Almost a second Marillion reference in two days there.

The main flaw in our plan to “Do the Borders” by train is that the train doesn’t actually serve many places in the Borders.  Not by a Good Beer Guide definition, anyway.

Just the two in Galashiels and (with a walk) Melrose.  Perhaps the extension to Hawick will be complete by the time I go back. In 2029.

But, joy of joys, two ticks near Gorebridge on the inward journey, in what the Beer Guide calls Edinburgh & the Lothians.

Beer Guide, Pink Pen every time

The first is a real gem.  I had the Stobsmill Inn down as a dining pub in an upmarket Edinburgh suburb; it’s anything but.


Only distinguishable as a pub by the large red “T”, which could equally have been Telephone as Tennents, this really is everything you could want from a really basic local.

Charity tins outnumber handpumps 3 to 1

The photos don’t do it justice; it really felt like a remote, simple boozer like the one in Greenhaugh, with a similarly jolly landlady and professional drinkers who clearly weren’t propping up the quality of the lone real ale from Kelburn (a good choice, NBSS 3.5).

We loved it, for unfathomable reasons. Perhaps it was the little kitchen at the bar, the Aitkens Brewery mirror, the lone guitar, or the fact there was an electric socket that allowed me to surreptitiously recharge my phone.


But really, it was just the locals.

Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom !”  was the pick of the banter.

As Charles explained, this is a key line from Blackadder. I wouldn’t have known.

In complete contrast, a train stop and 20 minute hop later, the Sun at Lothianbridge was the archetypal gastropub.

As Mark Kermode would say, this was more problematic.

Nothing wrong with the beer range, or the welcome.

Are you getting seen to ?”  Never ask Charles that.

or the setting underneath the arches. It could have been Stockport.

But you’ll see the problem below, as Charles searches in vain for a seat.


I don’t like being condemned to the garden of a pub, even in the Sun.  It didn’t improve the beer either.  No banter, just a few Bentleys.

Charles considered phoning for a taxi, but we pressed on to Dalkeith on foot.



  1. Should a pub be in the GBG if its only seating is a few bar stools? i.e. it is a restaurant. I do worry (yes worry) that the focus on beer scores is strangely increasing the number of gastropubs and food chains to the detriment of proper pubs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree less. There’s some places in the Guide I detest (but some would love). The only criteria is beer quality, as long as a member of the public can go in and just buy a drink. Great pubs an entirely different matter 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am a member of the public and can not go in some places listed in the GBG to just buy a drink because i am not a camra member and dont want to carry a GBG around with me.
        Also should your comment be I could’nt agree more instead of less.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I did mean I don’t agree with Ian (Wickingman). Pubs shouldn’t be in Beer Guide for anything other than beer quality, as long as they’re open to all.


  2. Were drinkers specifically debarred from sitting at the tables, or just discouraged by the place settings? If the former, then I certainly wouldn’t vote for a pub’s inclusion in the GBG, as it is no longer a pub. See the Arden Arms in Stockport, although the licensees’ decision to retire has removed that particular bone of contention from our selection meetings.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. What I have described as “a dusty welcome for drinkers”, then. A lot depends on who takes over the Arden – it’s a hard act to follow.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. From dozens to hundreds in the 2 branch GBG selection meetings I attended last year, but from a small % of members. I trust the minority here though.


      2. Very hard to say, and of course the number of scores varies dramatically between pubs. In our branch we have maybe 220 real ale pubs and in the course of the year get about 70 with 10 or more scores. But it’s very rare that a worthwhile pub gets missed out just because of lack of scores.

        Liked by 1 person

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