Monday 4 April 2011
Our bus started on Linda's home (or at least work) turf, so Mary and I followed her directions on this bright spring day, and met at the bus stop just before 10.00. We set off through Catford, with Linda pointing out how quickly some new-built apartments along our route had sprung into fully occupied use (unlike the blocks of new offices we so often pass). Out of Catford is an uphill journey, with rather desperate road markings telling people to stick to 20mph. It seems pretty clear that people don't, unless there are cameras, police with speed guns or other enforcement measures; though to be fair (as people seem to say a lot when they are not saying 'to be honest') cars parked both sides on a bus route does have quite a traffic calming effect.
At the top of the hill we came to the library, under scaffolding. We hope that this is for repair rather than some kind of economy measure, but had little time to brood as we turned right to access the South Circular; with a well maintained central reservation, and large front gardens as well as some stretches of service road running parallel, it was a great deal more attractive here than in some parts of its length.
Gardens here, as along the whole route, were luminous with magnolias and camellias, as well as forsythia and, a source of particular envy for Linda and me, glowing clumps of aubretia, unlike the rather nervous and short lived patches we have in our gardens
We barely recognised Eltham Green in the bright sunshine: we had had an unpleasant winter experience hereabouts in January, when our 122 bus suddenly announced that it was going out of service, and abandoned us at a bus stop with no shelter and a bleak wind blowing. We were interested to notice that the bus stops did not have bus numbers on them. At first I suggested vandalism: perhaps people were collecting and swapping the little squares with the bus numbers like a numerical Pokemon Card activity; but there were so many without numbers, that we concluded it was probably policy.
The Parish Church of St Saviour appeared rather forbidding: opened in 1933, its design was influenced by the architectural trends of the day. As we came into Eltham, we noted that Eltham Pools, now closed down, are about to become an 'exciting development' but I have not tracked down what. The snooker hall is still To Let as well, but once we got into the high street, we found a more lively scene: a Debenhams and a Marks and Spencer as well as a number of Pawn brokers and pound shops.
The Rising Sun Pub was embellished by beautiful pansies, as well as its garlanded plasterwork and its inn sign. On our left was the grassy mound of Eltham Reservoir, which has had its problems in the past few years, but is apparently back in use now
We thought Ink and Folly was a good name for a book shop, and were a bit anxious to see its shutters up: but it's OK: it does not open on Mondays, since it is open at the weekends.
We turned right into Southend Crescent, where we have changed buses in the past, and headed into Footscray, passing the green spaces of the Rugby Club, and another attractive pub, the Beehive, with such excellent flowers that we should not have been surprised to see the bees off the inn sign buzzing about for real. Then we came to the 'With Love' Bridal shop, and as we waited for the lights to change, we spotted two full minibuses from Beths Grammar School If you go to their website you will find that they assist 'one of Bexley's non-selective schools', an odd way of saying that some schools have able pupils selected away from them.
We looped around parts of Chislehurst, which we know and like, though I have still not been able to persuade my companions to leap off the bus to visit the fascinating Caves. We noted the 'ducks crossing' sign as we approached the pond, though no ducks were, since they were clearly having too much fun in the water.
It was around here that Mary used to play hockey when she was a student, a long way to come from Barts, but then the amount of green space in the City is pretty limited! Blossom covered trees lined the playing fields as well as embellishing most of the gardens.
We came into Sidcup and looped round to get right into the spacious bus station close the the Railway Station: our journey had taken just inside an hour, and reminded us that, whatever the poet said, April is a pretty nice month.