Archive for the ‘running’ Tag
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.
Rickmansworth pubs seem to have more nut cases than most. A few months back, I was treated to an absolutely ludicrous encounter at the Coach and Horses then earlier on this day’s trip I had to piss on my territory in the Rose and Crown due to another fellow that seemed to think he was funny enough to fuck with a stranger. Now, I was at the bar in Ye Olde Greene Manne after getting lost in the woods on the LOOP Sections 13/14 run, steam pouring off my head but my body a bit cold from the rain. There was a guy at the bar drinking a half pint and a woman waiting to be served.
“NO!” the guy said, emphatically.
“Pardon?” asked the woman who awaited her drinks.
“Not…you. I was talking to the chap.” He looked at me and repeated, “no!”
“What’s the question?” I asked, immediately thinking of Gertrude Stein’s last words as told by Alice B Toklas. This made me smile so I continued, “oh, right, I was just wondering ‘does my ass look big in this.’ You’re too kind.”
“No,” he said again with the authority of the bar manager denying me a drink; but, then he turned and started having a conversation with a sideboard full of dishes and I realised he was just ill. I took my Black Sheep to the porch…it wasn’t really that cold out.
Soon he joined me and apologized. “I don’t know what offended me, but I was overwhelmed with rage.” I have that effect on too many people, I thought.
“Privilege,” I answered. “It’s the curse of the suburbs.”
“Is that an American accent?” And, so we restarted and I got his story and a feel for the parts that he embellished and the parts he just imagined. At first, he said worked construction but as the story progressed and he found out that I actually had worked in carpentry, he admitted that worked in construction management for his family’s firm until he got an injury that he was due to start physio on in the morning.
“Head injury, was it? Someone hit you with an iron rod?”
“No, my leg. And, eh, my back. And, no one hit me.”
“The day is young. Back injury, you say. Good meds? You know some synthetic opioids render antipsychotics inactive.”
“You don’t say?”
“Oh, it’s true. But, your mileage may vary. Oh, speaking of mileage, I’m off. Would you be a dear and take my glass back to the bar?”
I’m like a magnet for these guys. If you want to find one, here’s a map.
The Rose and Crown was busy with a Sunday lunch crowd but I still got a splendid pint of ale forthwith. The guy sitting nearest the pumps got his table as I got my change so I claimed his now vacant perch and had the best seat in the bar. I reached over to where I first leaned on the bar to grab my LOOP maps and a new entrant snatched them away in an attempt at humour. “Have we been hiking?” he asked peering over the sheets.
“Well, I have. Wait, wait! This is a puzzle, isn’t it? You asked, ‘have we?’ knowing full well and already if you have been. So, yes, I deduce that your answer is, ‘yes,’ unless you’re just fucking with me.” I snagged the maps back from him and he reached for my beer.
“Seems you won’t be needing this, then.”
“Hey, hey…HEY!” I snarled. I don’t know what the rules are here but you can lose a finger or an eye fucking with someone’s beer at a real bar.
He went over to his party who were awaiting their table and returned and we talked about the possible routes from Moor Park to Rickmansworth and around to this pub and the Greene Manne further along. The landlady got drawn into this between rushing around tending the civilised patrons; at one point, I mentioned the TFL guides to the LOOP and that they have fun facts and points of interest. “Points of interest? Like what, for instance?” I pointed out the mounds of fly tipping waste and the iron gate Thomassons I spotted on the way here but that they somehow didn’t make it into the Guide Sheets.
They wished me well. Go say, “hi,” if you find yourself near there (here’s a map).
From the King’s Arms, you pick up the LOOP down a long hill. On a cold, rainy day like this you have to resist the strong urge to bolt into the Old Orchard for a hot coffee with brandy but my willpower was strong.
As always, there were decent sights to take in along the way. Early on, I spotted my first Thomasson in a while: gate posts in good stead nowhere near a fence or, indeed, any structure at all.
The descriptions of Sections 13 and 14 I had read suggested fairly well maintained paths with only a steep hill near the start before leveling out, more or less, for the rest of the trek. Liars! Oh, the initial hill was steep, mind you, but the path was slicker than goose shit, uneven, and in places boggy to knee depths. At a little over ten miles, the run left me feeling beaten and exhausted and took quite a bit longer than I allocated.
The French Tickler tree (nobbled for your pleasure) marked the extent of my horticultural exploration. Of course, as Dorothy Parker said, “you can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.”
There were two more pub stops on the route, this day, although another that opens late will get a visit sometime this year. The first was the Rose and Crown just after an uphill climb on a stretch of road with no pedestrian-friendly verge. About a mile later after a wooded journey, Ye Olde Greene Manne provided sustenance and shelter (and some bizarre companionship).
Art is where you find it and this automotive pipe on a concrete plinth in the deep wood was a treat to behold. Breathtaking.
The deepest mud was too treacherous to photograph and I slogged through it with the realisation that it contained a significant amount of horse shit from the stables near the roadway by which I exited this section.
I was especially fragrant by this time so I skipped the grocery stores and other possible bar stops, opting instead to run through as many clear puddles as I could find on my way to Northwood Hills tube station.
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.
I’ve run past the Old Crown a few times but have always been too loaded already to stop in. I had just finished the last stretch of Section 10 of the LOOP and was only 2 beers into the day so this seemed like an opportunity not to pass up.
The bar is essentially a long, railed counter and eventually leads to a darkened back lounge but I stuck close to the front. It’s a friendly crowd — a fair number of Irishmen on either side of the bar — and very much a locals hangout although almost directly across from the Hayes and Harlington rail station.
After some initial, welcoming niceties I was left to my own devices in a sunny seat near the front window. I spotted what is always a good sign — a childrens’ curfew — but not so good a sign as a blanket ban on the brats. There were none here, today, though.
I’m always pleased to see that bars are used for funerals. Not just wakes but actually taking the honoree for one last round. The photo of this announcement is a bit blurry but the sentiment warmed my heart as I bid the bar farewell and continued on my run home:
Monday 20th March 2017
12 PM at the Southwest
MIDDX Crematorium Hounslow
Road, Hanworth, Feltham
On to the Angler’s Pub in
No flowers, please but if you
Wish to bring a single poppy
It’s the one flower Tommy
We are making donations to
The Princess Alice Trust as
They were a great support
To Tommy. Instead of flowers.
Godspeed, Mr McDermot. Here’s a map to the Crown, if you are planning to pay your respects.