Here comes the rain again

Today is the start of the second week of the Edinburgh Fringe, the day that a lot of full run shows take off; if not today, tomorrow or a few take Wednesday off. Certainly all the Just The Tonic shows are not on today – are they all having like a huge works party somewhere?! Thunder rumbled through yesterday evening and night heralding the end of the heatwave, this evening we have torrential rain forecast from around nine o’clock onwards, settling down to steady rain from first thing Tuesday morning until sometime in the early evening. All the wetness should be cleared by Wednesday when most shows are back on, it’s how it often goes, an August institution.

Another August institution is the ever delightful Thom Tuck, who is, of course, here again, yay. Indeed, I just went this afternoon to see his show, Thom Tuck: An Even More August Institution. He’s only doing it for three days, this was the first one – almost like he knew in advance that the weather would be rubbish, so folk would want to head indoors! Well, he knows how August in Edinburgh pans out, he’s been here for plenty of them, and his show this time features a number of tales of Fringes past. I could have quite happily sat listening to him for another hour, the man is witty, erudite, silly; always a pleasure ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thom did mention that he studied philosophy at university, couldn’t help wondering if he’s ever a guest comedian at Stand-up Philosophy? I’d definitely go to that, the chap could wax lyrical on anything I reckon. I have actually been to Stand-up Philosophy once already this Fringe but it is one of those, a different show every night. The afternoon I went along the topic was identity, the host had three comedians lined up to do short pieces on the topic, after each he’d join them to chat and get questions from the audience, it’s an interesting idea for those wanting something a bit different from stand-ups. ⭐⭐⭐1/2

Late morning today I went to see Rachel Creeger at The Globe Bar (PBH’s Free Fringe) on the basis of seeing her doing Stand-up Philosophy. Good choice, she comes across well; the raconteur style of stand-up rather than jokes, and there is plenty to laugh about in her stories. Probably not to everyone’s tastes but I had a lovely hour in her company, oh, and she’s an orthodox Jew, there’s a few mentions about food – you will be feeling hungry by the time you head out. ⭐⭐⭐1/2

Just time for another mention before I head out to see Aidan Goatley, a show that I saw as a WIP last year Rob Kemp: Agenda. Until this year I don’t think I’ve ever been in The Hive in Niddry Street, in the last two weeks I’ve seen three shows there, all great. The Hive rooms are an extension to the Monkey Barrel Comedy Club, so tickets can be bought in advance or PWYC at the end of the show. Anyways, Rob Kemp: Agenda is a great show, he’s great, great legs too. This is an autobiographical show about Rob dealing with societal expectations versus his identity as a man who likes, when the mood takes him, to wear sequins and make-up, a pansvestite (his term). It’s honest and blunt, also very funny and touching, loved it last year, loved it this time too ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Must dash. Toodle pip!

I had my cake …..

Yes, I bought a couple of conference pears and a punnet of raspberries and set to work. If you plan to try this yourself be aware that all the added moisture from the sliced pears means that the middle of the cake will take longer to cook. Oo, thinking of yummy food, I’ve just remembered that I took photos at the Farmers Market yesterday morning, post-it reminder to do a thing with them in the morning. Well, I’m popping oot soon as the lovely Nicole Smit is at Stramash tonight with her Back Up Crew, just a half pint of something, honest; a sweet ending to the month.

I did think I’d be warning about a wet start to the Fringe, the forecast a few days ago was bloody awful for Tuesday and Wednesday (kinda expected, you know) but as it’s got closer the amount of rain predicted to fall has seriously declined to You might want to have a brolly.

My cake was delicious, thank you. First little try was fine, above is the cake slightly warmed in the microwave then passionfruit and mango coulis drizzled around it. A trip to Madeira a few years ago really opened my eyes to the delights of passionfruit, especially with cake!

I’ve realised I can cheat a little this year as a number of shows I saw last year are back this year – I could do pingbacks to last year’s reviews and hope standards haven’t declined since then (for most, a couple have hopefully improved). Straight off I will say that Shakespeare’s Fool and Watson: The Final Case are back and jolly well worth seeing. Yes, I am wholeheartedly recommending these two shows, bloody marvellous they both were! Right at the bottom of this page there should be a search bit, if you can’t wait to see what I wrote about them.

Okay, so I may have had another piece, with more coulis!

Must dash. Toodle pip!

