Sunday, 16 March 2008

King Arthur's Seat gets wet

Whichever way you look at it, this weekend was going to be tiring and it was also going to involve a bit of exercise and a bunch of alcohol. We actually had a plan:

Climb King Arthurs Seat in Edinburgh

Go to the rugby in Edinburgh

See a band anywhere

Edinburgh isn’t that far so should be perfect for a weekend trip except when the Scotland England game is on. It’s a minimum of £300 for a decent hotel room, so plan b stay as close as possible? ….nope - stay in Newcastle and catch the train.

Craig has joined the SRU specifically so he can get tickets to the Calcutta Cup games in Edinburgh. Previous experience suggests that the weather will be cold and wet and England will get stuffed by Scotland....its one of the indefutable laws of the universe. I'm pretty sure that gravity, the speed of light and Planck's are 3 others but this is too geeky so moving on.

I checked into the hotel late on Friday and decided to have a relaxing pint before going to bed, I opted for the Kronenburg 'white' lager. Its a peronal opinion but this is the beer equivalent of a sherbet fountain, beer and liquorice do not mix, I was like Tom Hanks in the movie Big with the caviar. Suffice to say I don't often leave a pint. 0/10
Craig managed to check into the hotel in Newcastle at 7.30am on Saturday morning, I’d paid good money for a room the night before and only had the room for about 8 hours more than Craig. How early can you check in?Does after midnight count as the next day? Perhaps you have to go clubbing first. Being on the Quayside the views across the river are great, ok maybe not great, as it is Gateshead, but better than they used to be when we did a school trip down the same then smelly dirty river which was full of condoms. To be fair it was a day out from the ICI filled air of Stockton.
The modified plan this time (and it was aways optimistic) was to be up early, catch the train to Edinburgh, and then weather permitting (and it was going to be tight according to Metcheck) we would climb Arthur’s Seat. Then a few beers and off to the rugby. Once this had finished a bit of a dash back to the station, and into Newcastle for 7.30pm, just in time to see The Specials (well a bit of them) and The Beat.
What could possibly go wrong with that plan?

Out of the hotel and as the crow flies (although we doubted the ability if crows to fly straight without being distracted) its about ¼ mile to the station. And perfectly for us mountain climbing types its almost vertical…that’s one way to wake up. And yet another really daft signpost 'anti climbing paint'.

Armed with this months walking for numpties magazine we board the train to Edinburgh. Now I don’t have myself down as particularly stupid but you really should try reading this 'walking monthly' and I quote ‘to help with not getting lost, look at the map before you leave, now trace your route with your finger and say out loud ‘ I am passing a church on my left now and I can see a big hill on the right'. They even had a panel of experts scoring low fat energy bars!, although brilliantly they all chose the high fat one that tasted great. I suspect they were very fit people.

Out of the train at Edinburgh and into a taxi IN THE SUNSHINE and off to Arthurs Seat.

As previously explained I’m not that keen on sightseeing but if you haven’t seen it the Scottish Parliament building really does get a wow WTF is THAT? How did they get away with it so close to Holyrood Castle?

Out of the taxi (it did take us halfway up the hill - thankfully) all ok and walk up the first bit of hill, its very very steep. And now there is a bloody crow hopping up the hill faster than we are, I think I’m changing my mind on crows this one was a harbinger of doom. As we approached the top the crow had buggered off for dry land and it started to rain. Then it got bad and then it got worse. It may not have been a typhoon but it really was a bit rubbish, really big wind, hailstones and the temperature must have dropped about 4 degrees in minutes….just as we got to the top.

I loved Craig’s well spotted comment ‘it’s a bit dangerous up here’. I think the pictures tell the story. At one point I just knew we were going to be in the local paper under ‘ill prepared day trippers end up in hospital’. It would have been unfair too as I had walking boots and a very sensible coat on. Unfortunately the boots only lasted 30 minutes before succumbing to the tidal wave. My trousers were worse than useless and I was wet through. The only saving grace was my coat, which was doing a great job at keeping my top half reasonably dry. Craig’s wasn’t.

