First blog post

So Hi anyone looking at this. Never done anything like this before but have been musing on doing a fringe blog for, oo, the last four years. So finally I’m taking the plunge! The first fringe show I saw was way back in 1985, The Bald Prima Donna at Buster Browns on Thursday 22nd August for £2. That Prima Donna keeps coming back every year, still bald as a coot. So if you fancy a stroll along the byways and alley ways of my Fringe experiences, feel free to drop in.

Like I said, I’m new to this so there’s gonna be plenty mistakes (though at least my typing seems ok for a moose) as I’m not really up with this modern technology stuff. So wish me luck and do check in again!

Bruce

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Late night at the Film Festival

Edinburgh nights in early summer are great, there’s always still that faint bit of light in the sky. It always takes me back to my college days, tipsyly walking back to my digs in Portobello after another night carousing at Grindlay Street Union. It was one such balmy night at one o’clock this morning as I left the Filmhouse, hence the photo!

First off after work I saw The Devil Outside, not horror but  disturbing and it left me with a sense of unease afterwards. An okay film but the ending was somewhat “huh!?!?” and by the end I felt it could have worked better as a tv series to really develop the characters.

Had a simple tea of mushrooms in cream on toast followed by a G&T to wash it down; strange, I don’t like cream per se, no cream cakes or trifle for me, but in recent years I find myself enjoying it in sauces like a little wicked decadence! At nearly eleven o’clock I headed out into the night.

Friday night in the old town has all manner of creatures out roaming. The Cowgate and Grassmarket will already be spawning debaucherous hordes. Spot the hapless family of tourists heading back to their hotel, anxiously trying not to make any eye contact. Despite the Cowgate being closed off to traffic after 10pm there’s always an odd car goes through, maybe a taxi and of course there’s always the pedicabs zooming about (my tablet just tried to turn pedicabs into pelicans, just as well I spotted that 😂!)

I made it to the Filmhouse in plenty of time to grab a drink from the bar to take into the Film. Blood Fest had attracted quite a crowd, and yes, being horror, there was Bob a few rows in front. Bob was a friend of a friend some years ago, I know who he is but he doesn’t know me, at least I don’t think he remembers me. I always see Bob at least once during every Film Festival, it’s a natural law it seems. Blood Fest was great fun, tongue-in-cheek, using all the cliched rules of the horror genre – think The Cabin in the Woods with added cheese!

By 1am on a weekend morning the Grassmarket/Cowgate route is not unlike a horror movie set, so I opted to head home via the Royal Mile. Interesting, another film being shot there by the City Chambers in the wee small hours, I wonder what this one will be. Will it appear at a future EIFF? Hmmm.

Toodle pip!

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Well, that’s the previews sorted!

If you read my last post (and why not?!) you’ll be dying to know what happened, will I have to miss my films? Well, good news, I will be heading back to the mother ship this weekend so won’t miss any of EIFF 2018, yay! Bad news, the whole piss-up/brewery thing has been totally cancelled this year (bloody numpty!) I am so not impressed.

Since then I’ve completed my first scour of the full printed Fringe Programme and bought my first batch of tickets, mainly previews with a few others. As there is now a booking fee of 80p a ticket that stops at £4.80 it makes sense to buy enough tickets to reduce the effect of it – £4.80 booking fee for fifteen shows is quite reasonable, I’d say!

I’m going to kick off this year with Russell Howard, good to see him back and for only a fiver! Mind it is called Russell Howard – Work in Progress, hmmm, first night could be interesting (interesting=shambolic). The ever delightful Felicity Ward (pic below is me swooning over her poster) is back and hopefully on time. I have 30 minutes to get from Pleasance Above to George Square Theatre for Thrones! The Musical! this is perfectly doable, just as long as the Pleasance aren’t running too late. Considering how long they’ve had to get it right you would think it should run like a well-oiled machine but, well, it doesn’t always.

After a break last year everyone’s favourite sock puppets are back  with a new show Superheroes, check out the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre on Facebook or YouTube for skits and songs on the subject (love the Deadpool and Black Lightning videos). As ever they’re in the exceedingly warm Sportsman room at the Gilded Balloon, grab a flyer on your way in to use as a fan!

At the witching hour the wonderful Will Seaward is back with Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories V, but what’s this? He’s no longer in the Wee Room, he’s been upgraded to the Dining Room! Yay!!

