Archive for August 2012
This post will obviously expand as time goes on (as do most American tourists), but basically is about the various types of tourists you see around the city (hence, the title). I realise that I fall into most of these categories (including the ever-expanding American one). One thing Oxford should learn, though, is that if we don’t fight the tourists over there we will have to fight them over here:
A Jude family at the Radcliffe Camera
The Judes–The most abundant of the tourists, they are also some of the most solitary (except that so many drag their parents along…although sometimes it is the parents that are most Judicious). I call them Judes after Jude the Obscure, which if you haven’t read before arrival for a long stay you should buy a copy your first week here and pretend to read it. They are wide-eyed and open jawed as they wander around the millennium-old and meter-thick walls separating them from the Colleges and they imagine themselves in some serial drama on PBS about their witty conversations and elegant lives inside these cloisters.
By my count, five Judes (one behind the middle girl) and two Jude-ish parents
It can melt your heart to see the looks of wonder and inspiration on the faces of some of the Jude-sih kids here on their first trips abroad, but you become hardened against it as they treat the day-to-day lives of the people who actually work here as though you are all props in their little academia-themed amusement park. It would be so tempting to banish them to a life of poverty and toil in the Dorset wilderness, but they will probably return safely to their suburban lives and be the better for it (and, unfortunately, encourage their friends and acquaintances to come over on their next holiday). As a much older and reformed practitioner of Jude-ism, though, it can still give me a cheap thrill on the early morning walk to work through the mostly deserted streets…when the light is just right (and it so often is).
Snap-Happy tourists–Oxford is a giant tableau and no photograph you take here is going to convey any of the experience of being here. The Snap-Happies needn’t worry about that because their bodies occupy space while in Oxford, but their minds fret that some part of it is going by undocumented.
If you have only a couple of hours here, put the camera away until you have at least done this walk (then feel free to pull it back out as you try to find an alternative path back to images that will go some distance toward capturing this trail–and get lost doing so, there’s lots to see):
From the train station walk up Hythe Bridge and George Street going from some of the most modern architecture toward, but not yet to, some of the most ancient. There are some interesting pubs on George, but Gloucester Green, hidden behind some buildings and the bus station to your left holds a market square to load up on some snacks (Wednesday) or antique souvenirs (Thursday); exit by the cinema and cross George onto New Inn Hall then take the first left on St Michael passing the Oxford Union and a homeless shelter (scratch the ears on one of the hippies’ dogs). Either cross Cornmarket (hellish shopping) and do Ship Street past Jesus College or turn right on Cornmarket then left on Market to get to the Covered Market where you can get a real meal, or some kippers, or anything foodie you might desire if you look around long enough. Back out at the end of Market Street, follow Brasenose Lane straight ahead to the Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian (wander the courtyard of the Bod but head back past the Radcliffe to High Street and turn left). A hundred meters or so on the left you’ll find Queen’s Lane (still no phots…you are taking in some of the air); this zigzags through some pretty bits and the Bridge of Sighs eventually looms (and you’d miss it if you were snapping everything else that catches your eye). Take the little alleyway on the right past the Turf Tavern (there are less-touristy places to stop, but they have a spectacular selection of beer), and you will pass the medieval walls of the city and come out a little east of the King’s Arms. Head west toward it and the Sheldonian and more of the Bodleian will appear along with the White Horse (which would be my recommendation for a stop to decide what was the best to double back and shoot–mind there are fantastic walks like this all over, for instance just ask the bartender how to get to the Chequers and the Bear and get lost over there for a while, too.
It-Was-On-The-List tourists–these are sort of similar to but not necessarily the same as the Snap-Happies. Either part of a tour group or looking for a guided tour or following the edicts of Frommer/Fodor/RickSteves religiously (which is to say, without critical thinking) their sense of duty supersedes their enjoyment of the holiday; ironically, by tomorrow at least one of them will have printed out that walking tour I just described and will follow it step-by-step, missing the point completely. These are the most depressing sorts to encounter.
Literary (and Film and Television) tourists–I like these guys the most although, like myself, they can be fairly polemical about their touristy aims. These are the ones that, for the C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein fans, stop in the Bird and Baby before heading toward the cemeteries just south of Kidlington or over in the Headington Quarries to see the stones covering the remains of their Precious. I’ve already mentioned the Inspector Morse fans, and other film and telly crews show up around town continuously. In fact, there’s a pub (The Plough) that Jerome K. Jerome featured in Three Men In A Boat out in Clifton Hampden near Culham that is just a mid-length run from the office I really should try to get to soon….
