Archive for the ‘London A to Z runs’ Tag

London A to Z Runs : Index   Leave a comment

 

The London A to Z Runs were a construct to explore — until then — unfamiliar areas of town since we moved to London and to drink a lot of beer in the effort.  The runs were:

2016

A for, you know … things that start with A, 16 September, 4 pubs, 8.5 miles
B for B pubs and B concepts, 23 September, 3 pubs, 3.8 miles
C for Crime, 28 September, 4 pubs, 10.4 miles
D for Dr Who, 7 October, 4 pubs, 4.1 miles
E for Ealing, 14 October, 3 pubs, 6.2 miles
F for Film, 28 October, 4 pubs, 7.2 miles
G for Graffiti, 4 November, 3 pubs, 4.6 miles
H for Heathrow Third Runway, 7 November, 4 pubs, 6.2 miles

2017

I for the Isis (Thames), 31 March, 4 pubs, 6.5 miles
J for pubs that start with J, 7 April, 3 pubs, 6.0 miles
K for Kennington, 13 April, 3 pubs, 4.1 miles
L for the Ladder in Harringay, 28 April, 3 pubs, 4.4 miles
M for Mile End, 5 May, 3 pubs, 4.7 miles
N for the Northern Line, 17 May, 5 pubs, 7.0 miles
O for Olympic Park, 19 May, 4 pubs, 6.5 miles
P for Postboxes with an Edward VIII cypher, 16 June, 4 pubs, 7.6 miles
Q for Quays, 23 June, 3 pubs, 5.0 miles
R for Respiratory Distress, 30 June, 4 pubs, 3.3 miles
S for Streatham, 10 July, 4 pubs, 11.1 miles
T for Towpath, 14 July, 4 pubs, 4.7 miles
U for Udders, 28 July, 3 pubs, 8.0 miles
V for V2 rockets and The Blitz, 4 August, 3 pubs, 4.5 miles
W for Women, 9 August, 4 pubs, 5.5 miles
X for Xenophilia, 18 August, 5 pubs, 5.3 miles
Y for Y-chromosomes and Yobs, 23 August, 4 pubs, 5.8 miles
Z for Zoo, 1 September, 4 pubs, 7.5 miles

This was a very satisfying series of runs (159 miles worth) over the last year for many reasons, not least for the 96 pubs visited during run breaks.  You can find the rough locations of the runs on the map, just follow the beer shoes.

 

 

 

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Posted September 2, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : Z   4 comments

 

Z is for the Zoo, both the Regents’ Park one and the menagerie that animal named pubs make up (in fact, this run could have taken place anywhere in town if only beastly named pubs were involved).

I set out from Finchley Road Station up hill to Hampstead Heath to the hooved section of my imaginary Zoo.  Here I encountered …

 

… a Roebuck, but my earlier web-scouting convinced me that the pub is kind of up its own arse so I patiently continued the safari.

 

 

 

Sadly, the White Horse is shuttered, but a few hundred feet farther along the Stag (and its 24 tap bar) awaited this brave huntsman.

 

 

Refreshed, the adventurer continued.

 

 

The Bull & Gate seemed, on the interwebs, to be a bit too posh for my tastes (at least with more suitable accommodation so near).  But, not all Zoo creatures are wildlife, so into the collection it goes:

 

 

The Lion and Unicorn seemed similarly unsuitable for a sweaty naturalist (naturist, as well, but clothed at present).  The great British lion is rare to see in the wild, but not so much so as the chimera that joins it on this sign:

 

 

Eventually, I took refuge in the Old Eagle after a slight misdirection and the Golden Lion very soon after that.  The end of my trek was near!

 

 

If I ever decide to re-do the A-to-Z runs, P for Porno might include the Spread Eagle:

 

 

The Buck’s Head had an inviting web-site except that they proudly feature Brew Dog beers.  Even this shouldn’t warrant 86’ing a pub that looks this good; but, since it is in the middle of Camden Town, I was pretty sure it would be full of the sort of dickheads that intentionally go to Camden Town.   Instead, I continued on to the gorgeous (albeit filled with the annoying people I just described) Elephant’s Head.

 

 

A brief jaunt down the canal path then a quick pass by the actual Zoo:

 

 

And, I was ready to head home at St John’s Wood tube station when I realised I had found the entomology section of my Zoo.  I took just a brief moment at the coffeeshop there to look at the Beatles before decamping for the suburbs.

