Wednesday 7 August 2013
Linda and I reached the huge Asda along Kingston Vale after a pleasant walk through sunny Richmond Park, just in time to watch the 13.45 bus leave its stop. The K3 goes every 16 minutes, to take people to Esher. The next bus turned up promptly, however, and we were off at 14.01.
Our fellow passengers were a small group of young men who realised after the driver had set off that they did not want to be on the bus, and pinged the bell solidly until the next stop, where they decided they did, after all, want to be on the bus. Ah, youth.
The route comes out from the Asda, and turns left (no choice, given that the A3 is a scary dual carriage way at this stage) and then forks right at the excellent horse-and-pedestrian crossing at the Robin Hood Gate.
We then swung left and were immediately into fine residential housing, with streets named for places in the Lake District. We passed Robin Hood School, hoping they have good double glazing, as the A3 is very noisy. Why Robin Hood? We are a long way from Sherwood Forest, but it is close to the Robin Hood Pub, from which the Gate into the Park and therefore the school take their names. The Robin Hood Gate is closed the motorised traffic, we are glad to say.
So after Bowness Crescent, Ullswater Road, Keswick Drive and so on, we came back to the A3, and headed along it, back the way we had come. A momentary qualm seized us as we again turned down Robin Hood Lane: were we going to spend the afternoon in tight loops round the houses? But this time we went on towards Kingston, going at a rapid pace, sufficient to trigger the 30mph warning lights. Passing the various buildings of Kingston University, we saw notices to tell us we were in the Kingston Hill Conservation area. Several of the big houses along here have become care homes for the elderly, including one which offered coffee and cake if we wanted to look round....
Warning signs had been erected to let us know of the 'expected long delays' in central Kingston, but we already knew about them from last week's visit. We came to the hospital (again, sighed Linda) and travelled round two sides of its extensive and confusing spread, to pass Norbiton Station, and get into Kingston itself.
Meeting the 'long delays' road works, and stopping at the traffic control, we were alarmed that two cars just zoomed past us and over the red. But we were soon passing Tiffin School and the shops of the town centre
We thought being a 'Memorial consultant' was an interesting career choice and also saw The Fighting Cocks, which is a Bar and Venue for which we are clearly much too old. We liked the sunflowers on the balconies above the Princess Alice charity shop, as well as the mosaics on the wall outside BHS.
Then we were heading out, past the roundabout with the 'paper aeroplanes' sculpture, Surrey County Hall and so on. We feel we know Kingston better than we did a few weeks ago. For instance, we know that Kingston turns into Surbiton as seamlessly as Norbiton turns into Kingston, and there we were, over the Hogsmill River and at the Surbiton Clock tower.
(By the way, speaking of rivers, not one of the 5 K buses goes anywhere near the river Thames. Odd, that)
There was a pretty Art Deco Shop front in Surbiton, now occupied by a bank, which had even changed the ironwork above the door to include its less than attractive logo.
We also noted that Zizzi now occupies what was once something rather finer.
We came out of Surbiton along Balaclava Road. We have passed many streets named from the Crimean War during the Project, and I always wonder what it was about that particular war that made it so attractive to municipal councils. I suppose the decades immediately after it were periods of intense housing developments, when many street names were needed, and Alma, Sebastopol and so on were still in the bureaucratic consciousness. we also passed the end of Seething Wells Lane, whose name hints at the struggle to achieve the clean drinking water which we all now take for granted.
Our bus now took us, rather fast, into Long Ditton, and to Hinckley Wood Station, where we agreed that they had good begonias, even if Linda and I don't like them. Our mother/mother in law used to propagated them and give them to us....
We crossed the A 309 to get into Claygate, which boasts a number of prosperous looking pubs and houses to match, as well as a station.
Once we had gone under the railway, we were in Esher, passing lots of gated developments, and to the High Street.
After a little loop to take in the Adult Education Centre in what appeared to be called Esher Green, we got back to the High Street, where the bus terminated.
This was certainly the final destination on our list, compiled, after all, some years ago, but the bus had claimed, all the way from Kingston Vale, to be going to Trinity School. The driver was baffled when we asked him about it, so we assume it is a term-time only extension.
We reached the end of the trip at 15.00. It had been a pleasant ride, through several areas where we were the only bus.
I'm not going to say much about Esher, but it is a tough place to get out of unless you are in a car. When we finally went into a clothes shop (with amazing bargains, by the way: if only I were not too old for silver DM boots!) the charming people said that there were few buses and they were mostly once an hour, but if we walked past Sandown Race Course, we should eventually come to a railway station: and we did.