It seemed there was something logical (as we Vulcans say) about travelling the re-jigged 23 route so soon after doing the now-defunct 10, since the changes are to cover that loss. But there is nothing particularly logical about the revised 23 route. It does indeed complete the last part of the 10 route, but before that, it behaves like knitting wool that a kitten has got at.
We arrived at Westbourne Park station on this blindingly blue spring morning, delighted to have the company of the occasional traveller from Swindon, and waited a brief time for the handsome 23 with its damson and blue interior and remarkably clean windows. And we were off at 11.05, heading northwards.
We came very close to the Trellick Tower, about which much has been written and filmed. When we visited Erno Goldfinger's not-high-rise house in Hampstead, we were told that he had once spent six weeks in a tower block to see what it was like. I said at the time, unkindly, that I supposed the lifts were working then. It is now partly private (obviously, we are in Kensington and Chelsea) but still having a troubled time.
On we went, past the former Cobden Working Men's Club, and other offices and studios, in a block called 'Canalot' which caused Linda to groan.
As we turned into the Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury's which we shall visit many times on this project, we noted that the HQ of Innocent (the smoothie people) was here, or at least their logo was large on a wall.
We headed south down Ladbroke Grove, past St Charles', where there was a hospital which looked after our mother/in law for some time, past Ladbroke Grove Station, and then on and on southwards. It's a street with handsome terraces, and also shops, including a pharmacy which was celebrating the day.
Then we turned east, to cross the Portobello Road and travel a very long way along Westbourne Grove. It was at the stage that one wanted to suggest that Hammersmith, the destination of this route, was in the opposite direction. Again, this is an area of fine terraces interspersed with shops and studios, and eventually we arrived at Eastbourne Terrace, still completely blocked by the works for the Elizabeth Line, to the chagrin of all bus users, who used to nip out of Paddington and find their stop here. Due to open in December 2018, Crossrail still looks so unfinished that we suspect that December 2019 won't see a grand opening either.
Still, most vehicles seem to have realised how slow this area can be, as we got down to Praed Street comparatively smoothly. Then we turned left, heading east again and away from Hammersmith.
St Mary's Hospital is of course where Alexander Fleming went on holiday without washing up his petri dishes, and changed the history of the world. Like many hospitals in London it is having building works done.
The next bit of the journey was slow, in a way that has become rather familiar in the past few weeks: down the Edgware Road, reaching Marble Arch and heading down Park Lane. At least we could say that we were now on the former Number 10 Bus route.
We passed the 'Animals at War' memorial and the Dorchester Hotel, established in 1932, and always catering for the wealthier parts of London's population, and so came to Hyde Park Corner. We got round quite smoothly and were finally heading towards Hammersmith.
Once again, we headed west, slowed by the fact that the bus lane was impeded, not for the first time on this journey, by building works going on. 'Public roads blocked for private profit', I muttered, as we passed the building which has made no progress since last week, though the propped up facade continues to be interesting. We forked right before reaching Harrods, this time, to pass Knightsbridge Barracks and some remarkably tall hotels and other buildings. One had a fire escape which looked so frail and high that we doubted its usefulness.
The Royal Garden Hotel now has a restaurant attached which offers Polynesian food and cocktails. It's called Mahiki, which apparently means 'path to the underworld', and it's a branch of a club in Dover Street. Given the health issues connected with the current diet in the islands of Polynesia, I suspect that what the restaurant offers is not what Polynesians themselves eat at home.
The pretty brick and stucco building which we passed, and which was dated 1852, proves to be the HQ of the Iranian Melli Bank. I was not aware that Iran was able to have such simple financial links with London
After we had passes Kensington High Street Station, and Adam and Eve Mews, named for a long-vanished pub, and reached the Design Museum, we had a moment of drama. Suddenly the tannoy on the bus began shouting repeatedly 'this bus is under attack. Please dial 999'. Happily no-one did so before someone checked with the driver. He had accidentally activated this alarm and could not turn it off. But after a few noisy moments, peace was restored, and we were able to continue.
But by now we were looking forward to the end of our ride, and were pleased to be passing the former bits of St Paul's School, to reach Hammersmith Bus Station by 12.30, just about within the 84 minutes predicted at the head stop. We did feel we had been round in circles; but then most people only use a bus route for the bit they need, so the fact that we had been round the houses does not really matter.