to be one of the largest mosques in Western Europe.

Coming into Morden was quite a contrast to Wimbledon – as the early to mid 20th century suburb that grew up around the station is not as coherent as when built. Mary’s mother had always said they had meant to continue the Underground to Cheam but the war intervened and stopped the tube extension so Morden remains the ‘end of the line’. The most attractive sights along here include the church of St Lawrence and the nearby Alms houses.

The 93 was in such a rush to depart its stop before too many passengers boarded that it pulled out in front of a car which had to swerve and hooted in response. Undeterred we raced up Stonecot Hill – the road is wide (A24) and straight (the old Roman Stane Street and, according to Wiki, this is the only section of the road that is on the true line from London Bridge to the east gate of Chichester).

The same road also passes over the Pyl Brook, a tributary of the Beverley Brook, which Jo had walked following our trip on the 57 in February – how time flies. By now we had reached ‘The Woodstock’ at the Sutton Common crossroads and as previously warned were turfed out. Another speed fiend of a 93 was close behind so we boarded and he was clearly heading for the garage as quickly as he could. By now we were in North Cheam which generated a discussion as to whether there was a ‘Railway Cuttings East Cheam’ – fictional home of Tony Hancock and Sid James.

More to the point, Mary knows the grand-daughter of a local builder Mr Macmillan, who went into partnership with a local farmer called Lavender and built significant numbers of houses in North Cheam – the farmer’s legacy being some streets named after him rather than the fragrant shrub. The bus’s last real stop is by the large Sainsbury’s and it then turns off at lights – a desolate Sixties block spoils one aspect of an otherwise reasonable thirties crossroads with only a bookies holding out where all other businesses have long departed. It made a rather depressing end to an otherwise pretty extensive trip from river to suburb through common and village, though one not enhanced by the somewhat hasty driving.

P.S. Coincidentally, this route was posted the day the Guardian Review published a memoir by the late Tony Judt recalling his childhood in Putney in the 1950s with - among other things - reference to its many bus routes.