Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Number 116 Route

Monday18 October 2010

Although it had been quite a long day (see the 110 story for the difficulties of even starting our journey), Linda and I felt that we should take advantage of being in the area to experience the 116 as it nips between Hounslow High Street and Ashford Hospital. I hoped it might clear up the geography: I do know that this is not Ashford, Kent, but I thought the other one was ‘Ashford, Middlesex’ and yet here we were popping into and out of Surrey.

So we waited at the magic Bus stop C  and were on our fourth single decker of the day, just before 3.00pm. This will be the last time we use bus stop C, unless we live long enough to attempt the ‘H’ buses.
The 116 snakes through the chicanes of the High Street rather than going round the edge as the other buses have, but we soon rejoined the mainer road past the Treaty Centre, where the pyracanthas were looking particularly fine. Clearly, this is being an excellent autumn for berries of all kinds.
Lots of new housing is going up on the outskirts of Hounslow, built by firms with names like ‘Catalyst Communities’  and ‘a2Dominion’. Shops, however, look a little depressed: there is the Treaty Centre, and there will soon be the Blenheim Centre. But we hope some small shops will survive, notably the 60s sounding ‘Gaylites’ which, sure enough, has been going since 1969.

Over the River Crane, not for the first time, our bus began to fill up with school students as we came into Bedfont and Bedfont Green with a range of different types of housing.

Having passed signs to Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution, said to be in Middlesex, though we were clearly heading into Surrey, we made rapid progress, past a large cemetery, and the grounds of Knyvett College, all very green and attractive. The College is an 11-16 Surrey School, part of a partnership with Howard of Effingham School. Its website does not say anything about Thomas, but he might well be the one who arrested Guy Fawkes, since he is said to have opened a small school in Stanwell.

Within 30 minutes of leaving Hounslow we arrived at Ashford Hospital. It is about to be downgraded (if that’s the word) to a walk-in centre, with serious A and E moving to Chertsey or Isleworth. A pleasant little journey to round off our day.

The Number 115 Route

Tuesday 2 March 2010

This was the first sunny journey we had had for weeks, and the pleasure was enhanced by the company of Kate, back from Tenerife and waiting to start her new job.  We have not had many paying passengers on our trips.  I think she is the fourth.
Aldgate Station was closed - for works, rather than an emergency -  so there was a pleasant bustle of people wondering how to get to Canary Wharf (the 135 was the answer given by helpful bystanders)  The bus stops opposite the station had both public convenience and a sculpture, so all needs were catered for.

By 10.20, Linda had arrived, and the three of us climbed aboard, and swept east along Commercial Road, past many banks, as well as the Whitechapel Gallery.  We noted numbers of garment outlets - and a few workshops as well - as well as the Skyline Plaza Building, whose style made us uncertain whether it was public housing or not.  And the answer is emphatically not:  according to this website, a one bedroom leasehold flat sold for £232,000 in August 2009.  The attractive Mulberry School for Girls, on the other hand, is a local authority, namely Tower Hamlets, School.

We passed some historic sites: first, Sidney Street  and then a plaque commemorating Victor Mclagen, son of a Bishop, who became both a  boxer and a film star.
Soon we were at Limehouse Station, and crossing the Regent Canal and the Limehouse Cut, with fine views of St Anne's Church, still clearly a Hawksmoor Church despite its restoration after a fire in 1850.

The Queen Victoria's Seamens Rest is a reminder that this really was dockland in the past, as is the statue of the ship builder Richard Green

More water in the form of the Bow Creek (a bit of the River Lea) brought us to Canning Town, where we could see the packed platform of the DLR station as we slid in and out of the bus station, pausing to change drivers.  The scary roundabout along the A 13 by the access to the Blackwall Tunnel has a Toucan Crossing for walkers and cyclists. 

As we moved into Newham, we felt that Eastern Europe was very present, with Polish shops but also Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian and Latvian outlets.  The old east end is still there, with solicitors specialising in Actions against the Police as well as immigration, and Albins offering horse drawn funerals. 

