Archive for September 2010
The Guinness Book of World Records lists this item from last years London Marathon:
FASTEST MARATHON IN A NURSE’S UNIFORM (Male)
Name- Andrew White
[Note: a guy crushed this record in 2011 but his 'uniform' consisted of a nurse hat...see my 2012 Acceptance post, here.]
Jeez, I can do that easily AND stop for a beer along the way.
The Victoria is in Jericho just up the street (and a million miles away) from the abysmal Jericho Tavern. The house is friendly, well kept and quite the comfortable venue to linger over a pint (and there are a few to choose from as well). The menu looks promising, too.
On my visit, I wandered upstairs where plush leather chairs awaited. A large aeroplane model hung from the ceiling blocked the view from downstairs of the “Unspoilt By Progress” mural but from up top it is better than you might expect. Unlike a lot of places with the quirky decorations, the Victoria seems to know when to say “when,” and the boater on the deer head and the owl don’t seem too over the top to distract you. But, lunchtime is too short and the limit is one (or don’t go back to work…and I’m too busy of late to blow off the afternoon), so I had to make a hasty departure.
I was due to stop in at the Turf Tavern for greetings drinks with the rest of the group and the new students in the lab, but decided to go for a run first. Up Headington Hill and looping east felt pretty good but I dutifully found my way back near the pub but it is down an alleyway and I must’ve missed it, so went for another climb beside the park and then back toward the University Parks to try again. However, I spotted the Somerset on the way and opted to have a quick one there instead.
The lounge was horrible and the other side of the building (I think a chinese restaurant) wasn’t open yet. The only bright spot was I got the happy hour price on my (still expensive) pint of lager (no ales). A pity.
The Hash was running out of the Mason’s Arms last Wednesday, but I am swamped at work and could only take a short break around 6 pm. I ran the Headington hill and found my way into the neighbourhood built on the site of an old quarry where the pub lives and promptly ordered a Good Old Boy ale (mostly for the name). Friendly pub and the beer was cheap and quite good. I wandered out to the deck and down below spotted their own on-site brewery and could have kicked myself for not ordering one of those.
Break time was over, though, and I had to head off before anyone I knew showed up. To change up the route I passed through the nearby churchyard and spotted a sign leading to C. S. Lewis’ grave. Quiet neighbourhood, good landscape, cemetery tourism, and good beer…this is a ‘must return’ kinda place.
From Longborough, the trail markings were a bit hard to follow but it was a mostly clear day and there is enough topography in this part of the Cotswalds to follow the maps alone on a clear day. I got a bit scraped up in some thorn bushes and was fairly muddy, but I was going the right direction for the Kingham rail station and as I entered the village of Bledington spotted another pretty pub, the King’s Head, just off the village green.
It was a bit after 3pm so it was about 50/50 that it would be open and I found the staff (and no one else) relaxing in front of a post lunch rush meal. In my state of repair, had it been me on the other side of the till I would have put this derelict on the road but the manager just said, “Oh, the kitchen is closed, but you look like you could use a beer.” What a highly perceptive woman.
There were many taps to choose from, but a mile and some away from the station and the hourly ride home just a half hour away this was no time to dawdle. I had a Mad Goose (which I’ve had before but it is a trusted beverage) and a look around the joint. The place is intriguing and I lost track of time and had to do a 6:30 mile pace to just barely catch that train, but the house inspection was worth the extra stress.
Very nice, it is an old stone building still used as a hotel. Like a lot of older places, it is made up of a bunch of smallish rooms but instead of afterthought I believe this one was built this way to lend structural integrity. The focus does appear to be food with most of the tables set for diners, but there are games available and I always trust a bar with a piano. There’s also an inglenook fireplace that shows every sign of regular use; I have to come back one of these rainy winter afternoons and try the place out again…maybe a few drams of scotch before heading out to the trails.
From Moreton-in-Marsh, the trails were easy to follow and not too hilly. There were a lot of walkers out (or, at least, over the course of three or four miles I met 4 couples on the paths). The early autumn sunlight was casting across the fields and copses in the most lovely way when I suddenly found myself in Longborough, a hilly hamlet at the westernmost part of teh planned run. Consulting my map, I soon found the Coach and Horses perched on top of the village.
Cool and windy out, but maybe a little early in the Autumn for the fire...but it is pretty (except for the darts mat)
It is another Donnington pub and they had three taps with Donnington pump clips, but the response to the first two I asked for was, “no, sorry, I’ve only got that one in bottles.” Third time was the charm though and I had my second Donnington B.B. of the day. Yum.
A woman was having a glass of wine (“oh, yes please, just one more couldn’t hurt,”) and talking about how she had just bought three hats (yes, THREE, she stressed to the barkeep). A friend of hers came in and the bartender relayed this info to her, which prompted her to turn to wine lady and say, “oooo, Doris, you are so greedy for hats, you are.” I don’t remember if her name was actually Doris, but I do remember that the B.B. nearly shot out of my nose. The entire staff and customer base here appeared to be potty.
My juvenile laugh of the day...uh-huh-huh-huh.
I’ve gotten behind on these posts, so let’s see what I can remember about this run…alighting the train at Moreton-in-Marsh, I only ran a few hundred meters before I was confronted with the golden stoned buildings of the town centre. Scanning the storefronts for pub signage, the most attractive one (to me) was the simple plate of the Black Bear Inn. Inside, there were several ales to choose but Donnington was listed as Brewery of the Tear so I gave the B.B. a try. Very nice.
The bar was especially busy and there was an endless parade of new punters coming in, placing orders and disappearing out to the garden. Enough of these (mostly chatty regulars) stayed around the bar to make it interesting. It was only a one-pint stop, but the place felt very much like home (and no, it had nothing to do with the American flag hanging out front…what the fuck is THAT all about?).
On at least one other hashing occasion in the past (maybe two, but heavens forbid there have been more), I have hit the road close to the legal limit. At times like these, I have found that a bit of ballast is helpful so on my way to the car I swung by the kebab stand in the square near Abingdon High Street and Bridge Street and got some nourishment. I did not catch the name of the place, but the doner meat and chips were a welcome palliative and I felt ripe to continue once I had wolfed the feast down. However, it left me a bit parched and I kept alert for an appropriate vendor on my way out of town.
I found it at the Cross Keys halfway to the A34 junction that would eventually spirit me home. I had a Mad Goose, a beer I’ve had in the past and noted how well it went with the greasy residue of the meat stuck between my teeth and the lingering chilli sauce from my chips. The house wasn’t the friendliest I have been to but it seems that everyone knew every other person in the bar except me. Fair enough. I would definitely try again sometime when I wasn’t in an odd hashing outfit and drenched to the skin from a downpour.
After the Oxford Hash several of us ran from the circle back to the start to fetch personal belongings (in my case, my car which I usually don’t take to the hash). Dippy caught up to me and suggested a quick pint at the Punchbowl which was midway between my car and the restaurant the rest of them were meeting at. Since he’s never steered me wrong with respect to drinking establishments, I strode in with confidence (his nose for finding trail, on the other hand, definitely leaves a bit to be desired).
We had a couple of Morland’s and watched Arsenal pummel some other European cup contender. It was 3-0 when we ordered, 4-0 when we were served and 6-0 before we finished our pints. The crowd in there seemed more interested in the drink than the game which I find is unusual here, but it is the way I believe a bar should be. Still, I’d had a few and it was time to head home so we said our farewells and headed out into the rain.
Stocks Bar resides in the Crown and Thistle Hotel, Abingdon and is entered off an internal courtyard. Though a small venue on its own, it also benefits from additional space in and across the courtyard where a separate bar serves the hotel’s restaurant.
There were 6 interesting looking ales to choose from on my visit but I failed to make a note of the one I chose, paying a bit more attention to the crowd of hashers that had gathered. I sat for a while near the fire with one of them and then mingled a bit until my glass was nearly empty. The rest were planning on going out for a curry afterward so this was only a short visit without a return at the finish but I would definitely recommend stopping in for refreshment at another time.
They look a happy lot, don't they.
