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!

 

Close call at The Jazz Bar

There’s a bar/music venue next door to Richer Sounds on Chambers Street, well, the door’s there, then lots of steps heading downwards. It’s been there as long as I can remember, though it’s probably gone through a few reincarnations since I last went in one time in the, ooo, late eighties, early nineties?! The Jazz Bar is it’s current moniker and it’s rather a fun place.

Last Saturday night had Logan’s Close in the midnight slot, so I thought I’d trot along. As I had time to kill I headed to the cinema to see Knives Out, I’d liked the look of the trailers and folk had said it was very good (I had some reservations as an all star cast does not by any means mean a good film!)  Daniel Craig got to have fun with an odd accent – not as odd as the one in Logan Lucky though. Knives Out is actually a fairly cracking film and doesn’t feel as long as it’s length, it’s keeps up a good pace through to the end.

Anyhoo, I meandered back and headed down into The Jazz Bar about quarter to twelve. A bit of red velvet round the place and I’d swear I’d walked on to some Lynchian-type movie set! Cool, hip, young things were bopping around, I was almost expecting to hear the word “Daddio” yep, there was some vibe going on. Then I noticed, near the entrance, a certain bass player tapping madly on his mobile, this went on a while, til almost midnight, hmmm, a whole set of bass solos,  nice!? Slowly over the next fifteen minutes or so, the rest of the band appeared (though it wasn’t til much later when I realised they were sans keyboards).

The Close made up for their tardiness with two long, cracking sets, including in the second Love me two times by the Doors, rather good, it was! Great to hear What d’I say as well, I’ve been playing the Bluefinger recording recently, that has a seriously lonnngg intro, lads, they probably have a good couple of minutes on you. You may have noticed in a previous post that I have a problem in gigs with tall guys getting in the way, but here there was a slight variation on this; whilst in rock/blues gigs the tall guys tend to be seriously broad too, these were all skinny, easier to peer round!

Indeed, the crowd were undulating, seemingly strange currents moving bodies around and about; I felt I was Sheldon Cooper playing at Spock, it was fascinating to watch, almost like….wow, was this the modern version of what we used to call a “cattle market”? I guess in this new “me too” environment it’s trickier for anyone to express any interest in another without risking any offence, so subtlety is to the fore. It makes a fun spectator sport, watching from the sidelines.

I have to mention the white t-shirt, I have no recollection of anything else the young lady had on, just her white t-shirt, which become pinker and pinker as the time went by. Even her back had two great splodges of red wine on it by late on, huh?

The Jazz Bar was fun, the people friendly; bar prices pricey but no more than you’d expect; entrance was £6 but that was anytime of the evening, I could have seen another two bands for the same amount had I gone in earlier. I like it, definitely a place to keep an eye on.

Toodle pip!

It’s strictly about the dancing!

This year is turning out to be fun!! And at present we get the rivetingly marvellous Killing Eve later on (enough time to do the washing up and plonk back down with a glass of something). I was away to darkest Yorkshire last weekend so recorded everything to enjoy once I was back up, including Dr Who (of course). Yes, they do have telly in Yorkshire but I’m always way too busy to watch any!

Movie Week is always good, but I sometimes wonder about the choice of movies and the music, and who makes the choice and determines which couple gets what? The Powers That Be can definitely make or break couples with their decisions this week. Poor Lee gave it his best but the cha cha has brought down better male celeb dancers than him and The Power of Love is a tad overplayed and cliched now. Even an improved dance-off performance wasn’t gonna save him. Mind I only placed him in the middle-rank, didn’t reckon he’d make it to the end anyway.

My highlights were Vick & Graziano, Kate & Aljaz, Stacey & Kevin and Seann & Katya. I must just say, I’m really having to watch what the print goblin in this tablet is playing at, he clearly doesn’t care for Strictly considering how much he keeps changing names and words when he thinks I’m not paying attention! Those four dances also had the best music for me, especially Why Don’t You Do Right? Kate nailed that performance, wowzah! Happy keeps floating in and out of my Desert Island Discs, but I was unsure beforehand how well dancing minions would come across, hey wow, I loved Stacey & Kevin’s routine.

