A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Posts Tagged ‘beer’

To the top

Posted by Alan on April 5, 2011

This weekend I took to the roads and cycle lanes of London again for two adventures, clocking up around 35 miles in total.  The second trip took me from home to Hampstead Heath and the opportunity to tick of another London must: the view from Parliament Hill.

The view from Parliament Hill

Looking south: the view from Parliament Hill

It wasn’t a spectacularly clear day – so I am quite impressed that some detail has come out in the cloud. The City is typically hazy (this is Sunday’s air pollution!), something that maybe one day will get fixed. It’s a real mixed use space – picnics, kite flying, many runners, sadly no cycling but due to the number of people walking I can understand that. (This doesn’t negate the fact I still need to find a hill to practice on).

Looking away

Just the three of us. Looking away.

Further down the hill you can start to pick out other detail – the London eye, just how utterly massive the Shard is and the motley crew of tower blocks apparently dumped at random across the London skyline.

Another view - spot the London Eye

Another view - spot the London Eye

Apparently the heath isn’t off limits to all wheeled vehicles as this mobility scooter proved – I bet that was an uncomfortable ride!

Off road

Off road mobility

With the photographic opportunities finished (i.e. we got bored) next stop was the Southampton Arms, just round the corner from the bottom of the heath.

Ale and cider house

Southampton Arms: an ale and cider house

There’s more about the pub over at my other blog but in summary it most excellent. 10 ales, 8 ciders and a selection of pies. What more can you ask for?

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Posted in Cycling, Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bogle Training Part II

Posted by Alan on February 16, 2011

I am still in training for Bogle, Manchester RAG’s infamous 55 mile walk around the Manchester cityscape. I’ve decided to raise money for Lymphoedema Support Network this year after the support mum has received over the last few years.  I hope you can find some spare change to donate though my JustGiving page.

Back to the training…

This weekend I headed out to the Midlands to take in a  30 mile (48 km) training walk. This is a rather more pleasant scenic adventure than Bogle will be, or indeed, the previous training walk of 17 miles through London. From Leamington, we took to the canal and headed vaguely north to Birmingham.  The first real point of note, is Hatton flight -where the canal rises steeply.

Hatton Flight

Hatton Flight

Towards the top lock, in a pond in front of what must have once been the lock keepers cottage sits a rather nice dragonfly sculpture.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Further north-westwards we took a left and ventured onto the Stratford North Canal.  One of the earlier canals to be built in the UK, it shows it. The infrastructure is much more heavy – huge bridges, cuttings, embankments particularly north of Hockley Heath. It’s little wonder – apparently they spanked £300K in 1796 on just 25 miles of canal! This bit of canal is allegedly cycle free, though that didn’t stop the people who passed us … on bikes. It might surprise you to know you actually need a cycle permit! Still, it didn’t bother us too much except for the sections where they had churned up the mud.

A boating

A boating on the North Stratford Canal

Given the basic nature of the towpath, I’d guess that’s actually why cycling is prohibited on the North Stratford. It’s essentially mud. Finally by about half 4 we reached Kings Norton Junction and turned right towards Birmingham. Here the scenery became much more industrial and we realised we had to pick up the pace a little.  Despite being on National Cycle Route 5, the regular floral tributes and fading light wasn’t encouraging – so a couple of miles further up at Selly Oak we came off the canal on to the Bristol Road.

Dead boat

Forlorn, sadly unloved boat

From the canal though you do get a sense of the vast machine that is the Cadbury Bournville factory. It’s much less purple than I remember.  Perhaps the Kraft influence has kicked in already.  Some parts of the factory are still very 1930s – such as this building on the Birmingham side.

Cadbury

Corporate pride 1930s style - Cadbury, Bourneville

The last few miles up the Bristol Road were a stark contrast.  As long as I can remember I’ve known Brum to be a car city, probably reinforced by watching Brum as a small child. The Bristol Road is a fairly angry dual carriageway with lots of traffic. Thinking back to University, Manchester’s Oxford Road is also very busy – but the majority of the traffic is made up of buses, it’s much slower and seems somewhat more friendly. The relaxed studenty feel only really seemed to stretch from Selly Oak to the campus gates unlike Manchester’s curry mile and student village.  Anyway, long digression!  Final destination was The Wellington on Bennetts Hill. We even got seats, which was nice after 29.5 miles and of course the beer was excellent. A short amble towards the train home took us over the 30 mile mark. A most excellent way to spend a Saturday.

