Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Number 147 Route

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Our two earlier buses had brought us to Ilford with no problems, and after a short walk from the 179 terminating stop, we were onto our 149 by noon, heading for Canning Town.

This time we went around the other side of central and part pedestrianised Ilford, passing close to two huge new blocks of flats, the Icon building which no longer bothers to have a website as I blog this route:  presumably all apartments disposed of!  We were impressed that Ilford can support two nail shops next to each other, and pleased to note that one proprietor is ‘Simon’.
We crossed the River Roding, and noted signs telling us that it was a cycle route, and we were immediately into the borough of Newham

This bus was quite busy, with some rather loud lads at the back of the top deck (not really loud, just showing off their phones) In the other front seat was a young girl with her mother, doing Arabic reading practice, a good activity for the middle of Ramadan.  We got into conversation when they reassured us that the diversion the driver announced would not affect our journey to Canning Town. Zahra (or possibly Zarah or Sara, sorry we did not check the spelling) told us about the painting she was doing with her aunt, and we discussed which art gallery they might visit.  Also that they will be studying the Romans in Year 3 – this being after I had mentioned that I was a History teacher once.
We gave them a card, of course, so we hope they are still reading the blog when this comes up so that they can see how much we enjoyed their company.

In Manor Park our friends got off, straight into the second of several heavy showers that were now affecting our visibility, and we headed on into East Ham itself, passing the station and the end of Burges Road, where Eliza used to live.

Linda pointed out the handsome new Market Hall, which I must have missed last time we were here, and then we  headed right into Barking Road, admiring as we had before the attractive embellishments on the flats.  We also caught a glimpse of the West Ham FC ground off to the right. With the weather improving, we were enjoying the views!

After a threatened early termination to the bus route, the display had reverted to ‘Canning Town’ and so we were not surprised to have a change of driver at Priory Road, Upton Park.  We had been held up by slow traffic (that diversion…) and clearly our first driver’s time was up.

We passed the Bobby Moore monument  and the Greengate Pub, said to date from 1776, but very clearly a 1950s rebuild. A steep up and down took us over the Northern Outfall Sewer Embankment, part of the Greenway and a very good walk indeed.  You could spend months learning about the great Bazalguette and his clever tide based sewage removal system which cleaned London up, but you probably already know all about it.  So there’s a quick summary on the website about him, to remind you to visit Crossness the next time Open London weekend comes round.

 This bus, like the previous two, had young people going to get GCSE their results and plan the next stage of their lives.  We eavesdropped on a number of them extolling the advantages of coursework.  Several got off at NewhamVIC (as the Sixth Form College knows itself) 

We were following signs to the Keir Hardie Estate, an apt name as this was his constituency during the key years of the new Labour Party. 
Soon we were over the A13 and watching planes taking off and landing at City Airport.

Along Victoria Dock Road, we had views ahead of the Excel Centre, where Roger and I once saw the ‘Giants of Rock and Roll’, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis all, like us, a great deal older than when we first loved them.

We followed the line of the DLR from Custom House Station to Royal Victoria Station, speculating that, as they rebuilt the area after the war damage, they left a corridor for some kind of transport infrastructure.  We were surprised to turn right in order to service a residential area, around St Luke’s Square, before rejoining the Victoria Dock Road. We admired the Flying Angel over the lintel of what was once the Missions to Seamen Centre 
In an area whose name – Custom House – reminded us that Docklands was once more than just a name, we saw large amounts of new, as well as post war, housing.
Evidence of the earlier housing boom and its demise came in the form of a Galliard block with huge signs saying that the bankers had instructed the sale of every apartment, with up to £100,000 off.  The web seems to suggest that this is more to do with the slow completion of homes and consequent difficulties for off-plan purchasers:  have a look .

More optimistic was our fine view of the O2 dome as we came into Canning Town Bus Station, which we know well, ending our journey at 13.10.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Number 146 Route

Bromley North to Downe (St. Mary’s Church)

Monday January 17th 2011

A bit of a preamble needed here as this is one of the few “one bus an hour” routes that terminates a long way from anywhere else, let alone another useful route, so we exceptionally decided to do it there and back. (This was in fact PLAN B. PLAN A had been to walk from the end of Route 138 in Coney Hall near Hayes to Downe Village along the Outer London Loop, which might have taken just over an hour. However the relentless rain and poor visibility put us off the walking bit.)