And then there was the Matrix paso doble! Wow, he really trained hard for that and gave it everything. That foot lift and slo-mo bit – she has incredible core strength. Orchestrated music rather than a song can really make a performance stand out from the crowd as well, who would have thought we’d have the Matrix Theme on Strictly?  And I loved Seann’s comment afterwards “Bruno, you can have your trousers back now!”

Strictly speaking Dr Ranj and Janette could have done their paso last week too as Cancion del Mariachi is part of the soundtrack of Desperado, check it out on YouTube, it has Antonio Banderas singing it! Late on last night I had to play it, one of my favourite soundtrack albums, not a bad track on it. I may have to watch the film again, and that means I’ll have to watch El Mariachi as well, I would thoroughly recommend both, if you don’t mind a bit of violence, that is.

So I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, who will be oot this week? Well, if the public vote similar to the judges then the dance-off will be between Kate and Katie as theirs were the lowest scores, 20 and 18 respectively. Next above them with 25 a piece are Charles and Lauren. That’s Charles’ fourth 25 in a row, dancing to a great disco classic; but no matter how well Lauren danced, jeez those dress colours were distracting and not in a pleasant way!

I did feel for Kate having to dance to Africa by Toto and a samba too! Not a kind dance anyway – but to Africa?! Toto only ever had one good song Hold The Line and even that has lost something over the years (yes, I’m really showing my age now). On the other side of the scales, one of THE naffist, overplayed songs Hi Ho Silver Lining was a joy to hear with Stacey looking totally mod and really selling the performance.

Ok, but strictly about the song and dance – the charleston to Bills, well the song doesn’t move me but neither does it annoy me and it does kinda tie in with a busy pizza place. Seann did do plenty of swivveling and that first lift! Loved it! Did the judges mark up? (For the first time ever I had a look at the Strictly Facebook page, the comments are brilliant, people don’t half get their knickers in a twist!) Yes, I think they did but as I’m ranking him in the middle still, I don’t think there’ll be any harm done from it. Plus, the silly sod could do with a boost after the week he’s just had 😉

So what was so important last Saturday? Exploring pubs in deepest Yorkshire that time and town-planners forgot……

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Strictly honestly – I was in the pub!

Yeah, what was going to be a lunchtime/afternoon session rather overran. There was me reckoning I’d be home for Pointless Celebrities, which was a Strictly line-up, and next thing I knew it was quarter to eight! Well, there’s a lot to put right about the world in these current times, a couple of pints wasn’t anywhere near long enough to cover everything! And when the fresh air hit me I was rather hungry so a fish supper had to be purchased, yes, had to be (a fish supper means fish and chips, in fish and chip shops here if you want anything with chips it’s a supper). So after all that I only made it home for the last two couples on Strictly, damn, but it was a fine pub session taking in the Jolly Judge, Bow Bar, Dagda and the Cask and Barrel.

Hurrah for BBC iPlayer, I watched both shows on Sunday evening instead. No, I didn’t watch Bodyguard, am I the only one in the country who hasn’t seen any of it? Maybe I’ll get round to it sometime before another series comes out.

So Strictly…… well I did say about making some reference to Danny John-Jules’ Cat and, blow me down, first off was himself and Amy doing a foxtrot to the theme tune to Top Cat – I loved that cartoon so much as a calf. He’s the oldest celeb but crikey he’s pretty fit and has some great moves, I reckon he’ll go far.

Poor Seann had the tango, not an easy dance for a male celeb to start with, but he did go for it so he gave it plenty of attitude and character to make up for lack of technique. The scores weren’t helped by Katya putting in a lift that wasn’t allowed, but ever a comedian Seann said it wasn’t a lift, more of a “chuck”. Being used to hecklers and the like, the judges may find he’s one contestant who’ll always have a smart quip back at them.

My other immediate favourite, Charles Venn, wowzer! Oh yay, he can dance, and he and Karen looked amazing together in red. Joe Sugg was actually pretty good at the jive, I was pleasantly surprised, but I’m not sure how he’ll cope with a rumba! Kate Silverton Cha Cha’d with plenty of attitude, but I reckon she’ll be a half-wayer. Another half-wayer I reckon is Graeme Swann, but I did love hearing Soul Limbo, of course he had to dance his Samba to the cricket theme tune, and Oti was as scrummy as ever!

