Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Number 292 Route

Colindale (Asda) to Borehamwood 
Thursday February 2nd 2012


This was something of a last minute addition to our pre-planning as for some reason we had no 292 on our Master List, but then I spotted it on the most recently published bus maps routes both in and out of what is now known as the ‘Colindale Superstores’. By this they mean mainly ASDA, but there is also a Wickes and the head stops were in an unpromising road wedged between the two.  We had just left a 303 and this was the longest wait of the day – really only about 10 minutes – but in the biting cold felt longer. The assembled queue of shoppers threw themselves onto the big if rather shabby double decker and we all warmed our feet in the efficient heating. Looks are not everything.

For most of the route we actually had a travelling companion who was familiar with the route and offered a limited commentary. An adult with some degree of learning difficulty, he was friendly and appropriate.  His main contribution was to tell us, more than once, that the Job Centre which used to be in Burnt Oak had now moved to Edgware and the premises taken over by Santander. It felt very much as though he had been pressured at some point to present himself at said Job centre.

Almost immediately we ran into the slow traffic which had held us up on our previous route (the 303 into Colindale Superstores), but from the height of a double decker we could see a little more easily what was happening – it seemed there were some ?emergency road works outside the Edgware Community Hospital. Jo said she saw some cables so perhaps there had been a cable theft needing a quick repair? Traffic was down to a single lane but more significantly all other traffic lights had been suppressed, and there is a major junction where Deansbrook and Camrose cross the Broadway.  This gave us all too much time to spot empty offices / defunct pubs / Peacocks the fashion chain closing and a Barclays Bank now a casino (ironic or what?). Just opposite the Dementia Care Home Mary spotted Sydney Hurry the undertaker. More unusually we saw a shop called Bukovina – Jo thought it meant meat and wine while I though it was a place and so indeed it proves to be: part of long disputed territories between Romania and Ukraine and indeed Moldavia.  The word actually means beech tree – but perhaps the shop sold meat and wine though from Romania!


We finally made it to the Station Road cross roads and what is normally slow appeared fast by comparison – we were into Edgware Bus Station and through the driver change in no time. This route continues along Hale Lane, and almost immediately the surroundings improve – well maintained blocks of flats and we crossed over the Deansbrook River.

Once through a trio of major roundabouts – Apex Corner for example and over the M1, which has just got going, we flew up the Barnet by-pass, a dual carriageway with no bus stops. Who would want to get off here, Jo wondered? Well there is a large Golf Course (where the Deansbrook rises) and some small woods, one of which has the delightful name of ‘Clump of Trees Wood’ – a bit like calling London ‘Lots of Buildings City’? By now we seemed to have passed beyond TFL domain as all the bus stops and bus furniture looked strangely green, being maintained by Hertfordshire. We had reached quite an elevated point, which I have subsequently learnt to call the South Hertfordshire Tertiary Ridge - a most unromantic name for a hill and one only a geographer could have thought up.




We had also caught the 292 in front, which would account for the dearth of passengers. Our travelling companion was still with us – he had been telling us that he preferred living in the country as people were more friendly and we were not sure what he had in mind until he got off at this point – firstly there was the Sterling Retail Park and then a vast estate looking to me like what we used to call a London overspill… built to house families displaced by World War II bombs or those wanting a better life, as indeed our travelling companion had found. After the housing came the light industrial areas and this seemed to consist mainly of rows and rows of second hand cars – Jo dropped off at this point (and who can blame her?) and came to as we passed a block called Cardif Pinnacle – she wondered at the spelling mistake of Wales’ first city and I assumed it was something to do with all the cars we had passed – both wrong as it is something to do with credit card risk assessment.

The next section of the journey took us through Elstree, which is famed for its studios and they now have a heritage walk with little signs to match. Until I Googled this I was not aware that it was initiated by the ‘On the Buses’ website – a coincidence I promise you. Certainly all the lamp posts are now hung with images from Elstree’s illustrious history of film-making and we had good fun as we tried to identify them as we swept through: rather too many of those C3POs and Darth Vaders and much Stanley Kubrick (the director who never left the UK and recreated all sorts on these film lots, Vietnam included).
 

The station, to which we would return very shortly, has a dramatic mural which detracts from the rather ordinary frontage. The bus plods on past the Kinetic  Shopping Centre (get it) and through a further housing estate looking a bit deserted in the bleak midwinter, crossing a small stream and some local ponds that today were frozen, though the catkins were nice. For some reason all the streets were named after Northern towns and locations so we shuddered to a halt at Gateshead Road – the signs had said beware of road humps to save pedestrians but our driver was by now in haste to finish so we bounced our way over rather than round the humps.

The trip took about 40 minutes but we had come over 16 miles from Central London – quite a distance for a bus that nearly wasn’t – and we would have arrived sooner but for the delaying road works near the start of the trip.


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