I heard the news, oh boy!

I wasn’t surprised when a cousin phoned me on Tuesday afternoon, “Bet you’re feeling happy now!”,”Oh? Why’s that, then?” I replied obtusely. “The Fringe, it’s on!”,”No. The International Festival is kinda on”, “That’s not the Fringe?” And so it went on, I deflated his bubble of eagerness slowly and with a smug sense of superiority (dumb of me, I know, but I don’t reckon he had an inkling of it). I’d read about it on the BBC website after checking the weather forecast and knew that at least one person I know would confuse the two or just see the headline and assume!

An official statement from the Fringe Society was issued the following day. Yes, there’ll be a Fringe of sorts in 2021, it’ll run from 6th to 30th August; shows and venues can register to participate from early May right up to the end of the Fringe; tickets will go on sale early summer (vague as it’s hard to tell how quickly things will get moving just now?). As the path out of Covid restrictions is like a staircase at Hogwarts, the Fringe Society can not know for certain at this point what forms the Fringe will take but they are trying to prepare for most scenarios (good luck with that!). Following the public health guidance will be tricky to navigate and will make many of the usual venues unfeasible and/or unviable.

Well, one way round it is to do what creatives have been doing this last year – go online. This year the Fringe Society are introducing the Fringe Player, available for use by all registered Fringe shows, will it be all singing and dancing, with bells on? Let’s hope so. No doubt there’ll be some glitches and the odd oversight to contend with, fingers crossed not too many. The Fringe Player will have the bonus of making the shows on it available to a world-wide audience rather than just the folk who had made it to Edinburgh. Performers who haven’t already been online this year will get a chance of going global! Fringe-goers who are feeling a tad anxious of going back out and mingling in crowds will be able watch shows online at home without the expense of travel, hotels and expensive drinks! Mind, this is all assuming that the Fringe-goer is au fait with the online world and has adequate access to it.

Of course, my cousin wasn’t the only one to miscontrue the news on Tuesday; the whooping, emojis and tagging of friends on Facebook on Tuesday, well, pardon me, but I don’t think they’re all fans of the International Festival. There was the usual vitriol online which always happens here when the word Festival is mentioned; again, I don’t reckon they spotted the word International and just assumed Fringe. When the Fringe news did break the following day, the local rag focused on how much local businesses looked forwarded to and needed the Fringe, rather ignoring all the part that online content was being encouraged. Well! The very idea of a busy, bustling Edinburgh incensed the locals! September Lockdown!! Covid Soup!! Why, oh why, can’t they leave it one more year?! And at the other end of the scale – gleeful emojis and promises to meet up to see a show and get hammered. Everyone and their aunty has been adding their tuppenceworth on Facebook. And my opinion?

I think plenty of acts will use the new Fringe Player and won’t bother with in-person shows. Yes, they are dying to get out there and perform in front of people, but all the uncertainties and risk of cancellation will weigh heavy, nevermind the expense! And there is the time constraint on companies organising everything in time for August. Hearts may be willing but heads and wallets may have to decide no. Will people come to Edinburgh in droves? I reckon anyone booking hotel rooms for an August stay in Edinburgh expecting a “Fringe Experience” will be a tad disappointed! Duh! Would I be crediting people with too much sense if I thought they’d save the trip for another year? Oh, by all means, come to Edinburgh, see the sights (we have plenty) just be aware you may need to access shows online.

I have typed this up on Sunday 18th April, things may look different in a few days. The above thoughts will no doubt be revised as things become clearer. We have the tapestry canvas and lots of threads but are unsure what the actual design is yet.

Toodle pip!

Escapee egg terrorises walker!

Winter came back this week with below zero temperatures every morning and tonight Edinburgh has a forecast of snow! There have been a few fierce flurries so far. Come on, snowflakes! I intend to be up early and am expecting the Park to look pretty enough for a picture or two. I’ve been trying hard to get up and out at a reasonable time this last week. It’s definitely the case that morning walkers are friendlier, I found that the earlier the hour the more eye contact and friendly greetings. Climbing high in the recent clear mornings has afforded me some amazing views…..

View from the Lang Rig looking across to the remains of the Camstane Quarries. In the distance to the left are the Forth Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing can just be spotted.
Looking across from Whinny Hill to the Lang Rig and Arthur’s Seat. There’s only six walkers at this time in the morning!

There were plenty of remains from Easter Sunday shenanigans scattered around the slopes; broken pieces of egg shell, plain, painted, and this one, so beautiful decorated, there was a true artist at work here. Nothing of any the boiled innards though, the Park inhabitants had done a thorough job of clearing every edible morsel.

