diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 12, 2012

 Route 148: Westminster - White City

 Length of journey: 6 miles, 40 minutes

For my third bus journey across London, I'm starting somewhere instantly recognisable. So world famous in fact that everyone around me is a tourist. My bus stop is halfway between the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, so simply by waiting here I'm impeding the general flow of humanity. A lady with a bag full of gospel leaflets stands nearby, arm outstretched, silently pleading with passers-by to swipe her tract. Most ignore her, but the occasional hit brings a broader grin, then a dig in the bag, and a replacement leaflet springs into place. When my 148 finally arrives it's mostly full and I have to grab one of the last double seats at the back of the top deck. A group of German tourists boarding at the next stop are less fortunate and have to split five ways, each sitting next to a different lone traveller, then all turning round and taking photos of each other.

The road to Victoria starts with a variety of government departments and ends with big shops. Here's where civil servants come for lunch - most likely a snatched sandwich to take back to their desk, and maybe something useful from the chemist. Here too is my second cathedral of the day, a Neo-Byzantine colossus set back from the roadway... one quick gawp and it's gone. Outside Victoria station one of the bus stops is "out of use", replaced by a temporary stop no more than two metres up the road, which presumably made sense to the rule-following pedant who installed it. I'm more interested in trying to peer through the trees into the Queen's back garden - only possible at this time of year, although alas this isn't the season to spot royals playing tennis.

There's a certain touristi-ness to this section of the bus route, most likely because everyone in neighbouring Belgravia has their own car and wouldn't be seen dead in anything lower than a taxi. We pick up more tourists at Hyde Park Corner, and lose a few along Park Lane, presumably back to their hotels for a rest, refreshment or packing. A post-retirement couple settle in behind me, relatively quietly until his phone goes off, and the next five minutes are spent relating their travel plans (via Croydon) in tedious detail. The older gentleman in front seems keener to cough up the contents of his lungs, repeatedly, although thankfully it doesn't sound contagious.

At Marble Arch, now home to a family of jelly babies, we turn left. The 148 runs along the entire top edge of Hyde Park, between white stucco terraces and glorious grassland. We appear to be following the slowest cyclist in London, resplendent in poncho, scarf and grey woolly hat, whose demeanour wrongly suggests she's cycling uphill into a fierce headwind. Every time we stop she sneaks slightly ahead, then we catch up and are stuck behind again, unable to overtake, and repeat. The front seat empties, and a small child drags his father up from behind to claim the best view. Dad points out things of interest, even takes a few SLR photos of some, while the youngster holds tight to the handrail in fearful excitement.

The 148's front seat nursery gains new customers at Notting Hill Gate, this time a face-painted boy returning from a birthday party with his mother. He's carrying a red helium balloon with a 6 on it, while she's scrutinising his bulging party bag to ensure that the contents are appropriate. I can't quite tell whether the green smear on the boy's face is supposed to be an off-colour tiger or a curly lettuce leaf, but the artist has achieved a remarkable resemblance if it's the latter. "Why do buses not have seatbelts?" asks Ollie, intelligently, then blows it by asking why they do have windows. Mum replies with an impromptu physics lesson, some two-way learning takes place, and then both troop off politely down the stairs. As I watch them walking away towards the grand terraces of Holland Park, I reassess the couple as au pair and child, and maybe real Mum will ask Ollie about his salad-face later.

The illusion of wealth fades fast at the Holland Park Roundabout, beyond which lies Shepherd's Bush and all points west. The bus all but empties opposite the station, where shoppers alight for the long walk to Westfield. We'll be driving a lot closer shortly, but most of those aboard can't wait that long. Slow progress around Shepherd's Bush Green encourages an unseen passenger to engage in angry repeated buzzing, but our driver's having none of it and the doors stay firmly closed until the next stop. A final ride up Wood Lane, for the few of us still on board, ends with a ridiculously convoluted spiral into the White City bus station. Three hours ago I left the largest retail centre in Kent, and here I am at the largest in West London. What is it about buses and shopping malls? 607>>

White City bus station: When Westfield opened its doors to excitable shoppers back in 2008, a important part of the construction was the bus station to the north. Numerous routes would converge here, either diverted or extended, creating the need for a new on-site bus depot. Two grade II listed Victorian brick buildings were duly restored and repurposed for the storage of vehicles. Originally used as generating stations for the forerunner of the Central Line, they'd later become machine tool shops for a construction company called Dimco. Their survival adds greatly to the ambience hereabouts, but also forces buses to drive a round-about route to pass by. What with traffic lights and filter lanes and one-way bendy curves, getting in or out of here is never fast. And maybe that's why this bus station appears to be woefully underused. Ten different bus routes start or finish here, and yet in ten minutes on Saturday afternoon there were never more than ten people waiting for a service to arrive, usually far less. The seating areas are nigh empty, even during peak shopping hours, and the member of staff sitting patiently in the information booth at the far end must have one of the most undisturbed jobs in the area. So where is everybody? Walking straight past to get to the tube, that's where, or more likely exiting Westfield via the Shepherd's Bush entrance and queueing like crazy for buses there. White City's a fine bus station, all canopied and modern, but sometimes it seems you build and nobody comes.

148 links
Route 148: route history
Route 148: route map
Route 148: timetable
Route 148: One Bus At A Time

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Wed 19th - Sun 23rd October
Bloomsbury Festival
It's free to visit the Foundling Museum this weekend.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards