Monday, 29 October 2018

The Number 6 Route

Thursday 25 October 2018

Our previous bus having dropped us conveniently round the corner, it was not long before we were on a 6, heading for Aldwych.  Willesden Bus Garage is spacious, but the buses pull out and around, so Linda thought we were heading in the wrong direction at first.

The weather was again splendid, with cloudless blue skies and, while there was a nip in the air, the bus was pleasantly warm.

The Global Co-operative University seems to be based here, but I have found it quite difficult to discover its actual status. It seems to have something to do with the actual Co-operative Movement.

The Willesden Centre for Health and Care was more identifiable, and we thought it might once have been the Willesden Cottage Hospital.

 We were pleased to see the green space around the Sports Centre, the more so because almost all the residents have hardened their front gardens.  Nobody designed these neat terraces for privately owned vehicles, nor indeed for the amount of traffic that pours past them at all times.

We passed the Lexy Cinema, with its message 'I am a Cinema: Love Me'  and then were able to add to our collection of witty hairdressing names.  We were clearly in a healthy area, what with Ayurvedic offerings and a vegan cafe, and we also passed Franklin Primary School, now an ARK Academy.  It was named for the scientist Rosalind (DNA) Franklin.


 After some very congested streets, we admired the pretty cottages of Kilburn Lane and went past the Fierce Grace Hot Yoga Centre, which struck us as a fairly terrifying concept.
Once we got into Maida Vale, we were back among what seems to be the single significant marker for these revisited bus routes: new build apartments in huge numbers, stretching along road after road.  Some are occupied, some about to be, and some just starting.

Down towards Warwick Avenue Station, we came to the attractive Sheepdrove Organic Farm shop, and then we were into the Edgware Road, for the second time today.  We had time to notice the interesting, and possibly political statement outside a restaurant serving BOTH Iraqi and Kurdish Food.

After Church Street Market, we came to more new build.

Linda and I are fairly sure that we saw this development being...well, developed, last time round in 2009, but the answer may be that it is a very large area. We are also pretty sure that the prices would not have been quite so remarkable back then.

 After this, we made quite rapid progress, under the elevated road, and past Nutford Place, where something rather small is being built by the interestingly named Deconstruct Company.  It seems to mean that they do the Project Managing.

Once we got to Marble Arch, we headed down Park Lane, past the monument to the Animals of War, with glimpses of Hyde Park across the many lanes of fast traffic.


 At Hyde Park Corner, this bus makes a left along Piccadilly, past the Royal Academy, and the many tourists at Piccadilly Circus, to turn down Haymarket and get to Trafalgar Square.

The fourth plinth has an Assyrian statue made out of syrup tins at the moment, which we glimpsed as we went past. Then it's only a short distance, though quite a long time, along the Strand, past the Church of St Mary, to turn up into Aldwych and end our ride, 75 minutes after we left Willesden.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

The NUMBER 5 Route

Romford Market to Canning Town
Thursday October 18 2018

Having boggled at the way the Number 4 wriggles its way, somewhat illogically, round North London this route is the opposite experience as for most of its journey it carries straight on in a rough diagonal from Romford in the NE down to Canning Town, almost on the river.

Last time we were In Romford we got lost and the same happened today. As the buses are mostly on the perimeter, that is a ring road, or by the station, logic dictates you should be able to walk across the middle but somehow that never works out.  Jo asked a couple of shoppers who looked blank, Google Maps on my phone did not help either, thinking I was a car, so only the 2015 NE Bus Map saved the day

We completed the circuit from ‘Romford market’ (see comments from last time) and exited along something called the Rom Valley Way  The local authority (I think it’s Havering round this way, a fair description of our map reading) makes little of the source of its name and we barely saw water that might be the River Rom from the top of the bus. More arresting was a woman totally haranguing a bus inspector/controller by the station – she kept pointing at her watch so we presumed some delay had annoyed her.
The main divergence from the straight and narrow is into the Queen’s Hospital, mainly modern now with a car park; opposite are handy commercial outlets such as Mothercare so there clearly is a thriving maternity department.
With more and more passengers boarding , and by now we were passing some schools or colleges too, the area was quite built up, the numerous new builds of Romford giving way to older housing and the fringes of the Becontree Estate which now has its own historians -quite rightly. What was noticeable was that the estate seemed to have been built with few shops – there was a cluster at Wood lane/ Becontree and then again at Faircross. Hence we supposed the proliferation of cars in front drives so supermarkets can be accessed?
Today, unintentionally, was something of a West Ham FC day – having passed their substantive ground on the 339 we now passed their training venue at Rush Green and with some folk loitering outside we presume the team was practising?

The other feature of this part of the trip seemed to be the proliferation of Turkish shops, in particular Turkish barbers (DARTH FADERZ anyone?) offering a Turkish shave – apparently a wet shave with a ‘cut throat’ rather than safety razor – who knew?  Handy for their customers there was also a range of Turkish food and grill places. Inevitably we passed some closed pubs – now an advertising site for Hydroponics, swapping one stimulant/depressive for another?

As we approached Barking a sudden rash of EL buses appeared – all three numbers serve Barking so the Number 5 suddenly seemed very old hat. Barking has undergone some road changes and quite an extensive building programme – the Number 5 came behind the High Street and was briefly held by a 4 way light as the road was taken up by building works. It gave us time to notice the face-off between the Spotted Dog and the Barking Dog pubs, and that we were crossing the River Roding.

