Friday, 17 September 2010

Old Haunts

Well rested on Wednesday morning with a couple of cups of tea inside me and some toast and marmite, I bade farewell to Cy (David having made his escape a little earlier and the kids off to school/nursery) and trundled off to catch a perfectly timed bus for town. For old times sake I got off the bus in Bruntsfield for a gentle (none of your cross city hiking stuff today) stroll into the heart of the city. For complete authenticity, I wandered round to Bruntfield Crescent to start my walk at No 10, where I had spent 2 most enjoyable years as a student. Now a days it has been turned into several flats but back in the day it was know as The Green Lady House on account that it shared a ghost with a couple of other houses in the street - I never saw it but I know people who did.

In what you will soon realise is a bit of a theme going in this blog, you cross over the Bruntsfield links and pass one of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh, the Golf Tavern. Dating back to 1456, it's a quiet old place, off the main road, over looking the worlds oldest short hole golf course (that's what the official blurb calls it but it looks more like a pitch and putt course to me). Back in 1456 there would be a definite Ryder Cup advantage - America hadn't been discovered. 

This wasn't really one of our normal haunts and I think that in my 4 years in Edinburgh, I was only in there once. We normally wandered down the road for a further 10 minutes till we came to the grass market, a large open market place, which really hasn't changed all that much since this old picture was painted - stick a couple of modern shops in and a little parking down the middle and you're just about there.

The Black Bull is the first pub you come to that we tended to go into - perhaps needs a special mention as it was here that my sister met her husband.

The White Hart is occasionally quoted as being the oldest pub in Edinburgh even though it started in the century following the Golf Tavern. You also have to pretend that Duddingston isn't really part of Edinburgh as The Sheep's Heid there has a history dating back to 1360. Burns stayed here in 1791, scribbling a poem on one of the beams (it's a wonder he didn't get chucked out of more pubs as in Moffat he scratched a poem on a pub window). For our part, we went to the White Hart in the mid '80s because it had regular folk music on. At the time it also had astoundingly bad beer - I really should pop in at some time and get an update on the beer quality.

Just along from the White Hart was another of our favorite hostelries, The Last Drop, so called because it overlooked the spot where Edinburgh held most of it public hangings (not to mention the odd beheading). I remember the last drop had a carpet that had lots of little gallows woven into it.

The spot where most of the executions were held. (notice that the square pump in the left of this photo appears clearly in the old picture earlier on)

A new shop in the Grassmarket is Olde Jock's Pie Shop where I bought a rather tasty haggis pie and a cuppa for my lunch

At the end of the Grassmarket 3 streets come off it. 2 go up to the George IV bridge and the other The Cowgate goes under it. The Cowgate is a dark old street with high sides and I think gives a feel of how ancient Edinburgh must have felt.

Just a little way down the Cowgate is Sneeky Pete's pub which I'm not surprised to see is closed here since it's the hours of daylight. Some years ago, David and I went back into Sneeky Pete's to find disappointingly clean and tidy - you should never go back to places, they only change.


Light-In-A-Box said...

Sandy, thanks for taking us along on your wanderings, I always enjoy a good walk through someone elses neibourhood!
Michael :-)

Sandy's witterings said...

You're welcome Michael.

David McK said...

And look! They've respelled Sneeky Pete's as SNEAKY Pete's on the sign. Eeee - it were much better in my day. Don't hold with these new-fangled hoojamaflips.

Sandy's witterings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandy's witterings said...

Wot ho Mr McK, Not as bad as the change of spelling of the Preservation Hall (RIP). The new bars only half the bar the last one was - literally, they built a wall down the middle of it and now the great island bar is firmly attached to the wall :( sniff!