Saturday, 6 October 2012

2012 - Day Out 17: London

Date: Saturday 29 September 2012

It has been a while since we visited London, the last time was in May. With all the Olympics over we return to the capital now that the number of people visiting has died down.

The Olympic Park, London.
Its an early start with us having to catch the first journey of the morning of National Express West Midlands service 276 which departs Wollaston at 07:36. I make my way to the stop and Autumn has arrived with it being dark and a bit on the chilly side this morning, I arrive at the stop ten minutes early and so does the bus, but the driver kindly lets me on to keep warm and as we depart I send the standard text to let Mr UKBuses know that we are on the way and as we arrive in Norton he is at his stop and boards. We make our way into Stourbridge visiting the Stourbridge Interchange and after making our way to Brook Road, we alight where I have chance to have a "fresh air break" before boarding our train. We have a while to wait so we pick the best place in the waiting room at Stourbridge Junction, right underneath the heater. Our train is due so we make our way to Platform 2 and at 07:22 our Chiltern Railway train arrives and after we board we find a table seat and make ourselves comfortable as we don't have to change as this train takes us straight into London. Mr UKBuses has a nap whilst on the way, passing through Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor Street, Solihull, Warwick Parkway and High Wycombe, but he does keep having his nap interrupted by the train horn going off a few times, the ticket inspector and his own snoring.

The Borismaster
Just before 09:39 we arrive at London Marylebone and as we were on the first carriage we don't have far to walk. After the ticket machine keeps our outbound journey tickets we make our way out to the front of the station so that I can get some "fresh air" and after four months away, we get our Oyster Cards out ready for our first trip of the day in London on the Underground, and I must admit I have missed the smell of the Underground. We have a couple of stops to go on the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus where we change onto the Victoria Line and make our way to London Euston. After a journey of three minutes we change once again onto the Northern Line at Euston but Mr UKBuses map reading skills need working on as he takes us to the wrong platform and we head into the wrong direction, we are slightly ahead of the plan so as we arrive at Camden Town Underground Station where we change onto the right direction platform and catch our Northern Line train to our original destination of Angel Underground Station where upon arrival and making our way back to ground surface we intend to catch a new London bus called, unofficially, "The Borismaster". As we make our way towards bus stop F we see the bus at the stop and as Mr UKBuses gets a shot of the bus it starts to pull off but it has to stop at the traffic lights so we are able to jump on at the rear onto the open platform for our first experience on the officially named "New Bus For London". We have a ride of about approximately thirty five minutes on Arriva London's service 38 and the ride is quite smooth and also quiet as The Borismaster is a hybrid bus and a bus I totally recommend to catch. We arrive at our destination of Victoria Bus Station where a few photographs are taken of the buses at the station, see picture right.

Cheers from St Stephens Tavern!
After a few shots are taken, we need to take a short walk to the bus stop for our next London bus journey of the day and bus stop J at Victoria is situated opposite one of our favourite J D Wetherspoons pubs, "The Willow Walk", but we don't have time to visit it today and after five minutes of waiting our Go Ahead London service 24 bus arrives, and Mr UKBuses gets a bit annoyed when someone pushes the queue as we board. We are on this bus for approximately fifteen minutes before we arrive at our next destination and we know we have arrived when we pass Westminster Abbey, with Will and Kate not being there today, and as we enter Parliament Square we alight to get the next Underground journey to another destination, but we make a diversion first. Situated close to the entrance of Westminster Underground Station is a public house, "St. Stephens Tavern", which Mr UKBuses decides to make a quick visit and it is in their we enjoy a pint of "Badger", Mr UKBuses enjoys his drink as it does go down rather quickly, see picture left. After our quick diversion, we make our way to Westminster Underground Station and onto the Jubilee Line where we return once again to Stratford.

Cheers from The Goldengrove!
We are on the Underground for just under half an hour before we arrive at Stratford Station, which can be called an interchange as you have the Underground, Trains, Docklands Light Railway and a bus station all situated in the same place. A few photographs are taken in the bus station before we take a short walk to our first J D Wetherspoons of the day, "The Goldengrove", which is a small Wetherspoons outlet which must have been quite busy during the Olympic period seeing as it is very close by to the Olympic Park. We get our drinks, "Cragrat", which we tried during our visit to Torquay, and find a table so that we can order some food. We pick the best table "Number 1", see picture right, and we peruse the menu, but have decided to have our usual, Mr UKBuses opts for his BBQ Chicken Melt - without the "Melt" - and I opt for the Burger and Beer option (The chicken variety). After ordering I return to the table to see Mr UKBuses has got the usual condiments - Tomato Sauce, Salt, Vinegar and of course, Horseradish Sauce. We don't have long to wait when our food arrives piping hot and I also get an extra burger between my burger buns, a return visit to this Wetherspoons is needed in the future! After a few minutes of letting our dinner go down we decide to visit our next destination which is not too far away and we return to Stratford "Interchange" to get the DLR.