Preamble 2 (Don’t worry: it’s a very short route.) Given the rain outside and steam inside plus the speed of the bus, the majority of the pictures are fuzzy – now Jo would say this was due to the slow speed of the camera rather than the fast speed of the bus – in the interests of world peace shall we say both play their part. The 119 covers the earlier part of the trip but our 119 expedition had been cursed with similar though colder weather so no joy to be had in infiltrating pictures from elsewhere. I do cheat at the end though.

We boarded our single-decker 146 at 10.35 am outside the pretty but underused Bromley North Station. Like any other Bromley North bus the 146 heads down to Bromley South, a less handsome but altogether more useful station, via the backside of the Glades shopping centre and we did pick up a couple more passengers by then but never got into double figures (maximum of 7 people)

Down the bottom of the High Street is the pub commemorating Richmal Crompton, the yes she’s a woman, creator of ‘Just William’, in whose gang every Fifties school child wanted to be, even if only for the buns. Once she qualified as a teacher she lived the rest of her life near Bromley and Chislehurst, hence the pub named after her I guess!

Down Hayes Lane at quite a speed – the standing water was impressive (see photo of a rather swamp-like Norman Park) and from time to time we would aqua-plane through a puddle sending up a high spray – on the whole the good citizens of Bromley take to their cars so we didn’t inconvenience too many pedestrians as we passed by Hayes farm Trout Fishery . I thought it was the sort of fish farm where you could pick your supper out with a shrimp net but apparently for this one you need some skill (and patience). Given the weather you could almost imagine the fish swimming out onto the bus route.

The Temple Academy proves to be a performing arts venue, so by the time you put together the double fronted houses, the trout fishing and the very upmarket car showroom you get an idea of the aspirations and income needed to live in this part of Bromley. Having said that, the old village bits of Hayes are very charming with some fine old buildings – the George Inn, the Library and St Mary’s Cottages as well as the church of that name.

After Hayes village this route takes a very rural turn – you will have to believe me when I say we saw horses (albeit in raincoats, since when I ask?) and fields and mostly commons – firstly Hayes Common then Keston. The road names confirmed the country theme with Five Elms Road, Fishponds Road, Leafy Grove, Rookery Road and sundry others and there we were with never a Barbour jacket between us!

 We passed The Flint Research Institute  and while the rather antiquated website gives an idea of the countryside in good weather it’s a bit difficult to find out WHAT they research? Less obscure were the various farms and stables (Equine Therapy no less.)
These venues or businesses were built to overlook the valley – even on such a poor visibility day we could see across what we assumed was the Kent Weald.

New Road Hill, where the 146 is on its own leads into Downe Village, which has several very attractive looking pubs, including the Queen's Head , which was built for Elizabeth 1, and still going strong

The bus terminates at the church but the driver barely switched off his engine, as he turned round the village tree seat and set off back. Not only is he the one bus an hour he is the only bus on this route (I had visions of one either end) but as it only took him 25 minutes he can do the round trip in 50!

On a different day of the week and in different weather we might have paused at our final destination to visit/ re-visit one of the more evocative English Heritage properties: Darwin’s Down House (without a final E). It’s a real treat and feels like a family home not just a museum and makes Darwin come alive as a man. As for his theories you all know about those.

Back in Bromley Market Square there is a mural to the great man and his tree of life including an impression of his home in the background.

I can confidently say this is a unique route with an inspiring and pretty destination – it was just ***’* law we came to Route 146 on a wet winter’s day, but that’s The Project for you.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Number 145 Route

Leytonstone to Dagenham (ASDA)
Monday February 21st 2011

This was something of an initiation rite/ ride (ho-ho) for a new recruit to the ‘Ladies Who Bus’ – Sue D who joined Linda for the day to take on the role of photographer, while other LWBs were being exemplary grandmothers. We had already had a short ride from Canning Town to Stratford and came on from there to Leytonstone to board our key bus of the day – the 145 which waits nicely parked alongside the station. This is an underground station, which always looks welcoming with its cafĂ© and flower boxes.

