The beer and politics at the Rat’s Castle seemed to settle my stomach a bit and with a bit of mileage beneath my belt I was starting to feel a bit peckish. To my left as I progressed up Hatfield Road I spotted Wong’s Fish and Chips and jogged over to feast. The fish is cooked fresh to order and has a perfect batter. I only ordered cod, not chips, which usually baffles the owners (or that’s how they play it when they charge me for chips as well); here they were so confused by the order that they tried to give me some chips even though I didn’t want them, thinking the fish would be sufficient. It was, and it would have only been diminished by association with the oily starch had I succumbed to temptation.
Archive for the ‘St. Albans’ Tag
It was unusual for me to pass so many fine pubs on a run and not stop in but breakfast was large and sat heavy in my gut and the pint at the Fighting Cocks was still sloshing around. But, the name of this one was compelling…even if they didn’t have ale (which they do), who gives a Rat’s Castle?
The house is cavernous and I joined about a dozen locals all watching the phone tapping hearings (John Yates was on and his contempt for parliament was so obvious that the crowd laughed simultaneous with him–but definitely not ALONG with him). I would not normally have predicted this sort of interest in non-sporting-related current events at a venue in such a neighbourhood, but this has really gripped and, in a way, unified the populace. It was sad to leave after one pint, but I really couldn’t swallow another drop.
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks at the bottom of the hill below the Cathedral in St. Albans purports to be the oldest pub in Britain with a claim to the 8th century AD (I haven’t gotten used to ‘common era’ notation of BCE and CE, yet). However, the foundations of the Old Ferry Boat date to 460 AD, liquor was first sold there in 560 AD and the dates of the most recent rebuilds of the two pubs (Ferry Boat in 1400, Fighters in 1485) still favour the Ferry Boat. It is a bit pricy owing, I would speculate, to its marketing plan as a blatant tourist trap.
Nonetheless, the Fighters is a fine venue with five ale pumps and delightfully heavy architecture. Plus, you just have to like a bar with a framed copy of dogs shooting billiards.
The morning of Jackie’s conference I started reading some papers on structure and function of GABA receptors, membrane proteins in the blood/brain interface that act as ion pumps when insulted by the blood chemistry of, for instance, alcohol consumption. Inspired to think about something besides my aching legs and ready to do a biochemistry experiment related to the topic, I stretched, dropped our luggage at the front desk, and stepped out for a run down a bike trail the used to be the rail bed between Hatfield and St. Albans.
St. Albans is a cathedral city and has quite a nice one just up the hill from the site of the Roman village of Verulamium on the River Ver. Well, I say ‘city’ but the designation ‘city’ is conferred upon a town by monarchical edict and with a cathedral you are almost a shoe in. Ely and St. Albans are cities that are smaller than the ‘towns’ Swindon and Reading. Calling a town a city or vice versa can start a fight. I am not sure what to think, therefore, about the trickle of water that makes up the “River” Ver.
I hit a few pubs on this trip, locations shown below, and three in the course of this run including one (Ye Olde Fighting Cocks) that makes the dubious claim that it is the oldest pub in Britain.
In the past, I have attended an “organ festival” or two. Hey, I grew up in the 70′s. But, I believe St. Albans to be really obsessed with organs (although, mind you, we may be talking about two different things here…but this nicely brings the slideshow back to the opening image):