Archive for the ‘businesses’ Tag
Swindon College downtown, 3 April 2011
For the last year and a half and for the foreseeable future, Swindon Town Centre is undergoing a revitalisation. We arrived when the open air pedestrian subway through the Whalebridge still smelled strongly of marijuana smoke, urine, and Special Brew but now all that has had to move to the surface since that is now a confusing and dangerous traffic interchange. New housing is going up adjacent to it, between the Jury’s Inn and the Menzes Hotel. And, at the base of Eastcott Hill a giant shopping and entertainment centre is replacing the old Swindon College buildings. I shot the first picture four weeks before it was supposed to be demolished early in Spring 2011 and the more recent one yesterday (a couple of months after the start of removal).
Former site of Swindon College downtown, 12 October 2012
In Britain, they bet on everything. You can slap a fiver on the bar at a pub and bet on the colour of the scarf of the next person through the door and someone in there will walk away with a fist full of cash soon thereafter. The betting parlours were running a line on the next Dr. Who, recently. This week it is all White Christmas…the weather has had the bookies in a lather over the odds the last few days, but here is a screen shot of the latest line:
Okay, I thought that spelled this way it was only used to denote Mexican twins but aparently janitorial services here use the extra ‘k’ in the spelling. Hmmm…janitorial…hang on, there….
Ordered a burger with blue cheese and bacon but no mayo at 12:35. Stooge behind the bar writes down burger, blue and bacon no mayo. 1:50 pm rolls around and she brings out a plate and asks who had a burger blue cheese bacon no mayo? I get it and proceed to scrape off healthy dollops of smooth mayo and can find no blue cheese. When I ask her what this mayo like substance is, she replies that they mix their blue cheese in mayo and then took offence at me pointing out that 1) they didn’t mix any in this batch and 2) when I asked for no mayo it would not have been very difficult to point out that the blue cheese was, in fact, mayo.
Fuck ‘em. That’s the last ever of the many times I have visited them and would be pleased to see you send your business to the Cross Keys.
found on web...actually, we just got incompetent and snarky service
This is an update of the original post, below.
Colleague accepted tenure-track position at University of Michigan and we went for beers. I had a couple of Jekyll’s Gold by Hyde Breweries, which were tasty. The place was still cavernous but there were about 40 people there (more than 20 were in our party) and everything seemed copascetic. Nothing real special to report.
Original post, 25 Feb 2009:
A long day at work with some minor successes but no major breakthroughs and the lure of the running paths beckoned. It was about 3pm and I was expecting a call from my San Francisco based bank when they opened at 8.30am (or 4.30pm my time) so did a fairly long run along a brook near the Cambridge Botanical Gardens and on south. I was turning onto Panton Road on my return when the phone rang at 4.15–great! Early, and behold, there was a pub handy to get out of the mist and the cold.
The Panton Arms is another large pub with a very large beer garden (in this weather, mostly just a smokers lounge). I got a beer while finishing business and by sheer luck chose the bench-seat near the door that just happened to have the radiator behind it…ummmmmm, warm!
It was early and not much going on, just a couple folks working, another customer chatting about allergies to the staff, and some guys out in the smoking area. Looks like they probably have pretty good food when the kitchen is open and it is only a block from the reception area at work. Definitely going to return.
I got a great online deal for the Hotel Ibis so I decided to take it even though I prefer the non-chain hotels. I thought we could go with a bit of standardised housing geared toward the business traveler whilst doing a lot of on foot tourism during the day and the rooms above pubs and in B&B’s are usually pretty hit or miss (although our batting average has been pretty good of late).
The bed was creaky but comfortable. The kettle had water in it that I assumed was from the previous guests but when I went to clean it out I realised that it was, in fact, bleach that had ALMOST cleared the bit of fungus at the bottom of the device. A bit of scrubbing with toothpaste seemed in order before morning cups and after boiling two batches of water the thing didn’t really smell too much like bleach or Crest, anymore.
don't touch it, you might wake it
The shower pressure was almost non-existent and it was difficult to rinse the shampoo from my hair. The water was plenty hot, though, and the steam accumulated quickly as the vents were blocked by some sort of growth (see photo). But, the room was really cheap.
The weather has been absolutely gorgeous except for the times when it has been completely shit. Above, there was a nice day in the village, so I shot the house (above) on my way to catch the bus to work.