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.

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.

2020 still has a few surprises…….

Fourteen days into December and we’re still allowed the five days around Christmas to see family. In just over a weeks time I’ll be heading to deepest, darkest Yorkshire with presents and Christmas cheer (and maybe some cider from the Jolly Judge!). Sorry, but I’m still can’t shake the feeling that the Sturgeon will do something stupid. Of course she won’t at this late stage …… or would she?!

Hands up if you’ve heard of thundersnow, I hadn’t at the start of this month but in the early hours of the 4th it got up close and personal with the residents of Edinburgh. Some folk phoned the police thinking they’d heard explosions, it even managed to set off some car alarms! Roused from my slumber, I couldn’t figure out if it was extremely long thunder or a very heavy truck crawling slowly up the road – Facebook provided the answer in the morning. Apparently it’s a phenomenon that happens when thunder and lightning mix with a heavy snowstorm, pretty rare in the UK but hey, it’s 2020, this would be the year for thundersnow to put in an appearance!

The following night was rather mental too, no thundersnow but hailstones like I’ve never heard before. You know the sound of heavy rain on outside of a little tent that you’re lying in, praying you’ll make it til morning? That’s how bad the weather sounded inside my little tenement flat. It started around 1am, I wasn’t long tucked up after more episodes than I’d intended of Lucifer series 3 (well, he is very more-ish); I ended up getting back up to watch it awhile from my lounge window. It can be quite mesmerising watching a hailstorm.

On the Sunday at dusk I tottled off to Portobello beach again, Now I don’t know if there was a connection with the previous recent weather but there’d been a tremendous amount of debris and driftwood brought up onto the beach (including an odd tree stump lying here and there). The locals had been busy and right along the length of the beach were various forms created from the driftwood, and, of course, a number of small fires surrounded by friends chatting away into the darkening night.

this structure was much closer to the shoreline than most so I couldn’t resist taking a pic in the gathering gloom

Strictly Come Dancing is nearing it’s end now and I’m pleased to say Bill Bailey is still in as a contender in the Final this weekend! He won’t win, that should be Hrvy or Maisie (should, they are the best dancers but as the Final is purely on the public vote it comes down to popularity rather than a flawless performance) but it’s great that he’s made it this far. He deserves it after bringing metal to Strictly! Oh yes, on Saturday night his second dance was a tango to Enter Sandman by Metallica!! (It was a pretty good rendition by the house band) And a nice bit of trivia, the song (Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey that Bill and Oti did a Charleston to was where Bill took his name from after a teacher kept singing it at school – his real name is Mark.

I really must mention our very own furry Esther Williams, she’s really wow-ing the fans now. Our neighbourhood otter was taking a breather on the rocks at the edge of Dunsapie Loch just feet away from folk all stunned to see her so close (ok, yes, I was fairly amazed myself when I saw how chilled she was at the close proximity to people). Even when she went back in, she swam along the bank, diving down every couple of minutes, stunning! I must admit I thought otters had little stubby noses but this pic shows otherwise. Honestly, it is the otter and not a strange looking dog!

So long, farewell, ta-ra, toodle pip!

No! Not me! I’m still here! Many shows only come for one week, so now just as the party is really getting going, some are packing up and leaving us. Nevertheless, their flyerers were out yesterday, desperately drumming up one last audience. I bumped into the delightful pair from Uke Belong To Me on the Royal Mile still flyering only an hour before their final show and Stiffs were about; saw them on Friday evening, a great two-hander, I except to see more of those young chaps in the future.

The Aspirations of Daise Morrow finishes today; a beautiful production with live music, served up with brash aussie humour and pathos. It’s a shame that the heavens have opened and today all day is forecast wet, wet, and more wet! Yup, at the realisation that the boys of the Ukulele Death Squad are soon to depart us, the Edinburgh skies are already sobbing. One last soldout show at Leith Depot tonight and before that something at the Book Festival, that’s gonna be soggy, guys! I saw them last night for their soldout Assembly show, awesome, just one thing could have made it better, if we’d been able to get up and dance (more on that later). I’d set myself up nicely by nipping into the Cowshed on the Cowgate to catch Logan’s Close set earlier on, the place was jumpin’!

Let’s hope the skies cheer up soon, after all, tomorrow is another week! New shows will take the slots vacated. So it’s goodbye from them and hello to them others 😆

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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!