Generally it’s another pretty good year with plenty of potential winners. More about the others next week. First out? If they’re in the dance-off, Susannah and Anton. Of course, if they get enough public votes to avoid it ….. but I’m not sure she has enough fans, even with Anton’s over-the-top antics.

If you’re thinking, what? Another post about that dancing tosh! Well, let’s say, if the title contains the word Strictly that’s what it’ll be about, forewarned and and all that.

Nighty night!

 

Beware the Ides of May!

I say this because the weather this last week or so has been darn lovely which, in my experience means the sunshine ration for Edinburgh will have run out by August! Brollies and rain macs will be must-haves at this year’s Fringe, I predict.

This coming Monday is Victoria Day, a little known public holiday in parts of Scotland; it’s celebrated on the last Monday before or on 24th May, which was Queen Victoria’s birthday (I just looked that up, I’ve only known it as usually the third Monday in May). I used to get it as a public holiday from work and in the further past we had the previous Friday off too, before they cut down on our public holidays – yes, I am a working moose, the bills don’t pay themselves, unfortunately!

It was a weekend to be off as most people are working and the kiddies are in school; Bud and I had some great camping trips with glorious weather. The Lake District being just down the road was a favoured destination. Beautiful scenery, good campsites and plenty of great pubs! Oh to be waking up in Great Langdale with the sun already shining and lambs gambolling about the place (those same lambs you could have quite happily barbecued at 4 in the morning when they did their own version of the dawn chorus!); then, later rounding off another perfect day with a drink or three at the Old Dungeon Ghyll’s Hikers Bar, a no-frills pub with good grub and well-kept ales (I could be wrong but I think they have been in the Good Beer Guide nearly, if not every year). And only a drunken stagger away from the campsite!

Over in the east County Durham and North Yorkshire, another favourite area for Bud and I to visit or use as a good stopover when heading south. Let’s face it that whole swathe across the north of England is bloody marvellous, scenery, great pubs and grub and lovely locals. One particularly sunny May we went to Beamish, if you’ve never been, go!! I’d wanted to visit for years but just never got round to it, one day I’ll have to go back and see what I missed last time – it’s awfully big, a full day and you still won’t have seen it all!

Heading south there’s Bishop Auckland, Barnard Castle, Richmond, Leyburn, to name a few old market towns worth a stop and wander around. Leyburn sits on the A684 which runs across to Kendal with plenty to enjoy in between. Leyburn is also a hop and a skip away from Middleham, which is very close to the Forbidden Corner, so good we went twice (a few years apart). The Forbidden Corner started out as a private folly, but then like Topsy, it growed and growed, now there’s grottos, towers, tunnels, chambers, a maze and beautiful gardens. But, and it’s a big butt, it will be full of children. If you have children this is the bestest place you could take them, but do microchip them first so they can be located when you lose sight of the little dears, and you will! This is why a May visit, on a weekday preferably, book for a visit straight after breakfast ahead of the coachloads of school trips, is great.

Ah, the sun is beckoning me to go oot and play. It teases Edinburgh with the prospect of a fine Meadows Fair in a couple of weeks but more on that little extravaganza later.

Toodle pip!

On the fringe of the Beast

It’s been an odd month, what with Scotland actually beating England at the rugby and snow that’s actually lasted more than half a day. Yes, this may be Scotland but don’t assume it’s all covered in snow in winter, many winters Edinburgh will get one covering of snow, usually a weekday morning, that’ll be gone by lunchtime. I think the last decent snowfall was 2010, that lasted weeks and now the Beast From the East has dumped an almighty load on us. Yay. Today was a snow day off work,  so where better to head than Holyrood Park, the home of Arthur’s Seat, and today also home to sledgers, snowboarders and even a few skiers. All sorts were out to enjoy this rare occurrence, quite a convivial atmosphere helped to take the bitterness out of the cold.

2018-03-01 13.03.57.jpgThese two were just taking a break when I moisied over. I did wonder if I would be able have a go sitting in the middle of a board, there is room between their legs after all, but my nerve failed me. Downhill, at speed, maybe not.

