Carnethies Jim and Graham had been planning some sort of booze fuelled run along the lines of last September's Equinox Run. On hearing Mary L was turning 40, this was held up as the celebratory theme and a number of brave souls opted to meet at the Steading at Hillend last Friday. We would run up to the summit of Allermuir from where we would metaphorically play out the remainder of Mary's destiny by going "all downhill from here" to Leith. Stopping at hostelries along the way.
I was in danger of getting left behind taking photos. And then I remembered I didn't know which way the team were going and reluctantly ran down the hill towards Swanston/Bonaly to catch up. Everything was bathed in a magical light with the sun just breaking through the clouds and the heather a rapturous purple.
Mary took this photo of me and the purple heather. I had put on a few more layers than usual as I thought we might be standing around up hills more than we actually were. Haven't worn leggings this season until now and they were prob overkill. Felt they might be more suitable for traipsing into pubs.
Next port of call was Nasherspoons - Graham's house where a superbly crafted cake was consumed and potent Gin and Tonics. Jim had presented us with (ironically) "drink aware" plastic cups at kick off and we carried them with us to be filled at various stations along the route.
Bit of a gap here because we hit a heavy shower of rain. I also hit the ground and wasn't sure whether it was the G&T or my foot catching an unseen snare. I went down like a sack of potatoes and was surprised I didn't do any damage. (We were all wearing headtorches.)
I was about to say this was the first pub (the Murrayfield Hotel) but as Ian is reminding me it is the second as we had a drink in the Steading before setting off.
next stop St Bernard's Well.
As EdinburghGuide.com points out: "the few visitors that jump the shut iron gate into St Bernard's Well are usually imbibing something stronger than the legendary mineral water sourced from this area over the centuries... They are not kidding. I think we may have seen off the local jakies being far louder and more obstreperous. Jim had given me a screw-top bottle to carry and at this point we decanted what turned out to be Taylor's Port into our no-longer-drink-aware cups. Also Sean shared round scones he and his daughter had made earlier. He is not from here so was calling them biscuits although I missed the full explanation if there was one.
Earlier in the evening I had messed up my schedule. I had suddenly realised I'd have to get a bus or 2 across town - right across town from Leith to Hillend and that this would take about an hour. I usually cycle everywhere and since Hillend is only 40 minutes away I left things a bit late setting off. So didn't have ample time to follow the advisory notes about lining one's stomach before. I ran out the house eating a slice of bread and jumped on the wrong bus into town (the number 10) I watched the right bus (the number 4) drive off into the distance. In frustration I jumped off the number 10 and ran along Princes St, up Lothian road and Bruntsfield, being rather displeased to note the number 10 was travelling alongside for much of this run. Eventually I caught a number 5 in Morningside that looked as if it was travelling in the right direction, although as soon as I sat down it hared off to Oxgangs. I was tempted to get off and race it up the road. But eventually we arrived at Hunter's Tryst leaving me with less than a mile to run to the Steading. The point of this is I was well ready for something to eat at St Bernard's Well and the cheese and jalapeno "biscuits" were outstanding.
And they would have been the highlight of the night had Matt not produced onion bhajis that eclipsed even the scones. I stuffed handfuls of both into my mouth and washed it down with port. Hog heaven!
We then ran to Warriston cemetery or rather to where the cycle path crosses the cemetery. Cocktail hour! Into our well rinsed glasses we poured mystery bottle number 2 and then got a squirt of squirty cream and a glacé cherry. You cannot say this was not a classy outfit. The taste, strangely familiar and yet, ...obscure? Last year the mystery guest turned out to be Buckfast Wine. More welcome this year, though from the same bermuda triangle of the drinks cabinet, was Malibu and Kahlua: I forget the name, something like a Jailed Somali Pirate, or a Slow Comfortable Stroke. Anyway it was the best cemetery cocktail I've ever had.
nicer than it looks (but only just!)
Each time we set off was proving more difficult and the pace slower. There were a lot of laughs none of which I can recall. It was an intoxicating evening and I have a feeling there might have been more pubs than I have remembered here. Oh yes, the Blue Goose(?) used to be the Tickled Trout on Slateford or Lanark Rd where you cross to the Water of Leith Centre, I forgot to mention that. We had a pint there. And I should mention the dude playing guitar in the Murrayfield Hotel who was gifted - I rarely enjoy live music but he was keeping the volume down and the quality up, choosing great tracks, well known but a bit off the beaten track, and doing good interpretations of them. Even to an audience of windswept muddy bedraggled sweaty intoxicated runners.
From somewhere deep inside I knew that if I went to the intended pub in Leith I would be jeopardising the whole weekend. With a good sense I failed to find in my teens right through to my forties, I left and got home before midnight, wobbly but not ruined. I flopped into bed and 4 or 5 hours later addressed fluid and thirst issues while necking a couple of paracetamols, then further sleep and by morning I was remarkably good to go. I think I got off lightly compared to some and really enjoyed the evening, revisiting certain things (pubs and cocktails and onion bhajis) that I don't regularly enjoy. Big thanks to Jim for organising and getting in the drinks (and running the last few miles with pockets jangling full of boozers change!)
Happy Birthday Mary! Here's to the next 40!