London A to Z Runs : X   4 comments


X is for Xenophilia.  On the day after the Barcelona attacks, the week of the Charlottesville fiasco, in the year — or less (fingers crossed!) — of the Trump administration, this run honours Plaistow in Newham, one of the most immigrant-friendly and diverse neighbourhoods in London with no ethnic group comprising more than 1/5 of the population.  It promised to be an interesting trot. 


Overall, the neighbourhood is as advertised: about 10% white Brits, 5% Poles,  2-3% what the old-timers such as myself would call “Oriental,” and the rest about evenly distributed amongst black Africans, Raj-based Asians, and Middle-Eastern types.  This was not generally my experience on the stops  but that probably has more to do with my (and the customer base’s) Anglo-centric bias than anything else (as well as the fact that anyone in an East End pub or slurping down some stewed eels is already likely to be a bit melanin-deficient).  Anyway, here was the route….


Just out of the station I turned to find my way to the Greenway, a dedicated bike path on a former rail bed.  At my first turn I learned that there is no concept of Costcutter in Lithuanian (apparently) and the translation takes a long paragraph.



At the base of the stairs to the Greenway, a bunch of Bud Light cans represented my cultural background.  At the apex, there was a lovely view of the London skyline:



There were Central Africans and Sikhs jogging along the Greenway, but the streets in the area still seem a bit Caucasian.  First notice was the Road to the White Well,


and then there was never anything whiter on telly in the States than the Chronicles of Mayberry (Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD):


I shouldn’t even need to put a link in to demonstrate how wrong this one is with respect to the day’s theme:



From my seat in the Abbey Arms (all white employees and clientele, with me the only non-native East Ender), I spotted this interesting church:



The Golden Lion (now a betting shop), was my original choice for a first stop.  The Swan, across from the Abbey, was my 2nd.  My choice for a 2nd stop, the Army and Navy, was also shuttered (what the actual hell?):



I soldiered on, determined to get some eels for lunch but I turned the wrong way up Barking Road and soon found myself at the Boleyn Tavern (spectacular house, but all white employees and clientele, with me the only non-native East Ender) across from this monument to 1960s white men in shorts:



Even the Baby Jesus is pale and Mother Mary wears the Cross of St George motif:



But, the Boleyn Ground — the real church, temple, and mosque of the neighbourhood — has been razed to make way for flats too expensive for anyone here to afford (again, there will probably be another unintentional colour bias to the residency demographics).



Finally, after a beer stop at the Lord Stanley (all white employees and clientele, with me the only non-native East Ender … write-up soon), I inched my way toward lunch at Ginny’s Pie and Mash (all white employees and clientele, with me the only non-native East Ender … write-up soon).  Just before that, I finally found a monument to diversity…the YMCA!  (I mean, the Village People were as much a mixed pot as you could hope for, right?


Determined not to retrace or even cross my own path this run, I headed back to the station turning where I must to meet this remit.  There were two pubs (the Black Lion and the Victoria Tavern, both with all white employees and clientele, with me the only non-native East Ender … write-ups soon) blocking my way, though, but I managed to filter through them.

So, X for Xenophilia is done without me getting any feel for the ethnic melting pot this part of town is supposed to be.  That’s almost certainly my fault, but I really don’t try that hard and you shouldn’t get your hopes up that I’m going to improve with age.

Y and Z remain…what will they be?




Posted August 19, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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Fill a 6-foot-deep hole with 2 parts gin, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part simple syrup…   Leave a comment

At cocktail bars, I’m ridiculed by bartenders when I order something old-style like a Manhattan or a Side-Car.  But, going by the evidence in the Ruislip Cemetery, the Tom Collins is quite literally dead.  R.I.P.

Posted August 18, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Booze, Obits, Recipes

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The Wheatsheaf, Chinnor, Oxfordshire   Leave a comment


Went for a bit of a jog through the countryside near the Lewknor bus stop Thursday with the intent of stopping for a beer at the Crown in Sydenham then looping back but the Crown closes mid-afternoon and wouldn’t reopen for the evening for another 15 minutes … shit.  I adjusted my trajectory to Chinnor although I was pretty certain I had already ‘done’ all the pubs there.  Wrong: the Wheatsheaf still remained!  Hooray!



Half the building was under construction/refurbishment so everyone was packed into the area around the bar.  They all also knew each other and were in the midst of an animated convo that only slowed momentarily when I burst in drenched with sweat.  I needed to cool down a bit and took my golden ale (a very good one) out to the Aunt Sally pitch (a phenomenon I haven’t encountered in over a year) in the empty beer garden.


Odd place.  There seems to be an old street lamp in the middle of the midst of the garden (did the street once pass through right here?).  The Aunt Sally pitch has its own lighting, too, so check the schedules on your sport channels for televised matches.  And, they specialise in, of all things, South African food (which looks amazing, by the way).


Posted August 18, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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The Eagle Vaults, Witney, Oxfordshire   Leave a comment



In Witney there are 6 buses per hour back to Oxford so I figured I had time for a quick lager at The Eagle Vaults. Having run from Eynsham, I could see how sweaty I was in the bar mirrors and it seemed a bit stifling inside so I took my beverage out to the garden only to find it overrun with children and mums.

One non-mum suddenly jumped up and was doing a very odd and twitchy dance, idle for a moment then suddenly jerking a limb akimbo à la the Elaine Benes samba. When she finished I resisted the temptation to applaud but she had noticed me and several others watching the weird display. “I was trying to avoid a wasp,” she explained.

