In which it rained.


Richmond – Clapham Jct – Victoria – Swiss Cottage – Hamstead Heath – Richmond

I really hadn’t been looking forward to this trip. I’d agreed to go and speak to a group about Transport for All and accessible transport in general, but this was before I saw the weather forecast which was wet, very, very wet. I knew there would be a wheel (walk) at Swiss Cottage, but a commitment is a commitment.

I stood at the first bus stop playing Russian Roulette. There was a huge puddle in the road, and a lot of traffic. I half expected each car or truck to catch the puddle as it passed and cover me with a deluge of dirty rainwater. But no, almost every one hugged the road’s centreline and missed the puddle entirely. The only exception was a large coach, which I swear swerved to miss the gutter lake, something I have never seen before. Truth be told, the bus stop is on a shallow bend, so the behaviour of the drivers had nothing to do with consideration, and much more to do with the shortest distance between two points, but I’ll take my wins where I can get them.

I got to the platform at Richmond easily enough, but as I arrived it began to rain. This wasn’t an issue as the platform is undercover so I stayed dry as the ramp wrangler did his thing.

By the time I got to Clapham Junction, to change, the rain was really making it’s presence felt, but again everything was undercover so I stayed dry. The staff at Clapham don’t have a good reputation for providing assistance, but on this occasion gave me no cause for complaint. Of course, they have recently begun a six month trial of Turn-up-and-go  which may or may not be having an effect.

As we set off towards Victoria the downpour eased so that by the time we arrived it had turned into a refreshing April shower, albeit in May. I had a short wait for assistance (yes, Victoria are in on the trial too) which meant that by the time I got outside to catch the bus for the next leg of my journey the rain had stopped all together.

The arrival of a class of primary schoolchildren, aged perhaps 5, at the bus stop, along with an army of minders, made me hope they weren’t also after my bus. Sadly, it became quickly obvious that indeed this excited and boisterous crocodile was intending to do just that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of educating the next generation, and trips out are a useful and powerful tool for this, just so long as they don’t impact me!

When the bus arrived I pushed my way, carefully, through the miniature throng and slipped onto the bus through the door in the middle. Much to my relief the tiny army disappeared on to the top deck. For the entire journey passengers would get on and disappear upstairs before returning moments later to take a seat or stand on the lower deck with a certain bemused expression.

The 30 minute ride through central London was very pleasant. The sun came out and showed the city at it’s best. Steady traffic flow meant we weren’t held up, except for a 5 minute stop to disgorge the munch-kins, so I arrived early, very early at Swiss Cottage.

If you find yourself in Swiss Cottage I can highly recommend the cafe in the community centre. The menu choice and food quality is amazing and the staff are incredibly attentive. It was also interesting for the thunderstorm and violent downpour while I waited, but I suspect you won’t get these if you choose to visit, but I digress.

After my meeting I was pointed towards a bus to Hamstead Heath, and got to sit soaking up the sun whilst I waited for it. Given that this was now 3.30pm it was predictable that there were a lot of (unusually polite and considerate) secondary age school kids also waiting. Whenever I see it I’m always amazed by the number of young, fit school kids who would rather wait to ride a bus for one stop, rather than walk the short distance which is usually quicker.

The change at Hamstead onto the Overground gave me the only hiccup for the day. The staff advised that I needed platform 2 to get to Richmond, however it became clear from the departure board once I got there that this was wrong, so I instead used my limited initiative to change platforms. It seems almost unnecessary to report that once again, as I waited, the heavens opened, but again being undercover I stayed dry.

Predictably for this trip I got met promptly at Richmond (who aren’t part of the Turn-up-and-go trial, go figure) and got the connecting bus home without getting wet. But almost as soon as I stepped in the door the heavens opened once more. Today the universe truly was smiling on me.

So there it is. A day in which all assistance worked, almost, perfectly, all buses and ramps did exactly what they’re supposed to and nothing held me up. Less of a travel blog, and more of a weather report.

About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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