Here’s a round up of my previous tour of the UK from some other posts I did while still afraid of blogging. May the minutes reflect I was a whole 2 years younger, a sprightly 21, with eyes untarnished by the horrors that were to come of our times.
The trip was from Edinburgh, to Ireland, and finally to London with various family members along the way. Each post ended with a pub count. It was considered a pub if it had a liquor licence and I sat down and had a drink at it. Private residence and shebeens were exempt but restaurants, shows, and one-off occasions like funerals were fair game.
In the interest of artistic integrity, I’ve left the posts pretty much as they were. Forgive the errors, many a post were typed on a touch screen little Samsung, fighting blurry vision and shitty bus-driving. A bit wordy, but broken up for your enjoyment.
UK trip day 0: Not in Scotland yet, but the trip has already been interesting. My advances on on the ground staff went unrequited and I was rewarded with an average seat in the plane. The plane itself was fine, but before we left the Asian woman behind me had chundered on her seat and the old couple next to me made it quite clear that they weren’t going to move out of the way if us window-seat folk needed a piss. I was further shunned by by the mondern-day mennonite for using the TV screen when he was trying to stare into nothingness. I’m now sitting at Qatar airport in the middle of their fasting month. Luckily, I forgot ahead and brought no local currency. Now it appears that a loud baby is going to be on my flight and I’m wondering what noise it would make if I flushed it down the toilet of a moving plane. Those pubs can’t come quick enough.
UK trip day 1: screaming child was placed in another cabin luckily. Think it may have been near the cockpit since the landing was hard enough to kill a small child. Then got stuck in the “non-European” line with what must have been the whole of Asia. I was then unable to specify the address of my cousin any more than saying “Edinburgh”. Luckily the ground staff here are not as stuck up as the South Africans and I was able to charm my way through and was given a cold beer on arrival. Spent the afternoon decorating jars for the wedding and I mustered all the creativity I had. I tried to get out of it by making one with a dick on it but it went down rather well. This was followed by drinks and then dinner at an authentic Scottish Chinese restaurant served to us by authentic Scottish Chinese Poles. Ended the evening in a pub where all the lampshades were made of hats and the cocktails were served in tea pots for you to drink out of tea cups. Wonderlandful. Also had a chalk board above the urinal and I gave a tipsy attempt of the SA flag which is surprisingly difficult in 1 colour with 1 hand while swaying slightly. Decided to include a pub count of all the pubs I’ve had a drink at. Current total: 3 (jetlag needs to be taken into account)
UK trip day 2: took a stroll through the local gardens and saw how much the locals appreciate sun when they get it. It appears that in Edinburgh you can kind of just doss anywhere you want, including on the road or in a pub booth. Was reminded of my roots when my uncle had reported that he’d stolen a scarf off of a bench and so we had to keep moving. Did a scan of the Royal Mile for the week’s activities but the highlight was finding a street called “Cockburn”. After braving what must have been a fucking hurricane, we harassed a local check out guy at the 24 hour Asda who I almost paid in South African Cents. The evening was a solo effort and started at a craft beer place and ended up having a long chat with a self proclaimed expert as the bar staff tried to remove a man that had passed out in the corner. The bouncers were rather thorough and did not only look at my SA licence dubiously, but also ruined my hunt for underage girls. A blur of pubs later and next thing I’m talking to the sound guy at Whistle Binkies live bar. I will return, but now to museums to nurse the hangover. Pub count: 8
UK trip day 3: finally found a group of people to hate and this time it’s those Spanish tourists. Spaniards really are the Asians of Europe and much of day 3 was spent dodging them and wanting to Google translate swear words. Couldn’t find the craft beer place that my contact worked at so I settled for any pub with wifi. Checked out “Old College” of the University of Edinburgh after the beer as it wouldn’t have felt right going to campus sober. Resisted the urge to greet on the way in. Not as nice looking as ours, but when they say old they mean like 1700s. Then had some Monty Python Holy Ale at a pub built in the name of a loyal hond called Bobby. Ended up in the Scottish library at a World War I exhibit after passing the coffee shop where that chick wrote Harry Potter. Feeling no such inspiration I ended up back on the mile when the places I wanted to go had closed. Needing to get back for supper, I got on the right bus going the wrong way and had an accidental bus tour of zeff Scotland. Changed back onto a slightly more correct bus to land back where I started. A friendly Pole directed my on the right bus and I thanked him by getting off too early and walking in the exact direction of the bus for half an hour. Showed class by going to a seafood restaurant with the family and new family fresh from my walk and ordering a burger. Getting lost took some energy and alas, I was too late to go out. I will make it up by doing a whisky tour today. Pub count is on 10.
UK trip day 4: have felt better in my life to be honest. Did the touristy thing and put in a solid 5 hours at the museum of Scotland (not by bus) and headed to my cousin’s restaurant for a drink. It was downhill from there as we settled down at the local for the football. I was almost hanged for calling it “soccer” but luckily Scotland is as shit as we are so I got off lightly. Had a haggis burger with whisky and it was lovely. Or maybe I was just pissed already. After the Germans went early WWII on the Brazilians we headed back to an old favourite but had to leave after the Pole in our group broke his second glass. Apparently they don’t let you into casinos if you’re too drunk here and the bitch behind the counter was having none of us. We then composed our selves and went to a slightly dogier casino where they said they only accepted European driver’s licences. I called them racist and left. We then degenerated to the Drop Zone of Edinburgh, the Hive also known as HIV. The beer was cheap and the music not bad but contrary to my thoughts the bouncer didn’t seem to think a mosh pit was necessary. I was then turned down by a ginger which was quite a humbling experience. There’s so many of them here they actually have a choice. Heavy night out and the pub count is turning more into an estimate. Pub estimate: 13
UK trip day 5: an uncomfortable amount of this day was spent hanging. Went to check out the writer’s museum and it took me a while to realise that I didn’t give a shit about it and had to talk my way out of an old man who was part of the Robert Louis Stevenson Club. I was actually inspired by Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to visit a pub inspired by the same character. The piper outside reminded me oddly of Boys High so I stuck around for another. The bartender was shocked at my solution of mixing beer to full the glass up and I was almost dragged to the gallows again. But the good news is I’ve found the Scottish Black Label so those craft beer guys can get fucked. I tipped the piper 10c and bought a Scottish Rugby jearsy since they all on special. Met up with the rest of the family and hit the pub for fish and chips for the least entertaining football match in the world. Dear friends I was weak and dint carpe my diem and decided not to go our. Now I hang my head in shame and prepare to have it large again. Pub count: 14
UK trip day 6: this city can’t seem to decide on a season. Played tour guide for the newbies on the mile and made half the shit up but I suppose all good guides do. Finally did the whisky tasting and it was fantastic. Know how to look like a pretentious prick while drinking it and I plan on doing exactly that for the foreseeable future. Another beer at a Frankenstine-themed pub and another Monty Python Holy Ale down the road. The family all came together and decided to tear shit up at Harvey Nicoles. Another visit to some old favourites and a smudge of experience later and I decided to skip the Hive. Went to a place called the Banchee Labyrinthine which is like the Aandklas here. Some interesting characters there, but the best was a very drunk English man who, after finding out I was South African, chucked a whole bunch of Afrikaans swear words that he had picked up at me at the top of his lungs. Night ended when I was no longer able to understand the locals. I’d you think a Scottish accent is hard you should a drunk teenage girl. Pub count: 20
UK trip day 6 & 7: travelled to the boarder between England and Scotland to set up for the wedding. Finally wrote the poem I was commissioned to write 3 months ago as the lucky ones slept off the hangovers. The rest of the evening was spent eating a UK version of a braai. I was going to give the chef some tips but he was holding a sharp knife. And I don’t really know a lot about braaing, but he didn’t have a beer in his hand and I know that’s step one. We migrated to the bar and tried not to get lost in this homey hotel that looks exactly like the one in the Shining. No elevators though, thank fuck. Wedding day arrived and what better time for the groomsmen to meet up than too late. We were re-taught how to put on kilts and the first set of incredibly uncandid photos began. A pint for the nerves and we were on our way. The service was great and my poem went down quite well, but I ignored the no swearing rule and was from then on only known as the guy that a said “shit” in a church. In my defence it’s a very easy word to rhyme. More photos later and we were at the reception are which was an English country bar. We celebrated nature by smoking cigars and getting stuck into the free punch. I was assigned to what I thought would be the party table until I found out it was littered with vegetarians who went deservedly hungry though most of the Chinese food offered. I was further shocked that my champaign glass was stolen by the pregnant chick next to me. But I tried to teach them the cricket drinking game and I had a few innings without troubling the scorers. More bloody photos. As a groomsman I was to help open the dance floor and luck me got the married chick with a kid. To make things better, said Betty decided to bring the fucking child with her for the dance and I was stuck between a women with no interest in me and a child that was petrified of me. Kind of like what happens at the square. Entertainment was provided by a Scottish Ceilidh band that tried to teach us a traditional dance that was was a mixture of sokkie, line, and ballroom dancing. Needless to say I was shit. But I was given the heads up that it made sense when you’re drunk, which turned out to be true. My serrie moves for Sweet Caroline didn’t quite kick off and the evening ended with that new year’s song. Back at the hotel my roommate and I decided to try and walk to the sea to finish our beers but ended up arguing about trade history and which direction was actually east. I decided it was slaaptyd. I’m tired now. Pub count: 22
UK trip day 8: the wedding was awesome but now we all headed our separate ways, for us to Dublin. Before we got to the airport we hit the local café for a deep fried Mars Bar. I am incredibly ashamed to admit that it is one of the best things I’ve ever had the privilege of eating. One of us even tried the deep fried pizza and it seems the myth is true: if it fits in the deep fryer, they’ll deep fry it. Unfortunately there was no panda available. We then headed toward Ireland in the “most hated airline in the world” Ryan Air. Besides having to play tetris with our luggage to meet the crazy weight limits, we didn’t think it too bad. Until they announced that the plane had now been delayed by an additional half an hour. Finally landing in Dublin, we were stoked that our baggage had made it too, and not just the handle. The delay had, however, made us miss our free bus. We were able to catch the end of the footy and made it to the hostel. Having never stayed in one before I was interested to see how it worked. It turned out to be far from interesting. Once again I was cooped up with the party animals and by my arrival at midnight all the lights were already out. I had also managed to checkmate myself in every conceivable way by having a flat phone and all the locks done on my bags. Finally a chip-eating figure in the darkness told me that the bathroom had light and there was just enough time to hit Temple Bar for a drink. The alcoholism I expected to find in Scotland finally arrived and the area reminded me of a Thursday in the square on St Paddy’s before it was shit. The bar itself even had that distinctive oder of chunder and sweat. It felt good to be home. Pub count: 23
UK trip day 9: got thehistory of Northan and the Republic of Ireland on the bus to Belfast. The city centre wasn’t too exciting but the steak and Guinness pie was fantastic. We were given the option of going to the Titanic exhibit, an option we decided to pass. If it was anything like the movie the only interesting part would be sketching Kate Winslet’s boobs and I guess that’s that Google is for. Then did a taxi tour of the freedom walls I the city. Turns out this place still has a wall going down the centre of the city to separate the nationalists and the British patriots. Enough learning for that day and we were out to Ryan bar for supper special and a local for some traditional Irish music. Ended the night chatting to some old ballies. I mistook which side they were from and had to back pedal before my eacape. Pub count: 26
UK trip day 10: emerged from one of the dirtiest hostels in the UK to head to Derry. Or Londonderry. The Protestants and Catholics are so anal about the name that if you call it the wrong one they refuse to acknowledge. Went via some like island thing that you had to get to via a rickety wooden death-bridge. The view was good, but it was busy and all it really did was re-establish my hatred of American tourists. But it was the scene of Stanis Baratheon’s pad so that was cool. On the way hit Giant’s Causeway where rocks are meant to be perfectly hexagonal caused by a giant who pulled it out of the ground. Or stepped on it, I’m not sure the guide’s accent is heavy. Saw no giants. Saw no perfect hexagon. I’m sure there was some cool geological shit but I just felt that I had been tricked into a hike. Then had a one-sided walking tour of the nationalist side of Derry. Interesting but scary, since the guide gave us some warnings about the IRA. Gatvol of politics we smashed supper and headed off to a bar with ridiculous drinks specials. I had a Godfather cocktail but it wasn’t the one I was used to. Our bus driver was playing his own version of land mines and I finally got a foreigner to leave a special voice note in Afrikaans for Gabriel. I’m not going to say what it was but to give you a hint, only an Australian would say it. Complained about there being no traditional music in the next bar until we realised they were just in the corner and we were being a bit loud. Weird night, but I learned how to swear in Portuguese so I’d call it a win. Pub count: 30
UK trip day 11 & 12: much of these were spent in transit. Caught a bus to WB Yeats’s grave whom I vaguely remember avoiding in second year. Then arrived in the pouring rain to what was meant to have been a famous surfing area. Almost lost my traveling partners on the way to Dublin for one of the hilights: the Guinness store house. I’m not sure how thirsty the bus drive thought we were since he dropped us of at the actual factory, but a wee walk and we were knee-deep in the black stuff. Finished off our euros in the gravity bar and gift shop before celebrating our final night in a hostel by hitting Temple Bar. The music was good and the Irish Car Bombs (that we were told not to order in Nothern Ireland) potable. I ended up in some bar down the street where, since I was wearing a Springbok rugby jearsy, some local promised me that O’Gara himself would join us, a lie I ignored. The next day we rid ourselves of another burden of Ryan Air and got to London. Just enough time for a pub lunch before watching Julius Ceaser at the globe. The act was fantastic and we got the full peasant experience by standing in the front. Unfortunately this included standing behind the man with the biggest head on the globe. I was wanting to teach him a bit of Afrikaans too, but the act moved around and us realisticly sized people were given a chance. Hit the dodgy side of town to a club that had a Jacuzzi and stripper pole. Unfortunately we were fresh out of drugs so we headed home getting over-charged by the cabbie. Britania you sexy bitch you. Pub count: 36
UK trip day 13: busted two British myths already. The English do not speak English and it does not always rain. People who complain about cols (cold i suspect) in London can get fucked. It felt like we were actually on the sun rather than under it. This was the day we had decided to do the walking tour of London and we were sweating our faces off in the process. Got pictures with the Madiba statue for Madiba day and with Jan Smuts for gees. Accidentally donated my bottle of water to the Thames but to be honest it could do with some clean water anyway. Had to change in the bathroom like a Spaniard as an evening of the Book of Mormon, a play written by the South Park guys. It was witty and fantastic, and I can understand why it cleaned up at the Tony’s. Unfortunately we had not cleaned up and entered London West End smelling like dick. After party started at a bar where nobody spoke English and carried on to some underground place with a massive fake tree where the bar staff were friendly enough to swear at my friends via voice note and after Aliandro in the cloak room let me charge my phone there I went into full voice nore mode myself. Wound up at some dodgy night club since the pubs close at 12. Shave the Queen. Pub count: 40
UK trip day 14 & 15: last day in London was spent on the local markets buying shit I didn’t need and suffering heartburn from a local lemonade stand that mixed lemons with battery acid. Used the afternoon to hit WB making of the Harry Potter movies. I haven’t actually finished them, but the tour was great and Butter Beer is the tits. Headed our for one of the last drinks trainspotting in London. Annoyed cabbies by taking a thousand photos on Abby Road before getting on the wrong train to the airport. The flight was average but the chap behind me wouldn’t let me recline too much and I couldn’t really doss so i ended up watching hours of Monty Python. Fucking Spanish inquisition. Since the stopover in Qatar was 6 hours I decided to hit some slaaptyd in a room that seemed dedicated to foot oder. As I was kicking myself after finding pounds hidden in my bag I was just in time to hear my flight’s last call. It’s strangely satisfying to hear Afrikaans again. Final pub count was the answer to the universe: 42
Eager to start the next trip. Older. Wiser. Less to loose.
Let’s do some shit.