Monday 28 February 2011
Linda and I (Mary being on grandmother duty) arrived at Camberwell Green to take the second of a four bus day which stretched from Lewisham to Pinner. Our first bus (about which you will read many months from now) terminates at the right stop, and so we climbed aboard the 148 at 10.40, with almost no wait. Our pleasure at this seamless transfer was somewhat muted as we took our seats and realised that the driver had had a cigarette in his cab during his break. Still, it was a horrible day...
Northwards through Camberwell, we noticed as so often before the wide range of religious experiences on offer, including the Redeemed Church, which offered 'digging deep' as one of its forms of ministry; also the Camberwell Islamic Centre which, as we know, occupies a former pub. There was plenty to look at as we headed North, past the entrance to Burgess Park and the Red Lion Pub, a modern building but claiming 'established 1666' in its brick work.
There were tremendous bargains to be had, for example in men's suits, though East Street Market was looking pretty quiet, it being Monday.
As we came to Newington Library, we wondered about its future, given the plans of various boroughs. It's alarming that services with 'special pleading' seem to get reprieves: what happens to important services with no loud voice? We noted with approval the improvements (nearing completion) to the road layouts at Elephant and Castle.
This is the bus that goes past the main entrance of the Imperial War Museum, as opposed to along the sides, so we were able to glimpse the great naval guns beyond the slim birches and neat shrubs of the Peace Garden. I feel a metaphor coming on, but shall spare you as there is so much to say about this journey.
The next landmark was The Perspective, a block of flats where Sue once worked; brace yourselves before you go to the link: if your eyes don't water at the misplaced apostrophe, they will at the price of a two bedroom apartment.
On to Waterloo Station, and then the huge Park Plaza hotel which forms the roundabout before reaching Westminster Bridge, with its excellent views and Wordsworth references. I thought you might like a variant on the many photographs we have taken from the bridge so here, courtesy of the Little Gooner, is the Legoland version of Parliament and Big Ben, a depiction lacking the many tourists and the nasty weather of our sighting. The 148 swings left, past the remains of the Peace Camp and the unsightly fencing preventing its regrowth, and past the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (no crowds, as Chilcott has finished taking evidence) and the Central Methodist Hall. Along Victoria Street, we felt that Government buildings suffer from names that are too long. The marketing people at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills presumably chortle with glee at the thought that we might call it 'BIS', but we were unamused.
Westminster Cathedral and then Victoria Station were next, and we felt some nostalgia as it has been a while since we passed the statue of Marshal Foch, the strange shell-encrusted huts of Grosvenor Gardens, enlivened by a fine display of primulas, and the walls of Buckingham Palace garden.
Around Hyde Park Corner, we headed up Park Lane, with more memorials for our delectation: after the Queen Mother's Gates, and that strange huge statue of Achilles that caused such a row in the 19th century till it was figleafed , we came to the memorial for the 7 July 2005 victims.
On our other side, in the central reservation of Park Lane, we were amused by an art work depicting a child's hand with a toy car - a Fiat, since the artist is Italian. Then we passed the memorial to the Animals at War, with the Kiplingesque pack mules and camels before coming to Marble Arch with some more new art in the form of a family of jelly babies.
Along the Bayswater Road, we passed Tyburn Convent, a Benedictine monastery on the site of the gallows at Tyburn where a number of Roman Catholics were executed in the reign of Elizabeth I (about as many as the number of Protestants burned for their faith in the previous reign, which provides some kind of balance, I suppose) We also admired the fine refurbishment of The Lancasters, though regret the fact that the apartments are all 'Price on Application' so we can't be amazed in this blog. The Hire Bike racks in the park along here were all empty, which suggests serious usage even on a cold wet day. This is also where there is a Blue Plaque for J M Barrie. A few minutes later, the other side of Notting Hill, we noted a plaque for James McBey, Artist.
Here we were held up for a while by a car driver who had chosen to leave his car at a bus stop, right by some road works, while he went into 'Frame Set and Match'. Yes, driver of H785HRY, I mean you. Eventually he moved on, and so did we, passing Holland Park Tube, with memories of Sylvia. We were sorry to see that Tesco has replaced the grocer who used to be there, but that's progress, I suppose.
Passing Norland Square, noted for nannies, and Royal Crescent, looking like a refugee from Bath, we reached Shepherds Bush. We were puzzled by the war memorial, which has a winged figure with a sword, so it is reassuring to learn that she is Peace: the sculptor, Henry Charles Fehr, chose to depict the winged figure with a sword pointing downwards.
We travelled round Shepherds Bush Green to pass the Bush Theatre and the ornate Empire Cinema, before turning towards the White City Bus Station. It was 11.35. Linda was disappointed that we terminated without going in: it is our favourite bus station, we think; but we only had to cross the road to pick up our next bus.
It seems to us impressive that it should take less than an hour to travel this far west from Camberwell: and we enjoyed the substantial number of famous sites and sights along this excellent route.