Thursday, 26 December 2013

The W10 Route (or Sam’s bus)

Crews Hill (Rosewood  Drive) to Enfield Town (Cecil Road)
Thursday December 19th 2013
Today was an adventure for both of us. We met at a very busy Highbury & Islington and then caught a train which took us to Crew’s Hill, a place of which we had never heard until this week, in just about 30 minutes. For once some accurate map reading meant that we found the very narrow footpath that parallels the railway line and emerges into a pleasant hilly residential development, where the preferred Christmas decorations seemed to be icicle lights hanging from garage eaves. It was bright and sunny so we had to imagine them twinkling away later in the day. The area was pretty deserted (the station unstaffed for starters) but we found a man raking his front gravel (which tells you a bit about the kind of housing) and asked after the bus as we could see no stop. He waved vaguely across the road and said it stopped about there (or where we wanted) so we settled down on a garden wall to wait 20 minutes or thereabouts for this once an hour services (and then only between 11 and 3), hearing the faint but steady noise of the M25 – that’s how far out we were. (‘Pretend it’s the sea’, said Jo).

Sooner than expected the bus appeared and we asked if we could board and got chatting to the very charming driver, name of Sam, who confessed her W10 is known as ‘Sam’s bus’. She had already waved at two local residents and when a third boarded she asked how the ‘re-decoration’ was going; it transpired this passenger had suffered water damage in the recent storm and the decorators were even now putting the finishing touches to the repairs. Her handbag, and that of the 4th passenger jingled with those sturdy bells the police give out to senior citizens with handbags. That and nearby house front Santas and Snowman added to the Christmas cheer.
Sam told us how much she enjoyed this route and how friendly everyone was (in part I’m sure to her own friendliness) and she certainly missed people if they did not ride for a while. She brings the bus up from Northumberland Park where it is based, but it spends its nights outdoors, at the Go-Ahead garage, meaning it can be pretty chilly when she picks it up. Still it is very petite 1-door bus and once underway warmed up quickly.  We left punctually at 11.05 .

Even the modern A-Z shows this area to be full of nurseries (the plant kind) and some piggeries, which we had seen from the train and sure enough Clay Hill proved to be a fertile (pun) source for
Acers, which my other half cannot resist, multiple deaths to the contrary, and Mediterranean plants which I love but they too sulk in our neat London clay. Talking of Clay the route follows Clay Hill and passes the entrance to Whitewebbs Wood and Park.

Interspersed between the Garden Centres and Riding Stables there had only been one proper bus stop since the start of our route, but we had steadily gained in passengers, all of them Freedom pass holders. On the whole we kept moving which made photography a little tricky but here’s one of the Fallow Buck, a pub actually on the route.
Soon after passing this we saw a sign advising us that it was ½ mile to the New River, which features from now on along this route.  The bus seemed to take something of a loop possibly to serve an Ambulance Station (but not for long according to this) or maybe just to be able to use the roundabout to turn left. By now were in a far more built-up area which street signs indicated liked to be known as Carter Hatch. There was even a sign to Ponders End which we know from our previous riding of routes is but a stone’s throw from Brimsdown; though Jo had threatened me with a trip home from Brimsdown this was not the way to go.

We slipped into Enfield Town, the bus now over half full and slowed by traffic for the first time, and after passing the station came to a dignified halt between the Civic centre and a large Argos Store. Here we said good bye to Sam, who could probably rest for 15 minutes or so before heading back on the 11.50 so she proved to be the only vehicle on this route – a bit like the 146, another rural ride.
We had enjoyed our country outing and smooth ride and took the opportunity to look briefly at the Civic Centre’s little exhibition to celebrate 400 years of the New River, and then looked down at the real thing, here called the Enfield Loop as it was ‘straightened out’ in the 19th century. Both river and path have received some TLC during the course of our Project and we can remember on one of our first trips here how green and weedy and neglected it looked compared to today’s altogether fresher presentation.

The journey home from Enfield Town was slightly quicker but nevertheless more than three times the length of this entrancing 20 minute jaunt through outer Enfield.

We wish you all a happy festive season and if you are a London Bus Driver a good break.
The 'Ladies Who Bus' will be riding into the New Year, just, so watch this space.

Thanks are also due to the proof reading support of '63 Regular' and Tim's technical expertise and input throughout.  

Friday, 20 December 2013

The W9 Route

Southgate Station to Chase Farm Hospital
Thursday December 12th 2013

Jo had  cleverly knitted* together a very complex  travel sequence  linking some of the unridden W routes. Our first bus of the day had left us within earshot of the North Circular at its busiest. We managed to cross via a subway and also avoid the Cambridge Roundabout to look for the W6 somewhere along Hedge Lane. The absence of stops but a bus disappearing into the distance led us to deduce that this was a Hail and Ride Section so we sidled up to some likely looking gents, who had the same idea in mind, and very soon all five of us were all squashed up in a very busy W6, a route we recognised once we were aboard.

