Archive for the ‘Running’ Category
K is for Kennington, part of, nay, most of Lambeth. I did a commute run into work from the Park & Ride this splendid Maundy Thursday so the A to Z run this afternoon was short; however, Kennington packs a lot in its wee boundaries. In fact, mere arrival at Kennington Station starts you off right with the weird architectural stylings of Charles Holden. The dome used to house the lift mechanism on the deep line and has survived the introduction of hydraulics (domes on other stations have all been removed).
My first mission was to run down to Kennington Park to the site of Bob Marley’s squat in 1977. I was led to believe, online (silly Interwebs), that the Rastafarian Temple was at the north end of St Agnes Place but spying nothing that looked — or felt — right there, I walked down toward the Kennington Common where the fence jibed and the building next door still exists (the Rose Apartments, at the bottom of the dreadlocks on the map). Here’s Mr Marley with some mates in the Park 40 years ago:
The Temple, 10 years ago:
The Rasta Temple during the April 2007 drugs bust. Nothing much came of this in the courts, but with everyone out of the house it was easier to get permission to tear the place down (which happened a few months later).
The site of the Rasta Temple today (10 years after). Ghastly.
The Brandon Estate, a public housing development, overshadows the Common and is the site of Henry Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 (1961):
This is a kind of strange find amongst Council towers but it seems to be unmolested on its little knoll. Standing up there, you wonder how many people in the art world even know this is here. Personally, I imagined Tom Baker’s version of Dr Who emerging from the TARDIS and declaring, “back in a tick, but there’s a marvelous sculpture I must take in before we deal with The Master.”
That thought isn’t so incongruous since David Tennant’s version of Dr Who crash landed the TARDIS a mere 75 meters away, over near the Canterbury Arms. I already did a London A to Z Run D for Dr Who on the other side of the river but this one actually had some recognisable sites:
From “The Christmas Invasion” (2005)
From my own “Maundy Thursday Invasion” (2017)
The TARDIS came to rest in this alley:
which is much tidier today:
After my beer at the pub, I headed back out across the Common toward the Kennington Oval.
The area is spoilt for choice with churches. St Mark’s, bombed to the ground save the façade and the cupola, was one of four churches built in honour of the victory at Waterloo. The cemetery is supposed to be full of the great and good of the last two centuries, as well, but on this day it was just a postcard shot on the run.
For a REAL church in the area, you should visit the Kia Oval, nicer, I have been assured, than Lords Cricket Ground and active in one way or another every day of the year:
I’d jogged almost all the way past before it occurred to me that the fence has a ball-and-wicket theme going on:
At the far end (from my direction of travel), you can spot the iconic gas works, next door. The ivy hasn’t yet leafed out but I bet it is gorgeous later in the summer (and colourful in autumn).
The housing nearby is pretty nice, as well. There should be a special prize for any batsman that knocks one of these windows in Harleyford Court for six:
At the next corner, I stopped at the Beehive and took in a few overs of Indian Premier League cricket before continuing on.
It’s a pretty neighbourhood and not entirely gentrified (there are still council housing projects dotted in amongst the astronomically priced real estate in the area). And, there are still a few grand and very old pubs around; my third of the day was one of these, the Old Red Lion just above my starting point at Kennington Station.
But, I had one more planned stop on the way to meet Jackie after work. The video of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Come On, Eileen was shot in front of the corner shop at Hayles Street and Brook Drive. This part of town gets a lot of film and video work (some nearby pubs feature in the London A to Z Run F for Film):
It’s an earworm and I can’t shake it. Could be worse, I guess:
Leaving Kennington past the Imperial War Museum to Waterloo, this seems like a successful (and wholly incomplete) tour.
With no clue what to do for the “J” run of the A to Z, I decided to plot a path to pubs starting with J in some unfamiliar part of town. What I found on the way was the ugly side of Jentrification (I know how it is really spelled) and an increasingly pale population of hipster Jackasses (and Jennies).
I take POETS day seriously, each week, and, since the bulk of the lab was also off to a pub crawl of their own, I slipped away early and caught the Jubilee line to Canada Water changing there for a train in the direction of Clapham Junction. Alighting the Overground at Peckham Rye Station (above) I felt quite at home as the neighbourhood seems almost indistinguishable from Kraaienest in the Bijlmer. My first stop of the day, John the Unicorn, seemed to be the only storefront that wasn’t African, Middle Eastern, or sub-working-class British. But, more on the bar in its write-up.
From Peckham, the route skirted the great Victorian Nunhead Cemetery including a massive hill climb (and descent). The approach to the hill passed through some ever-less-bleak housing estates and I seemed less a prey creature than a predator by the time the population shifted to urban homesteaders wearing matching exercise gear and sipping Costa coffees. Jesus-fucking-Christ. I was slightly heartened to see a group of street drinkers as I headed up Brockley Road on the far side of the cemetery hill but was once more yuppied into a funk at Jam Circus (more on the bar in its write-up, to follow).