 

 

 

 

Posted September 2, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : Y   5 comments

 

Y is for Y-chromosome, the Yang to the W for Women’s Run Yin.  Today’s planned sausage run was really more focused on Yobs, though, as I took a jog down to Griffin Park, home of the Brentford Bees football club where there is a pub at each corner of the field (a nice surprise, since one has recently resurrected after temporarily slipping away into the loving arms of St Arnold).

 

Just out of the Acton Town station I grabbed a manly lunch of cod pieces at WP Fish X Chips (battered cod pieces, no less).  Of course, I asked for the large but they only come as one-size-fits-all.

 

 

Best architecture on the run (besides the pubs) had to be this brutalist structure that put me in the mind of the Ministry of Truth (above).

 

Normally, I would spread the bar stops out a mile or two but the theme of the day dictated (dick-tated?) that this grand scheme of a pub at each corner should be honoured.  They fell in this order: the New Inn, the Princess Royal, the Griffin, and the Royal Oak.

Most of the streets in the area are named for specific blokes but the route also met up with a bunch of sex-specific street names like “Princes Avenue” and “Pope‘s Lane.”  The most dude-like of them all had to be “The Ride” or would have been if renamed “A Ride” (since my other ride is your mom):

 

I think this last place spotted on route is a restaurant or, rather, I HOPE it is … but at least it fits in with the theme of the day (and my youthful morning shower routine):

 

Meat and Shake in Ealing, right next to Big Jim’s Trims (which sounds like a whorehouse but I reckon is a barber).

That’s A through Y…one to go, and the map is nearly complete.

 

 

Posted August 25, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : X   5 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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London A to Z Runs : W   7 comments

 

W is for Women.  I was going to do Windmills because there are a few still in existence (with eponymous pubs) between Brixton and Wimbledon; however, whilst scouting the U for Udder run I spotted some street names that inspired me.  [Note: it was only while typing this line that I noticed that ‘UdderSHOULD have brought me to this point, but there you go.  Also, this is — like the innuendo run a few years ago — going to be a fairly Politically Incorrect write-up, so fire up your complaint engines.]

“… there’s nothing but quarreling with the women; it’s my belief they like it better than victuals and drink.”
— Fanny Burney

 

The run started from Oxford Circus Station with a small backtrack to Swallow Place (an homage to the old saying that women spit but ladies swallow).

A short jog away is D’Arblay Street, named for Madame D’Arblay who was one of my favourite Regency writers (she earned a spot in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey). A remarkable woman, this one, surviving breast cancer or, more to the point, a mastectomy done without anaesthetics then writing about it from a patient’s point of view.

 

 

“Travelling is the ruin of all happiness. There’s no looking at a building here after seeing Italy.”
— Fanny Burney

 

D’Arblay was, by the way, her married name. She wrote under her given name of Fanny Burney which is humourous enough in the American vernacular but in British slang is laugh-out-loud funny (and wholly appropriate for this irreverent write-up).

 

Only obliquely related to the main topic…an old joke: “A date once told me that a small penis was nothing to worry about but I still wish she didn’t have one.”

Just below D’Arblay Street on Poland Street, the Star and Garter fit the bill for my first pub stop.

Not the Star and Garter of the pub name

From there I headed toward the suitably named Maiden Lane only to be waylayed by Harpies or, more specifically, The Harp pub. The next themed stop — with nearly as funny a name as Fanny Burney — was the Dickson Poon School of Law, part of King’s College London.

 

 

 

 

“I am too inexperienced and ignorant to conduct myself with propriety in this town, where every thing is new to me, and many things are unaccountable and perplexing.”
— Fanny Burney

And, since ladies all love astrologyy:

 

 

 

By this time, I was feeling a bit peckish. It seemed almost fate that, on my way to this run, a billboard at Ruislip Station put the thought of fish tacos in my head; I trundled up to Breddos Tacos to satisfy my cravings and tick another euphemism off the box.

 

 

Sated, I diverted the run through Glasshouse Yard reckoning that if anywhere was going to have a glass ceiling to break through it would be a glass house. Skirting past the City of London School for Girls I found appropriate pub number three, the Rack and Tenter.

 

 

Wanting to wrap this one up before I ran out of rude terms and archaic stereotypes, I veered off Threadneedle to the Cock and Woolpack (write-up soon), for one more pint before following Old Broad to the station and home again.

 

 

 

 

Posted August 9, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : V   4 comments

V is for V2 Rockets and The Blitz, one of the Nazi’s many forms of urban renewal and infrastructure reclamation.  This is one of the more difficult sightseeing efforts because there are very few markers for these sites and what you are looking for is something that isn’t there.  It is a fairly conceptual run, this one.

