Holiday Run Streak, 1-3 January and out   2 comments

casoullet 2015-01-01

Yeah, a picture of a giant batch of cassoulet is precisely the way the Holiday Run Streak (Saturday before Thanksgiving till Saturday after New Year) should be represented…that or a mountain of empty bottles.  I started working on the stew New Year Day to keep busy and take my mind off the hangover, then struck on the idea that I should have a few glasses of the wine I was cooking with, and a glass of port, then a bottle of prosecco, then a chianti with the casoullet.

casoullet 2015-01-01 b

Then a half bottle of Vin Santo with an enormous quantity of biscotti.

biscotti and vin santo 2015-01-01

Then, I went for the daily run…a little over 3 miles of heavy haulage:

2015-01-01 casoulet run

Friday I had to go to Oxford to get the lab started back up for the kids’ return from the holidays.  There is a point at which there is nothing to do but wait for the pumps to catch up for about an hour so I used that time to stretch out and go get some fresh air (a crisp but sunny noontime met me):

2015-01-02 penultimate run Oxford

Finally, the Saturday after New Year Day rolled around and I could put the Holiday Run Streak (43 consecutive days of at least 3 miles per day) to rest.  That is, after one final trot, this time starting in Trowbridge.  It was raining and cold at the 9:30 start but due to warm up (and rain even harder).  Fortunately, there were breaks planned and sites to take one’s mind off things.

Stallards Inn Trowbridge church

The course stuck to roadways at first because the permissive footpaths appeared to be flooded and the fields through which they passed were like soup.  My shoes remained relatively dry until Westwood where a water main break at the top of the hill added two inches depth to the flood.  Soon after the water spout, the road headed down a cliff to the Crossed Guns between the River Avon and the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Crossed Guns Avoncliff bridge

Assuming the K&A Canal tow path to be passable, I took to it after my beer (the Crossed Guns opened at 10).  Unfortunately, it was a slick, muddy mess right up to Bradford-on-Avon and my wet feet were then also coated in clay.

At stop 2, the Dandy Lion, I briefly considered leaving the shoes outside but saw that the floors were bare and decided to go on in as I was.  While there, the clouds lightened and I could make out the shape of the sun so I finished up the stout and headed out only to watch as the skies blackened the first half mile before the rain restarted falling at 45° from vertical. Soon enough, though, I was back in Trowbridge at the Stallards where I found a coal fire awaiting.  Warming by the hearth with a cider, I decided it was time to stop this nonsense and changed into my dry kit I had hauled around the previous nine miles.

Sunday, I rest from the Run Streak but with plans to start a ‘normal’ running schedule Monday.

2015-01-03 bradford loop

 

2014, The Year of Fish and Chips (recap)   32 comments

2014-12-31 end of year chart

“You’re going to swell up like a tick.”
–Work mate when he heard about the Chippy Challenge.

“No, he did the same thing with kebabs, last year…he’ll be fine.”
–Another colleague, in response.

Actually, I lost weight, starting the year at 178 lbs (12 stone 10 or, for the metric-minded, 81 kg) and spending most of the last 6 months dead on 154 lbs (11 stone even or 70 kg).  This was grand, as I drank more this year than usual and ran only about the normal amount (maybe even less than, but I haven’t tallied the runs yet).  I would highly recommend this diet at least to those who normally live on the 2013: Year of Kebabs Diet.  I’m looking forward to seeing what drifting back toward normal alcohol and food intake will do to the weight.

Of the 126 qualifying meals, 75 were at a chippy, 40 in a pub, 3 at the house, 1 at a Dutch fish stand, and 7 others (cafes and dining halls).

I didn’t travel much this year so geographically they are pretty tightly clustered around home and work. I nailed a couple in mainland Europe and a few down at the southern coast, as well, but I had 36 each in Oxford or Swindon so I have favourites in those two localities.

