I’ve been away, did I miss much?

Hello! I know it’s been a wee while, I’ve been down in the old country doing family things – what a time to be out of Edinburgh, eh! In case you somehow missed it, our queen Queen Elizabeth II died on the 8th September at Balmoral, three days later the Queen’s coffin was brought down to Edinburgh by hearse to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, from where it was taken the following day by procession up the Royal Mile to St Giles Cathedral. Her Majesty’s coffin stayed in St Giles for 24 hours, so that folk could pay their respects, before being flown to London. Many thousands came to Edinburgh to bid farewell to a much respected and admired lady, the queue reached right back to the Meadows apparently.

Queen Elizabeth II will be a tough act for King Charles III to follow, I wish him well in what may well be turbulent times. She was a strong figurehead for the United Kingdom, without her the status quo has been shifted, there may well be a few aftershocks before a new equilibrium settles in. Will some take this opportunity to make the changes that they’ve said would happen after the Queen’s reign came to an end?

So, I was down in Yorkshire for a while, a place name I usually precede with “deepest, dampest”, well it’s not so damp at present and water levels are far from deep, see how low one of the local reservoirs is…..

Yup, seriously low.

When the water level was low was in the mid seventies, the area below the road bridge was littered with looted safes, shot guns and the like! Now if we trot back up to the bridge and look upstream from the dam wall, you can see the much, much older bridge I was standing on to take the above photo.

The old packhorse bridge is usually well under the surface. It’s like a local barometer, can it be seen just under the surface? Oo, the top of the arch is visible; this view of it is extremely rare, possibly the first time there’s only been the smallest of streams trickling below it. It’ll take an awful lot of rain to refill the reservoir, anyone know any good raindances?

I came back up to Edinburgh on Friday after a longer stay than I’d intended, the Scat Rats were playing Stramash so it was definitely time to head north. What a gorgeous day for travelling (unlike the journey down) and at the end of it a lovely pint of Stewart’s and great sounds, yay! As I was leaving Stramash afterwards I asked the lads if they could confirm a date down in the Edinburgh Gig Guide of a midnight set in Whistlebinkies on the 27th – err, not in their diary! Then I mentioned it was the same night that Fur are playing the Mash House, oo, that perked them up, indeed yeah they’ll be playing that night! Goodo.

The Rats were out to play again on Saturday afternoon in Binkies; a new ale for me to try, mmm, so good I treated myself to a pint. And yay, Mr Marah is out again tonight with The Buccaneers, midnight at Stramash; before them it’s Nicole and the Back-up Crew, so thats four sets for some folk tonight. Maybe one time there could be a big mash-up of the two bands right through, I’d love to see that! To take me up to ten o’clock I’m shortly off to see See How They Run at the flicks, the trailer looks wonderful.

Best be off now, toodle pip!

That’s all right? I’ll say!

Saturday night I toodled back to the cinema for Baz Luhrman’s Elvis and I loved it! Sure he plays fast and loose with the facts but this a Baz Luhrman movie not a gritty warts’n’all biopic, what did people expect?! I had no problems with Austin Butler’s Elvis, and Tom Hanks’ Colonel Parker was a great departure from his usual roles, bet he enjoyed playing the bad guy for once (has he ever played a bad guy before?). The soundtrack is great fun, I enjoyed the mix-up of styles, all the scenes around Beale Street were a total delight for eyes and ears alike; and Trouble, oh my, it was rather fine.

Elvis does skirt around a lot of stuff but how long would it have been to get everything in? It was already two hours 39 minutes long, not that I particularly noticed the time, the film fair sweeps along and carried this viewer with it. For me it’s a cautionary tale of talented boy looking for fame and fortune makes a deal with a devil which ultimately costs him everything, any resemblance to Elvis Presley was intentional. I could happily see it again before it disappears, that’s how much i enjoyed it!

