Friday and Saturday yielded two more little runs in the Orienteering Challenge (most recent prior entry, here). The first one involved a trip to the mega-Sainsbury’s in Even Swindon and began near the Outlet Centre where I eventually hunted down the marker quite distant from the location the organisers’ map indicated:
The plan was to loop over to my old neighbourhood and pick up two more on the way to stock up on wine, liquor and artichoke hearts for the weekend, but the #6 marker was missing, victim to new lamp posts and other construction removals (fences, etc) at the intersection of the Western Flyer path and the National Bike Path #45. Still, once laden with 4 cans of chokes, 1.5 litres of vodka, and 3 each of wine (a box) and tonic I made my way home via Wootton Bassett Road to pick up a third marker for the trip.
Saturday, the holy war continued and I took a trot to Purton with a side trip into the parkland just north of the Link Centre. The exit from this section put me in the Lydiard Park and Manor grounds in which I always get lost.
So, the score sheet now stands at:
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 22nd entry for the 2013 Challenge]
Consistently good, Yummy’s was my go-to kebab when I lived nearby. The sauce is awesome and the veg is always a treat. A bit out-of-the-way for me now, I crossed paths with it on my way back from a run to and from Purton and couldn’t resist. Yummy, indeed.
The Swindon Rounds Orienteering Challenge is trundling along and forcing my runs into some territory I haven’t trod in a while (click on above map for link to full gmap of the project).
The theme today seemed to be the ghosts of old control markers, Hiroshima shadows of which were found on 3 out of the four marker sites (above at the bicycle flyover on the Oxford side of the A420/A419 roundabout).
Swindon is fairly urban but there are only a few neighbourhoods that are dodgy enough to give berth to, and then mostly only late at night. You are reminded of this as you skirt such a buurt through a narrow tunnel of foliage looking for a clue in a children’s game.
On the other hand, everyone in these areas seemed really nice. Some kids said, ‘hiya,’ in a friendly way as I passed, another couple of old dudes stopped their conversation to nod and smile, and a geezer urinating in the bushes gave me a thumbs-up as I passed (I hope that was a thumb).
So, for those of you playing along at home, here’s the dance card as it stands on 16 May 2013. Once finished, I’ll expect a large number of you to send in for your prize (let me know if you do and I’ll post the ones from farthest afield).
We were in the Swindon Arts Centre for another couple of Swindon Festival of Literature talks. Tonight it was Steve Jones (NOT the Sex Pistol’s guitarist) speaking on genetics although, ostensibly, it was supposed to be about his book on the Bible retold as Science; after a short break for a beer and a glass of wine, it was the turn of Tom Holland to talk on the geopolitical situation of the 7th Century (common era) that paved the way for the domination of Islam where once Rome ruled…the drink helped immensely. Last week we caught very entertaining presentations by Ken Liviongstone (former London Mayor known as Red Ken) and Martin Palmer on the things that the urban and rural landscapes inform us about the history of an area.
This is one of the great things about England. There’s a bar EVERYWHERE. This is essentially a library, but there are bars in gyms and leisure centres and several in the Houses of Parliament and, I should expect but can’t be sure, in churches. I’m home!
Daydreaming on the bus ride home I suddenly realised how the truck ahead of us was labelled:
Good…they’ve finally found a use for the fuckers.
Users of Emo Oil claim it is darker than other oils but rarely accept that it is, in fact, made from Emos; confronted with the obvious fact that it is, they tend to just shrug and say, “oh, right, what EVer,” or start to weep.
Spoiler alert…the orienteering control markers’ codes for the Swindon Rounds Orienteering Challenge are revealed here (or shall be as they become available). The rough locations of the control markers is on the maps for the Swindon Rounds, here; some are missing (trust me) and the rough mappings are vastly improved on the map I am keeping (linked to the picture, above).
The first run went through Old Town to the trail head of the rail trail where marker #4 carried letter A. My map proved faulty and I found a dead end before doubling back and then continuing through some woods near Nationwide’s HQ to get to the mountain bike trail in the Croft Wood for marker #26 (D):
There were some fairly straightforward paths to follow to find #1 (F) at the entrance to Coate Water and #28 — AB — at the lower end of Dorcan but then above the Dorcan Acadamy and the Leisure Centre adjacent I spent 20 minutes inspecting every fence, wall, lamp post, bus shelter, and bollard without finding #9…shit.
