Archive for the ‘tourism’ 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)
I left the Green Dragon and took a bit of a trundle into the next village on the off-chance the Churchill Arms was opening early (nope), and continued via Little Cheverell to the Owl which, on asking directions from an old guy, I found to be not only closed but converted to a private residence (doh!). Still, it wasn’t yet noon and I had a mile or more to go before reaching the Bell Inn in Great Cheverell and despite the heavier than expected traffic on the roads I had a pleasant little jog up to the hostelry.
As I reached the Bell and the old guy in the photo (above), the church bells pealed. “They must have known you were coming,” he said; “it was a logistical nightmare to arrange it, too,” I replied. He’d been out for a walk, as well, and we talked about my route and the unusual weather and, of course, if the pub was open yet. A woman appeared from the graveyard with a sack full of windfallen greenery; “first the bells, and now they’ve arranged a garland for you,” he suggested. “As it should be, sir, as it should be,” I left them with.
Inside, the publican and his assistant were nutty and nice each in their own way and I decided to sip the Doom Bar slowly and enjoy the show. A few lunchers arrived then a fellow came up to the bar and ordered a glass of wine. “A bottle, surely,” suggested the landlord. “Your hard sell belies flawless logic…go on, then,” returned the punter. I liked this place and its regulars immediately from that point.
I liked it even more after Mr. Noon-Bottle bought me another pint (a “Wiltshire half” was how he put it) and we continued the what-the-fuck-brought-you-to-Swindon conversation for a half hour longer. Very funny fellow, too. I owe him a beer now, but with so many other pubs to hit around here I hope I can make good on that, soon. Maybe a jog that starts later in the day should be scheduled.
Oh, the pub is great and I hear the ribs are absolutely sinful.
There have been days when meeting the 3 mile minimum for the Holiday Run Streak have been daunting (hangovers, bone idleness, actual injuries). Today was a joy, though.
I caught the 9 o’clock to Devizes and headed south into the slimy mud, down one steep ridge and up another and emerging, eventually, in Market Lavington. The timing was actually rubbish, though, as the only pub open before noon is the Green Dragon (no complaints, mind; it was a self-inflicted wound I would have avoided by taking the 10 o’clock bus instead).
9.4 miles out, with a beer break in Market Lavington
5.8 miles back after beer break in Great Cheverell
I thought I could kill a little time by inspecting the pubs on offer for another day and the Churchill in Littleton Panell looked worthy. The Owl in Little Cheverell was turned into a private residence a year or so ago to the dismay of the old fellow I spoke with there and the Bridge downhill from the Churchill got a recommendation from a kind gentleman I met at the Bell in Great Cheverell which I wandered up to just as it opened.
To be honest, the 9.4 miles run up to then had been like forced labour but the longer than planned (and greater fluid volume than planned) stop at the Bell recharged me. Although I thought I had restarted the GPS I arrived back in Devizes with no additional miles. This was easy enough to manually map (5.8 miles) and the voice recorder — which I failed to turn off, as well, upon leaving — showed this last leg to be 40 minutes long. There was a bit of sunshine and mostly good surfaces to run and I made the most of the opportunity…plus, I was afraid the chippy in Devizes would close at 2 and I really hankered for a bit of cod.
Good run, pleasant company, fine ales, and a treat at the end. Not a bad way to start the longest night of the year.
After the E-VIII-R postbox, the Mug House was the other target of my day out in Worcester. 700 years ago, it was the alehouse for the Church of St John Baptist and the church cemetery has, in the interim, expanded around the joint. Today, it was rammed with customers dining and drinking and steaming up the place but I really could have spent weeks in the low ceilinged rooms I explored before escaping to the tables by the graveyard.
The landlady has the letters FBII after her name above the door, an honorary that may not be as prestigious as, say, Fellow of the Royal Society or Fellow of (insert science or engineering society of your choice, here), still serves to endorse the high standards of this busy house. Oh, and if you’re lucky the winner of the 2014 Grand National may join you for a drink (but may not get his round in, with those unwieldy hooves).
Right. So, this was the thing I came to Worcester for, the Holy Grail to post box enthusiasts — an Edward VIII postbox, one of only 161 left nationwide. I was deathly ill the day before the Isle of Wight Marathon so the run I did to loosen up ruined me with regard to seeking out the one in Sandown a few miles from my hotel.
So, that’s the last one. Sigh. I’ve really enjoyed the postbox search; what next…what next?