We had thought Leyton might be sporting triumphalist banners claiming following their success (or avoidance of defeat) against the Gooners in the Sunday cup-tie, but thankfully this was not too evident.

Our first job was to take the one-way route along Leytonstone High Street past the parish church of St.John the Baptist – I do not usually link to church sites as they tend to be a bit specific but this one gives a good history of the origins of Leytonstone as a name and its development as a village as it was of course 150 years ago. Also it shows a pretty church in contrast to the scaffolded and shrouded building we passed today. Just before we leave religion we noted with interest the Welsh church, which while it does have monthly Welsh language services seems more in demand by amateur dramatic companies for its small size theatre in the adjacent hall. .

After coping with the rather scary Green Man roundabout the 145 heads towards Wanstead, running alongside the A12 (where most of the houses now seem to be nursing homes). It then crosses the North Circular, doing a most complicated loop in order to serve Redbridge Underground Station. In spite of this considerate gesture, nobody much seemed to want the first third of this route, even at the station, as of course these major trunk roads are not on the whole designed for pedestrians – or buses.

We abandoned the A12 to head down the very aptly named The Drive – wide and straight and lined with what would once have been both expensive and fine homes; some of them have been rehabilitated and spruced up and others suffer from the neglect of multi-occupancy. At some point, about a hundred years ago the developers of this part of East London, now known as Cranbrook, must have had delusions of grandeur as all the streets are named for the most luxurious residential areas of West London – so we have Kensington, De Vere, Mayfair, Redcliffe, Ranelagh: you get the picture. One of the few more modern buildings along here was Cranbrook Primary School and Children’s centre.

As we peered out the window at this bus stop we saw a man boarding and our hearts sunk – unkempt wild hair and beard, grubby t-shirt barely covering huge beer belly, sundry tacky bags. “Please let him not come upstairs’ we thought but he did. The accompanying odour stayed on board for several stops until he got off at Ilford, the next major landmark. He represented what is probably the single most common hazard of taking public transport since the crime rate has reduced so significantly. Arriving at the rather attractive Valentine’s Park, through which runs the river Cranbrook, always means we are approaching Ilford.

Ilford is fairly familiar to us seasoned bus travellers as we had our first contact with the never empty route 25 nearly two years ago. Today we noted that the the Kenneth More Theatre  did not look its best in the gloom of a February morning, and we still can’t find that the late Kenneth More seems to have any links with Ilford? Most of central Ilford has the slightly tired look of Sixties building though there are some new homes  going up.

Not surprisingly it was here that most passengers boarded, and we could tell it was half term as small family groups scrambled upstairs only to scramble down again 2 stops later. One young man was boasting that ‘he was up all night and never got home’ so we were a bit startled to see that he looked about 10 years old. Was he being truthful or just ‘bigging it up?’

If Valentine’s Park is one of Ilford’s gems where does that leave South Park? A smaller area than Ilford’s other park it does have a lake and possibly a much-threatened small boy in an anorak called Kenny ?.......

At the crossroads with Longbridge Way we stopped at what looked like a small front door but which proved to be a side entrance/exit to the vast east London bus depot. As ever the changeover was slick and we thought the relief driver must enjoy not having to linger on a cold corner but could spot his colleague approaching from the window.  
Longbridge Way, and with it the 145, cuts a swathe through what is a very large housing estate built about 1921 and known as Becontree – all houses with gardens though there are recent developments of new building  - that ‘academy’ bit had us confused thinking it might be new school, but apparently not. Mayesbrook Manor on the other hand is a former academic site turned residential.

Enough of housing though it was interesting to note that the 1921 developers had totally omitted to provide shops for their new tenants and it was a while till we got to the Becontree ones including the rather intriguing ‘Lion of Judah Unisex Hair Salon’ which presumably specialises in dreadlocks, which symbolise the might of the said Lion.

