Archive for the ‘Oxfordshire’ Tag

2017: Year in Review   Leave a comment

Everyone does an End-Of-The-Year retrospective and I almost always do, too (here’s 2016’s review, for example).  Remember, this blog is about pubs and running more than anything else and most of what remains is primarily adolescent humour.  With that caveat, I bring you the Year 2017 In Review:

The Running Year 2017 (painfully detailed post to follow) was only salvaged in the last 1/3 of the year despite an initially strong start.  I started training for the Siracusa Marathon which had been cancelled at the last moment in 2016 and which was again cancelled this year nearly 3 months before it was scheduled to run.  Shit.  However, this left me in pretty good shape for tackling the London Outer Orbital Path mostly in May (while Jackie was Stateside), averaging more than 6½ miles per day and one week over 90 miles.

But, a prolonged respiratory infection hit me the first week of June (lingering for another week and with a relapse mid-July) and a spot of cancer related depression thereafter pushed my weekly mileage down significantly.  I had only managed to hit 1000 miles for the year by mid-August.

Fortuitously, I came into possession of a block of hash and a few very oily buds of home grown pot and, with their help and guidance, rediscovered the joys of hard training with no specific goal.  Well, one specific goal: I decided to try to salvage the annual mileage with a modest 1600 by year’s end, upping that to 1800 as it became clear 1600 was going to fall easily, eventually ending on 2022.  Now, if I hadn’t already blown through the weed I might target some real mileage for 2018.

So, running was all personal this year and that made it a good thing.  No races.  No hashing.  No GHAD.  Just finishing the London A to Z Runs, the London Outer Orbital Path, the Holiday Run Streak, and starting the TfL Run Project with 267 pub stops for the year in the midst of runs (and, 322 total, bringing the grand total to 2038).

Pub details (especially write-ups)

Pubs by month
16   Jan
17   Feb
20   Mar
11   Apr
74   May
12   Jun
19   Jul
23   Aug
30  Sep
28  Oct
40 Nov
32 Dec

Other good write-ups (reverse chronological order under the subheadings):

Favourite Pub visits:

The Woodman, Birmingham (pub #2000)
The Charlie Chaplin, Elephant & Castle (atmosphere)
The Queens, Crouch End (stunning)
The Victoria Tavern, Plaistow (atmosphere)
The Harp, Covent Garden (beer curation)
The Britannia, Plaistow (drunken conversation)
The Land of Liberty, Peace & Plenty, Chorleywood (damn near perfect pub)
The Marquis of Granby, New Cross (weird encounter)
The Old Oak Tree, Southall (whorehouse as revealed at the Lamb, shortly thereafter)
The Pineapple, Lambeth (not a half-bad local this close to Waterloo)
The George, Isle of Dogs (trying to convince a middle-aged guy he’s still fuckable)
The Wattenden Arms, Kenley (surreal art criticism)
The Sir Julian Huxley, Selsdon (foul-mouthed grannies)
The Tiger, Homerton (rare to find a hipster joint so hip)
The Duke’s Head, Crayford (almost too hospitable)
Dive Bar, Hull (they gave me too much change!)
Wm Hawkes, Hull (dark and awesome, despite fucking up my order)
The Rising Sun, Mill Hill (Grade 1 Listed)
Grim’s Dyke Hotel, Harrow & Wealdston (stunning former home of WS Gilbert)
The Queen’s Head, Limehouse (maybe gone by now, but as local as they come anymore)
Ye Olde Greene Manne, Rickmansworth (more encounters with nutters)
The Castle, Holland Park (architecture and hopelessly incompetent staff)
Lavin’s Bar, Hanwell (another psycopath encounter)
The Bull, Iver (for the local day drinkers)
Tap Social, Oxford (awesome microbrewery and tap room)

Other Events:

TfL Run Project (ongoing)
Beaujolais Nouveaux Day
Socialism 2017
Notting Hill Carnival (August Bank Holiday)
Mets vs Capitals Baseball
Nunhead Cemetery
Anti-Tory March and Rally (Not One Day More, July)
My First UK Vote
My Trip To Hull (many good posts)
Shakespeare’s Globe for “Nell Gwynn”
Taping of Have I Got News For You
Anti-Trump Rally at the US Embassy

