Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

Ealing Blues Fest 2018   Leave a comment

 

Ealing’s Walpole Park hosts a lot of music and arts events and they are dirt cheap for what they offer.  This weekend was the annual Ealing Blues Festival and we each dropped £5 for Sunday tickets.  Three stages, two drinks tents*, and an awful lot of rock & roll bands to kill off a hot, sunny, Summer afternoon.  Sublime.

*I opted for this terminology instead of “two bars” because, at a blues fest you shouldn’t expect anything less than 12-bar.

 

 

Only one of the 12 acts we witnessed seem to know what the blues actually is.  Our disappointment was tempered by the passable rock all around.  Most of the acts with women leading the band sounded like Vinegar Joe (blues influenced, not blues), and the others leaned heavily on the Animals, the Who, and the Stones (blues influenced, not blues).

 

 

About half the crowd was older than me, the other half almost exclusively families with children.  CHILDREN, for fuck’s sake, and yet they were pretty cool kids.

Next week is the Jazz Festival (same price) and in August there is a Mela (free) nearby in Southall.  If you are visiting London in the summer and just happen to be at loose ends, you could do worse than one of these.

Pro tip: you can each bring in 4 cans of alcoholic beverages or a box of wine into the Walpole Park fests.  Bring a towel or a folding chair…the venue is pretty dusty.

 

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Posted July 24, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in music, Tourism

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Isle of Dogs Mudlarking   1 comment

I took a day off to go mudlarking but on the day my heart really wasn’t in it.  Perhaps the hangover had something to do with it.

Nevertheless, it is always a pleasure to walk the Thames foreshore between tides.

 

This stretch, near Sir John McDougall Gardens, was littered with bricks…and, for some reason many, many tampon applicators.  This Southwater brick was probably part of the sewars.

 

 

There were many of the Haunchwood bricks around.  This brick with holes was the start of the metaphorical finds on this journey (MF1):

 

 

(MF2) It is good practice, due to the speed at which the water levels change with the tides, to scan for escape options when on the foreshore.

 

(MF3) Prayer may not help, but what can it hurt?

 

 

(MF4) I can’t help it.  I actually pondered what it would take to get this back on the road, again.

 

 

(MF5) Arrived at published opening time and waited 10 minutes more.  Then, I walked to another pub, 25 minutes away, that was due to open in 20 minutes (write-up soon):

 

 

There were some really nice slabs of marble but only fragments of anything recognizable as part of a tombstone.

 

Posted June 28, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Tourism

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Birthday Mudlarking   1 comment

 

I spent my tenth birthday (the tenth, that is, since moving to the UK), slogging back-and-forth through the silt and grime of the Thames Foreshore from London Bridge upstream to just past the London Eye, risking Weil’s Disease to search for largely worthless artifacts.  I have a Standard Thames Foreshore Permit that’s good for another year-and-a-half and quite underused in the last year-and-a-half.  Standard allows access and scraping to about 3 inches deep — essentially, beach-combing on one of the filthier urban waterways available and this seemed like a fine way to start another (yet another) year.

 

 

After a quick sustenance stop at the Market Porter, I headed down the stairs in front of the Globe Theatre about an hour ahead of the low tide.  I picked up some old, handmade nails; clay pipe remnants; shards of China and other crockery; and, a weirdly shaped bottle.  I left most of the bulky crap like bricks, but may read up on them a bit before a follow-up visit.  This one, from Cliff & Sons, Wortley, Leeds is probably late 19th century:

 

 

And, this one is from the Farnley Iron Works, also in Leeds, from the mid-19th century:

 

 

I’m sure someone out there can put a date on LBC bricks like this one but the company still produces so I’ll say sometime in the last 150 years:

 

 

A wheel theme emerged:

 

 

These appear to be mooring spots:

 

 

And, this one a mourning spot:

 

 

And, they led me to the London Eye.  No collecting can be done in this immediate area (nor, indeed, within 30 meters of a bridge), but it was fun to walk under it.  The tide and the past 2 days’ rainfall obliterated the non-wading portion of the Foreshore just beyond this and I returned the way I came, going past my stairs as far as the Golden Hinde before finally escaping the encroaching waters.

