Well, hello to all the people who are reading this blog for the first time thanks to what happened yesterday. I feel the need to explain, so if you (very reasonably) just want to read about the 381 route, please scroll down. First, I want to deal with the 'ladies' thing. We are all of the age and social attitudes that mean that we call ourselves 'women' but 'ladies who bus' was a sort of joke about 'ladies who lunch'. I expect you all realised that, anyway.
So, some weeks ago the excellent people at London Councils (who administer the Freedom Pass) suggested that when we reached the 381, which passes their door at 591/2 Southwark Street, we should drop in for a coffee and biscuits. I contacted them last week to say we were arriving, and they asked if we would mind them sending out a press release. Of course we agreed, since we are always grateful to them, and would probably agree to do their washing up if asked. Little did we realise that, in this week after the fabulous Olympics, people might be looking for a happy little story. And what we got was BBC London 94.9 at 07.45, BBC TV London News both at lunch time and in the evening, and ITV London Tonight. Also the London SE1 Community website and the BBC website. Wow.
It all took rather longer than usual, so it's as well we had planned to do only one bus, rather than taking a second one to bank for later blogging. We were delighted that William came too. He is Mary's grandson, and - of course - likes buses.
Now, onto the bus. The 381 is a splendid route, which takes you from Peckham bus station to Waterloo, looping eastwards as it goes. It is also a double decker, which adds to the enjoyment. Linda had paused on her way to visit the peace wall, an art work made up of the post-riot messages left by Peckham residents. We met at the 381 stop, to be greeted by David, TfL's press man, and then by Phil from ITV and his camera man.
I had time to photograph the delivery lorry outside Morrisons, with the not-quite-Olympian slogan, which we found rather funny.
We headed off at 09.45, and noticed some Olympic cars in the flow of traffic before turning left and right, noticing that the police had cordoned off parts of the open space outside the Library, thought we didn't know why. As we travelled directly towards the distant Shard, our lady driver waited politely while a man with 5 staffies crossed the road.
We turned fairly sharply right into Peckham Park Road, where a serious amount of new housing was going up. We just spotted the Southwark blue plaque which shows where Rio Ferdinand was brought up, before reaching Canal Bridge. This name is one of several remains of the Grand Surrey Canal, which once aimed to be as important as the Northern Grand Union Canal. Turning right towards Surrey Quays, our driver waited for a would-be passenger to run across the road to the stop. Now we twiddled around Caitlin Street, to serve the residents of the area, we supposed, before getting back to the main road. We passed the Old Southern Railway Stables, where allotment holders like Mary can get free horse manure if they bring their own bags. Speaking of allotments, there were some well maintained plots on the other side of the road, one with a peach tree with pink, ripe fruit.
We also passed the City of London Academy, with its fine buildings and (if you check the website) equally fine students, before turning very sharply right into Galleywall Road to reach the Rotherhithe New Road.
Manoeuvring a 381 round such corners takes skill we can only wonder at. So far, we had been heading AWAY from Waterloo ever since we left Peckham, and now we took a turn around the retail and transport hubs of Surrey Quays and Canada Water. Again, a serious amount of new housing is going up, and we had time to admire the amazing library, as well as feeling nostalgic for our very first trip, as we paused for a few minutes in the Canada Water bus station.
Looping round Redriff Road, we saw signs to Lavender Pond Nature Reserve, in the middle of much housing, and also noted a youth hostel and, Olympic reference of sorts, a pub still marked with the Wenlock Brewery 1913 sign.
Passing the Rotherhithe Overground Station, we also spotted Mucky Pups Dog Grooming, to add to our collection of entertaining shop names. Then we saw Heather Burrell's wonderful leafy cyclist as we skirted the access to the Rotherhithe Tunnel.
Now, at last, we were heading west, along Jamaica Road. We half expected to see lots of Jamaican flags to celebrate the Bolt phenomenon, but did not. Along here we were asked to move to the back seat for our ITV 50 seconds of fame, but were looking out of the windows again along Tooley Street and past one of London's most successful tourist attractions.
Turning left and then right to reach Southwark Street, we admired the lovely carving of the Hop Exchange, before getting off for our London Council's rendezvous, at 10.45.
Here we said goodbye to the ITV people, and went up to the roof for wonderful views of, among other things, our bus stop, as well as the Shard, distant Crystal palace and, indeed, much of London.
Back to the bus stop at 11.55, this time with Warren from the BBC and his cameraman, we boarded a much older and less clean bus, with the heating on. We were almost at Waterloo, but did pass the Kirkaldy Testing Museum, which I warmly recommend, especially to people who wonder why the beautiful bridge over the silvery Tay collapsed.
We reached the end of the route shorty after 12.00, but I need to reassure people who want to ride it that it doesn't usually take this long.