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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Heeeere’s August!

July did seem awfully short but at least it was toasty. Now as the first of the new month ebbs away, I’m wondering how the Fringe got so close without me organising any tickets?! Maybe its the complete lack of large posters everywhere? No programmes lying around the place to be marked up, cut up, saved for best? The town is busying up now but it feels more like a June rather than nearly Fringe time.

I have been looking at the In Person shows on the Fringe website and some ideas jotted down. Interestingly I noticed this evening that Barry Ferns isn’t down as doing the whole Fringe run now, but from the 20th until the end. Did he have second thoughts about his knees handling a full run? I really wouldn’t blame him. And John-Luke Roberts in the programme with another show than the one at the Monkey Barrel, he’s bringing back his Terrible Wonderful Adaptations for two nights at the Assembly Roxy. He’s more like an MC, ringmaster of the bizarre and absurd, in TWA so I’ll pass as I’m seeing him elsewhere, and it is £12 a ticket. That money may be spent instead seeing Watson: The Final Solution, also on at the Assembly Roxy.

I have to be very wise with my money this year, what with no three days of cheap previews, no Assembly locals’ ticket offer, no Half Price Hut (ok, I am just assuming there won’t be an equivalent this year). My Fringe fund has never seemed so finite before! Do enough staring at screens these days, so I’m determined to see mainly live shows, there may be a few tantalising nuggets online, but as I’ve always said, “If the rest of the world wants to turn on my doorstep to entertain me – who am I to say no?!” Ergo, the shows on my doorstep get first dibs over flat screen offerings.

So far theSpace venues have a number of shows that interest me and as most shows are just doing short runs this year I’d best get on and book some tickets. Oh, and there’s booking fees to add in, £1.25 per ticket, up to £5 per transaction; I need to book enough at a time to make it worth it.

Ho hum. Maybe I should buff up my ukulele playing and try busking for some extra pennies – most likely thrown to make me stop! I must bid you all good night, it’s rather late now.

Good night, dear hearts 💛

It’s hot in the city!

To quote Billy Idol, it’s hot in the city tonight, one more day of gloriousness, then, here comes the rain again, along with cooler temperatures. Will it improve again by the start of the Fringe? Hope so, I fully intend to start my Fringe atop Arthur’s Seat watching Barry Ferns – as long as it’s not wet. It’s been so nice for so long now, and with restrictions on holidays to hotter climes chopping and changing so much, Portobello beach hasn’t been this busy in years; the eateries along the Prom are doing excellent business.

I’ve been noticing on my walks in the Park that it looks like being a bumper year for cherries, yay. This evening as I walked off my tea I realised the somewhat screechy birds way up high were swifts; I knew that they were around at that time of the evening but I’ve never heard them like that before. There were quite a number of them having fun swooping around, chasing each other. A good excuse for me to pause awhile and just enjoy the spectacle overhead.

My tea? A lamb hotpot pie courtesy of Brewsters along with lots of steamed broccoli and carrots. Brewsters pies are very nice, they started doing chicken pies and now there’s occasionally lamb hotpot, steak and ale or steak and kidney, all very tasty with perfect pastry and no scrimping on the meat content. Tonight I washed it down with a bottle of ginger beer, also bought at the Farmer’s Market. Slim Hat are a new venture by a young couple living in the Old Town, this truly is a local product! It is as the label says, an authentic ginger beer, with a good kick to it, I wish them well.

Alas, anyone thinking of buying some at the Farmer’s Market to take into a show at MultiStory will be disappointed as there’ll be strict rules in place that no food or drink may be taken on to the site. This did make me wonder when I read it, as many carry water bottles round with them during the Fringe usually – will these too be banned? Seems harsh. Not that it will probably bother me as I most likely won’t be in there, being a solo Fringer (see my last post), nor am I likely to be seeing any shows at the Gilded Balloon this year as the same silly two or four bubble policy is in place. Mind, I’m not that bother at the moment as a cursory glance over their shows so far didn’t turn up anything I fancied.

