Greyfriars Bobby – a grave and a pub

This is another popular attraction in Edinburgh that took me 20-plus years to track down. The red granite headstone marking Bobby’s grave has only been here since 1981 which explains why it looks almost new. Various pictures I found online of the location or positioning of the graves of both Bobby and his master, John Gray, show that elements like benches have been moved around. When I visited, there were no benches nearby making the headstone stand out – not that you could miss it if you came in by the main gate. It took me several minutes of walking round to locate it because I came in the back way from Grassmarket and Cowgatehead.

Endearing additions to the dog’s gravesite – sticks and dog toys left for Bobby. I imagine I’m not the only dog lover and former dog owner whose throat tightened up seeing this.

Bobby's grave, Greyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh

Bobby’s grave, Greyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh

Wikipedia mentions a number of alternate versions of the story, including — which of two men named John Gray Bobby belonged to, whether Bobby died earlier than claimed and got replaced by another dog to make his life sound even longer and whether Bobby was just a local homeless mutt, one of many which hung around anyplace where they found someone to feed them.

Oh, cut it out! The world will not come to a screeching halt if we choose to believe the most popular version. It might even encourage us all to work harder “to be the person my dog thinks I am”. The world could certainly use more of that sort of effort from everyone, whether you own a dog or not. OK. End of sermon.

Around the corner from the Kirkyard gate is the Greyfriars Bobby restaurant and pub. I hadn’t really eaten much this day – the place where I was staying didn’t serve breakfast and here it was late lunchtime. I also wasn’t sure what I’d end up doing for dinner because this was the night I was going to the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo at the Castle so in I went.

Greyfriars pub, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh

Greyfriars Bobby pub, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh

Nice smallish place and I got a table after only about a ten minute wait. I passed the time by asking the guy holding down one end of the bar about the beers on draft (draught). He recommended Deucher’s, the only Scottish beer of those. As I experienced on a previous visit, Scottish beer is… pretty dreadful. So much for the Scottish beers in this free house. Compared to the English ales I prefer, it (I really should be more charitable in my description) was like dishwater; the Theakston’s I had back in 1990 was similar. Even less flavorful than IPA and no body at all. Next time I should order a single malt to accompany the very nice chicken & Portobello mushroom pie! To be fair, there were several English beers and ales I could have ordered and if CAMRA likes these Nicholson’s group pubs I may just have chosen the only awful beer in the bar; I was just trying to support a local brewer. Ah, well. Live and learn and perhaps try again next time.

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