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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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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On the fringe of St Valentine’s Day

Well I’ve had quite an interesting day, one that reminded me how cheerful and cheery life can be. I’m currently having my lounge decorated (I did strip it myself but the ceiling is quite high for a moose to do a decent job of papering and painting) and this morning I also had an electrician in to replace my old fuse box with a new flickswitch one; a decent chap, he observed that it must be busy in my neighbourhood during the Fringe, ahha a fellow fringer? Indeed, how nice to have an unexpected chat with another enthusiast.

The decorating is coming along nicely and though the telly had to come off the wall for it, I managed to reattach its table stand so each evening I’ve kept up with Babylon 5, just as well, it’s just got to the Whatever Happened to Babylon 4? bit, how great was that tonight? Ok, you’re probably wondering why I don’t just record it all then binge, well, I quite like the old-fashioned way of watching a programme when it’s on and looking forward to the next episode.

And on old-fashioned, I took myself off to the cinema late afternoon to see Early Man, the latest Nick Park creation, another quintessentially British feelgood, hurrah for the plucky underdog, movie. Yes, okay so it’s not on a par with the Wallace and Gromit films, but that’s a very steep peak to scale and they have the advantage of the Pedestal of Nostalgia. I did notice myself making the comparison in the first ten minutes but then, sometime later I realised I’d been well and truly sucked in by it’s humour; the characters all brilliantly voiced, including Hognob (by Nick Park!), a very dog-like wild boar; and a wonderfully daft storyline, but you think back to the Ealing Comedy plotlines, they didn’t much let commonsense stand in the way of a bit of fun! It’s not a film of great belly laughs, but you will chuckle, smile, nod in recognition, guffaw in surprise and leave with a warm, fussy glow – useful in these baltic temperatures just now.

Indeed, even mid afternoon in the bright sunlight it was a cold day. I had plenty of time so took a long detour to the cinema round the redeveloped canal basin area. I rather quite like what they’ve done there, which is not how I often feel about modern developments in Edinburgh!

Well, its now rather late and I am back in work tomorrow, so I’ll bid you good night and sweet dreams,

💘 Bruce x

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I ❤ Bab Pants

Yes, really, watching Babylon 5 again on the telly, still one of my favourite sci-fi shows. And that story arc! So looking forward to later in season 3 with Zathras and that mindf**k of a story arc of the fate of Babylon 4. I remember going round to a friend’s flat a few days after it first showed on tv, he was still in a dazed blown-away state from the sheer audacity of it. Who knew it would be picked up (pun intended) and shown on tv again?

Sad to say, a number of the top cast are no longer with us. The aforementioned Zathras, played (all of them) by Tim Choate died in 2004, aged only 49. Michael O’Hare, the original Babylon 5 Commander, Jeffrey Sinclair died in 2012. Security has lost Michael Garibaldi and Zack Allan, aka Jerry Doyle and Jeff Conway. Medical has lost Richard Biggs, who played Dr Steven Franklin, aged only 44. As the sane small voice of reason and conscience that was Vir Coto, Stephen Furst won many hearts again (I’d say Vir and Flounder weren’t that dissimilar, loveable, well-meaning, rabbits-in-headlights), sadly died last year. And, of course, Andreas Katsulus who blew me away as the magnificent G’Kar, died in 2006. Do they have Comic Cons in heaven?

Ah, G’Kar and Londo Mollari, the best double act in sci-fi, ever! It was like a Shakespearean epic between the pair, I’m really enjoying seeing those two again. Gotta admit, the Sheridan-Delenn romance really started to grate on me, watching it all on video some years ago I did fast forward at times! Bab Pants also had one of the best villains, Alfred Bester, played to the max by Walter Koenig, always a cheer when Bester turned up!

