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The Rado Forum at Loggerheads...or, how Scott and Brad spent their Friday evening.

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  • The Rado Forum at Loggerheads...or, how Scott and Brad spent their Friday evening.

    PART 1. At Loggerheads.

    The title needs a little explaining.
    The common use of the phrase 'at loggerheads' suggests two people unable to make a decision or reach compromise. Although Scott and I spent several days planning (mainly on his part) and confirming (delays on mine) this visit, neither of us had much doubt it would happen. Scott bought his train tickets a couple days in advance (unbeknownst to me--it's a good thing nothing prevented my arrival!), and though I was keen on taking my 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th, train rides in Britain over the past 3 weeks, this journey served mainly to meet an on-line friend of several years in a picturesque old town in Shropshire, a part of England new to me. Which brings me to The Loggerheads...

    It's not only the name of the first pub in which we shared fellowship...

    ...Wikipedia provides this as one example of its meaning:
    Loggerheads, the heraldic term for leopards' faces, e.g., on the coat of arms and flag of Shropshire (England) and its county town, Shrewsbury... The animals' faces, fondly referred to as "loggerheads" locally, are a traditional emblem for Shropshire and have historically evolved from the loggerheads on the Shrewsbury town arms, themselves first recorded in 1623. This originates presumably in the practice of carving some such motif on the head of the log used as a battering ram.

    Thus, it was a fitting locale for our first foray into our discussions of watches, the friendly group at EOT (with much reminiscence of Miles), two of our dogs who could be cousins, the merits of beer/cider, walking, smart-phone directions, the simple life (versus town life), authentic English chip shops and the unanswered question "Why has Scott never eaten a Doner Kebab?"

    More on all of this soon...I've got much to do today and will provide this travelogue in installments as time allows...I'll leave Part 1 with another public shout of Thanks to Scott for all he did to make this fantastic visit happen.
    Last edited by Watch Carefully; 06-10-2018, 01:52 PM. Reason: Because I cannot leave well enough alone sometimes

  • #2
    That's a rare name for a pub, in fact I can only find one other in the UK which is in Market Drayton. Approx 50miles from the one in Shrewsbury.



    • #3
      PART 2. Two guys, meeting for the first time, walking obliviously around an unfamiliar town.

      Scott isn't a native of Shrewsbury.
      He's originally from another county altogether, but he lives near enough to Shrewsbury that he was home and texting Henry before I changed trains. He chose Shrewsbury because it is easy to reach and is quite a picturesque town, which apparently has a nightlife that draws visitors from surrounding areas outside the county (more on this and a pair of Cheshire coincidences later)--it was an excellent choice of location, I'd advise you to visit, if you have the opportunity. But be aware: there is more than one place called The Armoury.

      After we made initial contact on Platform 4, we bolted out of the station and into a nearby pub which, unfortunately, had no cask ale on tap, thus we moved on quickly to our initial raising of the glass at The Loggerheads. Luckily, Scott had his smart phone and an idea of where we were going. I was so busy with our conversation, taking in the sheer Englishness of the setting, and being a bit tired from a three-week period that included multiple international flights, 14 train rides (so far), and three straight full-day business workshops, I was glad to have Scott act as guide. I was even willing to overlook his off-hand admission that his wife considers him 'directionally challenged.' No worries, right? What could go wrong?

      The first discussion of watches arose in Loggerheads. Scott had apparently wrestled with, as he put it to me 'what watch does one wear when meeting the guy behind the Rado Forum?' I'd have been glad to see any watch of Scott's--whether it is rare or not--so long as it is one that means something to him. He needn't have worried. His choice was a spectacular Hardtron on a ribbon-pattern 7-row NSA. It's the first time I've seen and handled a Hardton--what a magnificent piece. Scott is right in his assessment that it sums up much that is great about vintage Rado watches--amazing case shape, fabulous faceted crystal, funky dial, noteworthy Dynotron movement and, I paraphrase him here: 'a dirty great hunk of tungsten carbide.'

      Here is how much of a geek I am, though: When I initially took a glance at Scott's wrist to try and discern which watch he had chosen, all I could focus on was the wonderful 7-row NSA. I opened our discussion of watches with "this is the first time I've seen someone other than myself wearing a watch on an NSA bracelet."
      I silently awarded myself the 'geek of the gathering' award.

      After imbibing a pint at Loggerheads, we had another place to visit. Scott had identified a couple options, and we wanted to see a bit of the town, so off we headed, using Scott's phone to guide us. Shrewsbury is a proper sight...spires, half-timbered buildings, a Norman abbey, the river Severn...there is much to see. Some highlights:

      We wandered off across the river, en route to The Armoury, when we spotted a place that could not be ignored... of the oldest public houses in the UK. Built by Roger de Montgomery, First Earl of Shrewsbury circa 1085 as a hostel for the highly skilled masons and master builders bought in to supervise the construction of the St. Peter and St. Paul (later to be known as The Abbey). [It] was historically a hostelry with its own brewery in 1105 and probably existed before that.