Then, I noticed that the neighbourhood kids must have been bored the night before, having stacked what appear to be some concrete structures on the northbound bus shelter:
I shaved at the halfway point of my marathon training regimen, a few weeks ago. I was planning to let it go wild until the marathon in a couple of months then clear the brush after the race but I had to get a new i.d. card to have access to the lab at Oxford and figured it would be better if it matched my passport photo. I have noticed that I get better service at uppity places but not quite so good at dive bars since shaving…here it is after a morning run the day it went down the drain:
Jackie injured her knee and has been reduced to walking for outdoor exercise. Even then we managed to really over do the effort on a hike around Wicken Fen. On another run this month I spotted my first native ferret, but the only unusual wildlife we saw on our hike was this herd of wild horses:
Saffron Walden, Felixstowe, Wisbech, and Bury St Edmunds have emerged as some of my favourite towns in East Anglia over the course of this month’s travels. Saffron Walden has a few of these houses around with patterned surfaces; while these are pretty attractive, it seems that you see a lot more of these deeper into Essex (a trip back through Thaxted is planned in the not too distant future where nearly every old house has some of this sort of masonry):
Indian food distribution is a good business, and moving house for people is also a lucrative trade. But, which should I choose…
I succeeded with a project at work I had been toiling over all week and opted to take the afternoon off (I’ll never use all the holiday time I’m alloted anyway). Friday seems a perfect time to hit some pubs and make some mileage on paths not yet taken, and I am not one to mess with such a perfect plan. Plus, I wanted to try out the thermodynamics of my new haircut.
I had a cut in the winter at a stylist, but was keeping the hair longer at that time in hopes of surviving hypothermia in the cold rains and wind. Now that summer is here and the temperatures regularly exceed 68 degrees F (20 C), I just wanted it buzzed. This gave me the courage to try the barber in the Cambridge Market. In a market pitch, there’s this guy from Brooklyn that does buzz cuts at £5 and he will probably be my haircutter when I need another buzz in around August. I’ve seen him work before, and he can do more than this, but I won’t bother with anything special until the Autumn.
Barber stall, Cambridge Market
From Lensfield Road the trail followed bike lanes through Newnham (the Hat and Feathers) and to Barton (the White Horse). The High Street has a small pavement and deposits you next to the Hoops, and from there it is back on a bike lane then on a Public Footpath to Grantchester (the Blue Ball) and another Public Footpath directly across from the Blue Ball takes you back to Cambridge through Grantchester Meadows.
Triumphant return to Grantchester from Barton
It was drizzly at times during the run and cool and windy, but I was still surprised that I had the fewest clothes on at anyplace I went. These folk seem averse to staying comfortably warm in the winter so a small dip in the temperature causing sleeves and jumpers to appear was a bit surprising.
Dressed warmly for bus ride home, trying to not fall asleep
The Cambridge News reported that Greene King plans to close four pubs that no longer fit into its business plan. I’ve been to two of these, The Zebra and the Penny Ferry, and liked what I saw. I decided to try to get to the other two this week after work and made it to the Bird In The Hand last night.
It was just after 5 pm when I left work and I came upon this Newmarket Road pub 5:10 before any other customers, it seems. They only had IPA on hand pump but the small bar was well fitted for just about anything you might want to slide down your throat. I spoke with the bartender about the potential for closure and he seemed unconcerned about Greene King’s plans, just pointing out that the building was for sale and that I’d be more than welcome to make an offer. It seems that I would only need to make a deposit and it wouldn’t have to be a big one.
I have the feeling that these business plan arguments by Greene King are some sort of code. The Zebra seems to do a hopping business, but caters to a young population involved in punk and ska; the Penny Ferry is in a fantastic location but the landlord opted to close the riverside joint whilst no one was really using the river. What could be the angle on the Bird in the Hand, I wondered as I looked around and noticed that an aging drag queen (or maybe transexual is more appropriate, but the operative–or post operative as it were–word would still be “old”) had entered and was getting the regular, a pint of Fosters. Maybe that was it, or the big jar of free condoms, or the rainbow flag with the Judy Garland poster above it, or the way I was moved to innuendo throughout the second paragraph…hang on! This is a gay bar. Tsk, tsk, Greene King.
The recession can’t be all THAT bad if this is a viable business:
Yep, that’s http://www.newmarkethathire.co.uk/ for all your hat rental needs in the Suffolk-Cambridgeshire corridor.
