Archive for the ‘100 Beers in 100 Places’ Tag

Four years in England   3 comments

res permit front

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

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.

year 4 pub graph

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
Byron’s, Swindon
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)

Favourite write-ups:
British Citizenship Exam Prep
Risk Assessment-Bins
Oxford Tourists
Assize Court, Bristol

Cock Flavour
Paul Simon in Hyde Park
Edie’s Lawn
The hunt
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).

Last look back at 2012 Challenge   3 comments

100beer challenge squares

The previous post was better, but I wanted to showcase the screensavers pieced together by Squeezin’ (with my gratitude for these).  The pics, in order, are

Venue Where beer #
The Princess Hotel (done around 5 am New Year’s Day)  Swindon 1
The Bank House  Cheltenham 2
At the New Year’s Races in Cheltenham (watching my nag drag in)  Cheltenham 3
Midlands Hotel  Cheltenham 4
The Queen’s Tap  Swindon 5
The Four Candles  Oxford 6
The Turf Tavern (at the sign commemorating Clinton failing to inhale there)  Oxford 7
The White Horse  Oxford 8
O’Neill’s  Oxford 9
Ellington’s  Swindon 10
The Red Lion  Oxford 11
The Gloucester Arms  Oxford 12
Eurobar  Oxford 13
The Volunteer  Faringdon 14
The Red Lion  Faringdon 15
The Bell  Faringdon 16
The Lamb and Flag  Oxford 17
The Bird and Baby  Oxford 18
Far  The Madding Crowd  Oxford 19
Southbrook Inn  Swindon 20
The White Hart  Wolvercote, Oxfordshire 21
The Red Lion  Wolvercote, Oxfordshire 22
The Plough  Oxford 23
The Gardener’s Arms  Oxford 24
The Rose and Crown  Oxford 25
TP’s  Swindon 26
The De’s Cut  Oxford 27
The King and Queen  Longcot, Oxfordshire 28
The Woodman Inn  Fernham, Oxfordshire 29
The Eagle  Little Cocks Swell, Oxfordshire 30
The Wheatsheaf  Faringdon, Oxfordshire 31
Faringdon Folly  Faringdon, Oxfordshire 32
Salisbury Cathedral  Salisbury 33
The King’s Arms  Salisbury 34
The Old Castle Pub  Salisbury 35
The keep at Old Sarum  Salisbury 36
Wheatsheaf  Lower Woodford, Wiltshire 37
Bridge Inn  Upper Woodford, Wiltshire 38
Black Horse  Great Durnford, Wiltshire 39
Wilsford Cum Lake sign (heh, heh)  Wiltshire 40
Stonehenge (really a great disappointment)  Wiltshire 41
King’s Arms  Amesbury, Wiltshire 42
George Hotel  Amesbury, Wiltshire 43
New Inn  Amesbury, Wiltshire 44
The Greyhound  Amesbury, Wiltshire 45
Royal Oak  Oxford 46
The Red Lion  Marston, Oxfordshire 47
The Angel and Greyhound  Oxford 48
The University Club  Oxford 49
The GW Hotel  Swindon 50
Jude the Obscure  Oxford 51
The Victoria  Oxford 52
The Rickety Press  Oxford 53
Wahoo Sport Bar  Oxford 54
The Oxford Retreat  Oxford 55
The Grapes  Oxford 56
The Rolleston  Swindon 57
The Baker’s Arms  Swindon 58
The Dolphin  Swindon 59
Marsh Farm Hotel  Royal Wootton Bassett 60
The Cross Keys  Royal Wootton Bassett 61
The Old School  Oxford 62
The King’s Arms  Oxford 63
The Swan and Castle  Oxford 64
The Victoria Arms  Marston, Oxfordshire 65
The Black Swan  Abingdon, Oxfordshire 66
The Blue Boar  Abingdon, Oxfordshire 67
The Bowyer Arms  Radley, Oxfordshire 68
