Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Number 434 Route

Monday 12 November 2012

Today’s bus ride did not start too well.  Only Linda had dressed for today’s weather rather than yesterday’s. So Mary and I were a bit cold as we walked through drizzle from Whyteleafe South Station to the start of the route of the twice an hour bus which would take us to Coulsdon.  The bus map suggested that it started at Wapses Lodge roundabout, so we passed the request stop and headed for the roundabout.  But no! the bus that we had seen waiting the other side of the road set off, looped round the roundabout, and swept past the stop where we had been but a few seconds before.  Teeth were gnashed, but eventually, or rather at 11.00 am, two frozen and one slightly chilled person got onto the single decker, to set off back past Whyteleafe South Station.  (Who made these rules…?  Oh yes, we did)

 We liked the flint faced houses of Whyteleafe, and were able to detect some lovely autumn colour through the murky weather.  There were a few shops in Whtyleafe with good names, like 'Ringlets' the hair stylist, and we enjoyed crossing the level crossing on the road, having previously crossed it on the train. The names of the stations had been strangely familiar, as my parents and Linda's and Mary's in-laws had lived in Purley, so the sequence of stations in the announcements, unchanged in nearly 50 years, rang many bells.

We turned up Church Hill, past the attractive wych gate of the church, and wiggled through residential areas of varying affluence, with fine views over to the downs.  The large chalky former quarry was somehow reminiscent of Bluewater, though not utilised for retail.

We came back to the main road to pass Kenley, noting the station and Primary School and also noticing that the larches, although losing their leaves in the way that these deciduous conifers do, were not ill.  We think the larch disease is so far confined to the west of the country.  We did pass Bader Close, and wondered if the name referenced the RAF activities around here during the Second World War, though Douglas Bader seems to have been based at Duxford and Coltishall, rather than Biggin Hill.

Again we turned off to loop through residential areas.  This bus clearly takes people to do their shopping, as there were no shops up on the leafy hills with the fine views across the valley.

After some miles, or so it seemed, of suburban homes, we got back to the main road, and headed on into Purley.  I had enjoyed the privet hedges: my father had been proud to quote the P G Wodehouse simile 'straight as a privet hedge in Purley' though I am not sure which book it comes from.

We noticed that 'My old China' restaurant had closed down, but 'Ten Tonne Tattoo' was still there.  I don't think they had tattoo parlours in Purley in my parents' time, but of course tattooing was not as fashionable - or socially acceptable -as it is now.

We had a change of driver at the enormous Tescoes, where our bus both emptied and then filled again.  So we once again headed up into the residential streets to drop the new passengers and their shopping off.  Some of the houses were very large, and clearly belonged to car owners, since they had hardened their front gardens;  but perhaps the cars go to work and shoppers take the bus.  This was again a Hail and Ride section, and the driver was generous with his number of stops for people with heavy bags of groceries

We liked 'Stoats Nest Road' as we did not picture stoats having nests, more burrows;  it turns out they use the burrows of their prey, in rather a cuckoo-ish way, but within that the maternity ward space is indeed called a nest.

Coming into Coulsdon, a small town with two railway stations, we thought that, even on a sunny day, Nonna Rosa's outdoor seating area might be a little bleak.  But there has to be somewhere for the smokers, of course.

Among the shops, we noticed the Cats' Protection League, which offers free neutering.  A good thing, we felt. (Steve Bird, in a comment below, reminded us of the Roger McGough poem on the subject of the CPL, so here it is) We also liked a chip shop called Mr Chips, and the Rolling On Cycle shop.

We turned off the main road and up the hill, as we had done several times on this journey, passing the tiny Beit Hallel Messianic Synagogue.

This is an American import, which seems to combine some aspects of Torah based worship, with recognising Jesus as the promised Messiah.  Indeed, this one in Coulsdon appears to be - as the Government says about school assemblies - 'Christian in the main'.

Up through the residential areas, with 'hail and ride' again, we came to the very end of Ridgemount Avenue, where our bus stopped.  It was 11.35, and given that the drizzle had now turned to rain, we rode the bus back into Coulsdon.

While there was a certain nostalgia quotient in this journey, I shall not pretend that it was all that exciting, though on a sunny autumn day the trees and gardens would have done much more to lift the spirits.


  1. The street Bader Close is almost certainly names after Douglas Bader. He started flying from RAF Kenley in 1930. There is still an airfield there and thus a weather station from which the BBC gets information for much of South London.

  2. Any mention of the Cats Protection League brings to mind the Roger McGough poem...

  3. These are looking very beautiful natural places
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