 

 

The rain sewers, probably carrying the Weil’s Disease encrusted rat feces:

 

 

Always a good sign to see one’s spirit animal:

 

 

These phone app bikes are always just left in the middle of the pavement.  At least this user was creative with it.

 

 

Stopped to take some graffiti photos and only then noticed the spectacular cap to the bridge abutment:

 

 

So, no treasure or real antiquities this go around but the South bank is known to be more sparsely decorated.  Nonetheless, there are some pretty things to put in the plant boxes this summer.

 

 

The bottle is my main mystery of the collection, though.  You might be able to see the rectangular (not cylindrical) throat at the broken neck.  It is labeled “GS Sheffield Hertford” which likely has something to do with G. S. Sheffield who was Master of Hertford Lodge #403 (Freemasons) in 1929.  I’ll update this if anything turns up.

 

 

I’ll call this one a mild success.  Past birthdays in this series of blog posts:

Looking for Cock (2009)
The London Underround (2010)
A Race before Hashing (2011)
Maastricht and Pinkpop (2012)
A Long Run West of Trowbridge (2013)
Westbury to Warminster Run (2014)
Running Sick and on Chemo (2015)
London Outer Orbital Path Finale (2017)

Somehow, it seems, I managed to do nothing notable for the 2016 birthday (drink and drugs may have been involved).

 

 

Posted May 30, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Tourism

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Shepherds Bush to Acton Tourism   1 comment

 

Friday after work run:  Started at the Shepherds Bush stop of the coach from Oxford and moseyed on up to the Queens Tavern.  As I have every other time I’ve tried to go here (this must be the sixth or seventh effort), I checked the opening times and found them to be from noon til 11 or midnight.  As it has been every other time, it was closed.  The website went down since last Friday and the WhatPub entry tells the story: the pub is only open on game days, now.  Shit.

Whilst grinding my teeth over this wasted choice of an urban route over much nicer ones, I noticed the Batman Dental Surgery.  I only hope that if you explore deeper in the estate you’ll find the Black Widow Marriage Counseling offices or the Swamp Thing Garden Centre.

 

 

 

This poor choice of font size resulted in an unfortunate and confusing presentation of the team slogan. It SHOULD, of course, read, “Come On Your Arses.”  Or, maybe it is as simple as bad spacing and should be, “Come On Your’s” (with a troublingly spurious apostrophe).  No one puts the effort into graphic design nor proofreading, anymore:

 

 

 

 

This Bed & Breakfast, not far from the stadium, is probably out of my price range:

 

 

 

 

I continued.  The other planned pub stop was also closed, I think.  I decided there wasn’t enough spring in the mattress to assist in clearing the hoarding, and ran on, eventually finding the Wishing Well pub near East Acton station (write-up soon).

I’ve had more (and less) successful runs.  At least it was hot and the start of the Early May Bank Holiday Weekend.

 

 

Southend-On-Sea, Essex: Sights on a Cold, April Day Out   1 comment

 

I had no plan.  Jackie’s mom’s funeral would be held in Tennessee later in the day and, upon waking and stretching for a run, I decided to catch the train out to Southend to jog, drink, and think good thoughts about Jackie and her brother and all the aunts, uncles, and cousins donning mourning outfits and heading to the cemetery.  A good plan, I reckoned, for no plan.

 

 

Southend Station had some nice details and, paint-job-that’s-overdue-some-touch-up notwithstanding, even the dog shit containers were ornate:

 

 

Queen Victoria (or, using her Essex name, “Lefty” Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, as this statue suggests) looks out toward the sea.

 

 

Hash House Harrier (I believe it is the Full Moon kennel) markings turned up on the cliffs:

 

 

I took a run break and paid for the privilege of walking the pier.

 

 

A paddle boarder in the distance worked against the retreating tide, while some lazier pier denizens took the train.

 

 

 

I thought there would be a pub at the end, but it is really just a Life Boats rescue station (although there is a snack bar).

 

 

Returning to terra firma, it was time to find a pub.

 

 

The cliffs elevator:

 

 

The Kurzaal holds a bowling alley:

 

 

Seaside arcades in older cinemas line the seaside walk.

