Monday 25 February 2013
A really cold, grey and generally nasty day found Linda and me at Erith Station, looking for bus stop H, which we found after some minutes. We took shelter in Sam's 99p shop until the bus arrived, slightly late, and climbed aboard at 10.35. About 10 passengers boarded with us, so the little, one door single decker bus felt quite full.
This is a complicated route: sometimes it nips straight to Joyden's Wood, does a loop and then comes back; sometimes it loops to Joyden's Wood and hurries straight back. A brief meeting of the rules committee concluded that we should travel through Bexleyheath, round the wood, and back until we reached the railway station, thhus repeating some but not all of the un-loopy bit.
Our driver (until our second visit to Bexleyheath Clock Tower, when he changed) liked a speedy run, interspersed with stops to get back to the timetable. This made some of the traffic calming bumps of the area rather more unsettling than usual.
Anyway, we came out of Erith past the sea life (I'm not sure if it is a fish or a mammal, so am hedging bets) on the roundabout, and headed uphill into residential streets, many bungalows but also some substantial houses. As so often, we noted that there were no shops, ensuring that people use the bus for their necessities. Also, as so often, we saw more hardened than gardened front gardens, as well as some with very imposing fences and gates.
Soon we were into Bexleyheath, passing the smart gym, where we could see a lot of young people exercising. Presumably they work odd hours and so can exercise in the working day.
We admired the same delicatessen and bakery as last week; the speed of our bus meant that again we could not get a photo of the bakery!
As last week, too, we were diverted round the road works, which are clearly intended to make a pedestrian paradise out of the centre, and again, people got off rather than waiting for the devious route to the Clock Tower. (By the way, a couple of people who got off here were to get back on as we passed for the second time 40 minutes later)
The Prince Albert Pub advertised a Victorian Restaurant. Linda speculated that it might serve gruel, but it's clear that it is the decor and not the food which is Victorian. We saw a splendid window cleaner using an extended pole to clean third floor windows: safer than a ladder, and presumably could be used for fishing at the weekend.
Once we were over the A2, we were into Bexley Village, and admired the Old School House, once the National School. There's a slight deja vu feeling for historians with the current Educational system: in the early 19th century, charities set up schools for the poor, the National Schools offering a Church of England curriculum in competition with the British Schools, which had got there first by a few years. Government grants and later testing, standards and all that we know and love, followed before the introduction of state provided education in the 1870s and 1880s.
We noticed we were crossing the River Cray when we saw a former mill, now converted into flats, and we came out of Bexley into rough open land, with some ponies grazing. We were travelling along St Mary's Road, named for the handsome parish church, and thought St Mary's Nursery might be evidence that Kent needs to build a School in Joyden's Wood. But it proved to be the other kind of nursery, offering compost rather than child care.
Along towards Leyton Cross (very confusing name for those of us who have visited the north east of London) we came to a serious development of new build and conversion properties.
We also passed signs to The Bracton Centre, which proves to be yet another branch of the Oxleas NHS Trust group.
We were back into residential areas with no shops, after the brief visit to Bexley village, and as we wiggled through the street of Joyden's Wood we admired some fine heathers in a front garden.
A pause outside a large house called Heathcroft enabled our driver to stretch his legs for a few minutes, and then we were headed back past St Mary's Church and the large house with the Borough's blue plaque for John Thorpe the antiquary and historian who lived here in the 18th century.
As we headed back up Gravel Hill, we saw signs to the Shuttle River Way, which follows the course of the River Shuttle, a tributary of the Cray which is itself a tributary of the Thames.
Approaching Bexleyheath from this direction means that there is no diversion, and we arrived at the Clocktower at 11.40, where again many passengers got off, and others got on. We rode the bus as far as the station.
I suppose, inevitably, this Bexleyheath bus was too much like last week's to be really exciting, but it did give us a bit of a spin into Kent and back again.