Archive for the ‘Uxbridge’ Tag
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).
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.
The Three Steps appeared in the waning light of the early evening and I couldn’t resist. It just looked so dodgy. But, inside it was a friendly little beer house if a bit weird (the large circular room threw me a bit). The couple running the place were awfully nice, though, and the Efes Pilsner was cold and bitter and what I wanted.
The pop music videos were a bit loud and not really my taste and the place seemed to already (or maybe still) have Christmas decorations.
But, they won me back with the toilet. There was a video screen at eye level and three sensors in the urinal. Once you have “started,” the screen shows Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin taking the stream if you are on their sensor. The recipients change from time to time, so I got to soak Bashar al-Assad for a while. It’s worth a stop in just for this.
Running from the Paddington Packet Boat to head back into the Uxbridge town centre, I opted for the canal tow path. Down at the bridge, the Water’s Edge looked from the outside more like a boat supply shop than a pub and even after I found the entrance it looked more like the clubhouse for the ‘canal cottages” than a purveyor of intoxicating beverages.
But, inside it is quite nice and reminded me of one of the more civilised Florida beachside bars. I opted for Shedhead then noticed that it was made in Sweden which led to a
wide-ranging conversation with the landlady about the beer, the appearance of the pub, the internet being out due to Network Rail cutting the lines (the Packet Boat had been on “cash only” due to this), the electrification of the rail out to Wales, shopping in Swindon, and gay pride festivals in small towns. Fantastic.
Out for a twilight run from Hillingdon Station to the canal, the Paddington Packet Boat was too big and imposing to pass by, so I was forced to go through it. Despite the enormous floor space, the twenty or so punters were all clumped together in a circle about 8 feet in diameter right in front of the bar (making it a bit difficult for me to pass by and inspect the wares on the ale taps). Typical Fuller’s ales, but this was a much more pubby house than most of the Fuller’s places in the region.
It was also boiling hot inside so I went out to the garden to take in the cool, evening air and found yet another cluster of blokes isolated in a very small patch of the huge open space…weird.
The pub run moved steadily upscale as the evening encroached but the fading twilight on the tow path would be good enough to get me back to the Uxbridge Tube Station. After the glorious squalor of the Load of Hay and the low-key local atmosphere of the Crown, the Malt Shovel‘s classy restaurant atmosphere would have to work hard to pass as a serviceable — if posh — pub. Carly Simon on the speakers bemoaning vanity seemed almost too apropos.
The menu chalked on a board near the four real ale pumps (the house is Cask Marque) looks pretty good for the carnivore. The price for a pint is more than reasonable (my amber one was only £3.40). Taylor Swift was next on the piped music and my judgmental hackles were up; the music was absolutely perfect for the bland and shallow atmosphere they seemed to be working on.
I was also a bit disappointed to see Halloween decor scattered around. Christ, if the Trump ascendancy has taught us anything it’s that most of the stuff that seems shitty from America actually IS shitty.
Two guys walked in and there was an air of business being done. One of them was entertaining the other either as a job candidate or a visitor from out of town. He asked the guest yuppie what he was having to drink then turned to the bartender asking, “Can I get two of those, please?” This is the most subordinate thing you could say in this situation. Or so I thought; he followed up with, “we haven’t booked but is it possible we can get a table?” It was Tuesday at 6:25, the restaurant is fucking huge, remote and empty…demand a table and some better music.
The barman at the Load of Hay asked if I wanted a refill but I looked out at the setting sun and said, “no, I better get running if I’m going to make the Crown and Malt Shovel before dark.”
“Are you in CAMRA or something?”
Shaking my head, “naah, just an alcoholic,” then remembering I had been a member these last 8 years, “oh, hang on…I AM in CAMRA; do I get a free refill?”
CAMRA would like this mini pub crawl, anyway, as there were 3 ales to choose from as I entered the Crown. I went for a Hobgoblin and got it in a glass with the new Wychwood livery; most of the other fellas were downing Stella to celebrate one of their members’ birthday.
It was eerily quiet, save for the joviality of the birthday boy’s group. The music drifting in almost inaudibly from the rapidly filling dining room was a nice mix of 70’s rock you don’t hear enough of anymore: Heart of Gold by Neil Young followed by Sheena is a Punk Rocker by the Ramones; the tele was on a set-up menu page with no sound…as good as it gets.