I do hope the other venues don’t have similar policies, I would like to see some real live shows! Oo, I do have one show booked! It’s not actually through the Fringe website, but, as it’s John-Luke Roberts at the Monkey Barrel Comedy Club in August I’m counting it as Fringe. I have done some perusing of the Fringe programme online but it really isn’t as enjoyable as going through a physical paper one. I do hope they go back to a physical programme next year, it’s much more agreeable and I get to keep a copy as souvenir and reference book.

Well, it’s very late now, so I should be toddling off to my bed. I shall leave you with another selection of recent photos, enjoy!

Sunset captured on a gallivant along the East Lothian coast.
Okay, so I may have tinkered with this a bit! I had The Twilight Zone by Rush going through my head at the time.

Old, posh, rather batty – no, not me!

Another cracking day here in Edinburgh, I’ve been lazying in the Park just sunning myself and reading. It’s a rather good book, Lady in Waiting, the autobiography of one Anne Glenconner. You may well not be familiar with the name, I wasn’t, and then my friend who was lending the book to me said, “You remember her, she was on the Graham Norton Show. Old, posh, rather batty, very funny. Princess Margaret’s chum, husband bought Mustique?!” Ah yes, her. Definitely wanted to know more – well I’m finding out an awful lot!! What a life she’s led, what a character, surrounded by characters. Okay so maybe some of it maybe embellished, who cares, it’s a great read. If you remember her from the show and like me went Oo and then forgot about her, get the paperback!

Today was so gorgeous here that the shallow pools by the parliament building had a number of small kids splashing about in them and obviously not an impromptu splash for many as they had swimwear on. Not sure if the architect of the Scottish Parliament had paddling pools in mind when he designed the foreground landscape!?

In other news, the Edinburgh Fringe programme is starting to fill out nicely, with more shows being added to the website today (that’s http://www.edfringe.com). There’s another twenty real physical venues added, one Online added, three more outdoor meeting places and, yay, the West End Fair will be back in physical form! Always a good place to look for unusual Christmas presents, and maybe a treat for oneself. Be warned though, some only take stalls for a week rather than the full three weeks, if I want to ponder on a purchase I’ll always check how long they’ll be around.

Sone rather disappointing news about MultiStory, the new festival hub being set up at the NCP carpark on Castle Terrace (a multi-storey carpark going down on to King Stables Road, geddit?). Apparently no single tickets are being sold! I hadn’t picked up on this until I saw a comment on Facebook raising the issue. The reply from the Gilded Balloon said, “Unfortunately, due to government restrictions tickets are only available in groups of 2 or 4. If availability allows, we’ll release some single tickets closer to the show dates. If any single tickets are released, we’ll announce it on social media.” Erm, I think they mean if a show isn’t selling, shows no signs of selling many tickets, they’ll make a quick, late on,splash announcement to entice more in, anyone’ll do.

Of course, it also means three friends can’t go together, either one drops out or they pay for four tickets, or they don’t bother and instead buy one ticket for another show that’s online and with the leftover money get a few drinks in. I’m not sure why the current government restrictions won’t allow single tickets to be sold though, especially since they may be sold later?! Maybe just easier for their booking system, perhaps? To be honest, as yet I’m not too bothered, the few shows they’ve so far announced don’t appeal to me, but I feel for the lady who raised the point on Facebook. Solo travellers unite – at least with one or three other people!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from a clamber in the Park few days ago and one from the other evening when I went out to Cramond. Toodle pip!

Cramond causeway – the Toblerone-inspired design ensured that only the fittest should make it across to the island, the passage of time and tides had made the task even more of a challenge.

Nothing much on the telly tonight…..

As I type this the UEFA Euro 2020 final is half way through, England are beating Italy 1-0. Yes I have the football on, well, it is quite unusual, for England to make it to a Final. To be honest I’m not fussed who wins, ’cause, one – it’s only football, and two, I have a soft spot for Italy. I had a good mate in school who was Italian and really football mad (we had the same taste in music); he tried his damnedest to get me into football but it really wasn’t to be. When we met up again in the nineties we’d watch the Italian matches shown on telly on Sunday afternoons, then I understood more about his passion – it looked like a completely different game compared to British football at the time, it flowed. I wonder if my old mate is watching tonight, last I heard he’s in Japan.