Food and Feasting, mostly Recipes:

Vodca Sméar Dubh (Blackberry Vodka)
Tom Collins Obit
Feast of St Arnold
Hot Dogs
Treasures From Trumpministan
Yellow Peril Dandelion Wine
Angostura Tinted Martinis
Iron Duke Punch
Limping Lotta’s Banana Muffins
Tafel Spitz (Viennese boiled beef and stuff)
Chateaux La Limace et Le Gaz Hilarant (Drunken Bunny Cabernet)
Tamarinds (also, growing them)
A Week Of Haggis
Lyme Bay Mead (gift from workmates)
Winter Solstice Mead (another Drunken Bunny brewing attempt)
Colonel EH Taylor Small Batch Bourbon (gift from a lab visitor)
Best Kebab: Streatham Kebab, Fish and Chips House
Best Fish: The Carp & Trout, Hampton Hill

Previously Unwritten Recipe:

Basil & Grape Cocktail (from a food section article in The Guardian): makes 2 (these were really refreshing at the end of Summer)

Put these in a blender and blitz:
3 shots of good gin (I know, I know … all gin is good gin)
16 chilled green, seedless grapes
12 basil leaves
2 tsp sugar
juice of a lime

Pour into a shaker with ice, shake vigourously, and strain over 6 FROZEN grapes in each of two glasses. Garnish with one more basil leaf in each.  Yummy.

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Obits (note, Tom Collins Obit in Food, above):

Robert Blakely, designer of the Fallout Shelter sign
Unnamed Person’s Wake at the Red Lion, Southall
Bill Simonsick (one of the few truly great Americans I have known and loved)
Bruce Langhorne (one of Dylan’s inspirations and dead ringer for my cousin, Chuck)
Lord Snowdon (trivia topic at the Sportsman, Croxley Green)
Tommy McDermot (late of the Old Crown in Hayes)

 

Best Ludicrous Posts:

Be Careful Of Your Dreams Coming True
Unfortunate Business Name
The Man Cave, Oxford
Party On, Wayne
The D.H. Lawrence Car Hire, Sudbury
A to Z Run W for Women
Jello Biafra/Dead Kennedys Tribute
A to Z Run U for Udders
New Cds From Notting Hill Market
Julie’s In The Drugs Squad
A Cancer On The Presidency
D90B (Drunken Bunny version of P90X)
NOT a Fetish Bar
Post to President Bannon
Trumpageddon…Inauguration Day

What an absolute bastard year.

 

 

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Bell Inn, Ducklington, Oxfordshire   Leave a comment

Pub #1967:

With Witney pubs all but completed, I veered off trail on this lunch run to the wee village of Ducklington for the first time since 2010.  Since then, the Strickland Arms has been converted into a private residence leaving the Bell as the only pub in the village.  It is a bit hard to find and even when I asked an aged dog walker where it was it took her a moment to remember that it was only 100 meters back down the road from which she had just emerged.

 

 

It is a fine and ancient inn.  I sat next to the roaring fireplace which was big enough to roast a calf in (or, given the time of year, burn some Catholics).  A ballistic-glass cover over a hole in the floor reveals an old well.  The smoke from the fireplace made it seem quite homey and I wish I had hit this house lo those many years ago (or indeed years before that).  If you are only going to have one in town, you could do a lot worse than this one.

 

Posted November 3, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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The Blue Boar, Witney, Oxfordshire   Leave a comment

Pub #1966:

But for the need to get back to the lab, these lunch runs could be so much more elaborate.  The Blue Boar is supposed to do a fine, wood oven pizza but it takes an hour to run to Witney and a ½ hour to bus back so I was pretty much limited to the pint.  The house is atmospheric and sprawls out behind the front bar.  The cobwebs are some sort of Halloween decoration, by the way (the place is tidy and the staff conscientious and professional…and perhaps a tad too friendly).