To round off – just a quick reminder. I really do plan to get all the way around this time. If you’d like to sponsor me, please do so at http://www.justgiving.com/AlanP-Bogle2011

Posted in Buildings and Places, Culture, Travelling around | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Bright Lights

Posted by Alan on December 12, 2010

Euston Tap

The bright lights of London - Euston Tap

It’s been another busy week as the inevitable party chaos of Christmas descends – thus time for a pythonesque list of things done.

Monday was Ruth’s birthday but she was working a long day in the hospital so I prepared instead by hitting Oxford St, bringing back a surprise (nowhere to hide presents in our flat!) and having a proper beef & ale stew waiting on the table for when she got home.

On Tuesday Dan popped up in London – fancy a beer? The Gunmakers and Euston Tap provided plenty of entertainment in the form of quality beer.

By Wednesday it was time to take Ruth out for a proper birthday dinner. Queue Queens steakhouse. It was very good though sadly not very full. Could be a symptom of limited promotion – their own website simply states ‘coming soon’ and you’ve no idea about what treats lie in store until you arrive.

Thursday saw a work xmas do where after some great food at Kym’s of Pimlico we decamped to the excellent Cask.

On Friday, Ruth was back at work.  This left me free to go check out Mason & Taylor in Shoreditch and then write about it. And then leg it to the Euston Tap / Bree Louise to catch up with another work party.

And thus that left the weekend for R&R. Well, best get onto the Sunday chores…

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Norfolk Holiday – Day 5 – Norwich

Posted by Alan on October 10, 2010

 

Ready for home

Ready for home

 

With a 4pm train from Norwich to London we were really not in a rush.  A final full breakfast and a gentle roll down to the station put us on the 1046 out of Sheringham.  A much posher train than before –  we could even use our first class tickets! (Yes, I know. The cuts are going to suck.) The cycle stowage area was a bit strange – quite well secured, though you’d struggle to fit a really large framed bike in there and it was probably also the wheelchair space. Still, we retired to the reclining seats of first class and hoped our bikes would still be there when we got off.

 


Well secured

Well secured

 

Thankfully they were.  Arriving into Norwich around 12pm gave us a little time to explore.  Norwich seems to be quite a strange place, some cycling infrastructure but a lot of signs making sure you knew not to cycle on the pavement.  Pretty soon we got bored of being routed on the ring road, found the town square and locked up.  On Pottergate, we found a coffee shop where we picked up the middle bit of the Grauniad with an article featuring ‘the gods of science’. Next stop, The Belgian Monk for some lunch.  We had a go at al fresco dining until the weather rolled in – still the beer was excellent.

 


Beer fit for gods

Beer, fit for gods

 

From here we headed back towards the station ready for early boarding (still no reservations!) encountering some cycle rage.   Still, we made it back safely.  Getting back into London, the railway line skirts the edge of the Olympics site – an unexpected stop allowed a few photos from afar – the work is coming along nicely. It won’t be long before everything is finished – I hope!

 


Olympic Stadium

Olympic stadium

 

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Epic Bike Ride

Posted by Alan on June 27, 2010

Having decided to stay at home for a change and save a bit of money… myself and the lovely Ruth embarked on an epic (for us at least) bike ride. Through CAMRA I’d heard about a CAMRA-award winning pub (The Duke of Hamilton) that may close and be turned into flats over in Hampstead. At around 10 miles (16 kilometres) this was about idea for finding out just how unfit we might be!

Our route took us through Walthamstow’s marshes just down from Tottenham under this really low bridge:

Low bridge under the railway - just 5 foot clearance!

Warning - Low Bridge!

I know at 5’8″ I’m not exactly tall – but this bridge has a clearance of just 5′ (c. 1.5m) – that’s got to be taking the biscuit on a national cycle route right?