Outside its quite a pleasant evening now, mind the drizzle could start up again. I was walking in the Park this afternoon when it came on, so my hike up to the top (getting in practice for next month) was rerouted to home before I got too soggy. Umm, I could go out later, perhaps, the bats in the Park are quite lively now and I’ve discovered another couple of great spots to watch them. Oo, Italy just drew level. This is a tricky one for some Scots, the ones who aren’t hardcore ABE (anyone but England), as long as there’s no dodgy call that helps England, then I think many Scots would be okay with a win.

In other news, George Square Gardens had the beginnings of the Assembly Festival garden going up, one bit definitely looked like a spiegeltent skeleton. I don’t think Assembly have announced any In-person shows yet, at least, when I looked through this week’s additions to tickets there’s only a venue numbered for Assembly Showcatcher (Online). There’s now forty eight numbered venues;four are venues that are both physical and digital, so they have a venue number for each. The Fringe Player is back, with venue no.65 (a quick look back, in 2000 venue 65 was St Ann’s Community Centre, South Gray’s Close, Cowgate). I counted fourteen online venues and twenty nine physical venues. Yes, that leaves five unaccounted for; those are just meeting places on the street for walking tours.

All the big four (Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly) are still to announce any In-person shows. The up-and-coming Summerhall have been busy bees and already have In-person, Online Scheduled and Online on Demand tickets available for plenty of shows, yay them. ThespaceUK also has plenty of tickets already available at three venues and online; the garden in Hill Square has been upgraded from just an outdoor bar to an open-air venue, the Garden Theatre (there’ll still be a bar, of course). Greenside, a slow-grown company with three sites, always worth checking out the shows on offer here, announced back in April that they would be digital-only this year.

Of course, the online content this year will make plenty of the Edinburgh Fringe available around the world, especially the On-demand shows, the Scheduled online shows will be available depending on one’s bedtime (you’d have to be really certain it’ll be a good show to watch from Western Australia). Families with young children should get a good deal with any children’s shows online – one ticket bought for a whole family! Of course, that means much lower incomes for the shows, or maybe enough extra families will come on-board that ticket sales won’t dip.

Italy just won a few minutes ago on penalties 3-2, ben fatto, Italia. I’m guessing there may be a connection with the car horns I can hear outside! Commiserations to the England team, I’d say they played well, but I was only half watching and what do I know about what I just saw?! Hey, it is only a game, it’s not like it’s a matter of life or death 😉

Time to call it a night, I reckon, it’s a night! Toodle pip!

Here, there and by the sea

Another trip back home’s over. That was a good one! Plenty catching up, walking, playing games, going out. A trip to Hebden Bridge and a pop into Halifax. I love an old fashioned indoor market and the one in Halifax still delights me! It’s not what it was years ago, but it’s still bustling with life and variety. It would be a very sad day if it were ever to close, I find myself looking up at the architecture and appreciating it now. They’d never build anything like that anymore!

And being in Halifax, I decided to see how the Piece Hall is looking these days …… hmmm, I’m divided. I can understand why modern marketing types would do what they’ve done in the most recent redevelopment (modern is all) but I much prefer the 1970’s version. I noticed all the stairways have glass doors now to keep the weather out, so no longer draughty and cold but aesthetically? Nah.

Closer to my Scottish home now, and I read the news today that Ollie Turbitt, bass player extraordinaire, is leaving Scotland and Logan’s Close for new adventures in Italy. I do hope the lads will manage to set a farewell gig for him, that would an awesome evening! Thanks to the interwebby I caught Carl Marah (LC’s lead guitar and singer) playing a set with a wonderful singer/songwriter Kirsten Adamson. She has great voice, full of warmth, like an audial hug! One to catch when live shows come back into fashion.

On live shows and fringes, not only is the Fringe back on in Edinburgh, there’s also gonna be Fringe By The Sea in North Berwick, running 6 -15th August. Fringes everywhere! I’ve had a quick scan of the prog and see that Scottish pocket legend Lulu Is playing the Belhaven Big Top on the first Saturday evening, nice, but the cigar may go to Dr Salad at the Glenkinchie Lowland Stage .Why? Turns out one of these purveyors of heavy romance is one Scott Rough (LC’s other guitarist and singer); he’s scratching an itch the LC sound doesn’t reach. I’ve checked their sound out and it is not displeasing to me!

