Archive for the ‘tourism’ Tag
I had Dexy’s Midnight Runners tunes stuck in my head so the collection of blues on the tannoy in the Old Red Lion was a soothing distraction. The Old in the Old Red Lion does not refer to the staff or clientele, though, and I doubt anyone besides me in there Thursday afternoon was even born before any of this music was recorded.
That said, the bar is sublime (and, again, some of these guys were probably conceived to Sublime) with a line of interesting ales on the pumps to choose from and at a lower price than most hipster joints (which I don’t think this one qualifies as — it’s just a good local that happens to be populated by children). In fact, the prices here seem better than in most bars in London save for Wetherspoons houses.
The bar to the left, as you enter from the street, is a bit quieter and seems geared toward food what with the dining sort of tables and the kitchen right there and all.
It was Quiz Night albeit hours away. They also have a Rockabilly DJ night and Folk Sessions on the calendar. It’s an easy find, too, just across from Kennington Station a couple of stops down the Northern Line from Westminster.
A little tourism followed (and, for that matter, preceded) the stop at the Canterbury Arms and I was duly impressed with the architecture of the Oval and its surroundings. I was a little surprised the nearest pub on the far side (for my approach) was the Beehive but was happy to find it an old, Tudor building. Or, rather, Tudor façade building as inside it could not have been more modern…almost like an airport lounge.
In keeping with the theme, I joined a fellow watching an Indian Premier League match in which the eventual victors Kolkata Knight Riders were still bowling against Kings XI Punjab. T20 is a grand sport and I hope County Cricket will incorporate it more regularly into its repertoire since I can’t really commit to 1-day matches (self-serving, I know).
The Murphy’s Stout was a bit cold but otherwise flawless and refreshing. Find the pub here.
Mid-afternoon on the Brandon Estate, Lambeth: there are surreptitious meetings in the squares, teenagers riding around on those annoying little bicycles, and everywhere there are nods and greetings as if they all know me. Indeed, I feel like I know everyone here, but this is hardly the reception Londoners are known for when crossing paths with strangers. I probably look like someone they know or, at least, like I belong on the Estate.
In the Canterbury, it is much the same. The bartender is a lovely lass with a voice that you would mistake for Kathy Burke if you closed your eyes (well, I find it melodic and I hope this doesn’t cause offense since the divine Ms. Burke hails from across the river). Friendly nods — not so friendly as outside, but better than most bars — come from ’round the lounge. My beer now poured, the fellow on the corner raps the top of the bar twice in rapid succession with the handle of his cane then swirls it in the air over his and his partner’s nearly empty lagers (she’s out front for a fag at the time).
If you look at the upper right corner of the photo, there is a cable junction hanging from the ceiling next to a lighting fixture (just out of shot) that suffered a catastrophic blowout perhaps ten years ago. I’d guess the house is from the late 60’s or early 70’s and shows a bit of wear from maybe the turn of the century but it suits the place. I probably wouldn’t have mentioned any of this, though, but that there was one of those real estate shows on the telly in the background with a couple seeking a detached house and a view of the sea on the paltry budget of £550, 000 or, in terms of the day, about 44,000 rounds for the house.
Do go to this one…here’s a map.
K is for Kennington, part of, nay, most of Lambeth. I did a commute run into work from the Park & Ride this splendid Maundy Thursday so the A to Z run this afternoon was short; however, Kennington packs a lot in its wee boundaries. In fact, mere arrival at Kennington Station starts you off right with the weird architectural stylings of Charles Holden. The dome used to house the lift mechanism on the deep line and has survived the introduction of hydraulics (domes on other stations have all been removed).
My first mission was to run down to Kennington Park to the site of Bob Marley’s squat in 1977. I was led to believe, online (silly Interwebs), that the Rastafarian Temple was at the north end of St Agnes Place but spying nothing that looked — or felt — right there, I walked down toward the Kennington Common where the fence jibed and the building next door still exists (the Rose Apartments, at the bottom of the dreadlocks on the map). Here’s Mr Marley with some mates in the Park 40 years ago:
The Temple, 10 years ago:
The Rasta Temple during the April 2007 drugs bust. Nothing much came of this in the courts, but with everyone out of the house it was easier to get permission to tear the place down (which happened a few months later).