This is a ridiculous number of pubs, considering some I stay at for hours, and some I return to multiple to many times but they only count once on the list. Oh, well, here’s some trivia:
Of the 500 I have visited:
24 Red Lions
9 White Horses
8 Chequers and White Harts
7 King’s Arms, Queen’s Heads and Ploughs (9 if you include Plough and Harrow and the Plough Inn)
6 Crowns, Bell Inn (or Bell Hotel or just the Bell)
5 Black Horses, Green Mans, Swans
4 Black Bulls, Greyhounds, Princes of Wales, Rose and Crowns, Royal Oaks, Three Horseshoeses, Wheatsheaf’s, and Castles (or Castle Inns)
3 each of The Bull Inn, The Carpenter’s Arms, The Cherry Tree, The Duke of Wellington, The Five Bells, The Grapes, The Horse and Groom, The King’s Head, The Mitre, The Six Bells, The Unicorn, The Waggon and Horses, and The White Lion
and 2 of The Anchor, The Blue Lion, The Cock, The Corner House, The Cow, The Cricketers, The Cross Keys, The Dog and Duck, The Fountain, The Hobgoblin, The Lion, The Railway Tavern, The Ship, The Tally Ho, The Travellers’ Rest, The White House, and The Woodstock Arms
There have been a number of closed pubs, some of which have reopened or are in the process of reopening. Some others have been staffed by such flaming cunts and assholes that I just considered them closed. Regardless, if I called it closed at the time I went through or past, and then grabbed a can of beer somewhere and brought it over to enjoy on the premises it got counted. There were 25 such pubs in the list so far (5 %) and I will strive to keep that number below 2% from now on. Those so far (with links to the entry) were:
The Falcon Huntingdon Cambridgeshire
The Rose and Crown Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Woodstock Arms Oxford Oxfordshire
Marlborough House Oxford Oxfordshire
The Black Horse Dry Drayton Cambridgeshire
The Duke of Argyle Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Earl Grey Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Fenman King’s Lynn Norfolk
The Five Bells Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Fox and Hound Oxford Oxfordshire
The Graduate Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Hand and Racquet Covent Garden London
The New Brunswick Highgate London
The Oddfellows Arms Aylesbury Buckinghamshire
The Old Orleans Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Prince of Wales Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Queen’s Head Sawston Cambridgeshire
The Swan Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Woolpack Sawston Cambridgeshire
The Locomotive Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Little Rose Haslingfield Cambridgeshire
The White Horse Sawston Cambridgeshire
The Jericho Tavern Oxford Oxfordshire
The Fish and Duck Cambridge Cambridgeshire
The Lion and Lamb Milton Cambridgeshire
Finally, because the full breakdown could take awhile, I’ll just list the number of pubs hit by county (or London):
North Yorkshire 1
This was the 500th pub, so far. I’ll do a synopsis/statistical breakdown of the list in the next few days.
I had planned on another London pub to be the 500th, a Red Lion or at least a former Red Lion…the one where Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto not too far away from here in Soho. As an alternative, I was going to hold off on the 500th until next Wednesday so that it would coincide with the Oxford Hash’s 600th trail. But, we got into the neighbourhood of Broadcasting House a bit early for our Bleak Expectations recordings and decided to go for a drink and lo-and-behold the 500th turned out to be the Yorkshire Grey, a nice old venue in Fitzrovia and as deserving as any other of the number it has, in that the count means nothing in the long run.
Beautiful pub, nonetheless, and I like Samuel Smith’s beers having hit a few of their pubs in the past couple of years. I already knew they do a fine stout (which I will still highly recommend) but decided to try the Best Bitter this time. And, when that was gone, I tried the Alpine Lager which was smashing and for a light drink gives the stout a run for its money.
There were some nods to the architecture and engineering of Broadcasting house framed on the walls, as well as some cigarette cards (trading cards a la bubble gum cards in the states) framed of announcers from the Beeb in the 30′s and 40′s. They also have an upstairs bar and a garden.
We were in the city to attend the taping of a couple of episodes of Bleak Expectations, this comedy that takes the piss out of every Dickensian cliché it can. We were heading to the Tower of London to do the standard sort of tourist thing but we were pretty hungry and decided to walk about and try to find a restaurant first. As we strayed further afield, we eventually gave up on finding anything good and settled on the next pub that presented itself (The White Hart), but it turned out to have a fantastic Thai menu so everything worked out.
We really enjoyed the meal and the window seat was great for people watching in this part of the east end, but it was probably too late to do any properly touristy stuff. That’s when I spotted the sign above the bar stating that George Chapman, a prime suspect in the Jack the Ripper investigations, lived and worked in the building. Cool, and just to the side of the door was one of the few remaining alleyways spared destruction in the bombings during the Blitz. Following on from these, we eventually found our way past the Bunhill Fields, a cemetery near the Honorable Artillery Company barracks, final resting place of Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan, and William Blake.
Oh, yeah, the pub was nice, I highly recommend it if you are hanging out in the east end.
I usually like Wetherspoons pubs but I usually go to the ones that are housed in salvaged buildings with some architectural and/or historical distinction. This time I just dropped in to the only open pub I spotted at the end of 25 miles of training run to tank up before catching the bus home. It, too, is a Wetherspoons but the house is ugly and prefabricated and, to be perfectly fair, precisely in keeping with the overall look of Milton Keynes. I had something called a Slewfoot or Stinkfoot for £1.99 and continued on my merry way. Yuk.
A half hour trot down the road from Cranfield I was quite peckish and decided to stop in the next dining establishment that presented itself. This turned out to be the Carrington Arms in Moulsoe, quite too nice for the likes of me but as I was only in for a quick bite before continuing on to Milton Keynes I decided to risk offending the tables filled with businessmen enjoying their lunch meetings.
I had a pint of First Flight, a reddish amber treat with a hint of cocoa and ordered up a lamb sandwich on ciabata. This came out a tender slices of pink lamb cooked in mint and garnished with a rocket salad and some remarkably fresh tomatos. The chips were steaming and cut from fresh potatos and the entire meal came in at a reasonable cost. The staff were mostly just waiters and hotel staff, but I don’t reckon this is treated too much as a pub. That’s a shame, as the beer selection is pretty cool, the bar is well stocked, and the house is pretty interesting. But, the business plan is for a restaurant and inn and they are doing that job flawlessly.
The run had been arduous, starting as it did in Bedford in the morning rains. The intended trail was found and lost in rapid succession and everywhere I tried to stop for sustenance was closed until later in the day. Two hours in it was 12:10 and I was passing through Cranfield when I spotted the Cross Keys, a lovely building…
…from the outside. Inside it was like some disturbed nana’s house, dusty, stacked high with disheveled ledgers and dirty laundry scattered around the bar. A dive is a dive, but usually due to the clientele and not just from neglect. The cost of the projection tele, for instance, might have replaced the threadbare carpet with enough left over to at least buy fresh gaffers tape so the bar stools could match.
look at the state of these loo walls...the shirt is hung on an overhead vent
I ordered an IPA and water came out of the tap. I asked for a Fosters, then, and a bubble, reminiscent of one formed from a baby’s drool, arose on that tap. The bartender went back for the landlady who said she could get me some IPA then disappeared to the back again and forthwith reappeared with a frosty [sic, and so very wrong] pint of the stuff. Aparently they had stored the last bit of it in the fridge when they decided to clean the lines.
I caught the X5 out to Bedford with a planned 20 mile path but got sidetracked a couple of times. The actual route went along this path:
Along the way I had wet feet the entire time, a surprisingly good (Carrington Arms) and two surprisingly bad pub experiences (Cross Keys and Wetherspoons), and came within about 15 miles of connecting my east side and central/west side run routes…next is the push to tie in London and the south coast as well as the Irish Sea. Next year I’ll start pushing northwards.
The Chequers smelled like my basements and attics from about 1989-2002 (and, indeed, like my patio during the growing seasons of our years in Holland)…not nearlyas strong but a real similar smell which isn’t surprising as hops is closely related to my former horticultural specialty. The rafters of the entire pub were completely wrapped in fresh hops vines thick with the budded flowers that make proper beer possible. I liked this pub already.
My attic looked like this from time-to-time, as well
The landlady was in the midst of interviewing a new staff member but as they finished up business I was included in some of the chat. Her husband is also the chef there, and they have a long lease on the place. It is a Fullers pub and Fullers has purchased a big allotment behind them on which there are tentative plans to build a motel. This might blight the overall appearance, but inside–where it counts–is simply gorgeous and quite a welcoming environment. I did get the feeling that they are more restauranteurs than publicans, but I have seen much less competent publicans that didn’t even have a kitchen in their gaff. Very nice experience and a good break before continuing down the road.
I got stuck waiting out a rental agency representative so when they finished up what they had to do with the house I decided to run to Oxford. I found some new paths (new to me) down the west side of the A41 & A34 and these took me to the Ben Jonson, an old pub in what appears to be an 18th century barn.
The Ben recently reopened after closing suddenly and under what are rumoured to be shady circumstances. The manager the day I was there seemed shy and reserved and couldn’t stop polishing things although the place was completely empty. A young man probably in his 20′s, he served me up my Brakspears and made a clumsy, mumbled attempt at conversation which, in it’s totality, was, “It’s been raining, then?”
Unencumbered with social obligation I looked around a bit and inside this is a really nice house. There’s a nook with a fireplace in the corner between the public bar and the lounge/dining area, and the whold place is exposed stone. The menu is locally sourced and sounds pretty good. They usually have two or three ales on and they, too, are local. I wish them the best, but it is really theirs to screw up.
I knew about this before but this was the first time I’ve run past it (last week around lunchtime). Impressive in its stupidity, no?