Friday 3 December 2010
The snow and ice had made us wonder whether to travel at all this week, but Mary and I decided to take one short journey. Linda was trapped at home by the inability of the buses to deal with the hills of her bit of South London, together with the non-running of South Eastern Trains and the Overground. Indeed, both Mary and I had allowed so much extra time to get to Finchley Central for 10.15 that, even with a bit of a walk to the head stop, we were off by 10.05.
We were pleased that the 125 is a double decker, given that it does not go very far, and spends most of its time in quiet suburbs.
We headed straight back past Finchley Central Station and the Dignity Pub, whose website, though full of interesting stuff, does not explain its unusual name.
Our route was straight towards Whetstone, without any deviations at all, giving us plenty of time to note that the Guild Players, based at the Wesleyan Chapel, are doing 'See How they Run' for their December show.
We found ourselves wondering where all the snow had gone: clearly North London is even further from South London than the conspiracy theorists who live down there would have you believe: they are getting Kent and Surrey weather whereas up here it was merely cold - not the bus, though, which was lovely and cosy, and stayed that way as it was not heavily used, so the doors did not open too often!
The next pub we came to was The Elephant, with a remarkable charging elephant on its sign, and we soon also passed the Safari Bar, which appeared to be an Indian Restaurant also serving Sunday Roasts. Clearly they like to walk on the wild side up here in Finchley.
After passing an Iranian shop and advice centre, we came into Whetstone, and for the first time turned: right. We passed the Mogador Cafe, whose name means 'beautiful' in Arabic (thank you, Wikipedia) and has nothing to do with Mogadon, the brand name of the sedative nitrazepam - in case you were wondering.
The Osidge Arms left us really baffled: why does it have a pub sign of an attractive country lane? Why do all those repetitive beerintheevenening type pub websites never tell you where the name comes from? Am I the only person interested?
Anyway, we passed the small Pymme's Brook, and I resolved to walk the 10 mile trail at some stage, and also passed the Sir Thomas Lipton Home for Retired Nurses. He (the Tea man) came from Glasgow but lived in Southgate, and his mother had been a nurse, so this was one of his many charities.
Soon we turned into Southgate Tube Station Parade with its handsome curved facade, and then round the roundabout again to head on towards Winchmore Hill. We noted in passing the HQ of the Thalassaemia Society, before being baffled once again by a pub name (this is the last one for this ride, honestly!) The Fishmongers Arms? Why? Do trawlers regularly moor in Southgate to sell their wares? And it does not help when the world wide web simply offers 'formerly known as 'The Southgate' as an explanation.
As we approached Winchmore Hill we were impressed by the substantial houses in this part of London, noting that the pavements remained fairly icy through, we assumed, underuse. We passed a dancing and theatre school, as well as a restaurant called, wittily, Chinese Whispers, and came into Winchmore Hill itself.
We are always amazed that Tanning shops survive despite publicity about the clear evidence of the harm they do, and the one in Winchmore Hill certainly looked quite prosperous.
So we arrived at Station Road, where the bus terminated, at 10.40: one of the shortest journeys we have ever had. We gave the driver a card, which slightly puzzled him, until we explained that we were not inspectors of any kind, just tourists enjoying the scenery of this calm and prosperous part of North London.