Archive for the ‘Swindon’ Tag
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 26th entry for the 2013 Challenge]
Eleven miles into the Saturday morning run I suddenly came over a bit peckish but was blessedly near Sammy’s Kebab on Cricklade Road.
The meat was almost crisp at the edges and while a bit salty it was also definitely a lamb based product and very flavourful. The veg was better than my photo near the vandalised phone booth would have you believe, and the chilli sauce was thick and spicy and divine. Only a 50 meter stumble from the Moonrakers and worth the effort (although I had to finish the trail and get home).
Something strange caught my eye as I cut through a car park on my way to work the other morning. After the double yellow line fiasco, you would think the traffic planners would have seen this coming (zoom in on the above):
It was burger night and I was walking to the store for some wine and didn’t want a social drink along the way. I made the right choice by diverting into the Spot for an overpriced Peroni and steaming plate of attitude from the hair-gelled ‘tender. The place specialises in juvenile drinks (shooters and items that involve energy drinks or sweetened, carbonated beverages) so it is unlikely I’ll make this mistake again. On the other hand, I’m sure it’s a good place, close to closing time, to get laid or have a fight (or both); bring your roofies, fellow creepy old guys.
This has been a fun way to explore the town but I’m glad it reached its conclusion, with the other runs here:
Runs 1 and 2
Run number 3
Runs 4 and 5
My dance card for the Swindon Rounds Orienteering Challenge is nearly complete, so much so that you can guess the final markers although a Swindon Borough Council “Travel Choices” employee answered my query about some of the absences I discovered by saying I should just write “MISSING” in the slots where the markers have gone walkabout. I’m sure some of these are the results of infrastructure updates, but she seemed certain there has been some vandalism-by-theft. If so, it would have been more imaginative to pull a “wartime resistance action” by putting up homemade markers with the wrong letters or, better, something like this batch of 30:
I only wish I had thought of this BEFORE starting the rounds….
The southwest quadrant had one marker (19 J) remaining and I needed to pick up some groceries and so I hopped off the bus out the Wootton Bassett Road and found this one a mile away on a busy bike trail before doubling back to the rail trail into Old Town. This was a very pleasant jog despite the swarms of gnats every 100 meters or so:
Next day, I bailed from the bus home at Greenbridge Roundabout for run #7 to pick up the last of the southeast quadrant markers while trying hard to find the missing 9 and 30 signs along the way but I can now confirm that there are no traces of the old markers within 100 meters in any direction of the mapped locations. Moreover, the lamp posts at the site of #29 are relatively new and this marker was probably hauled away with the old equipment. Shit, that’s four missing so far with only seven more to chase.
Run #8 took in a bit of the suburban northwest part of Swindon which is full of parks and bike paths and yobs. Also, as you see above, geese (a gosling was being protected by a group of birds just out of frame to the left).
It was cold (6°C, 42°F) with sustained winds of 25 mph and gusts to 40 (but at least it was also raining). I searched all over for marker 17 G and passed it at least once. The next one, 27 AA, was much easier to find and I took its lettering as a hint to head toward home and find some alcohol.
The final run, run #9, continued on to Purton Stoke for a pint at the Bell Inn and then to Cricklade for a disappointing kebab at Sammy’s. First, though, there were a number of markers remaining but that were unusually easy to find (for a change). Near St Mary’s, I picked up 13V and down the bottom of the hills beyond Thames Drive I found 15Z in the sun of this splendid day.
The suburban hellscape of northwest Swindon yielded the final two, 14K and 16R, and I was free to trot on to my beery reward:
The completed grid:
H, Q, AC, and AD are the ‘Missing’ markers and I infer that 29 and 30 are AC and AD, respectively. If this is correct, you have a 50% shot at nailing down 6 and 9 as H or Q (although the authorities in charge have already stated that they will accept that the missing markers actually are missing if you annotate your form thus). You can get the form at
. Let me know what the prize is and I’ll post it here soon thereafter.
Friday and Saturday yielded two more little runs in the Orienteering Challenge with the other runs here:
Runs 1 and 2
Run number 3
Runs 6 through 9 (finish).
