My eldest son James turned 18 (with a bullet) yesterday, celebrating with a chicken doner from Beach Best Kebab, one of my village’s remarkable collection of top takeaways.
If he achieves the necessary grades he’ll get to go to Sheffield. The idea of my staying in his student accommodation in order to visit all the city’s pubs over the next 3 years has some legs. For those interested in pubs, football* or street art, Sheffield is hard to beat for students, though I’ll wager it’s no Manchester.
Charles and I reflected on the studenty merits of Edinburgh as we walked from Waverley through the New Town, though my own academic achievements would hardly have got me into Galashiels College of Textiles.
A morning to wander Edinburgh is just too short a time to climb Arthur’s seat, but enough time to visit the paltry two new Guide pubs since my last visit. The lack of new GBG pubs in recent years, compared to a Newcastle or Bristol, isn’t a good or bad thing. It’s just a little surprising.
The bad thing is how few pubs open before noon, something Manchester also suffers from. In fact, Scotland’s prehistoric licensing laws mean no beer before 11am, which make the Beer Guide promise of 9am and 10am opening a bit pointless. Don’t these people know the joy of watching 9am Spoons drinkers ?
So we strolled down Rose Street, noting the obligatory use of the words “Craft Beer” in places called Element, Dirty Dicks and TGI Friday. No such nonsense at the Oxford Bar of course, apart from noon opening.
The Haymarket opened promptly at 11am, and I immediately wondered if I’d actually been here in 2015, before remembering that all Nicholsons look the same.
With that range on, we had to go for a Deuchars, of course. As I said last time up here, it’s not as ubiquitous a beer as you’d think, but here was as good as ever first out of the pumps (NBSS 3.5). I managed to find four different locations to sit and enjoy it at, before settling on this one;
We left as a group of lads came in to start on the fizz. It’s a football/rugby sort of pub, even when the only sport on is Mumbai v Hyderabad in the IPL.
A half mile jaunt (trams are available for the weak-willed) brings you to the Roseburn Bar, which I sort of fell in love with.
And not just because of the you-know-what.
It’s amazing how many of these gorgeous old high-ceilinged bars Edinburgh has tucked away, many of them on the National Inventory. It’s the customers who ought to have listed status though.
Just a great place to enjoy a late morning pint of the almost ubiquitous Jarl, though even this bastion of trad had craft keg on.
“Mmm, dry and astringent” said Charles. I’ve no idea what that means, but it was cool and tasty, another NBSS 3.5 half before noon, some sort of magic. As if in response to Simon’s recent experience in Aylesbury, Natalie Imbrulglia’s best known smash came on the radio.
Amid growing excitement, I thought Charles was singing along for a moment, but it turned out he was simply muttering about the (tremendous) toilets and hidden lounge.
This is what I want from an Edinburgh pub. Brown wood, red bench seats, pointless TV, old soaks, cool pale beer, “Fill Me Up, Buttercup” on repeat.
More sensible folk would have settled down here for the day, as the other regulars seemed set to do, and ended up at Brewdog. But those Borders pubs don’t tick themselves.
*You can be at the Etihad in an hour from Sheffield station.