Bell, Rainham, Essex   Leave a comment



The Bell was abandoned save for the bartender — a young woman who couldn’t have reached 25 years of age, yet — and a latter day Teddy boy slumped at the end of the bar. There was Elvis music on the jukebox, those Vegas era ballads that usually end with a soaring long-held final note and a karate kick. I reckoned I knew who had put these on and was proven wrong when she was the one to reload the jukebox this time with earlier stuff from the King.

“Elvis fan?”
She nodded. The song on was “All Shook Up.” I kept this story to myself at the time, but you might appreciate it:

New Year’s Eve is our anniversary and in 1988, while I was still driving a Taxi, we went out for some dinner and were heading home to Knight Park for an early night of hallucinogens. On the way, I decided to stop in at the Northside Tavern which at the time was as big a dive as existed in Atlanta…not Dive trademark like hipsters and yuppies would have it, but the sort of place I would pour a customer into the back of the taxi from at 3am and then drop them back off at when it opened at 10.




It was as festive as it could get in those days. There were three guys half asleep at the bar and a two women sharing a table, smoking and staring at the floor. Some History Channel program on fighter jets was on and every once in a while one of the barflies would look up and grunt some approval or disapproval of whatever was currently featured.

We took our cocktails to the other room where the billiards table was. The bartender yelled over, “Donnie, yer gonna have to get up. These people want to shoot pool.” We gestured for Donnie to stay put, fearing he might hurt himself climbing down from the felt top.

I went to the jukebox and played a few things and the first to come up was “All Shook Up.” It was loud but no one seemed to notice it was even on EXCEPT that every time it got to the pause between these two lines:

I’m in love…
I’m all shook up

Everyone in the bar except us loudly grunted a “HUNHHHNHHH!” Try it yourself. It is the only way you’ll ever hear it again.


Posted May 26, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Optimist, Upminster, Essex   Leave a comment


Why is this pub called the Optimist? I hoped the fish and chips would be edible but I didn’t expect them to be good (which, it turned out, they were). By the time my food arrived my glass was half empty (see what I did there?), and I was convinced one of these obese fellows creaking around the grounds was going to have a heart attack at any moment. I just wasn’t getting into the spirit of the pub name.



I finished my lunch and headed out. I needed to cross the road to rejoin the trail and was dashing toward it when I heard the clip-clop of the horse-drawn hearse, stopped at the kerb, and removed my cap until the entire cortege had passed. I hope the passenger deserved this minimal show of respect but I bet he was a complete and utter bastard. Crypt half full, and all that.

Loads of ale (and more guests to come), cheap (my meal and drink was about £7.50), and it was where I was when I got hungry and thirsty.  Not much to complain about, for sure.



Windmill, Upminster, Essex   Leave a comment


On the path I was running, there is supposed to be a famous windmill of very odd design, something resembling an overcoat, from the descriptions I’ve read. But, the only Windmill I found was this pub of fairly modern and uninteresting design. But, I was there for a Windmill and needs must….

It was fairly quiet in the pub, but it was only 11:30 on Monday morning. A warm day, several punters enjoying the cool shade decided to make me a target of mockery and derision — and even concern — for venturing out in this “furnace-like heat.”  It’s going to be a hot summer, one of those I long for nostalgically.  Soon, I’ll be the only creature outside…it’s going to be grand.  I’ll OWN the streets.


Posted May 25, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 22-24)   2 comments


The best marked sections of the entire London Outer Orbital Path were the 3 done today so the only times I strayed from the trail were intentional. As such, the only one of the many (I’m told) whimsical benches I found in the first park land I ran through was this bird:



Although these Steampunk street lamps modeled after the War of the Worlds Martian attack ships were a treat:



And, the park at the bottom of the hill from these had a very retro play item:



Just beyond that was a sea of nettles before a bridge to safety.  I almost expected a troll or to have to answer three questions to cross but it was just a bridge.



WW2 bunkers started appearing but the WW2 items later were a real treat.



