Monday 18 April 2011
Our first bus of this sunny day had brought Linda and me to the Abbey Wood Lane area of Rainham (Mary was in Devon) The 165, a single decker, was waiting, so we were able to board within minutes, at 10.55. This was the only stage of the journey where the bus was empty: clearly Romford is a desirable destination.
This area is residential, with a lot of bungalows of varying periods, and, interestingly, no public housing that we could detect. The roads are quite narrow, and most front gardens had been converted to hard standing.
We soon passed the sizeable Rainham cemetery and came into Rainham village, still with a number of shops, despite the proximity of Dagenham, and the enormous Asda and Tesco's in the neighbourhood. We noted a patriotic 'Essex' fish bar, and also a large Reptile Centre. According to a number of web forums, it's called The Cold Blooded Reptile Centre, leaving us wondering what warm blooded reptiles there are, but all these sites say that it is a splendid place with very helpful staff and, in these days of laws preventing the importation of rare species, it is a breeding centre as well.
Rainham Village School looked rather like a library or even a telephone exchange and of course, in the holidays, was quiet (I'm not suggesting it would be noisy in term time, of course) with a few staff cars parked outside it. If they are doing the SATs this year, it will be a bit difficult with all the bank holidays following so closely after Easter.
After we had passed Rainham Recreation Ground, we were held up for some time by a white van and then a car: both reluctant to reverse, although the parked cars narrowing the road were on their side, they prevented the bus getting past for several minutes. The handsome war memorial, erected in 1920, has four clock faces as well as a list or those who died.
Rainham has various handsome old houses, and the National Trust is planning to restore Rainham Hall, though presumably not at the moment.
As we left Rainham, we came to the large Tesco's and noted that Havering has decided that climate change could lead to less rain: the roundabout, like several others we passed, was designed with gravel and shrubs rather than grass. It may also have to do with reduced maintenance, though there was someone sorting out the gravel as we passed. Unusually, not many people got off as we looped through Tesco's.
Mungo Park Road, but cannot explain why a road should be named after him here, as his links are all Scottish and African. This was still a predominantly residential area, with several roof extensions and proches added to the houses.
We came to Elm Park Station, and passed a charity shop for the Richard House Hospice. They had had 29 supporters run the London Marathon yesterday, including one in an enormous puppet costume, which shows dedication beyond the average.
The huge Elm Park Pharmacy, meanwhile, occupies the building that was once the Grays Co-op (according to the stonework on the building). Abbs Cross School, now an Academy, had clearly had substantial building works, one of the lucky schools to get in before the freeze.
This was to be a two reptile shop journey, as we passed Jungle Phase, here in Hornchurch. Otherwise we remarked upon the Wildwood Restaurant and Bar, which looked as if it had been some kind of municipal building in its past. Also the Chequers Pub, whose inn sign showed a knight and his horse in 'chequered' accoutrements, rather than a draughts board or something similar.
As we headed uphill, the houses got bigger, and we were amused by a notice saying 'Golf is not permitted in this park'. Several of the houses had wonderful wisterias, but a single decker bus, many fellow passengers and a phone camera do not make for fast photography, so you will have to imagine them. Back down the hill, we came into Romford. All the roadworks we remembered from previous visits appeared to have been completed, and everyone but us got off in the town centre. We stayed on, noting 'Bureaulogic Recruitment' as we passed, and looped round the edge of Romford Market and on, to reach The Brewery Centre, with its cinema, shops and bus station. We arrived at 11.50, having taken almost an hour to visit this corner of south Essex.