Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

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):

 

London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 19-21)   4 comments

 

Still trying to finish the LOOP by the end of May, I continued Sunday in Chingford where I last broke from the path.  It was a beautiful and warm day and I could have used a hat for my balding pate.

 

 

There is something brutal and unnerving about some of the railway crossings, here.  But, you have to use them to get around.  This one was either just before or just after the Warren Wood pub:

 

 

Featured in Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge, Ye Old King’s Head is now called Sheesh and you can only get in via the car park which is gated and operated by remote security.  Fuck you.  At least, “Sheesh,” is an appropriate name.  Back when I was a kid it was an acceptable exclamation that allowed you to be doubly profane…a sort of blasphemous “Jeeeeesus” and “Shit” all rolled up into something that might appear in the funny pages of the Sunday newspaper.  Sheesh, indeed.

 

 

Instead, try the somewhat yuppie-offensive King William IV down the hill.  Later in the run, I found this other casualty of the pub closings plague (the Maypole) in Chigwell, but a quarter mile farther down the road the Two Brewers made up for the disappointment:

 

 

These sections of the LOOP are always right on the cusp of rural and urban life:

 

 

And, it is starting to get horsey out there.  It’s almost like someone decided, “right…we’re in Essex so we simply must maintain stables.”  This one is just behind the Orange Tree in Havering-ate-Bower.  On the way through the forest, I past several others along with many learning riders.

 

 

It is the season for cricket and loads of matches were on:

 

 

Just leaving the Bear, I spotted this big fellow in the sulky:

 

 

The roundhouse was mentioned but I only found the water tower:

 

And, this memorial plaque:

 

 

This stretch of pasture and woodland was where Henry VIII’s daughters Mary and Elizabeth spent their youths.

 

 

And, out of nowhere farmhouses and churches appear then fade back into the rural scenery:

 

 

I didn’t know what to think of this roadside deuce of a seat on the way to Harold Wood.

 

 

And, other roadside displays were on offer.

 

 

After a quick whiskey to lubricate my sore legs from within, the bustling Harold Wood station awaited.

 

 

 

 

London A to Z Runs : O   2 comments

 

As the A to Z runs continue, I was going to do O for Orpington but it is way down at the southern extremes of what can be called London and I just did a run through the area last week.  So, instead, we have O for the Olympic Park!

 

 

First things being first, you have to escape the consumer hell that the area immediately around Stratford Station has become.  Fortunately, you soon find yourself in the most East End-iest bits of the East End without putting in too much effort.  My first stop was at the Eagle with hopes that some reference to Winter Olympics legend Eddie the Eagle might be found.  It was not.

 

 

Trundling back into the Olympic Park, you pass some new housing of more or less unoppressively utilitarian design and some interesting takes on urban gardening and orchardry.

 

 

In the distance, I spotted a structure and ran up a small hill to get a better look only to find the Olympic Rings and what I think might be Telstar or Sputnik:

 

 

The structure turned out to be the Velodrome:

 

 

And, next to it was this great rope-and-natural-materials playground I would have loved to either have a go on or take a closer photo of.  However, there were loads of kids and a drunken, sweaty middle-aged man might be taken the wrong way.

 

 

I think West Ham uses the Stadium now:

 

 

This door is art.  It pisses me off.  Art is supposed to make you feel emotions.  Result!

 

 

This graffito not far from the door on my way to the Tiger made me happy.  What an emotional roller coaster ride this was turning out to be!

 

 

In a park between the Tiger and the Bow Bells, I found a standard running track.  Is anyone up for a beer mile?  Perhaps it can be the Mile End Beer Mile:

 

 

I included the canal locks in this write-up mainly to help me find the track again.  I’m not sure the map will help very much:

 

 

Between the Bow Bells and Ye Olde Black Bull, this statue of Gladstone with the flesh tone hands gave me the heebie-jeebies.  Art is everywhere around here.

 

 

This, on the other hand, was not art.  True, it made me grin but I’m incredibly immature:

 

Posted May 23, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : N   4 comments

 

N is for the Northern Line termini.  Each segment is at a point on my favourite Underground route where you must exit the train you are on.  Because there are 5 of these, the pub stops needed to be reasonably near and the tourist items of interest found en route.

Some of these A to Z runs are going to be more conceptual than others.

 

 

The first stop is Kennington which was covered in greater detail in the K run.  I hear you: “Kennington continues north and south,” but this is only true on the Bank branch.  I always approach from the Tottenham Court Road side and am rewarded with the bum’s rush announcement of “this train terminates here, all change.”

Turning down Braganza Street to make a looping path to the White Bear pub, I spotted an ornate, 19th-century cornerstone obscured by the street furniture of a shop:

 

 

The other item of interest was the vocabulary lesson.  This street, I reckon, is the first-person past pluperfect conjugation of “to shart.”  You have to love a neighbourhood of language geeks:

 

 

Continuing to Morden for stop two, I paused at the Halalhalal Fish and Kebab place for a delicious treat before dashing through an unusually lovely park on my way to the Surrey Arms:

 

 

There is a history centre with a restored mill complete with water race and wheel:

 

 

And, below the Rose Garden there are some bucolic ponds that would have buffered the mill-race in the working days of the mill:

The longest stretch  went to High Barnet:

The station has some fine detail and smacks of being more than an Underground stop (it isn’t):

 

There is a restored movie palace for the cinema fans here:

 

And, on my trek to the station after a coffee and whiskey at Weaver’s, I came to realise why I so often get lost on segments of the London Outer Orbital Path.  It is a single trail, so why are there 3 directions to choose from?

