Saturday, October 31, 2015

Running Burpham Style

When they say it takes a village, we now know what they mean.
Last morning in England, and there was time for one final round of exploring.
This time though, we had the benefit of a local tour guide and an accomplished runner in his own nation, Andy Foster.
For THIS run, though, we needed to go way, way, WAY off the beaten path into a little village called Burpham (pronounced Bur-fam), where said Mr. Foster spent much of his misbegotten youth.
Some quick facts about Burpham, in case you didn't know.
Located in the Shire County of West Sussex, Burpham is a burgeoning hamlet with a booming population of 145.
This particular morning, it grew to 149.
Though, truth be told, we only saw one other human being who was actually up and about that morning, so the population numbers have yet to be verified with visual confirmation.
As you can see from the following pics, we all were feeling quite sheepish about running in town
Everyone once in a while, we'd pause so Andy could recount some of the tales of his wild youth.
Here, he surveys his former keep
Here they come 
And there they go 
Father and son on the mud flats of Burpham
The lone runner strikes an imposing figure on the backroads and byways of Burpham.  The town covers 31 square miles.  I think we covered them all that morning.
Back in the village, Andrew still scours the landscape looking for any sign of civilization.
The town has one main street.  We ran it in its entirety.
The town hosts its own church, the Church of England parish church of Saint Mary.
Of Saxon origin, it has a lepers window from which lepers could watch the Mass.  Or watch over Barry posing at run's end.
The cemetery out behind the church also hosts a piece of Martin Brewer lore.
Martin was often known to trump up particular authors or poets he enjoyed, and he regularly tried to get friends, family, students, and even strangers to share his passions.
This held true for music as well.
But in this case, we're talking poet and writer Mervyn Peake, whose name I heard recounted in Martin stories throughout the England trip, and I must confess, I had never heard before.
According to lore, Peake walked the South Downs of the land and there created the characters that populate his fantasy work Gormenghast.
We found where he was buried.
I still haven't found his published works.
But Martin, I'm on the case, and affirm that at some point, God knows when, I WILL read me some Mervyn Peake. 
At run's end
For so many reasons, an unforgettable trip.
Here we are on the last of our running miles Across the Pond 
And finally, back at town's center, our inimitable host strikes a pose in front of the town's pub, the George, built in 1736.  Sadly, it was closed for business at the time of our early morning run.
Thanks for the behind-the-scenes mileage, Andy.  You were a lovely host.  Next time we run together, though, dial it back a notch and take it easy on us Yanks!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Swanbourne to Run

Another quick early morning run on the roads and off-roads of Arundel, England.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, we E Streeters tend to see a bit more of our environs when we take to the streets, and occasionally, off the beaten paths, to better explore the places we visit, even when we're not there under the best of circumstances.
Case in point, our return to the village of Arundel.
This time, though, Barry, Andrew and I opted for some off-road trailrunning, a favorite past-time of ours on New England weekends whenever possible.  But the chance to explore the woods around Arundel Castle?  A bonus.
This time, our trip took us around Swanbourne Lake behind Arundel Castle.
Arundel, as detailed in an earlier post, is a fabulous little town a few miles from the coast, part of the Sussex by the Sea cluster of communities.
The vistas heading into town are inspirational.
Complete with the wildlife
Where the Streets Have No Traffic 
Just can't get enough pics of the town's castle 
Smart people work at this castle.  They wouldn't let this trio through its gates. 
Didn't stop us from interrupting our run for some classic castle backdrop pics 
Not a postcard, just a running pic 
Heading off-road 
Did I mention there's a few hills along this trail?  Andrew wanted to explore them but was apprehensive about running into castle security 
Nothing compares to trailrunning 
Alone with his thoughts, Barry takes in the terrain 
At every turn, Andrew opted to explore the offshoots 
And occasionally, scale the hills for a better view 
And what goes up, must come down.  Just a lot faster.

