A beautiful, sunny day seemed to Linda and me just right for taking a bus from Lewisham to HM Prison Belmarsh, and we met at the station. Mary was having fun at the Olympics: we hoped as much fun as we had had earlier in the week!
The bright sunshine and single decker bus meant that pictures were hard to obtain, but Linda did her usual competent thing. We were off by 10.10 and soon out of the streets of Lewisham, passing the Clock Tower and heading up Lewisham Hill.
I am always surprised at how bits of London join together, and lo, here we were on Black Heath. We spotted two mounted police officers, as well as an enclave of police vans and tents (for communications, we thought, rather than sleeping bags and campfire singsongs. Of course - we were very close to the Equestrian events in the historic part of ROYAL Greenwich. Our economical instincts were reassured that the borough has not changed every sign to reflect its royalness, which dates only from early February this year. There was also a funfair going on, but Linda and I passed it without a pang of envy.
We were allowed along a road closed to other traffic, (by which I mean that someone in a high vis jacket moved a bollard to let us through) and headed towards Charlton, crossing the main road which feeds the Blackwall Tunnel. The route became very wiggly, and our driver demonstrated both skill and patience in roads too narrow for parked cars, buses and moving traffic all at once. We came past the Charlton Liberal Club, clearly dating from the ancient days before Lib Dems and such. It said it was affiliated with the C and I Union, but the TUC website gives no clue of what this might be.
Heading steeply uphill, we were reminded again of how hilly south London can be. There were large blocks of public housing here, being renovated; the housing became more varied as we came into Charlton Village. We noted Charlton Reptiles shop before we turned left down Church Lane to reach Charlton Park and Marion Wilson Park (or Maryon Wilson Park as it is spelt on some web pages) It seems local people have been having a campaign to save the animal centre there.
We passed St Thomas's Church, whose sign, interestingly (well, I thought so anyway) refers to the Benefice of Charlton, rather than Parish; and then, of course, we were into Woolwich, with the various barracks converted into houses and flats. Our route was fairly wriggly, but it is clear that it is always like this, and has nothing to do with the Olympics. It did mean we came rather close to Woolwich Dockyard Station as well as Woolwich Arsenal Station. There is a big screen on the area outside the station, though people seemed more interested in their shopping than in watching Team GB.
(I hope no-one will mind if I mention now that I am still not clear about why it is GB and not UK? Are there no competitors from Northern Ireland?)
Now we headed on to turn right at the new flats where Crossrail is coming. The same hoardings have been up, promising frequent and accessible travel to central London, ever since we first visited Woolwich in the spring of 2009, but I suppose we shan't see progress until stations and such begin to sprout.
Opposite Plumstead Bus Garage is the Greenwich Islamic Centre and mosque, a handsome building, only recently completed.
Turning into Goosander Way, we realised that we were into Thamesmead, with its streets named for birds, as well as some actual geese along the water's edge. The various streams which criss-cross Thamesmead are mostly canalised and artificial, but none the less attractive for that.
Belmarsh Prison at 11.00. All seemed very peaceful, and it was hard to imagine this as a category A prison, or indeed to picture Ian Huntley, Ronnie Biggs, Abu Hamza and so on in this green corner of Thamesmead.