The Red House pub has distance signs, in Gaelic and English, to Limerick and other Irish towns, and now we were in West Ham territory, with the statue of Bobby Moore, Alf Ramsey and Geoff Hurst. 

 The Who Shop  is all about the Doctor rather than the musicians;  we did not alight to buy a Dalek.

Because this is going up on the blog some months after we made the trip, it may be hard for readers to remember why we were speculating on where Lord Ashcroft's money had been spent, so this picture is a reminder.

Newham's magnificent Town Hall indicated that we were near the end of our trip, and we reached the Central Park stop at 11.15.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Number 114 Route

Ruislip Station to Mill Hill Broadway Stations

Tuesday October 26th 2010

Typical half-term weather – what started as a grey and chilly day soon turned into a ‘rainfest’ so our appreciation of the features on this lengthy cross-country trip were pretty restricted.

For once I beat Jo to the rendezvous and thus had time to admire the now Grade 2 listed frontage of Ruislip station which welcomes both Piccadilly and Metropolitan line trains - the latter of course were originally proper steam trains and this 1905-built station would have brought public transport to the Edwardian middle classes. We were then both able to admire it as the next 114 took over half an hour to arrive – he was clearly late as he did not have time to rest and turned round immediately. By now the queues had built up both at the beginning, and, we noted, right along the route.

Much of Ruislip retains undamaged Broadway facades with flats on top and High Street shops below which eventually followed the houses and commuters out here.

Gymophobics caught our eye; it seemed to offer ladies-only classes and a rather random inflatable lady footballer dressed in the England kit waving from an upstairs balcony?

The bus heads down the very straight and potentially very fast Victoria Road, which is generously dotted with ‘Curb Your Speed’ signs from Harrow Council, announcing they had cut the annual casualty rate from 65 to 50 this year, so worth doing. Apart from the odd roundabout (these roundabouts are very much a feature of this period North West London) the road was lined with furniture outlets in amongst the schools and libraries.

Just through Eastcote we passed a small cemetery looking really uncrowded: lots of spaces between the graves, which reflected the houses really – nicely spaced out and not overcrowded – but both very different from their inner London equivalents/counterparts.

We had been nipping along quite happily but, as we turned into South Harrow and made our way up the hill towards Harrow on the Hill, we ground to a halt due to road works restricting the traffic to single side only. Perhaps this accounted for why the route had been delayed? The driver became ever more impatient with other traffic hereafter. Not surprising really.

Harrow seems to have 2 shopping centres – St George’s which we passed and St Ann’s which is marked on the bus map so not sure which saint won the contest to sell us more goods? The bus does a wriggle into the bus station which seemed to be full of H buses (a bit like E-numbers they are purely local additives) with the 114 the lowest number calling round here. Many passengers descended at this point including a young woman who had conducted her fairly intimate call in 2 languages without taking breath even as she descended the stairs.

From Harrow we were heading further east again towards and through Northwick Park, expecting to pass its large local hospital, which tended to get itself in the news for the wrong reasons, but not offered on this route. Kenton Lane had something of a police presence hovering but not enough to impede our progress so perhaps the excitement had already blown over.

Talking of blowing over the rain was pretty steady by now and the breathing passengers had misted up the windows so visibility as ever was much reduced – a further blur of suburbia.

More lanes and roundabouts brought us through Queensbury where the Jubilee Line station has a very clear Underground sign at the roundabout and on, just crossing the Edgware Road which is Burnt Oak Broadway at this point. The local market my mother favours was looking rather sad in the rain though someone has completed some cheerful looking murals towards the end of Stag Lane.

Its other claim to fame, there no longer being a Burnt Oak, it was the site of Mr Cohen’s first shop which he soon named Tescos – the rest you know.

