Archive for the ‘residence’ Category
Warmest regards to Fatty from Tucson for spotting this beer label (if anyone knows where to get Fat Tire in Swindon or Oxford please get in touch)
It has been a good run — one of nearly 6 years, nearly 1300 different pubs, a few marathons and a bunch of halves (and shorter races), good entertainment, fulfilling work, and a couple of laughs. But, it is over … at this address, anyway: I’ll continue on in much the same vein at the Endless British Pub Crawl (continues) but this site will just be an archive for the first 1292 pubs and memorial to itself and a lot of ill-advised fun that went into gathering the material herein.
I want to do a retrospective of this blog’s 6 years but it deserves better than what you have before you. Them’s the breaks…here it is in tedious detail.
In 2177 days, there have been 2537 posts. Of those, 1292 were specifically for 1st time pub visits, 367 were for last year’s Daily Tipple (with added Haiku), 210 have been for the Chippy Challenge and the Kebab Challenge, and 169 were for the 2012 Yellow Beer Challenge. The remaining 499 involved running, mocking the serious beliefs of others, laughing at the weak, bitching and moaning about one thing or another, obituaries, and other things that serve to strengthen my bona fides of Britishness. According to WordPress, these pages have been visited just over 350,000 times…get a life, losers.
Most frequent pub names so far (and how many of each):
43 Red Lions
19 (tie) Bells, White Harts
14 (tie) Black Horses, King’s Arms, Queen’s Heads
13 (tie) Rose and Crowns, Swans, White Horses
Best names: Five Mile From Anywhere No-Hurry Inn, Far From The Madding Crowd, Cafe Rene, Sally Pussey’s Inn, The Bee’s In The Wall, The Roaring Donkey, Who’d A Thought It
Fuck that place: The Angerstein Hotel, The Woodman Inn, The Black Horse
Personal favourite pub write ups: The Chequers in Cottenham, hangover after a night in the King’s Arms in Ely, handing the puzzle over to the Dog and Duck in Linton (Cambs), the Crown in Penzance (a low-key 25th anniversary), the Glue Pot in Swindon after my first Wildcats Hockey match, the Blackfriar in London (not so much the write up as the architectural details), and the Rose and Crown in Chippenham for the fantastic people watching. Certain there are other decent ones but this list contains the two or three I’m really pleased with.
Other pubs worthy of mention (good or bad):
The Red Lion in Southampton for architecture and Henry V connection
The Hop Inn for the locals’ alternative names
The five Red Lion Run back in 2010
The New Inn, Blists Hill (a historic museum town)
The Goldfinger (accidentally found Ian Fleming’s grave on run to this one)
The Blue Boar, Aldbourne (Dr. Who link)
The Blind Beggar, Whitechapel (Kray Brothers link)
The Red Lion, Aston (a town of ‘tards)
The Brass Monkey, Teignmouth (George W Bush on their sign)
Wernham Hogg’s, Slough (The Office tie-in)
The writing isn’t brilliant but it was never meant to be stunning. I have occasionally stumbled into something I’m happy enough with (to mention here) but never anything I would attach a real name to. Some of those are:
“What a Bunch of Dicks” (September 2011)
“Our Ex-Neighbours” (September 2011, with links to the whole saga)
“Risk Assessment: Proper Use of Bins” (October 2012)
“British Citizenship Exam” (November 2012)
“My Pet Leeches” (September 2013)
“Me and the Queen” (June 2012)
It wasn’t all drinking and knob jokes. Occasionally I ran, sometimes quite a lot (although usually whilst stopping regularly for drinks and to tell inappropriate knob jokes). I even race a bit with some of my favourite racing efforts here:
Grunty Fen 1/2 Marathon and general thoughts on the finisher’s medal (September 2009)
Snowdonia Marathon pub crawl (October 2009)
The River Run — Cantabrigiensis HHH (October 2009)
New Year’s Eve 10K Little Downham (January 2010)
Historical notes on the 30 Pack Marathon (April 2010)
Thame 10K and morning chunders (June 2010)
Florence Marathon (December 2010)
Bupa 10K plus bailout for the London Hash (May 2011)
Run For Heroes 5K or thereabouts (August 2011)
Chippenham Half with a sponsored pub stop (September 2011)
Swindon Half whilst hitting every pub within 1/2 mile (October 2011)
Cricklade Half + 8 mile warm-up (October 2011)