Then as I headed down Whinny Hill I spotted an egg that had survived the annual rolling event and is now living feral on the hillside….

The jackdaws are all busy sprucing up their accommodations, going back and forth from the crevices in the wall below the Queens Drive as the road starts down towards Powderhouse Corner. As soon as one peeks over the wall there’s usually a flurry of jacks taking off but I think they’re getting used to me now. I always bid them good day and tarry a while to enjoy their noisy banter and aerobatic skills. I think some folk wonder what on earth I’m looking at as they pass by, don’t reckon the jackdaws even register with them.

I’ll leave you with a view that quite surprised me, I’m referring to the thing between the two cranes, this was the first time I’ve actually noticed it . A new addition to the Edinburgh skyline, a part of the new St Andrew’s Quarter (previous St Andrew’s Shopping Centre).The locals have given it a variety of names. I’ll let you just ponder on that!!

a postcard from Edinburgh

Happy Easter from an eerily quiet Auld Reekie. It would usually be packed this weekend, the Grassmarket would be buzzing, the pubs full to overflowing, but, hey, the sun is shining and I have a packet of seriously delicious passion fruit truffle eggs.

For you, a few views…..

St Giles Cathedral and Walter Francis Douglas Scott (who?) the 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensbury, apparently.
Victoria Street, looking up from the Grassmarket.
Victoria Street with Victoria Terrace above, it’s oh so quiet!
And back to the other end of St Giles and the Mercat Cross.

Of course, one place was hooching…. the Meadows. Everyone under thirty and their cousin turned up on Saturday afternoon. It’s just a shame they didn’t remember to leave only footprints when they left.

So Close so fine

Last Saturday night was the best Saturday night in the last year, possibly the top night of all nights in the last year. Yes, the lads were rather good! Logan’s Close really knocked it out of the park. Two hours of music and banter all wrapped in a psychedelic haze – bloody excellent!

Hats off to LimbicTV, the set up and production were excellent (not that I know anything about these things). The layout looked good and there were lights and cameras galore to capture all the action then mix it up with trippy video effects (I really liked them!), and there’s Dave, the laidback but authoritative voice, great with the banter and keeping the Close on track and sounding awesome. Well, it all impressed me.

Should you choose to check out what has me still buzzing almost a week later (aren’t you curious?) that’s Logan’s Close on LimbicTV (Live from Aluhpasonics), not only will you hear great music, there’s chat on such diverse topics as Scott’s fashion choices, local cuisine (Dunbar fish suppers and Pizza Crunch) and liquor of the gods, well, fortified wine of some monks, Buckfast. Like Dave, I was also at Glastonbury in 1986, such a shame I didn’t bump into him and all that buckie!

Did I mention how good the music was? The band were clearly enjoying finally playing live together, Carl and Scott both had new guitars to have fun with and their vocal harmonising is none the worse for all the time away, I assume Ollie was having fun (dressed all in black including a black facemask in a darker bit of the studio) on his six string bass, Alex on drums was wearing his trademark hat, Sean not only had his own keyboard but the studio piano as well, making full use of both (to think I was initially a tad dubious about the addition of a keyboard player, he’s a perfect fit in their sound).

Fifteen tasty treats, yum, some old, some new, two borrowed, a smorgasbord of sound to feast on. For starters they served up Eleonara, a new one, fun, catchy, a delight. Second was a song I’ve heard them play live before, I thought it was called Never Blue, err, no, turns out it’s Never Bloom, well, you know how it can be at gigs! It’s a cracking rendition of it whatever the name, lots of space in it (something I really like about Logan’s Close, they don’t overcrowd their sound).

Next up were Worked A Treat and Girl. The visual effects are amazing, layering two members of the band over each other, add it a psychedelic swirl of colour, wow! Loved the kaleidoscopic bits during Girl, was Scott able to see them on one of the screens? Did it disturb his concentration or did he just forget the words? Yes, I noticed but he covered it well.

Song five was Gallus Laces which I do reckon I’ve heard before, or it could be that it reminds me of the ambience and lackadaisical sound of Fur, a band I saw in Sneaky Pete’s a couple of years ago. I actually just went because the Close were supporting them but happily made a fine new discovery. Fur were meant to be back up in March but have had reschedule the gig to November.

Next song Babe Station was sublime desolation! When Carl sang the first two lines it immediately took me back to when I first heard Rodriguez, that same plaintive bleak but beautiful sound. The Close should definitely put out this track, please, please, like this, nothing added nothing taken away. Another newby followed, one Mock Marble Linoleum, good solid, a vague early Deep Purple feel to it. Fine but nothing special. Almost an hour in now and the band played Paralysed a regular live number for them, the visual effects go nuts, strobe city! Intense.

