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!

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 the Close

That would be Logan’s Close, a rather good band from Dunbar near Edinburgh, who play Sixties-style music. Indeed I would be so bold as to say they are on the fringe of success. Tonight they played at The Caves in Edinburgh to launch their new single Girl (with a B-side of Work, a B-side? On a cd? aww bless ’em).

Sometimes Facebook does throw good things your way, case in point these lads’ previous single Listen To Your Mother (check out the Official Video on YouTube, no I haven’t put a link up, I’m not sure how, I’m only a moose), since I saw it I’ve seen them a few times in Edinburgh. The first time was in Sneaky Pete’s in the Cowgate, a much changed pub from when I used to prolong a night’s drinking by ending up there, way way back in the 80’s.

Tonight was top notch if a tad on the cold side for a while, but a great bar for real ale with Caesar Augustus as an option. The Caves are rather better now than when they first opened as a Fringe venue some years ago with moisture dripping off the ceiling! The support band were pretty good, a shame more folk didn’t turn up earlier for them, but as soon as Logan’s Close came on the joint started to really swing. The Close have a lovely easy chemistry between them, especially Scott and Carl on rhythm and lead guitars and shared lead vocals. As David Lynch would say, the eye of this duck is in the right place, this band is perfection to me. They transport the soul, or mine anyway.

Well, I have some red wine somewhere and I’m in the mood for more music …..

 

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What’s Monday without a little drama?

That’s all I heard of a conversation as I meandered to the Pleasance Courtyard on my way home this evening. With so many wannabe thespians in such close proximity there’s bound to be some tears, or at least dramatic flouncing before bedtime.

I decided to pop in as it had dawned on me that I hadn’t been in so far this Fringe! This is a very strange occurrence, how could I have not seen a single show at preview time at the Pleasance Courtyard?! The last time this happened was 2008, and then I saw four shows there the first weekend, ah the preview prices may have continued to the Saturday for some shows and back then the 2for1 days were the first Sunday and Monday. The Pleasance Courtyard has always been good for comedy acts, but at higher prices, and they never appeared on the Friends of the Fringe 2for1 list, hence early on cheaper shows were a must.

Another shocker, I’m not seeing anything in Pleasance Two this year, I’ve seen the list of shows there and not one appeals to me, which is a shame because as venues go, it’s a pretty good one. The seating is well tiered, only someone freakishly elongated could block the view of the fellow behind. It’s been sometime since I haven’t seen a least one show there.

So I wandered around having a nosy at all the little and not so little changes. I noticed the inside bar looked different through the window so popped in for a look, ye gods, it’s bloody awful now! Even worse than what’s been done to the Peartree, a few streets away, which has just recently been reopened after extensive work at the expense of losing the Blind Poet next door, becoming just another part of the Peartree. From two great old pubs, they’ve made a modern dull, could be anywhere, lounge bar. Bloody vandals!!

Well, that’s quite enough drama for one night. Toodle pip.

 

Uke Hooting!

I did intend to write another post tonight but then I decided instead to go to the Kilderkin for the Uke Hoot. Now I’m home, it’s late, so just a quickie! Uke Hoot is a bunch of people who meet in a pub to play all sorts of tunes on ukuleles, it really is a hoot. I first came across this phenomenon a couple of years ago by happy accident.

Anyone can turn up uke in hand, you don’t have to be a great player, just enthusiastic, though be warned – they do tend to play everything at 100 miles an hour! No worries about the music, there is a large bag with all the song books and most songs had the little chord diagrams somewhere on the page.

Usually it’s on at the Kilderkin, down near the bottom of the Royal Mile, at 7.30 on a Wednesday, but as the Kilderkin will be using the side room as part of PBH’s Free Fringe, for the month of August Uke Hoot moves to the Blue Blazer, another fine real ale pub on the corner of Bread Street and Spittal Street (well worth a visit).

Witnessing the Uke Hoot would be almost like a free show itself, or if you’re in town and happen to have a ukulele about your person, do go along!