Apart from the barbers there was a range of churches – earlier St Botolph and Erkenwald may have had links to the erstwhile Barking Abbey though in fact it was Erkenwald’s sister Ethelburga who was the first of many abbesses here. At different points we spotted the Fullword Church and the Great Commission Church, not to mention a few Islamic Centres, or center as they seemed to call it. These all favour ‘shop-fronts’ as a starting point and thus populate many of the high streets along this route. In turn you see the travel agents – Hajj and Umrah (a year round Hajj trip) – the clothes shops and food outlets that would cater for the different congregations. Dieu voit tout seemed to be a generic grocery store but doubtless God had passed a benevolent eye over the goods for sale?

Upton Park was of course the former home of West Ham FC and as expected the demolition gangs had been in with several cranes in sight .  Barratt have the contract here but unlike the homes at the former  Highbury there seems to be no trace of the old stadium. So the statue of Bobby Moore and friends seems a little stranded?
Having negotiated Barking in a timely fashion we pushed on through Newham admiring the excellent Town Hall and adjacent library. 

The route from Newham into Canning Town was the most congested of the journey: although the major roadworks which had dogged our journeys last time round were now complete the roads are narrower and busy. Usually there is a good view of the Millenium Dome close to Canning Town – not so today (have they demolished it? asked Jo) but Canning Town Bus Station has had a slight re-furb.

It was passing through here back in the summer on the search for the Trinity Lighthouse that made us realise we rather missed the buses, which is why we have come full circle and decided to ride them again. .
Not a circular route today but an old established link between the families and generations who moved out east from this inner city corner to points East & Romford; for us a metaphoric coming home. 

Friday, 12 October 2018

The Number 4 Route

Thursday 11 October 2018

North of the river at last, and I get a turn to post!  Linda was not with us the first time (she was in paid employment back then in March 2009)  Instead, the journey was made with other family members, including four ninths of Nicholas.  Perhaps that is why he is still interested in London buses.

At Archway, we had only a few minutes to wait, though they were anxious minutes, because the bus stop said 'towards Highgate Village, Tufnell Park or Crouch End', none of which appeared to be on the way to Waterloo.  But we stepped bravely on board at 10.20, expecting (well, hoping for) a 76 minute journey, and at first went anywhere but south:  past the Whittington hospital (where I confessed to Linda that I had at first been puzzled by the cat images.  Do you think you could hear the bells of Bow Church from here, even if they were suggesting you should turn again?  Then we went along Dartmouth Park Road, and Tufnell Park Road to reach the Seven Sisters Road, heading east.  We passed what appeared to be a church, and indeed is, called The House on the Rock (see Matthew Ch 7 vv24-27 for explanation).  A whole block along here was once called 'The Drapery' though it is now many different shops, only one, Kiswah Textiles, being a drapery type business.  We noted that the new builds going up here are to be called 'The Cotton Works' so the industrial past will still have a trace here, in the 'just 22 one-bedroom apartments' promised.

Now, at last, we came to Finsbury Park Interchange, as the bus station is now called, with a TfL clock not telling the right time, and of course the Arsenal shop.  And we turned clearly south.

We knew we were near some football ground or other, because there were lots of pubs.  Not quite all of them were named for the Gunners.  We assumed that away supporters might drink at The Bank of Friendship

There were other interesting shop names as well: we liked the thought of 'Salvation in Noodles', Linda suggesting that it was to do with comfort food, and a coffee shop called Blighty.  Icarus Organic Supplements also caught the eye.  I suppose with the right supplements one could reach the sun with wax wings?

 Our road now went uphill and, as always, the houses became more handsome and substantial.

Islington does not have many parks, Victoria Park being a Hackney space, so we enjoyed Aberdeen Park.  We noticed that Highbury Grove School has a Special School called Samuel Rhodes School attached to it, but, unless Samuel Rhodes is a viola player, I can't find out how he merits getting his name on a school

 The entertaining shop names continued, with Cobblers and Vapes' appearing to refer to the twin functions of the shop, rather than being a value judgement.  We also liked 'Hairssentials, and the fishmonger and restaurant 'Prawn on the Lawn', which tells you we were getting to Islington Green. The Dead Dolls House seems a strange name for a 'venue' and restaurant:  all I can find is that they used to be in Hoxton. Nuff said.

Then we came to the Almeida Theatre, and St Mary's Church, and finally to Angel, an hour after leaving Archway.  We can see why people in a hurry take the Northern Line, which would take about 10 minutes to here.


 The Co-op bank on the corner deserves a quick mention.  It was once the Lyons Corner House, which is/was one of the named properties on the Monopoly board.  They have a modest sign to that effect inside, if you are ever passing.

We were somewhat depressed by the very slow traffic along the City Road, but happily we turned right to pass the Dogs Trust, and head down Goswell Road to the Barbican.  We noted that the Indian Visa Service has an office along here, rather than the High Commission . building at Aldwych.  We also passed the Italia Conti Drama School, and then the Museum of London, which is due to move from its traffic island, perhaps to somewhere with better cycle parking.

 The monstrous New Change Building is where the couple who had also got on at Archway alighted, we thought probably to visit St Pauls. We doggedly remained on board, to reach Finsbury Circus, where I muttered about motor cyclists making use of the tiny bicycle lane.

 Along Fleet Street the traffic was again slow, so we had time to note the former newspaper headquarters along here,


before passing the Churches of St Clement Danes (with RAF statues) and St Mary in Strand, which needed the services of a good window cleaner, and coming to the Royal Courts of Justice
 and crossed Waterloo Bridge.  With impressive self control, I am not mentioning the barriers.

Last time we passed the Imax, it was advertising Heinz Salad Cream, but it's now TalkTalk.  

And finally, we reached the bus stop near the Old Vic where this looping and wandering route terminates. We had taken more than 90 minutes to visit various interesting, familiar and not-so-familiar areas of North East London.  We shall be much further east next week.