Give It To Me had Sean over on the piano for the intro, he’s rather good, you know. This is one of those goosebump tracks, the deliciousness of the guitar break gets me every time. We’re on the home straight now, In The Morning, I Want You, Listen To Your Mother, all sheer class. Scott really let loose on I Want You, as Dave said after it “What I love about you, Scott – you’re prepared to testify” Indeed, amen to that.

Oo, I was so pleased they played Fantastic Man next. This is a cover of a song from the late 1970s by William Onyeabor, the Close did a lockdown video of it early last summer, it was such a ray of sunshine! Last year’s single Lost In You was the last song and blimey, I love this song anyway but this was astounding, I want this version. I defy them to ever play it better than that! What a finish. But, of course, this is the current version of a live gig, so one more tune was in order, but what? A good old classic that the lads regularly play Please Don’t Go, one to go all out on, they did and so did the visual effects!

Now if they could compile a CD from this gig – I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s wishing for this! I wonder what the band thought when they watched it later?! If you watch it, do let me know what you think. It’s late, time I bid you adieu.

Adieu, dear hearts 💛

It’s getting Closer

Saturday afternoon and I’m feeling rather chipper, it could be the effect of having a second coffee (I’m such a rebel) or the impending Live Stream courtesy of Limbic TV of the brilliant Logan’s Close. It’s at 20:00 local time, but if you reading this after 27th March 2021, you’ll probably be able to watch the video at Limbic TV on Facebook. Like the Free Fringe, it’s free but if you enjoy the music please show your appreciation and donate if you can.

Many folk here in Scotland are probably still feeling rather good today after last night’s rugby match – Scotland beat France!! It was the Six Nations Game that had to be postponed because of positive Covid tests. I didn’t realise it was on (I’d known it was finally going to happen but had assumed it would be at the weekend) until I noticed a friend on Facebook had posted “Come on Scotland.” I was pondering what may have induced this rallying cry when it dawned that I should probably check the telly, phew, only twenty minutes in. By ‘eck, it was a bloody good game, and tense right to the very end. I reckon there were a lot of tellies being screamed at for the last five minutes – by the people who weren’t almost faint from holding their breaths.

The evening’s fun didn’t end there, channel-hopping I came upon Elton John talking to Graham Norton very candidly; the two had a good rapport making for a great watch. Mind, it did mean I didn’t get round to doing the washing up, oops. No, I couldn’t do it after that because then it was time to flick back over to BBC1 for Graham’s Friday night chat show. So did I wash up after that? No, because I intended to go to bed. Intended, but ended up staying up to watch Crimson Peak even though I’ve seen it before. It’s just so sumptuous! And it has Tom Hiddleston in it.

I should go, I require some ingredients to make a salad to go with my chicken wings and curly fries for tea. Haven’t had curly fries in years! In fact the only time I’ve ever had them was in an Aussie theme pub here in Edinburgh, served in a little tin bucket, they were sooo good! We had them every time we were in there after that, until the place closed down and re-opened as an Irish bar, boo! So Brucie’s to do list, have tea and do the washing up before 8 o’clock, in time to open a beer and tune into Logan’s Close at Limbic TV.

Oh yeah, if you want to find out a bit more about Carl and Scott (singers and guitarists) check out the podcast Whistling in the DARC #050 from earlier this week. Another excuse to crack open a beer or two (it runs for at least ninety minutes) and see the boys chatting.

I heard it on the radio

This morning it was the first anniversary of Ken Bruce doing his Radio 2 show from home. He was mentioning it as I tuned in just after the start. I do like Ken Bruce, such a lovely voice and manner, a real gentleman. His music quiz PopMaster is a highlight of the morning, it gives me a reason to be out of bed before half past ten; I very rarely hear anything of Zoe Ball these days (the breakfast show until half past nine). Each day two contestants answer ten questions on pop music, the winner goes on to play Three-In-Ten (three UK chart hits by a particular band in ten seconds) to win a digital radio. Failure in this latter endeavour gets them a Bluetooth speaker; the runner-up gets a consolation prize of a One Year Out t-shirt, so called as one of the ten questions is to give the year that three singles charted, answers given often lead Ken Bruce to commiserate “One year out!” – said so often they made a t shirt of it!

