Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

Porthcawl Tourism October 2018   1 comment

 

Porthcawl is very odd but this first bit is something I noticed elsewhere (all over England, Wales, and Scotland).  Why are the “sanitary’ disposal bags decorated with a southern belle drag queen?  Cue the earworm

 

 

I may have been high, but I was amused to find myself on Schindler’s Lifts:

 

 

Best thrift store book section in town has everything alphabetised save for a M through N demilitarised zone:

 

 

The Grade 2 listed public loos are under threat of closure.

 

 

This would be criminal for this piece of grand architecture but also an assault on the residents and visitors whose average age is about 117 years old.  They’ve got to go somewhere, and they probably have to go NOW.

 

 

The local history museum is housed in a Victorian jail house (so, part of the exhibit):

 

 

I was taken with the iron gutters and drain pipes still in good nick (in this good nick).

 

 

We had a grand view from our room.  Low tide:

 

 

And, high tide:

 

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Posted October 6, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Tourism

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Traditional Barber of Ruislip   Leave a comment

 

Waiting outside the tailor’s for some last minute alterations to finish, the sign for Traditional Barber of Ruislip hove into focus.  Outstanding.

 

Posted October 6, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in art, Tourism

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Drayton Court Hotel, Ealing, London   Leave a comment

 

Pub #2169:

We’ve been planning a trip to the Drayton Court Hotel for lunch, dinner, a drink, or maybe a gig ever since we arrived in northwest London but never really got on the same timeline to do it together.  Dubbed by me the “Ho Cheem Inn,” we wanted to soak up some of the ambiance of Uncle Ho (pivotal in our youth for his famous jungle infrastructure efforts while our friends, family, and neighbours tried to kill as many of his labourers as possible) who washed dishes here for a year or two starting in 1913 before moving up to pastry chef further in the city.

 

 

A vintage market drew us to Ealing Saturday and, aged and decrepit, we both needed a piss with the Drayton our only option.  It would have been churlish not to buy something so I got us a couple of ciders and we lounged on the back porch watching a wedding reception being set up and sucking in some secondhand cigar smoke from a derelict drinker who shouldn’t be able to afford such a nice stogie.

 

 

Obviously, we weren’t the only ones in the pub on a sort of pilgrimage.  Several Southeast Asian families and groups passed through as we drank in the atmosphere and cider.

 

Posted September 30, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs, Tourism

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Exodus Advent: 84 Days To Go   1 comment

 

Friday’s weather was glorious as I repaired and test rode a bicycle Jackie acquired at work (abandoned 2 years ago, she halted security from taking it to the skip).  It’s a Gazelle the exact model of the one she had in Amsterdam so she was pretty chuffed to get it.

Wednesday and Thursday (Exodus Advent Days 86 and 85) were filled with straightforward laboratory duties and following the story of the Frat Boy Rapist in the States (or, as he is known over there, Federal Judge and Supreme Court Nominee Frat Boy Rapist).

 

 

It was low tide along the Thames Path.

 

 

 

And, the dignity of the three branches of United States government was also at nadir.

Here’s my route (the beer stop was at the Sun, to be reported):

Posted September 29, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in sport, Tourism

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The Wah-Wahs and Mudlarking   1 comment

 

 

I went mudlarking Tuesday on the polyp-like Rotherhithe peninsula (I don’t know what it is really called) and the Wah-Wahs weighed heavy on my mind.  Here’s a wee (or, ‘Wah’) story to explain, somewhat, what I’m on about and the lasting impact of the phenomenon (right up to this very day).

I blacked out as the Wah-Wahs enveloped me and I regained consciousness miles away in the driver’s seat of my 1974 Monte Carlo which I remembered as needing some new rod bearings.  The skies were the colour of Prince’s duster in the Purple Rain video, the red clay in the logging road on which I was parked was vibrant.  The tick-tick-tick of the billy club on the window was ever more insistent and I heard a stern voice demanding, “Open the door, sir.  Sir?  Right NOW, open…the…DOOR!”  I looked at my hand, still gripping the large bin liner still relatively full of R22 refrigerant (chloro-difluoromethane, HCF2Cl) the bag pushing gently on my chest and the steering wheel opposite.  I looked over and just as I made eye contact with the State Trooper very close to shattering my windscreen, he shattered into a mosaic of a million pieces and dissolved away.

 

 

As the shards rearranged themselves, I was actually not at all miles away in my car but still sitting on the couch in the rental house at least some of us were paying rent on.  The bag, indeed, was still in my lap but there were several panicked looking faces circled around me with Mark (the manager of the Turtles record store in town and one of the actual housemates) gripping my shirt with both fists and shaking me so violently that the sputum I was emitting was in our hair, on the window sill (I don’t remember there being glass in the window), and on the floor.  I wiped my face with my sleeve and said, slowly, “wwwwwwwwwwwwowwwwwwww!”  Two of the meat suits animating those previously panicked faces, upon seeing my sudden recovery, each grabbed for the bag, and Pat M came away with it.  In one continuous move held the open end over most of his face, squeezed the bladder-like portion, said something in a monstrously low voice, slipped on some of my sputum, landed on his back on the coffee table, and commenced to violently convulse long after we grabbed for our beers and the table collapsed.

