Merrion Square Buses

Merrion Square buses

On the Irish leg of my recent trip, I stayed in Dublin, the latter accommodation being quite close to a great Aunt’s old place in Booterstown (No. 4 bus route). Returning there one early evening, these three remarkable buses greeted me by the side of Merrion Square.

Merrion Square is one of Dublin’s fine Georgian squares, not unlike London’s Tavistock or Russell squares. Nearby is the Dublin Art Gallery and a very good therapist if you have any back issues or sports injuries ( Round the corner, O’Connor’s bar ( gave me a great welcome.

Yoga ladies, Blackrock, Co Louth

Blackrock scenes

Outlook from the Priest’s Beach, Blackrock Beach, Co. Louth

O, the Motherland!

St Patrick’s Church, Roden Place, Dundalk, Co Louth, Eire

My hearts swells and tears gather behind my big, blue glasses, at my desk. Eight years had passed since I visited Ireland and recently, with the ‘dreaded unmentionable’ restrictions being lifted, a door opened to enable the passage to the Motherland.

My mother, so strong, eloquent and true, came from the town of Dundalk, Co. Louth. Dundalk lies between Dublin and Belfast on Ireland’s east coast. A dear cousin, who lives near Southport, Merseyside, says she looks out from her nearest beach, towards Blackrock, Co. Louth, the seaside suburb of Dundalk where several family members relocated.

In summers past, my mother and I would visit Blackrock (Co. Louth), sometimes taking the bus waiting in Roden Place, next to St Patrick’s Cathedral (pictured). The Halpenny bus (pronounced ‘Hay-pa-ni’ as in the old halfpenny) now leaves the town, passing through a modern housing estate, before trundling along the Long Walk and turning down an avenue near the golf course towards a hairpin bend and into the linear village of Blackrock.

This year, one of my aunties sadly passed away (RIP dear Aunt Briege) and I had to get out to ‘The Rock’ for the funeral mass in good time, watching local ladies taking up yoga positions on Blackrock Beach whilst I waited.

Never had I seen the beach looking so Caribbean. The first few days of my visit coincided with the heatwave that had plagued London. The few degrees of difference in the more northerly Blackrock made a comfortable difference.

The bus blog is back: Essential Journeys

The Legendary London Bus Blog is back…but this time it’s not just London: it’s essential journeys everywhere.

As you can see from the above bus (no. 3 to Jennyfield, Harrogate), the writer posed an extremely low risk to fellow passengers.

The 3 is part of an electric fleet operating out of Harrogate’s attractive bus station, of which I have no pictures at present. The route takes you up the Ripon Road and round by ‘The Hydro’, not a dam or electric project, but a swimming pool complex. There is a Co-op and some attractive bungalows en route.

Other notable buses in Harrogate include the 36 (Harrogate to Leeds/Harrogate to Ripon) and the 7 (Harrogate to Wetherby). The 36 is a double decker with comfortable seats and Wifi that does not always work. The 7 is a single decker electric bus and has a private rival which takes you to Wetherby via a slightly different route.

The vibe on the ‘Harrogate area’ buses is, of course, different to that of London buses. A man who was not drunk, opportunistic or in any way mentally or emotionally challenged actually started a conversation with me on the 36. Really have to think hard of when that last happened in and around London. Very occasionally and even in these challenging times, you will get a certain ‘depth of conversation’ – however brief – on a London bus. Something started by ‘a humourous incident’: a cursory glance between passengers; the heaving shoulders of hilarity. And then there are discussions with drivers – when the bus is stationary – which is another subject to be covered, particularly relating to north west London buses, often laws unto themselves.

Best of 2016


Blossom by the Heritage Park development, Tooting Bec.

Buses: 249, 319.



Algae homage to Monet, St James’s Park

Buses: 24, 211 etc



March of the faithful, Streatham Mosque,

Streatham Village

Buses: G1, 249, 319, 333 etc



Put your foot on it! Another wedding bus hurtles past….

Tooting Bec Road

Buses: 249, 319



Let’s recap: the no. 6


It was an overcast day when I took the No. 6 (Aldwych to Brent Park, near Willesden) and some time ago.  The journey to Bertie Road, its terminus, had been uneventful save for the occasional muttering from another passenger.  The 6’s USP is undoubtably Little Venice (W9 2PF), which it traverses en route to Willesden in north west London.

The route itself, passing by Marylebone, Paddington, Queens Park and Kensal Rise was relatively quick. Yet I had a stronger desire to return to the aforementioned Little Venice, about midway on the journey, than to linger at the terminus.  It’s no particular reflection on Bertie Road and environs: this is bog-standard suburbia with its mishmash of local shops and roads leading somewhere else.  But Little Venice, with a chill clarity of air from the canal’s water, was akin to being on a mountain above a pollution maelstrom.

So take the bus for this.


Comfort: 14/20

Interest: 16/20

Momentum: 18/20

Character: 15/20

Style: 17/20

Total: 80

And a curious thing….

A month or so ago, whilst travelling on a bus through Elephant and Castle, a passenger notified the driver that there was a person on the roof.

Being of occasional nervous disposition – and shortly to alight – I took a peek out of the upstairs window and finding no evidence of said person, gingerly got off.

But lo and behold last week, the Evening Standard reported that a chap had indeed been riding the roofs of buses…..around the Elephant and Castle:

The last time I’d seen such antics was in Sam Taylor-Wood’s film Nowhere Boy: though the Elephant and Castle footage is significantly more dicey.  Parcours this is not.


202 bus towards Crystal Palace,  June 2016


Jack, a fan from Purley (a leafy part of Surrey bordering south London) contacted me recently to ask about the status of this blog. Writing back, I told him that sadly – due to unforeseen circumstances – I had not had sufficient downtime to devote to long bus journeys in recent months.  So here is a test card of a bus seen on the bridge at Streatham Hill recently.  As you can see, it’s not a regular bus but rather a bus to take a wedding party to a reception.  Nice and shiny, isn’t it?wp_20160611_003

What grace! What beauty!

But this time, what a surprise! The 6 is a little-known tourist trophy.


Mock tudor apartments in Maida Vale

Sure, you have to get past the melange of Edgware Road, a little Beirut of shops and stationary traffic.  A branch of Topps Tiles further on signals the beginning of suburbia.  And what a series of gems you pass through: St John’s Wood, with its huge Georgian villas, Maida Vale and Little Venice, where the air seems purer than elsewhere.


Shops in Maida Vale