About an hour later Tracks Of My Years can be interesting, depending on who’s choosing! Each week a celebrity picks two tracks every day and chats with Ken about their relevance between the two being played. This week it’s Sanjeev Bhaskar, so I’m paying attention, I’ve liked him since I first heard Good Gracious Me on Radio 4 in 1996 (yes, it’s another show that was on Radio 4 before going to BBC Two). A few weeks ago it was Adam Hills choosing his tracks, that was very entertaining and informative. Great to hear The Goodies’ Funky Gibbon in there with a really lovely anecdote about meeting two of them at the Edinburgh Fringe (a quick squirrel through my Fringe timetables showed it was in 2006, I saw both his and the Goodies show).

Tracks Of My Years is like the Radio 2 cousin of Desert Island Discs. I’ve spent plenty of time pondering on this and have decided it would be easier to pick my TOMYs than my DIDs. Why? Well, the TOMYs are more fixed it seems to me, those are the tracks you pick as having particular relevance to your life at various points, they are what they are from your history. DIDs are significant moments too, but chosen as the only eight tunes you’ll have to listen to for a long time, music for company, to keep your spirits up, to help keep you sane. See that’s why there’s a lot more pressure on those choices, TOMYs is just a bit of reminiscing with Ken!

There’s also the Inheritance Tracks feature on Saturday Live on Radio 4; a small feature that has grown legs and now has a podcast of it’s own. Every Saturday morning a celebrity shares two tracks, one they’ve inherited from a previous generation (often something a parent listened to a lot) and then one that they would pass on to the next generation. I’m not sure what I’d pass on but probably my inherited track would be Mockingbird Hill, I don’t remember who by (oh, I’ve trawled through Google, trying to find the version we had, to no avail!). It was one in a stack of 78 rpm records from our parents’ youthful days; as I recall it, they were just gathering dust in a cupboard (the records not our parents) until my siblings and I happened upon them, claimed them as ours and relocated them to beside the old Bush record player in our playroom. Oh, how we loved playing them and singing along with the likes of Frankie and Johnny or The Three Caballeros. Hmm, we were easily entertained young mooses!

I paused there for my tea. A dozen distractions later……the train of thought has been seriously derailed. Bugger! The kitchen needed cleaning after an interesting reaction when red wine met hot lamb fat and juices. I had to drink the rest of the wine to recover and got sucked into watching the telly. Oo yeah, something did occur to me while I was cleaning up – a track that would be a TOMY and a DID, even possibly my Inheritance track to pass on, Logan Close’s Listen To Your Mother, it ticks all the boxes. I do hope the lads play it on Saturday night, yes, that’s right, this coming Saturday night (27th March) the lads are doing a live stream event on Facebook! Yay! News good enough to make a moose smile!!

G’night! Sweet dreams!

What day is it?!

It’s been a while, I know, sorry, I’ve been distracted, befuddled, just downright apathetic. Another annual trip to the old country has gone by the wayside, Mothering Sunday. I spoke to mater in the morning over the phone, then went and snoozed some more; I wasn’t expecting to be called again, certainly not a WhatsApp video call, hadn’t even done my ablutions! In fact I didn’t step a single hoof outside that day, no excuse, shameful.

I really should do better. Ideas for blog posts have come, been scribbled down, looked at a day or two later and tossed out. I crawl to bed late, determining to do better on the morrow, then do the same thing twenty four hours later. How are you doing, dear reader? Have you managed to keep your pecker up? Does life in your area seem like an extended Twilight Zone episode? Have you embraced the new, the Zoom, taken it all in your stride? Have you kept your focus, or gone rather fuzzy like me? Have you had a hug today?

Ho hum. The sky is blue outside, the forecast promises a clear sunset, I shall away to the park and leave you with pictures taken the last time I ventured there (meant to be shared with you last week).

See, this is just not right! Snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils in the same photo?! Inconceivable!
Wishing I’d headed up the way, tougher but probably less muddy than Hunter’s Bog!
I always find myself stopping to admire these trees. Every time! Can’t help it.

So great I watched it twice, huzzah!

Apart from that fingernails bit, eewww. The Great has been such a romp, perfect Sunday evening viewing, everything about it is so sumptuous. I may have to gorge on it later once the series has finished, a banquet with ten courses, yum! I’ll need some popcorn and raspberry ripple ice cream for that (no, not in the same bowl).

It was this time last year I was back in from seeing Logan’s Close at the Caves for the release of Lost In You. It’s been a lonnng year since then. Some are getting excited at the news that the end of Covid restrictions may be in sight, but I don’t reckon it’s as straightforward or as timetably as folk want to believe – look at what happened to the Christmas Grace. Yes, the vaccines are being rolled out but I reckon there will still be some social restrictions in place, more than the general populace will be happy with. Call me a pessimist but hey, at least I’ll be mightily impressed if I get to be in a packed room to see the Close before the end of the year, I’m just not holding my breath.