The typical Inspector Morse fan you run into in Oxford is a middle-age woman from the States visiting here outside the high season for tourists and who has a grounding both in the Morse books and the television series (which is imported for regular airings on Public Broadcasting back in the US although I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an episode myself). I’ve shot a lot of photos for these women with the bartenders (using their cameras) while they pose in front of some Morse or Lewis memorabilia. The bar in the Randolph, a Grand Hotel worthy of the name, is named after Morse in honour of how frequently it has featured in these works.
None of that has anything to do with why I wanted to visit this on the pub journey nor why I have waited so long for a beverage and quiet contemplation in this magnificent house. Jackie has been wanting to come here for the atmosphere as well, and we have never both been appropriately dressed for the visit when we both happen to be in the city (my job in the labs dictates ratty clothing, usually, and my hobby is running…mea culpa).
So, on a day when I’m taking a break from running and had a meeting that kept me out of harsh chemicals and mechanical oils I opted to pop in on the way home to read a newspaper, dent the leather upholstery, and generally enjoy a civilised pint. However, if you go for a beverage keep in mind the pint will set you back £4.95 (and the spirits start at £10.40 a shot, mixers extra).
Oh, this means that The Morse Bar is no longer eligible to be the 1000th pub. I’ll make the appropriate change to that post shortly.
Every year in September, a bunch of carnival rides are parked in Oxford’s St. Giles Street for two days and every year we get the same security warning from our University Crime Reduction Manager (whom I imagine looks like the picture…he certainly sounds like it). The best bits for my money are the warning to be wary of any “tailgater checking out your premises” (which I hashtag #not_a_euphemism, and as I’m no longer any spring chicken, would feel a bit flattered by, I should imagine), and the Dickensian phraseology like “ne’er-do-wells” and “ill-gotten gains.” These rapscallions and blaggards know no bounds of civility! An excerpt:
“During the fair days, please brief staff to be on the look out for the casual walk in thief, or tailgater checking out your premises. Those further away should also not be complacent; the ne’er-do-wells are known to roam far and wide in their search for ill-gotten gains…..
For those of you visiting the fair, do enjoy yourselves….”
If you dare.
Walking the town of Devizes in the rain, we headed toward the Church of St. John hoping the cemetery would be a good find. There were some fairly nice (and surprisingly intact) angels but most of the stones were simple and unadorned and, in the rain, difficult to read. We headed back out toward the Market Square when I took a longer look at the Celtic Cross near the stone street.
It was carved for the Millenium by Eric Stanford who lives in Devizes now but moved from Berkshire. On it are panels showing Devizes life, industry, the seasons, and the cycle of human life. There are bits on the canals, the brewery, the Civil War, rail lines, the arts and commerce. The photos here are the four sides of the cross from which I stripped higher resolution close-ups (if you want the detail, it’s probably best to download them and have a look on a photo viewer/editor…no copyrights, but mention the site if you use them somewhere else…or buy me a beer). What a delight!
The August Bank Holiday weekend has been hot and sunny the past few years, so this one was an especially big disappointment weather-wise; still the entertainment was superb.
The Swindon Mela, an asian festival now in its tenth year, was Saturday in the Town Gardens and there were more and better vendor stalls than ever before, with the community welfare based ones (NHS screenings, yoga, massage) largely grouped together in a part of the park not used last year and more and better food stalls than ever before. Also, they stock ice-cold Cobra lager in the tents.
There were some very good musical acts, including a bunch of avant-garde types (or, maybe just hippies) that call their act Coach and played some very appealing psychedelic rock. There was an acoustic group that played Bollywood classics, too, and they were brilliant (didn’t catch the full name of the act but the dude on 6-string was called Jazz); they were followed by a very sad display of Asian hip-hop so we left the Bowl and tried the other stages.
The dance acts were (as last year) a hoot mainly because there is always one talented middle-age Indian woman and two or more clumsy middle-age white ladies and then a bunch of children whose talents range the gamut of age and experience; they all seem to be having a grand time and that and the music is infectious. A men’s drumming group did a 15 minute set and they seemed to be having a better time than the dancers. Another successful Mela, I think.
Sunday was nice out and I barbecued a large hunk of pork shoulder and got in a bit of a run.
Monday, we went to our second (previous one written up here) Devizes International Street Festival (the 100th anniversary of the Devizes Fayre, it turns out). Devizes rules, and I could spend a week wandering the medieval trails around town (rumour has it there are smugglers’ tunnels between most of the pubs and out to the canals, as well, but I haven’t found any…yet). The Festival is our regular visit together even though I use this as a running start or finish once every few months.