New pubs to the blog count, all on two day trip to IoW
At first glance, October seemed a month of two halves — the first healthy and spry, the last stinking of death and decay. Yet, closer examination reminds me that I’ve been ill more or less constantly since the 10th of the month despite making the Isle of Wight Marathon trip, another cancer surgery (and spillage from the same), and having a busier than usual month at work. The weather has been spectacular, I’m told.
I added 11 pubs to the count entirely on the two-day trip to the Isle of Wight Marathon. Two new ones appeared in Oxford (old ones but with major refurbishments and name changes) but they will have to wait until November. The best of the new additions has to be the Red Lion in Southampton, but you could do a lot worse than The Crab and Lobster Tap (Ventnor), The Traveller’s Joy (Northwood), or most-up-my-alley The Painter’s Arms (Cowes).
The Daily Tipple list accurately represents the beer consumption for the month with a little more than half favouring darker varieties like stout, porter, and mild. Choosing one per day was really the hard part as almost every new pub mentioned above supplied local brews that I have never tried before and the Swindon Beer Fest introduced 7 beers and 3 ciders new to me (and scores more I didn’t get around to):
The Fish and Chips Challenge was in a lull partly due to the ongoing medical problems and partly due to the remoteness of new venues and my ability to reach them. My spreadsheet updates my days-per-fish rate and the minimum number for the year (based on one every 7 days until year-end) after each fish. The average of these two appears to be converging on 124.9 for the year (let’s say 125). I’m going for a pub fish and chip lunch when I finish this post, so this looks like a fairly good prediction.
The G-Had has started to make an impact. In October, the site had more hits than in all months prior combined. It also led to paranoid behaviour by North Wilts HHH when they tried to pretend a run wasn’t going to happen and then came up with a clever (but easy to defeat) trail marking plan to foil the IntifadHHHa. With local attention piqued and health poor, the war became one more of propaganda than contact but a fresh scalp was added courtesy the Isle of Wight HHH.
Also, the subtleties of the Intifad-HHH-a versus a Calip-hhh-ate became a matter of record, over on the G-Had HHH site.
First, my thanks go out to the organisers and volunteers for allowing me to participate in their little pub crawl. The venue was great and the small field lent itself to social interaction throughout.
I arrived early from my hotel in Shanklin due to a scheduling anomaly and once I registered I walked back to Cowes quayside to find a pre-race pint. But, no one had a license to serve before 11 am so I walked back up to the Sport Club grounds and waited out their opening time. They were serving tea, coffee and snacks but I decided to leave it till 11 to ask for a beer. And, with that purchase, my esteem was either raised or dashed depending on the co-participant’s attitude. Strange: it was like I had gone much farther from England than the 20 minute ferry ride.
At the starting gate, I stripped off my disposable old clothes (sweats that have become threadbare) and cranked up the GPS in my phone a few minutes before the start, taking my place in the crowd. I didn’t do the excessive pre-scouting of pubs that I have in the past; rather, I planned on stopping at every licensed facility I came across, bar none.
The first was the Sportsman’s Rest, a nice little pub with a rude and completely incompetent bartender (hence my long layover–more than ten minutes here). Next up, we passed (or, THEY passed) the New Inn which was much more efficient and completely nonplussed by my stop. Not much farther along the way the Horse and Groom loomed and after service I stepped out to heckle my compatriots for the first time.
We turned onto an old rail bed and soon we came up on the old station for Yarmouth, or part of Yarmouth, which is now the Off The Rails bar and restaurant. I yelled up to some diners on the platform, “is this place licensed?” then, to drown out their laughter, I repeated, “no, really, do they serve adult beverages?” Served by bemused staff, once again, I went back out and heckled the other runners while I enjoyed my bottle on the platform.
There was a long stretch after that along the riverside and through quiet lanes back almost all the way to Cowes (with no new pubs, although we passed the Sportsman’s and the New Inn again) then the path split off and we started up a long and (at that stage in the game) steep incline that housed, off to the right and nearly at the top, the Traveler’s Joy. It was a truly welcome respite, indeed.
With something less than 2 miles left, I eschewed further interaction with my compatriots (for the most part) and focused on finishing in under four hours. Which I did (just barely). It was then I realised how nackered I actually was. I’ve had worse leg cramps, mind, but these came all at once despite my aforementioned carb, nutrient and fluid regimen.
Spectacular organisation in this race, really, and the small and friendly field and the lovely refreshments I found along the way were just a bonus. If I were going to repeat a marathon, this would be one of my top choices. But, now I am qualified for the Ultramarathons I have planned for next year.
Heh -heh…special drinks, indeed