Saturday, 26 January 2019

The Number 20 Route

Thursday 24 January 2019

This bus goes from Debden to Walthamstow, and we had chosen to travel three other buses to get to its head stop at Debden Broadway. Since the previous stage of our journey had got us to Debden Station, we were grateful to the locals who showed us the snicket (ginnel/alley/footpath) which brought to the Broadway, past the reassuring sight of a number 20 having a rest.

We remembered the handsome planting in the middle of the High Street from our previous visit, and so were saddened to see that this is one of the cuts that the Epping Forest District has found itself forced to make (compare the two photos, one from 2009 and one from today)

Thomas Willingdale School takes its name from one of the people who saved Epping Forest from developers in the 19th century. We were travelling alongside a small stream, which might be part of the River Roding, but I can't be sure.  Still there was a pleasant green look to the view from the slightly steamed up bus.

The Princess of Wales pub was closed. The area around here is called Jessell Green, and we saw signs saying 'save Jessell Green', a campaign in opposition to the District Council's building plans. It must be said that we did pass other still-open pubs, including the Cottage Loaf.  At this point, there were many school students getting onto the bus, as we passed through residential areas.  There was green space around, but no shops at all.  No wonder so many people have car , and have made their front gardens into hard standing.

The next pub we came to was the Plume of Feathers, which is having a psychic night at the end of the month.  Linda and I shared the old joke about how it should not be necessary to advertise a psychic night, since all should be aware of it.

Our route then took us along the straight road which leads to Loughton.  This is all the area that was the constituency of Winston Churchill, and so we were not all that surprised to find Estate Agents and, indeed, a  fish and chip shop named after him.

Around here there was still quite a lot of snow, which made the landscape attractive as we passed Woordford Green's large pond, and more school students joining us.  We went into Loughton Station and out again, with some of the students cross that a bus stop was 'not in use', requiring a 20 metre walk!

We noted yet another close pub, this one now a Turkish restaurant.  While I'm on the subject, a closed pub on the outskirts of Walthamstow has become an Islamic Centre.
This area has many private schools, mostly small, but including Bancroft's School, which is fairly substantial

Then we crossed the North Circular, and came to the Church of St Peter's in the Forest, before reaching the major road works around Whipps Cross Bus Station, which are, in part at least, to improve life for cyclists.

Although the Leytonstone Road was blocked off, we were able to get into Leyton, passing the William IV pub, as well as the Bakers Arms;  and as we entered Walthamstow, we noted the Peppers Ghost Pub, which rounds off quite a pub filled trip. This seems to be a pub that has been near death a few times and to have had name changes, but it looked OK to us.

More road words around Hoe Street (also, we thought, to enhance the life of cyclists (hooray) ) brought us down to Walthamstow Bus Station by 3.20, so we could get onto the Victoria Line and zoom towards our homes.

It is surprising to us that a route with such a low number should operate so far out of central London, but it did mean that were had a (mostly) rural and suburban day after 19 routes involving bits of the middle of the city.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

The NUMBER 19 Route

Finsbury Park Hub to Battersea Bridge (South Side)
Thursday January 17 2019

Note the new names in this – ‘hub’ for bus station and ‘South Side’ for Parkgate Street . However same old route on a sturdy double decker that went from North to South West barely batting an eyelid – so to speak.
We had used the facilities at Finsbury Park Station remembering they are on a platform where the trains head north. As the bus was just leaving as we returned to street level we leapt on without taking any photos. Jo had just about recovered from freezing to death while I got lost behind Finsbury Square trying to find the 153 which brought us here – it had wrinkled its way through the back streets of Islington. The 19 was to go large.
So it was London Calling as Kevin told us last time we took this route. 
Here’s a link to the track he referenced if you want to follow it up

‘The Twelve Pins’ which is the first pub you see in exiting the bus station looks well cared for. I thought it might be a variation of Ninepins , the old pub game, while Jo thought it might be a reference to the nearby Cotton works building and something to do with weaving – both wrong. It is named after a mountain range in Ireland and is one of several pubs round here for Arsenal supporters – like the Arsenal barber further along the Blackstock Road. Having spent the up trip admiring the pared down lines of Islington’s Georgian builds we could see these homes were of later design.  Interspersed were some independent shops like ‘La Maison des Chiens ‘ for cat and dog grooming. I was quite excited by The Walnut Club until I found out it was a tanning parlour – turning an artificial nut brown not being my hobby of choice.