More dual carriageway to a crossroads with new library and old war memorial and we noted the Old Dagenham Park, having a makeover, before what we hit what we post-war car users always associate with Dagenham – Ford Motors. Well I think we are about 10 years too late – Fords opened here in 1931 mainly to build vans and lorries then came the boom years and finished with the Fiestas. As you can see vast bits of the site are now very derelict with only one section still thriving and just adjacent the TGWU branch – possibly still active.


The recent (very) British film 'Made in Dagenham' captures the spirit of the era even if not an accurate portrayal of the assembly lines that were Ford at its busiest and a good reminder that workers’ rights were won by workers not by university graduates spouting slogans. It is ironic that the location shoots were not shot here but far away in Wales.

Well some of the brownfield site has of course become a retail park and here we were finishing our 145 trip round outer East London at the Asda car park having taken 1½ hours to travel some considerable distance.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Number 144 Route

Muswell Hill Broadway to Edmonton Green Bus Station
Monday September 13th 2010

Our two previous buses had brought us to Muswell Hill Broadway Circus, which it seems can only be approached uphill from wherever you come from – our coming had been much delayed by some nonsense on the Piccadilly line but the buses today were well-behaved, prompt and more or less to time.

Inevitably we headed off down the hill on foot where the first stop is located – the 144 waits rather deceptively by the roundabout with its nice shelter, but does not pick anyone up until just about opposite the Victoria Stakes pub, which has some fairly respectable reviews. As ever there is no hint why a North London pub should be named after a Canadian racing event? Nice views from the top of the hill.

But down the hill we continue, hoping the brakes hold, as we pass various ages of housing well set back from the road, often with a strip of grass in between. Such side roads as we could spot had the usual run of names – another Middleton Road - there seem to be about 11 Middleton Roads/streets etc. and another 13 with a ‘Y’, especially in North London and all probably named for Sir Hugh Middleton – he of the New River which we were to cross more than once today.

Though not as glitzy as the shops up the hill where we had started we still noticed some quite interesting outlets, or at least specialist ones.
Carrier bags clearly still much in demand it’s just such a shame so many of them land up blowing round the streets rather than being re-cycled. More interesting even was Shake n’brow so here you can have your eyebrows threaded whilst you sip a home –made smoothie – not knowing how painful a process this might be I’m not sure if something stronger may be called for? We were clearly getting hungry as we passed the Turkish patisserie, selling of course Baklava, which we all know and love but also Kadayif ( the shredded wheat delicacy ) and dondurma –a Turkish ice-cream.
As we approached Turnpike Lane station the pub sign also references John Gilpin whom we encountered on our previous trips round this way on buses even more distant such as 149 and 259. This Wetherspoon pub takes its name from the toll gate erected in 1765, where High Road meets Green Lanes. The toll gate was dismantled soon after the system of turnpikes (private roads) was abolished in 1872. The fact that several pubs still remain indicates what a busy thoroughfare this continues to be both for buses and local pedestrians.

What I had not expected was that a bus basically turning left at the major crossroads would take a turn round the bus station with such a sharp corner I more or less fell off my seat. Some buses blatantly ignore the bus stations but others go out of their way even if it means heading in the wrong direction. Turnpike Lane bus station is hidden behind the main roads. In spite of the 144 going this way only needing to turn left it actually subjects itself to 2 right turns in order to service the waiting people in the bus station.
Its next test is to deal with the crisscrossing shoppers of Wood Green as they dart across the road in search of whatever brought them to Shopping City in the first place. Again we had both a skilful and thoughtful driver who waited for the joggers though I am sure the next one (number 144, not jogger) was only just behind.  Today we were working our way through the N postcodes: N22 morphs into N17 as we seemed to head uphill, by now going determinedly north, on the A10. Houses with front gardens and a large area of allotments were quite refreshing for what is by and large an inner city residential area, and quite densely populated at that. We were not going to edge much beyond the North Circular but we flirted with it round here (not a very successful relationship)  We seemed to be moving in a parallel universe alongside.  Again the driver was totally unphased by negotiating the huge Cambridge roundabout and then running along off north near Silver Street station.

