diamond geezer

 Saturday, August 04, 2018

Today I'm completing my bus journey across the capital, riding four routes from the northern edge of the capital to the south. There may be more than one way to complete the feat, but my choice of route was fixed as soon as I spotted that the sequence 279, 76, 77, 280 consists of two pairs of consecutive numbers, lightly shuffled. Now all I have to do is see quite how close to the Surrey border I can get on my final bus...

 Route 280: Tooting - Belmont

 Length of journey: 6½ miles, 45 minutes

I reckon most passengers waiting for the 280 outside Shoe Zone in Tooting don't even know where Belmont is, let alone have any intention of going there. While I wait I have to listen to several of them collectively shrieking, because that's what they do in the school holidays, or moaning about the awfulness of an acquaintance into their phone. As I board and dash upstairs, I spy a policewoman resting with her eyes closed at the back of the lower deck. We set off past a couple of restaurants which last year inspired Lonely Planet to describe Tooting as one of the world's ten coolest neighbourhoods, but also several dozen minor outlets which suggest they called it wrong.

At Amen Corner a man walks out into the traffic immediately in front of us, then smiles and waves in gratitude after our driver manages not to run him over. The parched strip of grass stretching off beyond the station is Figges Marsh, on which a minor kickabout has just completed as its protagonists disperse. One lad in a Man U jersey boards the bus and climbs to the upper deck, reeking of some pungent aftershave he shouldn't yet be old enough to need. A parked Volkswagen Polo blocks the bus lane ahead, because technically it isn't a bus lane for another hour and a half, so that's alright. Self-descriptive local businesses include Food World, which sells world foods, and The Shed Centre, which sells sheds.

Mitcham town centre has recently been realigned to give buses and bicycles priority, sending other traffic on a less than magical detour. The chief beneficiary is a short semi-pedestrianised shopping street boasting nothing much more exciting than a Poundland, a mural and a couple of pubs. The bus ahead of us appears to be a 280, which it can't be unless the previous service was phenomenally delayed, and turns out to be a 270 with the wrong number displayed in the rear window. A small child drags his family upstairs and is disconsolate to find the front seat taken, and isn't satisfied with the second row so ends up with his parents at the very back. Mitcham Market is not open. The Tag Elezz cafe is very popular.

Mitcham's historic Cricket Green is not currently well named, apart that is from the central square, its outfield looking particularly dry and jaundiced. The two pubs beyond the boundary remain just as empty and boarded-up as they were last August. If you've ever wondered where London's Number 1 Family Sash Window Manufacturer is based, a ride through Mitcham on the 280 means you need wonder no more. At the other end of London Road we pause at traffic lights immediately above the tram tracks, allowing a Wimbledon service to pass directly underneath. The surrounding residential area has become positively semi-detached, with a splash of unprepossessing flats.

Across the River Wandle we enter the St Helier 'cottage estate', a massive out-of-town overspill built in the 1930s by the LCC. The bins on the right-hand side of the road display the Merton waterwheel, whilst those on the left are branded with the Sutton apple tree. Calling a block of flats 'Grosslea' seems an unusual choice. In a cluttered front garden, a topless long-haired pensioner stands with hands on hips and his potbelly drooping, beneath a big sign which reads 'Beware Dogs Running Free'. I bet his neighbours love him. An older man with an even longer grey ponytail overtakes us sat astride a modified Harley Davidson, whose personalised numberplate is attempting to spell BIG GUV.

The shopping parade at the Rose Hill roundabout has an Art Deco vibe, and a barbers shop which brands itself simply as 'Hairdressing For Men' rather than any of this modern grooming rubbish. Here we pass the 7th and final Lidl of my cross-London journey (for comparison, we've only passed two Aldis). Our next road splits Rosehill Park into East and West, with both halves looking conspicuously underused given it's the school holidays (other than a small seated cluster around the car park). Rosehill's bowls club seems overkeen to attract new members, its giant banner urging passers-by to "come in and try for free". And then we dip unexpectedly into cutting, as a faded sign on a footbridge welcomes us to Sutton Town Centre.

Tudorbethan semis make way for the edge of the CBD, and two modern block of flats which'd look normal in inner London but here seem jarringly out of place. Ah, here are the local children, splashing in the sunken fountains in a small piazza outside Sainsburys. The 280 is allowed to follow some of the High Street, at the fish'n'chip and Polish deli end, but is whisked away outside the former Red Lion to follow a north-south access road instead. This has a separate bus slalom lane, which occasionally swings in behind the back of the shops to allow access to the main pedestrianised core. By the fourth swing, almost every passenger has alighted. The final bus shelter contains a long row of ladies in floral blouses.

Even by outer London standards, Sutton often feels like a welcome throwback to simpler times. But a major mixed use development project by the station is bringing an injection of highrise modernity, namely Sutton Point, whose hoarding-blurb describes the rising towers as "Sutton's latest landmark". Well, obviously. We dawdle outside the station for a while because, even though the journey's nearly finished, we're running a few minutes ahead of schedule. Most of the adjacent shops serve sit-down food or drink, but it looks like Beds To Go has already gone. The green-faced clock on a pole slowly ticks round towards quarter past three. And eventually we begin the final climb up the Brighton Road.

The contrast to Hertford Road at the start of my journey is stark indeed, my final mile being along a leafy avenue dotted with private nurseries, dental clinics and retirement flats. Everyone has ample space to live, and shrubbery, and most likely a car rather than relying on an outer London bus. Even here, stubbled youth are sporting topknots with sharply shaved sides, a hairstyle which future historians will use to date photos to the year 2018. A brand new secondary school is being squeezed in on land below the hospital. And dammit, here comes the bus's final stop immediately outside The California gastropub, which is still 100m from the boundary of London I'm trying to reach.

I sit tight, and the bus pulls off, and only then does the driver play the "This bus terminates here" message. Hurrah, I have a legitimate reason to have stayed aboard, as only a regular passenger would have known they were supposed to alight before. It's a very short ride to the bus stand, a sweeping red-tinted apron (plus a toilet for driver relief), where I'm allowed off with a reluctant opening of the doors. And a dozen steps across the tarmac brings me to the edge of Banstead Common, accessed via a short wasp-infested footpath, which means I've just entered Surrey and my journey is complete. Four buses is all it takes to cross Greater London, if you choose them carefully enough, and oh the contrasts you'll see along the way.

Route 280: route history
Route 280: route map
Route 280: live route map
Route 280: timetable
Route 280: The Ladies Who Bus

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
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

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  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

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

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
Herbert Dip
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