Archive for the ‘Hertfordshire’ Tag
I totally get Watford. Toothless, crucifix wearing nanas with dirty laughs; bald, middle-aged guys wearing flip-flops and veering into the pub just after 9am; all the hot girls out this time of morning wearing identical leather jackets. All of these were on display at the Moon Under Water, Sunday.
I ordered a Titanic Cappuccino Porter. “Nice call,” the bartender complimented. “Really good and really tastes like a cappuccino.” I took a sip and, indeed, it just tasted like a really expensive, iced coffee and not at all like a very reasonably priced pint. I found my way to a tall seat I thought was out of the path of traffic and settled in to watch the freak show.
It wasn’t that much out-of-the-way, as it turned out, since every miscreant that came in felt obliged to approach the three unplugged and turned-away-from-the-pub fruit machines via the narrow path behind me and not the wider, open space on the bar side of the column next to my table. No matter, I was leaving just now, anyway.
Here’s a map.
The roads from Ruislip to Watford are more uphill than down and the route I took was longer than I had estimated. This was really fortunate since I limped to a stop in front of the Columbia Press just as the church clock struck 8: it was the first day of BST but they hadn’t yet moved the chimes an hour ahead. I checked my GPS to make sure it was actually 9 then went in and ordered a Pathfinder, a bitter and astringent beer that also re-energised me with each desperate gulp.
There was a guy trying to impress a blond with his wild man credentials (that’s them, nursing some coffee in the booth to the right). “Yeah, I was, like, totally crazy back in the day. I’d drink like a whole bottle of vodka in a day!” Whoa, Cheech, slow down a bit, bruh. You’re freaking me out with your substance abuse stories!
Here’s a map.
Went out for an hour-long (or so) run on Saturday looping past the shooting club the other side of the A40 and tucked away down a dirt-surfaced industrial road and bordering a permissive footpath to the lower side of Hillingdon where Hayes and Uxbridge meet. It still seems odd to hear gunfire in Britain although we’ve lived in rural settings most of the last 8 1/2 years and it is as common there as similar areas in the US. In fact, this site always makes me a bit homesick for Atlanta: there, the gunfire just became more frequent and approached closer to the “nicer” (still poor, but not destitute) neighbourhoods as the weather improved after winter. Here, this is about the only place you expect to hear gunfire in the city.
Sunday, I awoke early and ran off toward Watford just after sunrise. Outside Northwood a little more than halfway to my turnaround, I spotted what I reckoned to be a prison based on the high, razor-wire topped fences and copious security cameras. I took a quick photo which turned out blurry then looked the place up later only to find that it is the actually the Permanent Joint Headquarters, essentially the same thing as Centcom for the US Forces Command. To be fair, it is known as Cell Block H by the staff.
Closer to Watford, there were even more things to remind me of the States, not least of which is this road named after Mark Twain’s creation:
Tom Sawyer famously tricked his friends into paying him to do some of his chores, specifically whitewashing a fence. Someone is going to have to (or, GET to) repaint this bit of nearby hoarding soon, too:
In Watford, I found two Wetherspoons for pints at 9:00 am (the Columbia Press) and 9:25 (the Moon Under Water) to prepare for the run back home. At a little over 27 miles for the weekend with just under 45 for the week, a rest day will be welcome.
Southern and Northern sections of the Sunday run.
Rickmansworth pubs seem to have more nut cases than most. A few months back, I was treated to an absolutely ludicrous encounter at the Coach and Horses then earlier on this day’s trip I had to piss on my territory in the Rose and Crown due to another fellow that seemed to think he was funny enough to fuck with a stranger. Now, I was at the bar in Ye Olde Greene Manne after getting lost in the woods on the LOOP Sections 13/14 run, steam pouring off my head but my body a bit cold from the rain. There was a guy at the bar drinking a half pint and a woman waiting to be served.
“NO!” the guy said, emphatically.
“Pardon?” asked the woman who awaited her drinks.