London Marathon pub crawl (April 2012)
Great British Beerathon Like the 30-Pack only smaller and including food (August 2012)
Great Bustard 5 or getting there’s half the fun (July 2013)
Beat the Bore at Night (September 2013)
Malmesbury Carnival 10K done twice to hit some pubs after (August 2014)
Isle of Wight Marathon pub crawl (October 2014)
11:58 My big head notwithstanding, this is the Joe Strummer Subway
In fact, I started the blog for people in the States that already knew about my running idiosyncrasies (i.e., running to get to a bar, drinking heavily there or at one or more other bars, then running home). So, for them the “racing” entries are no surprise nor are some of the other efforts, which I enjoy as much or more. These three Birthday runs are typical:
I also used to ‘hash’ before I found the one true way; my life as a hasher came long after I started drink-running (and drug-running, for that matter) and that it has become just a passing fad baffles some of those folk although I still encourage hash virgins to go to a hash as a kick start to Hashlam. I would, indeed, encourage all of you to go hashing at some point.
We saw some good shows and bad shows and some shows. I saw Springsteen in the Atlanta Fox Theatre in the 70’s but Jackie never had so we booked a trip to Maastricht to fix that…and it was awesome. We causght Neil Young in Hyde Park and Paul Simon there as well another year. Two of the best shows were Lloyd Cole in Stroud and George Thorogood in Cambridge, and you can’t go wrong with the BeatHoles.
No trip to Wales is complete without a ride down this highway. (November 2009)
Find out why they refer to Oxford as the City of Dreaming Spires. (September 2010)
You can wait for English Heritage or the National Trust, but the loving family fits their own plaques (like this one to Arthur Stanley Eddington). (August 2011)
If you get to Germany, indulge in the local folklore like the Bremen Musicians. (June 2012)
Nothing is more fun than old buses. (June 2014)
Get out on the street furnishing trail, maybe starting with post boxes. (November 2014)
And, to be serious, here are a few ideas for London.
Recipes and food:
A friend that travels in China sent some delectable menu items to look for but I still haven’t found them in any Chinatown restaurants. On the other hand, you can find the most interesting spices in the Caribbean markets, here.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so you shouldn’t shy away from complicated recipes like this one. Or, as an alternative you could start your day with one of these.
There were, of course, a lot of booze recipes, but these are worth the efforts involved and better than the pictures would suggest:
Cassoulet (one of several versions blogged herein)
Finally, no look back wouldn’t include obits. Mostly, I obitted people I don’t know but knew of but on occasion I actually had a relationship with the deceased (Rest in Peace, y’all):
Vic Chesnutt (December 2009)
Bus Job (October 2010)
Andy Holden (whom I did not know but feel a special connection to, January 2014)
This blog (January 2015, which you are reading right now)
There is a Twitter project called “People of Swindon” that gives control of their account to a new local tweeter for one week every week. They were recruiting new voices and I applied as I am going to be mostly anchored in Swindon for the next couple of weeks (burning off residual vacation time before the end-of-month deadline).
Yeah, we want people from Swindon to talk up the town…just not YOU.
By way of a vetting process, they must have read my Twitter account or this blog because they never even bothered to reply to my email, despite giving some previous “[name] of Swindon” tweeters a second go.
No matter…for those of you that enjoy Twitter (and who doesn’t?), I shall do the job in spite of their misgivings starting when I leave work Friday (12 September 2014). Do tune in.
Looking back, Year 5 was busier than I remember but not especially productive. Work is about where I left it at the Year 4 post but there has been no slippage, so that’s good. This post, however, is just another annual consolidation of random ‘highlights,’ for lack of a more appropriate term. The photos here are mostly leftovers from graffiti, sidewalk pies, or bits around the neighbourhood or work.