That’s right, you heard me. Been to the pet store:
Appended below (23 March 2009):
Original post, 25 Feb 2009:
I walked about the neighborhood near work looking for a lunch place the last Tuesday in January and saw a sign out for steak and chips £4.95. Popped into the Globe Ale House to find that this is the Monday special, so had a pint of Black Sheep Bitter and a plate of Fish and Chips instead. Delicious, but I saw the Steak and Chips (and green peas) and it would’ve been a great deal at the regular £9.95.
Small pub and a bit of a dive, but it has a beer garden and appears to have an upstairs. The large window in front of me aimed at the street where the foot traffic was varied and interesting. It’s at 21 Hills Road, Cambridge if you plan to visit.
23 March 2009:
Really was looking forward to the Monday steak special which has since turned into the Monday 1/2 a roast chicken special (the last serving of which was delivered to the table to my right as I walked in). Got the steak at full price (6.95), anyway, and an ale that seemed a bit foul but I don’t remember the name of. Tough steak, but cooked nicely with peas, a salad, chips and onion rings. Good value, but wouldn’t go out of my way a second time.
Finally bought a bike, a dutch bike but I still haven’t had a chance to go to Holland to do it (been very busy). Instead, I went to the Bike Man on Abbey Walk near Newmarket Road, this repair shop piled with police-recovered bicycles. They repair these and give you a good price and a 6 month warranty and will buy them back less depreciation (so if you are on a short stay, it makes a cheap rental).
On the way, I got lost in a neighbourhood nearby and spotted this cool old bakery:
My bike is a Gazelle, built in 1968 or 1969. I pieced that together based on the drum brake on the front and the 3-speed hub that was of a design they only produced those two years. Word is that this fantastic design was also fantastically expensive to produce and that the dutch, while appreciating fine workmanship, also appreciate cost-to-return analysis and that there just wasn’t enough improvement to justify the extra guilders. I’m thrilled to find it.
Front drum brake
40 year old 3 speed hub
From the Bike Man, I rode out to the west side of the River Cam and worked my way north. Along the way I found two WWII bunkers protecting who-knows-what…there are no utilities crossing the river there, and the only nearby structure I saw was a river lock upstream a ways. Maybe it is just a frontline to Cambridge or watching over the rail lines there. Dunno.
The trail becomes more suited to foot traffic, and barely even that, at the Bridge Pub. I stopped in for a pint (of course) after photographing the milieu. More on the pub, later.
The ride into Waterbeach rail station was short but it was getting nippy and pretty windy. I pressed on through Landbeach then out Cottenham Road to, surprise, Cottenham. This was toil with the wind kicking up to 35 mph (55 kph) but my trusty Gazelle made the ride fun. Lots of debris on the road…beer cans and McDonalds wrappers and shit.
Thought I was lost in Cottenham and stopped at the WWI memorial to consult my map, an Ordnance Survey that covered a range that started a few miles north of where I was standing so it was useless to me. Fortunately, there was a pub (The Chequers) right there and I could hear Pink Floyd blaring out of it, “Wish You Were Hear;” a good omen. More on The Chequers experience shortly, but they directed me to Wilburton and home.
Light drizzle had started before I was out of Cottenham, passing the church with the vaguely eastern/onion dome ramparts. Nicer weather and I’ll do this trip again.
Walked up to The Bike Man on Abbey Walk near Newmarket Road to investigate a nice used bike. Kind of a crappy neighbourhood in there, and as I left I wandered into a crappy neighbourhood pub.
The place was hopping and the entertainment was provided by the little baldish guy in trainers to the right end of the bar in this photo:
He was demonstrating how well he had memorized the repertoire of Bernard Manning and, perhaps, Henny Youngman as he spouted tired old comedy routines loudly and with great confidence. The scene looked like it could turn ugly with a well placed and smarmy (not to mention, original) comment, so I held my toungue and enjoyed my steak and onion crisps and IPA.
By the time I had taken the photo, the group on the left had gotten settled; they were made up of some grandparents, a mom, and a son and daughter who apparently had not seen each other in awhile and dashed off behind the expletive spewing funnyman. Alas, I had things to do and limited myself to one.