Must go and walk up Arthur’s Seat while it’s not raining, I need to get back into the climb up and down if I intend Mr Ferns up there next month. I shall leave you with snaps from the old country.

Check this one checking us out! That’s one odd cowish looking sheep if you ask me!

One of the arcade entrances into Halifax Borough Market.

Fringey things are afoot….

Hi there! Bruce here, coming to you from deepest dankest Yorkshire, yes, even in summer the damp is never far away. I may be away from Auld Reekie but I’m keeping tabs on what’s happening, like Fringe tickets now being on sale! One thing I managed to miss is that social distancing will be down to one metre as of the 19th July (how did I miss that?!) On the Edinburgh Fringe website it says that the Scottish Government has advised that even the one metre could be lifted on 9th August; two thoughts on this, i) I’m not going to hold my breath, and ii) its a bit bloody late to appease anyone. Did the decision for allowing the drop to one metre come too late for Underbelly? Whatever, apparently Underbelly will not be going ahead with plans for a Circus Hub venue in the Meadows.

Underbelly will be back in George Square as well as having an outdoor stage in Bristo Square. Assembly Festival will also be back in George Square Gardens with one spiegeltent and an outdoor stage. The Pleasance will be creating an outdoor stage in the Courtyard, let’s face it so many of their spaces are cramped, they couldn’t happen this year! Summerhall will also make use of their courtyard as a venue space – where will folk do their boozing and schmoozing?! Gilded Balloon will as ever be in Teviot (I guess the Wee Room won’t be used this year). Heaven knows how the smaller venues will manage, or if they’ll bother even trying.

The Edinburgh Farmer’s Market may benefit from having a new venue right next to it; the top floor of the NCP car park on Castle Terrace is to be an open air festival hub run by the Gilded Balloon, Traverse Theatre, DanceBase and Zoo Venues. At least I hope the Farmer’s Market will still be able to be in its usual spot over August, okay, yes, I am slightly troubled about this development.

Tickets for over 170 shows (but less than 180 shows, I’m guessing) are now available from the Fringe website. These can be In-person or online shows, the online shows may be scheduled or on-demand, or a show may be a mixture of the aforementioned. At quick glance it seems that if a show is both in-person and scheduled online it’s listed twice, this could take some time!!

One show that I spotted is back is that bloke atop Arthur’s Seat! Oh yay, Barry Ferns is going to back on Arthur’s Seat at one in the afternoon from 7th to 28th August, oh, with Wednesdays off and as long as his knees hold out. What with the Ferns’ return and all these outdoor stages, better pray to all the gods for a dry month!

There’ll be tears before bedtime

Tears of joy or frustration? As yet we don’t know, kick off isn’t until eight o’clock. Tonight Scotland play England in UEFA Euro 2020, may the best team win! (He says diplomatically) Yes, I know it’s football, a game I do not normally have any interest in, but hey, I may as well watch it – if just to know how mute I should be if I go out later. Mind, if Scotland win it will be crazy about the town afterwards, when I say crazy obviously not as crazy as it would be without Covid still dampening everything down.

Already this afternoon there were some tanked up guys around (tanked up=drunk), they’d better be careful not to be comatosed by eight! Many folk are noticing how much their alcohol tolerance has reduced since last March. A number of pubs have announced on Facebook that they’re booked up tonight, I suspect many pubs in the UK will have their best night in over a year! Mind, it’ll be a tricky night to keep to current regulations, that’s pubs get to have one metre distancing with no singing, shouting, mingling – yeah, there’ll be none of that, unless Scotland win. People must sit quietly at their own distanced tables, anything more exuberant and its classed as an event like theatre and the two metre rule comes into effect. Oh boy, good luck policing that tonight!

