Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Number 486 Route

Thursday 3 January 2013

Linda and I reached North Greenwich Station by a fairly devious route via, among other things, a bus which has changed its route since we first travelled it, and about which you will read in due course.  We were headed for Bexleyheath shopping centre, and so were glad not to have to wait too long.  We boarded our double decker at 11.20, having made use of the adequate if Spartan conveniences at this large transport hub, with air as well as river, bus and tube links. I pointed out to Linda the fine walkway that takes you over the Dome, a splendid experience, with amazing views. 

We set off past The Pilot Inn, a reminder that North Greenwich was not always about tennis and pop concerts, and passed through the Millennium Village, with most things logoed GMV as a reminder.  Those of us old enough to know what a chemical and nasty smell permeated the place before the Millennium and the Dome will never cease to be amazed at how pleasant it all is. (It was here, among all the car wreckers’ yards that, 30 years ago, Bill explained to us all, with a perfectly straight face, that the cubes of crushed car simply needed to be dropped into water to regain their former shape, like Japanese paper flowers.)  Now it even has an Imax as well as the Dome. 

The huge retail park revealed a couple of 21st century themes:  the sustainable Sainsbury’s with the grass roof and the wind turbines;  the closed down Comet.  We were pleased that our driver waited for a couple of galloping and laden shoppers.  The retail park changed gently into a business park and back to retail and we were suddenly into Charlton.  The Antigallican Pub is apparently where away supporters gather for Charlton Athletic matches.  It seems its name may derive from the fact that a French √©migr√© ran it in the early 19th century, and wanted to demonstrate that he was anti-Bonaparte.  Certainly, the newspaper of that name and period was virulently anti French. 

After we had passed Charlton Station, we spotted a Blue Plaque for Italo Svevo. Dare I confess that I had never heard of him? I suppose reading Ulysses takes long enough without checking the notes at the back to see who was the model for Leopold Bloom.  But now we were into the villagey centre of Charlton, passing the war memorial and with views down the hill.

The Bugle Horn Pub is an interesting name, since it reminds one of the notorious Horn Fair, banned in the 1870s because of drunken and licentious behaviour. Presumably in the days before ASBOs the only option was to shut the whole thing down. The name possibly comes from the Parish’s Patron Saint, the evangelist St Luke, whose symbol is an ox or cow.

We headed on up the hill, alongside Charlton Park, before coming to Charlton Park Academy  and the outskirts of Woolwich.  Most or the houses along here have hardened front gardens, but our driver still had to negotiate a lot of parked cars.

The Woodman Pub gave Linda a chance to try out the zoom on my new camera  (I love Christmas!)  and then we turned right along Repository Road to note the road hazard signs which say ‘Soldiers Marching’ before coming to the, now bare, place where the Olympic Shooting tent used to be. I expect it is now in storage waiting for the 2014 Commonwealth Games iin  Glasgow.

The next feature was the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and we noted a number of police officers around the bus stops.  Perhaps they are dealing with outraged people from Lewisham who cannot believe that their successful, solvent, not to mention brand new A and E department is to be closed and the service moved from their efficient Trust to the loss making (not to mention distant and ill served by public transport) Trust here.  Can it be to do with the fact that selling the building in Lewisham will nearly cover the price of the recent refurb which has made it so desirable for a private purchaser?  Surely not. 
And of course, the Police may have been there for a completely different reason.

Past the huge blocks of Greenwich Heights flats, we carried on up Shooters Hill to cross Academy Road, where the many scribblings on the pavement led us to suppose that ‘works’ are due here.  We wondered whether they would reinstate the public lavatories that have been boarded up for so long.  

Then it was down Shooters Hill to reach Oxleas Wood, passing the Memorial Hospital, which houses the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service for the area,  We saw a tiny pony as we passed Woodlands Farm  and then we were into the borough of Bexley as we entered Welling.  I had not realised that the ‘We Anchor in Hope’ takes its name from the need to slow horse drawn vehicles down slippery Shooters Hill by dragging an anchor. Or so they say… We also liked the new clock on Welling Library. 

The next area of Bexley is Nuxley, where there were several closed shops and many charity shops;  but also some shops with good names.   

This is also where you find the Guy Earl of Warwick Pub.  Earls of Warwick tend to be called Guy so I don’t know if this is the one who sold his castle to Madame Tussauds and then popped off abroad away from Britain’s taxes, or one of the medieval ones.  

The area around had some good views down the hill, as well as rather fine houses, set back from the busy main road along a service road.  We also passed Welling United’s Football ground  as we headed towards Danson Park, though we could not see the park because of the houses!

Finally we came to the area (and pub) called Crook Log, and knew we were almost into Bexleyheath:  a brief delay for gas works and then we passed the enormous town centre Asda.  We can remember the olden times when Asdas were always outside towns.

With views of the fairground rides in the pedestrianised centre, we swept round the corner and into the bus station at 12.10

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