Oxford Circus to Brent Cross
This route was in fact the start of an epic 5 bus marathon centring on and allowing us access to the Route 41: however it started very badly with Linda waiting in vain for her local bus then circumnavigating John Lewis in an effort to locate the head stop, which is in fact hard by Oxford Circus beside H &M. Oxford Circus itself was full of bells and whistles as the new (as in November 2009) ‘diagonal road crossing system’ was being launched with a brass marching band – what else? The weather was clear and bright so good for photos from top decks. Also what more could any shopper desire than a bus route joining North London’s two major shopping outlet venues?
Oxford Street had set up its lights – a Mary Poppins theme with umbrellas – and Selfridges was in the process of decorating their windows. The traffic was flowing freely as we passed Portman Square with its rich history and rich architecture - in fact plain RICH and its private garden. Gloucester Place seems to have survived the bombing (by which I mean the Second World War Blitz) virtually unscathed, as the terraces are remarkably complete on both sides, and planted with little trees which should mature nicely. A blue plaque indicated ‘Sir Gerald Kelly, portrait painter’ lived in one of them, and another houses the fairly modest embassy for San Salvador.
Two very contrasting schools are almost opposite each other – the very posh Francis Holland school for girls and the Sylvia Young theatre school. Another blue plaque in Lisson Grove where you cross the Regents Canal told us that Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846) and John Charles Rossi (1762 –1839) both lived here – not exactly household names. And further down this surprisingly curvy road we found a statue to Edward Onslow, who had a surprisingly interesting life.
The bus, only one of two as it happens, swings down Abbey Road with its single villas and Mansion blocks. We noted the Marlborough Place Synagogue and then a very handsome Italianate/Orthodox church, which is being turned into apartments. Though we also noted 'The Salt House ' ( in fact too busy noting) a pub with an interesting name so we managed to miss THE zebra crossing which features on the cover of the famous Beatles album which showed them leaving the studios and prompted all those rumours about Paul being dead… So we need to capture it on our next trip along here. [Loyal readers will already know that we failed AGAIN on the 139, so here is another link to the live webcam to make up for our shortcomings.]
Abbey Road has far more public housing as it reaches its end towards West Hampstead and eventually turns into Kilburn High Road, which today was mercifully not too busy. Pawnbrokers, with and without their 3 balls, are quite in evidence but the Tricycle Theatre and cinemas soldier on. Brondes Age echoes nearby Brondesbury I suppose? Up Shoot Up hill to, what else, Summit Court at the top and there we were in Cricklewood, not that far from Willesden Green, where live family. The Irish Community has long roots in this area but signs of newcomers too, as in the Bosnia and Hercogovina Community Store.
We left the High Road behind, to travel another day we know, and headed right into the heartland of Cricklewood through the estates now newly built along the River Brent and the more longstanding schools of Claremont and Clitterhouse playing fields – not that primary schools were much into rivalry in the Fifties but if they were these were the local ‘opposition’ to Linda’s Middlesex primary school Wessex Gardens, across the Hendon Way. Having negotiated some quite narrow roads the bus then encircles the Holiday Inn on the North Circular which is the only road approach from this direction to the Brent Cross Shopping centre, its terminating point. Brent Cross is the hub for a surprising number of buses, including our next one, yet to take us to our KEY route for today. It took under the hour predicted and gained us some time lost earlier.