Archive for the ‘Wiltshire’ Tag
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.
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.
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 bartender got up from a conversation about Chuck Berry being white (Buddy Holly was on the speakers at the time) and rushed over to pour my Taunton Cider, a VERY dry beverage with almost no apple taste or sugar to speak of but a walloping hit of alcohol…cheers.
He had the long and highly manicured fingernails of a professional musician on his right hand and a friendly attitude. The place was packed to be so early but the kids would be leaving soon and it would probably become even nicer.
Out in the smoking area/beer garden the atmosphere was just as friendly albeit a bit quieter…still busy but with no tannoy blaring music (Elvis was Caught in a Trap and Couldn’t Get Out when I exited).
The back is a little less obvious an entrance but you might stumble upon it coming from the Market Square. It is hard to believe I left this one so long before visiting.
The Bell is a pretty venue with a great location for people watching in and out of the bar and fantastic appointments well maintained. However, the three blokes at the end of the bar had to shout to hear one another over the Boy Band/X-Factor/Britain’s Got Talentless Fuckers videos blaring out of the large screen tv.
I had a Weston’s Old Rosie Scrumpy which is sweet and apple-y and good for a warm afternoon. The bellowing/humming/bad R&B mix was relentless, though. Two of the guys left for a smoke and the third started watching the vids and even singing along with them. What has happened to humanity that this is considered acceptable? I am depressed.
A visit to Devizes is always good, though, and if you find yourself in front of this pub considering a pint…the British Lion is about a hundred steps away.
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 New Inn in Chippenham is probably one of the oldest pubs there. It is small and cozy and they had a fire going on this cool spring day. I took in a bit of racing on tele and settled into enjoying my beer with my new best friend, the largest labrador retriever in the world.
Some lads came in and told a sad tale of some 14-year-old that took some bad doping advice by snorting a gram of X followed by some massive dose of MeowMeow. I get the feeling they were going to visit the dealer to adjust his user instructions; as I left, the younger fellow nodded my way and said to the older one, “maybe we shouldn’t have said all that.” I had a bet to place, though, and no time for their amateur dramatics.
There’s something reminiscent of a Tom Waits song about the Brunel on a sunny but still cold early spring afternoon. It is a very comfortable, old , warehouse-like interior with bad service but good beer and populated by old drunks. Very “Fumblin’ With the Blues,” or “Yesterday is Here,” or, for that matter, any alcohol soaked railroad blues. Too bad the piped in music was such pop shite.
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:
I approached the Ludgershall ( pronounced LUH[
d]-grrrr-SHAWL) Castle ruins with about 20 minutes to spare before my bus but my attention was grabbed by the Old Castle working men’s club on my left. Unable to resist, I barged in and dodged the border collie on my way to the bar.
“Is the club for members only?” I asked. ”Not in this economy, mate. What do you fancy?”
I had an ale, but can’t remember which one only that it was something from Ramsbury. The dog was chasing a toy that a variety of the punters threw for him. The full-sized snooker table (about the same dimensions as an Olympic swimming pool) was forlorn as Man United barely hung on to defeat Sunderland (crikey). I could have spent hours here as it was the best (barely) of the three bars in town (ahead of the Queen’s Head and the Crown), but duty called.
When I first scoped out Ludgershall ( pronounced LUH[
d]-grrrr-SHAWL), I heard the live music from up the road but I was on a time constraint and wanted to take in as many venues as possible. Thus I delayed the trip to the Queen’s Head but soon remedied it as I headed toward the Castle grounds. Inside, I negotiated the crowd and got a Flying Scotsman at the bar (the Scotsman is always a good choice with the sort of iodine aftertaste you usually expect in malt whiskey).
The pub was hosting a family day, a sort of town fête with a number of bands, some barbecue, and far too many children. But, the music was decent.
The band on while I was there were the Imposters, a cover band (of course…everyone in England is in a cover band) but a very good one…better than you would expect to open this sort of thing. Still, I had a shirt to dump and had to move on.
In Ludgershall ( pronounced LUH[
d]-grrrr-SHAWL) after my short but hilly run, I found my bus stop and commenced to pub crawl, starting with the Crown at the War Memorial. Ludgershall is almost as much a barracks town as Tidworth is, so I wasn’t to surprised to find this a lager bar (they had John Smith’s and superchilled Guinness, both of which are technically the good stuff but abominations compared to their room-temperature cousins).
The crowd was friendly enough and there was a great boob-shot of someone at a biker rally posted above the Guinness spout, so the teenie-bopper music video channel was made somewhat tolerable. I also appreciated the exposed old timbers in the ceiling (while we’re on exposure). Soon, however, I changed from my Tucson Marathon shirt after a Carling and headed toward the music I heard down the street.
I only knew of one pub in Tidworth, although as it is surrounded by a large military installation there MUST be more, so the Ram was my choice as a stop on the course this time. They had Coors Light and Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch Budweiser, not the Czech stuff) and a load of other lagers so I opted for a Fosters (which was on special according to a banner out front). I was the only patron in this cavernous and dark and eerily quiet early-20th-century structure so it was mine to explore.
With Jackie sick, I was just going to do the minimal run rather than make a whole day of it (the return bus was every two hours). On the short but hilly jog to Ludgershall I spotted this nice but ineffective bit of signage vandalism:
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.