I had hoped to catch Ska Cubano, but we already planned to leave before their set was to start, but we did catch Jon Amor’s Blues Band who seemed to be playing for each other as much as for the crowd–that always helps get the crowd on board but it doesn’t hurt that they are one of the best blues-rock acts I’ve seen in a couple of years. There was also a group from Mali, headed by Vieux Farka Touré whose guitar sounds reminded me a bit of the African bits of Graceland. These guys were fun but every now and then one of them would look out at the crowd and appear to be thinking, “these poor white people must be starved for entertainment…standing around in this cold, hellish deluge when there are perfectly good, warm bars to go into;” but, no, they’re just English (and they’ll be in the bar as soon as they need a refill).
We caught this bit of street theatre as well, made to look like a silent movie with a pianist accompanying the players. Everything was broad gestures and all the sets and props were black, white or grey. It was loads of fun, if a bit too long, and the rain held off until the last few minutes when the chase scene started. After getting some more beer and cider after this performance, we continued on to tour some of the town but the Millenium Cross at the Church was so spectacular it deserves its own blog entry.
The Bear Hotel is no longer suitable as the 1000th pub (temptation was too great–mocking us from stage right of the Devizes Festival main stage–and it became the 962nd yesterday).
The 16th century hotel (which has dining on offer in a 14th century cellar) has been serving the upper classes for most of its days. Especially fashionable with the aristocracy, it hosted the (at the time) mad George III and his missus as well as innumerable other bloody blue blooded sods, all using the somewhat safer (from highwaymen) route to Chippenham, Bath and Bristol from London. The festival goers were a bit less posh, in general, with some of them bringing to mind gypsies, but the house looks ready for a royal visit.
It was too crowded to sit inside, what with the rain, and we wanted to see some more of the musical acts anyway so we took our beverages to the streets. We’ll probably investigate more closely next time.
The food stalls at the Devizes Street Festival were driving us crazy–delicious odours emanated from all directions. But, rather than eat from a styrofoam box we decided to try the civilised approach and headed to the Four Seasons where I had a spectacular chicken, ham, and leek pie with sides of snow peas, carrots, French green beans, pickled cabbage with sultanas, and some chips (Jackie had a fairly disappointing platter of fish and chips but I tried to warn her off pub fish and chips as it is almost always bland–live and don’t learn). Her wine was excellent, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Doom Bar.
The house is more restaurant than pub but these things happen, I guess. I wouldn’t recommend it for the drinking atmosphere, but the food was alright.
“Jenkins! Chap with wings there, five rounds rapid!” –The Brigadier in The Daemons, a Dr. Who shot in Aldbourne and including the Blue Boar
Okay, here’s a confession. I’m a Dr. Who fan, and I once named my car after a Dr. Who sidekick (Leela, and I loved that 1974 Monte Carlo, right down to the pot plants that grew in the floor boards because the seeds were watered by the leaky windscreens).
I first saw a Dr. Who nearly 30 years ago, visiting a friend in St. Louis who was watching one starring Tom Baker, also for the first time, with her sister at their folks’ house. ”Come in quick. You have GOT to see this,” the sister frantically insisted. PBS used to show whole series of Dr. Who as if they were a single, 4-5 hour-long episode and so the weirdness just seemed to multiply. It didn’t help that I showed up higher than a Georgia Pine (as you do) and that they quickly rigged a piece of PVC pipe out the glass door so that we could continue getting high by blowing the smoke through it without alerting the parental units of our activities. For other Who-vians, this episode cluster involved the Sontorans and the Daleks…that should be enough to narrow it down for any of you lot.
So, a while back I shortlisted a bunch of pubs but so many that I forget why they are shortlisted. Planning this Friday’s run, I looked through the ones near my house (well, not too far, anyway) and pulled the Blue Boar out of the pile. Very nice indeed, and it should have been on the list entirely on its own merits but there were other things than a good selection of ales and ciders and an interesting food menu to recommend this ancient alehouse.
Indeed, as it turns out, the producers of Dr. Who filmed one of the seminal series of the Jon Pertwee era here, in 1971. It was a run known as the Daemons, featuring devils and the Master. Very cool. The bar was renamed the Cloven Hoof for the shoot, and the town was called Devil’s End with the Master posing as the town’s new vicar. Here is a shot of the village green seen from the pub (above) and from the series (on youtube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcPDDPIYgxQ.
The Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division were billeted here in the Second World War, too and the pub served as the Officer’s Mess (although the landlord let the enlisted ranks in as soon as the brass buggered off). The old men of this era still reunite here annually close to D-Day, albeit in dwindling numbers, and the village still holds warm memories of Americans (rare in this day and age). If you want to know more of this bit, the early chapters of Band of Brothers (you might know the HBO series of this book) are a good starting point.
But, returning to Dr. Who, I remembered that there was a garbage bin of interest and asked the barman about it. He grinned and said that the guy who made it is a regular and is designing a Dalek bin to accompany it:
As I mentioned in the Red Lion (Baydon) post, I only had three pubs scoped out for this run, but the helpful souls at the George Hotel insisted I must go to the Wheelwright’s Arms which I had originally written off because without a web presence I couldn’t be sure of their hours. I needn’t have worried as this is one of those proper turf pubs (Lambourn is something of a racing town), where racing is shown and bets are made (on the phone to bookies, exclusively of course) as long as there is a race to bet on. There was no gambling on the the ale, though, as there were three taps all marked Moreland’s Best Bitter.
“I’ll have a pint of Moreland’s Best Bitter, please.”
“Good, choice. Do I detect a”
I cut him off. “Atlanta. Do you know Atlanta?”
“Oooooooo, I’ve only ever been to New York, Baltimore and Florida.”
“Aqueduct, Pimlico, Hialeah?”
“Yes, how did you know?”
Leaving the Red Lion, I didn’t expect Lambourn to be completely downhill (and thus for the return trip to be a climb). Oh, well, once in town it was a simple matter to find the George Hotel, an Arkells house at the market place. Inside this nondescript house I found the most marvelous bunch of bank-holiday-weekend drunkards you could hope for.
“You look hot.”
“Thanks, sir, but you’re really not my type.” After a suitable pause, “oh, yeah, it’s blistering outside, especially when you’ve just run from Baydon.”
“Well, at least it’s downhill. What’d you do that for?”
“I heard there was beer here.”
“Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of running?”
“I ran from the Red Lion to get to the George. Job done, as I see it.”
Brilliant bunch of folks and as the conversations went on (a good local has all the punters swarm a newby as they are so bored to death with the stories of each other), I got to suggest things such as marathoning (London and Snowdonia) and the Beerathon.
The Friday run was planned so that the Red Lion in Baydon would be the start and I would have just enough time to make it to Lambourn, across the Berkshire border, for another stop at the George then do the long uphill slog back to Aldbourne for the Blue Boar (for reasons to be revealed); my ride dropped me at the Red Lion a bit late but I had a few minutes built into the plans for trail errors so remained relaxed.
The bartender was congratulating some kid on his GCSE results and offered to go ahead and open the kitchen for him. This was grand behaviour and the delay gave me a moment to look around inside noting a small dining area off to the left and a small drinking area stage right. Eventually, I got a Welsh cider called Dog Dancer and explored the garden area.
The neighbourhood in Baydon is the first I’ve seen outside of East Anglia where the predominant building material is flint, the shiny-to-translucent black stones you can see in the buildings across from the garden.
I changed into the running gear in the garden and headed back in for a brief chat. Nice bunch of folks at this bar, now hosting music acts on a regular basis and willing to arrange poker evenings for you…go visit.
I had a lot of in-the-office work today, and Spotify’s commercial breaks got tiresome so I tried out Grooveshark. Excellent, but now I long for the sort of musical talent you take for granted will show up at your town (and maybe in your bar) back in the States. Swindon, Bath, and Bristol have reasonably decent music scenes, but you wind up seeing a lot of covers played by folks that have deep-enough songbooks of their own not to have to stoop so low.
So after a half day listening to niche talent, here are the people I wish would tour the UK, especially with a stop at, for instance, the Rolleston, the Twelve Bar, or Riffs:
Delbert McClinton (current tour dates: http://delbert.com/tourschedule.htm)
John Prine (http://www.johnprine.net/tour.html)
Guy Clark (http://www.guyclark.com/tour.php)
and, since her people have somehow gotten her
Spotify Grooveshark-linked to all three (and I like the name), Cheyenne Marie Mize (http://www.songkick.com/artists/3241966-cheyenne-marie-mize)
“Yeah it’s all right ’cause it’s midnight and I got two more bottles of wine.“
I get out to Mile End Road a few times a year and yet the Blind Beggar has eluded me all this time. I have wanted to go to this pub since before I was old enough to drink, fascinated with the Krays mostly due to the 30 minute long Piranha Brothers sketch on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It really didn’t disappoint, although it was not at all what I expected.
