Monday, 25 February 2013
A really cold, grey and generally nasty day found Linda and me at Erith Station, looking for bus stop H, which we found after some minutes. We took shelter in Sam's 99p shop until the bus arrived, slightly late, and climbed aboard at 10.35. About 10 passengers boarded with us, so the little, one door single decker bus felt quite full.
This is a complicated route: sometimes it nips straight to Joyden's Wood, does a loop and then comes back; sometimes it loops to Joyden's Wood and hurries straight back. A brief meeting of the rules committee concluded that we should travel through Bexleyheath, round the wood, and back until we reached the railway station, thhus repeating some but not all of the un-loopy bit.
Our driver (until our second visit to Bexleyheath Clock Tower, when he changed) liked a speedy run, interspersed with stops to get back to the timetable. This made some of the traffic calming bumps of the area rather more unsettling than usual.
Anyway, we came out of Erith past the sea life (I'm not sure if it is a fish or a mammal, so am hedging bets) on the roundabout, and headed uphill into residential streets, many bungalows but also some substantial houses. As so often, we noted that there were no shops, ensuring that people use the bus for their necessities. Also, as so often, we saw more hardened than gardened front gardens, as well as some with very imposing fences and gates.
Soon we were into Bexleyheath, passing the smart gym, where we could see a lot of young people exercising. Presumably they work odd hours and so can exercise in the working day.
We admired the same delicatessen and bakery as last week; the speed of our bus meant that again we could not get a photo of the bakery!
As last week, too, we were diverted round the road works, which are clearly intended to make a pedestrian paradise out of the centre, and again, people got off rather than waiting for the devious route to the Clock Tower. (By the way, a couple of people who got off here were to get back on as we passed for the second time 40 minutes later)
The Prince Albert Pub advertised a Victorian Restaurant. Linda speculated that it might serve gruel, but it's clear that it is the decor and not the food which is Victorian. We saw a splendid window cleaner using an extended pole to clean third floor windows: safer than a ladder, and presumably could be used for fishing at the weekend.
Once we were over the A2, we were into Bexley Village, and admired the Old School House, once the National School. There's a slight deja vu feeling for historians with the current Educational system: in the early 19th century, charities set up schools for the poor, the National Schools offering a Church of England curriculum in competition with the British Schools, which had got there first by a few years. Government grants and later testing, standards and all that we know and love, followed before the introduction of state provided education in the 1870s and 1880s.
We noticed we were crossing the River Cray when we saw a former mill, now converted into flats, and we came out of Bexley into rough open land, with some ponies grazing. We were travelling along St Mary's Road, named for the handsome parish church, and thought St Mary's Nursery might be evidence that Kent needs to build a School in Joyden's Wood. But it proved to be the other kind of nursery, offering compost rather than child care.
Along towards Leyton Cross (very confusing name for those of us who have visited the north east of London) we came to a serious development of new build and conversion properties.
We also passed signs to The Bracton Centre, which proves to be yet another branch of the Oxleas NHS Trust group.
We were back into residential areas with no shops, after the brief visit to Bexley village, and as we wiggled through the street of Joyden's Wood we admired some fine heathers in a front garden.
A pause outside a large house called Heathcroft enabled our driver to stretch his legs for a few minutes, and then we were headed back past St Mary's Church and the large house with the Borough's blue plaque for John Thorpe the antiquary and historian who lived here in the 18th century.
As we headed back up Gravel Hill, we saw signs to the Shuttle River Way, which follows the course of the River Shuttle, a tributary of the Cray which is itself a tributary of the Thames.
Approaching Bexleyheath from this direction means that there is no diversion, and we arrived at the Clocktower at 11.40, where again many passengers got off, and others got on. We rode the bus as far as the station.
I suppose, inevitably, this Bexleyheath bus was too much like last week's to be really exciting, but it did give us a bit of a spin into Kent and back again.