The title of this post, you may have guessed, comes from the song That’s All Right which features in various forms through Elvis. It’s also the second song that The Scat Rats played on Friday evening in Stramash, it usually crops up in their sets somewhere (you can catch a bit of it on my Instagram). I headed up the road determined to catch more than the last few songs of the first set (I always intend to get there earlier but time seems to go incredibly fast late Friday afternoons), haha, turns out the bar was so dead they’d held off starting for a while. It happens in summer, people are staying out in gardens and beer gardens longer to enjoy the evenings; even when the lads started it was still very quiet but their magic touch weaved it’s way out into the streets and drew people in (to paraphrase from Field Of Dreams, if you play, they will come). A very appreciative crowd they were, mind The Scat Rats were on fine form, particular stand-outs for me were Tonight The Streets Are Ours and The Man In Me, beautiful both 💛

I’m being spoiled this month as the Rats are back in Stramash a week on Friday and the Fridays before and after that it’s the Willie Dug Band in the early evening slot, yay. Earlier today Stramash shared on Facebook that the Rats will also be there seven o’clock on Friday 5th August, ah, first Friday of the Fringe so I’ll most likely be seeing previews, hey ho. Yes, it’s just over four weeks until the Fringe preview shows start! And kinda Fringe related, the Cowshed as was during previous Fringes under George IV Bridge is now an extension of Subway next door, the Cowshed folk have mooved to 27 West Port. They opened just recently, it’s a low building on the right-hand side as you leave the Grassmarket; a pub that’s never appealed to me in all it’s many reincarnations over the years, but as it’s now the new Cowshed I popped in for a look after the cinema. I was pleasantly surprised, especially as they’re having live music every evening – I missed Del & Bart (from The Kennedy’s Project) earlier in the week according to the board on the wall.

Just three more sleeps ’til this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival programme is properly out i.e. in solid paper form. There’ll be billboards up all around the place with Fringe posters in no time. My first Fringe on Instagram, if only I knew what I was doing with it!

Toodle pip!

It’s been quite fair all in all

It’s a mizzly, drizzly day out there today but, hey, after the last week the plants need it. The weather even stayed nice over the Meadows Festival weekend, breezy but sunny. They built it and, indeed, the people came.

Arthur’s Seat just peeking over the tops of the trees there
a sunny Meadows Festival

The stalls were back with the usual unusual, the food vendors all did roaring trades, local success Stewart’s Brewing ran the beer tent, and there was live music in all three corners of the main area on the Saturday. The stage for upcoming bands was back, Out of the Bedroom Open Mic was another, and of course the Main Stage, the latter going on through Sunday too. The one problem with spending much time there is the time wasted standing in the queue for the loos, always long! The Meadows don’t have any bushy areas to disappear into, but, just a short saunter away is the Dagda Bar very handy for relieving one’s bladder and thirst without the long waits in line.

the usual unusual – a parrot and his boy
the usual unusual – vital in every kitchen!

Sunday evening saw me trotting up to Whistlebinkies to catch a duo I’ve been hearing about on social media that’s really had me intrigued – Harp & Guitar. Bart from The Kennedy’s Project has teamed up with harpist Dara Watson to create some amazing blues sounds! I arrived just as they were playing Wicked Game, oh boy, sublime, no need for vocals, just guitar and harp, beautiful.

just guitar and harp, beautiful

Most of the set was instrumental with Bart adding his low gruff voice to the odd one. A Little Drop of Poison from Shrek 2 was in there, a great choice as Bart sounds more than a little like Tom Waits; Minnie the Moocher put in an appearance too, onbe he often plays with the KP. You can catch a bit of their take on Havana on Instagram, yes I’ve recently taken the plunge! That’s on there and there’ll be other stuff not on here, please take a look and follow me, please! (it’s bruceonthefringe or Bruce T Moose)

On that note I shall sign off to take some exercise, it’s not looking quite so damp outside now. I’ll leave you with a couple of pics taken in the Park a couple of days ago. Toddle pip!

I’ve never been to Barra

….. so Barra came to me, well, Storm Barra popped round. Luckily Edinburgh rarely gets the brunt of any bad weather, some poor sods had only just had their power reconnected after Storm Arwen to lose it again! (who chooses the names for storms?!) Arwen caused a right kerfuffle around the UK, she came the last weekend in November and set quite a high benchmark for the rest of the storms this winter! Storm Barra was never going to be as badass but he gave it go.

As I said, Edinburgh never gets hit as hard as other places, bad weather here is really just crappy weather, but, of course, folk will moan like it’s the absolute worst! Arwen brought Edinburgh cold high winds, some rain, and left a smattering of snow; I would have enjoyed a toddle around Holyrood Park but was booked to leave Edinburgh first thing on the Sunday morning, shame. At least there was snow where I was headed, and it was the easterly, powdery stuff, yay, and not so much as they had around Tan Hill in North Yorkshire, so getting about was fine.

