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.