The next one was easy except I went off into a neighbourhood and had to retrace my steps to find it…#18, Y. The next one should have been around the southeast corner of the New College but a slightly less rigorous inspection (ten minutes) of this shitty little buurt turned up fuck all for #30. Heading home, I swung down through the Lawns and picked up #3 (N) before staggering home.
Day 2 was rainy and I didn’t feel like running but had it on the training schedule to do so headed out the Kingshill at the bottom of which I spotted the #5 marker with P in it. The chase resumed from there:
Near the Western Flyer underpass I caught up with the #22 (C) and then dashed to the Magic Roundabout to pick up the #2, L, before squishing my way home where a shower and a roasting duck awaited.
So, if you are keeping score at home or want to cheat, here’s a copy of the current sheet. Each correct space is worth points and “Points Mean Prizes!“
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 21st entry for the 2013 Challenge]
Starving on the way home last week, I hopped off in Faringdon when I realised the BF2K was open. I have been here before but never sober or rested. The chilli sauce and chips were the best things, again, but I was pleasantly surprised, in my clear-headed state, that the döner tasted more like meat than fat and salt and had a texture that indicated less gristle or connective tissue than typical. Well done.
After an unusually strenuous hike along the Kennet and Avon Canal, a heavy lunch at the Barge (one of the best burgers I’ve had in England that I didn’t make myself), and a diversion through some manor-farm land that piled on the miles in this first of hopefully many hot days this year we opted for a brief wait for the bus to Swindon in the safe confines of the Royal Oak.
Jackie had an unusually disgusting blister on her foot and no appetite for booze (had I misplaced the woman on the tow path?) so I was left to drink alone but with dry company in this fantastic old inn in this fantastic old town.
There were some bikers having a few before heading back out to the wonderful weather but that is really all I could take in since, like the woman, I was absolutely exhausted. the pics above are from the walk, but I would really need to revisit the pub to do a just review.
Yates’ pub chain does this and it annoys me no end…they put an extra “s” after the possessive apostrophe (see here for an example). Here’s a similarly egregious punctuation error at the Spar in Pewsey:
And, don’t even get me started on the shit wine for which this offer was made….
From the Killingworth Castle there is a lovely and steep downhill saunter through the gorgeous Cotswold village of Wootton to a creek where the road turns west and flattens for about a quarter-mile before an even steeper climb up the other side of the stream. It is exhausting work but a half mile farther along you will find the Duke of Marlborough beckoning.
Inside the house is lushly appointed and seems geared to the travelling diners along the highway between Chipping Norton and Oxford. The landlord reminded me of John Oliver albeit bald, a little more conservative and not nearly so thin; he was friendly and took an interest in my route but like almost everyone I have talked to mid-run the past few years he assumed I was cycling. He pulled an Old Hooky while I grooved on the rock-steady he had playing softly in the background…very nice.
I got the Old Hooky because I knew it was a little darker than the Hooky and I was ready for a stronger beer but on the run from the Killingworth I began to appreciate the Windrush ale I so brutally judged there–the after tastes kept building as I laboured up the hills in the fresh breezes. They were fully in force by the time I settled into this Old Hooky and completely obliterated the flavours I was hoping for…how rude.
I left the sub-competent Sturdy’s Castle and ran down a wooded bridleway that, while solid, has been muddy in the recent past and is now fairly uneven and difficult to negotiate…a very technical run. At the top of a hill near an intersection with another long distance trail and the entrance to some fields I spotted hash markings which I suspect are for the Bicester HHH trail Monday.
The path from Sturdy’s Castle
A perfect spring day, I ran slow enough to take in the variety of trees and terrain as the hill peaked and then fell off toward a churning creek with a tempting creekside trail…tempting but not irresistible since I was heading to the Killingworth Castle (which was closed down the last time I ran through this village a few years ago). Another small hill climb of about a 2/10 mile distance and 40 meters elevation change and I spotted the target from the peak:
The place was busy and yet the three fellows running the show had it under control and chatted easily in multiple conversations whilst pulling me a pint of Windrush (North Cotswold Brewery‘s award winner this year). The colour was deep and dark like a stained oak beam inside the fortress-like pub, but it seemed weak both in a.b.v. and flavour–subtle and with floral hints but not really a beer that I would associate with soaking up some Vitamin D on a breezy day like this.
Realised upon editing…the sign has the pub on it including the sign with the pub on it including the sign with the pub on it….
