Monday, February 22, 2010
Scotland: Number 4
We were on the tour bus for two days and then spent one more day in Edinburgh before hopping onto the Caledonian Sleeper at midnight that took us back to London. The sleeper train was a decently good idea- it was cheaper than other train times and it meant that we got to maximize our time in Scotland while minimizing the amount that we spent on hotels, but it was not the most comfortable sleep I've ever had. Ah well. Anyhow- on our Edinburgh tourist day we goaded the guide at the gate of the castle into taking a pictures with us, walked around the grounds, looked at a tartan mill, wandered through the writers museum, looked at stained glass windows in St. Giles' Cathedral, and were walking down towards the National Museum of Scotland to look at Pictish artifacts when museum walking caught up to us and we needed a break to rest our backs.
Fortunately Edinburgh is full of the best looking, most inviting, and characterful pubs I've ever seen. So we wandered off the main road and ended up in The Royal Oak. Man, were we lucky enough to wander in there. The pub is about the size of my parents' living room. Snug, inviting, and covered in "Best Folk Music Venue" awards. Being such a small place it was easy to get to chatting with the other folk there. Chief among the chatters were Mike- the 6'4" bartender from England and Alan- the bekilted genealogist who is from another branch of Wylder's clan. They had a wee tiff about being racist towards the English in Scotland which was settled quickly with a handshake and another beer.
Alan told us all about Sarah's clan and the connections between the various branches and then, upon being asked about a plaque we'd seen in St. Giles' called up a friend and reported back that the Bailey's came to Scotland with the Normans and were part of the Lamont clan? Or something like that? (I have to admit, I wasn't totally following his explanation.) We fully intended to come back that evening to listen to whatever music was playing that night, but when we announced our intention Mike jumped in and said that we needed to go two minutes down the road to The Green Mantle where his band was playing that evening. Which is how, that night, I ended up borrowing a bodhran for one song, singing "where have all the flowers gone" along with the rest of the pub, and trying to figure out if I liked the mandolin or the banjo solos better. Thanks, Mike.