It's about this time of year when you start to remember odd parts of old holidays; the ones where the sun always shone and everyone was a little bit younger. This one had been a holiday for me and Lucie, but not for Steve and Tom, who had to actually work between episodes of play. They had a conference where they had to deliver workshops and be intelligent and thoughtful and friendly, while Lucie and I attended to Edinburgh.
Our converted flat in a solid Victorian school complete with its own bell tower, was hard by Holyrood Park, which we gazed out towards at night and moseyed around at off times during the day. We walked Steve and Tom to their university work every morning through the almost-country back lanes of this inviting city, and then walked ourselves back for a late cuppa and a day's plan. There's a lot to do in Edinburgh, especially when the sun shines.
We climbed Arthur's Seat, walked to Duddingston, were "nettled" when we took our shoes off to bathe our hot feet in the cold beck (brook) on the way back, tramped through the unromantic Craigmillar housing estate to see the romantic ruins of Craigmillar Castle, hiked the Royal Mile from top to bottom, and got happily lost in its closes, courts and wynds. We stroked soft woolen plaids in old shops, gazed at the masters in free museums and sat outside in warm summer breezes to have tea or wine or (once was enough) a fried Mars Bar.
The week flew by. The night before we were due to leave to drive south and Tom and Steve were officially in the holiday brigade, we sentimentally headed out to a local pub, the nearest being the Jeanie Deans Tryste, which at that time, had seen better days.
There were six strangers in the auld Jeanie Dean when we arrived, ten people while the four of us were there and six new best friends when we left. I can't recall any of their names, nor, I suspect, can they conjure ours.
Here's what I do remember: The jukebox. Although popularly attributed to the southern African-American jook-joint, jukebox has also got a Scottish origin from the word "dook" or duck/dodge. You don't see a lot of jukeboxes in Scottish pubs! This one was loaded with a huge stack of enviably playable retro- everything that needed airing, offering a fabulous opportunity to both dook and dodge. Tom handed me a pile of pound coins and I spent a serious hour choosing perfect music.
I also read the menu which was highly informative about Jeanie Dean. The 'tryste' in the pub's name refers to Jeanie Dean's (key character in Sir Walter Scott's Heart of Midlothian) meeting with the outlaw, George Robertson, which took place in Holyrood Park at Muschat's Cairn.
Jeanie Dean was one of Scott's most celebrated characters during the 19th century; she was renowned as an example of an honest, upright, sincere, highly religious person.
Ships, railcars and children were named after her. Only someone with a real sense of humor would have assigned it to a pub.
Busy deciding between a set of Kinks or Otis Redding, I didn't pay much attention to the others, who all seemed happily engaged, but I did catch the gist of conversation between Tom, Steve and a friendly gent hoisting a bottle of 20 year old Speyside single malt Tamdhu. Extolled by their new mate as the elixir of his gods, they were sampling some, which is of course what one does at a pub. Tom and Steve were now very good friends with everyone in the pub, and the Tamdhu, fueled by my erudite musical selections, was on steady refill.
At some point, we went home. After all, we had to get up early. Hearty goodbyes were said and maybe we'll see you tomorrow on your way off, etc. etc. The next morning we moaned about, drinking tea or coffee, packing and cleaning out the fridge. It was Steve who thought we should go by the Jeanie Dean and have a photo to remember it by.
10 a.m. and all of our new best friends were standing outside the Jeanie Dean almost as though they had never gone home and had spent the remainder of the night hoping we'd return. They looked pretty good for the morning after the night before. They waved and called Come back soon so sweetly, that we drove by twice. Man, those are nice guys we all said. Love that Jeanie Dean. We all hummed some Troggsian juke-box for a while until everyone but me (driving), fell asleep.
The long journey towards The Wash and on to Norfolk kept the revelers napping as I negotiated us through the soporific swells of Northumberland; our car packed with us, our stuff and a goodbye bottle of Tamdhu.
Love that Jeanie Dean.