Heading through Finsbury Park and Tuffnell park we finally came to Hampstead Heath where the gradient finally got the better of us and we had to have a rest.

Ruth under a tree at Hampstead Heath

Ruth rests under a tree on Hampstead Heath

About another half mile of mostly walking up a really steep hill… we finally arrived at The Duke.

Alan outside the Duke of Hamilton, Hamstead

Maybe one day I'll figure out this smiling in photos thing?

Add some food from the gastro-pub just down the road and we were ready to head back. Though…we did cheat a bit and get the train from Gospel Oak back to Walthamstow cutting out about 7 miles (11.2 km) before cycling the last leg home.

So all in all about 15 miles exercise done – not in an awful time, though having planned a route using http://www.cyclestreets.net/ we were about 30 minutes behind it’s recommended completion time – probably mostly due to having to stop every 300 yards (c. 275m) to check the next instruction! Sat Nav app required for phone I think… and hopefully more delightful weather to take advantage of!

Posted in Travelling around | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Around London Bridge

Posted by Alan on May 21, 2010

As I was running late to meet the CAMRA ‘crew’ anyway, I wasn’t exactly in a rush. This opened up a few opportunities for photos! At Kennington, I found a house missing:

A missing house in Kennington, London

A missing house, Kennington

I hope someone didn’t wake up one day and discover next door had just disappeared!

Moving on towards London Bridge, I came across this view:

Natwest Tower/Tower 42 from the peabody estate, London

The view from the outside

London is an utterly strange place in many ways. Poverty and riches often live side by side. It’s surprisingly green and some areas are surprising quiet. Just round the corner is the Lord Clyde – next stop for the CAMRA folks.

The Lord Clyde

The Lord Clyde, Borough

A fairly standard London boozer. Nothing out of the ordinary beer wise – good, proper bitter served well. Next up was the Gladstone arms.

The Lord Gladstone

The Lord Gladstone

This place is much smaller than it looks. With 10 (ish) of us, we took up 1/3rd of the seating in the pub! There was live music promised (we ducked out halfway through the second song – 0ops, mustn’t have been a good for confidence!) and an interesting menu with pies from pieminister of Borough Market (mmm). Somewhere to check out again when not in a rush perhaps.

With the light gone there aren’t any photos from the next pubs. The Royal Oak was nice but expensive (as usual) – good to see Fullers Hock back again (a lovely dark mild), the Market Porter was really busy hence we skipped on to The Rake. I wholly agree with the philosophy of the Rake – ‘No crap on tap’. They’ve just started a blog (at http://therakeblog.wordpress.com/) and combined with their twitter feed you can check out what beers they have. I’m not going to pop in for x,y,z beer but it’s nice to see what I’m missing out on.

Enough drivel for now. Early start tomorrow!

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The Meatwagon

Posted by Alan on May 21, 2010

As is the norm for these days, I am late. It’s just one of those things that the City does to you I think. There always something else more important / broken / … that is a great excuse! Last Thursday (13 May) saw me trek to both ‘The Meatwagon’ and the East London & City pub crawl. The meatwagon is essentially a burger van – but with a difference. You have to follow them via their website ( http://www.themeatwagon.co.uk ) and they make the burgers themselves.

The Meatwagon, parked up in Herne Hill

The Meatwagon, parked up in the garden of the Florence, Herne Hill

It’s certainly better quality than the burger van I once briefly worked in (a story for the pub…!) and everything did have a real home made feel to it. That said it’s probably not something I’d indulge in too frequently – A couple of my workmates Jon & Adam have been raving about it for weeks now and I think I’d let my expectations get a little high. But hey – if it rocks up near you do give it a go.

That night the Meatwagon was being hosted by the Florence, Herne Hill.

The Florence public house, Herne Hill

The Florence

The Florence is a brew pub and I did get to sample two of their beers trying a half of the Beaver and a half of the Weasel. There seems to be a burgeoning brew-pub scene in London now which can only be good news. Fed and watered, it was time to head off and catch up with the younger CAMRA people out in London Bridge…

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Sussex Pub Crawl

Posted by Alan on May 8, 2010

After the trip to Arundel Castle we went for a beer. Having an epic train ticket – we had plenty of choice of where to go, but decided to start in Arundel. After all that castle viewing we were kinda thirsty.

