Archive for the ‘The Fens’ Tag

Otter Claus [Advent Booze Calendar: 5 Days Till Xmas]   2 comments

otter claus


Biased by our personal histories we are forced to judge the world accordingly.  I know, and have known for a long time, that the Otter Brewery is down in Devon but my first Otter Bitter was nearly five years ago in the Lazy Otter near Stretham (on the River Ouse) then every other pub I hit on the Great Ouse seemed also to stock the stuff, so I have a very Fen-centric view of the brews.  Today in the Fork Handles I found Otter Claus waiting for me.

Overall: Not much different from Otter’s Bitter, but that’s not a complaint.

Colour: Streets by the Wisbech docks after a flood, ferric red/brown.

Aroma: A spring jog along the mouth of the Great Ouse close to the Great Wash, with cereal growing in the fields and sugar beet fumes billowing from the factories.

Mouth: Medium but a bit sticky.  I’m sure this would prompt an argument with those that know better but it’s an argument that reminds me of pointing out how heavy the accents in East Anglia actually are (like Californians, they think they don’t have an accent, and like Californians they are dead, fucking wrong).

Flavour: All business: bitter, curt, and sharp; but, also a farm business with some of the social niceties left intact, like the floral scents in the aftertaste.

Yesterday’s entry here.

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

The Aldreth Causeway   Leave a comment

The Aldreth Causeway was the path by which William the Conquerer was able to invade the Isle of Ely and eventually defeat the forces of Hereward the Wake.  For me, it is a nice fen trail that gets me between Haddenham and Wililngham fairly quickly on my long runs and with a minimum amount of traffic.  Here are some historic information signs from the footpaths:

aldreth causeway

aldreth causeway highways abd byways

aldreth causeway belsars hill

Mas cerveza, senor? Chips?   Leave a comment

There aren’t a lot of things I miss about the US…I think it boils down to food, for the most part.  There’s not much that compares to sloppy barbecue pork shoulder sandwiches slathered in hot sauce and eaten in 90 degree heat and 95% humidity while waving a cold beer around your head to fend off the deer flies.  Or, proper pork sausage with spices and flavour and not a speck of breading.

I’ll come back to those in the near future (I bought a meat grinder and make our own sausages now due to the abysmal state of the offerings here).  But the thing that has been haunting me for the last few weeks is a desire to sit on Buford Highway in some fly infested Guat restaurant with Telemundo or a Mexican soccer match playing in the background and to wolf down some hot salsa on corn chips with a pitcher of cold lager (or two…maybe three if Jackie joins me).

ready to mixYou can’t get spicy food on this island, though.  I don’t know how they manage it, but even the imported pickled jalapeño pepper slices have been castrated and are as mild as my grannies sugar dills.  I’ve even bought brands I recognise from the States and somehow the Health and Safety (and Fun?) bureaucrats have come up with a form of irradiation that neutralises the capsaicin with the sealed lid in place.  Bastards…you can use these peppers to cover your eyes for a beauty treatment, so mild are they.

I finally found some real peppers squirreled away on a small shelf in the supermarket a couple of weeks ago and bought up copious quantities of habañero and jalapeño peppers.  I was now ready to prepare my fix, and my hands were shaking with the anticipation of a junkie.

After mixing, stash half of it away or you'll eat the whole batch

After mixing, stash half of it away or you'll eat the whole batch

I just replanted my cilantro (known here as coriander, which at home only refers to the seeds) which I have been using by the handful to doctor up Thai and Mexican dishes all summer, but they have only now sprouted and won’t be ready for use for another month.  The tomatoes from this summer’s plants were delicious but most were disappointingly small; I gathered as many of those as I could, as well.  The onions and garlic are locally sourced from our farmers market.  A bit of cumin and some lemon juice were all that remained.

mmmm beer chips and salsaIt always comes out as too big of a batch so I have enough leftover to hit it again next weekend (or tomorrow if the urge hits).  I’ll have to go back to the grocer to grab another bag of tortilla chips, but they are especially easy to spot with the offensive caricature of the bandito on the package:


Posted 2009/09/27 by Drunken Bunny in commentary, food

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Personal use in Great Britain   Leave a comment

Here’s an article wherein a couple receive suspended sentences for growing 83 marijuana plants because they are heavy users and the judge found it plausible that this was meant for personal use.

Cannabis growers with £26k stash spared jail

First consider that the plants were valued at £26000, total…that’s a little less than $500 US.  The newspapers in the US typically value a cannibas stem as $5000 to $6000.

Then, consider that even crappy growers are going to bet an ounce of buds off each plant (dunno how I know that).  If half are males and discarded, the 41 ounces (forget that they could easily harvest up to as much as 300 ounces) they have sitting around the would easily keep two stoners going for 6 months to a year if they lost half of it (and what are the chances of that).

Posted 2009/09/26 by Drunken Bunny in commentary, Fen news, Made me laugh

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Run Across Britain August 2009 details   2 comments

I forgot what long runs can do to your nipples

I forgot what long runs can do to your nipples

This month was very good for the progress of the Run Across Britain, if not for the shear number of new miles logged then for the psychological boost brought on by piercing the membranes of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Hertfordshire thus expanding this at least to more than just a Run Across Cambridgeshire {this is a little disingenuous since I already had some runs in Edinburgh and London, but almost everything to the end of July was centered on Cambridge, Stretham, Ely and Fordham}.

There were a couple of decent long runs to the north. The length from King’s Lynn to Ely (mostly in Norfolk) was covered in two runs each with an end (or start) in Downham Market.


