Archive for the ‘London A to Z runs’ Tag

London A to Z Runs : O   2 comments


As the A to Z runs continue, I was going to do O for Orpington but it is way down at the southern extremes of what can be called London and I just did a run through the area last week.  So, instead, we have O for the Olympic Park!



First things being first, you have to escape the consumer hell that the area immediately around Stratford Station has become.  Fortunately, you soon find yourself in the most East End-iest bits of the East End without putting in too much effort.  My first stop was at the Eagle with hopes that some reference to Winter Olympics legend Eddie the Eagle might be found.  It was not.



Trundling back into the Olympic Park, you pass some new housing of more or less unoppressively utilitarian design and some interesting takes on urban gardening and orchardry.



In the distance, I spotted a structure and ran up a small hill to get a better look only to find the Olympic Rings and what I think might be Telstar or Sputnik:



The structure turned out to be the Velodrome:



And, next to it was this great rope-and-natural-materials playground I would have loved to either have a go on or take a closer photo of.  However, there were loads of kids and a drunken, sweaty middle-aged man might be taken the wrong way.



I think West Ham uses the Stadium now:



This door is art.  It pisses me off.  Art is supposed to make you feel emotions.  Result!



This graffito not far from the door on my way to the Tiger made me happy.  What an emotional roller coaster ride this was turning out to be!



In a park between the Tiger and the Bow Bells, I found a standard running track.  Is anyone up for a beer mile?  Perhaps it can be the Mile End Beer Mile:



I included the canal locks in this write-up mainly to help me find the track again.  I’m not sure the map will help very much:



Between the Bow Bells and Ye Olde Black Bull, this statue of Gladstone with the flesh tone hands gave me the heebie-jeebies.  Art is everywhere around here.



This, on the other hand, was not art.  True, it made me grin but I’m incredibly immature:


Posted May 23, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : N   4 comments


N is for the Northern Line termini.  Each segment is at a point on my favourite Underground route where you must exit the train you are on.  Because there are 5 of these, the pub stops needed to be reasonably near and the tourist items of interest found en route.

Some of these A to Z runs are going to be more conceptual than others.



The first stop is Kennington which was covered in greater detail in the K run.  I hear you: “Kennington continues north and south,” but this is only true on the Bank branch.  I always approach from the Tottenham Court Road side and am rewarded with the bum’s rush announcement of “this train terminates here, all change.”

Turning down Braganza Street to make a looping path to the White Bear pub, I spotted an ornate, 19th-century cornerstone obscured by the street furniture of a shop:



The other item of interest was the vocabulary lesson.  This street, I reckon, is the first-person past pluperfect conjugation of “to shart.”  You have to love a neighbourhood of language geeks:



Continuing to Morden for stop two, I paused at the Halalhalal Fish and Kebab place for a delicious treat before dashing through an unusually lovely park on my way to the Surrey Arms:



There is a history centre with a restored mill complete with water race and wheel:



And, below the Rose Garden there are some bucolic ponds that would have buffered the mill-race in the working days of the mill:

The longest stretch  went to High Barnet:

The station has some fine detail and smacks of being more than an Underground stop (it isn’t):


There is a restored movie palace for the cinema fans here:


And, on my trek to the station after a coffee and whiskey at Weaver’s, I came to realise why I so often get lost on segments of the London Outer Orbital Path.  It is a single trail, so why are there 3 directions to choose from?



Mill Hill was close enough to run to, but the rain was heavy and I still had one more terminus after this so I stuck with the train.



I wouldn’t call the area singularly disinteresting but aside from the atypically high Jewish population in this bit of NW London (Golders Green isn’t far away) making the kosher and halal shops and butchers on about equal footing (and sharing a customer base in the most liberally minded cases) there wasn’t anything that immediately jumped out as photo-worthy.  Even this observation might be worth revisiting the area but is probably too nuanced for someone who makes poo jokes.




So, the best I could manage was musing if there is a Rose Garden or an Oval Office, here.  Sorry, but after the Red Filly and the three previous I was starting to feel the day’s efforts.



I ended the trip with terminus #5, Edgware.