 

 

Mill Hill was close enough to run to, but the rain was heavy and I still had one more terminus after this so I stuck with the train.

 

 

I wouldn’t call the area singularly disinteresting but aside from the atypically high Jewish population in this bit of NW London (Golders Green isn’t far away) making the kosher and halal shops and butchers on about equal footing (and sharing a customer base in the most liberally minded cases) there wasn’t anything that immediately jumped out as photo-worthy.  Even this observation might be worth revisiting the area but is probably too nuanced for someone who makes poo jokes.

 

 

 

So, the best I could manage was musing if there is a Rose Garden or an Oval Office, here.  Sorry, but after the Red Filly and the three previous I was starting to feel the day’s efforts.

 

 

I ended the trip with terminus #5, Edgware.

 

By now, it was pissing down and I blew past some fairly interesting looking urban ugliness (I’ll be back — this is close enough to home to run over to sometime this summer) on my way to the Change of Hart pub.  Having completed the task for the day, I walked to Canons Park Underground station on the Jubilee Line to take advantage of the shorter commute.  On the way, emerging from the hustle and bustle of Edgware in the torrential rains, I spotted the Cross  — a throwback to when this was more of a sleepy, suburban village and a teeming town:

 

 

 

London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 17-18)   5 comments

 

 

Tuesday was hard.  After Monday’s screw up that turned the 16 mile run into 22, I was sore and lazy and it took ages to get motivated to leave for Cockfosters to start sections 17 and 18 of the LOOP.  The weather looked awful and I just didn’t want to go.  However, when the Tube emerged from underground the sun had emerged and it looked a splendid day.

 

 

I diverted a bit to cross the defunct Middlesex University campus for which planning permission is sought to raze the place and put up cheap housing.  The first point of interest for me was spotting a Thomasson (above, and a better explanation of what this means is here).

 

 

It seems a great waste.  There’s nothing obviously wrong with these buildings except that the land they sit on is so expensive.  Fucking capitalists, price of everything/value of fuck all, grumble grumble grumble.

 

 

Not far from Middx Uni, I ran up on some glass houses which are all that is left of hundreds of hectares of these that used to produce most of the tomatoes and a variety of other fresh veg for the country.  With Brexit, these may come back into vogue, soon.

 

 

I took this photo in Barnet after three pubs in rapid succession in order to make a joke of some sort (which I’ll use later with another graffito…it’s a lame joke and inoffensive, but this is actually some serious paint):

 

 

I don’t speak Turkish, but as near as I can make out this is memorializing Sila Abalay, a leader of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) in Turkey, who was killed in a shoot out a couple of weeks ago having (it is said) killed a police officer.  I can’t get anything precise for ‘hesabini soracagiz’ but I think it is something like ‘we will hold them to account’ in this context.  Heady stuff for a jackass like me.

 

 

The Enfield lock and its canal were welcome since that put me only a few miles from my finish, I thought.  Across from the Greyhound pub, this yellow submarine caught my attention:

 

 

Especially the warning that “38 MAXIMUM PERSONS” were allowed.  Maybe if you chop them up into small pieces, first.

 

 

Along the way, I got some sage advice:

 

 

And, realised that I had not seen a LOOP way marker for ages.

 

 

I suspected that this was the bridge that would take me to the other side of the canal where the trail should be but, as it turned out, the canal I wanted was on the other side of the reservoir.  Shit.

 

 

Making the most of the situation, I found some public sculpture:

 

 

And, eventually found my way to the Royal Oak for some supper and a beer.  This was nice, as I was coming into Chingford Station from the south instead of the north so I won’t be doubling back over a lot of the trail.  This route also took me past this grand mosaic on the Assembly Hall:

 

 

And, as it was the afternoon rush hour, no one was going into London from out here so I would have a train car all to myself:

 

 

Here’s a map of how the day fell out.  The pub write-ups will come as soon as I get a bite to eat and some exercise.

 

London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 1-2)   9 comments

 

The putative starting point of the LOOP is Erith Station on the Thames just before it enters Kent (as does, inadvertently, a small section of today’s path).  The journey to the station involved facing away from whilst listening to what sounded like a very old cockney (who, upon examination, was in his early-to-mid 30s) and an Afro-Caribbean petty criminal and dope dealer (who, upon inspection, just turned out to be a skinny, white-trash teenager and also the not-so-old cockney’s cousin).  They sat across the aisles and several seats down from one another so they had to speak really loudly about the cockney’s ‘girl’ who was banged up in Reading Gaol until at least October, what a misery and expense it is to make the visiting journey, and how much he misses fucking her.  This last bit came with a level of detail, if not nuance, that was surprising considering the limitations of his vocabulary, otherwise.  You see why I avoided any chance of eye contact until my stop?