We rode it to the ever modern-looking Southgate Station and located the stop for the W9, the next bus ‘de jour’. It’s very easy to go in circles round here, but all was well and the countdown gave us 8 minutes in which to swap cameras and have some peppermints before climbing onto a single decker at 11.40 so the clock in the photo is right!

The first landmark we passed, after the Southgate town centre hub has petered out, was the Inverforth gates entrance to Grovelands Park, not highly visible on a slightly misty day. I am not quite clear why a Scottish shipyard owner, later a Minister for Munitions (Mr Big Guns in other words), has a gate named for him – perhaps swords into ploughshares or similar? Apparently the park houses one of The Priory resources which treat all kinds of addictions.

The W9, which is of course a back streets bus, takes a little circular loop round Fox Lane to reappear further down Bourne Hill – the junction is apparently the site of a former cattle pound. Fox Lane was largely Hail and Ride with few takers as is almost always the case in the more affluent neighbourhoods; it may be different at rush hour times.

We also passed the rather un-cherished looking Palmers Green High School which proves to be a private educational establishment catering for girls 4-16 so maybe times are not too good??

Climbing again we were on or approaching Winchmore Hill which appears to be one of the more inaccessible London ‘villages’ complete with a village green and independent coffee shops – not a chain to be seen. Victoriana or Mistress Appleby's shop promised Antique wedding and engagement rings rather than anything racier, as befits this corner of Enfield, seemingly preserved in another age.

The bus continues and after some twists and turns we took a detour that we originally thought was to serve a new looking Sainsbury’s – however what it was really accessing was the Highlands Estate, which had been developed from the former  buildings of the Highlands Hospital where patients were treated between 1887 to 1998, originally those who needed isolation because of ‘fevers’ – scarlet, diptheria and those other illnesses which penicillin and antibiotics have made history of, then later TB. Jo and I were pretty impressed with the conversion – clean London brickwork, small Queen Anne style blocks interspersed with lots of trees, a nursery and a residential home so my guess is that the developers more than recouped their £20 million pound investment. A few blocks still remain unconverted or shut up but by and large it looked much better than the hospital which was our final destination. We could not decide whether the blocks were named for prominent persons (Rutherford – physicist or Mary Seacole – nurse), former ward or doctor names or bits of Scotland – Pringle and Ballantyne .
We retraced our ride and headed further into the area between Winchmore Hill and the next station on the railway line (the Underground feels a long way away), Grange Park, built on some land bought from the Grovelands Estate – as in the park we passed right  at the start. We could see little except some generic greenery but Bush Hill Park houses a golf course and park, and the New River runs through it.

If it’s the New River it must be Enfield, where it is always at its most visible, and sure enough we were slipping quietly into Enfield past Enfield Chase station and along Church Street. The New River celebrated its 400th birthday this year making the Underground at 150 years look like an upstart, and there is further exploration of it here.

We lost most of the passengers to the delights of Enfield Shopping and saw the market was still thriving. Another run slightly uphill took us through one of the first areas of social housing on this trip, and thus to the final destination of Chase Farm Hospital – as Jo said it was looking pretty tired with bits of plastic over broken windows in the stair wells, though the outpatients department was still clearly active, and we spotted a ‘Pre-Admission Assessment Unit’. The finishing point of the buses is at a different place from the starting point so we crossed the campus-like hospital site for one of the easier change-overs of the W series, this one crossing the outer edges of Enfield borough.

*PS You should see her real knitting..

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The W8 Route

Thursday 12 December 2013

Chase Farm Hospital was looking rather depressed as we got off one bus and went in to make use of the facilities.  But the staff we spoke to were charming, which probably makes up for a lot.  It has just lost the last stage of the fight to save its A and E department.

Linda and I were excited that this was a double decker.  Since for much of the journey we were alone on the top deck, we could not help wondering whether the big bus is necessary for this route.  Maybe in summer, because this route takes you to the Lea Valley Leisure Complex.

We set off at 12.37 and came out and left along The Ridgeway, and then forked further left to go along Lavender Hill.  This is one of several road names around here designed to worry South Londoners, who claim the better known Lavender Hill, immortalised in the Ealing Comedy, which you can watch here.

We passed a range of different housing, starting with the many flats carved out of the old hospital buildings, and moving through different periods, before coming to Gordon Hill Station and heading on down hill, with fine views as the murky mist of the day cleared.  The London Martial Arts Centre is here, as is the Hop Poles Pub, which used to be haunted though I am not clear whether it still is. 

