Archive for the ‘kebabs’ Tag
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)
“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:
Top 3 in Oxford (Chippies in Oxford are generally shit, but seek these out):
The 5 most dreadful:
Best 5 of the rest:
An old acquaintance has secured Kate Bush tickets (first of 22 shows — which all sold out in 15 minutes — is tomorrow), one of the more heavily hyped items of late with several pages of bits in yesterday’s Observer and a documentary on BBC4 last Friday. Since she and partner are travelling from Los Angeles, I feel compelled to give some wholly unsolicited tourism options for any down time they have on the trip. Most of these are from the blog, so almost all of them require no extravagant expense (depending on what and how much you decide to eat and drink along the way). Not at all comprehensive, please add your own suggestions for my next trip down the Big Smoke.
Pubs: The map above is my London pub tally through 24 August 2014 and if you click on the picture it should take you to the UK-wide map from which this was gleaned. The pushpins are more accurately located than Google has them but some of the pubs are now gone. If you see one you are likely to want to visit, I have an entry for it on this site now linked to the pushpin on the map
but haven’t bothered to include links on the map ( so you would have to come back here to search for them). Some of my favourites are:
The Bree Louise: great selection of beer and cider near Euston Station
The Lyric is pleasant enough and you can peer out at the former Red Lion where the Communist Manifesto was mostly written.
I owe the Lord Nelson another visit after their hospitality during the London Marathon. Likewise the Rose of Denmark. The night before the race, we were also thoroughly entertained at the Flowers of the Forest.
Ladbroke Grove is the part of West Kensington where the Clash were holed up in the early years and you’ll find the Kensington Park a fabulous watering hole in the neighbourhood. Another pub with a bit of a punk history to it (and great Thai food on the menu) is the World’s End in Camden.
One of the most beautiful pubs I’ve seen in town is the Blackfriar. If you want to go to just one for atmosphere, this is it.
The East End has a few worthy boozers, too. I really like the White Hart with it’s Jack the Ripper connections and proximity to the London Hospital where John Merrick (the Elephant Man) lived out his days. Just up the road you’ll also find the Blind Beggar where Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell (Kray Brothers, Piranha Brothers, and Kemp Brothers fans should make time for a beverage here). Dinsdale.
Cemeteries: These are a particular favourite of mine and Jackie’s and we’ve done the Highgate tour several times. London has a bunch of good ones sprinkled around, and you could do worse than to stumble upon the Bunhill Fields (wiki here) and leave a penny at Blake’s site for the ferryman. Highgate East is free and very good, but Highgate West requires a tour guide although the hassle is well worth the cheap fee and the advanced planning. Closer into town, Kensal Green is also truly awesome and a good way to kill a few hours.
Farther afield but still in the London confines, the Necropolis Station is worth trying to find. Near the Waterloo Rail Station, this was a dedicated rail stop that shipped 10’s of thousands of small pox corpses out to the suburban cemeteries. Also, if you find yourself at Chelsea Bridge (see the music entry, below), there is another Victorian cemetery nearby we haven’t visited yet but have shortlisted.
Food: Okay, you can probably find more palatable things to eat, but nothing will be more quintessentially London than a bowl of jellied eels soaked in as much chilli vinegar as you can stand…and it comes with a little plate on which to spit the wee bones. Trust me on this one. Go to the Borough Market because if you chicken out there is a ridiculous spread of other food to go for, as fresh as you might ever hope for and reasonably priced (considering the floor show that goes with it).
English food is generally dreadful although I am really fond of blood pudding and fish and chips. If you are from the southeastern U.S., as the catalyst for this note is, you might find yourself more at home dining in the Brixton Market where people know what pimento cheese is and the greens and black-eyed peas are cooked in artery clogging levels of salt pork. Just pick a street stand and start eating; don’t worry, the contact high you get from the pot smoke everywhere will keep you munchy enough to try everything (wear loose clothing for the trip).
Music sites: More than any music site in London I am ashamed of NOT going to is the house where Joe Meek had his weird studio and eventually killed his landlady before committing suicide.
Look out, kid, there are sites I have been to that are pretty good such as Savoy Street in front of the Savoy Chapel where Dylan dropped cards while Subterranean Homesick Blues played in the background. You might also want to pop by number 3 Savile Road, the Apple offices where the last Beatles performance occurred, but under no circumstances should you do the Abbey Road walk of shame (better to just leave some graffiti on the walls outside the studios where, keeping with the Kate Bush theme, Man With the Child in His Eyes was recorded). Also, here’s a Werewolves of London location near the Kensal Green cemetery and not far from Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten’s squat.
Not London, just my Christmas card pic a couple of years ago, but musical
Clapham is an easy tube stop and the Clapham Common is a great and very large park to kill an afternoon around. Squeeze fans might go to the Clapham Junction station and get Up the Junction stuck in their heads. It’s not a long hike from there to Chelsea Bridge where you can look out over the Thames toward Battersea Power Station (The Pink Floyd’s Animals should come to mind) and settle into a brilliant Waterloo Sunset. Classical music fans can find Jimi Hendrix’s place (which had previously been Handel’s place) at 23 Brook Street while you can find the scene of one of the more annoying brain worms, Come On Eileen, at Brook Drive on the opposite side of the Thames.
Here are two websites that give pretty good music tour ideas. First, Music Like Dirt has a map if you just want to find something near you. The Shady Old Lady has a much more comprehensive site and a lot of other categories to choose from but you are on your own for mapping.
Dr. Who just started again, and I do try to hit Who sites out here in the provinces. Below, you’ll find a screen shot of the Google Earth map of Dr. Who scene sites in central London taken from http://www.doctorwholocations.net/ (download the file DrWhoLocations.kml to load into G-Earth and maybe a more useful map overlay — I’m using OpenStreetMap for mine).
For movie sites in London, try the map at https://moviemaps.org/cities/4 which, though far from comprehensive it does give you some touristy ideas, and a map.
Other recreation: I do not recommend Boris Bikes except maybe in the Square Mile on the weekends (the City is abandoned by 6pm Friday). They are cheap, sturdy, and fun but you can get yourself killed on them as well.
Depending on your interests overlapping a bit, I would highly recommend hashing in the city. London hashers are a friendly lot, take you to the most interesting pubs around, and if you aren’t careful you might even get a little exercise while trotting around the back alleys and through tunnels and up and down streets you might never otherwise venture. They have a centralised calendar of events here but sometimes it is irregularly updated; I have never been disappointed by a London based hash…here are some of the individual kennels’ pages:
West London HHH
South London HHH (SLASH) … say, ‘hi,’ to Testiculator if you go here or, for that matter, any of the others as he seems to hash a lot.
Looking back, Year 5 was busier than I remember but not especially productive. Work is about where I left it at the Year 4 post but there has been no slippage, so that’s good. This post, however, is just another annual consolidation of random ‘highlights,’ for lack of a more appropriate term. The photos here are mostly leftovers from graffiti, sidewalk pies, or bits around the neighbourhood or work.
New Morrison’s (white frame) and cinema/restaurant complex (grey) at bottom of Prospect Hill 100m from the house in the new retail development.
I cleared some of the backlog of old t-shirts out of my pile of rags, but then printed shirts for my imaginary liqueur plant and traded them for others…treading water, zero-sum-game. The liqueurs are NOT fake, though, and quite nice in general.
Pavement pizza project…this one spotted near the Roaring Donkey in Septmenber
We moved house from Ferndale Road to Eastcott area of Old Town and, at the bottom of the hill the construction effort has been trundling along well enough. Our locals, the Beehive and the Castle, seem healthy although the Prince of Wales re-opened and closed during the course of the year.
It was a slack year for running despite projects to keep it interesting, like the Swindon Orienteering Challenge and my own efforts to hit every path in Old Town. Including several races and [of course] more of the pub crawl — often during the races — I managed about 1860 miles, down from a more typical 2000 to 2200…but I’m old and creaky. And, creepy. The pub count only increased by 134 but we spent a lot more time in some fine ones we visited previously.
Travel was entirely in England this year but we managed to make the Isle of Wight and I got to see the bustling metropolis that is Hemel Hempstead.
Christmas and New Year were low-key affairs and what you might otherwise expect. We tried very hard to develop gout, as usual, and somehow failed. This could be the year!
One project for the calendar year 2013 was the Kebab Challenge, a variation on the Burger Challenge and that led me to eschew kebabs for a while in favour of fish and chips. As the residence year overlaps the calendar year, I should mention that I have also started another project that involves a different adult beverage each day with a daily caption in the form of a haiku (something I did for a couple of months in Year 1).
So, there you have it. Year 6 begins.
I weaseled into the 2012 Challenge (100 Yellow Beers in 100 Places) because it involved beer and then, quite drunk at the end of that year, decided to mock the 2013 Challenge (50 Burgers in 50 Places) because it didn’t involve beer. I also wanted to mock the other participants because, as fat Americans tend to do, they threw themselves into the gorging challenge with the gusto Brits plunge into drinking contests. [Is it any wonder I’m trading up from the blue to the red covered passport?]
However, as burgers are particularly shitty in England (the few that aren’t are far too pricey to justify) I requested a substitute dining experience: the kebab. I have been hooked on the spitted elephant leg of spiced meat (I hope it’s meat, anyway) ever since my post-doc years in Amsterdam — in Holland, look for a ‘shoarma’ place to get a decent kebab: they usually aren’t to far from the coffee shop you wake up in.
I was aware that even my unhealthy lifestyle might be challenged by attacking this task too eagerly — to eat 50 of the dreadful things in 50 different places in a year — so I set a pace of one per week (with the option for a bonus kebab here and there) to ensure I finished well on the distant side of the goal line. A kpw (see one of the posts for an explanation) shouldn’t be too hard, should it? But, the pace was toxic and I have been looking forward to a break from this effort for months, now, and may not have another ‘bab before summer now that it’s over. I still enjoy them and have a good database started of who serves a decent one but enough is enough.
So, it may come as a surprise that I am continuing the street-foodie effort into 2014 not so much as part of “Wiley and Brownie’s Annual Challenge” but more due to my own OCD issues. Therefore, 2014 will be the year of Fish and Chips, with special efforts made to visit any with amusing names (such as A Salt and Batter-y, Frying Nemo, or the Codfather). Cod, haddock, pollock, what-have-you as long as it used to swim before it got battered and deep fried…at least one every seven days (minimum 52, probably closer to 100), no repeat venues, a brief report here and add the place to a Fish and Chips map (like the Kebab map that started with the 2013 Challenge, below):
The map so far
Oxford area (near enough to work)
Swindon (near enough the house)
2013 Kebab List:
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 57th entry for the 2013 Challenge and, note…I shall explain the 53 week year below†.]
This is how the 2013 Challenge Ends, not with a whimper but with a crappy döner and chips. It’s not as greasy as the photo looks but the chilli sauce is bland (good structure but no flavour) and the meat was incredibly salty. For £4.50 I would have liked some of the veg, too, but that’s probably why the other stands were crowded and this one wasn’t. Happy New Year, though. Taking a break from the kebab for a while….
†Brief Explanation of the 53 Week Year just completed
“Kebab Per Week” was a bit of a misnomer from the start as I counted the week from Saturday-to-Saturday inclusive, an eight day week that overlaps with the ones before and after so that, technically, I could have two kebabs as many as 15 days apart and still have one per week. The longest spacing was 10 days, though, and I went over ‘bab quota a few times.
The other issue is that the first and last weeks of 2013 had five and four days, respectively, by that definition, so the year had 51 ‘full’ weeks sandwiched by two short ones. This way my liberal definition of a week was tempered by a Sharia count of the number of weeks.
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 56th entry for the 2013 Challenge]
The year is winding down and walking home from the bus station after a short day at work I took the opportunity to hit the last of the Town Centre kebaberies, Korky’s Takeaway on Fleet Street. It was early for them and the pre-Christmas drinking crowds had not yet descended so the guy didn’t much notice I was there while I inspected the sad, damp piles of wilted salads and onions. This is atypical even in shitty kebab shops, so I didn’t expect much of the sandwich (and shouldn’t according to the inspection report, either)..
Wrong. It was quite nice. Gamey, like lamb but more so like mutton, the texture was surprisingly more like meat than chewy connective tissue. The flavour was that of freshly barbecued slices albeit straight from the steam table. The chilli sauce was respectably spicy and the tomatoes and chillis (the only veg that didn’t disgust in appearance) were brilliant. Even the pita from a bargain-sized bag was alright. [Full disclosure: I had not eaten anything since biscotti at 6 in the morning.]
Cold out, I was ready to head off to a rendezvous at the Beehive but first took my choice of booths to listen to Christmas Carols on the tele while my host returned to his smart phone. Merry Christmas, everyone.