My right foot started to cramp as I trotted into Wilburton and I used this as an excuse to stop in the King’s Head which, like the Cherry Tree in Haddenham, has lunchtime hours then is open again after 6 pm. Another very nice bar that appears to have a proper kitchen. The locals at the bar, one with a gigantic Alsatian, and the landlord didn’t seem to know what to make of the limping, sweaty American asking for a Thwaite’s, and kept up their conversation about Cameron’s dead baby and eyeing me suspiciously. I was in a hurry to hit the road, so after quaffing half the glass I hit the loo to make my escape a clean one.
The building looks like an old converted farm house but the inside is really lovely, all rich red woods and polished brass and tables ready for diners and drinkers. The doors remind me of our house doors down to the archaic latches. I don’t get the impression they see a lot of strangers.
I came back in to finish my glass, greeted the gigantic puppy, and said thanks. As I was refitting my headlamp, the publican asked where I was cycling to and I replied, “Running. Gotta get to Stretham and cook supper. Till next time….” They directed me out a hidden side door, “Running to Stretham? My word. This will save you a few yards, at least.” That, more than anything, recommends this pub for a return trip: they speak in Imperial units, not metric.
Daylight is lasting later and I was home early enough to catch the end of it at the start of my run. I carried my trusty new head lamp as I knew it would be dark before reaching Wilburton two miles into it. The temperature dropped fast with the sun, and it was slightly misty before I got to Duck Lane in Haddenham.
The target was the Cherry Tree Inn and it emerged about 1/2 mile off the A1123 on my left. I opened the outer door and then the inner one and there was no one to be seen but a huge, really fat black labrador retriever came bounding ’round the corner, barking viciously. After about 30 seconds of this the landlady appeared behind the bar from somewhere in the depths and I felt comfortable to come on in and get a London’s Pride. The dog was harmless.
I was the first in, as they only open in the morning till 2 pm then again at 6 (and it was only now 6.05). “Are you out for a run, then?” “Yes, and I’ve worked up quite a thirst, thank you.” Remarking on my sweaty clothing and the steamed glasses I was trying to clean, “yes, you seemed to have come in over heated.” “Umm, yup, but it’s not so much the heat as the humidity.” I don’t think she found this funny or maybe my delivery made her think I didn’t mean it to be funny, but she turned up the volume on the news to hear about the death of David Cameron’s son.
Very sharp pub on the inside, I’d like to hit it for lunch some Saturday or figure out when it is really packed.
Clarendon Arms, down Victoria Street about a block and a half from the bus depot, is tended by a strange, skinny Viet Namese lady and the bar is propped up by guys in their fifties with unintelligible accents. It is smaller inside than it appears from without, but they seem to have a kitchen running and there are frightening sandwiches out on the bar for purchase. It was adequate to wait for the next bus and to watch the snow roll in again on the 12th of February.
There, that seems to have caught me up on the pub sketches to date. Will try not to get behind again.
Update 5 January 2010: This was one of the first pubs I visited in Cambridge and I just came across an article about their award winning loos: Pub flushed with success over award
The Regal, at 38 St. Andrews Street, Cambridge is part of the Lloyd’s #1 Bar chain but it is very nice. Large, but with great nooks with comfortable leather couches spread about. The draw for me was the £4.90 burger, chips and a beer special and while the burger was a bit dry it was tasty. It did have sort of a chain-pub atmosphere, but an incredible selection of beers awaits you.
Next door–or, rather, upstairs–there’s a cinema that has it’s own pub. Have yet to attend a movie, but when we do it will be nice to grab a couple glasses of wine during the show.
Not even nearly caught up with the Pub notes. I’ll keep plugging away…
Friday, I got to work extra early and skipped lunch so was famished on the way to do shopping for supper before catching the 4.10 pm bus to Stretham. I found the Sainsbury’s grocery store up Sidney Street, but thought I could do with a plate of chips to keep up the strength. And, a pint of Abbot wouldn’t hurt, either.
I got both at the Baron of Beef just past the Cambridge Union. I must admit that in my state of starvation induced delusion I thought for a minute I was heading into a gay strip bar but let me assure you there was no Baring of Beef, here.
Instead, it was almost like one of those American theme pubs where the theme is English Pub and they get it entirely wrong. The decor was very Steak and Ale, while the staff was very TGIFriday’s if TGIFriday’s hired every woman ever found on a Polish shipping vessel. The script was meant for them to seem very nice, but the delivery lacked the insincerity you come to expect in the American versions; I would recommend this place after the lunch rush and before the dinner rush if you really want a good laugh.
The beer was good, the chips hot and plump. It was not expensive. I would be willing to try a burger here, eventually.