More-or-less across Whitechapel Road from the Royal Infirmary that housed John Merrick (the Elephant Man) and at a good turning point if you are doing a Jack the Ripper walking tour, the pub is kind of open with a bar taking up most of the northeast quadrant but with a very modern beer garden through a side door, sporting walls made up of tanks of tinted water with bubbles coursing through and loads of vines trailing from hanging baskets. Smooth jazz and samba music is piped out at low enough volume to allow a chat. Very copacetic, belying its past as the birthplace of the Salvation Army (no shit, William Booth preached his first sermon out front). A good place to die, although Georgie Cornell may have begged to differ; for me, it was a good place to kill off the thirst developed at the Great British Beerathon earlier in the day.
The venue for the Great British Beerathon was the Hoop and Grapes, a small house on Farringdon Street at the edge of The City. Before the race was over, I would be well acquainted with this fine pub…small bar at ground level, and nice rooms on at least the first and second floors (the one on the 2nd floor served as my changing room when I arrived but I don’t reckon any of the race participants would’ve been shocked by nudity).
The name is one I’ve seen around (the Hoop and Grapes nearby at Aldgate East tube stop has been on my short list of London pubs for years, now, as it was a survivor of the Great Fire while the next one nearer-to-the-City was destroyed), but only found out today that it is an old way of saying “Hops and Grapes” indicating a tavern that does both beer and wine. Something new everyday….
One of the Tacticals…click picture for link to race report where I stole this photo
The Great British Beerathon is one of the best events of its sort (and I say this with the authority that comes from inventing the 30 Pack Marathonand with participating in numerous stupid and ill-advised running/drinking combo-races). It is as if I have been training all my life for this. As I understood it, the race would be 5x one mile loops with stops at the pub between each to consume a bite and a beverage, specifically, a pint of cider and a pork pie, a pint of ale and a pasty, a pint of lager and a Scotch egg, and a pint of Guinness and a crumble. The record time for this course was about 46 minutes, but I was just shooting for an hour (to leave time to stop at a pub mid-race, optimistically).
The racers and their support teams assembled at the Hoop and Grapes on Farringdon Street at the edge of the City of London (although my support team, Jackie, pissed off to the East End to do some market shopping and do a bit of sight seeing). We got to the start line and the organiser read out a greeting from Mo Farah, the Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000 m and 5000 m; I didn’t catch all of it but I DO remember the words, “you make me ashamed to be British, good luck.”
The race route, five laps, with food and drink between each
I felt especially slow on the first lap and the heat, though not staggeringly high, was the first any of us had experienced since LAST summer; I decided to take it easy and once the mile was done, trudged upstairs and took my pasty and ale then headed out to the garden.
Two sides of the same fucking candidate…my masque for the fancy dress portion of the festivities
The food was the worst of the race but it was made even more egregious by the order…after mile 2, we were presented the dessert and Guinness then the pork pie and cider after 3 and the lager/Scotch egg combo after 4. I was certain I was going to do a tactical on the 5th mile but got to chatting with another runner who was dressed as a monkey and soon forgot my problems. Just before we passed an Asian wedding party we noticed the large spot on Fetter Street where another of our group had purged since our last pass, so I wouldn’t even have been the first in THAT race.
With the course nearly over and mostly down hill, I picked up the pace and actually sprinted the last 100 meters or so. Time: 47 minutes 17 seconds, but a new record was set ahead of me so what would have been the third fastes last year was 5th or 6th this year (someone did it in 37 minutes, I understand…while I was still choking on the Scotch egg). Oh well, that’s racing in the big leagues, I guess.
Jackie was hungry and quite a few behind, as I found her nursing a vodka tonic inside. I wasn’t really ready for food yet, but felt that a drink would be lovely. We left toward the East End to see if we could find the Blind Beggar which has been on my short list of London pubs for years…leaving behind my mask for my bit of the fancy dress effort (Obama on one side, Romney on the other), and missing the awards ceremony. Following that, we worked our way over to Brick Lane for a bit of Indian as I was getting a bit peckish:
Maybe I can improve on these results next year; maybe I’ll see you there. (I’ll post links to more photos and write-ups as they appear…these aren’t the most reliable folks as you might imagine.)