“Not…you. I was talking to the chap.” He looked at me and repeated, “no!”
“What’s the question?” I asked, immediately thinking of Gertrude Stein’s last words as told by Alice B Toklas. This made me smile so I continued, “oh, right, I was just wondering ‘does my ass look big in this.’ You’re too kind.”
“No,” he said again with the authority of the bar manager denying me a drink; but, then he turned and started having a conversation with a sideboard full of dishes and I realised he was just ill. I took my Black Sheep to the porch…it wasn’t really that cold out.
Soon he joined me and apologized. “I don’t know what offended me, but I was overwhelmed with rage.” I have that effect on too many people, I thought.
“Privilege,” I answered. “It’s the curse of the suburbs.”
“Is that an American accent?” And, so we restarted and I got his story and a feel for the parts that he embellished and the parts he just imagined. At first, he said worked construction but as the story progressed and he found out that I actually had worked in carpentry, he admitted that worked in construction management for his family’s firm until he got an injury that he was due to start physio on in the morning.
“Head injury, was it? Someone hit you with an iron rod?”
“No, my leg. And, eh, my back. And, no one hit me.”
“The day is young. Back injury, you say. Good meds? You know some synthetic opioids render antipsychotics inactive.”
“You don’t say?”
“Oh, it’s true. But, your mileage may vary. Oh, speaking of mileage, I’m off. Would you be a dear and take my glass back to the bar?”
I’m like a magnet for these guys. If you want to find one, here’s a map.
The Rose and Crown was busy with a Sunday lunch crowd but I still got a splendid pint of ale forthwith. The guy sitting nearest the pumps got his table as I got my change so I claimed his now vacant perch and had the best seat in the bar. I reached over to where I first leaned on the bar to grab my LOOP maps and a new entrant snatched them away in an attempt at humour. “Have we been hiking?” he asked peering over the sheets.
“Well, I have. Wait, wait! This is a puzzle, isn’t it? You asked, ‘have we?’ knowing full well and already if you have been. So, yes, I deduce that your answer is, ‘yes,’ unless you’re just fucking with me.” I snagged the maps back from him and he reached for my beer.
“Seems you won’t be needing this, then.”
“Hey, hey…HEY!” I snarled. I don’t know what the rules are here but you can lose a finger or an eye fucking with someone’s beer at a real bar.
He went over to his party who were awaiting their table and returned and we talked about the possible routes from Moor Park to Rickmansworth and around to this pub and the Greene Manne further along. The landlady got drawn into this between rushing around tending the civilised patrons; at one point, I mentioned the TFL guides to the LOOP and that they have fun facts and points of interest. “Points of interest? Like what, for instance?” I pointed out the mounds of fly tipping waste and the iron gate Thomassons I spotted on the way here but that they somehow didn’t make it into the Guide Sheets.
They wished me well. Go say, “hi,” if you find yourself near there (here’s a map).
Since I was cutting the run short, anyway, I was pleased when I looked up from my fish treat and spotted what I reckoned to be another pub sign. Even better, this appeared to be a deviant bar so at last I might have an interesting write-up to do (no offense to the Tree, the Waterside, or the Coy Carp earlier this day). I eagerly approached the Carpet and Vinyl with thoughts of 70’s pubic hair and form-fitting/fluids resistance outfits.
Alas, it was non-euphemistically a carpet and vinyl shop. Sort of the old bait-and-switch (and, come to think of it, “The Bait & Switch” might make a good fetish bar name, too).
Although not as cold as it has been, I was fairly under-dressed for the damp, breezy day and while warm and sweaty I think the run from Uxbridge had depleted my breakfast. Very hungry, I popped into the first chippy I could find, the Sea Master. “It will be ten minutes,” which I accepted, deciding to cut the run short of the last mile and a half to Croxley and to just leave for home from Rickmansworth.
Well worth the wait … the fish was perfectly steamed inside the crisp batter envelope and not at all more salty than absolutely necessary. Why can’t EVERYONE do this?