Archive for the ‘Wales’ Tag

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   2 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

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.

The Queen’s Hotel, Newport, Gwent (pub #991)   Leave a comment

With a half hour layover in Newport, there wasn’t time to be choosy about the venue.  The Queen’s Hotel wasn’t my preferred sort of pub for a short stop, large and yet crowded, but even had I found a true local it was just after end-of-business on a Friday and I would certainly have sacrificed my advance ticket for the experience–this was better for my purposes.

When I say it is huge, you really don’t get that impression from the photo, below.  However, the streets on either side of this frontage are at 30 degree angles to each other and the house stretches back along both of these, expanding as it does, for about 200 feet.  Inside, it is a multilevel, gaudy and oddly disconcerting mix of drunken pensioners, yuppies, derelicts, and hybrids of the three.

Posted 2012/09/09 by Drunken Bunny in pubs, railroads

Tagged with , , , ,

The Great Western, Cardiff (pub #990)   Leave a comment

The streets of Cardiff were heaving with Rugby fans (many of whom seemed well on their own way to heaving) when I arrived at 5pm.  An international match was getting ready to kick off on top of the normal Friday night insanity (which would probably continue to build in surges well past midnight).  I bought my train ticket then went of through the masses to find a pub.  The Great Western was close, huge enough that I was able to find a seat, and had cheap scrumpy on taps.  Sorted.

Rugby fans are great.  They sing a lot, they are otherwise boisterous, they drink dangerous amounts of alcohol–all very similar to footie fans.  Unlike football supporters, the revelry doesn’t seem to degenerate (too often) into random violence or, worse, sectarian or racial attacks…strange, but yet another reason I like the Welsh–they’ll play football but they are really invested in rugby.

Posted 2012/09/09 by Drunken Bunny in commentary, pubs

Tagged with , , , , ,

Almighty Cod, Pontypridd, Mid-Glamorgan   1 comment

I like kebabs and döner based meals, and I was famished after the run earlier in the day so I had my eye out for a kebab place.  I also like puns in chip place names (Hamid’s Plaice, the Codfather, etc).  So, I hit the jackpot with this one (yeah, I know it is The Mighty Cod, but mine is better).  The döner and chips was excellent, too, and the best chilli sauce I’ve had in months.

“I swear by Almighty Cod.”

Posted 2012/09/08 by Drunken Bunny in food

Tagged with , , , , , ,

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).

%d bloggers like this: