Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

London A to Z Runs : T   4 comments

T is for Towpaths and Friday I covered a section of canal and a short segment of the River Brent on one, from Hayes Town to West Ealing in a continuation of the London A to Z project.  If I was doing a Theme, it would be bridges; instead, here are the run photos in order from Tip to Tail:



The canal seemed really healthy compared to my last encounter with this section,  with simple plant growth all along the way.  I felt compelled to go check out the water beneath this first bridge since the shade and reflections made it look as if nothing was growing there, but it was an optical illusion.  180° around, some fairly nice blocks of flats (especially for this part of town) arise across the water.



Just under the next bridge, the forlorn Nestlé plant appeared.



Crossing the boundary between the Boroughs of Hillingdon and Ealing, Ealing claims responsibility for the subsequent bits.  The maintenance of the marker should be a clue:



There are helpful and informative notice boards:



Just after this bridge you enter the inland island of Southall, surrounded by waterways albeit some mere trickles:



The waterlilies are as Monet might have imagined:



I got fairly close to this heron before I spotted it.  An instant later, it flew off:



My first pub stop was near this bridge, at the Old Oak Tree.  Had I known what I know now, the run could have been T for Tarts (but I’ll save that story for the pub write-up).



Yet another attractive bridge followed:



And, another, this one with family friendly decorations:



Approaching the second pub, the Lamb, just after this bridge, I spotted the Southall Sikh Temple:



Then, a rusty foot/bike bridge:



And, more signs of riparian civilisation:



The laundry basket and the nearby long boat named “Oblivion” brought to mind my visit to Dismaland.



Approaching the River Brent, a flight of locks drops the elevation significantly:



This marker made me laugh but I am really immature:




Now, this bridge is pretty impressive…not the one above, but the one that the path is on.  The entire canal and towpath are on a flyover above the railroad far below:



Pretty neat, huh?



The other side of the wall, here, is the old county asylum.  Still a mental hospital, the access arch to the canal has been sealed off — it used to be the source of coal for the extensive estate of wards.



To the right, the canal; to the left the River Brent.  The rain sewer at the lower left drains the streets around pub number three of this run, The Fox.



After the Fox, I doubled back to traipse the River Brent path adjacent to the hospitals.  It was still early, so I crossed the Brent, again, and had one final stop at the Viaduct.

I’m stuck for what to do with U, for the next run.  Thinking Upminster but it is kind of remote ….



Posted July 15, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : S   5 comments



S is for Streatham, this time, although I toyed with the idea of Science or Slavery (both of which London is rich in related sites to visit).

When we first moved to England we lived in Stretham, a village near Ely in Cambridgeshire that almost no one has ever heard of.  When I would answer colleagues ten miles away at Cambridge that I lived in Stretham they always replied, “that’s quite a commute…do you take the train everyday?” It took me ages to realise they were talking about Streatham in South London…it is pronounced the same, which always reminds me of friends in Athens Georgia, Dale and Dell (both pronounced ‘Dayull’ in East Georgia-patois so you would always get the correction, “no, not Dayull…DAYull”).

Actually, I started the run at Clapham South Station but very near to Streatham Hill.  As the day progressed, I found a large number of art deco apartments around starting with these (part of the Oaklands Estates):



Some were a little less deco-esque, like these on Telford Road, and might just be considered modern to a more discerning and better trained eye:




And, this one evokes Frank Lloyd Wright…lovely:




The postbox obsession continues and I found two more cypher-free examples (my first, last May, was in Hull).





And, an abandoned cricket pitch shack or other field house adjacent to the Streatham and Clapham High School and the Tooting Bec Lido drew my attention mostly because there was no signage indicating what it might be:




This part of London is pretty well situated with parklands. This wood is at the eastern edge of Streatham Common:



Adjacent to the west end, there’s a separate war memorial.