Riiiiigggghhhht. SURE you were,” I said before turning back to my beer and looking to see if any venomous flying insects had landed in it. “Whatever gets you through the night.”


Posted August 16, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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The Boot Inn, Barnard Gate, Oxfordshire   1 comment



On a run between Eynsham and Witney the bike path I was following petered out and I was compelled to run through the hamlet of Barnard Gate.  The Boot Inn is pretty much the only thing there and since it appeared about halfway through the run I stopped for a refreshing golden ale.



While waiting on my change I noticed first one then, all around the pub, dozens of football shoes along with framed letters from the former occupants of the footwear. “Not the sort of boot I expected,” I told the bartender. “May I?” I asked, wiggling the camera in the direction of Gary Lineker’s cleats.  The barman didn’t mind but the table adjacent seemed uncomfortable so I just took the quick one.



Posted August 15, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Feast of St Arnold 2017   Leave a comment


Today is the Feast of St Arnold, patron saint of Belgian brewers and hop pickers. The long weekend of celebrations started Wednesday with the run honouring Women. While one such Woman out in LA was completing an honour worthy project, we shamefully (or is that “shameLESSly”?) slacked off in the spirit of the season.




It wasn’t all fun and games, though.  Thursday I had to endure a bit of photography based biopsy of some more skin cancers before we were free to go to the Church Street Market in St John’s Wood and then wander around Ealing. The marvelous art deco building at the top of this posting can be found at the intersection of Luton and Penfold in St John’s Wood. After a run down to Hanger Lane, we settled into martinis and some BBQ chicken.




Friday was devoted to household chores such as strimming our weed-and-food-wrapper filled lawn then hanging out in Ruislip thrift stores. Out the back gate, I fought nettles and thorns to gather enough blackberries for some infused vodka (a Thanksgiving treat, if all goes well).






Saturday, I used some of the charity shop finds to start fermenting a jar of garlic then roasted the remaining heads to make a batch of pesto. To ferment garlic, peel the cloves (the last layer should be left on at least a few of them as this is where the bacteria and yeasts that do the work will be found). Leave some head space and pour a brine of 1 TBS non-iodized (think Kosher) salt per liter of chlorine-free water. Weigh the cloves down, cover, and check back every now and again for 4-6 weeks. Use this like roasted garlic although it should still be firm enough to grate. If you add it at the end of a recipe (that is, don’t cook it), you can diversify your gut microbiome with these.




Pesto recipe:
shitload of garlic
some toasted pine nuts
lots and lots of basil
olive oil
salt & black pepper
Parmesan Reggiano

Blitz all of this together, taste, and adjust to taste whilst trying hard not to eat it all during preparation.





The second fermentation project (remember, this is all about St Arnold), is a turmeric bug, sort of a starter culture for carbonated lemonades and limeades. Wash the turmeric but chop it up skins and all to make about 3 teaspoons. Add this and 3 teaspoons of brown sugar to 750 mL of water. Cover and put it in an airing cabinet or other stable, warm place. Feed it, daily, 3 more tsp each of turmeric and sugar until it starts to bubble up pretty good (as much as a week) then transfer to the fridge to slow it down. Feed the bug with a TBS of sugar each week. A half cup of the bug juice plus a half cup of sugar in a gallon of lemon water makes your fizzy lemonade (use Grolsch bottles to store it).



Things went a bit awry Sunday as I broke a cocktail glass then Frank Sinatra screwed us: One For My Baby, the last cut on Only the Lonely, was far enough toward the warning track on the album that our turntable shut off and I had to turn the disk by hand (the very hands, I remind you, that had just clumsily dropped a cocktail glass).



Eating well is the best cure for a streak of bad luck like this and I opted for a big pot of prawn Phô. I couldn’t find unpeeled shrimps at the store but I had some frozen bits of sea bream in the freezer from last week and combined them with some existing broth and vegetables to cook into a makeshift fish broth (normally I’d use the prawn heads and shells). Cassoulet may be my Desert Island Dish, but if I were able to find some way to make noodles and gather seafood this would diversify my menu.



So, now it is off to work … and, on a proper Holy Day, no less.  The plan is to down a Dubbel in Arnold’s name ahead of barbecuing some burgers tonight (although that should probably be some “Brugers”).



The Village Inn, Ealing, London   Leave a comment


The guy standing at the bar in the Village Inn pontificated on A Fool And His Money on holiday. “Some of them book a six thousand pound per week villa online: the works — chauffeur, house servants, all of that. Pay by bank transfer and then they are surprised when they arrive at Lanzarote and there’s no one there to pick them up.” His partner, trapped, nodded and sipped his beer. “Bank Transfer…that’s why I always pay with a credit card, so they cover you if it goes tits up. If it sounds too good to be true, I always say.”

A kid walked behind a Mercedes convertible out front of the pub and the lights started flashing. Mr Wisdom Of The Ages observed, “will you look at that…a silent alarm.”

“It will stop in a minute,” chimed in a guy sitting by the window. “It’s mine.”
“Very nice. Very nice, indeed. Are you a doctor?” he inquired (you don’t get this clever without a healthy curiosity).
“No, he’s a travel agent specializing in posh villas in the Canary Islands,” I interrupted whilst returning my glass.
“20% discount if you pay by Bank Transfer,” Mercedes man added, as I was leaving.


Posted August 12, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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