diamond geezer

 Tuesday, February 06, 2024

10 things I've seen/done/read over the last week

Tuesday (a): Last week I wrote a post about housing built on former airfields. Today I found myself standing outside some housing built on a former airfield, a fact made plain by someone mounting a model plane on the front of one block of flats. Additional clues included a plaque and the fact they'd named the road after an aircraft manufacturer.

This is De Havilland Road at the northernmost tip of the borough of Brent, not far from Burnt Oak, which was built on the site of Stag Lane Aerodrome. The plaque explains this and also refers to the de Havilland Aircraft & Engine Companies (1920-1971). It was unveiled on 25th September 2001. I'm a bit late with my photo, sorry, but how brilliant to have an arty wire plane on the front of your stairwell.

Tuesday (b): Chapel Lane in Pinner has a new street sign. I noticed it while I was waiting for the bus. That is one ostentatious new design, Harrow council. Their former design was bland in comparison.

Harrow updated their logo last June from a coloured sausage to a hifalutin coat of arms. They're clearly very pleased with it because they're now slapping it at the ends of roads whereas the previous street sign was logo-free. It's also now monochrome whereas the previous version had the postcode district in red. Formerly I'd have said London's most ostentatious street signs were those for Greenwich, who started incorporating coats of arms when the borough went Royal in 2012, but I think Harrow now trumps that. Several boroughs have really unshowy street signs, just names on a white background, but the least upbeat borough must be Bexley whose street signs feature a steaming turd behind a defecating dog.

Wednesday (a): I have an unwritten list of all the famous people I've bumped into unexpectedly while travelling around London which includes Una Stubbs, Su Pollard and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I can now add Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham to that list because he was getting onto a District line train at Embankment this morning as I was getting off. Safely sidestepped.

Wednesday (b): Back in 2018, you may remember, I rode every bus route in London. Not the entire route, just at least one stop on each, and not nightbuses or schoolbuses because there is a limit to excess. It took me five months. Readers were generally congratulatory although one took time to "sincerely hope that your mental health is OK". In 2023 I gave it another try and this time completed the full tally in three months. I thought that was going some. But in 2024 I started again on 1st January and managed to ride all 543 of them within a calendar month. I admit I got a bit carried away.

This is an extremely non-trivial task, indeed if you do the maths you'll see I had to average 18 buses a day. I also made it slightly harder this time by riding at least two stops on each route, not one. The hardest routes to ride were the excessively infrequent (347/375/R5/etc), the strictly time-limited (385/389/H3/etc) and the wilfully peripheral (428/467/497/etc). But a lot of other routes were readily ticked-off (back and forth across Waterloo Bridge/repeated twiddling up Orpington High Street/etc) and some careful geographic planning got me through. I won't repeat my tactical considerations because those are previously blogged.

Anyway I'd like to apologise that my blogging throughout January was restricted by this preoccupation which meant I brought you fewer in-depth reports from around the capital than usual. That said, January was also the second most successful month ever on this blog, visitorwise, so maybe I should just go back and ride pointless buses more often. Don't worry, I have no intention of doing it all over again, but if any of you think you can do the whole lot in fewer than 31 days you're welcome to try.

Thursday: I'm saving this one for Unblogged February at the end of the month otherwise I'll have nothing unblogged left to say.

Friday: A local reader got in touch with further details of the supermarket rebrand on my local garage forecourt. Apparently the Co-op closed at 6pm on 31st January and reopened at 10am on 2nd February. I checked the timestamp on my photo and was amazed to find I'd taken it at 10:02, i.e. the new Asda Express had been open for only two minutes!

I have never seen a younger supermarket.

Saturday: When I wrote about the SL5, southeast London's new Superloop route, I may have given the impression that all the tiles at all the bus stops were correct. This was not the case. At the Chinese Garage the tiles on the northbound stop mistakenly say 356 and SL5, whereas they should say 358 and SL5 (like the southbound stop across the road).

Apparently the stops at Upper Elmers End Road are also incorrect.

Sunday: Last March I moaned that TfL had painted a 20 speed limit on the cobbles of Kitcat Terrace E3, this because nobody had the sense to overpaint the former 30 on the tarmac in front. One year on this 20 had finally started to fade and I could imagine the day when the numerical intrusion might be barely legible. But no, contractors made their way down Bow Road overnight and repainted the white lines on all the approach roads, including repainting the offending 20 so it shows up bright as new.

What we have here is a blunder doubled-down, a sequencing error reinforced by annual maintenance and which may now never go away. If you're responsible for the repainting schedule - hello, and could you perhaps add a note so that next year the 20 is shifted to the end of the street where the 30 used to be, allowing this cobbled defacement to fade away?

Monday (a): This morning TfL announced a consultation on extending the DLR to Thamesmead via Beckton Riverside. All sorts of people got excited at the prospect, overlooking that TfL had announced exactly the same potential DLR extension in June last year. Admittedly last time it was a feasibility study and this time it's a consultation so it's one step closer, but how quickly we forget.

This time a lot more background information has been provided, mainly to explain why they chose this route and not any other. Apparently they looked into DLR extensions from Woolwich, Overground extensions from Barking, longer extensions, shorter extensions, even a brief tram from Abbey Wood but no other option delivered. That said, the key objective here is to unlock new housing either side of the Thames and only the DLR extension links both so it was always going to win out. It's also telling that TfL want to put the nail in the coffin of the Thames Gateway Bridge by removing all existing safeguarding on the land so even more housing can be crammed in. And only 60 years late.

Monday (b): Back in 2015 I wrote a much-shared post identifying all the areas of London that were more than two miles from a station. There aren't many, indeed by the time we'd drawn an accurate map it turned out there were only six. All are in zone 6 apart from one which lies in the southeast corner of Richmond Park by the Robin Hood Gate. Today I just happened to be in the southeast corner of Richmond Park so I checked on an app and I can confirm yes, it really is more than two miles from a station.

2.1 miles from Norbiton, 2.1 miles from Mortlake, 2.1 miles from Barnes and 2.2 miles from North Sheen. Nowhere in non-peripheral London is further from a station.

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