 

 

Still Life on Victorian Keystones:

 

So, the mourning run finished after 4 pubs (write-ups are slowly being crafted), some eels, and a plate of seafood pasta.  “What have any of these got to do with one another or the stated intent of this trip,” you ask?  I counter, “it’s Southend…nothing has to work together.”  Case in point.  The billboard for the “Sea Life Adventure” features a meerkat — a relative of the mongoose from the Kalahari Desert and no Sea Life, at all:

 

 

Posted May 5, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Obits, Running, Tourism

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Wandsworth sightings   Leave a comment

 

From the Falcon, I started a run to see how well my blister treatment was holding up on my foot.  The route took me through Wandsworth and beyond; along the way, I saw that the Silver Surfer must have pissed off Herod something awful (above, apologies for the shitty photo but not the heresy).

The Wandsworth Council building has a grand (if not grandiose) relief comparing the district government to those of the classical world:

 

 

As if I can’t make my own (evidence above), the council announced “a diversion” ahead!  Hooray!  What might it be?  Jugglers?  Bull baiting?  Perhaps a pub of some historical significance!  I trundled on….

 

 

Posted April 8, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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2017: Running Year, Slightly More Detailed   Leave a comment

 

January:  The 2016 Siracusa Marathon got cancelled so I planned on the 2017 edition of the race in late April and started training for it as the holidays came to a close.  The orange trace on the monthly graphs shows my TARGETED 7-day mileage and the blue trace my ACTUAL distance; having done a few marathons, I wasn’t too anal about precision but — since I was shooting for a Boston and New York qualifying time — I tried to exceed the prescribed dosage when convenient.  Cold and occasionally rainy, the pub count for January was 16 total, 13 of them involving runs.  My racing license arrived from the Italian athletics authorities and I got my required medical certificates sorted before the end of the month. This seemed a good start to the year.  Net Mileage = a modest 137.

Highlight: 17.2 mile loop to Wetherspoon pubs in Wembley and Kingsbury in some light snow, mid-month

February: The 2017 Siracusa Marathon was cancelled on 01 February…of course.  Having started the training, I stuck with it in case something else popped up but nothing really cool presented itself.  My heart wasn’t in it, and the pub count became much more the focus (16 out of the 17 February pubs were during the runs).  Mileage: 141 (month), 278 (year)

Highlight: The 5 February canal run into the city, first time on some of that now familiar path

 

March: Realising the soul had left the training body, I shifted the focus to the London Outer Orbital Path with an aim to finishing by the end of May (actually, a fairly ambitious plan).  I had already covered Sections 11 and 12 for 12 miles worth of the LOOP and in March picked up 3 more segments for another 19 miles.  All 20 pubs were during runs, and on 31 March I resumed the London A to Z Runs project with I for Isis.  Mileage: 160 (month), 438 (year)

Highlight: Sections 13-14 of the LOOP, in the cold rain, with surley pub lunatics throughout

 

April: A funk settled in as the date for the cancelled race in Sicily approached.  Despite this, I trundled on through J, K, and L of the A to Z runs. 9 more pubs (+ 2 not on runs), but no more sections of the LOOP.  Once the training schedule was finished, I scaled back prescribed runs to total 22 miles per week while I tried to get my mojo back.   Mileage: scant 101 (month), 539 (year).

Highlight: The J run for being absolutely ludicrous

 

May: With Jackie off to America for a couple of weeks, I settled into tackling the LOOP and completed the 24 remaining sections (132 more miles) by the 30th.  I consumed Hull for my out of town trip (mostly a liquid diet) and continued the A to Z with M, N, and O.  Pubs: 74 (60 on runs).  Mileage: 200 (month), 739 (year).

Highlight: The LOOP, but especially sections 22-24

 

June: A persistent upper respiratory infection dogged me from the end of May till mid-June and I didn’t run at all for a full week early in the month.  I changed the prescribed distances so that I would simply average 21 mpw rather than designating 5 day during the week with targets and this made it a little more psychologically palatable after my little health fiasco.  The monthly mileage suffered greatly (only 87 and change) and I reached the six month mark with only 826 miles in my pocket — this was going to be a very slack year, indeed, if I didn’t make some changes.  All 12 pubs were on runs, one before a work function and the rest on A to Z runs P, Q, and R.