New Morrison’s (white frame) and cinema/restaurant complex (grey) at bottom of Prospect Hill 100m from the house in the new retail development.
I cleared some of the backlog of old t-shirts out of my pile of rags, but then printed shirts for my imaginary liqueur plant and traded them for others…treading water, zero-sum-game. The liqueurs are NOT fake, though, and quite nice in general.
Pavement pizza project…this one spotted near the Roaring Donkey in Septmenber
We moved house from Ferndale Road to Eastcott area of Old Town and, at the bottom of the hill the construction effort has been trundling along well enough. Our locals, the Beehive and the Castle, seem healthy although the Prince of Wales re-opened and closed during the course of the year.
It was a slack year for running despite projects to keep it interesting, like the Swindon Orienteering Challenge and my own efforts to hit every path in Old Town. Including several races and [of course] more of the pub crawl — often during the races — I managed about 1860 miles, down from a more typical 2000 to 2200…but I’m old and creaky. And, creepy. The pub count only increased by 134 but we spent a lot more time in some fine ones we visited previously.
Travel was entirely in England this year but we managed to make the Isle of Wight and I got to see the bustling metropolis that is Hemel Hempstead.
Christmas and New Year were low-key affairs and what you might otherwise expect. We tried very hard to develop gout, as usual, and somehow failed. This could be the year!
One project for the calendar year 2013 was the Kebab Challenge, a variation on the Burger Challenge and that led me to eschew kebabs for a while in favour of fish and chips. As the residence year overlaps the calendar year, I should mention that I have also started another project that involves a different adult beverage each day with a daily caption in the form of a haiku (something I did for a couple of months in Year 1).
So, there you have it. Year 6 begins.
…is that every so often the NHS pays a fit, younger woman with a stethoscope to order me to get naked prior to her pushing her latex-clad, lubricated fingers up my bum. God bless Aneurin Bevan!
Okay, this is NOT my GP (but I can imagine it while the exam is going on)
Along with postboxes, a new obsession is what school kids hear are taught to call “street furniture.” These include the bits of signage that direct emergency workers to, amongst other things, service valves and fire hydrants (such as the marker in this article). Most hydrant markers you see are labeled with the pipe size in millimeters above the line and the distance in meters below; There are a few still around with Imperial measures (unless fires are to be put out with a 3mm water service located 22 meters away–enormous pressure would be needed!).
So, four years now (or, rather, next week it will be…here’s the annual reports for years Three, Two, and One for historical perspective).
We just received our new visas valid until 2016 but plan to take the next step toward citizenship in a year, Indefinite Leave to Remain…sort of the British Green Card. There is an exam, first, but in general it is all downhill from here.
The view from Western Street near the new house…also all downhill
Additionally, we are in the process of moving house (which is why I rushed the annual report a week forward) from just north of the Oasis over to Old Town to a house situated close walks to either the Beehive or the Castle or the Globe (recently reopened!)—three locals instead of one and all three of high quality—and dozens of others a short walk. The new house has three bedrooms each larger than its counterpart in the old house, the two receptions are larger and made into more of an open-plan configuration, the bath is larger and has a tub (not just a shower), and there is a finished basement; on the down side, the kitchen is a little narrower and more primitive as is the small garden but everything we do and everywhere we normally go in Swindon (save for the butcher) is so close.
The only races I did this past year were the London Marathon (5 pubs plus a can of Carling on the last mile) and the Beerathon (5 miles with a pint and a hefty food item between each) and the mileage run for the year suffered from this lack of focus—1950 give or take about 25 (most estimates pretty good using gmap-pedometer), while the last several years (except for the year of the wreck) were in the 2200-2500 range.
On the runs, I visited 255 new pubs with a stunning 67 new ones (steep part of the graph) in September when I took two weeks off work and ran at least 10 miles per day in new territory each day. The 1000th wasn’t as big a thrill as I thought it would be, but I saw some really nice places and met some really fine folk. The September holiday found me visiting Gloucester, South Wales, Slough (exotic, I know) and Exeter along with some nearer-to-Swindon trips. The 100 Yellow Beer Challenge was responsible for a lot of second visits to pubs I might not otherwise have gone to after an initial stop and many of these seemed better the second time around. Oh, and my Workingman’s Club appears to have failed or at least hasn’t been open the last several times I’ve popped by (I have a grand one scoped out for the new neighbourhood, though).
