Archive for the ‘London A to Z runs’ Tag

London A to Z Runs : T   4 comments

T is for Towpaths and Friday I covered a section of canal and a short segment of the River Brent on one, from Hayes Town to West Ealing in a continuation of the London A to Z project.  If I was doing a Theme, it would be bridges; instead, here are the run photos in order from Tip to Tail:



The canal seemed really healthy compared to my last encounter with this section,  with simple plant growth all along the way.  I felt compelled to go check out the water beneath this first bridge since the shade and reflections made it look as if nothing was growing there, but it was an optical illusion.  180° around, some fairly nice blocks of flats (especially for this part of town) arise across the water.



Just under the next bridge, the forlorn Nestlé plant appeared.



Crossing the boundary between the Boroughs of Hillingdon and Ealing, Ealing claims responsibility for the subsequent bits.  The maintenance of the marker should be a clue:



There are helpful and informative notice boards:



Just after this bridge you enter the inland island of Southall, surrounded by waterways albeit some mere trickles:



The waterlilies are as Monet might have imagined:



I got fairly close to this heron before I spotted it.  An instant later, it flew off:



My first pub stop was near this bridge, at the Old Oak Tree.  Had I known what I know now, the run could have been T for Tarts (but I’ll save that story for the pub write-up).



Yet another attractive bridge followed:



And, another, this one with family friendly decorations:



Approaching the second pub, the Lamb, just after this bridge, I spotted the Southall Sikh Temple:



Then, a rusty foot/bike bridge:



And, more signs of riparian civilisation:



The laundry basket and the nearby long boat named “Oblivion” brought to mind my visit to Dismaland.



Approaching the River Brent, a flight of locks drops the elevation significantly:



This marker made me laugh but I am really immature:




Now, this bridge is pretty impressive…not the one above, but the one that the path is on.  The entire canal and towpath are on a flyover above the railroad far below:



Pretty neat, huh?



The other side of the wall, here, is the old county asylum.  Still a mental hospital, the access arch to the canal has been sealed off — it used to be the source of coal for the extensive estate of wards.



To the right, the canal; to the left the River Brent.  The rain sewer at the lower left drains the streets around pub number three of this run, The Fox.



After the Fox, I doubled back to traipse the River Brent path adjacent to the hospitals.  It was still early, so I crossed the Brent, again, and had one final stop at the Viaduct.

I’m stuck for what to do with U, for the next run.  Thinking Upminster but it is kind of remote ….



Posted July 15, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : S   5 comments



S is for Streatham, this time, although I toyed with the idea of Science or Slavery (both of which London is rich in related sites to visit).

When we first moved to England we lived in Stretham, a village near Ely in Cambridgeshire that almost no one has ever heard of.  When I would answer colleagues ten miles away at Cambridge that I lived in Stretham they always replied, “that’s quite a commute…do you take the train everyday?” It took me ages to realise they were talking about Streatham in South London…it is pronounced the same, which always reminds me of friends in Athens Georgia, Dale and Dell (both pronounced ‘Dayull’ in East Georgia-patois so you would always get the correction, “no, not Dayull…DAYull”).

Actually, I started the run at Clapham South Station but very near to Streatham Hill.  As the day progressed, I found a large number of art deco apartments around starting with these (part of the Oaklands Estates):



Some were a little less deco-esque, like these on Telford Road, and might just be considered modern to a more discerning and better trained eye:




And, this one evokes Frank Lloyd Wright…lovely:




The postbox obsession continues and I found two more cypher-free examples (my first, last May, was in Hull).





And, an abandoned cricket pitch shack or other field house adjacent to the Streatham and Clapham High School and the Tooting Bec Lido drew my attention mostly because there was no signage indicating what it might be:




This part of London is pretty well situated with parklands. This wood is at the eastern edge of Streatham Common:



Adjacent to the west end, there’s a separate war memorial.



And, churches everywhere.  I turned off before reaching this giant one:



And, this one amused me because the Christmas decorations are up 5 months early or 6 months late:



A couple of doors down from this is the birthplace of Sir Arnold Bax, whom I knew nothing about but this was the only Blue Plaque I spotted all morning.  Apparently, he’s buried in Cork.



I was intrigued by the Slurp signage and disappointed to later find out it is just a noodle house.