The workaday aspects of Finsbury Park give way to a more gentrified Highbury with a couple of handsome terraces and The Loxfordsa former mansion that had belonged to the  Dents Family of glove manufacturers  After they moved on it was used as a children’s home and Family Centre – then the site was purchased and developed into housing but the  handsome frontage maintained.

As the diversity of Highbury gives way to a busier thoroughfare we entered Highbury Corner still undergoing its transformationIt feels unending and painful but will presumably benefit the pedestrians and cyclists amongst us.

The 19 carries on down Upper Street to the Angel, passing all the usual and occasionally changing delights of Islington – the King’s Head and Almeida theatres , many places to eat and a whole shop outlet for Le Creuset cookware! We made good progress for a section of travel that can often be slow. ‘The Dead Dolls House’ seemed to be a very unprepossessing name for a venue – as that is what it is – so we preferred to think about Sir Hugh Myddleton with little dolphins at his feet to remind  us he was the inspiration behind the New River – Islington has also given him some rather jolly spring primulas.

Once we had crossed the busy East/West route we were heading down past Sadlers Wells with its newer extension. In fact this part of Holborn/Clerkenwell seems to have become something of an area for dance education and the Urdang Academy has taken over Finsbury Town hall. The bus passes the narrower fa├žade of Mount Pleasant, which presents rather sweetly as a post office with all the sorting and distribution facilities behind.

The Theobalds Road is a hybrid of what remains of old bits of small scale industry, service or otherwise and fringe academia. Having found the Anaesthetists’ Museum rather soporific we hope their training HQ along here is a little livelier.  This passage through London seemed a good way of avoiding  Lower Oxford Street
We joined the stream of traffic that snakes slowly round the one way system from Holborn to the West End – I am never sure why it is slow apart from being single lane but I want to blame ongoing Elizabeth Line works at Tottenham Court Road! The slowness did at least give us time to appreciate how lovely is the old fascia of the Umbrella shop. There is a great temptation to go in and request a sword stick perhaps?
Shaftesbury Avenue reminds one quite how many musicals are running in the West End which must be cheering for all those dancers in training.

Piccadilly has road works too and Jo said there was significant water in the hole perhaps indicating a main had been ruptured? Trouble free we continued past Green Park to Hyde Park Corner – by now the upright haka figures  of the NZ War memorial were looking like old friends – I almost expect them to wave to us. We also got a full frontal view of Apsley House before turning down Knightsbridge  for …Knightsbridge. Once an entrance to Hyde Park Corner station then for some time Pizza on the Park it has now morphed, at some expense I would guess, into the Wellesley Hotel.

The shops here and when the 19 turns off at Knightsbridge station down Sloane Street are of the sort where goods are not priced in the window and if you need to ask the price you can’t afford them. Also we were following a Porsche, but it was no faster than the bus.
Between the venerable mansion blocks there are some handsome squares too, notably Cadogan Place, but all locked so no public access.  The Cadogan Family still own much of the land round here and from the bus you can see that Cadogan Hall takes a whole block – conceived initially for Christian Science worship it was converted and can now seat nearly 1000 people for a range of musical events.

There is more culture round the corner in the shape of the Royal Court Theatre and both are well served by Sloane Square station.  On the whole this part of London is not generously provided with train or tube lines and this one is the last for a while. Once round the roundabout that is Sloane Square we headed quite smartly along the King's Road before turning left into Beaufort Street, very uniform in its red brick fullness though difficult to capture on a photo when driving straight into the sun.

We enjoyed crossing  Battersea Bridge which gave us a lovely view of pretty Albert – one bridge up. The 19 stops just one short bus stop south of the river having bravely made its way through several significant entertainment and shopping streets and taking all comers in its stride. We did enjoy it. 

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The NUMBER 18 Route

Sudbury Railway Station to Euston Station
Thursday January 10 2019

We had arrived in Sudbury via a ‘cross-country’ bus from Edgware so today was very much about North-West London.  It had also been a very cold bus on a grey day so with our extremities frozen we scurried from the forecourt of the Piccadilly Line station round the corner to see a row of 18s patiently waiting.
The last time we rode this route the 18 had been a ‘bendy bus’ (remember those?) and the police had put us in lock down while they checked the tickets. No such adventures this time and whatever the bus company (nice blue upholstery) they had rejected replacing their bendys with a Boris bus so we travelled comfortably, with heating and reasonable visibility.
Having only ever whizzed in and out of Sudbury it remains an enigma but it does have a large and largely open park.

