Friday, 14 October 2011

The Number 234 Route

Thursday 13 October 2011

Mary and I met at Highgate's smart station, Linda being in Italy, and walked along Archway Road to where our bus was waiting at the start of the one way system. The charming driver explained that this was why it was facing the 'wrong' way.  We were off on our single decker journey to Barnet by 10.00.  It was to be a trip through the smart and substantial areas of North East London.  Fortunately most of the streets are quite wide as, despite hardened from gardens, many people parked some of their vehicles on the road.

Even the estate agents were somewhat classy, with fancy fonts and 'poa', that well known code for 'eye-stretchingly expensive'.  The traffic was slow here, though not for any reason that we could see, so we had time for scrutiny.

We turned right off Archway Road into Fortis Green, and then continued our tour of desirable areas by entering Muswell Hill.  Later we learned from our driver that he often had actors on his bus, because a lot of them live round here.  A flavour of life further east came with the name of one of the many pubs we passed, though whether it was named for the Stoke Newington vicar who owned the (now) Park, I don't know. The pub was built on the site of a nineteenth century brewery.

Muswell Hill also has some attractive looking buildings which we thought might be almshouses, but about which I could find no information, and an enormous, Edwardian Police Station, constructed in 1904.  Some of the shops were pretty interesting, too, including 'Art for Art's Sake', which had a controversial time a few years ago.
After passing Halliwick Recreation Ground, we entered a Hail and Ride Section, which swept us past the Bravanese Centre.  Bravanese people come from Somalia, where they are a minority group, ethnically speaking;  they are Muslims, and the Centre is their place of worship as well as their community centre.  Linda has often commented on how many types of Barnet there are (New, High, Friern, East) so Mary and I thought of her as we came into Chipping Barnet.
The houses here, too were large, and often gated;  so was the police station (large, I mean, not gated) and a number of fine pubs.  It seemed likely that the road heading north out of London would have needed plenty of hostelries, in the days when your first day's journey might have brought you this far from the centre.

As we came into Barnet High Street, we noted several more pubs, including The Bull, which is offering a collaboration between Roger McGough and Moliere, as well as a hairdressers that might appeal to fans of film.

Then we rounded the Spires Shopping Centre, and came to a halt, at 10.45.  We had a brief conversation with the driver, who was interested in our project, and said he enjoyed driving the route, just as we had enjoyed travelling it.

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