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.


  1. If you are interested in air quality it is well worth taking a look at the London Air Quality Network web site at: www.londonair.org.uk/london/asp/default.asp

  2. As an American reader, I am confused and intrigues by the "straddle the central line" announcement. What does that mean?

    I am enjoying your adventures. Thank you.

  3. Hello feedingsquirrels and our other American readers!

    The thing is that the tunnel - which takes traffic into the older terminals at Heathrow - is not really big enough, so the buses have to steer down the middle, rather than keeping to their proper lane, to avoid scraping the side. Moral: plan ahead!