And, then there were the pubs…you don’t get an A to Z run without pubs involved.  This one, the Greyhound, is more of a nightclub and wouldn’t be open for hours when I took this shot at 11 am.  Love the bunnies!



I had reached the Greyhound a few minutes after being told by the staff serving coffee and cakes at the Railway pub that the bar would not open until noon.  I had already dashed into several bars with open doors after leaving the Crown and Sceptre to start the run in earnest and was too early for each of them.  But, I had scouted the Railway ahead of time and at 10:45 expected that they would honour their advertised hours:


Fuck them.



That’s what brought me to the Greyhound at 11; I was there awaiting the opening of the Mere Scribbler, as advertised on the web and in their windows:



At 11:15, the two people I had glimpsed dicking around inside were still dicking around inside.  I ran over to photograph the War Memorial (above) then back and waited until 11:25.  Still locked but occupied.  Fuck them.



The Five Bells was listed on Google Maps as open at 11 but they have only the most rudimentary and useless web page up.  I confirmed opening times as actually 12:00 via the WhatPub website and so was unsurprised when I arrived at 11:45 found the doors locked:



I opted for the Horse and Groom a few doors down and, since this was near the Streatham Hill Rail Station, thought I would double back for a quick one before heading home.  It was now 12:10 and the doors were still locked and the beer delivery guy at the door couldn’t raise anyone no matter how hard he banged on it.

“Still closed?” I asked, unsurprised.
“They better open soon or I’ll take this back to the depot.”
“Fuck them,” I suggested.
“Five more minutes, first,” he patiently advised as I ran off to the Sultan and the Hand in Hand (out of my way but at least they were open).



Properly refreshed and calmed a bit, I got some lunch at a kebab shop on the return to the station then bid Streatham an unimpressed farewell.



London A to Z Runs : R   2 comments


R is for Respiratory Distress, although I toyed with the idea of Roman London or Red Lion pubs.  The theme comes from a post on The Deserter about 6 pubs in the worst pollution hotspots in SE London and, since they are all clustered together, it seemed an easy enough effort — and easier still since I’ve already written up 2 of them … the Flowers of the Forest the night before the 2012 London Marathon and the Beehive during my K for Kennington Run earlier in this year’s portion of the London A to Z saga.  Additionally, a 3rd pub of this short list, the Albert Arms, was damaged in a Good Friday fire this year and has yet to Reopen.


The Albert was the first I crossed and I thought it might be open but on approaching it noticed a plumb bob and some other carpentry equipment propped in the front window.  Shame.  It looks a grands house.



The Run, itself, was only ¾ mile done straight through (1½ with the onward trot to the wife’s work to meet her for a Friday pre-commute drink).  So, I made the Route serpentine to get it over 3 miles.

There were passes into the neighbourhood where I first went past the “Come On Eileen” taping site and through some fine garden and park zones with mature (and prone) mulberry trees — above — and some pretty purple things I suspect to be some ornamental form of garlic:



These purple starbursts were adjacent to the sport park beside the Imperial War Museum (one of my faves, in town) and just across this wall:



Lambeth, bombed as heavily as it was, has done remarkably well with the modern architecture such as this poured concrete wall at one of the libraries:



And, you just can’t go wrong with a William Blake site:



I managed to hit 3 pubs on this run (the Prince of Wales, the Horse & Stables, and the Crown & Cushion) and then Jackie and I let the rush hour traffic die down at the Pineapple before escaping the SW postcodes via the marvelous Lambeth North Station:




London A to Z Runs : Q   1 comment


Q is for the Quays, now overrun with large banking towers but this deal could be Queered by the Brexit-imposed Quarantine of international finance and the exodus of bankers to one of the European centres. It’s happening now, as this goes to e-press.





But, today was about the run.  My thoughts turned to “Quo Vadis;” not the Biblical epic from the 1950s but the Latin phrase, “where are you going?”  To a pub or two, to be sure (this wasn’t an existential question) and I headed through the depressingly overbuilt Canary Wharf, past what appears to be yet more overbuilding on the North Quay, and along the sterile looking restaurants housed in the frankly lovely old warehouses and offices of West India Quay (surely these, too, will be flattened in favour of some more Stalinist/Corbusier-ian — ahem — architecture).