Oo, and I got me a ticket to see the Ukulele Death Squad as they’re bound to sell out. They’re back at the Leith Depot near the bottom of Leith Walk, an exceedingly hot room above the pub but it does have its own bar. Well I actually bought two tickets as it’s on the Friends of the Fringe list of 2for1’s, so if you’re reading this and will be in town Sunday 5th, I have a spare half price ticket for one very lucky individual! Bang Bang!

Toodle pips!

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There’s trouble at’ mill!

There was I all pleased with how quickly I sorted my choices to see at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018, ten tickets bought so I got the 35% discount, woohoo. All marked up on my calendar after a trip to darkest, dampest Yorkshire next weekend. Then this morning I gets a text, oh dearie me, someone failed to organise the piss-up in the brewery and I may have to head south the weekend after I had planned i.e. the first weekend of the Film Festival when I was going to see five films! Aargh!!

Yes, someone forgot one of the fundamentals of running an event – book the venue! Never assume, don’t put it by because it’ll be fine, turns out it isn’t fine at all, and everything’s been printed for that day, everyone’s expecting it that day, it’s traditionally that day! I’m hoping against hope that the situation can be resolved to restore tradition – and my films.

My initial reaction was, well I won’t be able to come down, but my second was a heavy sigh and acceptance that yours truly has to be there to help make it happen. Really, they couldn’t manage without me! I can still make the first film if I shorten my trip and the other tickets with my discount cost just £7.80 each so I reckon I could find takers for them.

So what will I be missing? Friday was to be humerous horror night with The Devil Outside then Bloodfest late on, Saturday’s film is Mug, a Polish film about a guy who receives a face transplant, it’s “a farcical comedy drama” and Sunday’s is Supa Modo about a young Kenyan girl who is terminally ill who believes she has superpowers. Supa Modo is the one I’m  most unhappy about missing but hopefully it will resurface with a limited general release in the UK at some point. You never can tell what will or won’t get picked up for distribution or how long it can take to appear.

My remit for EIFF tickets is films that most likely won’t get shown at the multiplex where I have an unlimited pass. At one time it was films that were unlikely to get any release in the UK but now that the tickets aren’t as comparatively expensive compared to usual cinema prices, it’s cheaper for me to see films at the Festival than at the Filmhouse the rest of the year.

Ho hum, it would be a shame if I had to miss the films, but as they say,  worse things happen at sea. Aaand, it’s now after midnight, later on TODAY the full Fringe programme is officially out! Yayyy!!!

Toodle pip!

How much fun is Joe Gilgun?

Blimey it’s a tad warm this evening, what happened to the thunderstorm I was promised?? One, it would have cleared the mugginess and two, I love a good bit of thunder and lightning. Even the forecast for tomorrow has now dumbed down to just rain in the afternoon. Rain was always on the cards for tomorrow, it being the Meadows Fair (it’s like a Glastonbury thing – rain and mud are inevitable).

This was to be a post about this year’s Film Festival but I’ve waylaid myself and watched the first three episodes of Preacher. How good is that??!!! I’m sooo tempted to put the next dvd on. Cooper, Gilgun and Negga, all just beyond brilliant! Joe Gilgun especially,  he’s so alive and exciting to watch. Tip, give the film Lockout a go, Gilgun is very entertaining as a psychotic Scottish criminal; it’s no masterpiece but it does also have a laconic Guy Pearce!

I’ve not read the comic books of Preacher, just perused the odd one in friends’ flats many years ago. I just stuck with Sandman at the time but I do remember liking the look of Preacher, hardly surprising as I’d been a big 2000AD fan from its beginning until I gave it up in the early 90s as it became too much into the artwork and not enough actual storylines. I do still have all my old 2000ADs back home, oo, what a fun distraction that would be. Then I could revisit Sandman! For lighter moments I could put Bloom County Babylon in the bathroom for my toilet-reading. No, no, no!! The Fringe programme is oot on Wednesday, that’ll be my reading for the next while.

Beware the Ides of May!

I say this because the weather this last week or so has been darn lovely which, in my experience means the sunshine ration for Edinburgh will have run out by August! Brollies and rain macs will be must-haves at this year’s Fringe, I predict.

This coming Monday is Victoria Day, a little known public holiday in parts of Scotland; it’s celebrated on the last Monday before or on 24th May, which was Queen Victoria’s birthday (I just looked that up, I’ve only known it as usually the third Monday in May). I used to get it as a public holiday from work and in the further past we had the previous Friday off too, before they cut down on our public holidays – yes, I am a working moose, the bills don’t pay themselves, unfortunately!