Highlight: The erstwhile Postbox run

 

July: Despite a jump on the running month early on, the illness from June returned and even brought severe nose bleeds with it this time.  Recovering toward the end of the month, I managed 13 pubs on runs (19 overall) mostly on A to Z runs S, T, and U.  Mileage: 109 (month), 935 (year) … it was going to be a strange feeling to break 1000 in August.

Highlight: The Land of Liberty, Peace, and Plenty run

 

August: And, strange it was so I adjusted my target mileage to 35 per week to kick my ass into gear a little.  This — and the unusually warm weather — seemed to do the trick as I completed V-Y of the A to Z runs, picked up 23 more pubs (21 whilst running), and surpassed the July mileage by nearly 50% (154 on the month, 1089 on the year).

Highlight: The Xenophile run

 

September: Feeling that structure helped motivate me in August, I reloaded my Ultra Marathon Training regimen from back when I was working up to the Ridgeway 86 miler a few years ago.  Not to target a race, mind; no, just to have some difficult-to-attain weekly goal that would also, if followed, get me to an almost respectable end-of-year total over 1800 miles.  With the long runs on Sundays but a long-standing promise to Jackie that I wouldn’t take up all day on the weekends with ridiculously long runs, I found myself ticking off Wetherspoon pubs at the ~9am end of the longer journeys, then catching the Tube home for a quick shower to be ready for the day’s activities by 11.  So, in the 30 days of September I managed to hit 30 new pubs (22 on runs) whilst clocking another 178 miles (1267 on the year: if I stuck with the schedule, this would give me over 1950 by New Year’s Eve!).  Oh, and I finished the A to Z on the 1st of the month.

Highlight:  The first and second Hammersmith Sunday morning runs

October: Staying relatively healthy until the end of October (save for fracturing the middle toe on my right foot on a pre-dawn towpath a week into the month), I managed to rack up all my prescribed mileage and then some (226 for the month, 1493 on the year but still trailing Brownie by 200 — who is also chasing a scant, by his standards, 2000 miles on the year).  Jackie brought an especially harsh cold home and suffered with it for two weeks before I finally succumbed at Halloween and spent two days convalescing at the start of November.  But, by then I had managed 19 more pubs on runs (a lot of single pub runs during the work week, 28 total on the month).  The long runs were forcing me into new territory, too, despite being mostly in the wee hours of the mornings.

Highlight: Finishing off the Witney pubs that have daytime hours

 

November:  Finished painting the cast iron bunnies, went to the annual Socialism conference, and started a new running project focused on the Tube, Overground, and London Trams.  Mileage reached 253 for the month (1746 for the year) largely on the TfL Runs but also in part due to the start of the Holiday Run Streak.  Jackie left for the States on Thanksgiving Day and it was the first time I missed making an obscene meal for the Holiday in the nearly 40 years since I moved away from my folks.  I took some time off work at Oxford to focus on some long runs and drink a beer or two at an interestingly named pub or two.

Had yet another unsuccessful job interview, this time in Birmingham; however, since I was sure I wasn’t suited for the job — and certain that they knew that when they invited me — I interviewed as if for a job that I wanted.  Got a call a couple days later saying they weren’t going to offer me this job but that they would like to have me reinterview for the imaginary job I appeared to be after.  As I was told, one of the panel asked, after I left, “what the actual hell was that?”  Another replied, “I don’t know, but I want one.”  With any luck, they’ll be back in touch early in the New Year.

Highlight: The TfL Run Project started

 

December:

Hard training (188 miles in only the first half of the month, 276 by the end) in regressively shittier weather left me susceptible to the worst respiratory infection of the year, which I succumbed to for two weeks starting the day after Jackie returned from putting her mom’s house on the market.  Don’t worry, I shared it with her and we were both still ill for Christmas.  What a shitty holiday season this year.  I mean, we put up a tree and ate & drank too much (and quite well); watched bad telly; went for a couple of walks and, in my case, kept up with the runs.  But, it was an even more low-key affair this year than most.  That’s winter, for you: makes you anxious for what the coming year brings.

Highlight: Hitting 2000 mile threshhold on Boxing Day and, despite only hitting 1000 at mid-August, finishing the year with 2022.

 

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

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