      More soon...
      Last edited by Watch Carefully; 06-10-2018, 11:27 AM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Microbrand View Post
        That's a rare name for a pub, in fact I can only find one other in the UK which is in Market Drayton. Approx 50miles from the one in Shrewsbury.
        Thanks for that info, Chris..
        I remarked that we were pretty close to Wales and it would have been good to have you join us!
        Next time?


        • #5
          Originally posted by Watch Carefully View Post
          [B] I was even willing to overlook his off-hand admission that his wife considers him 'directionally challenged.' No worries, right? What could go wrong?
          More fool you Brad, there's plenty that can go wrong when I'm navigating...


          • #6
            Thanks Brad, most enjoyable this Loggerheads travelogue, and well done Scott, getting lost was a good way to see more of the town.......that was the plan all along, right? Looking forward to the rest of the tale.
            Last edited by Tim.; 06-10-2018, 09:36 AM.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tim. View Post
              getting lost was a good way to see more of the town.......that was the plan all along, right?


              • #8
                For the record, we weren't technically lost as I knew exactly where we were. I just wasn't completely sure where we were going...


                • #9
                  PART 3. A not-so-quick pint...

                  Some pubs just beckon you in, and a good pint and fine conversation can cause you to lose track of time, even when not particularly soporific.
                  I wouldn't say our experience was a parallel to Odysseus on the island of the Lotus-eaters (that might be more likely in locales in East Anglia), but we certainly got caught up in myriad topics, as mentioned above, which led us to overlook both the need to make a plan for dinner and the approaching time to get the last train out.

                  The pub in question is called The Dun Cow. How often do you find a life-sized statue of a cow peering at you from above the main entrance, and a lovely beer garden with ample seating on a Spring Friday evening? We were just so lucky, and ducked into this venerable establishment...

                  Discussion of watches proceeded apace. In the Loggerheads, I had shown Scott my first effort at a home-built piece. A 1920s E. Howard 21-jewel movement transplanted into a Unitas 6497-sized case. I'm pretty pleased with it and have another such movement in waiting its turn for such a project.

                  I felt kind of odd, not having a Rado with me on MMFF while visiting with a long-time member of the Rado Forum. But I figured I only have one rare Rado remaining in my collection that Scott will not have seen in person (my steel 56-H) and it is museum-quality pristine, so I was hesitant to bring it on an international voyage. He understood.

                  At the Dun Cow, I showed Scott another watch which means a lot to me: my RGM TZLE. He was pleased to examine it and, though it is a little smaller than he prefers, he was amazed by its thinness. Also, he explained it represents 'the next level up' of watch collecting, and was quite an interesting piece as such. Here's the photo he shared earlier:

                  7.5mm thickness juxtaposed with ~13mm?

                  We spent a lot more time chatting about EOT, RGM and the great folks much as we expounded on how many great contributions have been made by all of you (Henry, Mike, Marcus, Tim, JohnPat, many I will inadvertently have forgotten someone--sorry!) we also talked about those who don't stop in so often anymore (JunMel, Batonman, early Scott, Jay, FuzzyB, BrandonS...) and, of course, our beloved Miles Woodlands. Discussions of previous EOT get-togethers in Pennsylvania (known as Convergence) and of the possibility for a Rado-centric event were of a hopeful nature, but it seems unrealistic to think we could pull something off considering our members are residents of such widespread locales as Saskatoon, Oz, Vienna, Hessen, Wales, Miami, Mexico, the Middle East, sundry and distant shires in Blighty and and Pennsylvania. I'm so glad we have EOT for purposes of our congregation. Hats off to you all!

                  Coming in Part 4...'you can't get there from here.'
                  Last edited by Watch Carefully; 06-10-2018, 12:05 PM.


                  • #10
                    PART 4. You can't get there from here.

                    Just when you feel as though time is passing slowly and there's no reason for hurry, reality sets in. It's disconcerting sometimes, really it is. A chance thought such as "maybe we should look at the menu" turns into "we have 80 minutes to get to the next pub, order, eat, and get back to the train station or Brad will be sleeping rough on the platform in Stockport, trying to get back to Macclesfield the next morning in time for hotel check-out and pick-up by the car taking him to the airport in Manchester" or something like that.

                    Which brings me back to an earlier point: there are two places in Shrewsbury named The Armoury.