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
We do like the water around Thamesmead, and saw a heron, as well as some coots doing a bit of desultory nest building. We wanted to shout that it was too soon, given the forecast of frost to come in the next few days, but you can’t tell a coot how to run its life. Then we passed Windrush Primary School, which is opening a branch in Charlton, a bit like Costa? Here’s some spring chat about it from Netmums.
Turning right onto Carlyle Road (as Linda said, you could teach the new British-is-best History Curriculum from road names in Thamesmead) we came to the roundabout with the pedestrian suspension bridge slung within it, and headed along the dual carriageway with its terrifying warning signs. The public housing blocks and pedestrian bridges along here have attractive murals, and the blocks at Parkview are undergoing refurbishment. By now the bus was getting quite busy, as we went right along Sedgemere Avenue into the older part of Thamesmead, with the road twisting like a village lane.
As we came past Bexleyheath Station, well away from the town centre, we were pleased to see both a ‘proper’ butcher and a baker as well as the William Camden Pub. You might think a sixteenth century historian and school teacher an odd choice of name, but he is credited with inventing the phrase about early birds and worms, so he must have had a lighter side.
The Crook Log Roundabout told us that we were nearing the end of our journey, and we turned into Bexleyheath itself. Warning signs told us that the bus was to be on diversion, and after The Wrong ‘Un pub we went round the south side of the shopping area, because of road works. (you will recall that the Pub could equally be called The Googly) As far as we could see, these works were to reallocate the space, giving more pedestrian and less motorised vehicle space. Many people got off to walk through to the shops, though in fact we did a number of left turns which took us past the large Sainsbury’s and the enormous police station to reach the Clock Tower after all. Here the last of our fellow passengers got off.
We, on the other hand, stayed on and passed the Jolly Millers Pub to reach Bexleyheath bus garage. where this route terminates. Our driver was a bit taken aback to find us till on board, since all the other passengers had got off at the shops. We arrived at 10.35, having had a pleasant trip, and with only a short wait to pick up our next bus.
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Thursday, 14 February 2013
Tuesday 22 June 2010
As we climbed in this bus at Uxbridge bus station, Mary wondered if we should ever get it onto the blog (and lo, here we are!)
This was the third of our buses, with Linda away having what we hope was a sunny time in North Wales. We were on board by 12.55, rather excited at the thought of an ‘express’ bus: which seems to mean that it does not stop at all the available stops.
With the benefit of hindsight, aka a couple of years, we know that much of the site has been redeveloped as housing.
There was a good cycle track along the main Uxbridge road, even if some people prefer the road, as is their right. We also admired the little lantern at the top of St John’s Church tower.
This was all very residential, and we passed from Hillingdon Parade’s shops into Hayes without a gap. A Martial Arts centre, advertised ‘bully proof your child today’ and we could see the Beck Theatre across the open space of Wood End.
Big retail parks, not to mention a Tudor style Macdonalds (no fries in the days of Henry VIII and co; when the first potatoes arrived during the 1570s, people used to boil them) heralded the Grand Union Canal. At once we were into Southall High Street. The Ayesha Siddiqa Girls’ School reminded us that Southall is not entirely Sikh!
Passing Southall Park, where a funfair was setting up, we moved into Hanwell, and saw the large Ealing and St Bernard’s Hospitals, before crossing the River Brent, not for the first time today.
Now we were in Ealing, and reaching Ealing Broadway, where we liked the look of the clock at the Arcadia Centre, which seems to have little people who might strike bells at the hour: but the internet is full of stuff about the failed plan to expand the centre, rather than interesting articles and pictures celebrating the clock. We wished Linda had been with us, as she loves a clock.
And we felt that the word 'Express' was a tiny bit misleading: many of the stops we missed out were in streets with heavy traffic, so we gained little benefit.
And so farewell to buses with only numbers, and on to the letters which, as we have said, will be blogged in an order as yet to be fully determined....