Ok, so I did watch Star Trek as a calf but it never really got me, never Trekified me. Babylon 5 wasn’t Star Trek, it was grubby, sarcastic, mean, humorous, personal agendas, and it had Ivanova!! Oh boy, she coulda taken on all the Trek women and come out on top! Finally a woman who wasn’t bland and dull, yes she showed her vulnerable side, but hey, don’t we all? And she had an accent, they all did, not the blandness of Trek voices. Oo, am I getting a bit ranty, perhaps?! Umm, at the time I did have some serious Trekky friends who could never quite agree that Bab Pants (or the also brilliant Farscape) could measure up to Star Trek – not even after that mindf**k Babylon 4 stunt!!

I do have a old SFX somewhere that has a Babylon 5 feature in it, there’s a picture of Ivanova that a dear friend of mine had signed by Claudia Christian for me. More on that later!

 

Paddington: The Fringe Show.

I just went back to see Paddington 2 for a second time, almost seven weeks after I first went to see it – I guess it’s a success, not many films stay on the big screen that long these days. Once back home I did that thing folk like to do these days, looked up the film on IMDb to see who’s done what where. But what! What! Tim Fitzhigham and Dan Antopolski were both in it and I missed them? Oh, and Cal McCrystal had a cameo besides being the Physical Comedy Consultant. FYI all Fringe favourites of mine.

Justin Edwards and Richard Ayoade were also in it, didn’t miss them, well it would be hard not to spot Richard Ayoade, who, incidentally, was being directed by Paul King (director of both Paddington films) in Garth Marenghi’s Netherhead the first time I saw him at the Fringe many years ago! One last tentative Fringe connection Tom Conti, well, I’ve seen him in town in August – up to see Nina?

In fact the first evening I saw Paddington 2, I saw Justin Edwards twice as he also had a part in The Death of Stalin (oh yes, two films in one evening with a trip to Nando’s sandwiched between them, well, I do have an unlimited viewings card). At the Fringe Justin Edwards had a magnificent creation the children’s entertainer Jeremy Lion, possibly one of my Desert Island Fringe Shows! More on him another time.

It is great when I see folk who I’ve seen in small, sweaty venues on the big screen, guess it reflects how long I’ve been fringing. Both Paddington films are excellent, having all the elements in the right proportions to make cinematic classics, and they came from a guy who first directed at the Fringe. What an inspiration! Crikey, I’ll be singing Circle Of Life next!

Next film I’ll go see may well be Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Martin McDonagh, who also wrote the bloodiest play I’ve ever seen, or will probably ever see again, at the Fringe,  The Lieutenant Of Inishmore. See another Fringe connection!

 

 

On the fringe of 2018

2018-01-02 22.21.19.jpg20180101_125146.jpg2018-01-01 22.50.59.jpgSo here we are in a new year, another Fringe to look forward to. Who will return? Who will come up for the first time? Will Barry Ferns return to do a This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Ritchie show? Speaking of Arthur’s Seat, besides popping up to the top in August, it is a popular tradition on New Year’s Day to climb to the summit to celebrate the New Year – often with a tot of whisky or slug of champagne, after all it is thirsty work getting up there!

Once the breath has been caught, noses blown, a toast imbibed and the view thoroughly admired, it’s time for the photographic evidence that you were there. “Excuse me, but would you mind taking a photo of us?” is the question of the day in so many different accents from around the world, for a damp hilltop it’s very cosmopolitan! I take it many hoteliers or Trip Advisor must mention it as the number one thing to do on the 1st – at least it’s free!

We even had reasonable weather for most of the day this year, though it was very muddy underfoot, almost as slip slidy as ice. While going up gets quite arduous near the top, coming back down over slippery rocks and mud is a rather scarier for those of us with a touch of vertigo. A sturdy stick does help steady the nerves, or another tot of whisky!

So hopefully you’ll get to see a photo of yours truly at the top, another looking up at the hordes from lower down and the third looking over Edinburgh with a clear view of the Castle. Do let me know if they haven’t appeared. Cheers, m’dears!