These final photos were all stolen from Adrian Lim’s facebook page a few weeks after the original post…go there for hundreds more:
Runners still eager as the first Slobstacle is reached (Ale and Pasty)
Third Slobstacle was pork pie (washed down with a cider retrieved outdoors)
Finally, the Scotch eggs were reached but the crowd was so spread out (I had lapped several twice) that they pulled the lager almost to order
City pigeons in spew, nom-nom-nom!
Years ago, I went to a mass spectrometry conference in Palm Springs and it seemed logical that we should book the flights into Las Vegas and drive the rest of the way after a suitable period of time. The in-flight conversation turned to gardening and I mentioned the herbs–the LEGAL herbs–I was growing. Mike asked, “is it pronounced BAY-zill or BAA-sill?” I said I don’t know for sure but the package seemed to indicate the first; “it says ‘Sweet Basil Ocillum,’ you know…like a pimp’s name.” We returned to discussing our craps statistics and I forgot about the whole ridiculous gardening chat.
Minor luck at the tables meant we didn’t sleep at all and were quite drunk for the ride to PS, then the conference is always a big party so by the NEXT morning we were really hung over and exhausted. I was going to sleep through the first couple of hours of talks and just show up for lunch but Mike was gamely getting ready for the day, doing whatever he does in the shower; the maid walks in and I look up from under the covers and see her step backwards from the bathroom door, stunned. ”Uh, do I do you now?” she asked in a heavy Central American accent.
“Shouldn’t I talk to Sweet Basil first?” asked Mike. I couldn’t sleep after that; and every time I see Sweet Basil has opened a new business I document it.
The Colesbourne Inn is no longer suitable as the 1000th Pub because it became the 952nd today. I will update the 1000th announcement later tonight to reflect a new choice (the Bear Hotel in Devizes, most likely). Oops.
The run went well from Cheltenham to Colesbourne despite the incessant rain and occasional trips into traffic. Looking over the map I missed a few key sights, namely…
Itlay, which I believe is the Cotswold way of saying Italy (which I love). Oh to summer in Roam, Nye Poles, or Cecily and enjoy a proper plate of deep-fried spagbol.
An indication of my late maturity is the fact that I didn’t make a beeline to Slutswell, nor did I try to loop past the Broadride (“you must be this tall to Ride the Broad” keeps ringing in my ears). I did go past what I thought was Hummer Town only to be soundly disappointed.
[Note: I got so wrapped up in the conversation here I forgot to do any photos...google is as responsible for this as I am.]
Finishing my run from Cheltenham in Cirencester on Gloucester Road, I found the Nelson Inn Just off Trafalgar Road, of course. This turned out to be one of my better finds in the last few months (beware, they are closed Wednesday and Thursday each week).
A couple of guys were in the small bar adjacent to the lounge and I wound up chatting with them until I was able to escape to change into my dry clothing. One very funny guy and one that hardly said a word, they tipped me to a number of good pubs in the Forest of Dean (that may yet become the 1000th venue, as I’m not sure how long each subsequently announced pub will last on the list). Beer was a Wickwar Bob and perfectly lovely.
Crossing the flagstone floor into the Public Bar, I walked up between the stunned looking denizens of the Bathurst and ordered the house bitter then turned to the old guy at the end asking, “think it might rain?” I was sopping from the run in torrential downpour from the Colesbourne Inn and had left a spoor from the out to the in and further and the puddle gathering around me attracted the attention of the dog under the one table with chairs I probably wouldn’t ruin…I went and joined her.
Very nice crowd here in this ancient coaching inn and it really deserves a longer visit (the meals brought out to the couple that entered after me looked sumptuous). One guy at the bar managed to smoke a whole cigarette surreptitiously without leaving his stool; there’s a wine room, too.
One old dude went on and on about how some pal of his always has an excuse not to buy at the bar; when he mocked this fellow with a litodinous “my wife has hidden my wallet,” I must have channeled Fatty saying, a bit loudly and in the same faux voice, “every time I go out my wife hides all my condoms.” In the silence, I drank up and left.
An opportunity presented itself to make a trip to Cheltenham so the run from there to Cirencester took me to the Colesbourne Inn. The only real problem with this is now I have to find a new pub to serve as the 1000th (updates soon at this link — leaning toward the Bear in Devizes, though).
No matter, the landlady was welcoming and the building was a marvel. The beer, Wadworth Boundary, was precisely what I needed to ensure my innards were as wet as the rest of my body (drenched as I was from the summer downpours. A successful pause on the paths to Cirencester, I would say.