And, churches everywhere.  I turned off before reaching this giant one:



And, this one amused me because the Christmas decorations are up 5 months early or 6 months late:



A couple of doors down from this is the birthplace of Sir Arnold Bax, whom I knew nothing about but this was the only Blue Plaque I spotted all morning.  Apparently, he’s buried in Cork.



I was intrigued by the Slurp signage and disappointed to later find out it is just a noodle house.



And, then there were the pubs…you don’t get an A to Z run without pubs involved.  This one, the Greyhound, is more of a nightclub and wouldn’t be open for hours when I took this shot at 11 am.  Love the bunnies!



I had reached the Greyhound a few minutes after being told by the staff serving coffee and cakes at the Railway pub that the bar would not open until noon.  I had already dashed into several bars with open doors after leaving the Crown and Sceptre to start the run in earnest and was too early for each of them.  But, I had scouted the Railway ahead of time and at 10:45 expected that they would honour their advertised hours:


Fuck them.



That’s what brought me to the Greyhound at 11; I was there awaiting the opening of the Mere Scribbler, as advertised on the web and in their windows:



At 11:15, the two people I had glimpsed dicking around inside were still dicking around inside.  I ran over to photograph the War Memorial (above) then back and waited until 11:25.  Still locked but occupied.  Fuck them.



The Five Bells was listed on Google Maps as open at 11 but they have only the most rudimentary and useless web page up.  I confirmed opening times as actually 12:00 via the WhatPub website and so was unsurprised when I arrived at 11:45 found the doors locked:



I opted for the Horse and Groom a few doors down and, since this was near the Streatham Hill Rail Station, thought I would double back for a quick one before heading home.  It was now 12:10 and the doors were still locked and the beer delivery guy at the door couldn’t raise anyone no matter how hard he banged on it.

“Still closed?” I asked, unsurprised.
“They better open soon or I’ll take this back to the depot.”
“Fuck them,” I suggested.
“Five more minutes, first,” he patiently advised as I ran off to the Sultan and the Hand in Hand (out of my way but at least they were open).



Properly refreshed and calmed a bit, I got some lunch at a kebab shop on the return to the station then bid Streatham an unimpressed farewell.



London A to Z Runs : R   2 comments


R is for Respiratory Distress, although I toyed with the idea of Roman London or Red Lion pubs.  The theme comes from a post on The Deserter about 6 pubs in the worst pollution hotspots in SE London and, since they are all clustered together, it seemed an easy enough effort — and easier still since I’ve already written up 2 of them … the Flowers of the Forest the night before the 2012 London Marathon and the Beehive during my K for Kennington Run earlier in this year’s portion of the London A to Z saga.  Additionally, a 3rd pub of this short list, the Albert Arms, was damaged in a Good Friday fire this year and has yet to Reopen.


The Albert was the first I crossed and I thought it might be open but on approaching it noticed a plumb bob and some other carpentry equipment propped in the front window.  Shame.  It looks a grands house.



The Run, itself, was only ¾ mile done straight through (1½ with the onward trot to the wife’s work to meet her for a Friday pre-commute drink).  So, I made the Route serpentine to get it over 3 miles.

There were passes into the neighbourhood where I first went past the “Come On Eileen” taping site and through some fine garden and park zones with mature (and prone) mulberry trees — above — and some pretty purple things I suspect to be some ornamental form of garlic:



These purple starbursts were adjacent to the sport park beside the Imperial War Museum (one of my faves, in town) and just across this wall:



Lambeth, bombed as heavily as it was, has done remarkably well with the modern architecture such as this poured concrete wall at one of the libraries:



And, you just can’t go wrong with a William Blake site:



I managed to hit 3 pubs on this run (the Prince of Wales, the Horse & Stables, and the Crown & Cushion) and then Jackie and I let the rush hour traffic die down at the Pineapple before escaping the SW postcodes via the marvelous Lambeth North Station:




London A to Z Runs : Q   1 comment


Q is for the Quays, now overrun with large banking towers but this deal could be Queered by the Brexit-imposed Quarantine of international finance and the exodus of bankers to one of the European centres. It’s happening now, as this goes to e-press.





