Thursday 9 June 2011
We arrived at Northwick Park Hospital by tube. ('It's only three stops', said Linda, unused to the distant reaches of the Metropolitan Line and the long gaps between stations) The bus only runs 3 times an hour, but our luck was in and we were on board the double decker almost immediately and off at the scheduled time of 11.07, bound for Brent Cross.
The bus begins by circling the hospital, with two other stops. We were reminded of the time in 1987 when Renee, hoping to visit our daughter, arrived here, only to be told that she should be at Mount Vernon, up the line in Northwood.
Past the University of Westminster, Harrow Campus, we turned left and then right, heading towards Harrow. We were saddened to see the Fat Controller Restaurant still derelict, though it is not as if you would starve in Harrow. We liked Bonnerz, the Caribbean Takeaway where 'food taste nice u si'.
This is not the first time that we have been into Harrow Bus Station (indeed this trip was to be a three bus station journey, one of the factors ensuring that the trip took much longer than the advertised 55 minutes. But this was the first time we had noted the Harvesters Foundation Charity Shop, perhaps not surprisingly, as it is a new Charity. Perhaps they will correct the misplaced apostrophe on their website soon.
The 'Splendour' shop was displaying plastic goosefoot, as well as other 'no-watering' house plants. But the most remarkable thing about this part of Harrow was the large number of Piri Piri outlets: once there was only Nandos...
The gallery on the website of the Grasshopper Tattoo shop indicates that they will tattoo anything, almost anywhere on a body. We wondered briefly if this was where David Beckham goes.
A more sober building was the huge HQ of Wickes, which never used to advertise much but is now on the TV rather a lot. We assume they have a new marketing strategy.
The Safari Cinema was advertising 'Ready', Salman Khan's latest film, slated by the critics but already a hit in India.
You can tell that traffic was not fast moving, as we had time to look about us. We were delighted to see that the new Mosque is nearing completion, and admired its smooth, modern lines and the new 'take' on a traditional minaret shape.
We saw a piece of sculpture outside Harrow Civic Centre, and in attempting - unsuccessfully - to identify it, I came across this really unkind website (though I do agree with some of the nominations)
Next we came to Harrow and Wealdstone Station, with its signs to the 'Kiss and Ride' area of car parking, before passing the Inshops Centre, offering 'shopping at it's best'. What is it with apostrophes and Harrow? Linda had previously noted the neighbouring shop offering 'kid's wear' though how you make money clothing only one child is a mystery. But enough of this pedantry and on with the ride.
We were out into residential areas, with handsome semis and some detached houses. The front gardens confirmed what we had read in today's Metro: namely that an area of green equivalent to 2.5 Hyde Parks is lost each year in London as front gardens are converted to hard standing. The London Wildlife Trust is very worried about the impact on Wildlife and the increased risk of flooding. The sad thing is that all this parking space does not prevent people from parking in the so-called cycle lane. This is the London Cycle Network's route 88: they can put up signs to say so, but there is clearly no way that they can make it work.
As we came to the end of Belmont and approached Cannon's Park Station, major electrical works slowed us right down, and it took a long time to reach the small Church of St Lawrence in Little Stanmore, with its overgrown churchyard: we assumed they were waiting for the bulbs to die back before mowing.
We had time to notice the workers repairing a bus shelter, before we turned left to get into our second bus station of the day, the one at Edgware Station, which adds at least ten minutes to any journey.
Next we headed along Edgwarebury Lane, where Jewish families were heading to synagogue on this, the last day of the festival of Shavuot, and then crossed the A1 to travel along Hendon Way. Here the houses were huge (a quick look at an Estate Agent's website indicates that £1,350,000 is the asking price for one) and we saw a new bungalow going up, next to a house with a pink stretch limo parked outside (yes, on the hardened front garden!) It seemed to us that the colour would limit trade to hen nights and girly birthday parties, but there are probably plenty of those around.
We were slowed down again as we approached Mill Hill Circus, as there was a burst water main, or something of that sort, and then we were slowed down again, as we turned into the third and nastiest of the route's bus stations, the cavernlike depths of Mill Hill Broadway bus station. Then we came into the fresh air of the Watling Estate, with several of the houses faced with wood, a style we tend to associate with East London, not here.
Grahame Park has a lot of newbuild flats, many by Barnet Council, which we observed as we did a little loop round into the bus layby at Quakers Course. Past the RAF Museum, we came to more and more expensive new housing, at Beaufort Park, where a two bedroom flat will cost you almost half a million pounds.
Finally, we were approaching Brent Cross, and had a surprisingly swift arrival, under and over the approach roads, to finish our journey at 12.30.