We moved on, passing the Northern Line (4 if not 5 tube lines in one trip – can’t be bad) station then through the fairly extensive Watling Estate and its hidden riversThis is immediately recognizable as one of the London County Council’s ‘cottage estates’ of which South East London has quite a few. With the trees in autumn colours and the grass very green it all looked quite scenic through the misted up windows, so it was quite a shock to emerge suddenly at Mill Hill Broadway Station (trains only), which lurks, forever in the gloom under the M1 Motorway. An unlovely end for a challenging drive with stretches of fast straight but significant amount of manoeuvring along meandering lanes – if I list them you will get an idea of how countrified this area was:

Eastcote Lane, Sheepcote Lane, Bunns Lane, Stag Lane, Kenton Lane .... all convey a bucolic country idyll now firmly settled and well established suburbia, which suddenly ends in the third circle of hell...

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Number 113 Route

Edgware Bus Garage to Oxford Circus   
Tuesday June 23rd 2009

Glorious summer’s day with temperatures in the twenties.

This route was in fact the third leg of a trip hinged onto the 18, and not surprisingly duplicated a significant part of the 13 route, which Mary and Linda had covered only four weeks earlier. It was therefore a slightly jaded trio that boarded at Edgware with a first priority of eating lunch, so the notes and photos may reflect this inattention to detail during the start of the route. In any case it went so fast along the dual carriageway bits it was quite hard to pinpoint the sights.

At 1.30 PM we drove right out of Edgware bus station to complete the High Street – largely fast food – and before we could focus we were on the Watford Way, heading back into town. Just before Apex Corner (these days more a major intersection than a humble corner) we crossed over the MI Motorway far below and then past the Barnet Copthall school playing fields (originally a school of the same name but with a cinder track built in 1964 used by Sally Gunnell when she was in training for her Olympics) and Mill Hill Circus and park. However, the 113 is not a bus to mess with hills so does not venture to seek out any Mills on Hills as it feels a need for speed so carried over Bunns Bridge Lane and 5 ways corner – at least that one is a more accurate description of yet another major road junction.

Although this is largely a residential area with small parades of shops (Kosher biltong anyone?) the only way for pedestrians to get across the road would be by the occasional subway or very tall footbridge. Throughout this is a Red Route so out of the rush hour we did not linger and passengers were not that numerous.

We did slow down towards Hendon – The Burroughs – its war memorial and what remains of the 1930s architecture that graced the approach to Hendon Central Station, a spacious colonnade (see photo of Colindale also) with nearby cinema that was so typical of Metroland. The bus then flew past Brent Cross, that North London temple to Mammon and one of the first out of town mall type developments, which was in the planning stage while I was growing up nearby. The fact the 113 does not detour for shoppers indicates its wish to be taken seriously so it continues up what is by now the Hendon Way (are we noticing a pattern here?) and past my lovely old Primary School, Wessex Gardens Junior Mixed and Infants – classes of 48, multi-cultural and no sign of a national curriculum – notwithstanding we all made it through thanks to Middlesex County Council education!

We watched the way the Palm Hotel was extending itself along the Hendon Way, then the A1 joins the Finchley Road meaning we were firmly back on the Number 13 route, where we were offered Orthoworld (not a theme park – get your teeth fixed here). Adjacent to the Finchley Road & Frognal Station (we were well away from Brent or even Barnet councils and firmly back in Camden by now) is the O2 centre comprising cinemas and eateries. The trees on the Finchley Road obscure the back of South Hampstead School – my other old school: both in one trip! – and then we were at Swiss Cottage. Jo was instructed to note the QK school (the logo even has an archery target as part of the logo) and told its origins and then we were on past the private hospitals, the flowers on the balconies of the Wellington looking very colourful.

The Lords Pod looms though it is hard to capture on camera, but we did manage with George and the Dragon at the Roundabout, a tribute Great War memorial by Charles Leonard Hartwell which is in fact a copy of one already in Newcastle. Landmarks come thick and fast – is that gorgeous house and garden on the corner ambassadorial or merely the London Business School? – over the canal and past the very gleaming Central Mosque.