It was a weekend to be off as most people are working and the kiddies are in school; Bud and I had some great camping trips with glorious weather. The Lake District being just down the road was a favoured destination. Beautiful scenery, good campsites and plenty of great pubs! Oh to be waking up in Great Langdale with the sun already shining and lambs gambolling about the place (those same lambs you could have quite happily barbecued at 4 in the morning when they did their own version of the dawn chorus!); then, later rounding off another perfect day with a drink or three at the Old Dungeon Ghyll’s Hikers Bar, a no-frills pub with good grub and well-kept ales (I could be wrong but I think they have been in the Good Beer Guide nearly, if not every year). And only a drunken stagger away from the campsite!

Over in the east County Durham and North Yorkshire, another favourite area for Bud and I to visit or use as a good stopover when heading south. Let’s face it that whole swathe across the north of England is bloody marvellous, scenery, great pubs and grub and lovely locals. One particularly sunny May we went to Beamish, if you’ve never been, go!! I’d wanted to visit for years but just never got round to it, one day I’ll have to go back and see what I missed last time – it’s awfully big, a full day and you still won’t have seen it all!

Heading south there’s Bishop Auckland, Barnard Castle, Richmond, Leyburn, to name a few old market towns worth a stop and wander around. Leyburn sits on the A684 which runs across to Kendal with plenty to enjoy in between. Leyburn is also a hop and a skip away from Middleham, which is very close to the Forbidden Corner, so good we went twice (a few years apart). The Forbidden Corner started out as a private folly, but then like Topsy, it growed and growed, now there’s grottos, towers, tunnels, chambers, a maze and beautiful gardens. But, and it’s a big butt, it will be full of children. If you have children this is the bestest place you could take them, but do microchip them first so they can be located when you lose sight of the little dears, and you will! This is why a May visit, on a weekday preferably, book for a visit straight after breakfast ahead of the coachloads of school trips, is great.

Ah, the sun is beckoning me to go oot and play. It teases Edinburgh with the prospect of a fine Meadows Fair in a couple of weeks but more on that little extravaganza later.

Toodle pip!

‘Allo Vera!

How I love the smell of gorse flowers in the evening! After a warm sunny day the heady perfume from all the gorse around Holyrood Park is quite intoxicating; it lingers into the twilight with the occasional whiff on the breeze. If you’re wondering what this heavenly scent is like just think suntan lotion with aloe vera. God, I love it, in fact one year I decided to attempt to bottle it!

I had pondered on the idea for a few years, so with a few old books on wine-making and Google to assist, I set out to capture this nectar of the gorse in alcoholic form. Did it work? Umm, if I ever tried again I would hold back with the raisins, whilst I get that they help with the sweetness it was too sherry-y for me which I put down to the raisins. Mind I still have a couple or three bottles of it! They do say try some of your endeavours young but lay some back to mature. There’s also a bottle of greengage wine from a few years ago, up there in the winerack, gathering dust, occasionally winking at me.

Anyway, yes, the last two evenings I strolled down to Holyrood Park to enjoy the scented evening air and a spot of bat-watching. My favourite place for this is St Margaret’s Loch, or the Bottom Pond as I just called it for years (halfway up the park is the Top Pond aka Dunsapie Loch). There may be other good places to see bats in the Park, probably near Duddingston Loch, but they might be creepier to walk home from in the dark! At dusk there are still plenty of folk in the area, some winding their way down from Arthur’s Seat or the Crags, others heading up (I do hope they have torches); St Anthony’s Chapel above St Margaret’s Loch always attracts a few.

A blackbird was blasting out his evensong as I approached the Loch yesterday. There was plenty of other snippets of birdsong which seemed to turn into disgruntled squarks and squabbles as everyone settled in for the evening. A few ducks flew off and the swans all settled down, no longer bothering to follow anyone walking by the lochside. And then the bats came out to play!

With such clear skies both evenings the bats were very visible at the start. I was making my way along the path on the hill side of the Loch when I saw a few bats skittering above the gorse bushes towards the end of the water. Oh my, there were loads, don’t think I’ve ever seen so many there before, a bumper year for bats? Once I see one bat that’s me for a long while, just standing, enchanted by them. A few folk walk past, some look decidedly in front trying to avoid eye contact with the weirdo standing staring into the gloom, whilst others notice the bats and often stop awhile too.