First up, the Kings Arms in Arundel:

The Kings Arms public house, Arundel

Kings Arms/Arundel

Recommended highly by the good beer guide we thought this place was OK. Beer c. £3/pint is pretty normal for the south, the glasses could have been a bit cleaner and the anti-mobile phone rant on the wall was a bit much. It did look like it had a good crowd of locals and there were still games around to play – darts in particular.

Inside the kings arms public house, Arundel

A proper solid boozer - Kings Arms/Arundel - featuring Emo and Simon

Next up, we took the train round to Chichester for a cab out to the Gribble in Oving.

The Gribble public house, Oving near Chichester

The Gribble

Listed in the good beer guide as a brewery, this was also recommended highly by Emo. Personally, I thought the beer was a bit ‘watery’ – pleasant but not really much too it.  The food was pretty awesome though and it was nice to try out something a bit different.

Alan P with a half of Gribble Mild

Yours truly with a dinky half pint of Gribble 'mild' (I am allowed halves - I live in the south!)

Back to Chichester where we had a choice. Train home or train to Brighton? We’d picked up a bottle for the journey whatever…but when the Brighton train rolled in first and we figured out we could get back and still make the last tube decision was made.

The final stop for the night was the evening star in Brighton. This was a cracking pub with really well kept beer and a great atmosphere. We only got to stick around for 1 hour – but I’ll definitely be calling in again whenever I get back to Brighton.

Simon & Emo finally start to object to the photographs in the Evening Star Brighton

Simon & Emo finally start to object to the photographs, Evening Star/Brighton

With that we took the last fast train back to London at 11pm – making the last tube home to boot. Awesome day out.

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Lock in at Pure Groove

Posted by Alan on April 30, 2010

Got your hopes up there? Nope not a real lock in… I still haven’t made a pub my proper local enough to be invited to a lock in (and I certainly wouldn’t be writing about it online if I did!!)

Thursday night this week I took a bunch of work mates and some CAMRA crew down to Pure Groove near Smithfield Market, for Fordy’s lock in (as well as the beer festival that has been going on all week).

Matt Forde

Matt Forde & Romesh

Somehow we ended up on the front row. Normally a bad idea for a comedy gig – but this time we didn’t come in for any flack! (Win!!). The basic premise of the night was that of a lock in – people talking over a few beers about their most embarrassing stories etc.

This worked well for the first half…then the beer started to show a bit…

Romesh and Jon Richardson

Romesh and Jon Richardson

…at which point were weren’t really sure if Matt and John Robbins had got into an arguement…

Romesh, Robbins and Fordy

Romesh, Robbins and Fordy

…still seemed to work out OK in the end 😉

Beer wise the event was a bit of a let down. Pure Groove seemed to have gone for the quantity over quality approach – given the place can probably at best hold 120 people, 8 ales as well as the bottles/wines/spirits seemed a bit optimised. I would have much preferred 4 good ales instead of the 8 flat ones that seemed to be on offer…still I hope they carry on an try again. I’m sure I’ll pop in from time to time and if I ever get a turntable again look at the music they sell – the prime reason the place exists!

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Pure Groove and SMWS London

Posted by Alan on April 27, 2010

This is totally a post for one of my other internet presences – @pigsearcamra on twitter (stop reading now if you don’t like beer… or whisky for that matter…)

First up I called into Pure Groove tonight – a record shop/label come club come beer festival. Well, this week anyway.

Record Decks and Beer Casks

Decks and Casks @ Pure Groove

All this week they’ve got a whole host of stuff on – so if you have some time to spare an you happen to be in EC1 check it out. Beers are a reasonable (for London!) £3/pint.

Then… I got invited over for a wee dram at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, London.

Whisky in a nosing glass

I'll have a wee one please...

Again, seriously worth it. You might have to find a member to get in though…

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