Linda read this entry and adds 'I note the poltergeist for the Hop Poles pub was run down by a bus - he should haunt the buses really, but perhaps he does not want to be hanging around too much?'

Both the Conservatives and the Labour Party have their Enfield North HQs here.  The current MP is a Conservative, Nick de Bois. With a name like that, he is presumably not a EuroSceptic.

We were taken with the name of the Petzotic pet shop, and regret that they don’t seem to have a website, as you might expect it to be quite witty.  We also passed the Jolly Butchers Pub with its ornate exterior and really very 'jolly' chaps on the inn sign.

These buildings were a contrast to the ugly Civic Centre which we passed having crossed the New River.  (We have referenced the amazing waterway frequently since the project began, but here again is a link to the splendid walk from Hertford to Stoke Newington which we highly recommend) 

We came to the buildings of a Victorian Charity, The Church School of Industry, which is now converted into apartments, as is almost every old building in London.

At this stage we turned right, rather than going through the centre of the town and passing the market.  So we passed the Dugdale Centre  and came out along Bush Hill with some enormous detached properties.  The trees lining the road were hornbeams, their shape interesting even when the leaves have gone.  Many of the houses had hardened front gardens, and the verges had ‘raised beds’ presumably to prevent parking on the grass.  We passed Edmonton cemetery and Edmonton County School, but it was not until we had crossed the A10 that we felt we were in Edmonton itself.

We saw the Charles Lamb Institute. It is named for the local resident  and established almost a century after his death, rather than having anything directly to do with him.  It’s now flats, a gym and a nursery.

Our bus entered the fine bus station at Edmonton Green Station, and lingered for a while before moving on, past a fine row of terraced houses being extensively renovated.

Turning down Bounces Lane, we were briefly held up by a car driver behaving rather stupidly, but our bus driver was patient (aren't they always?) and we soon got going again. 

We noted a range of shops, mostly small and independent, before coming to the Church of St Peter the Apostle.  ‘Are there any others?’ asked Linda, wondering why they had added the further identification.  I said I thought not, and indeed have not found any.

Next came an extensive area of social housing, though it is

mostly, we thought, now privately owned, with gardens and balconies in good order.

These brought us out onto the main road and we turned right and then immediately left at The Cart Pub to get alongside the railway and a small trickle of water which we thought must be some bit of the Lea and its tributaries.  We were on Picketts Lock Lane for a moment, but came no closer than that to the river or the navigation. At 13.20 we arrived at the Lea Valley Leisure Complex, which seems rather bleak, though it may well hum with activity at times other than lunch time on Thursdays. 

This route, which links Enfield to Edmonton had takenus past a range of housing, not to mention some railway stations we had never previously heard of.

The W7 Route

Monday 11 February 2013

There were four of us on this sleety unpleasant day:  Mary, Linda and I had been joined by Ricky, suggesting that last week had not been all bad from a  newcomer’s point of view.  Against all the normal practices of the Project, we had started in the afternoon, in order to catch (pun!) the elusive 603 which, while not strictly a ‘school journeys only’ bus, runs but four times a day.  But you already know that.  So we had taken trains to reach the W7 and were now on board at 13.20.  We were delighted to find it was a double decker, heading off from Finsbury Park to get us to Muswell Hill ready for the 603. (confused?  so were we!)

Having been in Tottenham territory thus far, we were pleased to spot the Arsenal shop, but did not have to wait long.  We were raced up the stairs by a charming dog belonging to a Big Issue seller, but happily she did not want the front seats so we could see all around us as we headed back along the Stroud Green Road.  We are always surprised that shops can make a living just by selling party accessories; but that may just prove how attenuated our social lives are.

We also noted the Paks Wig Centre and the New Beacon Book Shop.  Both these businesses focus on the Black and Asian market and so are well placed here.  D’Angels is a nails and tattoos shop.  In an elderly frame of mind, I thought the nails night refer to piercings, but no, they merely embellish the tips of fingers in a less permanent way that the other body art they practise.

We liked the leaping cats which embellish a Thai Restaurant, as we travelled along the boundary between Islington and Haringey and were surprised by a brightly painted house but even more surprised by some sudden high rise flats, after a lot of terrace houses.

Crossing over the disused railway which links Highgate Woods to Alexandra Park, we agreed that it was not really a day for a walk.

We came up Crouch Hill and into Crouch End.  As you know by now, Linda loves a Bakery, like Dunn’s, but Crouch End is full of independent shops like this.  

It also has a clock tower and the Barclays bank is decorated with some fine reliefs depicting the things banks used to support before they went in for merely supporting their own senior employees.  Linda managed to capture industry, but agriculture, learning and the arts were also featured.

