One year in Britain   6 comments

One year ago today we arrived at Heathrow with two kitties, about two weeks worth of clothing, a highly skilled migrant work permit, and a lease on a farm house built in the Fens at about the same time as the first English debtors were being dumped off in the malarial swamps that would become Savannah, Georgia. It was raining torrentially and we were going to have to negotiate a hundred miles of heavy traffic driving on the wrong side of the road in the dark.

We settled in fairly well, and now a year into the stay I am waiting for a new work permit for a change of job and looking for another house somewhere close to Oxford.  We are down to one kitty (the dumb one).  We have the same accent as ever and we haven’t succumbed to spelling center as ‘centre,’ yet; but, we have learned to put extra u’s into things like neighbour and colour…baby steps.

In the past twelve months I had a mission to see a bit of the countryside by running and to learn a bit about the culture in the only way I know how: talking bollocks in bars.  These two projects are inherently linked (I usually have a pub stop along the way in the midst of long runs, sometimes several stops), but I keep up with the progress of each as if they were entirely separate endeavours.

Pubs…

the Queen Victoria from Eastenders, the BBC soap opera, which I would dearly love to visit for a Christmas drink one year

I have had a pint in or (if out of business) a can of beer outside of 290 different pubs in 365 days.  There was a peak in the rate of pub visitation in the summer as I had later sunlight to run by.  The number pubs remaining in the area that I would consider “new” has also dwindled so lately I find a new one every week or so.  Most often, though, I visit the Red Lion in Stretham because the bar is a mere 50 steps from my front door; in Ely, I tend to favour the Town House and my favourite pub of all off the list is the Blue Ball in Grantchester.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pub numbers for the past year, by county:
Cambridgeshire — 209
London — 17
Oxfordshire — 16
Suffolk — 14
Essex — 10
Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk — 4 each
Bedfordshire, Caernarfon — 3 each
Lincolnshire — 2
Clwyd, Gwynedd, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire — 1 each

The most common pub names I have hit so far have been:
The Red Lion (8 pubs)
The White Horse (6 pubs)
The Chequers, The Crown, The Plough, The Queen’s Head (5 pubs each)

The Run Across Britain…

[Note:  Second year update at this link.]

My plan at the beginning of 2009 was to run 2009 miles (nothing compared to Brownie’s 3000+ last year, but that boy ain’t right).  I was coming off the triple century over Christmas–100 beers + 100 miles in 100 hours–and almost 2000 miles in 2008 before you count hashing (ie, Hash House Harrier events, in which I also had the 30 Pack Marathon, a couple of Ultra-Hashes I hared, over 100 hashes I either ran or hared); the mileage shouldn’t be a problem with all the new territory to see.  Plus I expect to do more hashing than the pitiful 10 runs I went to this year now that I will have better transport options.

However, I had a nagging pain in my foot from as far back as October 2008 and it became unbearable on the uneven farm trails I was now engaging.  Diagnosis: stress fracture; prognosis: immoblise the foot for two months.  I lost some of February and April and all of March to a fibreglass reinforced footbrace.  My 2009 mileage suffered as a result, but I managed to log 1545 miles in spite of it all with 570 of those on new ground.

The new mileage is the important bit for the Run Across Britain effort.  A year ago, the only place I had run on Her Majesty’s realm had been in Bermuda in 1999 (where we thought it would be the best possible place we could afford to get stuck if the Millenium Bug had actually happened) and these wee trails in Edinburgh on an interview trip in 2001:


The main bits have been on public trails and rights-of-way in Cambridgeshire and slightly across the membrane into surrounding counties.  I have touched North Sea water at the mouth of the River Ouse in King’s Lynn and on the beach at Hunstanton, but the King’s Lynn run actually connects to other routes done and could be how I connect these trails to the Atlantic sometime later this year:

northern segments of East Anglia...Wisbech, King's Lynn, Hunstanton

central bits of East Anglia runs...Cambridge and Ely the real hubs of this region

and southern East Anglia reaching into Essex and Hertfordshire

Preparing to move to Oxford, we have spent a few days out there with some early morning and even some evening runs done.  Bus and rail transport is much better in the vicinity and I expect the map to fill in nicely in the near future (whilst most assuredly boosting the pub roles, as well):


London is a regular trip for us.  After Chicago and Amsterdam, this has become my favourite city (supplanting New York and Vancouver from the #3 spot).  I have some odd runs planned in the city later this year (including the London Underround, a route that takes you to the edge of the platforms of 42 tube stations whilst covering 26.2 miles, and the London Monopoly run (visiting all the landmarks on the board of the London version of Monopoly); for now, my London runs look like this:


The only remaining bit I have covered this year (aside from a couple of 10K races that were too remote to include on this report but have been included on the master map), was York while on a weekend getaway and the Snowdonia Marathon.  I’m eager to get back to both North Yorkshire and North Wales because the places are so gorgeous and strange:

York

Snowdonia Marathon

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