By now, it was pissing down and I blew past some fairly interesting looking urban ugliness (I’ll be back — this is close enough to home to run over to sometime this summer) on my way to the Change of Hart pub.  Having completed the task for the day, I walked to Canons Park Underground station on the Jubilee Line to take advantage of the shorter commute.  On the way, emerging from the hustle and bustle of Edgware in the torrential rains, I spotted the Cross  — a throwback to when this was more of a sleepy, suburban village and a teeming town:




London A to Z Runs : M   3 comments

M is for Mile End, a part of the city I visit too infrequently (most recently on another run that netted me some tasty treats).  I decided to stay mostly south of the tracks, this time, passing a dozen pubs to get to three real corkers: The Lord Tredegar, The Queen’s Head, and The Grapes.



Orienting yourself once out of the Mile End Station is a snap…just look for the Banana Bridge off to your left (or, west toward the City).  It carries the Mile End Park over the busy thoroughfare that you need to cross to follow my map:



Later, the view from the bridge (this one facing east because of the late afternoon sun) further orientates you:



Or you could just use the mural on Aberavon Road across from the station to plan your own journey:



The neighbourhood is surprisingly green.



And, the park is filled with art.  This one near the canal seems to celebrate the suffragettes and an agrarian past (which may or may not include a runaway slave back there):



There are better examples of graffiti than in Shoreditch:



Just after this one, I ran past a young man with Joint, Definitely:



And, just outside the Grapes there is this one by Jane Ackroyd: Herring Gull (1994):



They even converted the pillars of the Stepney Gas tower/storage facility into art with a local history angle:



At the south end of the run, there is a very impressive harbour (the joint smoking kid is off to the left admiring the boats):



I noticed the harbour when I looked up from the mesmerizing mat of algae atop which sat an array of terrestrial detritus:



It’s an ethnically diverse neighbourhood, too, and there didn’t seem to be as much tension about this as I’ve seen elsewhere around London.  In addition to this racial harmony, there seems to be wide tolerance of alternative sexual appetites with “Cruising Ass” signs prominently displayed near the quay:



But the journey home to the Northwest suburbs is long and arduous.  I must return soon.


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

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London A to Z Runs : L   2 comments


Going into the International Workers’ Day Bank Hol, the London A to Z Runs continued with L for The Ladder in Harringay, a series of streets so-called because it looks like one.  I checked it out on an Ordnance Survey map and found that it was on generally flat land to the eastern ‘leg’ of the ladder rising steadily to the southwest as you ‘descend’ below Effingham Road.  The full ladder path from Turnpike Lane Underground with a final dash to Manor House station would give you a little over 8 miles with some decent hill work for London but for an old, lazy man such as myself there is an alleyway called the Harringay Passage that bisects the ladder allowing an easier path.


I hopped off the Tube at Turnpike Lane during rush hour and the platform emptied quickly.  I was hustling along with everyone else, eager to start the weekend and the run when I noticed one of the air vents in the station (above) had a grate that depicted the old toll gates when this was a carriageway (horse and carriage, that is).  Lovely detail, there.

Just out of the station you might be disoriented but the top of Duckett’s Common should set you on the path along Turnpike Lane (one of the few ‘rungs’ in the Ladder that isn’t named for a military man … unless the Pike in Turnpike is the one from Dad’s Army).


The neighbourhood is fairly heterogeneous in population, a mix of youth and age and a variety of shades and ethnicities but Green Lanes, itself, is home to some of the best (I’m told) Kurdish and Turkish food outside of Ankara.

Moving south down the Harringay Passage it DOES seem to be used by younger and less upscale residents but I’m certain I was the only tourist there.




The Salisbury was my main goal on the run and I even dallied a bit — the Sally has late doors for a city pub — at the Toll Gate but still arrived before they lifted the gates for evening trading.  Damn…what a grand looking house, eh? It features in scenes from The Long Good Friday (1980) and Chaplin (1992), for you film buffs (and was on my shortlist for the F is for Film run last autumn but too far away from other good sites to make the final cut).  Rather than wait for open doors here, I pushed on to the Old Ale House and finished off the run at the Finsbury.



The last real ‘rung’ of the ladder is the London Overground railway (below) so you can’t really count it for the run.  You could, technically, use the Railway Fields Nature Reserve but I wasn’t sure I could get out the far end without wading the creek so decided to call the Ladder ‘finished’ at that point.