                    Scott, armed with the most modern of personal navigation aids (Samsung somethingorother) and the keen awareness that our intended destination was The Armoury, led us uphill, away from the Dun Cow, the Severn, the Abbey and all we knew and loved about Shrewsbury, in search of the next pint and a quick meal. As you might imagine, we continued discussion of watches (for example, the Diastar 54 alarm), locations of collectors we know (Cyprus! Kenya! Cheltenham!) and places which are no longer our preference for fellowship of the wrist (WUS, etc). We passed a large monument to the battles of the Napoleonic wars, some residences, a chippy (more anon), some residences, a suburban school (!), and more residences, all the while treading with the assurance that The Armoury was merely 650 metres ahead. Then 250 metres, then 90 metres, then 75 metres, then 90 metres...oh, wait.

                    Me: We've got less than an hour to find this place, Order, eat, and walk back into town to catch our trains.
                    Scott: No worries, it's just ahead.
                    Me: Maybe we should forego another pint and head back to the Chippy. It's closer to town.
                    Scott: We ARE in proper suburban Shrewsbury now aren't we? Strange place for a pub.
                    Me: How many metres yet? Maybe it's up that lane ahead..
                    Scott: Must be.
                    Me: Oh dear. That lane has a name...The Armoury.
                    Scott: Let's hit that Chippy:

                    Cod & chips for Scott; a Doner Kebab with chili sauce for Brad (his first since 1988, while studying in London!).

                    More in Part which our heroes take at least two more wrong turnings and encounter unexpected sights en route to the rail station.

                    Last edited by Watch Carefully; 06-10-2018, 12:25 PM.


                    • #11
                      PART 5. It's not even as simple as retracing one's steps.

                      One would think it would seem familiar. After all, we'd passed this way 3-4 hours earlier. How hard could it be? Back down the hill, past the Dun Cow, the Abbey, across the Severn bridge, back into Shrewsbury proper, along the myriad winding streets with their o-so-English storefronts, quaint names (did I tell you there's a pub called the Loopy Shrew?), and plethora of intersections with side-streets...a simple route, surely back to the main rail station from which we undertook this quest.

                      But, before I get into all that...the Doner Kebab.

                      This is something everyone from an English city will know, but many of you may not. It's really quite simple: 'meat', cooked on a rotisserie, is sliced thin and packed into a Pita bread pocket, sometimes with lettuce, onions, other bits of 'salad' and sauces. In the US, there is a very similar thing found at Greek restaurants--it's known as a Gyro (year-oh)--but the Doner Kebab is reported to be a Turkish dish. Apparently those two cultures don't agree on much, thus different names for basically the same thing.

                      When I was 21, I spent a semester in London where, among other things, I played a bit of footy and rugby for the college's club, became quite adept at crossing the road (harder than it sounds when 6 lanes of traffic are in play, each travelling the 'wrong' direction), attended some lectures and tutorials, learned that England makes beer that is worth drinking (unlike the USA in the 1980s) and that a Doner Kebab after a night in the pubs is like a cheesesteak (at Pat's or Geno's) after a night in Philadelphia.

                      Contrast this to Scott, native Englishman, whose vast experience of chippies and corner shops far exceeds my own, and who admitted a a bit of over-indulgence during his formative years, who has never eaten a Doner Kebab. No explanation was forthcoming. I submit to you, the forum: we must solve this mystery.


                      But I digress.

                      The walk back to Shrewsbury Station was proceeding much as the walk from the station began...still more conversation about watches, dogs, England, the simple life...with me still willing to assume Scott knew the quickest route (despite the earlier mix-up--after all, that was a simple case of misunderstanding). On we marched.

                      It was a simple thing, truly. A straightforward sign, intended to be helpful. Innocent and care-free. A SIGN. A sign which listed, among other things, a turning toward the rail station. AND WE SAW IT, so why would we not follow it? You would have done the same, I am sure. Thank you for your support.

                      So, we turned left, as the sign indicated, confident in our astute reading of the local landscape.

                      But as the minutes passed, and we saw not the noble edifice of the station, nor observed the elevated rails which compose its methods of conveyance, nor heard the reassuring clickety-clack of the trains themselves, your humble reporter became concerned. It was time to redouble our navigational efforts and Samsung somethingorother was joined by iPhone as-small-as-they-come (SE) in the quest to identify, and follow (let's not forget this key element of a successful quest) the most direct route to the station.

                      Ah, yes, a slight deviation from our current course (akin to a 180 degree reversal, but not quite), and...hmmm...yes we are a mere 6 minutes from the station.

                      By car.