 

I had some guidance in the form of a map of V2 rocket strikes and decided on an area in the East End that I haven’t previously covered.

 

Off the Tube at Upton Park Station, I needed refreshment and hoofed it past the Queen’s Market to the Queen’s pub.  Although not a V2 strike, the market benefited from an earlier razing in the Blitz:

 

 

The first V2 site was ½ mile along the route at Green Street and Plashet Road:

 

 

A few steps north of this is the site of the 27 January 1945 strike that demolished #260 Green Street:

 

 

And, a little farther north the corner buildings of Westbury Road at Romford Road left the neighbouring Victorian structures after a rocket sent from occupied Holland struck:

 

 

After another pub stop at the Hudson Bay (write-up soon), I continued on toward the primary school at Earlham Grove (next two shots) which was erected on the site of the 6 March 1945 blast.  Only six weeks later, it was VE Day.  The Germans are nothing if not thorough and persistent.

 

 

A couple of hundred feet farther up the street, most of the houses were destroyed when a rocket struck on 30 October 1944.  Behind the tree, you can see where the surviving houses start:

 

 

Nowt to do with the war, but Jackie has a crush on Faraday (“that dishy Faraday,” as she refers to him albeit Humphry Davy is ever so much hotter).  Anyway, this is for her…the surveillance cameras are direct descendants of his research, btw:

 

 

Back to the V2 hunt, Whalebone Lane was hit hard by conventional bombs early on in the war.  This bollard appears to be the only period item left standing at the east end of the walk:

 

 

The area is still dangerous enough to merit warnings from the Council:

 

 

Here, just before Stratford Park, a V2 burst in the air (1945, couldn’t find a specific date):

 

 

An artist’s rendering of how these might have appeared:

 

 

The one that took out most of Barnby Street on 1 March 1945 also took 30 souls with it:

 

 

The entire street and those around it were eventually transformed:

 

 

Heading toward Plaistow Station to go home, I was reminded that I could probably use some meds, so I nipped into the Britannia pub around the corner (write-up soon).

 

 

After a long conversation with a very, VERY drunk man (see the Britannia write-up when I get around to it), I discerned that the rocket that hit here was one street up and demolished a Working Men’s Club.  This was rebuilt using prefabricated structural units, but has since been removed to build flats.  The bomb hit 4 January 1945 killing 20 people, just behind this blue hoarding:

 

 

So, somber stuff this time out.  I really needed something to break up the funk I was likely to settle into on the long journey to the ‘burbs.  Fortunately, Transport For London staff at the station did not let me down:

 

Posted August 6, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : U   5 comments

 

U is for Udder and today’s run visited milk related pubs.  At one point, I was thinking about making this A to Z runUpminister,” way out East (to fill in the Map, a bit).  The more obvious choice, considering proximity to the house, would have been Uxbridge but for the fact that I have visited every pub with in several miles of there already.  So, Udder it is.  Here’s how it played out.  [Note: The Einar Jónsson sulpture, above, is in Reykjavik, but it was simply too good to ignore for this write-up.]

 

 

To start, I decided to run to the only “Milk Street” in London before continuing on to the Old Red Cow by Smithfield Market, but to get to Milk Street from Moorgate Station, the best route involved a trot up Trump Street until it turned into (I shit you not) Russia Row.  The above map excerpt is from Google, and if you use street view you can look up Trump Street on this link and turn 180° to gaze up Russia Row.  You can’t make this kind of thing up, can you?  Don’t even get me started on Prudent Passage….

 

And, of course, everything Trump leads to the Gutter:

 

Every run seems to involve an ear worm and the song I couldn’t get out of my head after spotting this wall-tidy was Gumboots by Paul Simon:

 

 

On the way to the Bountiful Cow, yet another sign caught my eye (but this will be the last off topic one, I think):

 

 

Inside the BC, I was treated to a plethora of cow-related artifacts:

 

 

And, up in Islington I spotted cow-themed storage sheds:

 

The finale of Season One of the Handmaid’s Tale airs here Sunday night and this next sign caught me off guard.  For the sake of sticking to the theme, we’ll refer to this as “The Milkmaid’s Tale.”

 

 

I finally reached my third planned stop, The Old Dairy, and was greeted with a locked door behind which there appeared to be a child’s birthday party going on.  Shit.  Cow shit.

 

 

But, the Stapleton Tavern was right across the street and had some cow skulls on the wall:

 

 

So, there you have it.  V, W, X, Y, and Z remain…what will they be?

 

Posted July 29, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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