On the straightaway leaving the ladder, you pass the baseball field of the London Mets (that’s the Meteors, not the Metropolitans for you completists), the top flight baseball team in town.  Not exactly Shea Stadium (but then again neither is Shea Stadium), this is what we baseball fans (we few, we…happy few) are reduced to in England.  More on this in the summer:


London A to Z Runs : K   3 comments

K is for Kennington, part of, nay, most of Lambeth.  I did a commute run into work from the Park & Ride this splendid Maundy Thursday so the A to Z run this afternoon was short; however, Kennington packs a lot in its wee boundaries.  In fact, mere arrival at Kennington Station starts you off right with the weird architectural stylings of Charles Holden.  The dome used to house the lift mechanism on the deep line and has survived the introduction of hydraulics (domes on other stations have all been removed).



My first mission was to run down to Kennington Park to the site of Bob Marley’s squat in 1977.  I was led to believe, online (silly Interwebs), that the Rastafarian Temple was at the north end of St Agnes Place but spying nothing that looked — or felt — right there, I walked down toward the Kennington Common where the fence jibed and the building next door still exists (the Rose Apartments, at the bottom of the dreadlocks on the map).  Here’s Mr Marley with some mates in the Park 40 years ago:



The Temple, 10 years ago:


The Rasta Temple during the April 2007 drugs bust. Nothing much came of this in the courts, but with everyone out of the house it was easier to get permission to tear the place down (which happened a few months later).

The site of the Rasta Temple today (10 years after). Ghastly.


The Brandon Estate, a public housing development, overshadows the Common and is the site of Henry Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 (1961):



This is a kind of strange find amongst Council towers but it seems to be unmolested on its little knoll.  Standing up there, you wonder how many people in the art world even know this is here.  Personally, I imagined Tom Baker’s version of Dr Who emerging from the TARDIS and declaring, “back in a tick, but there’s a marvelous sculpture I must take in before we deal with The Master.”



That thought isn’t so incongruous since David Tennant’s version of Dr Who crash landed the TARDIS a mere 75 meters away, over near the Canterbury Arms.  I already did a London A to Z Run D for Dr Who on the other side of the river but this one actually had some recognisable sites:

From “The Christmas Invasion” (2005)


From my own “Maundy Thursday Invasion” (2017)

The TARDIS came to rest in this alley:

which is much tidier today:


After my beer at the pub, I headed back out across the Common toward the Kennington Oval.


The area is spoilt for choice with churches.  St Mark’s, bombed to the ground save the façade and the cupola, was one of four churches built in honour of the victory at Waterloo.  The cemetery is supposed to be full of the great and good of the last two centuries, as well, but on this day it was just a postcard shot on the run.

For a REAL church in the area, you should visit the Kia Oval, nicer, I have been assured, than Lords Cricket Ground and active in one way or another every day of the year:


I’d jogged almost all the way past before it occurred to me that the fence has a ball-and-wicket theme going on:



At the far end (from my direction of travel), you can spot the iconic gas works, next door.  The ivy hasn’t yet leafed out but I bet it is gorgeous later in the summer (and colourful in autumn).



The housing nearby is pretty nice, as well.  There should be a special prize for any batsman that knocks one of these windows in Harleyford Court for six:



At the next corner, I stopped at the Beehive and took in a few overs of Indian Premier League cricket before continuing on.



It’s a pretty neighbourhood and not entirely gentrified (there are still council housing projects dotted in amongst the astronomically priced real estate in the area).  And, there are still a few grand and very old pubs around; my third of the day was one of these, the Old Red Lion just above my starting point at Kennington Station.



But, I had one more planned stop on the way to meet Jackie after work.  The video of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Come On, Eileen was shot in front of the corner shop at Hayles Street and Brook Drive.  This part of town gets a lot of film and video work (some nearby pubs feature in the London A to Z Run F for Film):



It’s an earworm and I can’t shake it.  Could be worse, I guess:



Leaving Kennington past the Imperial War Museum to Waterloo, this seems like a successful (and wholly incomplete) tour.

