Sunday, 24 April 2011

131: No Half Measures

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Welcome to Edinburgh. It's a bit 'bitey'.

So, first night in Edinburgh, a little tired from the travelling, and we didn't want to go too far from the guest-house. Looking at a map, we aren't too far from the Leith Waterfront, which we've been led to believe has been all redeveloped and that. So, rather than openly carry a map around in the early evening (may as well hold up a sign saying 'please mug me'), we judge the general direction and set off for a stroll.

I'm going to go out on a limb (an unresearched limb at that), and say that we had to walk through the old town before we got to the waterfront. We passed probably eight or nine pubs, none of which looked remotely safe. You know that bit in Trainspotting? "Pardon me, may I use your bathroom?" Yeah, all like that or worse.

All of a sudden, we came to a very respectable looking street of bars and bistros opposite the river, which we guessed is the waterfront. We looked over the bridge, but it seemed to go all residential and scary again, so we stuck to this street for the evening. After a walk up and down, The Shore looked worth a punt, and we popped in for a pint of 80/-. Well, I say popped in, we sat outside as it was packed. Looking at the well-to-do bar, Miss Magpie said to me before we entered "Do you think we'll be horrified by the prices?". To which I answered "I get the impression that in Leith, we'll either be horrified by the prices, or horrified by their knives. There seem to be no half-measures here." Friendly staff in The Shore, and two drinks were under £8, so it's already better than anywhere in London.

Sometimes you want to go… where everybody knows you're a tourist.

After being (politely) pestered by a man asking for money to feed his dog (and definitely not his habit), we headed along to a bar called The Waterline, and settled in with some Belhaven Rabbie (very much like Newcastle Brown). Again, a lovely bar, very friendly. A little more pricey than The Shore, but I was on bottled beer, so it's to be expected.

After a while, a pub-golf group came in. I've nothing against pub crawls, and this lot were well behaved, but they were in for ages. This seemed to suggest that as far as the "nice" pubs go, there really is just that street, and a large group of blokes in their mid-20's don't want to go into the regular pubs of Leith. I can't say I blame them.

An acoustic covers duo, The Jaywalkers started up, and we spent the rest of the evening watching them. Miss Magpie has started hearing things in Scotch, and when they introduced their rendition of Bob Dylan's Hey Mr Tambourine Man, she genuinely heard it as Hamish The Tambourine Man. I think it would be marvellous if all bands in Scotland had to adapt their cover versions to be overtly Scotch.

She asked if they knew any Del Amitri, and before you shout cliché, the singer said they only know one. He later said that he'd left the words at home so they couldn't do it. I was under the impression that any band playing within the boundaries of Scotland was legally obliged to know at least 80% of Del Amitri's back catalogue, but evidently not. That's like any band who plays London not knowing Chas & Dave songs, I ask you.

The Jaywalkers are very good, by the way, and seem wasted playing covers. They could quite easily have slipped some original songs into their set, but hey ho. So after a very chilled evening, we took a chilling walk back through the old town and briskly walked through a deserted Claremont Park to the guest house.

Day one? A success.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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