Nipping into Regents Park might have been a rather more pleasant prospect than sitting on a slightly sticky bus, which was about to go very slowly. We think the LBS has bought up some very nice shop fronts. Further along Baker Street is the Lighthouse Building, allegedly the M&S headquarters, which during the war they handed over for use as the Special Operations Executive (SOE) headquarters: today it seemed to have a reception desk but absolutely no sign of what was there so either the recession has emptied it or it continues to be anonymously secret. Portman Square looked cool and quite inviting and stepping out to the left would have got us into Manchester Square and the Wallace Collection.

As we inched past Selfridges we noticed they had forsaken their lovely windows (see the 13) for brash SALE signs.  There was a Blue Plaque for William Pitt known to have outstayed his welcome, which is a bit how we felt as we inched our way along Oxford Street (not again they cried) – another example of  ‘if we weren’t on the Project we would have got off and walked’ but taking the day as a whole we covered three entire routes, this one taking 1½ hours.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Number 112 Route

Brent Cross to Ealing Broadway
Monday September 13th 2010

I think it’s just as well this little bus was not the main feature of the day as it barely warrants star billing though as a way to get back onto the Central Line from Brent Cross it was efficient enough.

The first challenge faced by most routes leaving Brent Cross is actually to leave, because more likely than not you will just sit in a queue waiting to get across the North Circular and onto the Staples Corner series of roundabouts, currently nearing the end of a 12-week road repair programme, which reduces the lanes

Appropriately enough Staples stationery (today perhaps stationary?) supplies now hold the corner but the original factory here was for Staples mattresses, which used to be the UK standard issue mattress before the days of IKEA (see later), World of Beds etc.

The range of shops on the opposite side of the North Circular has expanded considerably and includes some tempting resources like Borders (there is NO bookshop anywhere inside Brent Cross) and Lakeland but on the whole if you want to access them you are probably better off walking – fumes and all. The bus actually picks up quite a few pupils from outside Next (as Jo said it must be hard not to lose your pupils to commerce in the lunch hour round here) from the nearby Whitefield school. The Barnet dustcart was beating a hasty retreat also.

Once past the interchange the bus picks up speed, nevertheless stopping in little bays for its passengers. It was a weird experience travelling along here rather like white water rafting through a canyon – the steep concrete support of the flyover on one side and the vast metal slabs of the huge wholesale units that characterize this stretch of North West London on the other completely dwarf most of the local traffic, especially when in a small bus. No photos then until we emerged out of the narrows by Ikea. Still having such huge stores on both sides of the road must be preferable to the ‘blighted’ housing we had spotted on an earlier route (the 102) where the roar of traffic must have shaken the older homes to bits.

Ironically, although I can see the outline of Wembley from hilly south London, the weather today was so grey by now that it just faded into obscurity though we were as close as anything.

The bus itself, never empty was really filling up as it cuts a swathe along Western Avenue leaving Park Royal on the right – this was not a bus to service all the small businesses to be found on the extensive trading estate but rather the few brave pedestrians who made it to the bus stops along the continuation of the North Circular. Jo had been over sensitised to sofa shopping having spent the weekend helping Tim to buy a lifetime’s supply of sofas so of course spotted the World of Leather also along here.