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 other runs are here:
Runs 1 and 2
Runs 4 and 5
Runs 6 through 9 (finish)
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).
The subsequent runs are here:
Run number 3
Runs 4 and 5
Runs 6 through 9 (finish)
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!“
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 it turned up in the local newspaper, I recognised the alley as one of my regular cut-throughs on runs in the neighbourhood. Later that same day it turned up on the BBC nightly News so the next morning I decided to go back for my own document of the boondoggle.
Double yellow lines limit parking from the center of the street to the kerb (curb) on the side of the street they are painted; you can stop to load/unload but otherwise the space must be left clear for emergency vehicles. So, when a fire engine needs to get through the area above…see what everyone is on about?
My own photo really adds nothing to the debate and only serves to show that I need a few more sit-ups and lot less alcohol on a weekly basis (the gut alone would block an ambulance’s passage). Here’s the same photo with two vehicles illegally parked, scaled to the alleyway’s dimensions:
Everyone wants a picture of this alley, now. While there setting up my own camera two different citizens with SLRs popped up at the wide end and another at the narrow bit. I posed with my arms partly stretched to the walls for one of the photographers.
While not a big fan of comic books*, I have really enjoyed the TV version of The Walking Dead although most of the pleasure comes from its setting (and location shooting) in the hinterlands where I spent the bulk of my youth between Griffin, Newnan, and Atlanta, Georgia. I can assure you that there have always been savage, unthinking monsters threatening the safety of the general public there and the depictions are as much horror show as they are like a family reunion. Very pleasant except for the occasional moments of terror.
So, the publication of Black Charity, a “graphic novel” [comic book] set in Swindon (my new home town) is greeted with some measure of excitement. I haven’t read it, but probably shall do. Thumbing through to find the drawings of dungeon scenes at the dominatrix’ flat some local landmarks featured in this blog have sprung to light including my local just down the Western Street hill, the Beehive, and another pub over in Wanborough, the Harrow.
Black Charity by Bal Speer, an art lecturer at the local college, is available at your local book store (don’t give those fuckers at Amazon any money).
*As a kid, I tried to read comics but couldn’t really buy the story lines and generally stuck with the satirical periodicals. Mad Magazine got me through my early years although I had to have most of the superhero references explained to me. As I grew, I moved on to National Lampoon and then, in my teens made the leap to adult satire by reading the New York Times. Now I get most of my news and humour from the fortnightly delivery of Private Eye.
The long winter that started in November 2011 may finally be over as the leaves on trees begin to reappear. We finally got to do some straightening of the garden this weekend by burning the trimmings I cut from our tree in between some of the snow days in February. Also, I was finally able to put our surviving cuttings from last year out to get some sun (I hope it isn’t too much of a shock).
When we decided to move house at the end of this past lease we realised we would probably be shifting back to container gardening. Jackie wanted some butterfly bush (that’s what Southerners call buddleia back home) which grows wild along every roadside, while I was interested in trying out some bonsai plants. I figured our non-green thumbs would have the least chance of killing our newest plants if I got some cuttings from plants that have already proven themselves robust. Eventually, I settled on snips growing from the wall of the railway bridge over Corporation Street between Station Road and Great Western Way:
A light dusting with rooting hormone and transport home in wet paper towels before transfer into soil and covering with clear plastic bags followed. Two weeks later when I removed the tents, the first new leaf buds greeted me (a good sign).
There’s still a couple of leaves on one of the thorn trees and the buddleia is looking good. Hopefully there will be more to report next month:
If they survived the winter, they should survive anything….
I noticed them before we moved house in January, the thick flocks of birds flying their synchronized and psychedelic patterns in the dusk sky. I thought it was neat, but apparently it is also unusual for it to last so long or with such large aggregations of birds. The Beeb (and other news distributors) have taken notice and their stories are worth a look for photos of the beautiful aerobatic patterns. I noticed patterns, too, on my way to the butcher:
Inspired by (linked to the London map):
Stretham (2009) gets auto-corrected to the London neighbourhood of Streatham. If you defer to it as “Ely is” then it get’s changed to Eli.