There were two tables of four inside Sturdy’s Castle and another couple was sitting at a picnic table with their dog out front; there was a waitress (maybe two) and some cooks were helping out with this intolerably mad rush (that’s sarcasm, there, for you literalists) while the manager struggled to key in two jacket potatoes and two beers and the queue for drinks enlarged…I was third in line. Ten minutes on, she finally got the ticket down to something less than the £45 she initially demanded of first-in-queue for the snacks and poured the half pint for the fellow in front of me and then promptly walked away for a couple of minutes, obviously to catch her breath.
I had a few moments to admire this solid, Cotswold stone structure but only in the Lounge as I feared giving up my place at the bar. My patience was eventually rewarded with a pint of Hooky (£3.20) that would prove to take less time to consume than to purchase and that was sharp and citric like I remembered from my last Hooky. I took it outside to enjoy in the cool breeze and beneath a willow mapped out my path to Wootton, a few miles northwest from here.
Board here for the Magical Mystery Tour:
[In honour of Albert Hofmann, a couple of days after the fifth anniversary of his transcendance (January 11, 1906 – April 29, 2008)]
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 20th entry for the 2013 Challenge]
The Magic Kebab House is always a particular joy. The guy running the show is friendly and he serves up some tasty treats and the chilli sauce actually has a bit of heat to it. A perfect sunset meal for the walk from the Magic Roundabout to the homestead.
When the youths from the Marlborough College are packed on the bus and you are trying pass through the aisle with a flimsy shopping sack full of wine, vodka, and tonic you might have a sudden epiphany about the origin of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies whilst popping one of these privileged shits in the chest with an off-balance and accidental (we’ll go with that) elbow and dragging the bottle filled bag at skull level past three others until the rest duck-and-cover. Earlier, on my way to the Queen’s Head, I passed Golding’s former digs next to the Church, so maybe that’s what brought on these literary thoughts….
The contrast between the gaggle of students and the friendly–if a bit surreal–patrons of the Queen’s Head was striking. As a stranger negotiating the several small rooms to reach the back side of the public bar took a moment; it is a fairly old house but I am reckoning Edwardian or late Victorian despite the sturdy and ancient looking beams.; I’m sure the landlord will correct me as he seems as much an authority on any topic as he is authoritative and benignly autocratic…or the guy I’m assuming was the gov may have just been another punter.
I gave the pump clips a squint and decided on a Directors which made the three younger men at the bar burst into laughter as if they had been sitting on this merriment for minutes and could no longer hold it in. ”What’s that then?” the one next to Maybe-The-Gaffer asked. ”Courage,” he answered. “It’s a good strong ale.” They all laughed again. ”Courage? What’s that?” ”It’s a brewery.” ”There is a Courage Brewery down near my house. But, what’s that?” Another ejaculation of laughter…I concluded these boys were tripping and sat back for what turned into an Abbott and Costello (or maybe more like Abbott and the Three Stooges) bit.
Horse racing features in the room to the left with some great photos of jockeys being dismounted mid jump, and boxing is highlighted to the right but the room seems more a shrine to the career of Muhammed Ali.
This is my new favourite pub in Marlborough (although the Bear and the Dragon are a little easier to get to on a tourist trip).
The treatise before you seeks to introduce the uninformed world to Hashlam, the faith of Hashers worldwide, and to dispel the myths and innuendo that have developed due to prejudices brought on, too often, from the practice of its rites in view of the general public, insh’Gispert (G-willing). The religious aspects are regularly covered on individual hashing sites and on Wikipedia; this entry will try to deal with some of the societal implications.
Most of the misinformation comes from the ambiguity and subtlety between the various forms of practice of Hashlam. Many of you will have heard of the two major sects, the Shites and the Sotties, with the Shites adherents of the PreLay (paths to the True Trail that exist before the journey is taken) while the Sotties believe in Live trails (often a misnomer) that must be discerned from freshly given divine clues. Subtleties in belief and practice all too often result in G-Had as in the one called by a hasher known as Ibn-Love FatWa of the fundamentalist Sottie group known as the Arizona Larrikins (aka, Mr Happy’s) against a less well established Sottie sect known as Bike Hashlam (whose cultish offshoot, the Cycletologists, boasts many celebrity members) culminating in the flour fueled carpet bombing of the Bike Hash’s first Red Dress Run (this rite is described on most Hashing websites and will not be explored here).
Results of the Bike Hash G-Had
It may come as a surprise to many of you that Hashlam has its antecedents in the other two great Western religions, ie, Brewdaism and Trackstianity (which itself developed from the Brewdaic tradition via a more fundamentalist form of the Beer Run). In fact, the path to Hashlam, known as the True Trail, very often involves dabbling in one or both of the older faiths with even observant members of Orthodox Brewdaism taking up running and very sober members of Trackstian sects finding solace in a Brewish Temple.
