diamond geezer

 Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bus 10: Kings Cross - Hammersmith
Location: London central
Length of journey: 7 miles, 70 minutes

It being 10/10/10, I thought I'd go out and ride London's number 10 bus route. I did it yesterday, obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be able to tell you about it today. A fairly interesting central route, all told, with just about enough interesting sights to keep a tourist happy. End-to-end's supposed to be possible in 37 minutes, according to the timetable at the first bus stop. Maybe at 5am, but on a Saturday afternoon, no chance.

10... to... HammersmithNot many London buses kick off at a request stop, but the 10 manages exactly that. No grand launch from the front of Kings Cross station, just a low key launch in Wharfedale Road, a lowly ratrun round the corner from the London Canal Museum. Here I nabbed my top deck front seat unchallenged, before the hordes boarded at the subsequent stops round Kings Cross proper. One particular young child expressed vocal disappointment that the grandstand positions were taken, provoking a mild level of self-guilt until his parents trooped him off two stops later. Along the Euston Road we whizzed (one of the benefits of a weekend run), then down the one-way Georgian canyon that is Gower Street. So far, so easy.

Oxford Street is a mess, isn't it? More than usual at the moment, thanks to major Crossrail-related roadworks at the eastern end. London's most famous shopping street has been divided by a lengthy trench filled with exposed pipework, which doesn't exactly yell "hey, come spend your money here". One entire block on Dean Street has now been completely demolished, and from the 10's top deck there's a clear view down at the earthy hollow which will one day form a station entrance. The narrow one-way system was made worse by a particularly persistent cyclist, bedecked in green woolly coat, who our driver could never quite overtake. She'd nip ahead whenever we pulled in to disgorge passengers, but we'd soon catch her up pedalling not very furiously past every in-road obstacle.

Christmas has not yet hit Oxford Street, you'll be pleased to know, and the window displays remain filled with mannequins and shoes rather than fake snow and baubles. But be warned, the lights start being hung from 10pm tonight, presumably to celebrate whichever ghastly American cartoon movie has paid the most money this year. But the street was still exciting enough for the Japanese couple who squeezed onto the front seats alongside me, who charted their progress on a free cycling map and pointed out every exciting sight they spotted. "Selfridges!" was their initial squeal, which seemed reasonable enough until "Primark!" earned the exact same reaction shortly afterwards.

We traversed the entire length of Oxford Street in 12 minutes flat, which is a lot quicker than I was expecting on a Saturday afternoon given this street's reputation as a nose-to-tail busjam. Indeed we'd been so swift that our driver pulled in beside the Mini showroom in Park Lane and made an unexpected announcement. "Four minutes stoppage time because I'm too early." We waited six instead, the liar, and watched impotently as scores of other buses went streaming past. Several of these were Routemasters, on wedding guest collection duty outside the Hilton down the road. By the time we got there our scheduled 37 minute running time had already elapsed, and still with well over half the journey to go.

From Hyde Park Corner, it was westbound all the way. The 10 shares this section of the journey with the 9 in a particularly deft, possibly deliberate, bit of route numbering. My Japanese co-passengers were especially excited to catch sight of "Harrods!" as we waited patiently at traffic lights in Knightsbridge. A family of tourists clutching telltale green and gold carrier bags joined us on the upper deck, the youngest of whom delighted on repeating "10... to... Hammersmith" in a slightly dodgy accent at every available opportunity. I guess it's one way to learn the language, but I wished he'd only learnt to count to 5 and gone to Romford instead.

It may be October, but there was an ice cream van parked up outside the Royal Albert Hall. It being October, nobody was interested. To our right "Kensington Palace!" was obscured by trees, but this disappointment was more than made up for in audience reaction by "TK Maxx!". Kensington High Street was abuzz. The queue for Starbucks stretched back out onto the pavement, which did at least reassure me I wasn't the only person in the West End completely wasting an hour of his Saturday.

10... at... HammersmithOur driver didn't seem to be rushing, indeed he was happy to allow every car or taxi emerging from a sidestreet to pull out in front of us. This gave me time to admire the flags of many nations depicted across the top of the bus shelter opposite the old Commonwealth Institute (which must have been there for years), and to watch delegates queueing to enter the 'Scandinavian Show' at Olympia. As we neared Hammersmith I thought a couple of nuns were going to climb aboard, but instead they nipped through a door into their convent carrying two bags of not very heavy shopping. And finally a spin round the gyratory beside the flyover, and we ground to a halt inside the island bus station. An hour and ten minutes, aboard the 10, to travel not quite ten miles. If you're seeking a way to commemorate today's unique time combination, you can do better than this.

10 links
Route 10: route history
Route 10: fleet allocation
Route 10: previous route
Route 10: timetable

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
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 me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream