Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pubs of Layclerk #4

Most of the detail on the following post has been taken from my now-defunct website and transferred here for posterity.

Over the years I think it's fair to say I've had the odd drink or two in a fair old number of pubs, and this is a continuation of the occasional series of posts documenting all the pubs in which I've ever had a drink, where I'll try to list as many of them as I can remember together with the occasional "review" or story connected to them.  By nature it's going to be a work in progress for a long time and I'd guess it isn't ever going to be complete, since there's no possible way I'll remember them all, but I'll try to list at least all the ones I regularly drank in or indeed still drink in with various choirs etc.   Feel free to leave comments with any opinions, additions, corrections or extra detail. Important Caveat: Don't forget that sometimes it's been a LONG time and a lot of water's been passed since I've been in some of these places (some of which have had name/management changes, some of which are now closed down) so what I describe relates to how I remember they were back in the day.  All opinions expressed are my own so please feel free to try even the ones I warn against and see if you agree with me.

Cafe Royale Circle Bar, 19 West Register St, Edinburgh

Cafe Royale
The big island bar dominates this attractive Edinburgh pub where the walls are decorated with 19th-century Royal Doulton tiles featuring famous figures from history. Been in it only once, on a pub crawl about 12 years ago.

Carbeth Inn, Stockiemuir Road, Blanefield, Stirlingshire

Carbeth Inn
The Carbeth Inn is an old coaching inn dating from 1816 which features in Sir Walter Scott's novel Rob Roy, as it was where Baillie Nicol Jarvie, a Glasgow magistrate, stayed when travelling to visit him. In the book it is the "halfway house", described as a "most miserable alehouse", but the last time I was in it it certainly wasn't miserable!

The whole place has an olde worlde feel about it, and it has a good selection of real ales, beers, wines, liqueurs and single malts.  At the front of the inn is a beer garden where you can sit and eye up the motorcycles parked there on most dry days, since this is a very popular venue for a break when out on a day's ride. The inn apparently has two restaurants, and the bar food is good.

Standing in the shadow of the Campsie Hills, though only twelve miles from the centre of Glasgow, this is a decent country pub and is well worth a visit or two, particularly on two (motorised) wheels.

CCA, 350 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow

Now called the Centre for Contemporary Arts (I think, unless it's changed again), this place a long time ago used to be called the Third Eye Centre.  I can't actually remember which one it was called when Glasgow Chamber Choir used to have a glass of beer or two after rehearsing in St Aloysius church round the corner. How sad am I though - the main thing I remember is that they had the best ever alcohol-free beer.  I seem to remember it was Furstenberg Frei, which comes in large bottles and actually tastes like beer!

The Chanter, 30-32 Bread St, Edinburgh

After attending a concert by the Edinburgh Singers, I tagged along (as the friend of a former member who was with me) with the choir to their after-concert party here.  They always apparently have a good knees-up after every concert, and lay on food too, so I was looking forward to it.

The party was fine, but the pub was ordinary and pretty studenty.  The food was very very very late in arriving, so much so that 3/4 of the choir members had buggered off elsewhere to eat by the time it arrived, and when it did arrive it consisted of huge plates of OK'ish chips, and large plates of boring sandwiches containing not very appetising fillings. Never mind, the company was good, as was the preceding concert!

Cleopatra's, Great Western Rd, Glasgow

Clatty Pat's / Viper & Hubbards
Affectionately known as Clatty Pat's this nightclub, now called The Viper, right above Hubbard's (which has now changed its name but I can't remember what to) and directly across from Coopers, has the obligatory sticky carpets and is apparently heaving with medical staff from various hospitals once a month on NHS pay day!

I haven't been in for years and it'll stay that way for the foreseeable future thank you very much.

Clutha Vaults, 167 Stockwell St, Glasgow

Clutha Vaults
I have been in here precisely once.  In the dim and distant past I was selected for jury duty on a murder trial at Glasgow High Court, just round the corner, and after the final day of the week long trial some of the jury members, myself included, adjourned here for a quiet drink to wind down.  Can't really remember much about the pub, I had other things swirling around my head at the time.  Had we come to the correct decision, for example.  Well I still think we did reach the right verdict.

Clutha is the original (Gaelic) name for the river Clyde.

Coanes, 26 High Street, Johnstone

This was technically my local from late 2003 until July 2006, but to be honest I've only been in it about 4 times!  When we moved house in October 2003 I took a week of holiday and found myself in Coanes one afternoon.  I was sufficiently impressed to send a text message to my closest mates saying something like "right now in pub, malt whiskies, real ales, sells mussels.  Boys' night out anyone?"  But the promised night out never materialised.  Oh well.

Colonel Linskill, 25 Charlotte St, North Shields.

They all blend into one after a while!  I think this was a good one, warm and comfortable, with Timothy Taylor's Landlord beer.

Coopers, 499 Great Western Road, Glasgow

After its original life as an old-style supermarket type place called "Coopers" (those of a certain age may recall subsequently "Coopers Fine Fare" which became "Safeway", which is now "Morrisons", I think), this building became a Mexican Bar called "Chimmy Chungas" and as such it featured in John Byrne's BAFTA winning BBC drama series "Tutti Frutti" in 1987 as the workplace of Suzi Kettles, the character played by Emma Thompson (with a very passable Glasgow accent!).  This was the series which Robbie Coltrane apparently credits with launching his career, and in it he played the lead character Danny McGlone.  The series was about The Majestics, Scotland's "Kings of Rock" and it also starred Richard Wilson (later of "One Foot in the Grave" fame as Eddie Clockerty.

The pub then became for a long time Bar Oz, a very ordinary chain-pub with an Australian theme, and its current name presumably harks back to its original  incarnation.  Circle of Life and all that!

The Corinthian, 191 Ingram Street, Glasgow

This is the former Lanarkshire House which was Glasgow's Sheriff Court building until a new one was built south of the river.

Very expensive drink, fairly exclusive clientele (or at least it attracts the sort of pretentious poser who is happy to pay the outrageous prices), and exceptionally good architecture.  It was refurbished in late 2010 and I haven't been in it since then.

Worth going in for a look at least once, if you can get past the bouncers.

Counting House, 67-71 Reform St, Dundee

Counting House Dundee
 When I worked in Dundee temporarily between March and July 2005 this was my default pub.  Pretty bog-standard JD Wetherspoon place, but it fitted the bill fine.  Some pretty rough chaps drank there some nights though!

Counting House, 2 St Vincent Place, 24 George Square, Glasgow

Counting House Glasgow
Converted bank overlooking George Square right in the centre of Glasgow.  Reasonably priced good selection of real ale, as you would expect from JD Wetherspoon (who list it as their flagship pub in Glasgow), but it's a barn of a place with very little atmosphere.  Worth going into to look at the architecture though, as you can see from the photo.

This was for a while a regular venue for Glasgow Chamber Choir when they rehearsed in nearby Strathclyde University, and is, I believe, currently the venue for Glasgow Renaissance Singers (or Cathures as they are now bizarrely known) after their rehearsals in Strathclyde University.  I was one of the original members of GRS, and indeed GCC.

The County, 70 High St, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne

One of the regular pubs for both the church and chamber choirs of All Saints, Gosforth when I sang with them.

On the sadly all-too-rare occasions when I manage to get back to Newcastle and see old friends, this is where we tend to meet up.

Good selection of Real Ale.

Coylet Inn, Kilmun, Loch Eck (A815, 9 miles north of Dunoon)

Coylet Inn
Picturesque is a word which might have been coined to describe this pub.  Go see it yourself, and try some of the Real Ales, Malt Whiskies and good food too.

If you travel from Arrochar towards Inveraray, after you pass Rest and be Thankful and go down the other side the next road on your left will be signposted for Dunoon.  If you take this road you will eventually pass the Coylet.  Or from the other direction head out of Dunoon (always a good idea, some may say!) past Holy Loch.

Cumberland Arms, Byker Buildings, Newcastle upon Tyne

Cumberland Arms
Fairly old building (1850's) in need of a bit of repair.  Good beer though.  And the Newcastle Kingsmen Rapper Dance team practices here upstairs on a Wednesday night.

Curlers, 260 Byres Road, Glasgow G12 8SH

One of the oldest buildings on Byres Rd, but not one of the best pubs. Very ordinary in fact.  Architecturally however, the building stands out from those around it as being obviously much older.


  1. So you like a wee drink now and again do you?

  2. No more than the next man. Fortunately for me my next door neighbour is an alcoholic!