Archive for the ‘Endless British Pub Crawl’ Category

Top Five? A reply to @naylor_tony   Leave a comment

Mr Naylor is right.

Here are 5 near the top of my list:

The Chequers in Cottenham (pub #23 first visited on March 8, 2009): an absolute treasure in the Fens.

The Dog & Duck, Linton (#289, January 6, 2010): scenic, ancient, with delicious food and they featured on our winter jigsaw that year)

The Beehive, Swindon (#615, July 1 2011): spent many happy evenings and afternoons here.  Closely challenged for the Swindon entry by the Glue Pot (#542) and The Roaring Donkey (#672).

The Rose & Crown, Chippenham (#925, July 6, 2012): Barmy.  Almost too local (there must be a mental ward very nearby).

The Inkerman Tavern, Hull (#1812, May 13, 2017): had a room for the night, here, but don’t remember how I got to it…ideal.

Those are 5 or 7 but I could easily expand it to include pubs that are OBJECTIVELY ‘good’ bars and not just the ones that gave me the warmest or weirdest welcomes.  See also, these other interlopers that occasionally crack the top five:

The Moderation, Hull (#1802) for earlier morning bleakness than a Wetherspoons can even offer.

The Roscoe Head, Liverpool (#612) for a classic, cozy Northern pub with outstanding pie and mash

The Cat Tavern (#1435), The Village Free House (#1434), and Deacon’s (#1436), all in Salisbury not a minute’s stumble between any two and all dive bar perfection.

The list will be different tomorrow (and, maybe even this afternoon).

 

 

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2017: Year in Review   Leave a comment

Everyone does an End-Of-The-Year retrospective and I almost always do, too (here’s 2016’s review, for example).  Remember, this blog is about pubs and running more than anything else and most of what remains is primarily adolescent humour.  With that caveat, I bring you the Year 2017 In Review:

The Running Year 2017 (painfully detailed post to follow) was only salvaged in the last 1/3 of the year despite an initially strong start.  I started training for the Siracusa Marathon which had been cancelled at the last moment in 2016 and which was again cancelled this year nearly 3 months before it was scheduled to run.  Shit.  However, this left me in pretty good shape for tackling the London Outer Orbital Path mostly in May (while Jackie was Stateside), averaging more than 6½ miles per day and one week over 90 miles.

But, a prolonged respiratory infection hit me the first week of June (lingering for another week and with a relapse mid-July) and a spot of cancer related depression thereafter pushed my weekly mileage down significantly.  I had only managed to hit 1000 miles for the year by mid-August.

Fortuitously, I came into possession of a block of hash and a few very oily buds of home grown pot and, with their help and guidance, rediscovered the joys of hard training with no specific goal.  Well, one specific goal: I decided to try to salvage the annual mileage with a modest 1600 by year’s end, upping that to 1800 as it became clear 1600 was going to fall easily, eventually ending on 2022.  Now, if I hadn’t already blown through the weed I might target some real mileage for 2018.

So, running was all personal this year and that made it a good thing.  No races.  No hashing.  No GHAD.  Just finishing the London A to Z Runs, the London Outer Orbital Path, the Holiday Run Streak, and starting the TfL Run Project with 267 pub stops for the year in the midst of runs (and, 322 total, bringing the grand total to 2038).

Pub details (especially write-ups)

Pubs by month
16   Jan
17   Feb
20   Mar
11   Apr
74   May
12   Jun
19   Jul
23   Aug
30  Sep
28  Oct
40 Nov
32 Dec

Other good write-ups (reverse chronological order under the subheadings):

Favourite Pub visits:

