Monday 20 December 2010
This, the third bus of the day, began less well than the other two. The 286 had left Linda and me at QueenMary’s Hospital, Sidcup, and we were pleased to read on the stop that the 229 was an ‘every 8-12 minutes’ bus. 20 minutes later we were less pleased, and our mood was not lightened when the bus that did arrive was taken out of service because it was cold. So were we, by that time, with temperatures not rising above zero all day. However, a charming 229 driver who was on his break immediately said he would take over, and so we climbed in the warm bus at 11.40, bound for Thamesmead.
We admired the little lodge in the green area of Sidcup, especially picturesque in the winter wonderland of South London, and opposite it, Bexley Register Office, a fine building, clearly with good photo opportunities for weddings.
As we proceeded into Sidcup town centre, people getting on were complaining that they had been waiting 40 minutes, though one can hardly blame the driver who does turn up!
We came to Sidcup Station, passing the Metal Horse motorbike shop and Marlowe House. Linda explained that this was now the HQ for the combined Child Abuse police team for Bromley, Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley: a brilliant piece of re-organisation which may explain why police seldom manage to appear at meetings in Deptford.
A more cheerful note was struck by an excellent shop name – hello, Little Gooner! - and the pleasant church of Holy Trinity Lamorbey, where we picked up more chilly passengers.
Old Bexley also has a villagey feel, with two sets of almshouses, Styleman’s and Victoria Homes, as well as the charming Library.
We were delighted that there was lots of blue sky, though it was still very cold, as we went up and over the link to the Dartford Crossing and into Bexley itself, with its enormous Marriott Hotel, and the tight turn we had experienced before to get us into the little courtyard of the shopping centre where buses stop. As we left, the bus was completely full, with every seat on the upper deck taken, and we headed into residential areas, with almost untouched white pavements and Christmassy front gardens.
Down the hill into Erith, the pavements outside the shops were briefly clear, but then we were back into the areas where people live and pedestrians were again deemed unimportant. As so often when we pass a commuting station, we noted a lot of new build flats around Erith Station, and as we headed on towards Belvedere, the road became less clear and then we were through Belvedere and passing the stop for Lesnes Abbey, pronounced Les Knees for those of you who don’t know the area, whose woods are the reason for the name of Abbey Wood. The bus was much emptier as we passed the Pet Aid Hospital, run by the PDSA.
We knew we were in Thamesmead when we saw direction signs to the Crossness Sewage Treatment Works. The website isn’t the trendiest you will ever click on but the place is fascinating (Jo and Andrew have visited the wonderful beam engines on an Open London weekend) so persevere with the website! The street names are also rather telling: a patch of political and economic writers, including Bentham, Tawney and Carlyle, followed by a number of Dickens characters, suggesting large areas of building all at the same time. It was very attractive in the snow, though as we came to the centre, the buildings were more 60s and less pleasing.
The bus terminated at 12.55, at a not-very-interesting place, unless you wanted the Library or Leisure Centre. But we did not mind, as we were able to cross the road and hop straight onto our fourth and last bus of the day.