The Tan Hill Inn, previously famous as the highest pub in Britain (1,732ft or 528m above sea level) is now famous for having a three day lock-in thanks to Storm Arwen. She brought 3ft of snow, but the high winds caused snowdrifts up to 9ft deep and downed a power line blocking the road, the pub was completely cut off – with over sixty folk inside, including an Oasis tribute band who’d been playing on the Friday night. The story made the news around the world, yesterday the pub’s Facebook page had an estimated audience size of 48M-56M, like wow! The tribute band Noasis (soon nicknamed Snoasis by the press) kept their fans updated on Facebook, finally announcing “Noasis have left the building”, hey, the story even got a mention in RollingStone.

This highest pub in Britain thing got me wondering about where the highest pub in Scotland is, the Highlands, surely? And how much higher could a pub in Yorkshire be than a pub up in the Highlands? It turns out, the highest pub in Scotland is nowhere near the Highlands, it’s actually way down in the south west in a village called Wanlockhead, goes by the name Wanlockhead Inn (no The for this Inn) and it falls 201ft short of the overall British title. Oh, and it’s not the second highest pub in Britain neither, that goes to The Cat & Fiddle in Cheshire at 1689ft above sea level. Have many folk visited all three as a thing, I wonder? Some years ago I may well have made it a challenge to myself, for now I’ll content myself with battling the wind blowing down the Cowgate!

I left Edinburgh after Arwen had swept through town and returned in time for Barra turning up. My trip away was also bookended by Carl Marah playing at Stramash, first with the Willie Dug Band ( I was going to see Willie Dug anyway, Carl was an unexpected bonus!) and then with his fellow Scat Rat, Scott Rough. After a full-on week it was so good to have a pint and listen to my favourite duo, the lads were on great form. I recall their rendition of Norwegian Wood was particularly fine, oh and they finished the first set with Del Shannon’s Runaway, don’t reckon I’ve heard them do that one before.

If I had to be stuck in a pub in the middle of nowhere for three days with a band, Logan’s Close would be my first choice, yes, above all other current bands (if we’re going full fantasy line-up, I’d need more time to think about it). As long as there was enough food in for full scottish fry-ups, oh yay, breakfast serenades!

I leave you with an attempt to replicate the plight of the Tan Hill Inn….

They’re back, well, 2 out of 3, anyways

How nice to see the lights back on inside The Waverley as I strolled past yesterday evening! Mind, whilst it was good to see the pubs on the Royal Mile open again, it looked kinda sad, the few occupied tables in each one. A few more establishments have followed on The Scotsman’s Lounge example and built large wooden structures for their outdoor clientele, these looked quite busy, well, it was quite a pleasant evening. Yes, even though it was a Monday night, folk were out to celebrate the latest easing of restrictions, ironic that most were drinking outside rather than inside. The pubs with little or no space for outdoor drinkers must have been rather pissed off!

The Grassmarket was feeling it bit more like it’s old self, a few gaggles of shrieking females, drunken friends hugging each other goodbye, a lass sat crying while her mates tried to console her. Yeah, almost like the old days, well, nights, almost, the pubs had to close by half past ten.

I did check that half ten was correct on the BBC newsite on my mobile – just in from there, the Edinburgh Tattoo has been cancelled again. Despite spending a lot of time and effort to make it work this year, the organisers have said the financial risks are too great and could have put the entire future of the Tattoo in jeopardy. Sad but not really surprising news.

Other news, it’s Eurovision on Saturday, yay! The first semi-final is on telly tonight, the second on Thursday, guess I’ll have a good ganders at those, then probably be very disappointed about songs that don’t make it through to the Final. I have to share these pics with you, taken on Saturday, this high street shop seems to be embracing a retro Eurovision style (the young shop assistant couldn’t figure what was so amusing about these dresses and why I was taking photos of them, bless).

Twas the Friday before Christmas….

It’s very late on, it’s quiet outside except for the occasional car sploshing past in the rain. Usually on this particular Friday night it would still be noisy and boisterous out in the streets. Ah yes, Mad Friday, the final Friday night before Christmas, many will be out straight after the working day ends, every pub is packed out. People are partying like it’s 1999, again! The streets are busy with roving pub crawlers heading to their next drink – Mad Friday is not an evening for moderation (the amount of alcohol consumed on this one day in the UK must be quite staggering!) But this is 2020, Mad Friday has been lobotomised, not even the junkies are out yelling at each other tonight.