But, today was about the run.  My thoughts turned to “Quo Vadis;” not the Biblical epic from the 1950s but the Latin phrase, “where are you going?”  To a pub or two, to be sure (this wasn’t an existential question) and I headed through the depressingly overbuilt Canary Wharf, past what appears to be yet more overbuilding on the North Quay, and along the sterile looking restaurants housed in the frankly lovely old warehouses and offices of West India Quay (surely these, too, will be flattened in favour of some more Stalinist/Corbusier-ian — ahem — architecture).







After a Quick one in the Ledger Building (write-up pending) I continued south along the Thames as much as possible and. while the area still reeks of inflated (bloated) land values, some of the excess peeled away.


A view of the City from the west bank of the Isle of Dogs


Sluice gates between Millwall docks and the River Thames


Not only were there locals whose families predated the real estate explosion, but there was also a little evidence that the docks and quays were still working:



Inspired to Quaff another beer by the more comfortable environs, I crossed a park to continue south as the riverside path was blocked.



My map suggested I could get back on the Thames Path by the barge winch, but some posh settlement has built a fence and wall creating a dead-end if you don’t hold the key (or, indeed, if you don’t hold the Quay).




But, the detour took me past a pretty crafts and performing arts centre, The Space:




Eventually, I found my way to the Ferry House (write-up pending), just below the Lord Nelson (which spotted me a beer during the London Marathon).  Another half Quart (that is to say, a pint — the Quantum of beer consumption in this blog) down and I was heading north for more sightseeing.



Frank Dobson’s “Woman and Fish” greeted me in the Millwall Park:



I should be more mature, but I always giggle about Mudchute:





Just beyond the park, I stopped in the George (write-up pending), the 3rd and last pub of the day.  Meeting my Quota and thirst Quenched, I continued the run along the Oakland Quay.



I soon Questioned the logic of only 3 pubs but as I reached South Quay Station, the prefabricated and oppressive atmosphere returned and I was set straight once more.



There were some nice ships to see moored at the Millwall Cutting just off the Thames Quay:


The Millwall Cutting


And, then it was over as I reached my station at Heron Quays:



So, the run appears to be another success.  Q.E.D.


Posted June 24, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : P   7 comments


P is for Postboxes: Edward VIII postboxes to be specific (something of an obsession with me) and, fortunately for this run there are more in London than anywhere else in the country.  I haven’t contacted these people (Letter Box Study Group) but it is good to know (I keep telling myself) that I’m not the only postbox obsessive in this country (and bear in mind that the leader of the Labour Party is a manhole cover enthusiast).




And, so it came to pass that this episode of the A to Z runs took me to East Finchley Station (above), to start ticking off these rare trophies.  Just out of the station, I thought I encountered a crossing of the the London LOOP but on inspection found that it is the Capital Ring Trail (and, I noted it for a future series):



The first was less than a quarter-mile from the station and I topped it with my 2009 England Cricket cap.  This one seems to have endured some welding repairs over the years:



A gentle hill rise took me into Finchley where the Pardes House School caught my attention and, by stopping to photograph the grand building, I caught the attention of several congregants either there as parents, teachers, or maybe just awaiting Shabbat.  I must have appeared harmless enough, though.



I had already stopped at the Old White Lion by this time and had targeted this neighbourhood for my second pub stop.  To be fair, I lost my dignity ages ago and regularly discard what little grows back.  But, the pub called Dignity is now a chicken place so no one here can claim to have Dignity anymore.  I had to settle for a place called the Catcher in the Rye.