Top 10 in Swindon:

1 tie York Road Chippy
1 tie The Frying Fish
3 Trident Fish Bar
4 Britz Fish and Chips
5 Mr. Cod
6 Bobby’s Fish and Chips
7 Gill’s Fish Bar
8 Pinehurst Fisheries
9 J&J Fish Bar
10 Wong Kee Fish Bar

2014 Swindon chippy challenge

 

Top 3 in Oxford (Chippies in Oxford are generally shit, but seek these out):

1 Carfax Fish and Chips
2 Mediterranean Fish Bar (the one in Marston)
3 Three Goats’ Heads (pub, but very good)

2014 Oxford chippy challenge

 

The 5 most dreadful:

-1 Treasure Chinese Takeaway Shrivenham, Oxfordshire
-2 Simon’s Fish & Chips Oxford, Oxfordshire
-3 Seafoods Bath, Somerset
-4 Covingham Fish and Chips Swindon, Wiltshire
-5 Posh Fish Jericho Oxford, Oxfordshire

Best 5 of the rest:

1 Baker’s Arms (best pub F&C this year) Badbury, Wiltshire
2 Stotesbury’s Fish and Chips Newport, Isle of Wight
3 South Cerney Fish and Chips South Cerney, Gloucestershire
4 Robinson’s Traditional Fish and Chips Bowerhill, Wiltshire
5 Market Plaice Devizes, Wiltshire

 

george harrison cod

 

 

DT #366, 1 January 2015 and the Year of DTs   3 comments

Toretta Prosecco

This is the last of
Three hundred sixty-seven
Consecutive haikus.

Alright, then, maybe this one would have been more appropriate:

Woke up this morning.
Got myself a beer. Future’s
Uncertain, end near.

I’m really glad to see the back of the haiku, though.  Some amused me, fair enough, but most were uninspired as, indeed, most of the DT entries themselves were.  The tyranny of the daily post is not conducive to creativity in many of us (or, at least, in me).

Raw numbers (ignoring today and 31 December 2013):

144 Beers (of which there were 60 bitter; 22 lager; 10 stout; 9 pilsner; 8 mild; 6 each of blonde, golden ale, and porter;5 IPA; 3 dark ale; 2 ‘other’ pale ales; and, 1 each Belgian ale, Belgian brown, brown, dark IPA, dark pilsner, IPA/mild, and weissbier).

21 Ciders
5 Perry
1 Cider/Perry mix
4 Ginger Beer

166 wines (of which there were 122 red, 18 white, 18 rose, 3 Champagne, 3 other sparkling, and 2 port)

24 Booze (6 from Drunken Bunny Liqueurs, most of the mixed drinks experiments from Mr Boston)

The number and volume of Gin and Tonic is highly underrepresented, as was the beer but you had to choose one thing per day.

Location, location, location:

Pretty much the homebody, 221 of the DTs were in our house (43 in Eastcott, the other 178 here in Old Town). My pub visits tend to come in flurries of 4 or 5 on a run (therefore on the same day) and those were underrepresented. Because of some overlapping categories, this list won’t add up to only 365:
221 at home
130 British pubs
4 Bremen Germany pubs
2 pubs in Holland (one of which was also a Coffeeshop)
5 in restaurants
4 outside
1 beer fest
1 Church
1 dog track

As far as towns go, 256 Swindon, 57 Oxford (or very close to work), 5 Bremen, 2 Holland, and the balance explained by the multiple pub visitations, next paragraph/list.

Four Candles, Oxford: 20
Far From the Madding Crowd, Oxford: 6
White Horse, Oxford: 4
Steam Railway Company, Swindon: 4
Greyhound, Besselsleigh: 3
Red Lion, Marston: 3
White Rabbit, Oxford: 3
Savoy, Swindon: 3
Hop Inn, Swindon: 3
Beehive, Swindon: 3
Old Crown, Faringdon: 2
Prince of Wales, Shrivenham: 2
Messenger, Swindon: 2
Clifton, Swindon: 2
76 others.

DT #365, 31 December 2014 (Aubert et Fils Brut)   Leave a comment

Aubert et fils NYE 2014

 

Twenty-nine years on,
Happy anniversary
At least one more time.