Despite Craig’s idea of lets stay here and wait for it to blow over, (I think this is what happened to Captain Oates) we headed down sharpish with no sort of real plan. It had to be 3 miles back to town and quite a bit of this was walking around the hill, but at least it wasn’t as windy on this side of the hill. We trudged and to be fair laughed at our predicament. No hotel, tickets for the rugby and looking like we have swam a river and no change of clothes. would have been really useful at this point.

On the basis that no cabs were going to stop for dripping wet tramps we trudged towards town. We had a plan…walk until we miraculously come across a camping/outdoor shop and get a full set of sensible gear. Generally we are both pretty lucky…..but not that lucky.

The first shop we came across was a fancy dress shop, now there was a touch of Mr Benn about the whole situation Mountain Climber/Rugby Player/Popstar but the chances of both of us finding suitable gear was a bit slim ‘have you got two Oliver Hardy suits please’?, we then walked (cold and wet remember) passed a lot of charity shops all of which had cloths in. Then we walked passed a few Chav shops which was probably a bad thing. Then we walked passed the trendy shops on the basis they stop at 34in waist.

Eventually we are back to the station where we started 2 hours ago in the sunshine and dry.

Princes Street is a great place and Jenners is a good shop, it has everything and all pretty close to the door. I suspect the staff here are told just to look after people no matter how bedraggled they look. 30 minutes later £200 lighter we emerged fully reclothed and yes into bright sunshine!!. We dropped the big bags of wet clothes at the left luggage at the station and then off for the first beer of the day. Its now 1pm which is a new record.

Three beers a tuna sandwich (3/10) and a bit of footy on the tv later we’ll hop in a taxi and get to the game in loads of time, except there is no taxi. Approx 50 minutes later, we end up in a cab and arrive at the game just as they are finishing the anthems. Splendid! Perfect seats in the middle, but at the front (row 2) of the main stand and but for the driving wind we would have been sat in the pouring rain.

In truth rugby is a bit rubbish to watch from pitch side. You can’t see the runs, the mobile cameramen get in the way and then what happens is the wind/rain changes direction.

Only one option for level headed northern lads, head to the bar,which turns out to be outside in more wind and rain. Less enthusiastic about the whole sports thing we decide to give the second half a miss and make sure we can catch our train.

A couple of beers in the pub beforehand, a bottle of Cava (which isn’t quite champagne) for the train and some sandwiches and its seats in first class (which we hadn’t booked) back to Newcastle. Life is looking up, back on plan.

The Specials and the Beat

I’ve always loved two tone music so much better than Americana! I even had two harrington jackets when I was a kid, with at least 20 badges on each. I’ve also seen this tour before about a year ago in the same building. Well almost, it was upstairs in a smaller room this time and it was much better for it. The room was full of smiley people all up for a party. Maybe it was the near death experience on the mountain or maybe the drinks on the train had kicked in but we were both in party mode too.
The Specials did a cracking version of Pressure Drop and Doesn’t make it alright, along with most of the other hits (no Too Much Too Young though). My party partner lasted till half time before heading off for a kip. I wasn’t ready to give up that early.

I've got a top Billy Bragg cover of this which I'll try and post later, but you should really listen to Toots and the Maytels play it.

DMIA You Tube

The Beat are spectacularly tight now, with ‘Rogers’ son getting better each time I see them. Another top set with a couple of really good new songs. Lots of dancing old bloke style and then a quiet beer before heading back.

Collect big wet bag full of kit and trudge back through the streets of Newcastle at 10.15pm back to the hotel for a quiet early night of MOTD. Newcastle get thumped 3 nil again. And I opt for one last beer at the bar.

My original plan was to meet a couple of other people in the morning and walk Pendle Hill, however having emptied the big black bag, everything was just too wet to put back on, Much too Wet.

Always best to save a good one for later

1 comment:

Drowned Rat said...

200 quid for new clothes? It cost me a monkey and with the furry collar on my jacket I ended up looking like Biggles's gay brother.

Next time its the fancy dress shop and a Sherpa Tenzing costume. But without the six stone backpack.