St John  the  Evangelist, just as you approach Wembley Central, has a very pretty lych gate (with a clock, just what the coffins pausing there needed?) and is apparently a Giles Gilbert Scott design. The churchyard looked very extensive for a parish, but I learn it included Wembley old burial ground.

Wembley, on the other hand, seemed very familiar and was bustling today.  The national stadium completed just before the last project, had brought a lot of new building to the area and it seems to continue to thrive – there were four vegetarian outlets next to each other, and without the boost and enterprise of many incomers this High Street might be declining also. And the entrepreneurs manage to send money home.

Surprisingly there were two large construction sites on the main road. I am not a crane geek but  I gather from this the crane is something special. I am interested that ‘luffing’ and ‘jibbing’ seem to have been carried over from the sailships as the last time I met these words was when we visited the Cutty Sark.   Henry would appear to be a construction company, as opposed to a developer and we were certainly dogged by a scaffolding lorry on both this trip and the previous 204. 

Down the road, past the Best Western was another site, this time Henley, who are apparently developing the site of the old Brent Town Hall – this must be how local authorities, who have had to prune their staffing and services radically, try and make up the budget deficits resulting from this government’s continuing ‘austerity’ measures.

Once through Wembley the 18 continued to be busy – not entirely surprising as it seems to be the only bus route between here and Harlesden, passing through Stonebridge Park after crossing the North Circular. There was a bus lane all of the way so we could keep up a good steady speed.

Housing is fairly densely packed round here and there was no shortage of religion either with a Moravian Church next to St Margaret’s joined with St George (two saints couple up) and then a United Reform . The Moravians, although originally from what used to be Czechoslovakia, seem to have popularised their Christian beliefs worldwide and have a strong Caribbean following – hence presumably the presence in Harlesden.

Harlesden has a one way system, flowing freely today, which brought us into Kensal Rise – we were promised an ‘Artisan Quarter’  but could not really identify what was meant by this. Apart from Gallego offering us specialities from Galicia we had a run of Brazilian enterprises: Sabor Brasileiro, Brazilian Steak house and Sunshine Brazilian  hair . I don’t imagine Brazilian hair could not be catered for elsewhere in the borough but I expect if offers a good level of gossip also.

Jo was a bit surprised at the unsold advertising space though I pointed out that the ‘folk’ opposite in Kensal  Green Cemetery would not be that interested..
 The Cemetery was the last resting place of  Dr. James Barry,  who served as an Army surgeon at the Crimea  but became even more renowned after ‘their ‘ death. There are many other more famous names buried here.

Talking of gossip we were both entranced by the conversations behind us –  friends discussing the one’s pregnancy and her determination not to know the sex of her expected child  via the ultrasound process but prepared to  flirt with the traditional methods – pointy front or back, needle on thread  suspended above the bump?  There was also an extensive list of her food cravings. As they stayed on the bus till the end I can only hope they were heading for a conventional check at the nearby University College Hospital.
Were they talking rubbish? – no they weren’t but we were also taken with a van of that name  passing in front of the bus – its website  explains what it does.

We were still on the Harrow Road and passed several closed pubs – the Nelson Arms and more controversially the Windsor Castle, once famous as a music venue. By now we were close to crossing the Edgware Road, busier than last week on the 16.  

Leaving aside other routes we found ourselves running parallel to Westway  above us , and with good views of the canal to the left and Paddington basin to the right . Though clearly the traffic  pounds and pollutes overhead it seemed quite calm at this level with green spaces between the blocks and a still leafy aspect to what is very much Inner London.

Paddington Green Children’s Hospital, to which I once escorted a reluctant attender, is long gone with parts of the building residential , though some adolescent mental health is on offer. Paddington Green Police Station, on the other hand, hangs in there. 

Happy in our bus lane we continued alongside the heavier traffic and passed some dowdy buildings to one side (?due for demolition) and some brightly clad ones across the way. By now we were on the Marylebone Road passing Regents Park, a good view of the GPO Tower,  the turning to the station of the same name and the various civic buildings that grace this thoroughfare – the courts, the former Town hall and the Landmark Hotel which will celebrate 120 years since its July 1899 opening. .
The Wedding Gallery perhaps showing pictures of nuptials that did and didn’t work turns out to be a ‘luxury department store’ for planning would-be-weds. Enough said.

We spotted what looked like a glass  protected  art installation on the pavement but it turned out to have several nifty bird feeders on offer, to birds of course . 
Enough travelled too as we had arrived outside Euston station, having made it from the further reaches of the NW bit of the Piccadilly line in Sudbury in just over the  hour, as promised.

PS I promise no more birds next week.