Oo, it’s nearly time, my chicken wings will be ready to take out of the oven. What? Who am I supporting tonight? Okay, so Six Nations Rugby I quietly support England, but tonight I’d like to see Scotland win. Mainly I hope it’s an exciting game. Is that rain I see in Wembley? It’s blue skies and light fluffy clouds up here.

Here we go! Come on, the lads!

The end of the Fringe as we know it?

Thirteen days ago The Times had a front page headline Two weeks to save the Fringe from oblivion, erm, so is this really it for the Fringe?! The chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Shona McCarthy has been asking the Scottish government to lower the two metre rule to one metre in venues to ensure at least some shows will be viable. She said acts that would usually come to Edinburgh in August are already arranging stuff in England because, well, they can. Quite why the two week deadline I can’t figure out, yes time is seriously running out for anything to happen in August, but why by 12th June? Or is that paper emphasising the clock ticking timebomb more than the chief exec?

Is there really a danger that two years without a full-on Fringe will mean the demise of the Edinburgh Fringe? The article states that “an alliance of ten venues recently warned that the Fringe was in danger of sinking without trace”. Oh boy, I know I’ve pondered such a thing, but I’m a top level catastrophist! I keep checking the BBC online news for updates but all I’ve read recently is that the Scottish government intend to extend their temporary emergency powers (that really doesn’t sound promising!). These temporary emergency powers were meant to expire in September but they want them extending until March next year, with an option to extend further until September 2022 if they deem it necessary. Wow. Cautious or controlling? Opposition parties have expressed concern that the government is trying to rush the bill through before the summer recess which means there won’t be time to properly scrutinise the details and fully debate it – call me cynical but I smell something fishy!

I haven’t seen anything that even hints the Sturgeon will agree to cut the two metres down to one. There have been a number of large trial events in England that have had good results, as in only few positive cases found linked to the events. Yes, there are new variants, some that spread quickly but they don’t seem to be as harmful (which come to think of it, way back last year some scientist said that as viruses mutate to survive they become less virulent as part of that survival process). There’s enough evidence to show that one metre distancing is good enough if the rules are followed. Many countries have gone down to one metre and seem to be doing okay, many businesses here are unmanageable and unviable at two metres. If businesses here have to abide by stricter guidelines, then the government could at least give enough assistance to alleviate some of the hardship caused by them.

I’ll leave you with a quote I saw this week from Scotland’s chief medical office, one Dr Gregor Smith, talking to a committee he said, “…. and if you are at one metre your risk is much greater than if you are at two metres ….” No shit, Sherlock! Who’d’ve thunk it! Of course there’s a higher risk, higher, but higher than what? What is the risk now and each day as more people get vaccinated? And much greater? I wonder the percentage that adds the “much”. In times gone by, folk carried snuffboxes about their person, these days we need saltboxes for a ready pinch to hand!

Toodle pip!

Resting on the Nethers

The first Saturday in June, no Meadows Fair again so I headed to the Park and clambered up Raven’s Rock on to the Nether Hill. That is a knackering climb up on a warm day (okay, so warm for Edinburgh so far this year), a lie down was definitely in order. There’s worse places to stretch on and enjoy the sunshine! The occasional breeze was nicely warm, even though overhead there did seem to be a number of dark clouds massing (the rain gods possibly thought, first weekend in June? – we should at least threaten rain).

The Nether Hill is a good place to be still; it’s neighbour Arthur’s Seat is more popular and everyone knows it’s name, but it’s all about getting up there, a quick pic for evidence and back down, busy busy. On Nether Hill I could lay back and watch swallows swooping around and about, the odd crow would enjoy a glide on the thermals. Just a smattering of chatter could be heard wafting over from the Seat and the usual background hum of traffic in the town, but plenty birdsong distracted from them. Oh, and there was a piper playing somewhere in the distance for a while. That’s how pipers should be heard – at a distance!

As I lay there it occurred to me to share with you just what I could see at that moment, so, a head turn to the right and it’s Arthur’s Seat, and above me some rather worrying clouds (glad to say they all just moved along without shedding their loads).