 Bordering Silver Street and the North Circular, now much wider than it used to be partly due to all those roadworks that cut short our trip on the 141 a couple of weeks back,  is Pymmes Park named for the original 1327 owners. However the whole estate once belonged to the altogether more famous Cecil, Lord Burghley. The walk here manages 10 miles or so of greenery through Enfield, which given how oppressive the North Circular can be is really quite a pleasing discovery. Also in this neck of the woods we saw a sign to the Millfield theatre – a small  arts/theatre venue run by Enfield

Leaving the dual carriageways behind the bus filters further north still and covers the last stretch of what I think of as Edmonton High Street but is more correctly known as Lower Fore Street to arrive, only 45 minutes after starting at Edmonton Green.

What was the compact  Passmore Edwards Library, one of many of his generous donations, has had a change of function.   It now houses the Mevlana Mosque and Rumi Centre celebrating the worship of Anatolian Muslims and specialising in the distribution of Noah’s puddings…whatever they might be! We know from previous trips that the local shopping centre, really an indoor market more than anything, has a range of fruit and food from round the world so maybe we could have found some Noah’s puddings? A glimpse of the future perhaps?

Although there were some slightly snagging road works and major road junctions we made good time on a very North London trip.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Number 143 Route

Monday 2 November 2009

This was the second in a day of five bus trips that included the 41 (as blogged by Linda at the time) and she and I had a few anxious moments at Brent Cross, when a couple of 143s went past 'not in service' but at 11.55 we were able to board, with many other people. I did have a photo of a 'not in service' 143, but it was as dark and gloomy as the morning, so here is the bus we took.

The weather improved as we swept along Hendon Way, past Hendon Central Station and the magnificent Town Hall as well as Middlesex University campus.  The Kosher Bagel shop was unsurprising for the area, but we were impressed at the thought of the kosher Biryani Express, which regrettably does not appear to have a website for you to enjoy.

The sunshine revealed some really attractive autumn colour, both in the public spaces and the gardens we passed. We went over the River Brent again, and were soon in streets of substantial detached and semi-detached houses, including Crooked Usage, a road with eyestretching house prices but no explanation of its name (sometimes it just isn't true that you can find the world's knowledge on the Web)

Past the London Theological Seminary,  which trains creationist clerics, we reached Finchley Cantral Station where lots of people got off, and more got on.  We felt that 'Twin Towers' was a rather odd name for a language school, but then it was founded in 1990, long before the name had any tragic connotations.

The green spaces of Finchley include the ground of the Finchley Cricket Club and the road is very lane-like, so it was as well we were on a little bus.  We passed the Bobath Centre  which Linda knows all about from her work, and were once again into an area of large houses, though many of them are now split and are interspersed with modern blocks of flats.

In Highgate Village, we passed Kipling's Indian Restaurant  as well as a blue plaque for Charles Dickens which clearly isn't an English heritage one, since it isn't on their list.  But then, he lived in so many places.....

As we passed Highgate School, we reminded ourselves that this private school was originally established as a free school for local boys in the 1560s. It is now fee paying, at a rate of £12,000 -£15,000 a year, its website does mention that 250 of its 1,400 pupils receive some remission of fees.  It is an interesting interpretation of the term 'Charity', don't you think? 

Anyway, enough politics, and on to the end of the route.  

We swept down Highgate Hill passing the Ghanaian High Commission's Passport and Immigration Office, before reaching the Whittington Hospital and the Campus of the Middlesex Hospital and University College medical school and Archway, after a journey of 45 minutes.


Monday, 14 February 2011

The Number 142 Route

Brent Cross Bus Station to Watford Junction
Monday February 14th 2011

Well this is really my mother’s bus – she lives on the stretch where there are no other services and she is totally dependent on it to get anywhere significant like a shop or station, poised as she is midway between Edgware and the Northern Line and Stanmore and the Jubilee (of which more anon). There is scarcely a week goes by when she does not have a ‘142 tale of woe’ usually consisting of it not turning up for ages. She was going to join us today – the original plan had been for a lunch break at hers but as we could not manage a full complement of Ladies Who Bus the ladies Who Lunch appointment has been deferred to a later date, when Mary could join us too and some other route (there are plenty of other Edgware-based buses).
Brent Cross is of course North London’s original US style indoor mall type shopping centre and with John Lewis at one end and Fenwick’s at the other it does very nicely. It has had a couple of makeovers in its time and I rather miss the original stained glass indoor dome with water feature, which epitomised the temple to Mammon – quite good for bored children before the days of other entertainments. Today’s children could have visited Zippos Circus located somewhat strangely in the car park!

