The Scene: My grandma’s here, we have free bus passes, let’s try something different.
40% pre-planned, 60% impulse. I started by working out it would be a good idea to be somewhere central, so Oxford Circus was a good start as many bus routes meet there, heading off to lots of different places.
Bus 1: E10 Northolt Islip Manor – Ealing Broadway
Actually I’m lying when I say this was Bus 1, we took this bus last. Instead we took the E1, which I don’t have much to say about so I thought I’d start off with this.
This bus is one of the many ‘feeder’ style routes near my house, mostly all to or from Ealing Broadway, and happens to be one of the fastest there. It is a reasonable route, running every 15 minutes, mostly designed for residential areas of Greenford although reaching as far as one of the best uses for old rubble, Northala Fields in Northolt. It’s loading varies drastically during the day, although it is safe to say that it is usually very busy at peak times and frequently leaves people behind. It also is the only route we used with only a single front door, making unloading a little slow and tedious, although giving the more polite users a chance to say, ‘thank you’ to the driver.
Leaving at the stand on Haven Green, we pass by the the station and head to the Uxbridge Road for all the major routes.
A less pleasant bus which always seems to have a slightly noisier crowd during the day, and unfortunately a tendency to collect litter on board. It has a very high frequency, was the last route to be converted to and back from the infamous ‘bendy bus,’ and connects several major centres including Shepherd’s Bush (with many heading to Westfield the cheaper way), Acton, Ealing and Hanwell. No one gets up to offer my grandma a seat, apart from one lady at the back who also happened to be from the North of England like my grandma. Thanks again in the unlikely event that you stumble across this post.
We get off at a rather under utilised stop called ‘Acton Park,’ despite the fact that the stop for Acton Central Station is probably closer to the park entrance, and the two stops are barely 100m apart.
Bus 3: 70 Acton High Street – South Kensington
At the same stop we board the windy route which starts on a secret road somewhere behind Morrisons in Acton, the 70. It is the only daytime route from this area that runs directly into Zone 1, and is meant to run every ‘8-10’ minutes, In reality, it only runs every 15. It serves predominantly very residential streets and is by no means direct, first heading northwards towards Ladbroke Grove’s Sainsbury’s and east towards Bayswater before heading back west to avoid Hyde Park.
We only stay on board for about 10 minutes, although I worry about the amount of time it will take us to cross the A40 Westway. My only other memory of using this bus was during the Olympics, when we ended up waiting 15 minutes to move 100m due to the traffic. Luckily, the traffic was moving and we swiftly moved on to East Acton, where we leave
Again, without having to move stops, we had a short wait for our first true ‘city centre’ bus route, the 7, which runs every 7-12 minutes. It starts rather randomly in a backstreet somewhere near to the station, meaning that there was hardly anyone aboard which allowed us to take the chance to grab seats at the front of the top deck. We soon passed Wormwood Scrubs Prison and Hammersmith Hospital, which is not in Hammersmith.
We follow the route of the 70 along various back roads, before splitting away at St Charles Hospital and joining again a few minutes later aroundLadbroke Grove, having taken a more direct route by about 5 minutes. On route, we passed several nice private squares, including St. Stephen’s and Shrewsbury Gardens.
Next we join Westbourne Grove, and loop around Paddington Station before heading along Pread Street to join the famous Edgware Road. Finally, we skirt around the corner of Hyde Park and Marble Arch to join a very, very busy Oxford Street, leaving the much busier bus about 50 minutes after boarding.
From this point, we had a number of different options, and decided it would be a good idea to head towards Covent Garden to find a light lunch.
In Part 2: Covent Garden, lunch, the bottom of the Shard and More London.