Any ornithologists among us?  Name the bird.
Not a picture we get to take running around Lowell
It wasn't a blue police box, but Andrew stepped in for a quick change nonetheless
Because sometimes, there's no words that can do a picture justice
As we ran through the town square, the butcher was laying out his fresh wares, as was a nearby fruit seller.  The tea shops were just opening.
And finally, before just before we headed out of town, Andrew got to stop in a second-hand bookstore, where he bought a treasure trove of books, including some second-hand Agatha Christie, some Doctor Who, a Tolkien surprise, and, in a nod to our mate Martin, a Thomas Hardy book, an author Martin always tried to convince Andrew to sample.
Mission accomplished, Martin. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Magical Martin Mystery Tour

Roll up (and that's an invitation), roll up for the mystery tour
Roll up (to make a reservation), roll up for the mystery tour
The Magical Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away,
Waiting to take you away....

In Liverpool, England, an entrepreneurial group has created a two-hour bus ride tour that takes its passengers on a tour of the locations, homes, and haunts that provided the backstory to the Four Lads from Liverpool, the Beatles.  It's a Fab Four aficionado's dream to visit, among other places, John Paul, George and Ringo's childhood homes and schools, The Cavern Club, where they made their debut, and famous lyrical addresses such as Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields.
A few years back, our friend Martin Brewer and his longtime music mate in the UK, Paul Askew, embarked on said tour to experience the magic first hand.
Martin and Paul, you see, have been going to concerts together for decades.  They shared dozens of shows, including Paul McCartney, and were there for one of London's most famous and infamous on-stage moments, the pairing of Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul, an epic team-up in Hyde Park inexcusably cut short by a piddling curfew.
Martin and Paul literally grew up together, and shared decades of great memories, not just around music, but around the sports, school, and pubs that shaped their lives.
So it was fitting that it was Paul who took Barry, Andrew and I on a Sussex County whirlwind tour of Martin's old stomping grounds, showing us  pivotal places in the life of the man we'd come to know as our stateside comrade-in-arms.
We stopped by one of the flats Martin owned, an address that yielded a lot of not-so-epic memories for Martin, and a location that many believe helped propel him west to the United States to seek his fame and fortune.
The former Littlehampton Community School, where many a hijinx was perpetrated, but where Martin's love for learning really took off.  It was a passion he'd bring stateside here to help change the lives of thousands of students at Oyster Hill.
A pitstop at the Littlehampton Sports and Social Club to check out the fields where Martin took in his fair share of cricket games.
Many a weekend afternoon, Martin would camp out on one of the club benches to watch the sport, just basking in the sunshine, enjoying a pint and the company of friends.
(Side note: Despite everyone's attempt to explain the rules to us baseballers, I'll be damned if I can understand them.  I mean, c'mon - five days in, and the game ends in a tie?!?)
Paul, Barry and I all had on Springsteen tees from respective shows that we shared with Martin over the decades.
Stopping by another of Martin's childhood homes
One of his many hometown watering holes, the Lamb
The supermarket scene of Martin's first working gig
Zachary Merton Community Hospital, where Martin - and apparently, virtually everyone in earshot of Littlehampton - was born
On the Littlehampton boardwalk, alongside the river Arun, right where it reaches its end and feeds into the English Channel
Behind us, on the dunes is a rumored site for some of the filming of early 1960s and 1970s episodes of Doctor Who.  Luckily, Paul, Andrew and I are all unabashed Whovians.
The view from Martin's mom's condo, overlooking the English Channel, and where Martin spent much of his last summer, sitting back resting in the sunlight, and listening to his favorite music
Thanks, Paul, for an unforgettable glimpse into the back story of our bud.  It was a special afternoon.  Satisfaction guaranteed.

The Magical Mystery Tour is coming to take you away
Coming to take you away
The Magical Mystery Tour is dying to take you away
Dying to take you away, take you today