Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saturday 29 September - Orpington and Trams

Not wanting to face the hassles of the Hammersmith and City line we decided to take the 205 bus to St. Pancras.  The area in front of Kings Cross was filthy with discarded beer cans and fast food wrappers.
I was reminded of Monty Python "There's a nice bit o' shit daan 'ere."
St. Pancras was clean and tidy

Javelin train at Ashford
 We took the High Speed Javelin train to Ashford.  The conductor was very friendly and helpful.  The train we had intended to take to Tonbridge for Orpington had to be diverted through Maidstone East because of a fatality on the line between Ashford and Tonbridge.  This took us through wonderful country including Eynsford, Shoreham, Swanley and St. Mary Cray with a special stop at Chistlehurst.  Again the conductor was very friendly and helpful.   We were the only ones who got off at Chistlehurst and took the next train to Orpington.  The upshot was that we were only a couple of minutes later than if we had come as planned via Tonbridge.

If anything Orpington has improved.  There are a large number of coffee/wine bars along the High Street although three of the pubs have closed leaving only the White Hart and another fairly new one.
There has been a man with a barrow selling fruit by the Post Office for as long as I can remember.  He has now acquired the use of a small shop but he still puts out his wares on the pavement.  Doesn't need the barrow any more,
Last pub standing - The White Hart
Priory Gardens

All Saints
All Saints
Priory Gardens were beautiful and the peace of the All Saints churchyard was broken only by the quarreling of the magpies.  Grandma and Granddad's grave is in the same condition, at least the tilt has not become worse.  We walked past the Canadian cemetary and down the path to Court Road.  This has become so overgrown that it is pretty much a tunnel.  The nasty concrete wall has been replaced by iron railings.  They were doing some work at 11A Court Road - a skip was in the front.

We walked past Grandma's old house on Elmcroft Road to the Cricketers.  We walked in to an empty bar.  There was a scabrous woman carrying a baby, searching for something on the floor and shouting to somebody out back.  After a minute or so of being ignored I coughed politely to which she shouted "Yer, wocher want".  I inquired about the beer on draft and was informed loudly they only had one.  We left.

The White Hart was completely different.  The man and woman behind the bar made us very welcome, quickly poured beers and took our meal orders.  There was a rush of men just after we arrived who came in to watch the game between Arsenal and Chelsea.  It was pretty lively.  A great roar went up when Chelsea scored and another when Arsenal equalized.
Watching the game at the White Hart
The Steak and Ale pie was very good but a little too much.
A quick train ride to Beckenham Junction and we found the Croydon Tramlink.  We were both surprised to see all the trams have been repainted from red to blue, green and white.  We changed at Sandilands for New Addington then went right through from there to Wimbledon.  The speeds reached on some sections were pretty high, 80 kmph on the speedometer, and the service provided is frequent and fast.  Being Saturday afternoon there were huge crowds in the pedestrian areas of Croydon.
Croydon tram at Beckenham Junction
One of the new Croydon trams at Sandilands.
At Wimbledon we found a train to Waterloo and took the Bakerloo line to Paddington.  Our Oyster cards had been working overtime from Orpington and we reached the daily maximum so any additional trips were free.  We took advantage of this to go to Stratford and see the Docklands Light Railway right through to Lewisham.  The Central line was very crowded and the noise levels from the train were unacceptably high.  The DLR was quiet, comfortable and impressive, bearing in mind that the system is computer controlled and the trains are driverless.  There were some good views over the Thames at Canary Wharf and we came back to Paddington on a very very noisy Jubilee line.
The Thames

The very impressive DLR station at Canary Wharf

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