Friday, 14 December 2018

The Number 14 Route

Thursday 13 December 2018

We had to trot across the road from our 37, since the 14 drew away from its space as our bus pulled in.  So there was no time to enjoy the pleasant ambience of Putney heath, so different from the grim North Finchley dungeon of last week.  And off we went, at 11.25

We did, however, have time to scan the scenery of Putney, because we were following the truck that empties the litter bins.  At first we followed the route of our 37, with the difference that we were not looking straight into the sun, on this lovely day.

We passed Putney High School for Girls, and wondered if they were pleased with the wood cladding on one of their several extensions:  did it perhaps need a coat of cuprinol?

 We liked the thought of the Gentle Dental Practice, and we were also taken with the sundial on the wall of a building.  It was put up for the Millennium, but we could not quite work out how it would catch the sun, given to obstructions around it.

We were able to catch a glimpse of the blue plaque for Algernon Swinburne, a poet not much studied or even read these days.  Here's his Ballad of Death, so you can see why he's not on every GCSE syllabus.

The traffic was slow as we passed Putney Station, and came to the Spotted Horse Pub.  Such horses are normally known as piebald, but spotty is, after all, what they are

 The nearby Wagamama continued the spotty theme, though that might have been the building, not the eatery.
We were pleased to see that the Odeon Cinema still exists, and then we were at St Mary's Church, and over the Bridge, to move into Fulham

 We remembered walking around here when the river was so high that we had to walk one street up from the water.  Today, the tide was pretty far out.

The gardens of Fulham Palace were on our right as we came towards the Temperance Pub.  Built in 1910, it was originally a Billiard Hall, hoping to distract working me from the evils of alcohol by friendly activities.  It is now in fact a pub, as listing does not protect the intentions of the original builders, just the structure.

We saw the wittily named Band of Barbers, as well as another beauty shop, called, puzzlingly, Mortar and Milk.  Their website has a lot about beauty, but nothing to explain the name.  

The Slug Pub so dazzled us with the colour of its tiles that we did not notice if it was still in  business.  Apparently its speciality was South-of-the-equator customers, and here is a report from The South African suggesting it was closing.  On the other hand, it appeared quite healthy to us, and if it had closed in 2009 it would be apartments by now.

The route takes you past Fulham Broadway Station, and the disused but huge town hall, and then we were in a place which is apparently known as the Chelsea Village, because it houses some football club or other.  Given the Arsenal links of this family, you will not be expecting me to say more, though no doubt some people would recognise the wealthy young men on the roadside banners.

Oh, yes, you could tell we were in Chelsea, with substantial blocks of flats and innumerable furniture and fittings shops such as Breteuil.  The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was the first of several that we passed, and we squinted down Farrier Walk Mews, presumably once a place where workers plied their horse related trades.  It was a great deal smarter than that now.

 After large shops and other buildings, we were taken with the diminutive size of Sokol Rare Books and Manuscripts. They clearly have wonderful things to sell.

Two more Hospitals, the Brompton and the Royal Marsden, brought us into Kensington, past the locked and private square gardens like Onslow Garden, and then we were at South Kensington Station where, disconcertingly for some of our fellow passengers, the bus stop was closed.  However smart Chelsea may be, this is the first time you can get on the tube other than the District Line.


Here we saw our second Blue Plaque of the day, commemorating Charles Freake, who made the area, as he said himself, 'a second Belgravia'.

The 14 heads on to turn right in front of the Natural History Museum, one of the many reminders of what a great profit the 1851 Great Exhibition made. There is a charming little skating rink outside it at the moment.

On through Knightsbridge, and the traffic was pretty slow by now.  We thought that the decorations outside Harrods were really quite attractive. Ahead of us in the stationary line as a van with a most interesting name.  Starting life in what would have been the reign of Henry VII if they had been English, they prove now to be a removal firm.

Slowly we ground our way to Hyde Park Corner, and then inched along Piccadilly, with Green Park looking attractive to our right and various smart restaurants and shops to our left.

After Green Park Station, the Ritz had  wreaths in every arch, and Fortnum and Mason had wreaths everywhere!  The overhead decorations were angels, or possibly fairies. All very Christmassy.

St James' Church has a beautiful Grinling Gibbons altar surround and is altogether as lovely as you would expect Christopher Wren's work to be, but of course we only saw the outside from our bus.

We also had time to watch a worker scraping the Santander red logo off the window of a disused branch of the bank, and to smile at the Snowman outside Waterstone's.

 But eventually we reached Piccadilly Circus;  Eros has been surrounded with hoarding to make sure that festive fun does not affect him;  and we saw a stall covered with Christmas jumpers of a lurid kind.
Then it was along Shaftesbury Avenue, passing a number of musicals and the attractive decorations of Chinatown, to reach the Charing Cross Road and the huge building site which is (still) the planned Elizabeth Line.  Londonist, always interesting to read, has some incisive questions about the delays to this flagship project.

 Actually, much of Tottenham Court Road is coned off and narrowed, as part of the West End Project.  How wonderful it will be when finished, with buses and cycles unimpeded by motor vehicles for substantial periods of the day.  But it did mean that getting to Warren Street Station continued to be slow to the end.  We finally arrived at 13.00, having enjoyed the sunny views of mainly affluent areas of west London.

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