There is also a claim that there is an Edward VIII pillar box outside Mill Hill East Station (visited on the N for Northern Line run).  This is blatantly untrue and has been so for quite some time.  The ancient Betty II box is in need of paint and has obviously been repainted several times before.  It’s as if you can’t trust anything you read on the Interwebs, anymore.  Disappointed, but with one more within the region I printed maps for I continued on.



In the Deep South, most people pronounce my hometown, Atlanta, as “Aa-Lannah,” but there are a few, especially around Macon, Georgia, that call it “Lanta.”  With no one around to ask about this place, I leave it to you to research (but heed my Interwebs warning).  And, if you want to practice a North Central Georgia (USA) accent, you could do worse than starting with this little article I published a few years back.



There were several grand looking cemeteries on the route but the Hendon Crematorium was pretty tantalizing:



After a pub stop at the Greyhound, I finally closed out the postbox hunt with this well-maintained example on Elliot Road:



The plan had been for 3 E-VIII-R boxes and 3 pubs but with one bogus box I had to make up the difference with an extra pub stop (damn the luck!) at the Hendon before heading home.  Hendon Central Station was the official finish:






London Outer Orbital Path (LOOP), Index   Leave a comment


So, now it is finished.

The London Outer Orbital Path is supposed to be a 150 mile long walking trail around the perimeter of London, but my sense of navigation made some of the segments shorter (and most of them longer) than published in the official Guide Pages and I ended up covering 164 miles on or very near it.  It is broken, rather arbitrarily, into 24 sections which I covered, one or more at a time, as listed here:

Sections 1-2, 15 May 2017, industrial Thames, art deco houses, 6 pubs
Sections 3-5, 30 May 2017, Birthday run and a bit laissez-faire with the routes, 6 pubs
Sections 9-6 (counter-clockwise), 10 May 2017, brutally long and unusually pretty run, 7 pubs and 2 fish
Sections 10, 11 March 2017, urban decay, Heathrow’s flight path, and 3 pubs
Sections 11-12, frequent dates and several times because this is so close to the house; all the pubs canal side are covered somewhere herein as are any within ½ mile
Sections 13-14, 12 March 2017, 3 pubs and a muddy, hilly mess
Sections 15, 11 May 2017, Gilbert’s House and rhododendrons plus 4 pubs and a kebab
Sections 16, 12 May 2017, More off-than-on trail but near enough for government work, 4 pubs
Sections 17-18, 16 May 2017, alternative routes but nice canal paths and parkland, 6 pubs
Sections 19-21, 21 May 2017, beautifully wooded segments; hot & sunny, 6 pubs
Sections 22-24, 22 May 2017, good WW2 artifacts, more industrial Thames, 5 pubs and a fish and chip meal

The descriptions here are as inept and inane as you have come to expect from this blog.  I point you to Des de Moor’s fantastically informative guides to the trails if you really want to tackle this project yourself (and learn a bit of the history of the areas you will traverse).  Follow the links to the ‘Commentary’ for each segment and enjoy!

(Section Order: 11-12-10-13-14-9-8-7-6-15-16-1-2-17-18-19-20-21-22-23-24-3-4-5)

London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 3-5)   7 comments

Jackie brought an upper respiratory infection with her from the States which finally took hold last Thursday and left her weak as a kitten and utterly miserable throughout the end-of-May Bank Holiday weekend. My case of it struck Tuesday morning as I awoke for my Birthday Run, this final leg of the London Outer Orbital Path, Sections 3-5. Awesome.











The plan was to arrive in Petts Wood close to 9:30 with the assumption that the Wetherspoons, like most do, would be serving at the bar from 9. I could get a hearty breakfast and something substantial to drink, that way, and also spread the pub visits out a bit more across the entire journey. That seemed the most prudent way to knock out 6 stops over 23-24 miles while not taxing my failing health too bad, but the bar didn’t serve alcohol until 10. I moved on hoping that the Change of Horses, my next planned stop, would be open by the time I got there. The timing was truly all fucked up, though.