Sitting up I could see the Castle and the Palace. One of those, wow, and I live here moments. If I’d stood up and turned left I could have made out the top of another castle, I didn’t, I stayed sitting marvelling at the views. The two observatories on Calton Hill and Blackford Hill, the three bridges spanning the Forth, well, just bits of them, Cramond Island with the causeway just visible. For all that humans can make things hard and drain the joy out of life, seeing my adopted town spread out before me always gives me a sense of wonder and hope. All the lives that have been lived here, are being lived here, weaving into the rich, colourful tapestry that is Edinburgh. I may feel on the fringe of it all at times, but there’s no place I’d rather live.

Aaand, back in the room. I eventually shifted my butt and toodled over the hill down to Dunsapie Loch, where much to my surprise, a heron was busy fishing on the road side of the loch (they usually stay on the far side, well away from people). I’ll leave you with the view over to Fife as I headed down and the heron doing his best to ignore me.

Toodle pip!

Three films and a lot of haar

What a cracking weekend it’s been! I don’t think the weather gods realised it was a bank holiday weekend, way too sunny! Well, sunny once the sun burnt off the haar each day. Sunday morning I enjoyed a ramble up into a haar swathed park, no sign of Arthur’s Seat at the top, total white, er, grey out. It was almost noon before the Seat was visible and the sky blue, even then, looking down at Portobello the haar was still clinging to the coastline.

Joys! The cinemas are open again. Just as well I had a ganders last Wednesday evening, Judas and the Black Messiah was showing just one more day, phew, ticket booked. Two more films caught my attention, Raya and the Last Dragon and Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, tickets booked, god, I love having an Unlimited pass. So, just like the old normal I had to trot quite smartly to get to the cinema on time on Thursday afternoon! Even with the social distancing of empty rows and seats, as I often go when films have been on a while it looked almost normal to me – apart from all the masks.

Judas and the Black Messiah is a stunning film, so glad I caught it. Daniel Kaluuya was brilliant, now I see why he received so many nominations and won many awards for his portrayal of Fred Hampton. Lakeith Stanfield as Bill O’Neal had me constantly wondering how he’d play the situations O’Neal found himself in; the use of the real Bill O’Neal in interview and other historical from the time really brought up how real this all actual was. I found it a rivetting and chilling film, so much to take in and digest.

Saturday morning I was back in for Raya and the Last Dragon, a very different movie! I actually knew very little about it but hey, it’s Disney and there’s a dragon. There’s also a strange creature called Tuk Tuk, a giant armadilloey type thing, useful as a mode of transport for our heroine Raya and also her cute animal sidekick (a Disney staple); and in a quick googling sess, I discovered he’s voiced by the excellent Alan Tudyk! That guy has done so much stuff, looks like he’s Disney’s new version of Pixar’s John Ratzenberger, just more animal noises! The dragon’s voice wasn’t what I expected but my initial surprise was soon forgotten as I sat back and enjoyed the visuals and some fairly quick, funny dialogue. There were a few gripes but overall it was a fine film; the whole “trust” thing running through it may really confuse some kids, parents may find themselves in some tricky discussions afterwards.

Saturday night and back again for Demon Slayer: Mugen Train and this time I knew nothing, except that it’s anime and according to a couple of reviews it wouldn’t be too tricky to pick up without seeing the previous tv series. They were right, I just went with it, the best way with Japanese films in general! Another visual treat, very different for a newcomer to watch. I’d gone to a subtitled showing as dubbed versions are generally not as good in my opinion. Would I go see more anime films? Yeah, probably.

By the time I was walking home from the cinema the pubs were shut obviously not long shut as there were plenty of folk about, many steaming drunk! The Grassmarket was seeming more like it’s old self, only, it seemed to me there were more streams of piss running from doorway corners, like even more men than would be usual had forgotten the art of taking a piss before leaving the pub (well, it has been a while). I was surprised then when The Three Sisters was still open, and with a queue waiting to get in! Brewdog next door was closed and all locked up for the night.

Oo, I just noticed the time, and there was me planning to have an early night! I’ll tell you the latest on the Fringe next time. I shall leave you with a couple of pics of the Meadows on Sunday morning. Toodle pip!

At ten on Sunday morning there weren’t many about except sporty types.
The Meadows with the rooftops of Marchmont peeping through the trees.