Further back, we have 2006-2009:
Good question. Answer here.
During coffee and the Sunday paper, the sun appeared (don’t worry, it is still castratingly cold) and one of the urban foxes in the buurt found a sliver of daylight in our back garden.
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 15th entry for the 2013 Challenge]
The photoshopped text is an old, Beavis and Butthead style bit of silliness I do every time I see this dealership but can’t help myself (very immature). The kebab was picked up at Caner’s Kebab stand down a road resembling an auto salvage yard just behind Dick Lovett and was quite a find.
I am nursing an inflamed iliotibial (IT) band and off running for a week or two and decided to find a few trails on my other project, covering Every Trail in Old Town when I spotted this little treasure…friendly staff, cheap, and some of the tastiest döner yet. It especially benefits from getting thrown on a hot griddle from the steam table thus carbonizing a portion of the sliced meat. I would score it down for the appearance of the chilli sauce but it was actually fantastic. Love it.
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 14th entry for the 2013 Challenge]
It was pissing down rain when I returned from Hungerford, starving due to my choice of last minute snack out there. The #6 was waiting at the station when my bus pulled in so I transferred and hopped off on Cricklade Road in front of the Gorsehill Grill.
This was a good call. The chips were crisp and fluffy inside and hot enough to keep the kebab warm for my damp walk back to Old Town. The chilli sauce was better than you normally get (not sweet but still thick and spicy), the meat tasted like it was from an animal source or sources, and the veg was fresh and properly apportioned. Well done.
[Originally, this project was described here, and you can see the most recent prior Update (2) here.]
24 Feb 2013, Guilt Run: Spent the day straightening up the basement which, more than it should have, entailed drinking whisky until it was gone and then eating pizza washed down with copious quantities of wine. As penance, I covered another bit of the map; much of it was through very modern and/or wealthy neighbourhoods without character but found what appears to be an old pub or hotel (from the ceramic plaque/tile on the former corner door) with a George V era post box out front. Also, there is a laundrette which will come in handy when the upholstery becomes too soiled to bear:
28 February 2013 Nothing really planned on this run except to knock out some of the alleyways on my warm-up jog to the gym. And, not that much achieved, either:
Followed it up with a walk to and then on from the Glue Pot (cider steels my nerves for a walk past the Bumming Park). Jackie was working till 9 so I made the trip to walk her home:
02 March 2013 We left early to check out this used furniture store that is going out of business only to find they are only open Tuesday, Wednesday, and usually Saturday (but not today). With extra time we went in search of graffiti and found some decent murals and a park with an area once dedicated to wall art (now just covered in tags):
07 March 2013: My body temperature tends to be a bit low (35.8-36°C) and I never really concern myself too much when it comes up to human normal of 37°C. Monday, I was aching all over from what I thought was overdoing the Sunday run; around 8pm I started shivering violently and took to bed with 39.5°C (103.1°F). It has been hovering in the 38-39°C range ever since but spiked again yesterday at work…this is a bit of the path I took home after stopping in Boots the Chemist for decongestants and analgesics:
Graffito where the alleyway crosses the south end of Stanier Street
13 March 2013: After a week of illness the infection has abated a bit and moved down to my lungs so I decided to try the cold air cure on it.
It feels good to be back at it…maybe the next update will cover a much bigger portion of the remaining trails.
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 13th entry for the 2013 Challenge]
The staff at King’s Best Barbeque (the oldest kebab place in Swindon) take a lot of pride in the kitchen and will let you tour the place. A while back (before the whole horse meat scandal) they volunteered to have samples of their wares sent off for DNA testing; the döner came back >95% lamb which is especially impressive as most döner won’t come back as 95% ANY animal or mixture thereof. And, it is good: not at all salty, the pickled cabbage alone is worth the price, the other veg is grand, and the meat is worthy of their pride. And, the chilli sauce is fresh, homemade, and hot enough to make them warn you about it (but not hot enough that someone with American ideas of spicy food need worry about it). Awesome.