Archive for the ‘Carling’ Tag

The Black Horse, Upper Studley, Trowbridge, Wiltshire   1 comment

black horse upper studley trowbridge sign

Nice crowd and staff at this diner of a pub (Americans should think Bob’s or Shoney’s “Big Boy” except with cheap booze).  The selection of said cheap booze wasn’t great and I fell back on lager (Carling, as usual).  After a good couple of laughs with the regulars I was back out in the rain, running for another pub (blessedly nearby, a half mile or so along the way).

black horse upper studley trowbridge

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:
Postboxes
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

The Mill House, Chippenham, Wiltshire   Leave a comment

mill house chippenham sign

The run from Lacock was pleasantly cool and I was shielded from the breeze on the farm tracks I took up to the highway into Chippenham. Just inside the town limits, I spotted the Mill House off to the right and decided it can’t possibly be as horrible as it looks, even though they don’t even bother with a pub sign and fill the allotted signage space with adverts for their wares. And, I was right, it wasn’t as bad as it looks and was actually a very pleasant place to squat for a beer even though most of the things I found compelling about it are things that would usually push it far down the list.

 

 

mill house chippenham where the 70s never died

Strike one, it was rammed full of breeders. Ahead of me in line, one poor woman got trapped in a conversation with one woman who said things like, “ooo, yeah, I’d like to have two more of each once this one is in school,” gesturing to one of the horde of disease laden and screaming liabilities running around without supervision.
“How many do you have then? Is it five?”
“Six, four girls and two boys. I want to even it out some, me. When are you having kids?”
“Oh, it is probably not in the cards for me, after I had the operation last year,” Trapped Lady replied indicating a chosen path but communicating to her tormentor it involved an effort at fertility.
“There’s always a chance, love.” I thought I was going to laugh so turned to feign looking out the door and was confronted with Little Sister of Trapped Lady queued behind me. After an uncomfortable moment, I raised an eyebrow and spun my eyes back toward the non-versation and she cracked up. Fortunately, the staff had nearly caught up and I could move on to my beverage.

 

138 mill house chippenham

Strike two, it is one of those Denny’s sort of pubs, more food than booze and not very good food. Except, the food looked especially appetising and smelled fantastic.

Strike three, it is where the 70’s never died. But, not only am I used to that (not my first trip to Chippenham and, mind, I live in Swindon), I find it endearing and comfortable and besides the fact that the child-to-adult ratio seems more apropos of Ireland in the 70’s the folks I encountered were salt-of-the-earth…just don’t try to steal a chip from any of the pensioners here.

mill house chippenham

The Carpenter’s Arms, Lacock, wiltshire   1 comment

carpenters arms lacock

I started running back to Chippenham from the Red Lion but spotted a crowd taking photos in front of the Carpenter’s Arms and figured it must be party time inside.  Inside it was deathly silent, a ghost town save for the two waitresses who stared at me as though frightened; used to this reaction, I asked for a Carling and they turned to the landlady in the chef’s togs who said, “he’ll be with you in a moment, they are too young to serve alcohol.”  Joking, I replied “what kind of puritanical land is this,” to which she snapped, visibly angered, “WHAT do you mean by THAT?”  Leaning in, I replied, “it’s worse in the States, love; the service is better, though.”

The old guy that came out in a tweed, green plaid jacket and some colourful shirt and tie combination had a bit friendlier demeanour and when, eventually, another customer came in they chatted about church.  And, then I left.

137 carpenters arms lacock

The Source of the Thames (run route 2012-11-10)   4 comments

A quarter mile from the station the Thames appeared.

 

It was a beautiful autumn day and by 2:30 I was dashing out of Kemble Station on the soggy pastures heading north.  The rain has been relentless these past several weeks yielding thick, slick patches of mud.  The fields were still saturated from the unusually wet summer when this most recent deluge started and are unlikely to dry without two to three weeks respite, so it seemed important to seize the sunny and mild conditions today.  Besides, Jackie was working all afternoon and this would give me a chance to hit a few new pubs.

The other goal was to tick off another Carling in the 100 Yellow Beers in 100 Places, so I grabbed a can at the newsagents near my house on the way to the station, cracking it at the monument and pouring the first sip for Father Thames.  I seem to be on a pace to have 150 for the year in addition to the 280 or so pubs (some overlap):

 

The disused Thames and Severn Canal is about a half mile behind this sign…

With the Thames Path complete (well, I’ve done all the bits from Abingdon to here, with some other bits in London and Berkshire thrown in) it was time to do some more of the Thames and Severn Canal (which I have hit bits of in Lechlade, Cirencester, and Stroud).

The first pub on this route was the Tunnel House Inn, at the southern end of the Sapperton Tunnel (a little more than two miles long and built for narrow boats).  The return trip was hillier and along fairly quiet roadways along which the Thames Head made a useful stop, followed by a clothing change and one more for the road at the Tavern Inn near the Kemble Station.

Leaving the pub I spotted a shellshocked and confused looking urbanite wandering around.  He seemed a bit dapper for the rural setting (I wasn’t the filthiest person whose path I crossed this day but he was positively resplendent .  In the station, a woman asked me, “are you Lee?  I’m meeting him here from London but we haven’t met before.”  I pointed her toward the lost soul who somehow gave her the slip and appeared beside me asking if I had seen a woman waiting here.  Sending him back toward the pub I spotted her across the tracks re-entering the station.  “He’s crossing the bridge, now,” I yelled, pointing.  One good deed per day.

 

The Bear Hotel, Wantage, Oxfordshire   Leave a comment

The bus back to Swindon wasn’t due for another 30 minutes so I tried my luck in the Bear, a fine, old hotel on the Wantage Market.  An Arkell’s pub, I asked for the Pilsner but when they didn’t have it I opted for a Carling (#135 on the 100 Challenge).  There are many good drinking hideaways in the pub/hotel but I just grabbed a seat near some bookshelves and brewery artefacts.

Alfred the Great was keeping an eye on the bus stop for me, perched as he was above one of the market stalls.  Great, indeed.

September 2012: Runs and Pubs   Leave a comment

Lilienthal Library

There’s not much you might consider remarkable about the September running streak, really, except that I managed to remain clothed in public the entire time (ie, only a streak in that there was an unbroken string).  I ran every day of September and (until I got the flu last week) I covered a minimum of 10 miles every day.  A semi-statistical breakdown of these follows, and there are a few photos that didn’t make it into other posts last month (maybe just a shot or two from Germany, who knows).  The total, 330 miles, is the most I’ve done in a month since my mid-30’s when, tripping and stoned almost continuously, I barely felt the effort (doing it piss drunk is quite a bit more difficult even before factoring in the extra 15 years or so of decrepitude).

Total: 330.2 miles
Swindon: 86.0 miles (10 runs)
other Wiltshire: 103.7 (8½ runs–crossed from Glocs)
Oxford: 40.0 (4 runs)
Gloucestershire: 18.4 (1½ runs–crossed to Wilts)
Devon: 21.5 (1 run)
Berkshire: 15.0 (1 run)
Wales: 23.3 (2 runs)
Germany: 22.3 (2 runs)

Had a trip to Germany for work toward the end of the month and with that and the change of seasons did both of my runs there in the pre-dawn darkness; a shame, really, as both areas (Hamburg near the airport and Borgfeld/Lilienthal near Bremen) looked very nice for this kind of excursion.  In Borgfeld, I stayed in a rental room across from this restaurant/microbrewery (the beers were fantastic):

…and the breakfast suited the post-workout refuel although within hours I was crippled with nausea, fever, a mid-range migraine, and a free-flowing waste-relief valve.  This continued the next several days, but once home I felt I could try for another — if shorter — run but only managed a mile before turning around and heading back to bed.  Yikes.

Big houses, safe streets, and loads of farm roads and wildlife preserves await you in Lilienthal and Borgfeld, if you go:

September 2012 was also the busiest month for pub visits (67  included the 1000th) since I landed in England, largely due to the unsupervised nature of my vacation (Jackie left me to my own devices for two weeks and, surprisingly, there were no legal or medical catastrophes).  I stopped including ‘dead pubs’ quite a few months ago unless they are of significant importance or beauty (and, for those, I will still follow the original set of rules); had this not been the case, I could easily have boosted the count by another 20-30.

Wyvern Theatre, Swindon   Leave a comment

You can go in the Wyvern for a drink before a show even if you don’t have a ticket for the show.  I’ve noticed this on prior visits, but this might be fun if the show is likely to have a surreal group of attendees.

On this trip, we were attending Soap Opera, essentially a panto for adults based around a murder (or not) of the producer of “Hollyenders Street” by each member of the cast in a different way.  The cast all appeared in real soaps except Hattie Hayridge who was Holly on Red Dwarf.  There were some good laughs, but  you don’t need to rush out for tickets when it comes to your town.

Carling #133 falls at intermission:

Station Hotel, Gloucester   1 comment

Camera battery failing, had to settle for the external shot from Google street view

With 20 seconds until time for the train to leave by the Station clock, I was running toward the cars when the platform attendant saw me and quickly put up his paddle and blew his whistle.  The train doors locked, I stood there apoplectic the five seconds after the clock ticked over before turning to him and asking, “you don’t wait till the published departure time, Snuffy?”  He smiled revealing his shit stained teeth (I assume) and pointed to the clock saying, “it’s 13 seconds after,” which by then it was.  I went to the adjacent Station Hotel to kill an hour till the next train.

The place had real flowers, a funny hostess, but mostly lager available so I got Carling #133 on the Challenge and had a look around.

With five more minutes till the next train, I took a moment to drain then dashed back to the platform passing the same arsehole.  As I reached for the door, this dickhead starts screaming “don’t touch that door, get away from the door, NOW!” at which point I could feel the latch mechanism throw.

The lab I work in studies lot’s of things, including doing fundamental research that will find its way into diagnostic and therapeutic uses for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  So, when I started back up the platform, it was with the thought of potential test subjects with similar genetics to human beings that I told him I hope his kids get ass cancer and he and his parents suffer gravely with dementia.  His mate said, “hey, that’s not very nice.  I have an Auntie with cancer,” but I felt it would be useless to explain that my wishes are not the vectors for dread ailments* and so, while that’s quite sad, my comment was meant to be not-so-nice.  “Thanks,” I said while trotting off.

Hungry, I headed off for a kebab and thought maybe I should catch the bus to the rail station at Stonehouse.

[* as the complete and utter absence of Legionella at the Republican Convention two weeks ago attests]

The Maltsters Arms, Pontypridd, Mid-Glamorgan (pub #989)   1 comment

It struck me that I was eating a kebab and was not yet drunk.  This travesty would not stand (nor walk in a straight line or, god forbid, recite the alphabet backwards).  I crossed the bridge and popped into the Maltster’s Arms.

I get the feeling the house was a maltings in the past…proximity to the river, the tall roof and multiple levels.  Today, it is run by an Asian family and most of the folks that came in around the time I did seemed to be out for a nice family curry.  Several were bulking up on their way to Cardiff for the rugby match (Wales in an international qualifier of some sort), but I seemed the only beer-only customer.  Even so, the folks came by and chatted amiably and welcomed me back whenever I pass through again.

They had John Smith’s Extra Smooth on tap but it is carbonated and too cold for what it is supposed to be.  I opted, once more, for a Carling (#132 out of 100 for the Challenge).

The Tumble Inn, Pontypridd, Mid-Glamorgan (pub #988)   2 comments


The former Greyhound Hotel has been turned into a Wetherspoons called the Tumble Inn. The beer I wanted had just run dry so I just got a Carling (yet another in the Challenge) and went out to the porch to sit in the fresh air and some quiet.

I was writing up some of the previous day’s pub visits when a bunch of loudmouthed, twenty-year-old dickheads came out and piled around my table. Of course. It WAS fairly amusing as the leader, such as he was, had a bit of powder left under one of his sniffy nostrils and the others couldn’t stop giggling. Ii debated trying to get a photograph but I had the computer out and might have had to use it to protect myself. ‘Too old to fight four, coked up youths’ is a failure I came to terms with years ago.

Some older local hoodlum types came out and leader boy started berating his friends and went over to hang out with his heroes. I still have no idea why they chose my table.

The Coach and Horses, Ashvale, Blaenau Gwent (pub #983)   1 comment


I realised I was farther away from the Red Lion than I meant to be as the daylight waned and decided to pop into this neighbourhood pub to refresh myself and rest up for the final dash to my room for a shower. The Coach and Horses was absolutely packed and almost everyone had their own custom pool cue and seemed to be waiting their turns on the one table so I decided to try to blend into the background by being an American, drenched in sweat, stinking from drink, and waving a camera and a map around.

Carling #129 in the 100 Yellow Beer Challenge, as well.

The Castle, Bryn Serth, Blaenau Gwent (pub #982)   Leave a comment


The old guy out in front of the Castle said something in Welsh as I caught my breath from the dash slightly uphill after several miles downhill. I said I only speak English and he said something else, perhaps in English and laughed. I opened the door and said, “and, now, I drink.” That seemed to be the correct answer and he slapped me on the back.

The beer choices are still sad on this trip and I opted for yet another Carling (#128 in the Challenge).

The Railway Tavern, Sirhowy, Blaenau Gwent (pub #980)   Leave a comment


I checked into the Red Lion, stretched, and headed out for my run but about a mile into it I spotted the Railway Tavern and couldn’t resist the lure. I walked in and found the place reeking of bleach (the landlady was mopping, explaining why everyone was drinking outside).

I got a Carling (ales were missing today so that became #127 in the Challenge), and joined the crowd without, rather enjoying the muted breeze through the wooded garden and the late summer sun.

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