Tuesday, 16 November 2010
The Number 121 Route
Monday November 15th 2010
Bright sunshine and a warm bus so what was not to like for Jo and Linda as we set off from the always-lively Turnpike Lane major road interchange.
First stop was Wood Green Shopping City, which is often a hold-up – it’s all those eager shoppers darting across the road – but today went quite smoothly. Leaving Wood Green up the High Road the 121 passes another of Haringey’s civic centres, a police station and, in what looked suspiciously like a used-car showroom, the Church of the Seraphim and Cherubim, proving that God is better business than used cars. I am afraid my image of angels is determined by over-exposure to Raphael’s putti, so I could not quite imagine them flitting through the square glass block, but Jo reassured me that angels were at home anywhere.
As we approached Palmers Green we crossed the borough boundary into Enfield, where we would remain for the rest of the trip, showing it to be an impressively large local authority. Christmas is clearly coming as Enfield had twisted the equivalent of a string of tinsel round each lamp-post with somewhat cheerless effect: maybe they look better lit up? Palmers Green does not have one (a green that is) but offers other delights such as a dry cleaner called ‘Turned clean’
By this point we had slowed down significantly, held up as ever by the road works on the old North Circular, but once past that bottleneck we chugged quite happily up Alderman’s Hill and Cannon Hill towards Southgate, passing the rather lovely looking Broomfield Park, like so many in London the site of a former ‘grand house’. What is visible from the bus is an extensive green area with pond and wildlife and distant hills wreathed in a November mist. If I sound romantic the sight of some thatched houses enhanced this mood as we came into Southgate Village. The village mood has obviously gone to Southgate’s head as it seemed to have more than its share of antique shops (‘Deal or No Deal’ anyone?) and even an auction room. I see from their website there would have been an auction taking place as we passed.
At the top of the hill is yet another outpost of the Piccadilly Line, this time Southgate, which has a splendid period station parade around which we circulated. All the exteriors of the Piccadilly Line stations are excellent examples of the architecture of their time, it’s just a shame the trains do not always live up to their outside promise.
There is also a college at the top of the hill and from here on we seemed to have a changing selection of school/college/university students as we passed a range of education outlets. They were indeed the main passenger base as far as we could see.
London N14 looked pretty affluent, especially as we curved through Chase Road leading to Oakwood. There seemed to be ample choice of primary education to suit all pockets and religions. However Oakwood was as far north as we were going today and at this point the bus route hangs a distinct right to head east.
The range of Enfield subsections had much the same effect on me as the Barnet ones (muddling) but actually Enfield Chase, where we arrived first makes sense if you think of it as once being the hunting grounds for deer. Up on the horizon the tower of the Butterfield church soars quite spectacularly – I gather Butterfield was actually quite religious, so building churches must have been heaven for him…
Enfield’s Christmas decorations here were a little more elaborate and we were intrigued by Pearsons, which seems indeed to be a surviving independent department store dominating the High Street. The New River (not new and not a river, as we have observed before) passes through here and seems to be canalised along the main street, suffering rather from an intense case of duckweed, but quite an unusual feature in an English, let alone London place.
Village life gets quickly left behind as the 121 heads towards Southbury, crossing the impressive dual carriageway that is the Cambridge Road (A10 if you need to know) and back to the Hertford Road, a much quieter north/south route, where we had been earlier in the day. We hovered for some time outside the Asda distribution centre, the reason for which became clear, as the next stop was Enfield bus garage, where the drivers changed.
This is where Enfield gets interesting, as we were offered (the council has lots of ‘Welcome to’ signs) Turkey Street, named for the Turkey Brook, small but not so insignificant that it does not have a website, Enfield Wash/ Enfield Highway and the unforgettable Freezywater, named for a farm and its cold pond! Nowadays the Turkish community seem to be quite strong in this area and Different Strokes offers body art. Different Turkeys I think!
Rather than heading across the M25 to Waltham Cross as we had already done today, we continued East towards Enfield Lock passing along the aptly named Ordnance Road, whereby hangs another (sorry about this) history lesson.
Halfway along Ordnance Road there is a level crossing and sure enough we were stopped for 3 trains to pass – as this is a mainline into Liverpool Street stopping must be quite a regular feature on this trip!
Ordnance Road runs into the River Lee navigation, and over a pretty bridge onto the Island Village, with roads named after army connections and guns. This aerial view is rather better than any achieved by ourselves.
The bus terminated close to a couple of pylons, whose feet are covered in bushes, rather sweetly the home for sparrows and parakeets.
Jo thought we had milked the goodness out of Enfield in all its varieties – Wash/Lock/Island/Chase/Village/Highway etc so it was a case of ‘I’m a bus lady, get me out of here’ – rather easier said then done. Come back Piccadilly Line all is forgiven we thought as we waited nearly half an hour for the surface train out of Brimsdown.
PS Two “one we prepared earlier” routes to follow. Beware abrupt changes of climate!