It is written and widely believed that, having taken up the Way of the True Trail, it is impossible for one to leave. Liberal adherents believe the prescribed death of an ex-Hasher is meant to be figurative, but support groups such as Apostacy Alcoholics, or AA, have taken on many a wayward Hasher and are considered heretical organisations even by the most broad-minded believers. There may even be time to explore the Seven-ish Pillars of Hashlam, most famous of which being the Interhaaj in which every hasher of nearly the financial means is expected to go make an ass of himself in a foreign land.
In future postings, we hope to shed light on how Hashlam has integrated with Eastern religions such as the Budhists (of both the Budweiser and Budvar varieties) and the exotic Tindu pantheon of tinned (and bottled!) beverages.
The Centre for Hashlamic Studies was founded in 2013 by Slowsama-bin-Riden with the mission to examine and explain Hashlam’s place in out increasingly interdependent world. Slowsama can be contacted by the faithful via Hashspace and by the rest of you infidel dogs at firstname.lastname@example.org .
With 20 minutes to kill, I wandered Cirencester only to find myself in Somewhere Else. It has a history as a pub (the Three Compasses, I think) but now looks like the lobby of a Hotel Ibis near an airport in some town heavily damaged in WW2–very modern with very modern body builder waiters in tight outfits…you’d think you were in some yuppy part of Frankfurt or Hamburg if they didn’t speak with so much effort to disguise the West Country accents. Bless.
I had a pint of Amstel and watched many large glasses of wine pass by. Everyone in there looked like they would smell like money but I couldn’t work up the nerve to do the experiment (I mentioned the waiters that look like bouncers, right?). Still, it is comfortable if not exactly pub-like.
It was while logging this entry that I noticed this was pub #1100. I don’t consciously try to make the multiples of 100 something special (and when I do put forth the effort, tend to fail) but this really would never have made the short list on merits of what you find on the web. To be fair, I have done a lot worse on this long crawl.
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 19th entry for the 2013 Challenge]
Floating with a couple of beers and on a tight schedule for the bus, I dashed from the Golden Farm back to the Best Kebab, which was near the Bee’s Knees from whence this journey commenced. I’m not sure if it really is the best in Cirencester although it may be the only kebab place here.
The sizes were small, medium, and large so I got the small which would have fed two hungry adults or served as a snack to six. My ears still ring with parental admonitions to eat every bite before me though so guilt gluttony kicked in and I shovelled it all down. Not that this was a chore as it was quite tasty, too; I would easily have finished a medium and probably would have picked at the remains of a large if not hospitalised with a distended stomach from the effort. The lettuce and cabbage were crispy and crunchy, and the tomatoes burst forth with flavour despite the spicy and heavily garlicked chilli sauce. Addictive.
I tried to follow the trail from the Bee’s Knees: blobs of flour and ‘checks’ (circles where decoy trails go in alternate directions to the ‘true trail’); but, alas the markings seemed incomprehensible to me — local traditions are something you just have to learn through hard graft. But, I eventually did come across the Golden Farm, an exceptional old inn near the River Churn; more over, they had a tasty beverage with a pump clip that looks just like Fat Chix, a nefarious Tucson hasher (in keeping with the theme, this was my choice of refreshment).
It is a huge house and quite old but one large back room is entirely dedicated to billiards (with full size tables) and some of the drinking tables serve double duty as drafts/chess boards. There is a huge beer garden wrapping from the front around to the south side.
Perhaps that was an old trail as I never spotted any obvious hashers at the pub (although there were a lot of likely candidates for walking trails — short trails, certainly, but the fellows around the bar looked like a hint of beer and sweaty females on offer would be all the incentive needed). I may be underestimating the effect of inertia, though.
An early afternoon trot around Cirencester is always a welcome thing, especially when you get dropped off nearly in front of a pub as welcoming as the Bee’s Knees. Traditional architecture and hospitality but with a healthy dose of modern “sport bar” fixtures — there was sumo wrestling on tele! — combined for a good first impression. I got an Arkell 3B and headed out to the smoking garden (since the other few early customers were all out there hacking up lungs).
The best thing of all, as I left for the start of the run there were blobs of flour at the door from which I inferred that a Hash House Harriers trail had been laid there recently; with any luck, it would lead me to another pub…which, eventually it did.