The Woodman, Birmingham (pub #2000)
The Charlie Chaplin, Elephant & Castle (atmosphere)
The Queens, Crouch End (stunning)
The Victoria Tavern, Plaistow (atmosphere)
The Harp, Covent Garden (beer curation)
The Britannia, Plaistow (drunken conversation)
The Land of Liberty, Peace & Plenty, Chorleywood (damn near perfect pub)
The Marquis of Granby, New Cross (weird encounter)
The Old Oak Tree, Southall (whorehouse as revealed at the Lamb, shortly thereafter)
The Pineapple, Lambeth (not a half-bad local this close to Waterloo)
The George, Isle of Dogs (trying to convince a middle-aged guy he’s still fuckable)
The Wattenden Arms, Kenley (surreal art criticism)
The Sir Julian Huxley, Selsdon (foul-mouthed grannies)
The Tiger, Homerton (rare to find a hipster joint so hip)
The Duke’s Head, Crayford (almost too hospitable)
Dive Bar, Hull (they gave me too much change!)
Wm Hawkes, Hull (dark and awesome, despite fucking up my order)
The Rising Sun, Mill Hill (Grade 1 Listed)
Grim’s Dyke Hotel, Harrow & Wealdston (stunning former home of WS Gilbert)
The Queen’s Head, Limehouse (maybe gone by now, but as local as they come anymore)
Ye Olde Greene Manne, Rickmansworth (more encounters with nutters)
The Castle, Holland Park (architecture and hopelessly incompetent staff)
Lavin’s Bar, Hanwell (another psycopath encounter)
The Bull, Iver (for the local day drinkers)
Tap Social, Oxford (awesome microbrewery and tap room)

Other Events:

TfL Run Project (ongoing)
Beaujolais Nouveaux Day
Socialism 2017
Notting Hill Carnival (August Bank Holiday)
Mets vs Capitals Baseball
Nunhead Cemetery
Anti-Tory March and Rally (Not One Day More, July)
My First UK Vote
My Trip To Hull (many good posts)
Shakespeare’s Globe for “Nell Gwynn”
Taping of Have I Got News For You
Anti-Trump Rally at the US Embassy

Food and Feasting, mostly Recipes:

Vodca Sméar Dubh (Blackberry Vodka)
Tom Collins Obit
Feast of St Arnold
Hot Dogs
Treasures From Trumpministan
Yellow Peril Dandelion Wine
Angostura Tinted Martinis
Iron Duke Punch
Limping Lotta’s Banana Muffins
Tafel Spitz (Viennese boiled beef and stuff)
Chateaux La Limace et Le Gaz Hilarant (Drunken Bunny Cabernet)
Tamarinds (also, growing them)
A Week Of Haggis
Lyme Bay Mead (gift from workmates)
Winter Solstice Mead (another Drunken Bunny brewing attempt)
Colonel EH Taylor Small Batch Bourbon (gift from a lab visitor)
Best Kebab: Streatham Kebab, Fish and Chips House
Best Fish: The Carp & Trout, Hampton Hill

Previously Unwritten Recipe:

Basil & Grape Cocktail (from a food section article in The Guardian): makes 2 (these were really refreshing at the end of Summer)

Put these in a blender and blitz:
3 shots of good gin (I know, I know … all gin is good gin)
16 chilled green, seedless grapes
12 basil leaves
2 tsp sugar
juice of a lime

Pour into a shaker with ice, shake vigourously, and strain over 6 FROZEN grapes in each of two glasses. Garnish with one more basil leaf in each.  Yummy.

———————————————————————–

Obits (note, Tom Collins Obit in Food, above):

Robert Blakely, designer of the Fallout Shelter sign
Unnamed Person’s Wake at the Red Lion, Southall
Bill Simonsick (one of the few truly great Americans I have known and loved)
Bruce Langhorne (one of Dylan’s inspirations and dead ringer for my cousin, Chuck)
Lord Snowdon (trivia topic at the Sportsman, Croxley Green)
Tommy McDermot (late of the Old Crown in Hayes)

 

Best Ludicrous Posts:

Be Careful Of Your Dreams Coming True
Unfortunate Business Name
The Man Cave, Oxford
Party On, Wayne
The D.H. Lawrence Car Hire, Sudbury
A to Z Run W for Women
Jello Biafra/Dead Kennedys Tribute
A to Z Run U for Udders
New Cds From Notting Hill Market
Julie’s In The Drugs Squad
A Cancer On The Presidency
D90B (Drunken Bunny version of P90X)
NOT a Fetish Bar
Post to President Bannon
Trumpageddon…Inauguration Day

What an absolute bastard year.

 

 

Thanksgiving 2016   1 comment

 

trumpsgiving

I’m escaping work now for the Thanksgiving holiday (one of very few American things I cling to).

