Archive for the ‘Middlesex’ Tag
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.
The Saturday and Sunday runs, this weekend, came in at just over 24 miles but with only 1 new pub to add. Sunday was especially frustrating as the run involved long climbs and steady 25 mph winds (with gusts to 40).
The target for the day was the Case Is Altered on the hill north of Harrow Weald followed by a stop in Homebase to pick up some wall hanging hardware, but La Casa Alta appears to have been converted to a private residence.
No problem, I thought, since the Hare sits a few hundred meters away on the way to the d.i.y. place. They, unfortunately, were closed for remodeling until next weekend. Shit. I consulted my maps and decided to blow past the pubs in Harrow Weald (which I will almost certainly run past again this summer) in favour of the Letchford Arms which was on the route home near my first return trip rail crossing.
Fucking maps. The place, shown above in Google Streetview in 2008 (top) and 2016, is now a fully occupied block of flats. At this point, I was quite thirsty for anything (juice, water, beer, just something rehydrating) and decided to just go to a news agent and buy whatever they had in a bottle. How disappointing (but it was nice to get some pictures hung up on the walls, later that afternoon).
The Saturday run was a bit more satisfying. Both days had strong winds (stupidly, I designed both runs to have the winds in my face on the return trips) but Saturday was sunny and almost warm and felt as much like a Spring day as the blooms and new growth everywhere would make you think it was. After a brief stop in the Office, I was back on the road and scoping out the blackthorn blooms for next year’s batch of sloe gin.
Next weekend is scheduled to be a little shorter but I may bump up the mileage to make up for the deficit (distance and pints) this weekend.
I pushed my pace on the run to the Office largely because I had the substantial wind at my back but also because I had promised to be back from the run in an hour and a half. Consequently, I arrived at the door breathing heavily and sweating even more heavily than usual. I pushed my way to the bar and got dirty looks from most of the nearby punters (I think I was dripping on them) but a friendly reception from the bartender (and a pint of lager for £2.50). Horseracing on tele, very much a local…good for a quick one, anyway.
Here’s a map.
It was chilly and pissing down rain Sunday morning and I arrived at the King’s Arms at high noon trying to decide if I was going to do Sections 13 and 14 of the London Loop, or maybe just 13, or just bag the whole thing and catch the bus back to Ruislip. Regardless, I had up to a half hour before the next bus so I got a beer and pulled up a corner seat and watched as diners streamed in for their Sunday roast. I especially like this shot of these two old guys, isolated from each other and the world with the one in the back contemplating something dire — a regret from years ago or maybe he can’t remember if he turned the stove off this morning.
The music was startlingly eclectic and very good for the most part. There was a long, live, and very raucous Chicago-style blues cut followed by some cry-in-your-beer honky-tonk country and some Mott the Hoople that would never have gotten airplay (so must be off someone’s personal album collection). The only thing I heard that was standard bar music was the always welcome Life On Mars. I left soon after putting the first 23 of The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs on my mp3 player (I have been saving this album for a week, and here felt there would be no better time to dive in).
Here’s a map.
A friend who doesn’t run pointed out that I’ve been repeatedly doing a section or two of the London Outer Orbital Path (LOOP). This is how I wound up running the Ridgeway Challenge a couple of years ago after doing most of the Avebury to Wantage segments of that long distance path; I decided to approach this one sensibly and do it entirely in sections as defined by the Transport For London pamphlets about the LOOP.
I’ve already covered Section 11, near enough, in the run posting from late February (including the trip to the White House pub along the way). Section 12 gets a lot of attention from me since it is the nearest one to the house; it was covered variously in postings about the Coy Carp, the Bear on the Barge, and the Swan and Bottle.
With plans to finish this in Spring, I’ll do a couple of more sections up till then but really focus on the final 100 miles over a couple of weekends in May. As it stands, I have 138 out of 150 miles (22 out of 24 Sections) still to go and really need to step up my game as far as route description and photography go…Des de Moor’s blog should be considered the gold standard for this (his postings on Sections 11 & 12 are here).
Had a touch of actual (not bottle) flu earlier this week and the fever returned Saturday; since it wasn’t a full-blown relapse, I went for a jog making the loop through Northolt then back to South Ruislip to pick up a bottle of wine for supper. I’ve passed the Northolt Harvester dozens of times since moving here, but I don’t rush to include purely chain pubs in these pages (note that another Harvester got bypassed last week and the one on the northeast edge of Swindon didn’t get a visit for the first 5 years we lived there). This isn’t really fair to the ones that do a decent job but, for the most part, what you have here is a Denny’s with a bar.
As is their way, I was greeted by a waitress for seating but waved her off with, “just off to the bar, love.” She followed me over and pulled my lager and I found a spot at one of the tables grouped in the corner near the bar. This set up made the bar seem actually pub-like — a feature not lost on the 8 or 9 barflies hanging out in the area. The wait staff kept coming for orders but there were enough of us there to keep a bartender busy without the diners.
Except for the shit music, it wasn’t half bad. The manager seemed a bit grabby with the girls but Northolt is already 20 years behind the rest of society before you set your watch back another 20 years by entering a Harvester.
I found, on looking up the business link for this one, that it is technically called the Mandeville Arms (a detail that featured absolutely nowhere that I looked while there). It’s across from Northolt station if you happen to be in the area (here’s a map).
Around Christmas, I started a training cycle meant to prep me for the Siracusa City Marathon (Sicily) but other necessary travel was going to interfere with that date (and, in typical Italian fashion, they have just this week cancelled this year’s event, anyway) so I will have to make this year’s marathon some other time. I’m sticking to the schedule, though, and will just continue to ramp things as if I were doing another ultra (so when I DO finally pick 42K to run, it’ll be a dawdle).
This weekend, I had an 8 miler scheduled for Saturday and just decided to wing it by listening to some podcasts to give me an hour then legging it home from wherever I was then to close the loop. The photo, above, was some sort of elephant mobile that has appeared at a roadside memorial on the bike path next to the A40 (Western Avenue) between South Ruislip and Northolt.
Soon after the memorial photo, I picked up some Hash House Harrier marks from a recently cleared trail and followed those a bit, then out to Rayner’s Lane and, seeing that my time for the show I was listening to was lapsing, homeward.
Sunday was a little more structured for the planned 17 miles (17.7, eventually). Hopping on the towpath of the Paddington Branch by the Civil Engineer, it was a quiet canal-based trip around to the Grand Union Canal with a short detour for a pint at the White House before heading back to the waterside and into Uxbridge. Even after picking up the pavement, again, things were quiet (mostly wooded and waterside cycle path into Ickenham). Good loop, this one.
The Station House Apartments made me laugh because it sounds like a euphemism for prison … you know, like “The Grey Bar Hotel,” or something. They even look a little like something administered by G4S.
The graffito, below, was oddly encouraging although, with about 4 miles left the end was not near enough.