Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Macbeth comes back to Edinburgh

I have a bit of a lie in. I hung out the do not disturb sign last night. No chance of a chambermaid bumbling in on me in my underscuds.

It’s almost noon when I pull myself away from the TV and head on to the tram stop. Did I mention that my hotel is just far enough away from the airport for the walk to be annoying?

In town, I get a sudden craving for a bacon butty. Oh look, there’s a Greggs. “A bacon sandwich, please.” “Sorry, we don’t do those after eleven.” You what? That’s just crazy. Especially at the weekend. My bacon craving is unfulfilled. At least for the moment.

I amble towards the city centre along Princes Street. Until I get to Frederick Street, where I make a left. Not randomly. Oh, no. I have a plan. Actually, not that different from Thursday’s plan. I plan dining in style again. At the other city centre Wetherspoons, The Standing Order.

Inside, it’s more like standing room only. I’m on my second round of the rooms when I finally find a seat. I stick my coat on a chair and head to the bar. Where I order the strongest beer on offer and an all-day brunch.

Wooha IPA, 6.2% ABV, £3.19
Unfined, it says on the pump clip, which explains the haze. At least it isn’t total murk. It’s the grapefruit juice sort of IPA, not that bitter, mind. Pleasant enough and reasonably strong.

I’m totally free today, so I’ll just be slowly walking around town and doing a little light shopping. Then find a pub where I can watch Scotland England without getting killed.

The brunch is much better today. More nicely presented and the yolks are runny.

Good day at the Scottish Brewing Archive yesterday. I took almost 15,00 photographs in five hours. Not sure the Majority Ale book has much useful in it, really. Though I’m dead excited about the notebook of the Copenhagen trip. And the Usher’s records of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The late Younger’s records, on the other hand, were a bit rubbish, with almost nothing filled in. I’ll be busy for weeks – if not months – going through it all.

Thornbridge Jaipur, 5.9%, £3.10
Thought I’d play relatively safe. Quite bitter. And twiggy hop flavoured. Tastes different to how I remember ii. Less fruity. Much more English tasting than I expected.

Three middle-aged Scottish women sitting on the next table are discussing food. “I don’t like feta cheese.” “I do like couscous.” “How can you be bothered to boil an egg every morning?”

Scotland are playing Italy at rugby. Where is it? It looks rather hot. And the stadium isn’t that full. Ah, it’s Singapore. Why the hell are they playing there?

I only stay for the two. I fancy a couple in the Abbotsford, down at the end of Rose Street. On the way down I notice they’re putting up an England flag in the window of a pub. Could be a good spot to watch the game later.

The Abbotsford is looking as gorgeous as ever. I take a seat at the bar.

Windswept Wolf, 6% ABV, £4.40
Looks lovely: black with a tight, cream-coloured head. Served through a tall font. Dark and Strong Scottish Ale it’s billed as. Sweetish and malty. It makes a nice change of pace.

Impressive array of malts above the pot shelf. Which seem to be arranged alphabetically: Aberlour, Ardbeg, Arran, Auchentoshan, etc.

This is a proper pub. Just the sound of conversation. There’s a classic Scottish island bar. Odd that they have five tall fonts and one handpull. Maybe that’s for English beer. All those on tall fonts are Scottish.

Where will I watch the game? If the worst comes to the worst, I can always go back to the Wetherspoons. They have a big screen there.

No-one but me seems to be drinking the cask. Most punters are ordering Tennent’s.

Orkney Blast, 6% ABV
Billed as an IPA Barleywine hybrid. I’ve no effing idea what that means. And writing Barley Wine as one word really isn’t on this side of the Atlantic. Pretty pale and pretty clear. Apart from the fizzing, not that unlike a pint of Tennent’s the bloke to my right is supping. A US hop thing going on, but also a sticky malt sweetness. Not getting the IPA bit. More like a lower ABV Barley Wine. Quite nice, mind, and full of the alcoholy umph I like.