The whole bus became aware as I leapt across the aisle to photograph D-Link – Jo had to restrain me from launching a missile, verbal or other – as only last week we had bought a router to serve the newly acquired lap-top and it does not work very enthusiastically. Wi-fi in our house means sitting in adjacent rooms or occasionally in the same room. 
We assume most of the passengers  must have been working in the large outlets along here – the Hoo Hing Chinese Emporium is quite striking, as is the Bestway Building, which sublets offices. Developers seemed to forget whereas once we all needed acres of office space for our filing and filing cabinets; now all we need is a laptop, if they weren't such a sore subject.  
This driver took the Hanger Lane gyratory with a rare confidence and we hardly paused so swiftly did we get onto Hanger Lane itself, where large groups of schoolgirls, probably from the Ellen Wilkinson School, joined us for the final leg of the journey into Ealing. So standing room only from here on. There were works strengthening the bridge over the District Line, but so nearly complete as not to be disruptive. Ealing Common is quite substantial and offered a welcome glimpse of green after the concrete canyons we’d passed through. Ealing was buzzing with after school shoppers.
The bus does not seem to have a final focus for its end of journey, as though a daily encounter with Brent Cross interchange/the North Circular and then Hanger Lane gyratory was all it could manage before staggering to an exhausted halt near but not quite by the Mall.  It took just over 45 minutes most of which were spent trying to leave Brent Cross. Not the most enticing of trips but I can see where it might come in useful

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Number 111 Route

Tuesday 28 September 2010 
Since we were going to Kingston and back, we had decided to take whichever bus came first, and almost before we had time to glance round the not-very-attractive setting of Heathrow Central Bus Station  (how different from the Terminal 5 bus experience!) the 111 pulled up.  So Mary and Linda and I were off by 11.40. 

We noted the instruction, or possibly warning, that ‘buses straddle the central line’ in the tunnel, and were soon past the Emirates plane parked in the traffic island and turning right along the A4 Bath road to speed past many hotels.  
Why does the Radisson Edwardian hang the union flag with the long side against the post, we wondered.  Other airport attractions were also available including the fine HQ of the Unite Union.

Meanwhile someone was having a mobile phone business conversation behind us. ‘I can’t close this deal’, he said, ‘I’m on the tube.’  Why?  Mrs Thatcher is long gone, and there is no longer any shame in being on a bus after the age of 35, if there ever was. (Younger readers, ask an older person to explain this reference).

An announcement told us that we were reaching the end of the Heathrow Airport  free travel zone, which puzzled us a little as we had also seen staff shuttle buses around the place. 

We were repeating our earlier 105 route as we crossed the River Crane and passed the leafy Cedars Primary School, which proves to be a Special school for SEB children.  Lovely surroundings, we thought.  The Queen’s Head Pub, with its Elizabeth I sign, seemed to be thriving.  We noted all day that this area has fewer dying pubs that the eastern reaches of London.  This one has a Thai kitchen.  As we got into Heston, we admired the Rising Sun Pub which, it appears, had a narrow escape and is now under new management.

Livability housing  has a block round here:  we thought they might be retirement homes, but they are simply designed to be fully accessible.  Heston has a Controlled Drinking Zone around its attractive, villagey centre and the handsome church and graveyard of St Leonard.  You may all already know who he was;  but for us Tour de France watchers, what is at least as interesting is that his home village, in the Limousin, is the home of Raymond Poulidor, the greatest rider never to win the Tour. The war memorial  stands on a sort of traffic triangle.

Heston Community School is having major redevelopment works, and we can only hope that they get to complete them.  We travelled along through well maintained residential roads, to reach Hounslow East Station, and pass the bus station, sad to see that the Ruffletons Fabric Shop has closed, but noting several more thriving pubs, including the Cross Lances.  The pub sign had some impressive Lancers, but as usual I have been unable to find the reason for the name.  The area was delightfully green on this murky day, with Hounslow cemetery and other open spaces.  As we came into Hanworth we crossed the London Loop.  Jo and Andrew have walked it, and would recommend it; but don’t try to access this part of it by bicycle as the so-called cycle lane was occupied by parked cars.

As we came into Hanworth, we saw our first shuttered pub of the day, the Horse and Groom;  but at least the cycle track here was safe and segregated from the roadway.  Left along Hampton Lane, we passed lots of Victorian and slightly later houses, together with the infill blocks of new flats. The new Hampton Academy proclaimed itself to be ‘A Learning School’ which somewhat begged the question about what other schools are for, not least because its close neighbour, Hampton School (motto Praestat Opes Sapientia) makes no such public claim, simply announcing that it was founded in 1556 (though its website says 1557).  That sentence should have given you plenty of time to work out that its motto means ‘wisdom surpasses wealth’. Its website does not give the level of the fees, so I can’t make further comment about the link between wealth and wisdom.
As we headed through Hampton we came to the Shooting Star Hospice, whose Charity shops we also saw during the day.

