Tuesday 22 June 2010
Having arrived at Hounslow Bus Garage, Mary and I decided to return to the east via the west: from Hounslow, buses go to places like Staines and Twickenham, rather than eastwards. So we set off to go to Uxbridge, in order to catch a bus back to White City, leaving at about 11.50. Some might think that is a roundabout route: but this would only be people who have never visited Hounslow Bus Station.
The 222 is a single decker bus, and very warm on this beautiful sunny day. We hoped, in passing, that Linda was getting the same weather in Wales.
For the first part of the trip we repeated the 81 route, passing the Treaty Shopping Centre, which apparently also houses the Paul Robeson Theatre. While I haven’t found out why it is called the Treaty Centre, Paul Robeson did spend some years in London, avoiding the racism and McCarthyism of his own 'land of the free': though whether he lived in Hounslow or not is information that has eluded me.
Aeroplanes barely clearing the tops of buildings meant that we were circling Heathrow as we headed back along the Bath road, crossing the River Crane. According to Wikipaedia, the bogginess of the ground under the river is the reason that the Piccadilly Line comes above ground for a short distance on its way to Heathrow: and you thought it was especially so that you could use your mobile to check your flight.
Every lamp post had a ‘no third runway’ sign as we came to Sipson. The gardens we could see looked pretty, so we were sorry that we weren’t in one of the double deckers that also serve the 222 route, though Mary was doing a fine job with the camera. Sipson has some narrow village streets, and the Plough Inn was looking charming; were it not for the airport, the green areas around would feel quite countrified.
As we entered Cowley we went over the River Pinn, making its way to the Grand Union Canal. (PS on Saturday 26 June 2010, Andrew and I walked the 12 miles of the Pinn's Riverside walk, called the Celandine Route, from Pinner to –big disappointment – a locked gate preventing us getting onto the Canal towpath. On the whole, the walk is good: surprising miles of green parks, riverside and the occasional golfcourse. There is, however, quite a long road section to get round RAF Uxbridge. You can download some slightly outdated instructions from the Hillingdon Borough website, though of course they may have updated them by the time you read this)
Drayton Hall, the council’s imposing offices, brought us into West Drayton where we should have liked to hop off and visit Hydrodragon, importers of jade and marble statues. Their website has lots of lovely pictures for your pleasure.
Then over the Grand Union Canal and into Yiewsley, noting not just the big retail park but also the Packet Boat Marina and pub.
We knew we were close to Uxbridge as we came to signs for Brunel University, and for a while we travelled parallel to the River Colne. Although there are still some nineteenth century houses, the centre of Uxbridge is dominated by the Pavilions Shopping Centre, which we circled to get to Belmont Road and the end of our trip, after about an hour. From there it was no distance to our next bus.