Departure Day for Christmas is getting closer and blurier. Oh, we’re still being told that we can have the five days grace to see family for Christmas, but, make that BUT, they don’t think we should be making use of this liberty. One problem, trying to guilt-trip never works on the people it’s intended for, people who don’t give two hoots won’t give two hoots! Instead, the law-abiding worriers will worry more, case in point, my dear old Ma.

Will I get down to deepest Yorkshire? I hope so, I do intend to go still – ask me again on Monday and I may answer differently. With all this uncertainty around I decided I should make me a Christmas cake! Cake baked Thursday, almond paste (probably marzipan to you) made this evening. No, I would never consider shop-bought marzipan, homemade almond paste is way way better!

My efforts so far ………

See, apples green, oranges orange, got that?

I’m in the wrong place, Gromit. No wonder l feel out of sorts, bloody Covid, I should be a couple of hundred miles south in darkest Yorkshire. I haven’t spent the second weekend of October in Edinburgh for eons! It’s one of my annual pilgrimages back to the old country. Some would say I should have just gone down but, having left the decision right up the night before I would have gone, the family all agreed best to leave it. The law may be an ass, but annoyingly my tribe are way too law-abiding for our own good at times!

My disgruntledness hasn’t been helped by an article I saw this week on Facebook from the local paper; the headline read “Curbs on amplified music, concerts and fireworks proposed for Edinburgh’s Old Town”. What! Are they having a laugh? Mind you, reading stuff in the local paper is like hearing about stuff from my mother – not necessarily the actual facts, just something with a resemblance of them. It’s written to read like everyone in the Old Town area came together and all agreed, no more fireworks, castle concerts, and we don’t care for the Tattoo either, really? A number of people compiled this ducument, by no means should it be taken as the views of all Old Town residents. See, that irked me but what really got my goat was when the article went on to say that this group also have “a radical solution …. to ban all amplified music in the Old Town, from …. individual pubs”.

I was annoyed with the way local pubs in the local music scene were being linked to the council’s greed for the tourist buck and everything else that’s bad about inner city living; the night-time noise in the Grassmarket area is from drunks spilling from the other pubs, the live music venues really don’t add anything much to that hullabaloo. I was so incensed I almost wrote a comment (having read the Comments section of the local rag posts, I know the savagery of the regulars and how adept they are at missing others’ points). Almost, then I noticed a Facebook friend had already pretty much made my comment for me, oo, and indeed there were already two replies that would exasperate anyone level-headed.

Would my friend reply back? From reading through all the comments I discovered the first reply was from a serial ranter with a rather smug, patronising attitude towards any dissenting views; please, don’t rise to it, I prayed, he’s so not worth it. Ha, no reaction back (I bet that irked him), but a good handful of likes in support of our local music scene. Crickey, if these recommendations were implemented it would be a serious blow to Sneaky Pete’s, Stramash, Bannermans, just to name a few. And if that happened where might the new puritans strike next?! Oh, I do get the need for some restrictions and noise controls, absolutely, but not by people who don’t know apples from oranges!

It’s oh so quiet now

One of my favourite spots in a proper August is sitting with a drink on the balcony in the Library Bar at Teviot, catching up on my fringe diary. That is, during the day or midweek, but when it’s too busy I head over to the other bar (the refectory bar?) on to the balcony there, by the windows in an attempt to get some air. Last year I found myself heading to the other bar rather more as the Library Bar seemed to become an “in” place to go.

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This year there’s neither, instead they have come up with The Garden at Teviot, which seems to be doing rather well whenever I’ve been passing. Of course, it’s all online, booking in, ordering food and drink by app, all so neat and organised. There’s no one milling around, yeah, I know a lot of locals are be delighted by the lack of hoards but not me, or the rhino.

I do so hope the world gets better soon, what is life without fun, spontaneity, creatives creating? Oh, and hugs, we all need hugs  ❤

A couple more pics for you, my dears

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a soggy day with no one about, except, see, there on the left, up on the wall. He’s so lonely, he’s been crying…..

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A ramble about some old boozers

Alas, some of Edinburgh smaller drinking houses may not survive the pandemic, so says the local press, and anyone with experience of how “cosy” they can be. These little gems are all nooks and crannies, no social distancing possible, and when they’re busy, no personal space either! It would be a real shame to lose them as some are very old (we’re talking Auld old) and are part of the architectural and historic fabric of the city.

The Halfway House up Fleshmarket Close behind Waverley Station is a very sad victim to new regulations. I’ve sipped many a fine cider and real ale there over the years, right back to my college days. It’s one thing if a pub goes to the wall through lack of clientele (though still a shame), but quite another when the business would be fine but for insurmountable circumstances.