The site of the Rasta Temple today (10 years after). Ghastly.
The Brandon Estate, a public housing development, overshadows the Common and is the site of Henry Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 (1961):
This is a kind of strange find amongst Council towers but it seems to be unmolested on its little knoll. Standing up there, you wonder how many people in the art world even know this is here. Personally, I imagined Tom Baker’s version of Dr Who emerging from the TARDIS and declaring, “back in a tick, but there’s a marvelous sculpture I must take in before we deal with The Master.”
That thought isn’t so incongruous since David Tennant’s version of Dr Who crash landed the TARDIS a mere 75 meters away, over near the Canterbury Arms. I already did a London A to Z Run D for Dr Who on the other side of the river but this one actually had some recognisable sites:
From “The Christmas Invasion” (2005)
From my own “Maundy Thursday Invasion” (2017)
The TARDIS came to rest in this alley:
which is much tidier today:
After my beer at the pub, I headed back out across the Common toward the Kennington Oval.
The area is spoilt for choice with churches. St Mark’s, bombed to the ground save the façade and the cupola, was one of four churches built in honour of the victory at Waterloo. The cemetery is supposed to be full of the great and good of the last two centuries, as well, but on this day it was just a postcard shot on the run.
For a REAL church in the area, you should visit the Kia Oval, nicer, I have been assured, than Lords Cricket Ground and active in one way or another every day of the year:
I’d jogged almost all the way past before it occurred to me that the fence has a ball-and-wicket theme going on:
At the far end (from my direction of travel), you can spot the iconic gas works, next door. The ivy hasn’t yet leafed out but I bet it is gorgeous later in the summer (and colourful in autumn).
The housing nearby is pretty nice, as well. There should be a special prize for any batsman that knocks one of these windows in Harleyford Court for six:
At the next corner, I stopped at the Beehive and took in a few overs of Indian Premier League cricket before continuing on.
It’s a pretty neighbourhood and not entirely gentrified (there are still council housing projects dotted in amongst the astronomically priced real estate in the area). And, there are still a few grand and very old pubs around; my third of the day was one of these, the Old Red Lion just above my starting point at Kennington Station.
But, I had one more planned stop on the way to meet Jackie after work. The video of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Come On, Eileen was shot in front of the corner shop at Hayles Street and Brook Drive. This part of town gets a lot of film and video work (some nearby pubs feature in the London A to Z Run F for Film):
It’s an earworm and I can’t shake it. Could be worse, I guess:
Leaving Kennington past the Imperial War Museum to Waterloo, this seems like a successful (and wholly incomplete) tour.
With no clue what to do for the “J” run of the A to Z, I decided to plot a path to pubs starting with J in some unfamiliar part of town. What I found on the way was the ugly side of Jentrification (I know how it is really spelled) and an increasingly pale population of hipster Jackasses (and Jennies).
I take POETS day seriously, each week, and, since the bulk of the lab was also off to a pub crawl of their own, I slipped away early and caught the Jubilee line to Canada Water changing there for a train in the direction of Clapham Junction. Alighting the Overground at Peckham Rye Station (above) I felt quite at home as the neighbourhood seems almost indistinguishable from Kraaienest in the Bijlmer. My first stop of the day, John the Unicorn, seemed to be the only storefront that wasn’t African, Middle Eastern, or sub-working-class British. But, more on the bar in its write-up.
From Peckham, the route skirted the great Victorian Nunhead Cemetery including a massive hill climb (and descent). The approach to the hill passed through some ever-less-bleak housing estates and I seemed less a prey creature than a predator by the time the population shifted to urban homesteaders wearing matching exercise gear and sipping Costa coffees. Jesus-fucking-Christ. I was slightly heartened to see a group of street drinkers as I headed up Brockley Road on the far side of the cemetery hill but was once more yuppied into a funk at Jam Circus (more on the bar in its write-up, to follow).