  We went over a level crossing (we haven’t experienced many of them) as we came to Hampton Station and then the attractive area around Hampton Green.  Then on to the river, and views of Hampton Court Palace, first the coach parking, then the mews and a Blue Plaque for Sir Christopher Wren at the Old Court House, and finally the Palace itself.

We passed an air monitoring van  and then zipped alongside the Park, spotting a few deer and a number of horses, to Kingston Bridge dominated by the new John Lewis.  We twiddled round the pedestrian shopping area, and over the brick areas, to reach Cromwell Road Bus Station in Kingston at just after 1pm.

This had been a most attractive ride, with pretty villages and interesting sights.  Being on top of a double decker merely added to the pleasure.

The Number 110 Route

Hounslow Bus Station to Twickenham (Rugby Club)
Monday October 18th 2010

This turned into rather an epic day, which started 2 hours late. The rendez-vous was Hounslow East at which Jo arrived on time, and where she then waited for over an hour. When approached by a passing police officer (they had parked on double yellow lines so it must have been urgent?) they enquired if she was OK : ‘My sister in law has been abducted by aliens on the Jubilee line’ she explained ‘I think not madam, there’s been a power failure’ – this was indeed the explanation but troubles never come singly as TfL knows, and other lines which I finally boarded were also subject to delays. To add insult to injury, the Hounslow operative with the key to the toilets had left so we needed to seek alternative relief at the Treaty Centre. A final straw of delay was waiting for a bus as there are only 3 110s an hour. What a build up for what is billed as a 17 minute journey! It was a single decker to cramp our style even further.

The Treaty Centre is a perfectly respectable shopping centre that turns its back on both the High Street and Grove Road, which runs in front, but still accounts in part for the rather dejected air in all but the green grocers shops in those streets.

With the usual relentless sequence of planes overhead , nicely captured by Jo, we headed southwest out of Hounslow, along the Hanworth Road and once past the cemetery turned down Powder Mill Lane towards Twickenham. Then we doubled back on ourselves through Whitton, passing the unimaginatively named Fifth, Fourth and Third Cross Road. The mill would of course have been a gunpowder one located sufficiently far out of town, in what was essentially a market garden area and far from areas of population . Not so now as Whitton was much built up post-war. If you would rather walk this stretch, alongside the River Crane, it is altogether possible.

 Having had Nelson and Wellington Roads earlier (always tells when the houses were built) we suddenly ran into the ‘Prince Blucher’ pub – being the ‘other guy’ from Prussia who might just have had a hand in the victory at Waterloo. 
The bus itself was consistently busy though the roads were fairly quiet – we were delighted to spot some fine autumn colour  and more key, possible ‘soul-mates’ or kindred spirits in the shape of a white van belonging to  'Ladies Who Plumb'

As we approached Twickenham it became increasingly village like with a well kept village green, pump topped with a light and village church, with a few village type shops to match.

Once through the rather mundane Twickenham High Street the bus goes tantalisingly close to the river, just by Eel Pie Island but not close enough to see it from the bus. It stops at what was billed as the ‘Twickenham Rugby Tavern’, the ground floor of an office block, but has now been renamed ‘The Garryowen’ which I took (wrongly ) to be a reference to ‘Take That’ WRONG – Mark Owen or Gary Barlow not Gary Owen. Jo told me it’s a nifty kicking manoeuvre in Rugby named after its most famous proponent.

[When I mentioned our destination to 63 regular he assumed it was a reference to the 7th Cavalry who ‘Died with their Boots On’ in Custer’s Last Stand, and for whom this Irish type jig was the regimental song. For a very Hollywood view of how Erroll Flynn as Custer came to adopt ‘Garry Owen’ see this YouTube link

Personally, I think ‘They Died with their Boots On’ ie on a bus with pass in hand comes closer to our mad project than a fancy rugger kick.]

