Archive for the ‘Running’ Category
The Saturday and Sunday runs, this weekend, came in at just over 24 miles but with only 1 new pub to add. Sunday was especially frustrating as the run involved long climbs and steady 25 mph winds (with gusts to 40).
The target for the day was the Case Is Altered on the hill north of Harrow Weald followed by a stop in Homebase to pick up some wall hanging hardware, but La Casa Alta appears to have been converted to a private residence.
No problem, I thought, since the Hare sits a few hundred meters away on the way to the d.i.y. place. They, unfortunately, were closed for remodeling until next weekend. Shit. I consulted my maps and decided to blow past the pubs in Harrow Weald (which I will almost certainly run past again this summer) in favour of the Letchford Arms which was on the route home near my first return trip rail crossing.
Fucking maps. The place, shown above in Google Streetview in 2008 (top) and 2016, is now a fully occupied block of flats. At this point, I was quite thirsty for anything (juice, water, beer, just something rehydrating) and decided to just go to a news agent and buy whatever they had in a bottle. How disappointing (but it was nice to get some pictures hung up on the walls, later that afternoon).
The Saturday run was a bit more satisfying. Both days had strong winds (stupidly, I designed both runs to have the winds in my face on the return trips) but Saturday was sunny and almost warm and felt as much like a Spring day as the blooms and new growth everywhere would make you think it was. After a brief stop in the Office, I was back on the road and scoping out the blackthorn blooms for next year’s batch of sloe gin.
Next weekend is scheduled to be a little shorter but I may bump up the mileage to make up for the deficit (distance and pints) this weekend.
From the King’s Arms, you pick up the LOOP down a long hill. On a cold, rainy day like this you have to resist the strong urge to bolt into the Old Orchard for a hot coffee with brandy but my willpower was strong.
As always, there were decent sights to take in along the way. Early on, I spotted my first Thomasson in a while: gate posts in good stead nowhere near a fence or, indeed, any structure at all.
The descriptions of Sections 13 and 14 I had read suggested fairly well maintained paths with only a steep hill near the start before leveling out, more or less, for the rest of the trek. Liars! Oh, the initial hill was steep, mind you, but the path was slicker than goose shit, uneven, and in places boggy to knee depths. At a little over ten miles, the run left me feeling beaten and exhausted and took quite a bit longer than I allocated.
The French Tickler tree (nobbled for your pleasure) marked the extent of my horticultural exploration. Of course, as Dorothy Parker said, “you can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.”
There were two more pub stops on the route, this day, although another that opens late will get a visit sometime this year. The first was the Rose and Crown just after an uphill climb on a stretch of road with no pedestrian-friendly verge. About a mile later after a wooded journey, Ye Olde Greene Manne provided sustenance and shelter (and some bizarre companionship).
Art is where you find it and this automotive pipe on a concrete plinth in the deep wood was a treat to behold. Breathtaking.
The deepest mud was too treacherous to photograph and I slogged through it with the realisation that it contained a significant amount of horse shit from the stables near the roadway by which I exited this section.
I was especially fragrant by this time so I skipped the grocery stores and other possible bar stops, opting instead to run through as many clear puddles as I could find on my way to Northwood Hills tube station.
I left the Green Man refreshed and ready to start Section 10 of the London Outer Orbital Path by looping around and entering the River Crane Causeway at the end of Section 9 (which I will return to early in May running it and several of the lower numbered Sections). This looked promising and, except for the run back along the highway to find my way over the Piccadilly Line, it was fairly well way-marked.
And, damn near impassable:
There was a scenic fly tipping exhibit:
And, a chance to wave to visitors of our fair isles as I crossed under the landing path at the east end of Heathrow’s runways.
Scenes of pristine waterways were a bonus:
St Dunstan’s appears to be derelict, but the cemetery is well-maintained:
Toward the end of the trot (not far past the Crane pub), there were signs of springtime coming. The council is probably counting on the vegetation to hide all this garbage:
Section 10 concludes as you pass the Nestlé factory on the canal at Hayes. Just up ahead, there are more refreshments at the Old Crown.
A friend who doesn’t run pointed out that I’ve been repeatedly doing a section or two of the London Outer Orbital Path (LOOP). This is how I wound up running the Ridgeway Challenge a couple of years ago after doing most of the Avebury to Wantage segments of that long distance path; I decided to approach this one sensibly and do it entirely in sections as defined by the Transport For London pamphlets about the LOOP.
I’ve already covered Section 11, near enough, in the run posting from late February (including the trip to the White House pub along the way). Section 12 gets a lot of attention from me since it is the nearest one to the house; it was covered variously in postings about the Coy Carp, the Bear on the Barge, and the Swan and Bottle.
With plans to finish this in Spring, I’ll do a couple of more sections up till then but really focus on the final 100 miles over a couple of weekends in May. As it stands, I have 138 out of 150 miles (22 out of 24 Sections) still to go and really need to step up my game as far as route description and photography go…Des de Moor’s blog should be considered the gold standard for this (his postings on Sections 11 & 12 are here).
Around Christmas, I started a training cycle meant to prep me for the Siracusa City Marathon (Sicily) but other necessary travel was going to interfere with that date (and, in typical Italian fashion, they have just this week cancelled this year’s event, anyway) so I will have to make this year’s marathon some other time. I’m sticking to the schedule, though, and will just continue to ramp things as if I were doing another ultra (so when I DO finally pick 42K to run, it’ll be a dawdle).
