Archive for the ‘Running’ Category
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).
I think Richmond is pretty posh as do the customers inside the Lass of Richmond hill. I entered steaming and muddy from my run across Richmond Park which might have been acceptable if I had been wearing burgundy corduroy trousers and a pair of £250 wellies but dressed for exercise…tut. All that didn’t stop the barmaid from trying to shortchange me, though, then giving me a bunch of double speak and spouting a litany of numbers unrelated to the simple transaction. I left the figuratively cold interior for the actually cold beer porch (but there was a heater hung inside the brolly, so all was well).
I had my Advent beverage of the day, there, and it was very good albeit overpriced even for this area.
I’m so far behind on these write-ups, I’ll cut this one short. I think you get the picture, though.
The Hand in Hand is a pub full of history but it doesn’t rest on that aspect. I actually decided to go there because it looked busier and more inviting than the one I came for just a couple of doors down.
Packed at lunchtime Thursday (I got there about 2 pm), it was cold outside but far too hot and humid after my run from the Prince of Wales to stay inside. I took my Finest Amber Ale (you can get paddles of 3 X 1/3 pints if you want to sample several) outside and found a quiet place to eavesdrop on the folks enjoying a pre-Christmas afternoon with workmates or family. Note too that kids are only allowed outside and in the separate front room.
I got these notes from a CAMRA website and don’t see any good reason to change the phrasing: “The Hand in Hand was a family owned beer house for 100 years before Young’s bought it in 1974. In the early 19th century it had been a bakehouse on the site of a house owned by brewer Watney’s grandfather.”
I took the Tube to Morden, one of the southernmost extremes, Thursday to do a bit of a run across Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. Starting off in the industrial and, as I found it, bleak area just north of the station I could understand why some refer to the area as Mordor.
But, these are environs I am used to and that I think of as a proper urban landscape and soon I spotted my first pub of the day, The Prince of Wales.
This is a great little boozer and will be even more so once the beer garden work is finished (the construction site looks extensive). I had a Doom Bar — well kept, I should add — and listened to Christmas music while the BBC showed me tragic details of the evacuees from Aleppo on the silent tele. A group was drinking heavily and playing the other fruit machine; I think it was family in town visiting the guy sitting at the bar advising on strategy.
Soon, I returned to trail which skirted the nearby park (cricket grounds and the like). It was a gorgeous day out.
The climb back from the Saracen’s Head involved a muddy trail through a wood followed by a bit of Amersham tourism at the top of the hill…the upper town has as much going on, it seems, as the bit at the bottom of the hill. But, I couldn’t linger as my return train was miles away at Chesham and the sun was already dipping well below the tree tops and diving for the horizon.
On the way out of town I spotted the Boot & Slipper, a Chef & Brewer pub/restaurant, and stopped for a cider.
My experience with Chef and Brewer pubs (dating back to my first couple of weeks in England) is that they are filled with heavy furniture and stone flooring and every one of them is lovely to look at but there is something soulless about them.
Maybe it’s the customers. I eavesdropped on a couple of guys reduced to talking about their kids. Nothing wrong with that except the abstract way they spoke about them as if, I suspect, they really don’t know or even really want to know anything about their children except that they can use this as a suburban shield from any sort of deep conversation. One of them, though, has a daughter who is a keen and, if you believe him, apt runner. Instead of interrupting, I wrote a friend an email apologising for my lack of holiday spirit and thanking her for the lovely card she and hubby deigned to send me. I knew I was off to a long, wooded segment of the course and half-assedly paraphrased Robert Frost’s allusional reference to a forest journey.
On my exit, I peered at them through the window. One looked up and smiled slightly then, on making eye contact with me, recoiled and quickly stared through his drink to the bottom of the glass. I waved at the other one, the father of the budding track star, and ran off toward the long descent to Chesham.
The first stop on my first Christmas Holiday run was at the Saracen’s Head down a long, steep hill from Amersham Station, one of the extreme endpoints of the London Underground and actually miles outside the M25. Atlanta people might compare it to Roswell, or Tucson people could think Marana; Amersham is positioned about as far away and in the same general direction as those outposts are from their city centres.
I came in and ordered then took my beer to the fire and listened to the couple of chaps at the bar snipe at each other about the football clubs they support. One, a Liverpool supporter, was reading the Sun — an incongruity which I would have brought up if they and the bartender didn’t fuck off outside for a smoke at about that time. I finished my beer alone…as we all do, eventually (winter doldrums setting in, too, as this was the first day of celestial Winter).