PS This was a short route (closer to 35 than the promised 17 minutes but still short by our standards)  but to make up for it we will be posting Routes 111-113 before next week’s outing.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Number 109 Route

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Linda, Mary and I were on our way by 10.10, on this sunny morning, on a bus that was going to take us straight to Croydon.  By straight, I mean that the driver barely had to turn his wheel until we we were manoeuvring round central Croydon. We passed Brixton Station, and thought how the Victoria Line had revolutionised transport in this part of South London since its opening in 1971. (The fact that it was first proposed in 1948 is a reminder of how patient one needs to be when public projects are in consideration)

  Soon we reached Windrush Square, handsomely renovated in the past few years, with the Ritzy cinema and the Richard Budd Memorial.  Some of the houses along Brixton Hill have handsome tiling ornamenting them and, as we moved towards Streatham, we noticed that they are set well back from the road, allowing a bit of breathing space for the residents.  We were sorry to see that the Telegraph Pub is now boarded up, quite possibly as a result of a dispute between the owners and the Licensing Committee.
As on previous journeys, we were puzzled about Alexander Dumas House and, as on previous occasions, we have been unable to discover why a large building which houses, among other things, a pharmacy, should be named for the great novelist.  It is a little hard to imagine him inventing the Count of Monte Cristo and the Three Musketeers here.

We admired not only a 'ghost' Bovril wall advertisement, but also Sharman's, which we understand to have been a clothes shop before it became a WH Smith.  But it is sad to see both the Megabowl and the cinema closed.  It was with relief that we were able to note that the skating rink is still open.  Our route was taking us past both Streatham Hill and Streatham Stations, and then into Norbury.

The Viola McAnuff Memorial Fund, one of whose shops we passed, was a reminder of what individuals and their families can do, and we also passed the Employment Tribunal which was, you might say, a reminder of what some individuals choose to do to others.  We noted that Age UK Headquarters were already signed with their new title, logo, etc, though we were not entirely sure what had been wrong with 'Age Concern' as a title.

Meanwhile, we had been looking out for interesting food outlets:  The Baltic Staff Food Store, which is apparently Lithuanian, a butcher referencing the HMC, or Halal Monitoring Committee and then the Bunga Raya Restaurant 'spend a little, savour a lot'.

As we came to Thornton Heath Pond, we regretted yet again that it is only a bus stop and not a water feature.  And we were inspected.  This is the first ime that this has happened to us for months, and seems to us to indicate a lack of trust in the driver, unless of course you are on a bendy bus (or 'free bus' as they are sometimes known) We passed the Mayday hospital and the Thornton Heath Mosque as well as a block of flats with a metalwork tree up the outside of it, close to West Croydon Station.  We were interested in the Sunshine Tropical Delivery van:  we've all enjoyed ackee, but were puzzled by 'baba roots'; it proves to be a drink.

A right turn, our first turn of any kind since leaving Brixton, brought us onto the inner ring of Croydon, to pass one of the entries to the Whitgift Shopping Centre, as well as noting a pretty frightening bit of cycle lane.  Croydon has already planted excellent yellow pansies in its roadside baskets ready for the winter. We agreed that we should be sad if these spots of brightness were to vanish because of 'the cuts'.  Then we were past the Headquarters of the Border Agency, a reminder of how many unaccompanied asylum seeking children there are in the care of Croydon Council.  The final landmark was the HQ of Nestle (don't worry, I'm not going to make any comment at all) before we arrived at the terminating point of this nippy bus, less than an hour after leaving Brixton.

The driver, to whom we gave a card, was amused, and said he had always wanted to get on one bus to the end of a route, then another, then another. He had been a very pleasant driver, waiting for people running to catch him, but still keeping to his time.