Monday 25 March 2013
This was to be an afternoon trip, and Linda and I met to take the Metropolitan line to Ruislip Station, in order to get on the E7. The weather was horrible: grey and freezingly, face achingly cold, so we were not looking forward to waiting at bus stops. But as we came out of the station, the E7 glided smoothly from its resting place to the convenient bus stop, and we were aboard. The single decker was so filthy that I thought it might be an Arriva bus: but First London has also clearly sacked its cleaners. So you will be impressed with the photos that Linda managed to produce through the semi-opaque windows. It was 2.55 as we left.
Turning right into Ruislip’s High Street, we were surprised to see a lot of TfL operatives but we were not clear what they were doing: perhaps preparing for some rail replacement or other work?
The minute we turned left into Ickenham Road, the cafés and charity shops (though Age UK is now doing so much work which councils used to do that they really don’t fit the 'charity' label) were replaced by detached and well maintained houses. These continued as we turned left again at the White Bear Pub which has the kind of website all pubs should have, full of history and jokes; and headed gently down Wood Lane to join West End Road.
There were red MoD signs to the Northwood HQ. In the days of the Cold War, the place was called Eastlant, and was the NATO base for the Eastern Atlantic. Those of us who lived in this part of the world were sure that the first bomb of any nuclear war would target this and wipe out the whole area (though I never accepted impending Armageddon as an excuse for incomplete homework).
Next we came to The Bell Pub, one of several healthy looking hostelries we saw today and went over the Yeading Brook to arrive at Northolt airfield, once a significant Defence Ministry site. The Polish War Memorial was a reminder of at least part of the history of the area.
Once we were over the Grand Union Canal, the traffic was very slow and we realised that we were involved in the school run: and the bus was filled with chatty school students. We had not experienced this for many months, since we usually travel during the later morning. The reputation that school students have for behaving badly seems to us mostly related to noise, and to be a function of several people together talking in a way that would be unnoticeable if only one or two people were doing so. We thought we might make a collection of school strap lines: Greenford High School is ‘learning to achieve’, while Brentside High School prefers ‘learning and achieving together’.
It was still fairly green, with Ravenor Park bright with daffodils and succeeded by some allotments, not all well tended: but as Mary and Eliza tell us, when the earth is either sodden or rock hard and anyway freezing cold, the early season digging is impossible.
Over the River Brent, and alongside Perivale Park, we came into an area of public housing, and signs to Gurnell Grove Leisure Centre, before following Argyle Road to West Ealing Station, noting the council’s polyanthus, or are they primulas, beds.
At first I read ‘Divine Mercy Apostolate’ as ‘Apostate’, which seemed a bit unlikely and indeed was. The place is run by the Marian Brothers. We also thought that ‘Dents and Chips Away’ might be a food outlet, but it s obviously a car repair place. We noticed, with an elderly shudder, that the Cherry Pye Boutique specialises in ‘Hen and Stag Night Novelties’, and I don’t think I can put a link to their website on what is, after all, a sober blog, and passed a former depository, now apartments.
This had been rather a residential route, so it was a novelty to see Ealing Cross, some fine new offices available to let: on other trips, especially around Croydon and Hounslow, this has been a staple.
Finally, we came in a loop around Haven Green to reach Ealing Broadway Station at 3.45, just about the length of journey specified on the timetable.