Archive for the ‘Ely’ Tag
So it has come to this…1000 posts in less than 3 years (975 days, to be precise).
In that time we have come quite far together: 712 pub stops, 4025 miles running (1740 unique miles in the UK, at that), almost 96000 views of this blog (averaging about 200/day the last few months after slow beginnings) and tons of ridiculous shit that I should bring me disgrace. In that same time, I have only managed my way onto one proper publication (with acknowledgements in a few others, although another paper from the Cambridge work is almost finished) and one patent, and for that meager output I truly am ashamed; but, my big bag of guilt still has a bit of spandex left and, besides, I left plenty of tired, old impropriety across the Atlantic to make room for new experiences so let’s keep piling it in.
One of my favourite pub experiences was early on at the Chequers in Cottenham which I hope has reopened since we left the area. I have some favourite pubs in various places but no one favourite nationwide yet. The map, linked here and over to the left of the page gives you the names of pubs reviewed or otherwise used as a template for my blather in this document and makes a nearly comprehensive reference for planning a pub crawl in Oxford, Swindon, Cambridge, Ely, Faringdon, Kidlington and Bicester; many other areas are covered less extensively but it should continue to grow over the coming years.
Pub count by date...summer surge came late this year
Here are some of my favourite posts out of that ridiculous collection, if you are at all interested or just bored:
Picking on the deceased, especially one’s betters, is always worthy: Arthur Stanley Eddington plaque. Other times, the sciences offer jobs that are hard to resist (but the job has been filled and removed from the HR site since then). Never sure if it was an attractant or repellent, and still don’t understand what the dog had to do with it (unless it was a Cocker).
Many articles about running as tourism have been posted, but some are better than others. Place names tend to be the best for humour…like these here. Or this one. We actually drove about 10 miles out of our way one weekend trip for this hamlet, but the signs have been stolen so often they stopped putting them up. Claims to never having paid for it aside, this was a nice if mistaken sight. Deep in Cambridgeshire you find some good place names, and they seem to treat strangers well on Hills Road Cambridge. Our first trip to Wales resulted in disappointment with this highway’s promise.
The daily Haiku was a feature early on, before I realised just how many pubs were going to be reviewed. The best ones happened spontaneously like this one on a trip to London.
As I write this I am suffering stigmata…okay, I accidentally stabbed myself in the palm with a screwdriver this morning. Still, religion figures into the blog from time-to-time as it did about the ex-masturbators and the fisting-for-Jesus folks. In Italy, it is hard to escape the influence of the Church and so we gave into its temptations.
An eternal Dylan fan and no stranger to public nudity and substance abuse, I felt kinship with these guys. Other times the news is just ironic on its own. Romance is alive and well in Ireland, as this guy proves.
With luck running will continue and I’ll cover many more miles of virgin territory and review loads of worthy races (although my feelings have not changed for the ‘Finisher’s Medal’). Barely 1/10 of 1% into the stock of pubs to visit, I should be able to maintain this pace of coverage for awhile, as well. Best, to all, and here’s to 1000 more of this nonsense.
Here’s an item of interest to the Americans out there…we went to the grocer in Ely–Waitrose, part of the John Lewis family of retail businesses–and enjoyed a sample of the wares in stock. This happens at American stores, too, and you can usually find a stand with a retiree pushing samples of hot frozen pizza or cured sausage slices or whatever.
Here, however, the old woman was handing out shots of 12-year-old scotch. No shit, single malt fine whiskey. In the states the malt is behind iron bars and you need an employee of Brinks to come and unlock the damn thing to buy a fifth of Lagavulin. Here, pensioners are handing it out next to the bread aisle. I love Britain.
The run from Littleport ended with me facing a 45 minute wait for my bus from Ely, so I trotted over to the Fountain which completes my dance card for Ely. I had avoided the place at night because there always seem to be some hoodlum kids hanging out on the green out front but I realise after visiting that these are probably posh kids escaped from the King’s School dormitories and no threat at all.
The young bartenders (perhaps a couple, perhaps the proprietors) were especially friendly to all and the place had a very nice vibe to it, like the folks in there may come out of their way to spend a little time in the joint even if they don’t especially fancy a drink. I, on the other hand, fancied a Budvar (the original Budweiser).
After changing into some dry clothes in the gents, I settled into the barber chair near the window and red the front section of the Gaurdian. The flow of conversation was animated in the groups of other customers and I listened in, but it was obvious that these conversations started weeks or even years ago and that points of reference necessary for admission were missing from my conversational pocketbook. Fair enough, I’ll be back.
The Ely section of CAMRA voted the West End House “Pub of the Year 2009” and it seems a nice enough place to have a pint. I’ve been trying to hit the place for months but they are only open at lunchtime then reopen at 6pm and it has just never meshed with my schedule in spite of being just a short run from the house.
There are a couple of small bars inside and a lot of ales, but the interesting ales weren’t ready to tap yet so I took my Spitfire outside. The garden decor has a very ‘Desert Southwestern US’ feel which is disturbing having moved here fromTucson. The walls had painted features like in some touristy mexican restaurants:
And, the walls were peppered with lizard and other scultures that evoke New Mexico more than Olde England:
The Hereward looks like a Denny’s or other American “family style” restaurant chain was taken over by someone that wanted a bar but didn’t want to alienate the original customer base. As such, the menu looks like a Denny’s or IHOP’s menu but the place is definitely an English pub once you sidle up to the bar (quite a large bar so you have to choose which of the many tenders you want). I randomly wound up with this asian kid with a practiced Brixton street accent that I couldn’t understand at all…fucking Ali G with a shot glass and a shaker, but it probably goes over well with the novice drinkers.
The pub is named for Hereward the Wake who fought William the Conquerer to the finish of the Norman Conquest (Ely was the last Saxon stronghold), but the pub doesn’t really live up to the name. My photo compositions aren’t the best on good days, but I was now on my 5th pub since cutting out of work an hour early for Friday and this is what I came up with for the interior shot (see above); just another example of how once one thing is done half-assed by one person or group, everyone else just phones in their deliverables, as well. Oh, well, I didn’t need to get too far from the window lest my bus home showed up early.
We had a lovely evening at the 7th Elysian Beer Festival. I called Jackie from the bus and she caught the same one as it passed through on its way to Ely. We had a salty meal of duck with black bean sauce and cashew chicken then doubled back to catch the shuttle out to the Ely City football pitch (known as Unwin Ground, an unfortunate name for a competitive team’s home). Once there, we secured our drinking vessels and waded through to the bar.
She’s not really a beer drinker but tried some of the ciders; the Pickled Pig Ciders Rum Cask and Old Spot were especially tasty. They are cloudy because, like real ale, they come to us unfiltered and with live yeast still in the mixture…there’s a real danger of fermentation re-starting if they get too warm or are kept too long. The Rum Cask comes in a limited run, is slowly fermented in casks that had previously aged Caribbean rums and is quite smooth and rich. The Old Spot is treated much as ales are, with a fast initial ferment then the seller runs a second ferment prior to tapping; it was more complex and at the same time sharp and refreshing. Both are made from local apples, are 6.5% a.b.v. and will adorn our tables with some autumn pork roasts or barbeques.
I had six half pints and was usually impressed, starting with a Boggart Ray of Sunshine. This was sharp, bitter, floral and easily the best of my rounds.
Next, I enjoyed a nice seesion bitter from Empire (Slaithwaite, Yorkshire), but more than that enjoyed saying, “Roger the Cabin Boy, please.” This was kind of a dull second choice but developed a tannic aftertaste that was pretty nice as it warmed up.
I kept on with the buggery based titles and asked for a Punk (from Brewdog Breweries). This was my second favourite, 6.0% abv, and had a lot of fruit essences to it but wasn’t sweet. It developed a mildly soapy taste toward the end, but it wasn’t an unpleasant soapy taste.
The Purple Moose Cnicht was likewise floral and had a bit of a cocoa hint. The best thing was the name, but it was an okay half pint.
My Dark Matter (Betwixt Brewery) had the least character of all (but still a lovely quaff, I should have added…this was a very nice line-up and I am no expert), but about halfway through I found myself describing the flavour as “old textbook,” like what you might find on the shelves of an emeritus professor that no one is even sure is still alive.
To kill off the 15 minutes before the shuttle, I grabbed a Bartram’s Butchers Hook, a very light mild and the first mild I have ever seen that wasn’t very dark in colour. Still it had the chocolate and coffee flavours (and these ran deep) that I had hoped for.
The weather was perfect, the venue was pleasant, the crowd was good. I deem this a successful festival.
A couple of times a year, the Ely market hosts stalls of a bunch of vendors from Normandy and this weekend it was on. We loaded up on treats and some of them shown here made a nice afternoon feast of pate dotted with pistachios, cured sausage made from wild boar, a rustic bread, some brie and a bottle of wine. Yum.