Still stunned, I asked if that’s what happened with me.  “No, dude, you just ceased.”  Now about 40 seconds into his seizure, Pat emerged as suddenly as it had taken hold, and asked how long he’d been gone.  Such is the nature of Freon huffing.

 

 

I tried several entrances to the foreshore but only managed short segments of treasure hunting before the waters closed off access and I would be forced to go back up the wall and find my next entrance.  I wasn’t heavily into the treasure hunting aspects of it, though, happy to merely walk the secluded beaches and debris fields slowly emerging as the tide receded.  At the ferry to the Isle of Dogs I was cut off again but was able to wade around (above) the submerged bit without swamping my Wellies.

We got started doing Freon because, VC, another of our associates had driven me to Rose’s Department Store in his cripple-van (another episode of excess, a year or so earlier, found him crumpled in a car wreck with a broken neck).  I needed some car parts and while I was digging through the shelves he rolled up with a couple of cans of R12 freon (dichlorodifluoromethane, CF2Cl2) and a massive grin asking, “do you know how to use these?” in his distinctively nasal voice.  I knew he meant huffing it — we’d both mentioned that we did this as younger kids while our dads were refilling the car AC compressors — but I didn’t have a valve nor the money to buy one (and, wouldn’t we need a balloon so it would warm up a bit out of the can?  answer: no, just don’t get the liquid form on you).  He swung his begloved hand out of the bag draped over his wheelchair seat displaying the ice pick he had already shoplifted adding, “We’ll use this!”

[Side note: I once saw our VC get hustled out of another shop for nicking shit and he got away with it by screaming down the house: “you’re only doing this to me because I’m a cripple!”].

 

Cans of R12 similar to those we used

 

Sitting near the Putt-Putt course at the far end of the desolate car park, he balanced one of the cans upright in his lap, held the ice pick over its top with his left hand, and smacked it hard with the padded glove palm of his right.  The ice pick flew free but didn’t cause any damage; he stopped the liquid/gas flow out of the can with his thumb, held these a few inches from his mouth, then released it a bit to take in a huge lungful.  “Oh, yeah, this is GREAT!” he said, loudly and about 4 octaves lower than his normal voice (Freon is a lot heavier than air).  Then, he fell out onto the parking surface and I ran around to collect the can, now spewing all over the place…waste not, want not.  We finished that first can sitting on the pavement leaning against the front tire of the van.

 

 

A friend was in town from the States.  I say, “friend,” but we really haven’t seen each other in decades.  She and her husband begged off the foreshore walk despite an offer of a joint put in as a sweetener (they’re from California where weed is legal, so it wasn’t really much to offer).  Waste not, want not as the saying goes.

We started buying (and stealing) cases of this stuff as, over the next couple of weeks, more and more members of our circle of trippers began to participate (most of us with a case of localised frostbite to show for it).  One day, the little cannisters disappeard as a large, green tank freshly acquired from the roof unit above the multiplex cinema replaced it.  This was the R22 from the first paragraph and it seemed to have a much more intense mode of action.  R12 would have a few seconds onset where a cyclic, pounding/wind rush noise would engulf the user (these are the Wah-Wahs) ahead of 20-30 seconds of geometric visuals and perhaps a little glimpse at death from the user’s perspective.  Within 45-60 seconds, it is as if nothing had ever happened and you are ready for more.  A can split between a couple of guys will do about 10 times apiece; split 6 ways, it also did about 10 shots apiece due to less spillage.

The R22 tank was supercharged in that, while only lasting the same time to maybe 30 seconds longer, it was much less predictable and, often, much less fun because the trips lasted so much longer inside than anyone observing could possibly realise and mined personal inventories for their deepest and darkest insecurities.  R22 was the shit, and outrageously dangerous shit at that.  I still am baffled that no one died of it, directly, during that summer.  At one point, we were filling a bin bag with it and doing it out in my folks’ pond in about 8 meters of water.

 

The debris fields along the Thames are puzzling.  The walk along the Isle of Dogs a few months ago had one stretch that was mostly gravestone fragments and another that had an unusually high number of tampon applicators.  These U-shaped chunks of metal roughly 4 inches by 6 inches are strewn for 200 meters along this bank in plain site of the Tampon-Epitaph Beach.  What are they?  My guess was either some sort of large staple or broken links of chains (the more poetic of the two options).

Which brings me to the memories dredged up on this trip to the foreshore.

I had the keys to a house in Griffin Georgia in sort of a caretaker capacity for retirees to the Gulf Coast near Tampa in — I’m reasonably sure it was — 1984.  My duties were to keep an eye on it so that the sort of parties I was having there would not occur there in their absence and, in exchange, I could use the lake and premises in moderation.