Zen Bar  Swindon 69
Sir Daniel Arms  Swindon 70
White Hart  Lyneham, Wiltshire 71
Sodom  Wiltshire 72
The Angel  Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire 73
Cape of Good Hope  Oxford 74
Rudi’s  Swindon 75
Burn’s Day Lunch (Haggis, Neeps, Tatties, Whisky, and 2 beers)  Oxford 76
Swindon Wildcats 3, Sheffield Steeldogs 4 (SO)  Swindon 77
The Longwall  Oxford 78
The Royal George  Purton, Wiltshire 79
Riff’s Bar  Greatfield, Wiltshire 80
Magic Roundabout  Swindon 81
The Three Tuns  Wroughton 82
The Havana  Swindon 83
The Lydiard  Swindon 84
The Savoy  Swindon 85
The Brewer’s Arms  Cirencester 86
The White Horse  Woolstone 87
The College Farm  Watchfield 88
The Horse and Jockey  Ashton Keynes, Gloucestershire 89
The Vale Hotel  Cricklade 90
Goldfinger Tavern  Highworth, Wiltshire 91
The Red Lion  Northmoor, Oxfordshire 92
The Bell Inn  Standlake, Oxfordshire 93
The Maybush  Newbridge, Oxfordshire 94
The Beehive (this is about 100 yards from the house we are moving to)  Swindon 95
Baker Street  Swindon 96
Steam Railway Company Pub  Swindon 97
The Pig on the Hill  Swindon 98
Long’s Bar  Swindon 99
near Parliament, with a Cuban cigar and a bunch of dirty looks (and after 5 pub stops)  London Marathon 100
The Bear  Oxford 101
The Old Tom  Oxford 102
The Crown  Oxford 103
The Beehive  Carterton, Oxfordshire 104
The Crown Inn  Faringdon, Oxfordshire 105
Romany Inn  Bampton, Oxfordshire 106
Talbot Hotel  Bampton, Oxfordshire 107
The George Inn  Sandy Lane, Wiltshire 108
The White Hart  Calne, Wiltshire 109
The now defunct King George  Calne, Wiltshire 110
Barrington Arms  Shrivenham, Oxfordshire 111
Groves Company Inn  Swindon 112
Revolution  Swindon 113
The Plough  Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire 114
The George and Dragon  Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire 115
The Fish  Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire 116
Great Western Railway Staff Association  Didcot, Oxfordshire 117
The Prince of Wales  Didcot, Oxfordshire 118
Tap and Barrel (good read goes along with this pic)  Swindon 119
Old Town Festival  Swindon Town Gardens 120
Cock Inn  Combe, Oxfordshire 121
Three Horseshoes  Long Hanborough, Oxfordshire 122
Swindon Pride 2012  Swindon (duh) 123
Wernham Hogg’s  Slough, Berkshire 124
The Myrtle Grove  Risca, Gwent, Wales 125
The Sirhowy  Blackwood, Gwent, Wales 126
Railway Tavern  Sirhowy, Blaenau Gwent, Wales 127
The Castle  Bryn Serth, Blaenau Gwent, Wales 128
The Coach and Horses  Ashvale, Blaenau Gwent, Wales 129
Ye Olde Red Lion Hotel  Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, Wales 130
The Tumble Inn  Pontypridd, Wales 131
The Maltster’s Arms  Pontypridd, Wales 132
Wyvern Theatre  Swindon 133
Byron’s Bar  Swindon 134
The Bear Hotel  Wantage, Oxfordshire 135
Source ot the River Thames  Kemble, Gloucestershire 136
Carpenter’s Arms  Lacock, Wiltshire 137
Mill House  Chippenham, Wiltshire 138
Sunny’s Pool Bar  Swindon 139
The Royal Oak  Marlborough, Wiltshire 140
The Lamb Inn  Marlborough, Wiltshire 141
The Crown  Marlborough, Wiltshire 142
IMS/TOF Mass Spectrometer  Oxford University 143
New Year’s Eve on Ferndale Road  Swindon 144

