Saturday, 16 January 2016

2016 - Day Out 01: London

Its a new year and for our first trip of 2016, we are back on the coaches again, our first operator being Whittles and our first location is London.

Trafalgar Square, London
Its an early start and Mr UKBuses makes his way to Wollaston, with myself meeting him halfway, after meeting up, we make our way on the frost covered pavements up to Wollaston village where we quickly pop into the Spar to get some liquid refreshments for the coach journey ahead. After paying five pence for a carrier bag, we make our way to the bus stop situated on the main Wollaston Island and wait for our coach to turn up. As we get nearer to pickup time, a few more people appear to catch our coach and the coach is running late. I decide to get some "fresh air" and as soon as I light up, yes, the coach arrives and pulls up at 07.50am. We board our Whittles Coach with coach driver, Pete, greeting us as we board, we take our seats, getting comfortable and warming up as we make our way to the last pick up point at Stourbridge Ring Road, before doing another tour of the ring road and making our way to Hagley and then onto the M5 briefly before going onto the M42 and then onto the M40.

Our Whittles Coach at Oxford Services
We make our way along the M40 and as we reach Junction 8a, we leave the motorway and have a break at the Welcome Break Oxford Services, so we alight the coach and after some "fresh air", we make our way indoors. We decide to have a bite to eat and breakfast is still being served, so we visit Burger King and have a "Bacon Buttie" and I also opt for a hash brown. When our meal is served we are asked if we want any sauces, we ask for brown sauce and get offered BBQ sauce, so we decline and tuck in and our bacon buttie is basically a couple of slices of bacon on a burger bun which already had tomato sauce on it and the hash brown is a load of small mini hash browns. With the breakfast not being as expected, it did go down well and certainly hit the spot. We walk back around to the coach and some "fresh air" is had whilst we wait for the driver to return, see picture right. We board our coach and Mr UKBuses decides to take a couple of fingers off his hand by firstly getting one trapped in the overhead locker and then he decides to take another one out by getting it trapped when he raises the arm rest. Just after 10.30am we make our way back onto the M40 and get to London, leaving the M40 and onto the A40 passing RAF Northolt and passing through White City, just getting a glimpse of the old BBC TV Centre and passing Kensington Palace before alighting at Park Lane.

A New Bus For London on service 38 at Victoria Bus Station
We are dropped off just by the bus stop where we have to catch our first bus of the day, so after some "fresh air" whilst Mr UKBuses takes a few photographs, our Arriva London service 73 arrives and we tap in for the first time today and also this year, using our Oystercards. We go through the "Streets of London" and after about fifteen minutes, we arrive at Victoria Bus Station where a few minutes are had taking some photographs, see picture left. We make our way through Victoria Railway Station, to get to our bus stop and we catch Metroline's Service 24 from Victoria, which takes about 10 minutes to go round in a circle, and we arrive at Trafalgar Square about 20 minutes later, where we alight. After a few more photographs are taken, we decide to have a drink and some food, so we head to J D Wetherspoon's "The Lord Moon of the Mall", where Mr UKBuses gets the first round in. Whilst he is at the bar waiting to get served, I look around the pub for a table and cannot find one, so food may be have to taken elsewhere. I do wait around the front of the pub and luckily a few people leave and I swoop in for the kill and lay claim to the table. We decide to have some food despite a half hour wait and Mr UKBuses decides to opt for the BBQ Chicken Melt "without the melt", I opt for the Chicken Burger with a free pint. Another round is purchased as I ordered the food.

After a "fresh air" break, I make my way back inside and re-join Mr UKBuses and just after half an hour later, our food eventually arrives so we tuck in. The chips we had were slightly limp and then I went to eat my chicken burger which half of it was rock solid and must have been left on the griddle far too long. After eating what I could, I put my plate to one side and when a member of staff came round to collect our plates he decided to ask the question, "Was everything alight with our meals?", I then demonstrated with a fork, that the fork couldn't even penetrate my burger and after about five minutes away he comes back to the table, he comes back with a full refund for both our meals. Whilst it was not the member of staff's fault about the food, I must congratulate him on the way he dealt with the complaint and how quickly he responded. We finish our drinks off and then make our way around to the Charing Cross Underground Station, where we make our first journey of the day and year, on The Tube.