 

 

The riverside is about a hundred meters away from the station after a wee jog through the college.  The only pub I could be certain was still in business in the area was the Running Horses, so I made an early pit stop there.

 

The Thames estuary really starts to open up as it meets the North Sea in this part of town.

 

 

As I suspected, the White Hart was closed but I couldn’t tell if the refurbishment was for flats or if it would reopen as a pub.  Neither could I tell if the boat mural was new or restored, but either way it is magnificent:

 

It’s quite maritime in the neighbourhood.  This is the yacht club seen across part of the marsh:

 

 

But, for a couple of miles this is what you see off to your right:

 

 

Even the informative plaques seem to show debris:

 

 

It hadn’t occurred to me but the water is brackish here so you could do saltwater fishing or evapourate the waters for salt:

 

 

This is one of the salt pans described above:

 

 

When you finally get to town, it’s good to see modern art.  I found this on my way to the Duke’s Head in Crayford:

 

 

The next section had some construction by part of the trail and as a result I had my first opportunity to fly blind, as it were.

 

If you smirk at this, shame on you:

 

 

Variations of this tag were spread from Erith to Foots Cray.  I would have shot them all had I known they were going to change as much as they did, location-to-location:

 

 

It wasn’t just the construction that got me lost.  Some of it was the dearth of way markers on this part of the trail.  At one point, I found myself directly under a footbridge over a motorway that I was pretty certain I should be crossing:

 

 

And, indeed I found some of the markers in the next ¼ mile before they evapourated again and I wound up quite lost.

 

 

Which was fortuitous, lest I should have missed this trio of fine art deco structures atop a hill on the way to Bexley:

 

 

 

 

Once in Bexley, I was back on my maps.  And, again, shame on you:

 

 

A brief stop at the Railway Tavern preceded a bimble down the river to the Foots Cray Meadows where I found a much nicer bridge:

 

 

And, a stunning parkland:

 

 

Muscles aching at this point, I stopped for one more quick one at the Seven Stars before what should have been a quick dash down to Petts Wood (fnarr-fnarr).

The path just a 100 m away from the Seven Stars has been blocked, forcing you to find an alternative on your own.  At the A20, I made a choice that turned out to be not to bad since it put me, eventually, back on the way marked LOOP at the SW edge of Scadbury Park.  However, if you then follow the LOOP markers you will circumnavigate the park via a heavily wooded and very hilly path.  If kids did this as a prank, well done you; if the tenders of the trail did it, you fuckers should rot in Hell.

So, the second time I passed the car park I exited and stopped in the Sydney Arms for a fortifying whiskey and a bit of water to rehydrate.  Once again, I was off my maps and it was getting dark (clouds, not twilight) so I took a compass reading at the next major road and headed WSW until, in Chislehurst, I found a sign for Petts Wood and change course.  Just off the A208 on a trail in Petts Wood, I found a marker pointing downhill and followed it (and others spaced about 100 m apart) despite not trusting them at all until I got to the rail crossing and could once more match map to visual inspection.  I could easily have gone straight home but the Daylight Inn beckoned.

With three more sections to go down here, I headed back to the northern bit the next day.

 

 

 

 

London Outer Orbital Path (Section 16)   4 comments

I’m way behind writing things up, but the holiday runs are arduous and the drinking regimen is demanding.  Friday’s run (what day is it now…Monday?  Or, Tuesday?) was another segment of the London Outer Orbital Loop and, like Section 15, demanded a bit of zenning to make it through.

 

 

The train into Elstree & Borehamwood goes through a long tunnel just before the station.  Above is one of the air vents for the tunnel (there is an array of these in the field, there, standing in pairs every 100 meters or so).  The trail was supposed to veer southerly off the road soon after these but fuck me if I could find the marker.  I likewise couldn’t find a name on the Harvester where I stopped to regroup but have been assured it is named the King’s Arms.

Following the cycle path south along the busy highway hoping to find the trail again I, at least, found a sign pointing across the highway which would have required scaling a high fence in the median of this dangerous stretch at rush hour.  I opted to pick up the trail much later after a second stop at the Rising Sun.

 

 

From the Rising Sun, the trail becomes almost pastoral until you reach Barnet, a busy but small suburban town with enough bars to keep a crawl going for days.  I had to choose one so it was the King’s Head, just the other side of that church, above.

 

 

From glen to upscale suburb to not-so-upscale suburb and now into an industrial area.  A pedestrian tunnel with fairly pedestrian graffiti gets you across the railroad and a caged bridge takes you over a large gas works.

 

 

And, then you are back in the mid-range suburban neighbourhoods again.  I was caught off guard a bit by this stunning church which rose on my left and — I believe this is where it happened again — drove me off trail a tad.

 

Evening was falling, though, so I only stopped long enough for the external shots.

 

 

Inexplicably, I found trail again and made my way to the Cock (formerly the Cock and Dragon) to sip an ale and change into my dry kit.  From there, a leisurely trot through the neighbourhood to the tube station took a couple of minutes.

Pub write-ups as soon as I can get around to them.