London A to Z Runs : J   3 comments

With no clue what to do for the “J” run of the A to Z, I decided to plot a path to pubs starting with J in some unfamiliar part of town.  What I found on the way was the ugly side of Jentrification (I know how it is really spelled) and an increasingly pale population of hipster Jackasses (and Jennies).

I take POETS day seriously, each week, and, since the bulk of the lab was also off to a pub crawl of their own, I slipped away early and caught the Jubilee line to Canada Water changing there for a train in the direction of Clapham Junction. Alighting the Overground at Peckham Rye Station (above) I felt quite at home as the neighbourhood seems almost indistinguishable from Kraaienest in the Bijlmer.  My first stop of the day, John the Unicorn, seemed to be the only storefront that wasn’t African, Middle Eastern, or sub-working-class British.  But, more on the bar in its write-up.



From Peckham, the route skirted the great Victorian Nunhead Cemetery including a massive hill climb (and descent).  The approach to the hill passed through some ever-less-bleak housing estates and I seemed less a prey creature than a predator by the time the population shifted to urban homesteaders wearing matching exercise gear and sipping Costa coffees.  Jesus-fucking-Christ.  I was slightly heartened to see a group of street drinkers as I headed up Brockley Road on the far side of the cemetery hill but was once more yuppied into a funk at Jam Circus (more on the bar in its write-up, to follow).

The third bar, the Job Centre in Deptford (on the Deptford High Street, above, which was once actually poor but now just ironically so — just enough to make the wealthy young residents feel edgy), was yet another hipster hangout, and, again, not a bad bar at all in-and-of itself but a harbinger of doom for this neighbourhood’s previous residents (more on the bar in its write-up, to follow).



So, maybe the theme for the day should have been Juvenile.  I boarded my train at New Cross station and glanced out the window to see some Jerks in their mid-20’s WITH A FUCKING FRISBEE.  No one over the age of 16 should ever touch a Frisbee (and even then they should be massive pot heads) except to throw it onto a roof or into some briars or over a fence protected by attack dogs or off a bridge or into a bonfire; no one who isn’t stoned to the gills and over the age of 14 should go anywhere near The Disc, for any reason.  But, there they were right out in public — in broad daylight! — and seemingly happy as larks.  I am depressed.

Yes, Juvenile was the order of things.  Those guys, the decor at Jam Circus, the beer choices, the babies (EVERYWHERE…FUCKING BABIES!) left me glad to get back to my awful neighbourhood in the suburbs where these ‘pioneers’ actually belong but where, at least, an adult beverage is meant for an adult palate.

Next time, the letter “K.”


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

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London A to Z Runs : I   4 comments

I is for “Isis.” Not the muslim caliphate but the ancient name for the mighty River Thames, flowing from South Gloucestershire to the sea and west-to-east across our fair city (although some will have it that the Isis is only the proper name for the river in the vicinity of Oxford ). What better place to resume the A to Z runs (abandoned with the waning winter daylight after the H for Heathrow Run in November) than on the banks of Father Thames?

I didn’t know that the annual Cambridge/Oxford Boat Race was this weekend when I planned this jaunt but television crews were setting up every step of the way.  The Hammersmith Bridge, above and, with some detail, below, is at about 1½ miles into the event and the rest of my route covers most of the remaining race course.

Lot’s to see along the river, such as the little ‘service station’ island toward the Chiswick end of the run.  Of course, I was here to refuel in the pubs (this map from Londonist isn’t comprehensive but is at least a good guide for your own trip). Along the way, I found lovely venues named The Dove, The Bull’s Head, The Ship, and The Bell & Crown, although there are many more (you could pub crawl this area for months).

There is a lot of nice, modernist and Art Deco architecture along this part of the Thames Path, too, but my favourite was really neither, Gustav Holst’s house:

There are dozens of rowing clubs dotted along the shore of this busy, polluted waterway.  At my passing, the tide was pushing the waters the wrong direction which probably serves to concentrate the toxic waste, and yet there were still mudlarkers looking for treasures and rowers out for a wee paddle.  The pollution doesn’t really bother me, either, and I passed by not a little jealous.

The last bit of the run veered away from the Thames to get back to the Tube and the (I think) beautiful Chiswick Park Station:

Now, to rack my brains for something to do for “J.”