 

 

As is typical in the smaller towns at lunch time, I was the youngest male in the house.  Near me sat a guy old enough to be my father and near him a guy old enough to be his (which is to say, about my father’s age were he not — choose your favourite — either a) sitting in an urn on a shelf in my whore sister’s house OR b) burning in hell … a) is definitely true but I prefer c) both despite not believing in hell or, more to the point, being certain that he isn’t in the lab.  Ah, but then again, you never escape your demons, do you?

The younger buck of my two compatriots was having a post-meal Stella after a bottle of wine.  “Can I get you anything else, my love?” chirped the thin, young, middle-class woman behind the bar.

“Ooooh, I think some ice cream would do nicely,” he intoned in the voice of radio legend Geoffrey Whitehead.  They negotiated 3 scoops of a variety of flavours and she disappeared to the kitchen.

The older man tutted, “ice cream and beer…I’ve never seen such.”

“It’s quite nice,” assured the hungry fellow, convincing me we might actually share ancestry.  When the bloke I assume to be the young woman’s husband appeared with the flute packed with gelato, I was very jealous but I saw my bus arrive outside and had to down the remaining ½ pint and dash.

 

Posted November 3, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Eagle Tavern, Witney, Oxfordshire   1 comment

 

Pub #1965:

The Eagle Tavern is my favourite pub in Witney (which I can now say with authority having visited almost all of them).  Flagstone flooring, good music on the tannoy (I heard Echo Beach as I sat down with a pint of Old Hooky and along the way got Bowie, Iggy, and Lou songs you NEVER hear unless you’ve put an album on), nooks and snugs, and a friendly landlady…damn near perfection.

 

 

It also seems not to have been redecorated since 1962.  Love the Gents sign: stand closer to the bowl, you twat!  And, what’s with the full trousers drop?  And, speaking of “drop,” the Ladies features a woman I suspect needs the toilet brush after her deposit:

 

 

Ahhh, to linger here and continue talking with the first Witney denizens I’ve ever met that neither were on nor needed strong mood altering medication.  But, this visit was only the end of my lunch run and I had to rush back.  I wish I’d found this years ago.

 

Posted November 2, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Smarts, Witney, Oxfordshire   Leave a comment

 

Ah, lunch in Witney at the bus stop, waiting with the old age pensioners and mental patients for a bus toward Oxford, in Autumn, after a long run, and a pint at the Eagle Tavern.  Life doesn’t get much better than this.  And, the fish from Smart’s Takeaway was good, too.  I must be doing something right with my life.

 

Posted November 2, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Fish and Chips, Food

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The Broad Face, Abingdon, Oxfordshire   Leave a comment

 

Pub #1962:

The website for the Broad Face filled me with dread: fine dining was implied while I was running there from Oxford in a light rain.  But, I arrived and the bar area still seemed enough like a bar not to discourage the likes of me (ie, the dedicated alcoholic)…result!

 

 

The last time I ran past this place, I thought it had just closed down but now I think it was then just getting ready for the grand opening after a refurbishment.  Either way, on this visit the music was nice enough, the beer was good and cheaper than I expected, and the bartendress was lovely and weird.

 

 

 

I was starved, having skipped breakfast, but didn’t feel like it was right to settle in for the two course set lunch (which looks magnificent and is quite a bargain).  I really had to get back to the lab, though, and the dry shirt and jumper did little to make up for the saturated shoes and trousers.  I drank up my pint and went looking for fast sustenance to break the fast.

 

 

 

Posted October 27, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Crumb’s Sandwich Bar, Abingdon, Oxfordshire   1 comment

 

Forget that the blurry photo looks like Mr Hanky on chips and onions.  Ignore that it took 15 minutes to cook when my bus was due in 10 (and, blessedly, 6 minutes late).  Dismiss the seemingly exorbitant price.  This was the best hunk of lamb and chips I’ve had in a couple of years.  Thank you, folks at Crumbs (I can’t decide if it is plural or possessive).

Oh, it BECAME Mr Hanky the next morning.

 

 

Posted October 27, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Food, Kebabs

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