This weekend, I had an 8 miler scheduled for Saturday and just decided to wing it by listening to some podcasts to give me an hour then legging it home from wherever I was then to close the loop. The photo, above, was some sort of elephant mobile that has appeared at a roadside memorial on the bike path next to the A40 (Western Avenue) between South Ruislip and Northolt.
Soon after the memorial photo, I picked up some Hash House Harrier marks from a recently cleared trail and followed those a bit, then out to Rayner’s Lane and, seeing that my time for the show I was listening to was lapsing, homeward.
Sunday was a little more structured for the planned 17 miles (17.7, eventually). Hopping on the towpath of the Paddington Branch by the Civil Engineer, it was a quiet canal-based trip around to the Grand Union Canal with a short detour for a pint at the White House before heading back to the waterside and into Uxbridge. Even after picking up the pavement, again, things were quiet (mostly wooded and waterside cycle path into Ickenham). Good loop, this one.
The Station House Apartments made me laugh because it sounds like a euphemism for prison … you know, like “The Grey Bar Hotel,” or something. They even look a little like something administered by G4S.
The graffito, below, was oddly encouraging although, with about 4 miles left the end was not near enough.
Numbers, or so, listed in bold and underlined.
Everyone has shit to talk about 2016, and so do I; but, I’ll minimise that, here. I finally sprang for two new pair of running shoes to replace the pair, featured in the photos here, that I picked up in Chattanooga in September 2015 and subsequently added 2253 running miles on before retiring them last weekend (with walking, as these were my usual day-to-day shoes, these had much closer to 4000 miles on them).
Over the Christmas break, we watched a shitload of TV and a bunch of really cheery movies (highly recommended of these are the drama Martha Marcy Mae Marlene and the documentary The Coming War With China. To recover from those you might want to find Twenty Feet From Fame. But, we also caught a bunch of shit tele and some old stuff. In keeping with the theme of the year, we downloaded a collection of the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and spent the entirety of each show playing the middle-age white person version of Jew-Not-A-Jew (aka the straight person’s version of Queer-Not-A-Queer) by pointing at each corpse we spotted on screen and saying, “DEAD.” “Bob Hope. DEAD.” “Joan Rivers! DEAD.” “Gary Shandling, DEAD.” (By the way, that’s Not A Jew, Jew, and a little of both).
So, instead of the multitude of other celebrity deaths everyone is banging on about, here are the 17 I noticed but did not eulogise (and some of whom you may have missed):
17 January: Blowfly, 76
2 February: Bob Elliott, 92
16 February: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93
6 March: Merle Haggard, 79
3 June: Muhammad Ali, 74
17 June: Fred Tomlinson, 88
22 August: Toots Thielemans, 94
29 August: Gene Wilder, 83
8 September: The Lady Chablis, 59
16 September: Edward Albee, 88
30 September: Hanoi Hannah, 87
18 October: Phil Chess, 95
2 November: Dolores Klosowski, 93, American baseball player (Milwaukee Chicks)
7 November: Leonard Cohen, 82
25 November: Ron Glass, 71
22 December: Miruts Yifter, 72
25 December: George Michael, 53
In a similar vein, here are the other numbers of my year…
Obits actually in the blog: 16
Swindon’s Stagecoach Bus Depot in Old Town
Robert Ford, Madman Mayor of Toronto
Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field in apparent murder-suicide
The jihadi sparrow
The villages of Longford and Harmondsworth
America, the not so great pre-Trump version
New Years Honours of Note: 1 (for the name): Mr Fabulous Flournoy, (MBE)
Mileage (running): 1589.8, quite the slack year — the least in two decades of keeping track
Pub write-ups 1 January thru 30 June: 38
Pub write-ups 1 July thru 31 December (we moved house 28 July): 216 (254 for the year)
Recipes, such as they are, published here: 5
Brunswick Stew and BBQ Sauce
Malted Milk Ball Hot Toddy
Chicken Breasts done as if for Pakoras
International trips: Except for returning from Cork, technically a 2015 trip, 1 (Bremen)
Marathons: 1 (Wales Marathon)
Other races: 0, but a few planned for 2017
Weight (high): 169 lbs (12 stone 1 pound, Winter drinking weight)
Weight (low): 150 (10 stone 10 pounds, at the Marathon)
Leaving the Lass o’ Richmond Hill for Richmond station, I got lost on the narrow and confusing streets above and beside the University and decided the best thing to do would be to ask someone who knows the area (such as a publican). Lo and behold, the Red Cow emerged and I reckoned that I could find such an informed fellow inside.
Much friendlier than the Lass, as well, I could have easily lingered in this place with the hammer and sickle featuring on the pub sign. At least three of the regulars I encountered are probably certifiably insane (albeit harmless), and the bartender was efficient without hovering over the customers…sort of a booze Jedi, ready to instantly refill your depleted vessel.
I got my directions and would have had a snack but the last of the sausage rolls had just been served up to a guy that appeared to have just emerged from a construction site. “There’s a brilliant kebab shop on the way,” another guy informed me and, with that in hand, I headed into the evening (see the grand sunset shot in the Advent write-up).