From Downham Market to Ely, I made a bad map judgement at the confluence of the River Ouse (pronounce like “ooze”) and some large washes and found myself steered to Hilgay along a very pleasant dike but had to run the rest of the way mostly through thick grass along the A10. The run became more like hard labour as I trudged along without proper carbs and into a steady 15 mph (gust to 30 mph) wind.

great ouse at the washThe path from King’s Lynn went much better and yielded many nice sights along the Ouse. There was the cemetary in King’s Lynn, the paper plant (with an ambiguous name, I thought), and the ruins of a large church along the way.

some dick's grave

ruin on the ouse 1

ruin on the ouse 2


This past weekend took me from Wisbech through March via a path along the River Nene and a bike route built on an abandoned rail bed passing Her Majesty’s Prison and a land fill close to March.

milemarker rail-to-biketrail wisbech-march
I got trapped on a farm where, I suspect, the farmers had sabotaged the trail markings; faced with a choice between running back a mile or more (already at 18 miles into the run) or finding a way across a drainage canal I soon found myself dangling beneath and 8 inch diameter gas line going hand-over-hand NEARLY to the far side…lost my grip and ended up running the last 2 miles in sweats soaked to mid thigh.

I finally connected a few runs by doing an out-and-back to Aldreth, famous for the causeway that William the Conqueror used to approach the Isle of Ely in his last assault against the forces of Hereward the Wake. Aldreth falls off down the hill from Haddenham’s high spot as part of the Isle and makes for an unusual bit of terrain in this dreadfully flat part of the country.  The road here sort of dead-ends, as well, so there’s a manageably small amount of traffic even when the paved bit of pedestrian access ends.  Some of the subsequent late evening and early morning runs have yielded stunning views of the surrounding farmland.

bridge between lt downham and coveneyOne afternoon on holiday I managed to get out to Little Downham and do another farmland loop.  I was rewarded with some rustic bridges and a visit to an out-of-the-way village called Coveney.  Pretty.

coveneyThere were two runs out of Kentford, a small Suffolk village on a bus line out of Cambridge (and Newmarket and Bury St. Edmunds, should you find yourself there).  Kentford is rich with footpaths and pubs and seems a relaxing stopover if that suits your interests.  The first run followed the trails and bike lanes to Gazeley and the Icford long distance trail to Ashley and Cheveley before climbing to Newmarket along wide wooded B-roads with very wide verges (shoulders, in American) to accomodate the thousands of thoroughbreds housed at the farms and studs around the area (Newmarket being the home of British racing). At the end of this run, I decided I had had enough of the Sundown at the Pass t-shirt (rides up in back) and left it for the vagrants near the Three Horseshoes in Newmarket.

sundown pass 2006 race left at three horseshoes newmarket

2009-08-31-KentfordBuryStEdmundsThe second run from Kentford was more recent and involved an hour and a half in torrential rain, high winds, and 12 deg C temperatures.  That said, the run was most pleasant, taking some reasonably mildly travelled roads across the rolling terrain past Barrow and into Bury St. Edmunds, a larger market town in the center of Suffolk that I really have taken a shine to considering its distance from both the house and the campus.

I entered Hertfordshire on the trail from Harston to Royston (another easy bus trip to or from Cambridge).  Another hilly town as you leave the Fens, Royston is fairly large and seems to have a vibrant nightlife with many bands and clubs supporting them.

Essex is thus far represented by a trail passing through Littlebury and Saffron Walden, a really cool little market town bordering Audley End.

audley end 14 Aug 2009Audley End is an estate covering hundred of acres within its walls but the stately home is open for tours and the grounds host open air concerts throughout the nice weather.  The gardens are designed by Capability Brown, whose gravesite got a mention in last month’s wrap up.

milestone near audley end 14 Aug 2009Finally, a couple of runs came to be on our trip to Oxfordshire, setting a target for future runs to connect.  One run found me on some steep hills, passing through the village of Great Milton, and eventually slogging through a marsh and some especially stingy stinging nettles.  The next morning I got lost in some fields, squashed thousands of black slugs (no offence to Arthur Gash), and looped through some very small villages.


August wrap up of “other tourism and miscellany”   Leave a comment

1pumplaneThe weather has been absolutely gorgeous except for the times when it has been completely shit.  Above, there was a nice day in the village, so I shot the house (above) on my way to catch the bus to work.

stretham 18 Aug 2009Then, I noticed that the neighbourhood kids must have been bored the night before, having stacked what appear to be some concrete structures on the northbound bus shelter:

stretham bus shelter 14 aug 2009
I shaved at the halfway point of my marathon training regimen, a few weeks ago.  I was planning to let it go wild until the marathon in a couple of months then clear the brush after the race but I had to get a new i.d. card to have access to the lab at Oxford and figured it would be better if it matched my passport photo. I have noticed that I get better service at uppity places but not quite so good at dive bars since shaving…here it is after a morning run the day it went down the drain:

Jackie injured her knee and has been reduced to walking for outdoor exercise. Even then we managed to really over do the effort on a hike around Wicken Fen.  On another run this month I spotted my first native ferret, but the only unusual wildlife we saw on our hike was this herd of wild horses:

1 wild horses wicken fen 16 Aug 2009 cropSaffron Walden, Felixstowe, Wisbech, and Bury St Edmunds have emerged as some of my favourite towns in East Anglia over the course of this month’s travels.  Saffron Walden has a few of these houses around with patterned surfaces; while these are pretty attractive, it seems that you see a lot more of these deeper into Essex (a trip back through Thaxted is planned in the not too distant future where nearly every old house has some of this sort of masonry):

house saffron walden

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