The Carpenters Arms, Bethnal Green
We make our way onto the Bakerloo Line and go a couple of stops to Oxford Circus, where we alight and make our way onto the Central Line and we make our way to the East End and just after ten minutes we arrive and alight at Bethnal Green Underground Station. We make our way to ground level, and we make our way to the bus stop opposite the station and we catch Stagecoach London service 8 to Barnet Grove, where we alight and make our way down St Matthews Row and into a public house which was once owned by The Kray Brothers, so we enter into "The Carpenters Arms", see picture right, where Mr UKBuses decides to make a dash for the toilet, leaving me to get the round in (which means that I have purchased two rounds in a go as I purchased the second drink at the Lord Moon of The Mall!!), which came to a staggering £8.80 for two pints. We eventually find somewhere to sit, in the hallway next to the carpenter's tool's hanging on the wall (or were they a reference to tool used by The Krays?). We think Ronnie and Reggie were haunting the place as when we both took a "cheers photograph", both came out not in focus, see picture below left.

Cheers from The Carpenters Arms!
We finish our drinks and after passing a public house close by on the bus earlier, we decide to go off the plan and walk down Cheshire Street and onto Vallance Road, where upon on research we found out that we were standing in front of the building that now occupies what would have been The Krays family home, we walk to the end of Vallance Road and enter The Krays local pub, "The Marquis Of Cornwallis". We have a quick drink here, before we make our way out onto the East End streets and we again catch Stagecoach London service 8, where we alight at Tottenham Court Road Underground Station, looking at The Dominion Theatre for the first time without the giant statue of Freddie Mercury standing outside. We decide to pop into McDonald's opposite for a quick bite to eat and then we get onto our final tube journey of the day tapping in at Tottenham Court Road Underground Station and onto the Central Line alighting at Marble Arch Underground Station.

We make our way back to ground level and we still have half an hour left before the coach arrives, luckily in the area we know that there is a J D Wetherspoons pub just around the corner from our pickup point in Park Lane, so we decide to get in the warmth and visit "The Tyburn" and it is my turn for the round, even though I got an extra round in at The Carpenters Arms, and we rest our feet for a while before making our way back around the corner to Park Lane, where on time, our Whittles Coach arrives and we all board and take our seats ready for the journey back up the motorway. We start our journey back and it is not too long before snoring is heard when Mr UKBuses decides to have a nap. Luckily for the other passengers it is less than hour of hearing the noise as we arrive at Welcome Break Oxford Services where we have a brief break and time for some "fresh air" before we board again.

We leave the services and it is back up the M40, M42 and M5 with Mr UKBuses having another nap, before leaving the motorway and making our way back through Hagley, before arriving in Stourbridge, the first drop off point at around 08.15pm. Mr UKBuses makes sure that people get off quickly so that we can carry onto Wollaston where at about 08.20pm we arrive and alight. Luckily for Mr UKBuses, National Express West Midlands service 276 is running a few minutes late, but it does arrive and he boards for his short journey back home. I bid goodbye and have a quick nightcap in Graham's Place and The Unicorn before retiring back home and getting a well deserved sleep.

Despite the cold chill, the weather was kind to us and a good first day out of 2016 was had, thanks to Pete, our coach driver and Mr UKBuses for the plan, speaking of Mr UKBuses, his bald spot did make an appearance in the cold weather:

Bald Spot 1

Bald Spot 1: The Bald Spot lurking at London Victoria Bus Station.

Bald Spot 2

Bald Spot 2: The Bald Spot nearly getting run over by a Borismaster at London Victoria Bus Station.

Bald Spot 3

Bald Spot 3: The winter sunshine is reflected by the Bald Spot at Trafalgar Square.