There is a certain complexity to get out of Brent Cross and the 142 does the statutory wriggle to cross the North Circular – mighty and frequently clogged at this point – and trip into the retail park that has grown up opposite the original Brent Cross plus the Holiday Inn.

Not daunted by its overexposure to flyovers and flyunders the bus then forges pretty much north in a straight line with a steady but never excessive passenger load. West Hendon tends to look rather depressed with most small shops now struggling fast and ethnic food outlets, most of them specialist. After the very modest Hendon Magistrates court the smaller shops give way to a string of car dealerships and larger retail outlets – there was formerly a rather excellent ‘Oriental City’ Development along here with a range of Eastern eateries but this was closed ages ago, although there is still no sign of the promised housing developments going up?

Burnt Oak at least has the virtues of a more settled community, a still thriving market and some bargain outlets – who could resist the pink leather sofa with matching table? It is also served by the Edgware Community Hospital, which they rebuilt around the older cottage hospital.

On reaching Edgware the bus takes a time-consuming detour in order to be able to pick up from the Underground and bus Stations. Totally reasonable if you are there but it takes it quite a way off its route. From Edgware to Bushey this is the only route passing as it does Stonegrove – the 1828 Almshouses remain but mostly there are Sixties, Seventies and Eighties Blocks housing an aging population leading to   Canons Corner where several roads converge at a bland roundabout – we noted this having been tipped off by Tim of an excellent little youtube film called  'Unfinished London'  which explains charmingly and cogently that these were originally destined to be further stops on the Northern Line.    

This part of NW London does now have the Jubilee Line and Stanmore is that combination between commuter suburbs with village remnants in the shape of some cottages along the High Street. It also houses my mother’s favourite and very reasonably priced fish and chip shop!

Forging on alone (to be honest from here on most homes have double garages and gated drives so they clearly don’t have to rely on the unreliable 142) the bus heads up the quite significant Stanmore Hill passing both the Stanmore Cricket club and Common which give a very pleasant rural feel. There’s even a beware the deer sign! Climbing the hill we passed close by RAF Bentley Priory – a key command station for the Observer Corps and more significantly for Fighter Command in the Battle of Britain, now awaiting  museum status.

Once on the top if the hill, today being all sunny for Valentine’s Day, we had an excellent view over the Chilterns and beyond London. Bushey, like Stanmore is another former Hertfordshire village complete with some old cottages, parish church, a village sign dating from the Queen’s Jubilee, and village shops, which seem to have survived.
The crocuses were out round near Bushey Station which because of its proximity to two significant railway viaducts necessitates another one-way system (the third on this route!), in the middle of which there was a huge building site – very busy with all the workers in hard hats making them look rather like Lego men with interchangeable heads.
(My mother remembers the sign on the viaduct at the bottom of the hill which warned 'Tighten Your Bearing Rein' ...)

From here the approach to Watford Town Centre is busy with retail and trading estates of the sort where you can buy white goods and computers. As the traffic converges on the mighty Watford ring road there are exclusive bus, taxi and cycle lanes, which always give us a warm glow. The local Benskins Brewery went the way of most local breweries (sucked up by the big boys) but the office was preserved as the The Watford Museum.

The 142 creeps a little way down the High Street but most of the shopping areas are well pedestrianised or even enclosed in the substantial Harlequin Centre and all traffic goes round until we came to Clarendon Road which forms a rather oddly majestic approach to the very useful Watford Junction station. The road is lined with many and disparate office blocks – all built through the Seventies and Eighties as handy Headquarter buildings close both to good transport and retail hubs; the recession clearly showing with more than a few ‘To Let ‘ signs.