100beer challenge 16x9s

2012 Challenge finished, 2013 Challenge to commence   68 comments

Carling #144 for me, enjoyed with some leftover cassoulet and the woman--on our 27th Anniversary

Carling #144 for me, enjoyed with some leftover cassoulet and the woman–on our 27th Anniversary

The 100 Yellow Beers in 100 Places Challenge, organised as a lark by an acquaintance in Colorado and his buddy in Texas, took on a life of its own maturing in the summer to quite a few completions and then ending the year in the death spasms as three participants sprinted to the tape (or the bright, white light).  Well done, all.

And then last week I received the announcement that the 2013 Challenge would be burgers…none from fast food megachains, and no repeats of any sort (the rules are simple so even I can understand them).  However, burgers in this country are a little less appetising than a wet cardboard box so I have asked (and been granted) a dispensation allowing kebabs.  [Bad burgers are not universally the case…one notable exception was chronicled here.]

Kebab meat sliced from the cylinder, lettuce, tomato, cabbage, onion, chillies and chilli sauce on a pita...yummy.

Kebab meat sliced from the cylinder, lettuce, tomato, cabbage, onion, chillies and chilli sauce on a pita…yummy.

The döner kebab is a marvel of technology if not of dining and in a country so steeped in alcohol it is almost a requirement–if there isn’t a stand in your village you should get some sort of tax relief.  It is most effective as a prelude to a session of drinking since it both helps to absorb excess drink and the fats serve to shut the subsequent esophageal deliveries in the stomach for a period of time; however, it is most often added at the end of the bender resulting in myriad multicoloured decorations on the pavements round and about town centres the nation over.

Lamb, beef, spices, (perhaps a cigarette butt or two and some bodily fluids) go into the Elephant Leg

Lamb, beef, spices, (perhaps a cigarette butt or two and some bodily fluids) go into the Elephant Leg

I love ’em and to make it to 50 in a year I plan to pace myself with one per week.  A small order of anything else could be known as the child-sized one, and child-sized is about right for a small kebab: easily the size of a healthy newborn baby if not a healthy meal.  I have never had the nerve to order a large.

So, over the course of the impending year I’ll be reporting more than the odd-monthly kebab review of the past several years.  The drinking hasn’t killed me yet, so what-the-hell?

The Crown, Marlborough, Wiltshire   Leave a comment

crown marlborough sign

Another friendly bar in Marlborough, the Crown was bustling with customers and hustling food and yet still felt intimate despite the cavernous dining area just off the small front bar.  The family running the shop were friendly to this stranger despite everyone else that arrived appearing to have long running warm relationships with one or more of them.

crown marlborough bar

Unable to linger as I needed to get the Christmas groceries in, I hurried on after my Carling (they have ale but I’m bolstering my 100/100 totals as the year ends).  The food looks like above standard pub fare — pies and roasts but artistically displayed and rich aromas — and this will be on the short list for a winter lunch on the next visit (note that everyone that came in had booked ahead and most still had a short wait).

crown marlborough

The Lamb Inn, Marlborough, Wiltshire   Leave a comment

lamb inn marlborough sign

Off the High Street running next to the fantastic Bear Hotel is a little street called the Parade which holds a couple of nice pubs which allowed escape from the Christmas Market.  First up was the Lamb, an ideal choice with its attentive staff (and the bartender I had displayed some great tits, erm…tatts…oh, screw it, either is correct).

lamb inn marlborough bar lamb inn marlborough fire

Dark when you move from the windows it is a cozy house with the obligatory real fire (only the best pubs will have one!).

Marlborough is an odd town and has a quirky bar scene considering how posh the populace is (of at least how posh the reputation of the populace is).  The Lamb, like the Bear and the Green Dragon, seems to attract a better element.

lamb inn marlborough

The Royal Oak, Marlborough, Wiltshire   Leave a comment

royal oak marlborough sign

Just a few doors from the Castle and Ball sits the Royal Oak, as it has for centuries as well as every time I have visited town and yet this is the first time I ever noticed it.  “If it was a snake it would have bitten you,” old guys back home would say and so I went in for the requisite snake bite medication and retired to the garden to escape the bar crowded with diners.

royal oak marlborough decking

The kitchen doors were open to the deck area and I listened to the busy banter for a while.  The chef, a Scotsman, was in high spirit and he joined his sous enjoying a smoke near me; my presence imposed the weather conversation but that’s all I got…nothing about the old house with its interconnected and multilevel rooms encircling the bar.  Maybe next time.

royal oak marlborough

Sunny’s Pool Club, Swindon   Leave a comment

sunny's pool bar swindon

A proper pool hall is a thing of beauty and except for the one in Bremen last Summer, I haven’t been in one since leaving the States.  I spotted Sunny’s months ago but was never nearby when it was open but since Jackie was nursing a cold and I was on an unsupervised grocery trip I thought this would be a good chance to go in, have a look around, and add another Carling to my effort in the 100/100 Challenge.

I pushed past some stoned teenagers and hit the call box (you have to be buzzed in, an excellent sign), then made my way up three narrow flights of stairs to the top floor where two huge rooms with close to a dozen full size tables and some darts lanes awaited, along with a friendly yet foulmouthed bartender who chatted amiably and blue about his dad’s engineering work.  We watched a bit of the Man City v Newcastle match and I checked out the aerial view over town, then left.  Very nice place.

139 sunny's pool bar swindon

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