There were about a dozen of us in and around the place, all tripping on some very good blotter but kicking it into overdrive with occasional blasts of the industrial Freon. When the owners walked in, I was sitting at the piano with CLW who was absolutely (and tunelessly) slapping the keys with both hands while banging out timpani on the front of the piano with the foot that he somehow got stuck in an umbrella stand an hour or so earlier.  There were several people having a tug-of-war with VC in his wheelchair in water deep enough to cover the wheels but not quite up to his chest.  RMA, who had been sitting with me and the erstwhile pianist, was just pulling her head out of a 6-inch-wide and inch deep dent she had just put in the plaster a few inches above the floor (R22 was involved).

That young woman with the massive bruise on her forehead is now quite middle-aged and visiting London (but, notably, NOT the waterside).  I was going to meet up with her and hers at a pub after the mudlarking, today.  But, I like this memory the way it is so I just picked up my treasure hunting bits and went to a different pub to send some bullshit excuse via email as our reunion meeting time loomed:

 

 

It’s not at all a great memory, though.  Of the people at the lake house that day, CLW became an ambulance chasing lawyer; I believe DH is now a drama professor; Pat’s a photographer. There were musicians, TMcB now part of the local canon in Athens Georgia, RMA a singer-songwriter (when it strikes her fancy, and despite the head injury described).  Our VC (musician) eventually committed suicide with prescription meds and another musician, Eric T, blew his head off with the handgun he suggested he and VC should use to shoot me on stage, y’know, for publicity (his brother, Kent, who was also there, died of an accidental drug overdose sometime in the early 1990’s). Yet another guy, Steve B, beat all of them for elan by killing himself with a nail gun squeezed to his temple.  There were others, but the statistically relevant sample of 10 shows 2 academics, 1 scumbag lawyer, 6 artists/musicians.  There were among those listed 3 eventual suicides plus 1 “death by misadventure” (that I am aware of).

 

 

 

There’s almost always something too big or heavy to carry home.  This bar is about 4 feet long and would make a great fireplace poker but I decided to leave it be.

I spent years before, during, and after these events honing a skill that has stood me well.  When someone calls out my name on the street or otherwise in public, I don’t react, flinch, give any acknowledgement that I am who they think I am.  I have actually been cornered by people who, it turned out after convincing them they have my doppelgänger and not me, were folks I actually was glad to see and I had to chase them down to explain this.

The Wah-Wah memories didn’t inspire confidence in the original plans for today.  34 years is just not long enough, yet.

 

 

You damn, dirty apes!  God damn you all to Hell!”

Wah-WAH-wah-wah-WAH-WAH-WAH-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-wah-WAH-WAH-WAH-wah-wah-wah….

 

 

MiniBar1 at BSF, Bermondsey, London   Leave a comment

 

Pub #2161:

We went to the Bermondsey Street Festival and spotted this Mini Cooper converted into a rolling keg cooler.  I bought a beer from its hipster owner and headed down the street.

The onslaught of yuppie-urban-settlers pushing a baby buggy with a child that should be walking but instead riding along with the same superior fucking look on their faces as on the other little, entitled monsters.

The crowd was incredibly thick and pushy considering how little of interest there was in the “festival.”  The throngs also included folks that brought their dogs to the festival…their fucking dogs (none of which seemed happy to be there but they are the childless gentrifier’s badge of belonging).

A third sort of pain in the ass — and the one that drove us away as soon as I finished the MiniBar1 beer — were the amateur drinkers.  These are the people sucking down mocha martinis or some other abomination.  They are all in festive mode and don’t even seem to like [or need] drinking to affect a vacant joviality; there would be real drink here if there were real drinkers (or more of us).

“Let’s fuck off over to a real pub,” I suggested and soon we were at Simon the Butcher, quite a real pub, indeed.

Posted September 16, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs, Tourism

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Smithfield Market 150th Anniversary   1 comment

 

Been sick a few days and Jackie has been off on holidays for a few, so we were both itching to escape the house despite the sudden cold-and-rainy snap.  The weather didn’t really suit the Notting Hill Carnival this time around, so we opted for the Smithfield Market 150th anniversary do.  The lion, above, is a detail on one of the ornate iron gates to the meat market (seen below).

 

 

I’ve been all around this joint, but neither of us has been inside and it didn’t disappoint.  However, we WERE disappointed to have missed the Sausage Dog Parade on Saturday (but I’m sure they’ll do it again for the 300th anniversary).

 

 

Butchery is the name of the game, here, but it isn’t a trading day.  One trader taunted us with a carcass and some fabulous, aged standing ribs:

 

 

Speaking of butchery, this is the site where William Wallace, having been dragged behind horses from the Tower of London roughly ½ mile away, was hung, drawn, and quartered 713 years ago this week.

“They can take our Sausage Dog Parade but they will never take our free…hang on…what are you doing with that gallows, y’ wee lad?”

 

 

With me recovering and J cold-natured, we stuck to the covered bits more so than the rest (although I met some lovely people into fermentation at one of the tents near the Wallace Memorial).  There were musical acts but the people-watching was the real show.

 

 

Of said musical acts, I enjoyed the Fish Police more than any of the others.  You should seek these guys out (although I  believe they have a very limited touring range):