Two legendary folk bars of Edinburgh, The Royal Oak and Sandy Bell’s are both still shut; it would be a major loss for the Edinburgh folk scene if either failed to re-open. Rebus’s haunt the Oxford Bar hasn’t been able to open it’s doors again yet and The Auld Hoose (home to the largest bowl of nachos ever!!) remains shut for very obvious reasons to anyone who’s tried to get to the toilets there on a busy evening!

Two great real ale pubs that have reopened are the Dagda Bar (the small square blue-fronted one up Buccleuch Street, you know it but never remember the name!) and the Bow Bar, not as small as the Dagda, a nice tidy size and very much an Edinburgh institution. Still doing off-sales as well, the Jolly Judge has re-opened as much as they can, having the outside tables in the close helps. Indeed, pubs are really making the most of any outside space (pavement) they can claim.

The three bars up just off Teviot Square, the Doctor’s, Boteco Do Brasil and Paradise Palms have all re-opened, usually completely packed out at this time of year, they’ll be missing the Fringe. Oo, and another old folk establishment, Captains Bar just along on South College Street is open; turns out they’ve been carrying on musically online during the shutdown, good for them!

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I shall leave you with an oddity that’s appeared climbing the wall above an old drinking establishment in town. Can anyone identify the pub from this little teaser? Happy to report it’s open again.

If there’s a favourite Edinburgh watering hole that you’re hoping has survived, I’ll be happy to investigate!

Toodle pip!

 

 

A Tale of Cards and Coiners

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They seek him here, they seek him there – apparently he’s on the wasteland! If only those Frenchies had had a set of Pepys’ Wild Flower Sevens they’d have known where to look! Oh, how we chortled, gathered around the dining table finally able to do battle once more. I say battle, playing card games with family could be mistaken for warfare at times.

Yes, I’ve been down in the old country as restrictions have been loosened off. They’ve clearly had a rather damp time of it, all the local reservoirs are full to overflowing (in July, wow), luckily it wasn’t too bad for my trip. The warm weather meant I was roped into mowing the meadow that my mother’s lawn had become. I left a few patches of flowers, the selfheal did look very pretty and the bees love it. I was also given the dubious task of pruning the hedge; it’s done, not particularly well, but it’s done. I’ll be sure to time my next visit down for after it’s next trim.

I joined in the long evening walks over the local hilltops, well, I followed on behind, not a clue where we were, just the odd distant memory popping up. Wandering on the tops did occasionally put us in the clouds, like here looking across to the M62…..

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…….but invariably the sun would reappear as we wound our way lower and home again.

 

 

 

I even learnt some local history when one evening a far hillside was pointed out as Coiner’s Country (I’d tried a knowledgeable grunt, but then had to admit to my ignorance). Coiners were folk who clipped bits off gold and silver coins to make more counterfeit coins (that’s the simplified version).

Turns out the Cragg Vale Coiners were notorious as the most organised gang in the 1700’s, so much so their leader was known as “King David” Hartley. He’d learnt his skills while working in Birmingham, then took them back home where the local weavers were in dire straits and welcomed any way to make some money. Enter William Deighton, an excise officer, sent to investigate, exit Deighton murdered in the Dusty Miller pub. Well, he had arrested “King David” in the Old Cock Inn in Halifax, which led the “Duke of York” aka Isaac, David’s brother to put a price on his head. The Crown got serious and despatched one Marquis of Rockingham to deal with the problem however he saw fit.

“King David” lies in Heptonstall graveyard. He was convicted for coining and hanged in York in 1770. There’s a book The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers that tells the tale, fictionalised but faithfully drawn from historical accounts and documents; I’ll definitely have to get me a copy. There’s also The Cragg Vale Coiners Walk by Christopher Goddard, a must-buy before I head down again.

The Dusty Miller (in Mytholmroyd) and The Old Cock are still going to this day, according to a quick check on Facebook. Interestingly, The Old Cock was later frequented by one Branwell Brontë. He also drank in the Union Cross in Halifax, definitely still open as I had a pint in there just last week. Sadly the George (a pub I misspent plenty of time in in my younger days) hasn’t reopened yet, no doubt another haunt of Branwell’s.

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I shall leave you with another card, played by my brother announcing he had Scabious on the Moorland, well, I had to say it – “You can get an ointment for that”.

 

 

Toodle pip!