Possibly Tenth Infamous International Annual Carnethy Pub Run

“I rose politely in the club / and said, `I feel a little bored; / Will someone take me to a pub?'”
G. K. Chesterton

And so we did. Some 23 people turned up for this year’s pub run, including two stalwarts, Neil and Carolyn from Canada, back for their third outing and one teetotal, sober and salubrious, septuagenarian—Bill—on what I think is his second outing, although now there’s more smoking outside the pubs than inside, he actually came in them this time instead of waiting outside with Bob and/or Cali, who were cycling the route and took turns outside to watch the bike …

KB Union 7pm
Liberton Rugby Club
The Robin's Nest

The usual routine is that Willie G shepherds the flock together at KB, whilst I run down to the Braidburn and order the first beers. Willie of course failed to mention that the bar at KB was open, so whilst I stood on my own bedecked in tinsel, fairy lights, bells and Santa hat, and surrounded by a sea of beer and other bemused customers in the Braidburn, Willie took everyone to the KB bar (bar me). Sigh.

However, soon the others arrived and, predictably, took over the pub with noisy banter, flashing lights, extremely skimpy, glittery, dresses (Kate J) and lots of Santa’s and little elves (Alan H, Bob and Oz). Then, all too soon it was off up the hill to Liberton Rugby Club where the Manager was expecting us but the barmaid wasn’t and certainly wasn’t expecting to pour 22 beers! Nor was the keg, which gave out and we lost valuable time whilst it was being changed. Each year at this point, Cali and Bob offer to cycle on to the next pub to get the beers up but the runners always get there first and this year was no exception as they turned up minutes behind us. Our third pub, the Robin’s Nest was similarly overwhelmed at our arrival and the barmaid could only pull half a dozen pints before she needed a rest. Gordon—who was getting the order in—persisted until all the pints were poured, despite the hostile mutterings to left and right from regulars impatiently waiting for their next pint.

The Northfield
The Marmion
The Old Bordeaux
The Inbetween

Beers downed, then outside to where it was noticeably cooler and down into the darkness of Burdiehouse Wood with two river crossings (dry if you find the bridges) then up Ellen’s Glen Loan to stop at Joanne T’s house to sing Jingle Bells to her two young daughters Oonagh and Sinead. On the other side of the road stands my house and I considered giving the slightly older Alison the same treatment but common sense prevailed—after all, she was preparing the post run supper and wanted to watch Taggart too. The words “there’s been a murrrder” filled my head and we ran away. So on to the Northfield where this time, Cali and Bob had done the needful and with the beers already on the bar, we were quickly in and out, sadly failing to convince the lovely barmaid to have her photograph taken.

The ill-fated Marmion next. No, not ill-fated because we had arrived vastly outnumbering the other six people there, somewhat hot and sweaty, but because two years back someone was gunned down there (“slaughtered deid” was the term used) and sadly it seemed to have killed the business too, as the place was deserted. The usual jokes of “let’s have shots” and “don’t bore me” (‘twas a shotgun that was used in the shooting) amused only us and so we set off on the one minute dash to the Waverley. When we first arrived there, possibly ten years ago to cries of “J*s*s F*ck, its men in tights”, some of us were in serious danger of having to have the odd pool cue or two (which might have accidentally slipped, once or twice) surgically removed but the locals, then and now, warmed to us and we had some good banter in this busy pub.

The Best Barmaid Competition 2009

Liberton Rugby Club

Robins Nest

The Marmion

The Waverley

The Fairmile Inn

£ 26

Stable Bar
£ 30

The Balmwell
The Ellens Glen
£0 plus food

On through Southhouse, and the credit crunch had much diminished the outlandish scale of the Christmas Houses but there were still some crackers, presumably wired up to the lamppost in the next street. “There’s a safe way over the dual carriageway”, I said but someone’s ribald comments ending with “but Sainsbury’s is just up the road” meant that only Alan and I took the pedestrian crossing, whilst everyone else did it the way the American Indian’s did it in the 1890’s—they somewhat reluctantly headed straight for the reservation. Realising we were not too far away from the new Royal Infirmary, the crossing survivors carried on, except Bob, who couldn’t curb his enthusiasm but could kerb his bike and threw himself onto the pavement. What a show off. Luckily the bike was undamaged and as aforementioned the new ERI wasn’t far, so we entered the somewhat surreal Old Bordeaux, though some people were reluctant to come inside on the curious pretext that it had burned down a number of years ago. Inside, we drank mulled Old Bordeaux, as you would; whilst Willie murdered, very volubly, the Carnethy Christmas Carol (check the web for the words).

