Archive for the ‘Ridgeway Challenge 2015’ Tag
Numbers, or so, listed in bold and underlined.
Everyone has shit to talk about 2016, and so do I; but, I’ll minimise that, here. I finally sprang for two new pair of running shoes to replace the pair, featured in the photos here, that I picked up in Chattanooga in September 2015 and subsequently added 2253 running miles on before retiring them last weekend (with walking, as these were my usual day-to-day shoes, these had much closer to 4000 miles on them).
Over the Christmas break, we watched a shitload of TV and a bunch of really cheery movies (highly recommended of these are the drama Martha Marcy Mae Marlene and the documentary The Coming War With China. To recover from those you might want to find Twenty Feet From Fame. But, we also caught a bunch of shit tele and some old stuff. In keeping with the theme of the year, we downloaded a collection of the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and spent the entirety of each show playing the middle-age white person version of Jew-Not-A-Jew (aka the straight person’s version of Queer-Not-A-Queer) by pointing at each corpse we spotted on screen and saying, “DEAD.” “Bob Hope. DEAD.” “Joan Rivers! DEAD.” “Gary Shandling, DEAD.” (By the way, that’s Not A Jew, Jew, and a little of both).
So, instead of the multitude of other celebrity deaths everyone is banging on about, here are the 17 I noticed but did not eulogise (and some of whom you may have missed):
17 January: Blowfly, 76
2 February: Bob Elliott, 92
16 February: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93
6 March: Merle Haggard, 79
3 June: Muhammad Ali, 74
17 June: Fred Tomlinson, 88
22 August: Toots Thielemans, 94
29 August: Gene Wilder, 83
8 September: The Lady Chablis, 59
16 September: Edward Albee, 88
30 September: Hanoi Hannah, 87
18 October: Phil Chess, 95
2 November: Dolores Klosowski, 93, American baseball player (Milwaukee Chicks)
7 November: Leonard Cohen, 82
25 November: Ron Glass, 71
22 December: Miruts Yifter, 72
25 December: George Michael, 53
In a similar vein, here are the other numbers of my year…
Obits actually in the blog: 16
Swindon’s Stagecoach Bus Depot in Old Town
Robert Ford, Madman Mayor of Toronto
Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field in apparent murder-suicide
The jihadi sparrow
The villages of Longford and Harmondsworth
America, the not so great pre-Trump version
New Years Honours of Note: 1 (for the name): Mr Fabulous Flournoy, (MBE)
Mileage (running): 1589.8, quite the slack year — the least in two decades of keeping track
Pub write-ups 1 January thru 30 June: 38
Pub write-ups 1 July thru 31 December (we moved house 28 July): 216 (254 for the year)
Recipes, such as they are, published here: 5
Brunswick Stew and BBQ Sauce
Malted Milk Ball Hot Toddy
Chicken Breasts done as if for Pakoras
International trips: Except for returning from Cork, technically a 2015 trip, 1 (Bremen)
Marathons: 1 (Wales Marathon)
Other races: 0, but a few planned for 2017
Weight (high): 169 lbs (12 stone 1 pound, Winter drinking weight)
Weight (low): 150 (10 stone 10 pounds, at the Marathon)
For what it’s worth, today we have beaten the Statutes of Limitations on most felonies in the United States: 7 years and a day since we moved to England. Here’s the breakdown of this most recent year (noting that the annual run review already covered the calendar year 2015 so this will be a relatively brief look back at the residence year).
Speaking of residence, we were granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in June. I visited 167 new pubs (plus 10 in the new Irish category) and ran slightly more than 2515 miles (including 86 miles in one go). There were trips to Maastricht, Tennessee & Atlanta, and Ireland (where we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary). There were 22 new Fish and Chips entries to the blog (and 3 kebabs) but not a lot of experimentation in the kitchen (only 6 Recipes added).
Going into year 8 there are no goals, no major plans, and no great expectation of many new pub visits (unless we move house or I do a lot of travelling this year). Maybe I’ll try to write a little better…don’t hold your breath on that one, though.
Looking at annual recaps, past:
At 1 year, 290 pubs and impressions on British running, mostly in Cambridgeshire
2 years saw more maps (2000+ miles that year), travel, and 240 more pubs
3 years ended with 280 pubs and links about another house move
The 4th year ended with 255 more pubs, another house move, and some brilliant racing
Year 5 yielded 134 pubs, some decent travel, and yet another house move
The 6th year entry was very brief, but the anniversary kind of snuck up on me (only 95 pubs)
“This should be interesting,” I said to myself whilst gazing upon the sign for the Bull. But, inside it was just a standard pub. “From the sign, I thought it was going to be a gay leather bar…how disappointing,” I told my colleagues/race support team, then surveying the table I added, “ooooo…beer! Is that for me?”
