Wednesday 15 December 2010
Neither of the other 'ladies who bus' being available, Andrew undertook this journey with me, and took photos on my phone, since I had unaccountably left the camera behind, so he is the reason we have this account at all.
The 128 departs from Claybury Broadway, which is quite a long way from anywhere, the way we approached it, though actually between Barkingside and the North Circular if you look at a map. We set off at 11.50, and headed as straight as anything up the hill Clayhall Avenue, fast enough to cause the 30mph reminder signs to flash at us. This is a residential area, with almost all the front gardens converted to car parking, and with a number of bright Christmassy decorations.
As we passed the King George V pub, also looking quite healthy, we noted Nail Shops opposite each other on either side of the road. US Nail Pro offered 'Extentions', an interesting spelling.
Gants Hill Underground Station (Central Line) was a reminder of just how far London stretches, and the A12 was its customary busy self as we crossed it. Our next noteworthy hair cutters was Hair Hunters: 'your hair needs our care', and then we were heading alongside Valentine's Park, its cricket sight screens all lined up waiting for next season, and towards Ilford. The skyline is dominated by the enormous 'Pioneer Point' which offers 'luxury living reaching new heights', but we also passed advertisements for 'unique stylish offices' in a disused church.
Bodgers appears to be Ilford's own home grown department store, just along from the station, and we also passed a large business offering Payday Loans and Speedy Cash, in what had clearly once been a pub.
Kenneth More Theatre. We also had time to read the Police warnings ('Drunken acts, sober prosecutions') before heading out of Ilford, past a Magazin Romanesc, and along Green Lane (in the singular for readers who might confuse it with Haringey)
As we moved out of the town centre, we noted some large vegetable shops, selling huge sacks of onions for £7.00, as well as 'Daisyroutes' Garden Centre. Goodmayes was signalled by the Lord Napier Pub, yet another thriving establishment, this one named for the hero of a number of Imperial wars, as well as the Millenium Clock, with attractive blue Christmas Decorations on it.
The next town is Beacontree, part of Dagenham, and with the eponymous pub on its outskirts. It is about to have a new Leisure Centre, due to open in 2011, and clearly coming along well. The next part of the route goes through an area of public housing, with some tall tower blocks, though nothing to match Ilford, and as we approached Rush Green, a number of students got on and came upstairs, talking about their English coursework.
Queen's Hospital, as the bus announcements referred to it, is now long gone, a heap of rubble with hoardings advertising the Taylor Wimpey 'Reflections' new build which are going up in its place.
Now we were into Romford, passing The Brewery Shopping area and taking a long detour along the A 118, round the centre of Romford, in order to reach the station, where our journey ended, at 12.45, only just outside the advertised time for this route.