Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Number 149 Route

Edmonton Green to London Bridge
Wednesday March 24th 2010

Our two previous buses had brought us to Edmonton Green bus station, agreeably open and accessible, and close enough to admire the War memorial We also looked into the shopping centre and found some ripish avocados and loos both at a good price.

Relieved we boarded our bendy bus, and sat well forward in a foursome seat, joined for the early part of the journey by a local who pointed out some recent landmarks - the Edmonton police station which had moved into the bigger former Town hall, for example- for us. Single deckers restrict the photo ops and it was busy, making a stately progress back into town.**Since we took this trip the 149 has reverted to being a double decker again

After Gilpin’s Bell – Jo was a little shy of reciting too much in this more intimate setting so you may have to read the William Cowper ballad for yourselves – enough to say that even loaded down with his wine supply his (John Gilpin’s) progress was probably little slower than ours.

Original Skin turns out to offer tattoos which may have also inspired the graffiti style artist Banksy , who has a Perspex-protected work on one of the street corners that the bus passes. Even if not him it’s good fun. The football stadium is one focal point of Tottenham while the other is the cluster of older and civic buildings round South Tottenham and the wealth of buses on offer makes them easy to get to. Just before we left the Seven Sisters Road we noticed the Seven Brothers Supermarket and then took a more easterly turn south into London via Stamford Hill and Stoke Newington. Having passed this way so often now we thought it about time to identify the origin of Seven Sisters – discarding the more exotic descriptions of lakes or cliffs we settled for seven fine elm tress that stood hereabouts.

Thanks to some locals we now know why there are two spellings for Harringay (specific area along Green lanes) and Haringey (the whole London Borough). Our very long and totally legally slow bus was badly carved up by a motorist who cut in suddenly producing a not unjustifiable expletive so I don’t think anyone was going to report our driver who coped admirably.

Stamford Hill has long been the preferred area for London’s orthodox Jewish community and there were clear examples of shops to serve their food, clothing and ritual needs. On the whole they are a very private community so even photographing one of their shops felt intrusive. Other religious communities use different methods of communication and we were quite tickled by a church announcing: >Msg. Frm God:I ♥ U. Now well into Hackney we also spotted a really prettily tiled Mosque. Along the road past the West Hackney Recreation Ground, which seems originally to have been an open space later used for burials and perhaps now reverting to its original use?

By now it was very clear that we were heading for the City of London – on the not so distant horizon the Gherkin’s profile peeped out round another building like some pregnant woman left without a seat on the bus.

We realized why Transport for London had opted for this type of bus as for some miles it could progress in a very straight line not requiring it to bend (which is when they snarl up the traffic) at all. This part of Dalston (the Kingsland road) is that wonderful mixture of old and new housing with some really lovely early 19th homes set in squares off to both sides whilst the High Road has the full London range of Tugra Baklava shops, Scruples piercing and a solicitor offering the full range of legal services including advice on Shariah law. At the point we passed we were witnessing the last works on the East London line, which by the time you read this should be up and running!

St Leonard’s hospital, presumably linked to St. Leonard’s church down at Shoreditch, was originally the Shoreditch work-house, later a fever hospital and now turning into one of those ‘community hospitals’ which seem to be somewhere between a clinic/out-patients and a cottage hospital. Just before the rather fearsome one-way system, where we always go wrong in a car, that is now rather trendy Hoxton and Old Street you pass the lovely Geffreye Museum – again housed in old Almshouses and to excellent effect.

Not diverting and not being diverted we keep on in a straight line which means down past Heron Tower, Bishopsgate Liverpool Street and ‘The Pinnacle’ some buildings more complete than others. To save you working out which is which try this guide, though not absolutely up to date.

While the views are less elevated from a single –decker bus there is the advantage of being able to peer into the various little alleys off to the left, often leading to courtyards which hold pubs and all pretty busy as once again we hit the City at lunch-time and everyone seems on a mission to get food of one sort or another – running a sandwich bar hereabouts must be good business. Though the Monument is now dwarfed by much that surrounds it, the magic is still there and as we cross London Bridge the 149 gains some extra popularity points for being a river crossing route joining very North London (all those N postcodes we went through) to SE1 and London Bridge station – on time too.

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