It is Carnethy of course, so the next bit was through stubble strewn fields, with myriad mud traps and it was here that Richard L tried the first of his ingenious shortcuts—on a route I recc’ed the previous week. Aye. So as we waited awhile for him to catch up, Willie produced the Whisky Mac and we had sweet drams whilst some of you were having sweet dreams. Ours being the healthier of course because there’s less “E’s”…

The Fairmile Inn
The Stable Bar

The Old Nick's

Next there was some confusion as when we arrived after a fair mile or two at the Fairmile, it appeared to some to be dark, desolate, and dreary and set for demolition but then the cheery barman turned up and the beer and conversation flowed. Steven Fallon, the Fairmile’s latest barman—he’s been there at least two years—did us proud as we quaffed a few beers out on the terrace. Rumours that it was the Avenue were unfounded.

This story would not be appropriate without visiting the Tusitala, named after Robert Louis Stevenson by the term used by his Samoan friends to describe him—it means (almost) story teller. Here too, one story ended as the obvious winner of the best barmaid competition displayed her smile and her charms, oh and yes, her tattoo to—if this is the right expression—an ardent Willie …

Last year, people followed Willie from the pub and took a left, oh another left, then two rights (which oddly made a wrong). Willie, Fraser and another clambered over a dodgy, spiked fence whilst the rest of us headed—in the opposite direction from which we wanted to go—to hit the start of the track whilst a back pack mutiny, methinks engineered by Richard, rebelled at heading the obviously wrong way and headed off into cul-de-sac land for some time. (The Line, the which and the What Road? has now become a much plagiarised Christmas Pantomime theme).

This year, everyone followed me, so we went right, right and then through the woods which was again right through a wood. But at the edge of the wood, we realised that we’d lost someone (R again). Whilst the rest waited Andy Millard and I ran back only to be confronted with cul-de-sac land and retreated ignominiously to the awaiting group. “He’s gone ahead”, I said to some disbelief, oddly.

A dark run through the woods took us swiftly to the Stable Bar where calls were made to both Richard and Kate who’d also been identified as missing. Kate, daunted by the wood had headed back—the long way—to the road but arrived in time for a beer. When I spoke to Richard, all he could tell me was that he was “in a wood”. But there were clamours to press on and as he arrived we headed off, except Willie who waited behind.

So, on to the Balmwell, where the historic well in the grounds was ignored by all for other sources of the waters.

Look, Bugger off, I’m trying to write and half of you are quiet and calm whilst half are wild and overly exuberant. Where’s the story in that. Can’t you just go and Hyde?
The well, blessed by St Katherine which had—supposedly—healing properties was later found to have a high concentrate of Shale Oil in the water. But this didn’t stop Oliver Cromwell ordering his troops (on the way to lay siege to Edinburgh) to block off the well with boulders.

"Time, gentlemen please” was rung, rather than called and there was a flurry by some to secure a final beer. Then it was off back to my place where Alison, now, OK a somewhat young, retired pensioner had done us proud and the heaving hordes surrounded the groaning board. Food and more drink was consumed before the mere mortals slinked off to there respective beds. Kate, made of sterner stuff, changed—almost unnoticed—in our midst and ran off to Roseburn.

In the quiet aftermath, I of course, wrote this.

Another great pub run. Thanks to Alison without whom … etc. Thanks too to all of you, who made it so memorable, oh and thanks to me too!

Have a great Christmas,

Love, live and laugh …

Nick Macdonald
Footnote: richard puts his navigational ineptitudes down to copious consumption at diverse hostelries, not least of which was the encounter with Steven and a crate of vintage Lancaster Bomber at the abandoned Fairmilehead Inn – a most sterling khaki brew, rich in tones of old flying leathers and engine oil, livened by the merest hint of cordite. Ta Steven! And thanks too to Gordon, who mustered the finances; WG who trogged mulled wine all the way to the Old Bordeaux, where the soot on the wall still remembers the old pub, and with a knacked limb (not quite limping), thanks Willie. Appreciations to the Canucks who made it too - all the way from Vancouver! And thanks Nick also for organising another eventful, um, event. Cheers all, and Merry Yuletide

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