Name: Aubert et Fils Brut
Type: champagne
Venue: house

Review/notes: The Wedding Anniversary pub crawl was epic and started at 2 pm.  We hit the the Wheatsheaf (normally closed in the afternoon) for a cider then the Steam Railway for a cider and a bitter then the Goddard Arms for I don’t remember what and the Kings and the Old Bank, with a double-back by the Pig on the Hill and the Royal Oak (quite bleak) before we dropped to Byron’s because the Regent was closed as we passed (and we stumbled right by the Hop Inn).  Then, the Beehive interrupted the path to the Castle and the Crown before we wasted the evening (again) at the Donkey (after a great meal and a bottle of wine at the Thai Orchid).  Close to midnight, we wandered home and hit the champagne just in time to watch Jules Holland count down (but we were listening to Joe Cocker on vinyl, as you do).

royal oak swindon nye 2014

I’m glad they refurbished and reopened the place, really. But, we were the only people there at 6 pm and the only staff member decided to leave the place silent as the crypt for 10 minute stretches only to punctuate it with a single (and I should add, very well chosen) song before the next long silence. Baffling, but goes some way toward explaining the empty pub.

 

The ‘run’ was interrupted a dozen (plus) times as we tried (semi-successfully) to hit every open bar in Old Town and Eastcott this afternoon.  We went back to the house once and had to double back for the Donkey after some dinner.  Here is the cumulative route:

2014-12-31 Old Town crawl

 

Happy New Year, Mofo’s!

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

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Birds Eye Battered Cod, House, Swindon, Chippy Challenge #126   Leave a comment

Birds Eye Battered Cod

[The Chippy Challenge: to eat more fish and chips in 2014; see original post for details.]

Fish: cod
Sides: chips
Evaluation: This was the third of the frozen cod from the grocer I’ve included in the list. It was, like the Young’s, pretty good if ugly to behold.  We were wolfing down some oily stuff as ballast against the pub crawl to come and I had these in the freezer as a back-up in case I couldn’t make the 7-day cut-off during the Year of Fish and Chips that ends today.

Unlike the Year of Kebabs immediately preceding this one, I don’t feel like I need to lay off the cod and chips for a full year; that was good to do, too, as I just started craving döner again a week or so ago.  No challenges on for next year which is probably a good thing.

BirdsEye Battered Cod Box

Days since last: 4 (Jolly Friar, Westbury)
Map link.

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DT #364, 30 December 2014 (Kiri Sauvignon Blanc)   Leave a comment

Kiri Sauvignon Blanc and haddock tacos

Only one day left
In the year and the challenge.
Let’s have a blowout.

Name: Kiri Sauvignon Blanc
Type: white wine
Menu: Fish Tacos using haddock marinated in lime, olive oil, cumin, paprika, garlic and oregano with a sauce made from yogurt, limes, cilantro, capers, jalapenos, cumin, paprika, dill, and a dollop of tahini.  Topped with shredded lettuce, onion, more cilantro, avocado, and tomato.  Obscenely more-ish nachos to start.  Yum.
Venue: house

Review/notes: The bottle suggests notes of gooseberry but more than anything there is honeydew melon in this drier-than-expected and truly sublime wine.  Would have been really good with nuts, too, or nibbles out in the sun (stocking up on this for Spring).

Cold day out, sore back, and no motivation so just 3.6 miles today, near home:

2014-12-30 pre-nacho feast loop

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

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Posted 2014/12/30 by Drunken Bunny in Daily Haiku, Daily Tipple, fish, food, wine

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DT #363, 29 December 2014 (Mister Shiraz)   Leave a comment

Mister Shiraz

 

I asked for shiraz.
“That’s MISTER Shiraz to you,”
Responds my bottle.

Name: Mister Shiraz
Type: red wine
Venue: house

Review/notes: This wine would have suited a juicy steak or a greasy rack of BBQ ribs but it was already open when we went for a prawn salad.  I, at least, doused mine with some hot sauce.

Run today found me killing an hour waiting for the carpet to dry, so the loop included a stop at the Steam Railway on the way home.  This also gave me a few minutes for the sweat to dry before the final few hundred meters on my way to finish the holiday house cleaning.

2014-12-29 brass monkeys

 

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January
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