Time to watch the footy. I make my way back down Rose Street to Milnes. The pub where I’d seen them putting up the England flag. It’s very crowded, but I manage to squeeze my way to the bar to get a pint, then squeeze my way to a spot where I can see a TV. I’ve got the time mixed up and the first half is already 20 minutes in.

England are in control, but not really looking like scoring. Everyone in the pub gets very excited on the rare occasions Scotland get anywhere near England’s goal. It’s scoreless at half time. The second half is much like the first, with England knocking the ball around fairly harmlessly.

Bum. England are bringing on Oxlade-Chamberlain. One of those Arsenal lightweight forwards who always look out of their depth at the highest level. Why the hell did they bring him on? He must have heard my thoughts, because he wriggles past several defenders and sticks the ball past the goalkeeper. Bastard. Just trying to prove me wrong. I manage to contain my emotions and show no outward sign of joy.

England look like they’re coasting to a win. Just 10 minutes to go. Until they give away a free kick just outside the penalty box. The bastard Scot who takes it curves the ball around the wall and into the top right corner. Everyone in the pub goes mental. Except me. Bastards.

A couple of minutes later England give away another free kick in an even better position. This time the ball goes in the top left corner. The sound in the pub is totally deafening. Everyone is going totally apeshit. Except me.

As the final minutes of the game tick by, it looks like England are stuffed. Then, with virtually the last kick of the game, Harry Kane coolly sidefoots a cross into the bottom corner. Everyone in the pub is totally silent. Except me. I’ve been so resolved to England effing it up, that I can’t contain a little yelp of joy. No the best idea in the circumstances.

Luckily, everyone is too busy crying into their beer to have noticed. I finish my pint and leave before anyone comes to their senses.

I make it an early night. I can’t cope with any more excitement. I watch England play Argentina at rugby somewhere in the Andean foothills. England score a try with just seconds to go to win the game. Seems a recurring theme today.

Buy my new Scottish book. It's why was in Scotland.

The Standing Order

62-66 George St
Midlothian EH2 2LR.

Abbotsford Bar & Restaurant
3-5 Rose Street, Edinburgh,
Midlothian EH2 2PR.
+44 131 225 5276

Milnes of Rose Street
21-25 Rose St,
Edinburgh EH2 2PR.
Tel: +44 131 225 6738


Matt said...

I watched the England-Scotland match in a pub in Liverpool, leaving with just over twenty minutes to go in what seemed destined to be a goalless game to catch a train to a wedding do in Ormskirk and arriving there half an hour or so later to discover it had ended 2-2.

Allan P McLean said...

Good show

Alan said...

This is fun as I could be walking along with you. Been in Edinburgh maybe 8 times in my life. I take the 128 bus up from Waverly Station to visit uncle and auntie. He project managed the build of the mall you were in the other post. And that was the Wetherspoons I walked into, walked around and vowed never to return to. All the rules made it feel like a workplace cafeteria. The Abbotsford is a gem. Had a brat venison lunch there. Did you ever go to the Rose Street microbrewery? Spent some time there when I was a young man but didn't seem to seem very appealing. Not much discussed from what I see online.

Trevor Green said...

Love the abbotsford, probably my favourite pub that I've visited.

Ron Pattinson said...


that's the idea - that it's like you're there with me.

The Rose Street Brewery doesn't seem to actually brew as far as I can tell.

Barm said...

The Rose St Brewery hasn’t brewed for many years, though it did when it started (mid-80s).

Alistair Reece said...

I see a Happy Chappy pump clip in one of your pictures, cracking, cracking stuff.

Alan said...

I went to the Rose St Brewery once at about 1 pm in 1986 or '87 and asked if I could be shown around. Guy sitting at the bar said I really should have come about 11 am. I asked whether that was the regular tour time. He answered, no but that he was the brewer/owner and he was usually far too pissed by lunch to be bothered.