The 142 is one of only 2 London buses that will get you to Watford so perhaps given the distances and deviations it negotiates en route its poor time-keeping might be understandable. An interesting shopping centre to shopping centre (John Lewis to John Lewis if you will) route with both commuter residential and old villages and commons in-between and we took only 1-hour 10 minutes today.

Of course if the Northern Line had reached as far as originally planned (you need to heed the link in Paragraph 2 pay attention) there would be no 142 route as it runs today! 

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Number 141 Route

Monday 7 February 2011

When I met the birthday girl at London Bridge Station at 10.00, we were disappointed to learn that the 141 now terminates at Wood Green rather than Palmers Green.  This is because of the congealing roadworks on the North Circular, which would otherwise mess up the timetables.  A hastily convened meeting of the Project Regulation Committee (Linda and me) ruled that we follow the route as it is on the day of the journey, diversions and shortenings notwithstanding.  We agreed that instead of walking to Arnos Grove for the other bus, we would take the Piccadilly Line; thus, with a clear plan, we joined the large number of people climbing aboard our bus at 10.05.  We were pleased to get the front upper seats;  clearly the other passengers were not going to be on board for long enough to make climbing the stairs worth while.  We were sorry Mary could not be with us, but hope her back is better soon.

The Shard is gradually being covered with glass, though whether that will improve it, only time will tell.  There were also other excavations going on, and we had time to observe them, as getting out of the station yard was very slow.  The passenger in the other front seat was rather annoyed at ambulances blocking the road, bus drivers who didn't go on the yellow and, in fact, most things.

But after about five minutes we were past Southwark Cathedral, and up onto the bridge.  The tide was well out, and everything looked rather grey and bleak, though it was not quite raining. Once we  were on the city side, we turned westwards along King William Street, admiring some of the handsome art deco buildings which either escaped the pasting of the Blitz or have been carefully restored since.

Traffic continued to be slow, not helped by delivery vans unloading on the double yellow lines, now that it was past 10.00 am.  But there were also several police officers on their motor cycles, the kind with whistles that stop the traffic while 'important' people go by.  This time it seemed to be a single, not very smart, white van, which turned across our path.  We shall never know if it was a Moriarty-esque criminal being taken to the Old Bailey, or an incognito royal.

 We admired the many new buildings of this part of London, as traffic did not speed up till past Moorgate (where our unhappy fellow passenger disembarked) and then we were at Finsbury Square, with more art deco, as well as the Master Gunner Pub.  We, however, were more taken by the Angel Pub with its charming inn sign as well as its name in plasterwork from an earlier stage in its life. But the Taylor Walker website does not recognise it, so I can tell you nothing about it.

Heading up into Hackney, we passed the Leysian Mission (it had never occurred to us that the name was linked with the Leys Schools in Cambridge) as well as Moorfields Eye Hospital.

We remarked upon the density of public housing (or former public housing) and soon came to the Regent's Canal, turning right towards Baring Street to travel parallel to it for a while.  A number of buildings in this area had once been commercial and but are now residential.  There are also several streets of smallish 19th century terraces, presumably once designed for artisans and clerks, and now occupied by City folk.

We moved into the de Beauvoir area, and crossed the Balls Pond Road to pass the Mildmay Library, which we hope will survive the cuts, to reach the Nobody Pub (I am not going to complain that it does not explain its name:  take it as read) and then Newington Green.

We were by now in a very Turkish area, judging by shop and club names, but  also passed the China Inland Mission building, which seems to be part of an American Group called OMF.

The next landmark was the Castle Climbing Centre.  Starting life as a Victorian Pumping Station, this building now has a different, but very successful function, not least because the opportunities for rock climbing in the London area are fairly limited.  Linda was also pleased to cross the New River, as we have not been in this part of the world for some weeks.   'Neither new nor a river' maybe, but it does make a very pleasant walk from Hertford to Clerkenwell.

This brought us onto Green Lanes, pleasantly domestic and green alongside Clissold Park, but soon turning into the busy shopping and transport thoroughfare we know well.  We noted that the 141 which had overtaken us was a 'green' one, as we passed the various stations which punctuate the route to Wood Green which we reached at 10.55.