Sunday, 15 August 2010

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.

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