Monday, 12 August 2013

The K4 Route

Mansfield Park Estate to Kingston Hospital 
Wednesday July 31 2013

Our last route, the K2 had left us at Hook Library as was, so we set off walking down the rather unlovely Hook Road round a roundabout and taking direction Chessington. We had established that the K4 starts on the Mansfield Park Estate (I had fantasies of this being also Northanger Abbey and Pemberley territory but no, even Jane Austen making it onto the next issue of £10 note does not mean that she has lots of housing developments named after her). We were clock and time-table watching as the K4 only runs twice an hour, so in the end we waited and picked it up just short of where it turns off down Merritt Gardens and twists and turns through a maze of small roads – initially the buildings are small and of recent build, possibly even 21st century where it was clear that there should be key community buildings included alongside the homes. Having exhausted itself taking several bends and getting close to the Green Belt edge – a field of horses – our bus turned back on itself and found an older pebble dashed estate where the bus eventually came to rest. We leapt off our incoming bus and caught the one in front about to depart, which was how we discovered that it does a bit of a loop round the houses and you only get the horses going one way – so no photo I’m afraid.

Nigel Fisher Way seemed to have been named for an erstwhile Conservative MP so Jo surmised whether Coppard Way was after George Coppard and his ‘With a Machine Gun to Cambrai’ book; there seems no real  foundation for this as he’s not a local lad but you might like the book anyway!
We re-emerged on the main road to/from Hook, where of course more people got on. If we ever needed proof that these smaller routes provide a vital community service to local hospitals, today was the clear evidence as folk boarded with their sticks, clutching X-ray or blood forms and discussing their various ailments.

As the main road is quite busy most of the buildings are set well back – we recognised the North Star pub from an earlier trip, and also the ‘Cap in Hand’ Unusually for the Wetherspoons website they give no history though there is a hint this was previously a Post Office, accounting perhaps for the rather handsome bar fascia?
Jo also spotted the glimmer of a Blue Plaque on a large house of the sort that turns into a residential home, and it is more than likely it was the short-term residence of Enid Blyton, the still controversial children’s writer, who lived here between 1920-4.   

Once past here the route was broadly familiar as we edged into Surbiton (third time today!) and spotted the Maypole Guest House; again we guess visiting parents for students at Kingston University might welcome such a facility, if they want to avoid the more boisterous Kingston Town Centre. There are spacious homes here with some well-tended gardens. This year the hot weather plants are doing well and we liked a bright hibiscus.
The bus was busy through Surbiton which has enough commerce to keep you going without tangling with the major shopping event that is Kingston, and the pace slowed as the K4 negotiates the narrower streets round the more 19th century bits of Surbiton.

From there it takes the route alongside Fairfield Knights, and the Fairfield Recreation ground which seem to be part of a conservation area (though I doubt it includes the Fairfield Bus Station) and past the rather nondescript theatre – it’s a mark of its blandness that today was the first time we really spotted it. They were showing, and I am not making this up, ‘Aliens Love Underpants’ perhaps spawning a whole series:
‘Aliens Love Cleaning Their Teeth’ or ‘Aliens Do Homework’. We crossed the Hogsmill, I think the only time on this route, using the Clattern Bridge which certainly has robust staying power. The streets are always busy and as we slowed Jo noticed the gym above the Ice Cream parlour ‘8 scoops for £3.99’ thinking you could spend your time putting on weight on the ground floor and taking it off on the first.

After that it was past the pedestrianised area and the ‘other’ bus station before we headed up Coombe Road past the HQ for the Fire Brigades Union,  Norbiton Station and then round the corner to sweep into the forecourt of Kingston Hospital. A 45 minute trip round mainly familiar corners of Kingston borough and its different ‘centres’.

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