Archive for the ‘August 2016 Pub Per Day Challenge’ Tag
At The Case Is Altered, I ordered an Oakham Citra and while the kid behind the bar was pumping it I caught a glimpse of the waitress off my left shoulder wrinkling her nose. “Mustn’t sneer. It’ll be good, I’m sure;” I was sure and I was right: the citra hops impart a grapefruit like bitterness that is just grand on a late summer’s evening. Still, she ran away and I paid up and explored the house a bit.
It’s a smaller pub on the inside than it looks from without…sort of a reverse TARDIS. The small, dark, and ancient dining hall looks a spectacular place for a winter lunch since the dreariest January afternoon will be bright as Summer on the Riviera afterwards. Atmospheric, to be sure.
It is adjacent to a cricket ground and I wondered if that had anything to do with the weird name but couldn’t reconcile it with the pub signage and as the rains came I forgot to ask before dashing back to my evening run. I looked it up and found many references to a comedy ostensibly by Ben Jonson (which would jibe with the age of this grand house) but I found this other reference that I so WANT to be true. In this story, soldiers fighting Napoleon had been billeted in the ‘house on a hill’ in Spain (or ‘La Casa Alta’) and, accents and misunderstandings being what they are around here, this got butchered to ‘The Case Is Altered.’
From Rayner’s Lane Tube Station, the Queen’s Head is about a mile and a half, but it’s still a quarter-mile from Pinner Station so running was probably quicker than changing to the other line of the Metropolitan at Harrow-on-the-Hill. The pub is in a conservation area so all those Tudor buildings are the real thing; they are so well-preserved that you might think ‘mock-Tudor,’ and there are repairs using modern masonry here and there but the central street of Pinner leading up to the church is stunning.
I got a Rebellion Mutiny, the darkest beer they had on the pumps. The barman had to set it aside to settle for a moment before finishing the pour (which is usually a good sign). The ale was quite bitter but with an underlying molasses flavour — not the sweetness of molasses but the wood oils and aromatics — and mouthy without being too viscous. Yum.
The bit of the pub I saw consists of a long bar stretching along much of the interior behind the façade, low beams that could support a cathedral, and uneven footing. According to The Interwebs, some of the house dates to 1540. There is a bit of seating out front that was good for watching the early evening footfall.
The August 2016 Pub Per Day Challenge turned into a Pub EVERYday event and ended with 63 total pubs averaging 2.03 pubs per day with a spread of 1 Low, 6 High, and a standard deviation of 1.20. All were inside the M25 and I put together some simple gif animations to show the results on the EBPC map (followed by stills of first and last frame if the gif doesn’t work for you).
First, the map kind of centered on the house:
The start at 21 May 2016 was the day we went up to scout neighbourhoods just before Jackie started work in the city. At that point, I had been to the Queen’s Head in Uxbridge 6 years before; the Three Horseshoes (Southall) and JJ Moon’s and the Black Bull (both Ruislip) last September, and the Bell in Ruislip on our house hunting trip. Things have filled in nicely, but far from completely.
The map of London (overall) definitely shows some blank areas that need attention the coming months and years:
The full list follows, but I also want to point out the running component of the Challenge which, until now, I only vaguely alluded to. My plan was to couple the pub exploration with a real exploration of the new environs similar to — but not as exhaustive as — the Every Path in Old Town effort a few years ago. My goal was to run at least 3 miles on weekdays and 5 each on Saturday and Sunday. I went a bit low once or twice but easily made up for these with longer ones across the board. These looked like the chart, below. The purple trace is from my annual spreadsheet and shows the target mileage for the previous 7 days; the black trace is my actual 7-day boxcar sum (I started with a post-marathon slacking off period, hence the dip in both target and actual at the month’s start).
The run stats in their simplest form were
5.7 miles per day (overall average, 3.5 if I stuck strictly to schedule)
2.8 standard deviation
2.5 – 14.0 spread
5.0 per weekday (M-F, 3 per day planned)
2.0 standard deviation
2.5 – 10.6 spread
8.0 per weekend day (SS, 5 per day planned)
3.7 standard deviation
3.1 – 14.0 spread
Oh, right…the Fish and Chips tally continues with a wonderful London addition of some jellied eels, a disappointing portion in Hayes, and a better chippy visit in Barking. I haven’t gone to Grants Atlanta, yet, but it caught me off guard on one of the runs and is shortlisted just to find out if there’s a story behind the name.