The third bar, the Job Centre in Deptford (on the Deptford High Street, above, which was once actually poor but now just ironically so — just enough to make the wealthy young residents feel edgy), was yet another hipster hangout, and, again, not a bad bar at all in-and-of itself but a harbinger of doom for this neighbourhood’s previous residents (more on the bar in its write-up, to follow).
So, maybe the theme for the day should have been Juvenile. I boarded my train at New Cross station and glanced out the window to see some Jerks in their mid-20’s WITH A FUCKING FRISBEE. No one over the age of 16 should ever touch a Frisbee (and even then they should be massive pot heads) except to throw it onto a roof or into some briars or over a fence protected by attack dogs or off a bridge or into a bonfire; no one who isn’t stoned to the gills and over the age of 14 should go anywhere near The Disc, for any reason. But, there they were right out in public — in broad daylight! — and seemingly happy as larks. I am depressed.
Yes, Juvenile was the order of things. Those guys, the decor at Jam Circus, the beer choices, the babies (EVERYWHERE…FUCKING BABIES!) left me glad to get back to my awful neighbourhood in the suburbs where these ‘pioneers’ actually belong but where, at least, an adult beverage is meant for an adult palate.
Next time, the letter “K.”
I is for “Isis.” Not the muslim caliphate but the ancient name for the mighty River Thames, flowing from South Gloucestershire to the sea and west-to-east across our fair city (although some will have it that the Isis is only the proper name for the river in the vicinity of Oxford ). What better place to resume the A to Z runs (abandoned with the waning winter daylight after the H for Heathrow Run in November) than on the banks of Father Thames?
I didn’t know that the annual Cambridge/Oxford Boat Race was this weekend when I planned this jaunt but television crews were setting up every step of the way. The Hammersmith Bridge, above and, with some detail, below, is at about 1½ miles into the event and the rest of my route covers most of the remaining race course.
Lot’s to see along the river, such as the little ‘service station’ island toward the Chiswick end of the run. Of course, I was here to refuel in the pubs (this map from Londonist isn’t comprehensive but is at least a good guide for your own trip). Along the way, I found lovely venues named The Dove, The Bull’s Head, The Ship, and The Bell & Crown, although there are many more (you could pub crawl this area for months).
There is a lot of nice, modernist and Art Deco architecture along this part of the Thames Path, too, but my favourite was really neither, Gustav Holst’s house:
There are dozens of rowing clubs dotted along the shore of this busy, polluted waterway. At my passing, the tide was pushing the waters the wrong direction which probably serves to concentrate the toxic waste, and yet there were still mudlarkers looking for treasures and rowers out for a wee paddle. The pollution doesn’t really bother me, either, and I passed by not a little jealous.
The last bit of the run veered away from the Thames to get back to the Tube and the (I think) beautiful Chiswick Park Station:
Now, to rack my brains for something to do for “J.”
When Jackie and I first got together in the mid-80s, I was working at a bar in Buckhead, Atlanta, that was flooded with postmen at about 3 pm everyday. There would be 20-25 of them at the end of their shifts and they would order up, over the course of an hour, about 50 pitchers of beer, 15 pizzas, and enough hot chicken wings to fill a hot tub. Great guys, and they tipped well, so weekday afternoons were busy but lucrative.
So, that was the Proustian ‘madeleine moment’ of this pub stop at the Sir John Oldcastle. There appeared to be an unofficial Communications Workers Union meeting going on at the 10 or 12 tables to the right of the posties in the above photo. Ahhhh, nostalgia.
I had a mild and wondered what the name of the bar signified. It was another good find that he was the model for Sir John Falstaff. Coincidentally, the bar I worked at in Buckhead carried Falstaff beer (bottles, not draught).
I could have lingered, but I had to drop off some stuff at the library. Here’s a map.