Best pubs in Year Four (reverse order by First Visit write-up):
The Southgate Inn, Devizes
The Hop Inn, Swindon
Dicey Reilly’s, Teignmouth
The Brass Monkey, Teignmouth
One Eyed Jack’s, Gloucester
Ye Olde Red Lion, Tredegar
The Rose of Denmark, Woolwich
The Volunteer Rifleman’s Arms
The Green Dragon, Marlborough
The British Lion, Devizes
The Blue Boar, Alsbourne (for the Dr. Who connections)
British Citizenship Exam Prep
Assize Court, Bristol
Paul Simon in Hyde Park
The Bremen Musicians (German children’s story)
Sex Tourism in Wiltshire
Modern Algebra for Omid
Burns’ Day Lunch
There are others search for ‘made me laugh.’ The blog may or may not have made some of the over 100,000 visitors laugh, but the damn fools keep checking in (that’s you, that is).
My initial work visa for the UK.
I just turned in my Visa application and documents for our last year before I become eligible for what is known as Permanent Residency in the States and Indefinite Leave to Remain here This is my first big step toward citizenship, and involves a test of my knowledge of British Culture (some of which is reproduced here).
Note: I haven’t actually started revising for the test.
Also, answer “b” is always chosen by an American, or a foreigner more suited to America. It’s “B” for Bugger Off.
Answer “a” is always correct but “c” or “d,” when they appear, are always acceptable.
a) 20 Imperial ounces (18.2 US ounces)
b) 16 US ounces
c) not enough, matey, not enough
a) verb, defend oneself OR to attack someone (generally at drinking up time)
b) noun, vitrified sand
c) smallest acceptable unit of whiskey for a man
a) adjective, drunk…badly drunk, y’know, like every weekend
b) verb, past tense, urinated
a) equivalent to shrieking, “YOU FUCKING PILE OF STEAMING SHITE HOW DARE YOU FORCE ME TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EXISTENCE.” But quietly and reflexively and it really doesn’t mean ANYTHING most of the time.
b) a notification to the recipient that you are culpable and remorseful for an action you are responsible for
6. Your town is ___________.
a) “a bit shit, really.”
b) “the best town in the WORLD!”
c) “Are you looking for a slap, mate?”
d) a & c
I never got a photo of it, but for a few weeks I drove past a sign that said “Welcome to Luton” which was defaced with spray painted grafitti saying “…you can’t polish a turd”
7. As someone approaches they say, “alright?” You respond:
b) “Yes, I’m fine thanks, how are you?”
8. It’s bleak ________.
a) up North
b) down South
c) on Albert Square
[This one actually happened in front of me and, yes, the correct answers are a & c.]
9. An old man is knocked off his bike by a lorrie in Olney. You offer _______.
a) a cup of tea
c) a large brandy
[This one involves actual top two answers from a poll of Brits.]
10. Aliens land from outer space. You ________.
a) offer to put the kettle on
b) alert the authorities, or fight the things, or run for cover abandoning family, friends and colleagues
c) ask, “alright?”
11. Walking on the pavement [sidewalk], you find yourself on a trajectory that will crash into an oncoming pedestrian. He clocks this and moves to the other side of the pavement to avoid confrontation. You respond by _____________.
a) readjusting your trajectory to crash into this sad bastard…fuck ‘im. Nance.
b) smiling and acknowledging their courtesy
c) a AND only using peripheral vision to navigate, thus gaining plausible deniability that this was intentional (see VOCABULARY question on “Sorry”)
12. Do you know who Vicky Pollard is?
a) yeahr but no but, yeahr but no but, yeahr but no but, yeahr but no but….
Update 2015-06-05: Here’s what eventually happened: https://drunkenbunny.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/indefinite-leave-to-remain/