Royal Oak

imageWell this is a long time coming. The Royal Oak has been an institution since 60s but this is my first visit.

Renowned for it’s live music Michael Marra’s ” Hermless “was coming over the speaker and I reckoned that that was trying to tell me something about what the place stood for. Folk music is a  tree with many branches but to me is best when it is about the trials and tribulations of life. White blues.

On the walls are a few quotes of literary sayings. One is from Burns: ” For a’that an’ a’ that, It’s comin’ yet for a’ that, That man to man the  world o’er, Shall brothers be for a’ that.

Made me think about the situation in the Middle East and Syria in particular and thought that maybe we shouldn’t be holding our breath.

The password for wi-fi is scallywag and a couple of worthies came in for a pint.

I had a pint of Game Bird from fairly new brewery in the Borders. Very nice.

Overall impression is that it is unpretentious and couthy.  Scottish then?


Off to a great start

Pub 1 Feb 1 2016
The Cafe Royal

One of the many great watering holes in the city the Cafe Royal is also justly renowned for it’s food. It celebrated it’s 150th anniversary last year. A classic brass and wood central serving area. Comfortable booths in the bar and restaurant adjoining.

Recently bought over by Greene- King – leaders in pub retailing and brewing in the u k they tell us- so here’s hoping they don’t muck it around!  Expect more promotion of their own beer brands but if they retain what up ’til now has been a wide selection from other breweries then should still be worth a visit. A major incongruity is the fruit machine. Totally out of place and time with the overall ambience. Naff really.  Staff are extremely friendly and efficient and it’s a great venue to get together with a few friends. A regular.





Back home

Post prandial
Sails Bar, Baros, Maldives



Above, me with post prandial backed by the somewhat over the top gantry in Sails Bar.

Impressions of Sri Lanka: A young country trying to get it’s governance on a stable footing. Known as Dominion of Ceylon from ’48 to ’72 following independence from G.B. and has been a democratic socialist republic ever since. The civil war ended in 2009 and I got the idea that a lot of time and effort was being put into improving the constitution. Quite a large area is out of bounds due to uncleared land mines but we travelled extensively in the middle and south of the country visiting three national parks in the company of Sampath our Buddhist guide. A wildlife photographer and all round nature guy we were very fortunate to land up with.( can just hear my old English teacher saying don’t finish a sentence with a preposition boy!) We were in last chance saloon and about to leave the final National Park when we got a sighting of the elusive leopard. Highlight.

Would we go back? Absolutely love to but —-

More and more after returning from a foreign trip I feel pangs of guilt re the eco footprint. However, hopefully Sri Lanka will follow the example of the Seychelles and limit tourist numbers but still reap the economic benefit.

A people story to finish with. Ok, with which to finish.

One morning I had loaded up the toaster in the hotel breakfast bar with 4 slices of bread and a European woman puts a slice in along with mine. The machine gets jammed and a waiter goes round the back to unblock it. The woman goes round to see what’s happening and after clearing the blockage he offers the woman the toast and the the bitch just buggers  off with every single last bit of my toast – which I already had had to put through three times!  (Did you know that you can make a sentence with eleven had’s in a row and it makes perfect sense?  You don’t?  Well if you’re good I might remember to let you know one day)  A couple of days later in the Maldives I’m making our breakfast toast and once more having to put the bread through several times. There is a Japanese lad close by and he hovers around and waits for me to finish before loading the toaster up for himself!  Made me think about differences in cultures and how we can learn from each other.

Artificial Reef Baros 


You may well know that coral reefs, like many other ecosystems, have suffered due to the changes that the planet is, depending on your point of view, either going through naturally or is suffering from due to human activity. A subject for us to explore in a future blog?

In 2014  the dive centre on Baros had come up with the idea of putting metal frames in the sea bed and getting guests to sponsor them so that over time new reefs could develop. We fell for it and the photo above in proof was taken in 2016

Anyway, now that I’m home the plan is to visit a different pub every week for the rest of the year. All to be within 30 minutes walk from my home. Yes we do have a lot of hostelries in Edinburgh. More so even, surprisingly,  than Glasgow per head of population. Feel free to join me.