Monday 17 January
First we need to welcome all the people who visited us after reading Blog Roll in Saturday's Guardian. Hello! (For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, here's the link.)
And now to business. Clearly the poet Robert Burns was thinking of us when he made his remarks about the best laid plans. We (Mary, Linda and I) had thought to take the 138 from Bromley North to Coney Hall, then to walk for a few miles of the London Loop, and get another bus back to Bromley North from Downe. This was based on various weather forecasts over the weekend suggesting that the rain would abate. From now on we are going to refer to them as 'weather guesses' since 'forecast' implies some kind of scientific input. Not that I am complaining about the rain, given the images of Queensland we have all seen. But it was, definitely, pouring - or siling as they used to say in Suffolk - when we met at Bromley North Station. So despite having boots and sandwiches for the walk, we changed our plans and, for the first time since we started this project, we did two round trips, going 'there and back' on the same bus on both routes.
You will read about the 'other bus' in due course, but since it is a once-an-hour bus, and appeared at the stop just as we had finished our discussion, we climbed onto it, eventually returning to Bromley North, and boarding the day's main bus, the 138, at 11.50. At first we thought we should be the only people on board as we pulled out of the station area and, instead of turning left to follow the Bromley ring road, went straight over, passing the Railway Pub and the huge and impressive Post Office. But here the bus filled up with shoppers, announcing that they were glad of the warmth and dryness.
The Post Office appears to be about to vanish, since there were BNP Paribas notices on its handsome facade. After this little detour, our bus soon joined the more usual route, past the back of The Glades, past the Town Hall and so on.
We were quickly into residential areas: a mixture of the kind of housing that goes up near stations, two bedroom flats and such, and more substantial properties. Pickhurst Lane clearly once was a lane, in that it curves and wiggles rather than heading straight, but it now carries a great deal of traffic. Unsurprisingly, therefore, most people had turned their front gardens into hard standing for their cars. We passed Cupola Wood, a small but attractive area of green, before coming into Hayes.
Among the interesting shops of Hayes were Purrfect Pet Care and a couple of Charity Furniture Shops in aid of the London Air Ambulance Service.
Near the end of the town, there was a large formal-looking building, which appears to be a pub, Regan's The New Inn. It looks as if it started life as a school or hall of some kind, but was apparently rebuilt in the 1960s after a long period derelict having been damaged in the Second World War. Then we headed down Tiepigs Lane, wondering whether the name derived from would-be escaping pigs, or was a corruption of tithe-pigs. The crossroads with Bourne Way was a reminder that we were crossing the River Bourne as it heads off to join the Ravensbourne further north. All along this part of the route, which is a 'hail and ride' section, people were getting off the bus, rather than getting on.
With glimpses of Hayes Common, and green spaces, we came into the Coney Hall area, and looped around Chestnut Avenue and Sylvan Way. This area was built as a private estate, in the 1930s, with a free private bus service to get the residents to Hayes Station, but now TfL's bus appears to visit most of the streets. Arriving at the terminating stop at 12.15, we ascertained that the driver was heading straight back, and so we barely got off his bus before getting back on. The return to Bromley was by a much more direct route, straight out of the estate, which makes me feel this should be described as a circular route. Of course, we should never have known this if we had stuck with our original plan, got off the bus at Coney Hall, and walked to Downe.