Just round through the trees to the end of the Loch and there’s another great spot to see them swooping all around you. The longer you stay still the closer the bats will come – you’re attracting insects and so too the bats! Two evenings ago a couple of American tourists stood awhile with me, the lady was worried by the old myth of bats flying into hair, but I explained the insect deal and assured her the bats wouldn’t land in her hair – unless she moved really suddenly at the wrong moment!

After a long while I headed back up the road side of the Loch; there are some great spots along this stretch, just where the trees clear by the water’s edge for seeing more bats. Then sadly, much as bat-watching is fun, the chill and darkness became apparent and time for home. Up on the hillsides in the Park random torchlights shine and snippets of music and chat waft down. Heading back into town the Cursed Earth (sorry,  Dynamic Earth to you guys, I called it that when it was being built and it stuck) looks like some giant malevolent bug.

I love that I live in a beautiful city but have this abundance of wildness on my doorstep 💛

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It’s only rock’n’roll but I like it!

So last night was a bit of alright! I was in the Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68 come August, very nice but rather warm, real ale in the bar) for the launch of Logan’s Close new EP “Fried Bangers.” Sold out so it was very packed and very warm. I got there shortly after the second band came on (sorry to Shredd, I’m sure you were awesome too), Ayakara who were pretty fine. There was a good contingent of their fans in the crowd (they knew the words!)  After procuring myself a pint of Joker IPA I found a good spot to see the band and be faintly wafted by what air-con there was from time to time, unfortunately as usual some beanpoles took up their strategic positions to block at least half the band from sight at any given moment.

Pardon me a little rant here. So okay, I am quite a shortarse but even average-sized humans can’t compete with those guys and they do like to go centre towards the front. Beanpole may not have been the correct word, that suggests tall and thin, these guys are pretty often quite broad, not easy to see around! There should be a line three-quarters of the way back that anyone over six foot has to stand behind – it’s not like they wouldn’t be able to see over our heads!!    And breathe.

Where was I? Being gently wafted before getting another pint of Jokers and wading back in to find a spot to watch the Close. This time I was at the side, a better view than I would have had in the now packed out centre, but no wafts to cool me down. Oh, the lads were on top form! Just, just, bloody marvellous, shit hot, astoundingly awesome! These are the guys I’ve been waiting for, finally a band worthy of the rock’n’roll crown hung up since the demise of Nick Johnson and Bluefinger!

I first saw Bluefinger in 1988 in the then Preservation Hall and followed all incarnations of the band until Nick left Edinburgh for Spain permanently  (he had been semi-regularly coming back over to play but had decided it was time to stop) and was sadly killed in an motorcycling accident about a year or so later in 2010. Bluefinger were a force of nature, even when it was only Nick on guitar and Ed on flamenco box drum, they rocked up a storm in Whiski on the Royal Mile during the Fringe in 2007. Bud and I would wander in late after a show, sit at the bar and soak up the vibes, and when Ed would do his box solo in Not Fade Away, wow, people would get up from their seats, crane their necks, a mass movement towards the band to see how one guy’s hands could create such a sound. Ed was always good but some nights he was totally “in the zone”, man, I will never forget how great those nights were.

Aaand, back to Logan’s Close again. Indeed, I get the same feeling of blissed-out happy watching them; Big Nick would approve of them inheriting his crown. But will they be playing Edinburgh during the Fringe – you may wonder, oh yes!! If you’ve read my early posts you may have spotted that I must have broken my self-imposed Fringe Code if I am aware of this fact. Okay, so I get emails from the Fringe whenever a new batch of shows are up online; I just had to check if the Ukulele Death Squad were coming back (yippee, they are), at the same time I noticed the Close were playing, and at a venue I’ve never been to before, ooo.

I also spotted Bon the Musical, yes, a musical about Bon Scott!! I’m not sure how I feel about it, if they don’t get it right it could be terribly wrong! Maybe I’ll check reviews before I commit to it, at £12 a ticket that could be a big mistake. Mind there’s always the chance they may put some tickets for sale at the Half Price Hut. There’s also the fact I am still a Friend of the Fringe which brings the benefit of 2for1 tickets for a long list of shows which this year includes all three shows mentioned above 😊. I could purchase pairs of tickets, then offer the pleasure of my company and a half price ticket on Facebook, I could, it might be quite fun.

Toodle pip!

 

 

A moose at Easter

Happy Easter!!!

After a day of non-stop rain the sun is actually shining for National Egg Hunting Day. I was hunting the last few days for a Chocolate Buttons Easter Egg, but no joy! So I settled for a Smarties one instead – its a calfhood thing. Of course, egg rolling is a big thing too; the little darlings spend hours with tongues sticking out in concentration as they paint mini-masterpieces on eggs only to smash them to smithereens on a local hillside. Arthur’s Seat and every other slope in Holyrood Park will be liberally covered with bits of brilliantly coloured eggshell and hard boiled egg remains by late afternoon. The local wildlife must enjoy a slap-up Easter Sunday tea! I do enjoy a walk round the park late in the day – after all the little darlings have left.

As I said, it was a wet day yesterday so I stayed in with the Gotham box set series 1-3, oh yayyyy!!! It is bloody magnificent! That’s series 1 recapped now, but I’m tempted to slip in Peaky Blinders series 2 before I go back to Gotham, I do have tomorrow off as well and I have until a week Tuesday to watch the rest. Gotham is truly outstanding tv, Marvel may make the better films but DC totally win the tv battle with this.

I also have GoT7 to watch, but I definitely want to watch GoT6 again before moving on. Yes, I haven’t seen it yet, I’ve been busy, and right now it’s way more important to rewatch all of previous Gotham!

Hope you all have a great Easter whether you be bingeing on chocolate or viewing, or both!

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Bruce goes to London Town

Oh yes, I’ve popped up to Lahndahn Tahn, not to see the queen but to drink copious amounts of cider. Today starts the last ever London Drinkers Beer & Cider Festival.  I was down for it last year and thoroughly enjoyed it (so many ciders I’ve bever tried before) so here I am again for the last one.

Last night I went to the theatre, as one does when up in Lahndahn, I saw The Birthday Party. It was a stellar cast and brilliant performances but I have not a scoobies what was going on!? I did really enjoy it, sometimes understanding is not necessary, like when watching a David Lynch film!

So I shall make steps towards the sweet (medium or dry) nectar. I may not be up to any more blogs for a few days!! If you’re there do watch out for me though I may be difficult to see as I am an SEP as Douglas Adams termed it. More on that later.

Toodle pip!

On the fringe of the Beast

It’s been an odd month, what with Scotland actually beating England at the rugby and snow that’s actually lasted more than half a day. Yes, this may be Scotland but don’t assume it’s all covered in snow in winter, many winters Edinburgh will get one covering of snow, usually a weekday morning, that’ll be gone by lunchtime. I think the last decent snowfall was 2010, that lasted weeks and now the Beast From the East has dumped an almighty load on us. Yay. Today was a snow day off work,  so where better to head than Holyrood Park, the home of Arthur’s Seat, and today also home to sledgers, snowboarders and even a few skiers. All sorts were out to enjoy this rare occurrence, quite a convivial atmosphere helped to take the bitterness out of the cold.

2018-03-01 13.03.57.jpgThese two were just taking a break when I moisied over. I did wonder if I would be able have a go sitting in the middle of a board, there is room between their legs after all, but my nerve failed me. Downhill, at speed, maybe not.

I took my life in my hands quite enough last weekend, trying to get a drink at the Doctors. The pubs in Edinburgh are all heaving during the Six Nations rugby, especially the Scotland v England match, circumstances meant that for the first time in years I would not be out in the scrum. That was until the end of the first half, like, huh? Scotland were actually doing rather well, I’d reached a natural break in my diy and decided such a game warranted a drink in a crowded pub – so off to Doctors I toddled. Haven’t actually been there in some time, used to be in fairly regularly but the last “refurbishment” rather spoilt it and the prices had become ridiculous. So why did I pick there? Couldn’t say, but a great choice by me, it really was packed to the gunnels, I found a place at the bar and stayed there! What a game, see Scotland can play when they want; the pub, the town went wild, Flower of Scotland snippets floating in the air everywhere. It was like hogmanay in Tesco’s with the amount of alcohol being bought. Scotland had one mass collective hangover on Sunday morning!

Wonder what fun March will bring, and how many storms, and what will they be called? And so, I bid you goodnight, I think it will unfortunately be back to work tomorrow. I shall leave you with another pic of me in Holyrood Park.

Stay warm and safe, peeps.

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