One of the unexpected outcomes of the Glasgow blogmeet last year was that Mrs C and I were invited to stay with BondBloke and BondWoman for a couple of days, and last weekend we called their bluff and went up to Edinburgh. A fairly bold adventure, since meeting folk for a couple of hours in a Glasgow bar ain’t the same as inviting those same folk to stay for a couple of days under your roof and share bread with them, particularly if you haven’t actually met the old lady herself. Still, the Bonds are made of stern stuff, used to rubbing along with some of life’s weirder throwbacks, so we fitted right in.
We left Argyll about half-four on Friday evening and drove via Balloch and Stirling to Edinburgh, where, only one false turn later, we tracked our hosts down to their palatial, and extremely stylish, flat in a converted warehouse in Leith. The course of the weekend was soon clear; after a swift meal and couple of bottles of wine, we were down in the Malt and Hops downing several pints of the very repeatable Pale Rider pale ale – albeit a wickedly 5.2% alcohol content. I seem to recall very little of the rest of the evening, but since Her Maj was more than happy to keep conversation going, my snoozing on the sofa didn’t seem to cause the party to lag too much.
The following day dawned clear and cold and Edinburgh was infested with a wind from the colder armpits of Siberia to keep us country types humble. We executed a trip to the Dean Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art to see a goodly assortment of cubists, surrealists, wild childs and installationists, as well as some of the great Scottish colourists. I have to say, there were some bizarre installations, although we all agreed that the pickled leaves hanging in jars from the ceiling did something for us that the curdled milk bottles forming the 3D image of a woman on the saltire somehow failed to.
We meandered back into town and found ourselves in the Milnes bar in Rose Street, where a couple of pints of Old Speckled Hen blurred the rougher edges of the previous evening’s excesses. Scotland were busy losing to France, a tale which we could see unfolding in the silence of the Scottish fans watching the TV and the restrained pleasure of the few French in the bar.
Next stop was the Cafe Royal for a couple of pints more and a few nachos and suchlike. I drew on my quasi-Welsh heritage (okay, I went to school across the border in Wales from my childhood home in Herefordshire) to cheer on the Welsh in their victory over England. I may even admit to the occasional Oggy-oggy-oggy escaping my lips in a moment of excitement.
Match over, it was time to find somewhere to eat, and a bus-ride down Leith Walk took us to Suruchi Too, an Indian restaurant which rejoices in a life-size carved camel in the midst of the tables.
The food was great and set us up for heading down the shore to The Shore, where some live jazz was anticipated later that evening. It duly appeared, as the following photo of two duetting pianists competing to find the beat will testify.
Not up to a late night, we retired homewards a little after eleven o’clock and were all crashed out not much later.
A good visit, nice to make/confirm some new friends and enjoy a little bit of metropolitan excesses after these rural fastnesses. The Bonds are good hosts and great company.