This year, no recipe to publish but the meal is roast duck, cornbread dressing, green salad, sweet potato pie for dessert, and too much to drink but we’ll give it a go.

I am quite thankful that I am no longer an American, by the way.

British Citizenship (or, No Direction Home)   10 comments

citizenship-pic-2crop

 

“Fare thee well, gone away
There’s nothing left to say….”
Body of an American by the Pogues

The Body — and, of course, the accent — are the only things that are still American as I am now registered to vote in England and awaiting my British passport.  It has been arduous at times to get to this day and worth every greyed and shed hair and spent shilling (just look back at the posts on the Britishness exam and the application for Indefinite Leave To Remain to see what I mean).  If you want to know about the weird Citizenship Ceremony (at which photography is a strictly controlled franchise so no pictures here), I’ll tell you all about it when next we meet…just remind me.

I received the paperwork inviting me to swear fealty to Her Majesty‘s realm precisely 40 years, 1 month, and 21 days after I made this decision in the throes of my very first acid trip.  I have a crystalline memory of that day and how it led me to this one.

It was the 4th of July 1976 (not only Independence Day but the Bicentennial!) and I was about 8 hours into the ride on some Felix the Cat blotter, watching dusk encroach over a golf course fairway at Griffin (GA) City Park with the town hospital’s lights becoming noticeable on the hill opposite; the absolute ugliness of my native land, its ghastly inhabitants, and what passes there for culture made all too apparent — too concise and too clear — over the course of the day.  I concluded there-and-then that — not only did I want to be, but — I had the wherewithal to become a citizen of another country.

Since that moment, I’ve worked on this considering — and putting a bit of effort into — Canada, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Ireland as potential refuges; but, my new land is the one that made me feel the most welcome or, to be absolutely honest about it, the LEAST unwelcome.  And, so it came to pass that, earlier today, I became a Brit.

No longer need the Indefinite Leave To Remain card, so off it goes to the Home Office

No longer need the Indefinite Leave To Remain card, so off it goes to the Home Office

.

Afterwards, we stopped for beverages in the Three Tuns on the way to the Tube.  Disappointingly, they have no jukebox — modern ones are connected to the Interwebs offering unlimited possibilities — so my playlist would have to wait until the champagne at the house.  What I had in mind was the aforementioned Pogues, Billy Bragg’s “A New England” and some Dylan because, during The Ceremony, Bob’s 1966 audience banter popped into my head: the bit just after the “Judas!” heckle at the Manchester Free Trade Hall.  Not the part where he drawls, “I don’t believe you…you’re a liar,” but right after that (and just before he and the Hawks cracked into “Like a Rolling Stone”) when he says to the Band:

“Play it fucking loud”

 

 

 

Last Run In Britain (As A Foreigner)   4 comments

It caught my attention, but the truck was a let down

This caught my attention, but the truck was a let down

 

I took Tuesday off work to go for a bit of a run/pub crawl, to eat some local cuisine, and to think about my last day as a foreigner in Britain.  By the time this publishes Wednesday morning, the metamorphosis will have begun.  When it is official, I’ll post a brief message here (and add a link to it for those that find this article months or years later).  In the meantime, I managed to add 6 more pubs to the list as well as another jellied eel and chippy fish to that map all in a little under 7 miles jogging through the hottest September day here in the last 50 years…glorious.

 

mile-edn-park-from-mile-end-station

Mile End Park just ahead, left out of Mile End Station

 

The run was typical: get lost, see unexpected shit, find a place to drink, regroup, repeat.  It did sort of arrange itself into segments without any prompting from me, though.