I took my life in my hands quite enough last weekend, trying to get a drink at the Doctors. The pubs in Edinburgh are all heaving during the Six Nations rugby, especially the Scotland v England match, circumstances meant that for the first time in years I would not be out in the scrum. That was until the end of the first half, like, huh? Scotland were actually doing rather well, I’d reached a natural break in my diy and decided such a game warranted a drink in a crowded pub – so off to Doctors I toddled. Haven’t actually been there in some time, used to be in fairly regularly but the last “refurbishment” rather spoilt it and the prices had become ridiculous. So why did I pick there? Couldn’t say, but a great choice by me, it really was packed to the gunnels, I found a place at the bar and stayed there! What a game, see Scotland can play when they want; the pub, the town went wild, Flower of Scotland snippets floating in the air everywhere. It was like hogmanay in Tesco’s with the amount of alcohol being bought. Scotland had one mass collective hangover on Sunday morning!

Wonder what fun March will bring, and how many storms, and what will they be called? And so, I bid you goodnight, I think it will unfortunately be back to work tomorrow. I shall leave you with another pic of me in Holyrood Park.

Stay warm and safe, peeps.

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On the fringe of the Close

That would be Logan’s Close, a rather good band from Dunbar near Edinburgh, who play Sixties-style music. Indeed I would be so bold as to say they are on the fringe of success. Tonight they played at The Caves in Edinburgh to launch their new single Girl (with a B-side of Work, a B-side? On a cd? aww bless ’em).

Sometimes Facebook does throw good things your way, case in point these lads’ previous single Listen To Your Mother (check out the Official Video on YouTube, no I haven’t put a link up, I’m not sure how, I’m only a moose), since I saw it I’ve seen them a few times in Edinburgh. The first time was in Sneaky Pete’s in the Cowgate, a much changed pub from when I used to prolong a night’s drinking by ending up there, way way back in the 80’s.

Tonight was top notch if a tad on the cold side for a while, but a great bar for real ale with Caesar Augustus as an option. The Caves are rather better now than when they first opened as a Fringe venue some years ago with moisture dripping off the ceiling! The support band were pretty good, a shame more folk didn’t turn up earlier for them, but as soon as Logan’s Close came on the joint started to really swing. The Close have a lovely easy chemistry between them, especially Scott and Carl on rhythm and lead guitars and shared lead vocals. As David Lynch would say, the eye of this duck is in the right place, this band is perfection to me. They transport the soul, or mine anyway.

Well, I have some red wine somewhere and I’m in the mood for more music …..

 

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What’s Monday without a little drama?

That’s all I heard of a conversation as I meandered to the Pleasance Courtyard on my way home this evening. With so many wannabe thespians in such close proximity there’s bound to be some tears, or at least dramatic flouncing before bedtime.

I decided to pop in as it had dawned on me that I hadn’t been in so far this Fringe! This is a very strange occurrence, how could I have not seen a single show at preview time at the Pleasance Courtyard?! The last time this happened was 2008, and then I saw four shows there the first weekend, ah the preview prices may have continued to the Saturday for some shows and back then the 2for1 days were the first Sunday and Monday. The Pleasance Courtyard has always been good for comedy acts, but at higher prices, and they never appeared on the Friends of the Fringe 2for1 list, hence early on cheaper shows were a must.

Another shocker, I’m not seeing anything in Pleasance Two this year, I’ve seen the list of shows there and not one appeals to me, which is a shame because as venues go, it’s a pretty good one. The seating is well tiered, only someone freakishly elongated could block the view of the fellow behind. It’s been sometime since I haven’t seen a least one show there.

So I wandered around having a nosy at all the little and not so little changes. I noticed the inside bar looked different through the window so popped in for a look, ye gods, it’s bloody awful now! Even worse than what’s been done to the Peartree, a few streets away, which has just recently been reopened after extensive work at the expense of losing the Blind Poet next door, becoming just another part of the Peartree. From two great old pubs, they’ve made a modern dull, could be anywhere, lounge bar. Bloody vandals!!

Well, that’s quite enough drama for one night. Toodle pip.