Cheers from The Widows Son!
After getting into the station we make our way to our platform to get us to a place called Stratford International, the home of The Olympic Park. After arriving we make our way outside of the station and find out that the area has been fenced off so we were unable to have a look around the main home of the London 2012 Olympics, so we head back onto the DLR and change at Stratford to get us to our next planned destination, but seeing as we had a shorter than planned lunch break and had a bit of time spare I suggested an addition to the plan which was agreed by the Chairman and was only one stop extra. We decide to visit Devons Road, a place that I have visited a few times as this was the location of the London office of where I work before it was closed down. Looking at the office building from Devons Road DLR Station I could not make out who has taken over the building but we decided to go to "The Widows Son", see picture left, the pub that was situated next to the offices. We decide to have a quick pint and then get to our next planned destination, giving the "Caravan cafe in the wall" a miss as we had just had lunch, but rest assured they do nice bacon sandwiches. Back to the Devons Road DLR station and we don't have long to wait before the DLR arrives and we make our way to Bow Church DLR station and as we make our way to the main road, virtually opposite the station is Bow Bus Depot something that I missed on my many visits to this DLR station. We take a few photographs of the garage before making our way back to the bus stop outside of the DLR station.

Cheers from The Blind Beggar!
We board our bus, First London service 25 which takes about fifteen minutes to get us to our next destination, Whitechapel, and we keep a look out to make sure we get off at the right stop. Luckily the map allowance is paying dividends as Mr UKBuses does in fact choose the right stop and we cross the main Whitechapel Road to our London regular "The Blind Beggar", see picture right. As we walk in there a quite a few people in today as they are watching the football match on the pub's TVs so we go outside into the beer garden to enjoy the autumn sun. After the drinks are consumed (and Mr UKBuses purchased this round!), we make our way back out to Whitechapel Road and down to Whitechapel Underground Station, where we make sure that we choose the right line train, in our case the District Line to get us to Tower Hill Underground station. As we arrive at the station I have trouble escaping as my Oystercard doesn't want to scan on the barrier, but the station guard is close by and lets me through, somehow checking my card without me having to touch anything. We make our way to the bus stop outside the Tower of London and it is not long before our Stagecoach London Heritage Routemaster turns up on Heritage Route 15 which takes us to Charing Cross and along the route the conductor comes along with his scanner for us to touch in. As we go along the route the legs become crossed.

We arrive at Charing Cross and luckily we are not far from The Silver Cross, where I sneak in and make use of the toilets before sneaking out in a "Mr D9 stealth operation". Mr UKBuses waits outside and we decide to catch Go Ahead London's service 88 to get us to Westminster. We alight at Westminster Abbey and have a short walk to the Underground station and we again pass the St Stephens Tavern that we visited earlier and go Underground where we catch the Jubilee Line to Baker Street. With no signs of Sherlock Holmes, we change lines to the Bakerloo Line and go one stop arriving at Marylebone. We are well ahead of the plan and decide to catch the earlier Chiltern train back to Birmingham and we have time to get some provisions for the journey ahead. I pop into Marks and Spencer's and get some Jalepino "Doritio" style crisps and liquid refreshment and Mr UKBuses visits Burger King. Whilst he is in Burger King I pop outside for some "fresh air" and he is still waiting when I get back into the station. He finally gets his food and we have a race against time and about a minute to get to the Platform to get the 16:30 train, but we make a quick dash and luckily we get onto the train with seconds to spare.

We depart London and we make ourselves comfortable for the journey ahead, with Mr UKBuses tucking into his burger, I try my crisps and after a few handfuls, I decide to put them away as my mouth begins to go on fire in a Torquay "curry house" style, luckily I have a couple of cans of liquid refreshment to douse the flames. We arrive at Birmingham Moor Street at around 18:12 and we don't have long to wait before a London Midland train arrives and it goes straight through to Stourbridge Junction where we arrive in time for me to have some "fresh air" before having to catch the 18:59 "Stourbridge Dodger" back into the Stourbridge Interchange just in time for Black Diamond's Service 276C which takes us back home to have a rest after a good day out in the capital, but I do have to stop off on the way for my now standard post trip Chinese meal.

Another brilliant day thanks to the company and planning of Mr UKBuses and a welcome return to the capital city of London, with our next visit including a couple of nights stay.

Strange bloke with a bald spot

Whilst in London there was this strange bloke who kept getting in the way of my photographs and you could tell he has a bald spot. He also looks like the same person who kept getting in my way in Torquay:

This strange bloke at Westminster!

Strange Bloke Picture 1: I was taking a photo of the Cenotaph at Whitehall and this strange bloke with a bald spot stood in front of me! 

The strange bloke by Big Ben!

Strange Bloke Picture 2: I was taking a photo of Big Ben at Westminster and this strange bloke with a bald spot stood in front of me! 

The strange bloke outside Tower Hill Underground Station!

Strange Bloke Picture 3: I was taking a photo outside of Tower Hill Underground Station and this strange bloke with a bald spot stood in front of me, and you can definitely tell he has a bald spot on this one! 

The strange bloke waiting for The Routemaster!

Strange Bloke Picture 4: I was taking a photo of an oncoming Routemaster outside the Tower Of London and this strange bloke with a bald spot stood in front of me!