 

Segment 1, Victoria and Albert:

2016-09-13-segment-1-va-and-eels

 

Hopped off the tube at Mile End Station and headed to Mile End Park to sip a beverage at the Palm Tree which turned out to be closed until much later in the day (see Segments 2 and 3, as this recurred frequently).  I bailed on this one and went to the nearby Victoria, asked for and got directions to an eel shop, dined on these Victorian treats in the market, then washed the fishy aftertaste out of my mouth at the Albert.

canal-under-there-somewhere

There’s water under that mat of algae and garbage, but I didn’t fancy a swim to prove it

 

 

Segment 2, Literature:

2016-09-13-segment-2-literature

 

I suffered a bit of misdirection through a park then spotted a couple of promising bars but passed on those to take in the Hemingway, not for the sake of Papa but to try to get the song Hemingway’s Shotgun out of my head (get the version by Eric Taylor if you dare).  However, it was closed so I ran on towards the Cat & Mutton (thinking then of the trimmings from sheep’s kidneys Leopold Bloom tosses to his cat in the opening bits of Ulysses); it was also closed…shit. However, whilst wandering aimlessly in this wilderness, I found Edgar’s (named after Edgar Allen Poe, a nice tie in to my new neighbourhood) and while downing a pint there spotted a poster for The Sun Also Rises (and so I was back to The Hemingway).

 

hemingway-closed

The Hemingway…you’d think THIS pub would be open early to treat hangovers but NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

 

de-beauvoir-road

More literature appeared later on the run…

 

edgars-hackney-sun-also-rises

…and endless coincidence.

 

Segment 3, The Late Opening Time Desert:

2016-09-13-segment-3-closed-pubs-everywhere

 

Already disappointed three times — as many times as I had been successful on this trip — I next ran into a streak of bad bar luck in which every pub was closed (and the same two horse coppers seemed to keep turning up at the next one on):

baring-arms-closed

Closed

 

dukes-closed

Closed

 

rosemary-branch-closed

Closed

 

stags-head-closed

Closed

 

Segment 4, Film Club:

2016-09-13-segment-4-the-cinematic-run

Emerging from the Closed Pub Desert, I might have called this the Segment With No Name (a little Sergio Leone reference) for the heat and curious townsfolk I encountered.  But, my first open bar after the hitless drought was the Hitchcock-themed North By Northwest, then followed up with the Marquess Tavern (a bar that could have been the set of some Jennifer Anniston or Reneé Zellweger offence against cinema.  The segment and the day’s run finished, after more seafood, at a pub made out of an actual old cinema (a few doors down from the Joe Meek apartment/recording studio that I ran to a year or so ago — and, I never would have known who HE was except for Telstar: The Joe Meek Story, a movie I highly recommend).

joe-meek-plaque-holloway-road

Much improved photo since the previous jog past here

Life in Metroland   4 comments

Ruislip Gardens tube stop

 

We’ve been in Ruislip a week, now, and it seems a good fit so far.  Largely, this is due to Jackie’s commute shrinking from 2 hours (or more) each way to 35 minutes door-to-door while mine diminished from over 1:30 most trips to just under an hour (although the walk home is a half mile farther than was the one in Swindon).  Also, it is exciting to have new territory to explore and (as regular browsers of this blog might already have noted) new pubs to tick off my list.

One other bonus: there’s a poetry connection courtesy my favourite of the UK Poets Laureate…John Betjeman (whose plaque-marked locales I have chased down and whose poetry I have misquoted ever since I moved to England) actually included the new buurt in his poem Middlesex, one of the Metroland trilogy of poems:

Gaily into Ruislip Gardens
Runs the red electric train,
With a thousand Ta’s and Pardon’s
Daintily alights Elaine;
Hurries down the concrete station
With a frown of concentration,
Out into the outskirt’s edges
Where a few surviving hedges
Keep alive our lost Elysium – rural Middlesex again.

There’s more… look it up.  But, better than that: read it aloud.  It has approximately the same meter as “The Raven,” by Edgar Allen Poe.  “Rural Middlesex again,” so close in beat to “Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.'” Splendid.

The Adver Bids Us Farewell   Leave a comment

Today’s Swindon Advertiser was entirely devoted to us and our wee house move!  I’m overwhelmed.  Slow news day, I guess (pun intended).

2016-07-30 Adver farewell

 

Notes:

Drunken Bunny Liqueurs has a life of its own, now, as well as a poorly maintained Facebook presence.

The original “Hashlam in Society” Treatise probably only means something to you if you know something about Hash House Harriers (mostly insider humour).

Here are some of Edie’s Swindon era appearances as nurse, internet star, and gardener.

No students were harmed as a result of attending Swindon University.  Which is to say, no students attended Swindon University.