Between the Bell and the Phoenix, in Rainham, there is a weird little clock tower.  Well, not so much a tower as a demonstration of a tower but it incorporates the war memorial so it should be approached as a solemn thing:



I’m assured that these turbines constitute the first wind farm in Europe.  They power, for the most part, the motor vehicle factory in Dagenham.



Yet another overly protective railway bridge:



And, even better way markers as you approach the end of the line:



It gets industrial as you approach the Thames.  Not as much as on Section 1, which you can see on the other shore, but visually appealing to someone like me:



So, here are those other WW2 artefacts: concrete barges from the D-Day landings.  I think they worked thus: towed at speed by the amphibious and other landing craft then released at the last minute to allow their enormous mass (and thereby momentum) carry them and their cargo ashore.



Watching over them, this little fellow is submerged at high tide.  I haven’t yet found out his creator:



But, the motif is picked up a few hundred meters away in the Cold Harbour light tower:




As mentioned earlier, you see Erith across the waters:



But, unlike that section, when you look inland you see the Rainham marshland:



It is a bird sanctuary.  Here’s the RSPB centre which administers the protected area (covered, this day, with birders carrying tripods for their massive scopes and telephoto lenses).



Just before leaving the Thames into Purfleet at the Royal Hotel, I spotted this well done reworking of a cautionary sign:



And, finally, at the station heading home there was this former road or rail flyover.  It doesn’t serve a purpose, anymore, so I’ll consider it technically a Thomasson (that link for the other examples I’ve found or this one for a more in depth discussion of the phenomenon):


King Harold, Harold Wood, Essex   Leave a comment


It was good to enter the King Harold because that meant the end of the day’s run. I’ve spent much of this holiday putting in my recent weekly mileage every day or, at the most, two. I was knackered and in need of some water. I got several glasses of this but it would have been rude not to order a double whiskey to chase them.



Inside, the house is really nice. Rooms spin off the round bar like spokes.  These roomlets are on slightly higher tiers that lend a feeling of isolation despite the basically open plan.

Outside, there is lots of work going on and I wasn’t sure it was even open until I opened the door and it seemed like another world. I got the feeling I was in a non-threatening version of this bar scene from Goodfellas but with an all suburban London cast.


Posted May 25, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Bear, Noak Hill, Essex   Leave a comment


The Bear is simply a typical estate pub that at some point was bought by Sizzling Pubs and, as a result, has a standard, workable food menu to go along with the bar. I must have seen a hundred of these so far and if I was taken to one blindfolded I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one it is once the hood was removed.  This one has a mounted bear’s head over the bar but it is in the dark and I’m not sure I would notice it.



But, this one has a huge beer garden. You could set up a half-sized football or cricket pitch on it. Or, an archery range. Although, the way the little kids out there were smacking each other with balloons this might not be the best idea. In fact, I’m not too sure about trusting the ADULTS with pointy sticks, either.


Posted May 25, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Orange Tree, Havering-atte-Bower, Essex   Leave a comment


It was a long run on uneven terrain with much of it uphill but mostly in the shade to get from the Two Brewers to the Orange Tree. Parched, I went for the tap with the most condensation collected on it which turned out to be the namesake cider. Cloudy, sweet, and very, very cold.



They were still seating folks for Sunday lunch and the footpaths nearby were drawing loads of drinkers to the far-too-sunny-for-me beer garden but I spotted some shade on one of the tables across the car park near a fence. Just over the fence was a rickety-but-still-employed stable I photo-documented in the run write-up.




The crowd was too much for a couple and their two kids, too, and they joined me at an adjacent table. While the father-type was escorting the kids to the loo, I spoke with the mother character about the sights on-trail I had chosen wrong, it seems, since they had just been on an avenue of Giant Redwoods — not as giant as in California but grown from cuttings of the same stock you might find in Yellowstone or Sequoia National Parks.  Next time….

She seemed cursed with the same sort of fair skin I was trying to protect so I drank up and offered the shade which she happily accepted. And, it was back to the run, from there.


Posted May 25, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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