Here’s that pub listing, as well:
On a run from Harrow to the house, I was looking for another pub to add to the August 2016 Pub Per Day Challenge and thought I spotted a doozy in the form of the Half Moon not just for the sign but also the half-moon iron work on the roof. But, its transformation to ‘the Salt Bar’ put me off and I decided to delay the visit at least until I decided there was nothing better in the vicinity.
A 100 meters up the road, there was something probably better (but at the very least not too bad) in the form of the White Horse. I ordered a Chiswick and moved through the grand interior out to the equally grand garden.
There was a middle age couple and a lad of about 18 or 19 at the next picnic table over. They all seemed to know some of the same people — like a guy that married a New Yorker and is now unlikely to return from the States — but not much about each other (granted, this could be close family, too). I eavesdropped for a while and took them to be mentors (maybe old teachers or former employers) or at least distant family members of the young fellow who was heading off to University possibly in the States or Canada.
It’s that time of year, eh? Transformations, good or bad, are afoot and time marches on. The Half Moon may be waxing or waning, the kid may get shot in the head or suffer extreme frostbite and boredom. My beer may be empty or just pre-filled. One thing for certain: if you came here looking for deep, philosophical truths then you were a fool and no number of seasons passing are likely to change that. Shine on.
The Spotted Dog is an old and beautiful pub in an old but not so charming — although I find it beautiful — part of Barking. Close enough to piss on from the front door, Wetherspoons opened a dreadful place called the Barking Dog. Tsk, tsk, ‘Spoons: the predatory location is bad enough but couple that with lack of imagination in the pub name and you should have been denied the license.
I got a very nice Czech yellow beer and headed out to what I immediately dubbed the 420 Garden because of the strong skunky whiffs emanating, I thought, from the two Polish guys off to the side. They seemed especially blatant about it, as well, but I soon realised the direction and speed of the winds helping me get the contact buzz wouldn’t have done so across the open expanse of the garden and into the little tree protected alcove I was holed up in.
Turned out it was some native freaks in the little gazebo right next to me. How rude. No one offered any.
Continuing my run to Barking, I decided to get off the main road and see a bit of the quieter side of Ilford. Not far at all from the Great Spoon, a grand old back street boozer called the Papermaker’s Arms emerged.
This was the shit…the good shit: a real pub, one like you imagine when you come over from the States for the first visit. Bunch of blokes sitting around, talking coded business (I felt a bit guilty about calling it the Paper Hanger’s Arms in my notes), watching a bit of the cricket on telly or shooting a rack of billiards.
The view across the way was bleak: industrial hording on a vast, vacant lot adjacent to some Stalinist office buildings. Sinatra was crooning, “Come Fly With Me,” and I noticed some very good, old metal columns that make me think the house is probably Edwardian at the latest but not much earlier than the late Victorian era. I also was discombobulated by this framed photo (is that Hugh Laurie?) :
Then, it was over. My Carling drained (NOT a euphemism), I returned to the run. The neighbourhood had a real familiar feel to it — a lot like home, the dying industrial sections of Atlanta where Jackie and I lived in the 1980s because that’s what we could afford … until the yuppies saw white people (or safe looking white people) living there and ‘gentrified’ the place out of the native price range. I thought, we could probably afford to live over here, too. I wonder how long it would remain charming to us before the middle class scum would start making it theirs. We could probably make a tidy profit if we could live with ourselves taking their filthy lucre.
I ran past the Great Spoon of Ilford dodging first pedestrians then the derelicts parked out front on the pavement. While I was taking the photo, I got the distinct impression that these were actually a group of junkies (collective noun, A Fix of Smackheads). At least they were in front of the Great Spoon.
Oh, a “great spoon” is a double pint. A lot of the customers seemed familiar with this concept. And, those that don’t have that excuse seemed to be a bit — erm — off. Like the guy next to me that spent the entire wait in the queue counting and recounting his change because he needed to get the optimum combination of change and to keep the shiniest of the coins that would do that job. Addicts and obsessives.