Those of you who are good at maths will have noticed that 3 pints were drunk in Spoons in Galashiels, which is both an endorsement of that fine establishment and an admission that careful planning can go awry.

Mrs RM was beyond delighted to find that the giant Galashiels Tesco was open all day on Sundays, allowing her to stock up on essential supplies (top).  If that’s not a reason to vote SNP I don’t know what is.

Our hotel, the cheapest in the area by about £50 was also my only new GBG entry for miles.  In fact the only real ale for miles once you leave Galashiels‘ cask glories.

Spot the cask

You never know what you’re going to get at a Scottish village hotel.  The Clovenfords looks the business, with a papier mache model of the Pubmeister out the front to commemorate his 5,000th pub tick here.


I know you’re sceptical, but the Landlord assured me it’s papier mache.

Meanwhile the Beer Guide assured me the Clovenford did real ale, but of course it didn’t, this being a month with a vowel in it.  Actually, it was a temporary supply issue, so I may return later this year to test it for you.

More pink than the Borders deserves really

As Pubmeister will know, real ale availability is variable in the Scottish winter (September to May), but I consider it ticked, sealed with a glass of Tennent’s.  As Tandleman notes, Tennent’s is a decent fallback.

WiFi that works, fresh flowers on the table, very cheerful barmaid, and “Girl from Mars” by Ash.  Not all was lost.

Tennents – proper fizz

As you’ll see, it’s a recently refurbished bar in the Scottish style, but Mrs RM decided that bottle of Malbec and a bar of tablet were a better bet.

Sunday night

The hotel is a real gem, and the Scottish breakfast included all the stuff you’re not supposed to eat in January (including haggis).  To cap it all, the Landlord was able to confirm the sad closure of the new Melrose GBG entry, which though sad meant I could colour that in pink as well.

Monday morning

Incidentally, I beat the snow on the way back.  This is what Melrose looked like a day later. And note those funny lumpy things behind the buildings.


  1. But is Tennent’s a “quality beer”? 😉

    All-day shop opening in Scotland long predated the SNP getting within even a sniff of government, btw 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If Tim Martin says it’s quality, it is.

      I think that comment on the SNP counted as trolling. While in Ayr in May I told them I’d vote for them in the General Election. I was a bit pissed and thought I’d get a badge or something.


  2. “this being a month with a vowel in it.”

    I’m pretty sure you only get months without vowels in Wales. 😜

    “Tennents – proper fizz”

    I looked at the info board to the right of the mirror in that photo and did a double take. I read it as “accommodating packages available” and had visions of stuffed codpieces or sporrans. 😋

    “And note those funny lumpy things behind the buildings.”

    Round here we call those hills*. 😎


    * -


  3. Please educate me on what Mrs Tilly’s Tablet is– a kind of fudge? That’s a use of the word “tablet” I’ve never seen before, makes me want to try some. 🙂

    I’m thinking the GBG has different standards up in Scotland, if they’re recommending a place that sometimes has no real ale at all. Are they having to fill a certain number of slots in the book for Scotland, and thus are forced to include places that aren’t even reliable sources of real ale?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A sort of fudge, but quite distinctive constitution, slightly harder. Gorgeous.

      A lot of pubs in the GBG in rural Scotland wouldn’t get in if they were in the bigger English counties, but the GBG needs to have some sense of geographic spread I guess. So yes, you’re spot on.

      I’ve a bit of sympathy with the lack of real ale presumably a winter or temporary absence), but again it’s good to know ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In consistency, it’s a kind of cross between fudge and Kendal mint cake (although not minty). A pleasure now sadly denied to me 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  4. September to May? If you’re lucky in the soft South. Try Orkney and Shetland, more like August to June.
    Though the mention of a high quality meal in the last blog meant you’d found a chip shop doing deep fried pizza.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually surprised at a lack of cask that far south. Highlands & islands it is very seasonal, quite a lot of hotels will be shut down out of holiday season, perhaps opening for a couple of weeks around Christmas/New Year. Common.for the local brewers to supply pins to help keep quality acceptable.
        Dave’s not good, all decent chip shops in Scotland are of Italian origin, much like actors.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Might have been a blip, but look how little cask there is round there to start with. Mrs RMs weekly cask report highlighted another pub without the promised pumps last week. Perhaps bottled ales will take over.


  5. A local CAMRA members has checked out what’s going on at Clovenfords and it would appear a delivery issue relating to the transfer of the pub from Punch to Heineken caused the lack of real ale. It was back on, but it tends to be just one during the week in winter.
    We do not put pubs in to fill the allocation and we would not (knowingly) put in a pub that didn’t serve real ale all the time. They have to meet quality standards. At the last count there are 70 real ale outlets and 18 places in the GBG pubs in the borders.
    However, a lot of rural pubs are infrequently visited by active CAMRA members so if all was good on the day they may well get voted in. The opposite also applies!
    If more Borders members and visitors contributed beer scores through WhatPub we would have a better picture of what’s going on.
    A group of us visited Melrose and Gala last Saturday and had excellent beer in Burt’s, George & Abbotsford, Salmon and Ladhope. As good as anything I have had “down south”. The poorest choice and lowest quality was the Hunters Hall, which you praise above. This just proves my point about the need for regular feedback on pubs to help us select the best for the GBG.
    Hope you have better luck on your visits to the other GBG pubs in the area.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jon, thanks for the reply. Pubs are about more than real ale of course, and as I hope I conveyed the Clovenfords is a splendid small hotel. No doubt I’ll get a chance to stay there again this year.

      I would certainly never pick a fight with the Scots about relative beer quality, after all I have to visit London GBG pubs frequently. I’ve no problem with pubs and hotels having ale on seasonally to avoid stale beer thae serves no-one.

      Unfortunately in Melrose the other week Burts wasn’t open Sunday afternoon (odd) and King’s as you’ll know is shut, but I hope to get some reports on Burts etc from my wife who is staying up there. The G&A was good last year.

      One thing I wanted to convey was how knowledgeable and enthusiastic the lady (and gent) were about the beer in the Hunters Hall, and if I got lucky on the quality then of course that happens !

      I shall diligently put my NBSS scores in now !


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