The third bar, the Job Centre in Deptford (on the Deptford High Street, above, which was once actually poor but now just ironically so — just enough to make the wealthy young residents feel edgy), was yet another hipster hangout, and, again, not a bad bar at all in-and-of itself but a harbinger of doom for this neighbourhood’s previous residents (more on the bar in its write-up, to follow).
So, maybe the theme for the day should have been Juvenile. I boarded my train at New Cross station and glanced out the window to see some Jerks in their mid-20’s WITH A FUCKING FRISBEE. No one over the age of 16 should ever touch a Frisbee (and even then they should be massive pot heads) except to throw it onto a roof or into some briars or over a fence protected by attack dogs or off a bridge or into a bonfire; no one who isn’t stoned to the gills and over the age of 14 should go anywhere near The Disc, for any reason. But, there they were right out in public — in broad daylight! — and seemingly happy as larks. I am depressed.
Yes, Juvenile was the order of things. Those guys, the decor at Jam Circus, the beer choices, the babies (EVERYWHERE…FUCKING BABIES!) left me glad to get back to my awful neighbourhood in the suburbs where these ‘pioneers’ actually belong but where, at least, an adult beverage is meant for an adult palate.
Next time, the letter “K.”
I is for “Isis.” Not the muslim caliphate but the ancient name for the mighty River Thames, flowing from South Gloucestershire to the sea and west-to-east across our fair city (although some will have it that the Isis is only the proper name for the river in the vicinity of Oxford ). What better place to resume the A to Z runs (abandoned with the waning winter daylight after the H for Heathrow Run in November) than on the banks of Father Thames?
I didn’t know that the annual Cambridge/Oxford Boat Race was this weekend when I planned this jaunt but television crews were setting up every step of the way. The Hammersmith Bridge, above and, with some detail, below, is at about 1½ miles into the event and the rest of my route covers most of the remaining race course.
Lot’s to see along the river, such as the little ‘service station’ island toward the Chiswick end of the run. Of course, I was here to refuel in the pubs (this map from Londonist isn’t comprehensive but is at least a good guide for your own trip). Along the way, I found lovely venues named The Dove, The Bull’s Head, The Ship, and The Bell & Crown, although there are many more (you could pub crawl this area for months).
There is a lot of nice, modernist and Art Deco architecture along this part of the Thames Path, too, but my favourite was really neither, Gustav Holst’s house:
There are dozens of rowing clubs dotted along the shore of this busy, polluted waterway. At my passing, the tide was pushing the waters the wrong direction which probably serves to concentrate the toxic waste, and yet there were still mudlarkers looking for treasures and rowers out for a wee paddle. The pollution doesn’t really bother me, either, and I passed by not a little jealous.
The last bit of the run veered away from the Thames to get back to the Tube and the (I think) beautiful Chiswick Park Station:
Now, to rack my brains for something to do for “J.”
Went out for an hour-long (or so) run on Saturday looping past the shooting club the other side of the A40 and tucked away down a dirt-surfaced industrial road and bordering a permissive footpath to the lower side of Hillingdon where Hayes and Uxbridge meet. It still seems odd to hear gunfire in Britain although we’ve lived in rural settings most of the last 8 1/2 years and it is as common there as similar areas in the US. In fact, this site always makes me a bit homesick for Atlanta: there, the gunfire just became more frequent and approached closer to the “nicer” (still poor, but not destitute) neighbourhoods as the weather improved after winter. Here, this is about the only place you expect to hear gunfire in the city.
Sunday, I awoke early and ran off toward Watford just after sunrise. Outside Northwood a little more than halfway to my turnaround, I spotted what I reckoned to be a prison based on the high, razor-wire topped fences and copious security cameras. I took a quick photo which turned out blurry then looked the place up later only to find that it is the actually the Permanent Joint Headquarters, essentially the same thing as Centcom for the US Forces Command. To be fair, it is known as Cell Block H by the staff.
Closer to Watford, there were even more things to remind me of the States, not least of which is this road named after Mark Twain’s creation:
Tom Sawyer famously tricked his friends into paying him to do some of his chores, specifically whitewashing a fence. Someone is going to have to (or, GET to) repaint this bit of nearby hoarding soon, too:
In Watford, I found two Wetherspoons for pints at 9:00 am (the Columbia Press) and 9:25 (the Moon Under Water) to prepare for the run back home. At a little over 27 miles for the weekend with just under 45 for the week, a rest day will be welcome.
Southern and Northern sections of the Sunday run.
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.