The Highland and its bar snacks

A backstreet pub, literally on a back street, you’d trip up over it before you saw it and if you had to explain to anyone where it was then you wouldn’t know where to start, “Behind the fire station” would be a good place to start, “Within dog shit sniffing distance of the RSPCA kennels” would be another, it was within a stick throw of the RSPCA kennels actually, sandwiched between Kirkstall Road and Burley Road and hidden into the hillside that exists between those two main thoroughfares at that point so that you couldn’t see the pub from either road.

The Highland was its name, 1976 the year, an era during which the number of pubs selling real cask ale in leeds could be counted on the fingers of one hand, literally, I can probably name them all – Whitelocks, The Eagle, The Princess, a pub in Stourton where we went one bonfire night and The Highland, Leeds was barren of real ale pubs in the 1970s, shame on you Tetleys.

These hidden gems of cask ale pubs were eagerly sought by us, a small gang of beer sodden students for whom supping real ale was the main aim of every night out and so we gathered that night in The Highland, if I said it was a small pub then I’d be over-stating the case, it wasn’t just small, it was dolls house sized, a long narrow single bar room with bench seats circled around one end, we found some space on that bench and stayed put, this was the sort of pub where if you stood up you’d lose your seat, so we settled in for the night, they had cask Tetleys hand pulled by the husband and wife who owned and ran the place and who refused to have the cursed and sterile electric pumps installed, gawd bless ’em.

They had a jukebox, it had Thin Lizzy on it, Thin Lizzy, hand pulled ale, a noisy but friendly clientele and a quiz, what more could a lad ask for ?

Daffodils thats what else, it was obviously early spring for they had a bunch of daffodils on each table, we won the quiz and so won more beer and then our attention turned to the daffs and in that “It seemed like a good idea” way we started to eat them.

They taste just fine do daffodil flowers, like lettuce with a touch of perfume and then other tables sent across their daffodils and we ate them too, the stalks were a bit tough but you could just about manage the leaves, I wouldn’t recommend either stalk or leaf but the heads taste just fine as long as you remove the stamen first – too much perfume you see.

I’ve since learned that daffodil heads are included in salads in some of the more esoteric restaurants, as are pansy’s and frankly I’m surprised that you can’t find them on the fruit and veg counter in Morrisons rather than just the flower counter.

They were a strange bunch, the university lads (not the daffodils) that I used to hang out with when I was a mere stripling, strange but very particular about their beer, I wish I could drink the stuff now but I spoiled it for myself by drinking so much of the stuff back then, where’s the rewind button on life ?


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