After a Quick one in the Ledger Building (write-up pending) I continued south along the Thames as much as possible and. while the area still reeks of inflated (bloated) land values, some of the excess peeled away.


A view of the City from the west bank of the Isle of Dogs


Sluice gates between Millwall docks and the River Thames


Not only were there locals whose families predated the real estate explosion, but there was also a little evidence that the docks and quays were still working:



Inspired to Quaff another beer by the more comfortable environs, I crossed a park to continue south as the riverside path was blocked.



My map suggested I could get back on the Thames Path by the barge winch, but some posh settlement has built a fence and wall creating a dead-end if you don’t hold the key (or, indeed, if you don’t hold the Quay).




But, the detour took me past a pretty crafts and performing arts centre, The Space:




Eventually, I found my way to the Ferry House (write-up pending), just below the Lord Nelson (which spotted me a beer during the London Marathon).  Another half Quart (that is to say, a pint — the Quantum of beer consumption in this blog) down and I was heading north for more sightseeing.



Frank Dobson’s “Woman and Fish” greeted me in the Millwall Park:



I should be more mature, but I always giggle about Mudchute:





Just beyond the park, I stopped in the George (write-up pending), the 3rd and last pub of the day.  Meeting my Quota and thirst Quenched, I continued the run along the Oakland Quay.



I soon Questioned the logic of only 3 pubs but as I reached South Quay Station, the prefabricated and oppressive atmosphere returned and I was set straight once more.



There were some nice ships to see moored at the Millwall Cutting just off the Thames Quay:


The Millwall Cutting


And, then it was over as I reached my station at Heron Quays:



So, the run appears to be another success.  Q.E.D.


Posted June 24, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London A to Z Runs : P   7 comments


P is for Postboxes: Edward VIII postboxes to be specific (something of an obsession with me) and, fortunately for this run there are more in London than anywhere else in the country.  I haven’t contacted these people (Letter Box Study Group) but it is good to know (I keep telling myself) that I’m not the only postbox obsessive in this country (and bear in mind that the leader of the Labour Party is a manhole cover enthusiast).




And, so it came to pass that this episode of the A to Z runs took me to East Finchley Station (above), to start ticking off these rare trophies.  Just out of the station, I thought I encountered a crossing of the the London LOOP but on inspection found that it is the Capital Ring Trail (and, I noted it for a future series):



The first was less than a quarter-mile from the station and I topped it with my 2009 England Cricket cap.  This one seems to have endured some welding repairs over the years:



A gentle hill rise took me into Finchley where the Pardes House School caught my attention and, by stopping to photograph the grand building, I caught the attention of several congregants either there as parents, teachers, or maybe just awaiting Shabbat.  I must have appeared harmless enough, though.



I had already stopped at the Old White Lion by this time and had targeted this neighbourhood for my second pub stop.  To be fair, I lost my dignity ages ago and regularly discard what little grows back.  But, the pub called Dignity is now a chicken place so no one here can claim to have Dignity anymore.  I had to settle for a place called the Catcher in the Rye.



There is also a claim that there is an Edward VIII pillar box outside Mill Hill East Station (visited on the N for Northern Line run).  This is blatantly untrue and has been so for quite some time.  The ancient Betty II box is in need of paint and has obviously been repainted several times before.  It’s as if you can’t trust anything you read on the Interwebs, anymore.  Disappointed, but with one more within the region I printed maps for I continued on.



In the Deep South, most people pronounce my hometown, Atlanta, as “Aa-Lannah,” but there are a few, especially around Macon, Georgia, that call it “Lanta.”  With no one around to ask about this place, I leave it to you to research (but heed my Interwebs warning).  And, if you want to practice a North Central Georgia (USA) accent, you could do worse than starting with this little article I published a few years back.



There were several grand looking cemeteries on the route but the Hendon Crematorium was pretty tantalizing:



After a pub stop at the Greyhound, I finally closed out the postbox hunt with this well-maintained example on Elliot Road:



The plan had been for 3 E-VIII-R boxes and 3 pubs but with one bogus box I had to make up the difference with an extra pub stop (damn the luck!) at the Hendon before heading home.  Hendon Central Station was the official finish:






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: