Archive for the ‘Public Houses’ 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)
Dry, warm clothing donned at the Stallards after the rainy run were a special joy but now the rain had stopped and I could look around on my walk back into town. On my right, I spotted the Rose and Crown which I had web-reconned and decided it looked too foodie for a stop (maybe it was the sign, maybe a review); but, the bar was crowded with fat, middle-aged blokes so I felt I could slide in unnoticed.
Turns out, they had a nice selection of ales on although it does appear to have a dining crowd in mind (with locally sourced produce featured but also largely traditional plates available). I went to the Spartan dining room next to the bar so I could sit by a window and watched a fellow demolish first a platter of burger and chips then a really large berry mess: five minutes flat and the bartender had to go get the dessert.
The longer I stayed the more it felt like a proper pub although the location is a bit unfortunate. However, almost right across the road you’ll find the rail station, so if you’re passing through and fancy a quick pint you could do a lot worse.
I was absolutely soaked as I entered the previous pub, but the run from there to the Stallards was even wetter, windier, and colder (although the temperature nearly hit double digits). It had just opened for the day (third time as first customer today), but there was already a brazier of coal started in the hearth so I knew the run was over — I had considered a loop around the outskirts of Trowbridge to pick up another pub but the thought of returning to the damp in soaked vestments was a non-starter, so the backpack was unloaded and the dry kit set on a chair to warm up.
That’s right, I didn’t change out of the wet stuff straightaway. I was hot from the exertion despite feeling outwardly chilled. I needed some time to let the internal and external temperatures equilibrate and I needed to grab a pint of nourishment, this time in the form of West Country Gold, a cider just sweet enough to appeal to the candied-cider crowd and dry enough (for a fizzy, industrial cider) not to offend the effete.
The bar seems like it might be a bit of a party shack for the young but not for youths. I get the feel of college or university educated folk or journeymen crafts people but not anyone over 40 years old. Hard to tell mid-day as the only punter in the place, but I don’t think I’m the target audience. Nice enough, but it has an atmosphere that doesn’t speak to me either as a traditional pub nor as a real dive. Perhaps a bit too tidy, or maybe the sensation that the well whisky is actually good or that brightly coloured shooters are on the menu.
“Do you think that has too much chocolate?” one girl yelled over to my bartender who was licking some sort of pastry from her fingers before pulling my Corvus Stout. “Too much chocolate? Hang on, I need to taste some more to see what you’re on about.” But, despite the charm of this banter what I liked most was that no one commented on the state of yours truly: drenched top-to-toe from a winter run in the rain and caked with mud below the knees.
I’m a fan of Corvus but I wonder why everyone serves it ice-cold. Especially today I would have savoured something other than bone-chillingly chilled (and might well have gone for an Irish coffee had I been thinking clearly). Still, it was a joy to sit in the front window (the privilege of the first customer of the day) in the Dandy Lion (this hillside pub in one of the prettiest towns in the county) and watch the road and foot traffic go on in the downpour.
Then, the skies brightened a bit and the sun threatened an appearance. Gulping down the last half of the stout, I bid farewell and headed back out to the roads to try to take in some nice weather…which just as suddenly turned to shit when the skies blackened and the rain returned with a vengeance, driving into my face from the right. Bracing.
The descent from Westwood was steep and curved and the wet tarmac incompatible with my trail shoes so once up to speed I kept an ear tuned to oncoming traffic and an eye peeled to find a soft place to bail out (because there was no way I could rapidly decelerate or drastically change direction). Fortunately, at 10:05 am I reached the bottom without incident (literally, although often enough I’ve reached bottom, figuratively, WITH incidents). Before me sat the first target: the Crossed Guns pub which opened at 10 am.
The staff were mopping the flagstone floors as I entered so I checked my shoes for mud but they were quite clean from running through the flooded roads. I removed my hat, brushed off some of the sheen of water from my sleeves and headed toward the bar where I found an array of fine brews available. Needing something substantial, I went for a Box Steam Funnel Blower, a vanilla porter I found to taste strongly of coffee and blackberries. As it turns out, the Crossed Guns is one of the brewery taps for the Box Steam brewery.
Sitting there alone, slowly drying off and really savouring the beer, I had a good look around at this 16th – or -17th-century limestone house. There’s shit hanging everywhere but it doesn’t come off as cluttered at all. The room I was in had an array of piss pots hanging from the ceiling (which made me think of Dylan’s “On the Road Again,” with the lyric I still hear as
Well, there’s piss pots in the kitchen
They’re enough to make me cry
even though I’ve known the real lines for years).
I killed some time here, thinking ahead to the next pub stop, a mile and a half away but not opening until 11. On the cliffs across the Avon, cows grazed; passenger trains whizzed through the station across the bridge without stopping; and the landlord methodically went about preparing for the lunch rush by building a fire and helping the other staff setting up the place. The lighting of the south facing windows was atmospheric and I didn’t want to leave at all, but there were miles and miles between me and my ride home and several more pubs to try.
“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:
This is the last of
Three hundred sixty-seven
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).
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
1 beer fest
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