                      Thus were two middle-aged gentlemen, not in the finest physical condition of their lives, spotted walking rapidly and determinedly uphill, suddenly speaking far less than had been observed over the preceding few hours (not entirely in order to take deep, relaxing breaths or avoid over-exertion). Confirmation of the precise route to be followed was frequent through consultation of their mobile devices. Eyes scanned the increasingly urban landscape for recognisable Inn here, a shop there...roadworks...until...

                      Ah yes, there is the publick house we first explored upon leaving the station. A few hours ago the recipient of scorn, it is now a most welcome beacon of guidance.

                      There appears a section of pedestrian walkway with recognizable signage. The station is nigh...but WAIT! Scott is headed to the left but Brad goes right, what is he up to??

                      Stay tuned for the conclusion in Part 6...

                      Last edited by Watch Carefully; 06-10-2018, 02:44 PM.


                      • #12
                        PART 6. Next year, in France?

                        OK, that last post contained a red herring. I didn't exactly play fair, showing you a photo of the staircase that leads to HM Prison Shrewsbury and the Dana Gaol. I had only a few seconds to take a photo, as Scott and I were still in high-speed mode to attain our objective. However, my daughter's name is Dana, so I had to take the photos:

                        What really happened at the moment described above where Scott went left and I went right hearkens back to an evening in a pub in Cheshire back in February. Having spent the day on a 10-mile hike in the Peak District (which led to a conversation which directly influenced the present travelogue) I kept close to my hotel that night and ventured only a couple minutes away to Treacle Tap for a quick pie and a pint, or so I thought. What ensued was 90-100 minutes or so of music-making with 2-3 other guitarists, a pianist and 4 singers. It was a proper pub sing-along, like I have not experienced (again) since 1988.

                        Fast-forward to Wednesday night, two nights before Scott and I met. I walked into Treacle Tap with two colleagues and immediately recognized two chaps sitting at a table, as two guys who had performed a couple duet numbers (The Who, Steppenwolf, I seem to recall)--one playing guitar, the other singing. I greeted them warmly and the sentiment was returned. We enjoyed a couple good laughs, a beer, and some reminiscence over the evening, which even the barman recalled fondly. Chris, the singer, had recently assisted the bar with some decorating, including the painting shown below (that's the artist on the left):

                        Fast-forward back to our Friday GTG, and the moment when Scott went left, I spotted Chris in Shrewsbury; 12 minutes before Scott had to catch the first of our trains! I greeted him and his companion (wish I could recall his name) who were stunned to see me and gave me a warm welcome.
                        I'm not sure who was more surprised: myself, for seeing someone I know 60 miles from where we'd originally met; Chris and his pal, for seeing me twice in a week, in different cities; or Scott, who could not have reasonably expected I, an American, would encounter English acquaintances on a random trip to a remote part of the midlands. It's a small corner of the world, I guess.

                        So my right turn was really only a minor diversion--a quick Hello and then on to the station.

                        I'll save you further agony: we made it to the platform with 3-4 minutes to spare. Ample time for one more photo before parting (perhaps Scott looks a little stunned that I saw friends a few minutes earlier!).

                        Scott made it home (we were WhatsApp texting much of the way) and had time to relay some of our activities to Henry, to whom I had texted one of our photos. My ride back to east Cheshire was a little longer, but went smoothly. Few things entertain me like seeing the English countryside from the window of a moving train, especially when the train scares up a hare or pheasant. The view of sunset from the train, as the clouds dissipated, was inspiring.

                        When I arrived back in Macclesfield, the town centre, upon a hill visible from the station, looked lovely and I got one more photo:

                        It was a tremendous evening spent with a top-notch fellow. Thanks again, Scott, for providing the impetus for the meeting. I look forward to arranging another visit, perhaps with my wife, if we find ourselves coming to England more often to visit our daughter at Uni. Or, possibly, we can make plans to join you, your 'good scotswoman' wife, Henry and Mrs. K at a notable motorsports event in France next year.

                        Thanks for your time (and patience) if you've read this far.
                        To any lurkers wondering what EOT is all about, I hope this conveys the sense of community many of us feel and relish.

                        PS. A sampling of cask ales from this week's adventures:

                        Last edited by Watch Carefully; 06-10-2018, 02:57 PM.


                        • #13
                          Thank you for such an entertaining, and detailed, story of our evening Brad.
                          I look forward to the next one...


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Watch Carefully View Post

                            Thanks for that info, Chris..
                            I remarked that we were pretty close to Wales and it would have been good to have you join us!
                            Next time?
                            Yes definitely! Let me know next tie you are in the area!


                            • #15
                              Very interesting afternoon, quite an enthralling read, had me hanging till you guys made it back to the station. Here's to Brad and Scott for providing some great entertainment.