Scarlet Rage is a vintage clothes shop;  their website says they have just opened a branch in Lewes, East Sussex, which I think tells us all something about the demographic of Crouch End.  But the most amazing shop we passed today was the tiny clock and watch shop on the way into Muswell Hill.  Yes, that’s it, being elbowed by Londis and the organic shop.

In no time at all we were heading up the hill to Muswell Hill and reached the Broadway at 13.35.  The journey was meant to take 13 minutes and indeed it had.  If the upstairs windows had not been steamed up (people WILL breathe!) we could have shared many beautiful snowy landscapes with you.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The W6 Route

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Confession, they say, is good for the soul, so here goes.  We have no actual record of our trip on the W6.  Well, when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘me’.  Linda’s record keeping is much more thorough than mine, and she does not share my desire to keep my computer files thin and mean.

In my defence, I shall say that we travelled the route a very long time ago, as part of a trip which included the 191, and a rare trip to Brimsdown, a place of which we had never heard until we began the project.  And, if a further mitigating circumstance is permitted, we travelled a small part if it last week to get from the W4to the W8 and W9.

It was the first time we had been on a W bus, and I think we found it hard to imagine that we should even reach this far in the project.  It took us from Edmonton Green bus station and shopping area, to Southgate Station, and as I recall, the journey lasted only a little longer than the 30 minutes advertised.

Nipping south from Edmonton, it briefly parallels the North Circular, before the Great Cambridge interchange, and then heads up Hedge Lane.  This is where Linda and I ‘hail and rode’ it on our way to Southgate last week:  the first time I had even boarded a bus not at a stop. 

It then takes a little turn into attractive Palmers Green, before going on to Southgate’s beautiful station.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.  I would say I had learned my lesson, but it is a little late in the projects course for that.

Monday, 16 December 2013

The W5 Route

Archway Station to Haringay Superstores
Monday September 24th 2012

At the point at which we rode this route (whilst in the high 300s and on a fearfully rainy day) this seemed the smallest sweetest bus we had yet seen – certainly only 1 door entry and exit and with two lengthy sections of Hail & Ride. Few of the pictures are very usable but here goes.
The changeover at Archway was effortless and the short wait likewise, and quite a few damp and waiting people peeled off from the queue to board; the guy in front of me was recalled by the driver and eventually was ejected - presumably for insufficient cash on his Oyster. 

Archway has a rather soulless face – tall blocks above the station and a fair sprinkling of Sixties bland including the pub named the Whittington Stone complete with  fabled cat , renowned for encouraging Dick Whittington to return to London.  The website attempts to distinguish myth from history..The pub is little better for disguising its bland face with window boxes.

This route does not make it to the top of the hill but turns off and into Hornsey Lane, which is resplendent with mansion flats and other impressive homes. The care home is named for Alice Fitzwarren, later to become Mrs Whittington and doubtless in charge of the cat. In fact several streets are also named for her. The joy of this route, and even visible from a modest single-decker is the fact it crosses over the Archway bridge, which gives the area its name.  The rather magnificent structure was built in 1897 and carries traffic over the A1. Unfortunately it has something of a reputation as a suicide bridge. The Roman Catholics seemed to have staked out this part of Highgate with both a large church, St Joseph’s and St Aloysius’ College, a boys only secondary school. These facts are not necessarily connected.

By the time the W5 turns into Stanhope Road it is on a Hail and Ride section, and it was at this point that the rain became a deluge, so not surprisingly people were desperate both to board and stay on the bus – as on many of these more local routes they knew each other and the driver too. Between the bucketing rain – hence washout pictures – we did a certain amount of uphill and downhill and more uphill coming out at Shepherd’s Hill – no woolly lambs, just a lot of parked cars both sides making it clear why this was such a small bus. This was our eventual approach to Crouch End sidling along first Crouch End Hill and then part of the Broadway – we applauded the coffee shop that proclaimed its independence from the usual chains.

Tottenham Lane has a YMCA whose website indicates they do much more than offering hostel beds, and close by is the Music Palace which seemed to be under the impression that Crouch End is a borough – NOT. It’s usually Harringay which is the borough round here, but probably Crouch End is one of its smarter areas?
Ferme Park Road into which the W5 turns is again a Hail and Ride section with most passengers bound for Sainsbury’s and the end of the route .The houses along here are for the main part handsome red brick villas – the very large ones doubtless sub-divided and on the whole getting smaller and more terraced towards Finsbury Park – the park, which features quite prominently on the Capital Ring Walk.  Two more railways to pass over and a nifty crossing of Green Lanes brings the W5 to its final destination known as the Haringay Superstores, which largely means Next and Sainsbury’s. We dashed into the latter to shelter from another deluge and did Jo’s shopping in double quick time.      
These  remind you how wet 2012 was...