I'm back at New Addington for the next leg of my round London bus journey. Could there be a better way to spend the weekend?
ROUND LONDON BY BUS(v)
Route 64: New Addington - Selsdon Length of journey: 3 miles, 15 minutes
I've blogged this bus before. Ten years ago I rode all the cube-numbered buses in London, because that made a feature, and this was bus number four. Somewhat improbably, I'm going to be riding another from that series further round my orbit. But for now I'm taking the 64 only as far as I need to, because there's no appropriate alternative. It would have been much more fun to take the T33, which is genuinely the outermost bus route hereabouts, but that starts at the bottom of the hill. Instead I'm at the tram terminus near New Addington's central parade, which for residents is as good as it gets unless they go to Croydon. Plonked into the lawn by the first stop are four wooden statues, each about six feet tall, and each depicting a different animal. Closest to the shelter is an eagle, then a dolphin, a gorilla and some sort of grizzly - all courtesy of chainsaw artist Dennis Beach who carved them on-site in 2002.
The 64 heads straight down the hill, along a grassy dual carriageway running parallel to the the trams. Occasionally the two cross, in which there are lights and the tram takes precedence. Residents wander across from the main body of the estate to escape, generally on rails, but a few joined me on the double decker instead. The view across the valley is green and pleasant, partly due to the adjacent golf course, even the occasional field of horses, but mostly because New Addington's houses are behind you. Original Addington is much smaller, nestled round an 11th centurychurch where five Archbishops of Canterbury are buried, and a Harvester restaurant. Also at the bottom of the hill is a major bus station for interchange between tram and various local services. Running in this direction the 64 gets to circle it two and a half times, which gets a bit tedious, although the loop does provide double exposure for "The Home of Thomson - Tippers For Life" who have sponsorship of the roundabout.
After the tram diverges up Gravel Hill, the 64 continues along Selsdon Park Road. You'd think from the local parade of shops that all anyone round here does is eat, what with pizzerias and cafes and the winner of the Croydon Guardian's Curry Awards 2013. We've entered Forestdale, a planner's made-up name if ever I heard one, where rows of houses and cul-de-sacs tumble down the slope towards Selsdon Wood. Very occasionally a pre-WW1 cottage sticks out like a sore thumb, but generally this is anonymous and relatively pleasant suburbia. If you're fortunate (like me) you might spot one of London's rarest buses, the359, which serves the Monks Hill estate less than ten times a day, and all between ten o'clock and three. If you're less fortunate (like me) you might be joined by three utterly stereotypical teens blaring tinny rap from the back seat, complete with unbleeped four letter words. One in hoodie, one in baseball cap and one in what looked like a black stocking, but I didn't dare say that to his face.
Joining me at the front of the bus were Josh and Ryan, two secondary-age boys holding a conversation with each other while simultaneously on the phone. They were trying to rendezvous with five friends at a bus stop ahead, presumably for a shambling assault on central Croydon, and became more animated as Selsdon approached. I was hopping off here, just past 'Smallworths' supermarket, and spotted the proto-boyband waiting to board by the driver's door. I also spotted a suspicious looking youth in slate hoodie lurking outside the exit door, and it turned out the driver had seen him too. He flicked the door control as if trying to bat the invader out, unsuccessfully, then climbed out of his cab to remonstrate with the unwelcome passenger. It was clear the bus was going nowhere until the intruder backed down, which he eventually did, returning to mutter conspiratorially with some other lowlife on the pavement. I cheered, extremely quietly, on your behalf. 412>>