But, so was my sense of direction and sometime after admiring the four-cylinder engine in the wood, I ran off the edge of my maps and had to find my way back by dead reckoning but without any sunlight (heavily overcast) to guide me. I really should start carrying a compass, again.




I found Locksbottom on the edge of one of my Ordnance Survey printouts and made it to the Change of Horses at 10:30 to find the doors open and the landlord singing to himself somewhere in the depths. “Are you open?” I asked when he emerged.




“No, sadly, not till 11.”
“Oh, damn the luck. I’ll be miles away by then.”
“Yes, but lost more often than not.”
“Where are you trying to go?”
“Pub, mostly. Oh, I see what you mean. I have a map.” I showed him the pile of A4 sheets with various fragments of the LOOP on them.
“Bad map? Or, just bad at reading it?” he asked, smiling.
“Yes,” I answered. We had a brief conversation about folk music (they have a folk music society that meets in the pub) then I headed on my way, still thirsty and starting to get a bit hungry.




Part of the path then slips through St Giles the Abbot Church where several volunteers were tidying the cemetery and pavements. S.G. the A. has a charter for its fair that goes back to the early 13th century but the cemetery is easily worth a visit even without the annual fete. For instance, this bronze has such detail that you would think the flesh was warm and soft.




Not much farther along and you have Bogey Road which is little more than a bridleway. I considered obvious jokes about boogers or the Treasure of the Sierra Madre but this simple and elegant piece of vandalism to a sign on the road made me smile and I decided that would be enough for this segment:





Moving along the ridge near a manor house, I spotted some foxgloves with the remains of a magnificent oak in the background. It turned out to be “The Wilberforce Oak” named for that early proponent of handheld smart devices I wrote about during the Hull trip.




Wilberforce was also a close pal of William Pitt the Younger and it is claimed that he decided, whilst talking it over with the then Prime Minister Pitt beneath the shade of this tree, to introduce legislation to end the slave trade.




You can’t get to the commemorative bench from the plebe side of the fence, but the house and gardens are occasionally open to visitors.




Having had no luck with the planned pubs (nor any of the 6 others I skirted past), I finally emerged in the village of Keston where there were two very good ones on the green (the Fox, which is more of a gastro pub, and the Greyhound which was the local CAMRA branch’s pub of the year).




More hilly trail followed and another chance to get lost before I found pub number 3 of my original plan, the Goat. Of course, it was closed despite its published hours so I went off plan a bit and actually followed trail (more-or-less) until I reached the Sandrock where I probably should have eaten (really beautiful pizzas were emerging from the wood burning ovens) but I had my mind set on the Steak Day at the Sir Julian Huxley a little further along.




Somewhere along the way, I passed the Greenwich Meridian and left the Eastern for the Western Hemisphere. I can’t be completely sure of the order of things since my mental notes got hazier as the day wore on (despite the nutrition afforded by my late lunch); I think this was mostly down to my deteriorating health — as I write this at lunchtime the day after, I have a fever, congestion, fatigue and a sore throat all as bad as anything I’ve developed in the last 10 years.




Anyway, the hills got steeper (I’m reasonably sure of that) and at one point it was hard to slow down barreling down toward a railroad crossing. The grade leveled slightly before some stairs, then after the crossing a more reasonable descent followed by another climb (again, with stairs for a large part of it — fuck me). Looking back toward the rail crossing, the steep decent was just to the right of the clay cliffs.




Also near here, there was the Wattenden Arms in a shadowy little village on the edge of an RAF base now used mostly for private small aircraft. They launch gliders from there and a few were circling like buzzards on this trip. About a mile later (and about a mile short of the finish, Coulsdon South Station where I would close the LOOP), there was another pub to hit: the Tudor Rose in Old Coulsdon.




Everything was downhill from there (literally and figuratively and for the next week with respect to health) except that I ran past the turn-off to the station and had to turn around and climb back a bit.

Of course.




Posted May 31, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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