They were getting some dessert after their dinner back at the Perch and Pike and while I don’t usually go for sweets after noon I was now 44 miles into a very badly judged race and would have inhaled the lot had they all just looked away for a moment.
The building was great (guessing 16th C) and the Streatley Best was perfect in body and composition which is more than I can say for myself at that point.
This was the last pub on the route but the team had one more treat in store at Bury Down checkpoint: fish, chips, and a bottle of Loose Cannon Gunner’s Gold. I need only traverse the darkened 8.5 miles of mostly farm tracks to get there.
The run continued from the Plough and there were a variety of new friends met along the way through the checkpoint at Lewknor which marked the first full marathon of the run and deep into South Oxfordshire along the Thames eventually emerging in the village of South Stoke as the sun was setting, about 40 miles along the route. I paused in the rain and encroaching darkness to take this lousy photo of the Perch and Pike then rounded the porch to be greeted by one of the professors and a post-doc that I work for and a former grad student for the main professor I work for. And, they had a Courage Best (in a Brakspear glass…tsk) waiting for me.
“You’re a bit ahead of schedule. We just sat down and thought you’d be ages.” He wasn’t being cruel; this was entirely based on my pace predictions and it served to put me back on track…slow down, don’t get in a hurry: this isn’t a marathon, it’s a little more than three of them. I started the deceleration then by lingering over the beer for about twenty minutes.
We caught up on the days events and they cheered my running companions as they passed the decks. I spotted the woman who earlier said she thought the beer had given me wings having passed up my offer of a pint at the Plough earlier still. “Hey, you’re supposed to have a pint with me.”
She flinched and picked up the pace a bit. I couldn’t hear what she was saying but it was probably something like, “don’t look, it’s that mad, drunken American I was telling you about.”
“Ooo…this is what I was looking for,” I told my temporary running partner, who chuckled politely as I ran ahead for a photo of the Plough before heading for the door.
“You’re really going in?” she asked as she caught up.
“Where are my manners? Fancy a quick one?” I asked with a raised eyebrow and pantomime point at the door, but she gave a wide-eyed look that just screamed, hey, your funeral, buddy. We were then about 16 miles into the Ridgeway Challenge with 70 to go so it would be fair enough to say we had all signed our own death warrants.
It was close to 3pm and I had already hit the George and Dragon and the Red Lion which betrayed my actual pace. I caught up to her again in 15 miles and she remarked that the pint must have “given me wings.”
Actually, the pint did work wonders for me. Brakspear (which I inadvertantly quaffed two more times this evening) is a wonderful beer: dry and dark with an earthy, mineral mouth. The pub, too, was a pleasant find. Country pubs these days tend to focus more on food than drink, a fact dictated by their remote locations and strict drink/drive laws. This one, too, appears to have a large dining zone but as it is near a village and very close to a car park for the Ridgeway National Trail it seems to actually focus on the drinks side of the hospitality business.
I could hear the cohorts passing and the thought of staying put was tempting. A woman emerged from the loo and gave a wry smile before heading back to her race (we met again just before the 3rd checkpoint and later I spotted her looking the worse for wear at the midpoint feeding station). I gulped half the remaining beer with the intention to head back out but the lazy man in me spotted interesting brick work and decorations in the house and we decided to savour our beverage.
That is, until the Diarrhoea Duo* appeared at the door, clenching and dashing for the head. Okay, I thought, the pacers are here.
*These poor guys…they appeared to make a bad dietary choice the previous evening. This was the 3rd pub we’ve crossed paths on their frantic way to the toilet AFTER I first spotted them soiling a hedge in the first 5 miles.
Just out of the George & Dragon, I rejoined the race and had a word or two with some other participants bemused at my angle of approach. They were even more bemused by my explanation that I stopped for a pint (wussies) but they may have believed it when I dashed into the Red Lion a little under a quarter mile away squealing, “oooo! Anyone fancy a pint?”
They didn’t even slow at the door which is their loss. The landlord was a hoot, the beer was as good as the one I got at the Anchor the night before, and our running colleagues (in more than one sense of the word, “running”) dashed in for the loos just as they did at the George and Dragon moments before.
The Run was going well but I made a late decision not to add mileage by going to the Pack Horse (my first choice) and instead ran across the intersection from whence the Ridgeway emerged at about 11 miles to hit the nearby George and Dragon, a 16th century coaching inn with all the trimmings.
The aroma was intoxicating: it was also a Thai restaurant and they run a tempting lunch special but I was on race-drinking time and needn’t linger. More is the pity as the pub is properly pubby with weird items all over the walls and drunken fellows watching the footie and ancient timbers holding the whole place up and 5 good ales on the pumps and more as well. C’est la vie.
Draining the last of my pint I spotted the Diarrhea Duo (see the Ridgeway Challenge for an explanation) dashing for the shitter. What did THOSE guys eat?