Who knows what form any Fringe that takes place will be?! And, of course there’s the new bother of post Brexit paperwork and costs for acts coming over from Europe. Creatives have gotten creative online, will the cost of a month in Edinburgh seem worth it any more? Especially if there’s no physical Fringe for a second year. Will the new generation of creatives look on the Edinburgh Fringe as too cumbersome, expensive and old hat? Has it had it’s day? Will it rise again like a phoenix or be like one of those tawdry, tired old seaside towns that you know would have been magnificent back in the day but, sadly, not any more?

Oo, that got maudlin. Here’s to better times, however they may present themselves. Here’s to one day being able to stumble upon a great band playing live in a pub. Here’s to hugging a long-not-seen mate.

God, I so miss hugging 😔

So I may have taken a photo or two in the snow……

Can’t believe a week ago I was frolicking in the snow (and drawing hearts for photos not shared on Valentine’s Day, doh!)

Messing about in Dunbar Close Garden, a quiet nook, before heading off to the Park

Not a smidge of snow left in town now, just the Pentlands south of the town and the hills over the Forth in Fife have a smattering left. It’s a whole ten degrees warmer than this time last week! Last Saturday Dunsapie Loch was so solidly frozen that someone had gone out on it and taken the red sledge previously frozen there. Oh yeah, and there were clear markings that someone had been ice skating on St Margaret’s Loch, not sure I would have been so brave but I wish I’d seen it!

Right into the dark of Saturday evening students were still hanging out, a few still sledging on whatever remnants were even slightly viable. A number had obviously made beer runs and were heading back up to the Crags for some après-sledge! Whilst it had been a glorious sunset on the Friday evening (well worth taking in with a beer), the following evening wasn’t as clear, but I suppose Saturday night is still Saturday night and students will be students.

Ever hopeful even with only a slither of sledge left! Okay, so this bit of the Park is called Powderhouse Corner aka Students Meet. Friday evening sunset from Powderhouse Corner.

By Sunday afternoon the temperature was up above freezing and the snow starting to vanish away. Now that was a very clear evening, I was delighted to have Orion and his belt before me in the sky as I wound my way up round the Park on the Queen’s Drive. Can’t remember the last time I saw him, and I spotted the Big Dipper – they’re the only two constellations I know (oh, and the Southern Cross when I was down under). Dunsapie Loch was two thirds clear with the wind really choppying it up, the more sheltered end nearest the carpark was still very iced over. It was a beautiful evening walk, plenty of other folk had the same idea, and a few twinkling lights way up towards Arthur’s Seat denoted the hardiest of night strollers (one time it would be great to do).

Of course, there had to be one on watch, keeping an eye on everyone…….

Toodle pip!

Hello Darcy! (aka Beast from the East II)

As I’ve mentioned before, Edinburgh doesn’t get much snow, usually just for a morning then it’s gone. Just two months into this year and we’re already into a second bout of sledging! Okay, we doesn’t include me, unfortunately, my left hip is still a bit jippy so I’m watching everyone else going down any slope they can find, on anything they can find, yes, just about anything. The shops that are allowed to be open (Scotland is still majorly locked down) are all sold out of cheap tray sledges (so I was informed by a student holding a half-inched road diversion sign), they’re having to get creative! Best yesterday was a girl on a large two handled frying pan!

This was sunset on Monday in the Park, there’d been the odd swirl of snow but nothing major, tiny bits were still lying around from Christoph over a week before. Darcy was on her way – snow from the East, so that’s lots of lovely, dry, powdery snow. Yay! By Tuesday morning Edinburgh had a sparkly white covering, time to hit the Park again.

I noticed this little fellow in the trees near the Parliament.

Something a tad bigger must have made these meandering tracks on a frozen St Margaret’s Loch.

Heading up the road it was good to see that the Park Service had actually been round and cleared the snow from it (indeed, they cleared it again this morning). Mind you, walking on this snow has been fine so far, but tonight the temperature is to drop to around -6°C (about 21°F), it may be a bit hairier tomorrow! All the slopes that have been compacted down today will be super fast tomorrow, there may be a few tears and bruises before bedtime. I reckon quite a few will be sore and battered from today, but as I overheard one student say “This is the best Wednesday ever!” I think any bruises will be worn with pride as battle scars.

One chap had a large boiling pan with a cushion in it, yeah, that wasn’t a success. A friend of his had a large bin liner, now that was a success, it was surprising robust for such thin plastic. Certainly more robust than the washing basket that was already breaking apart after several goes and then completely lost its bottom, which was retrieved from halfway back up the hill. Another in the same group was using the two thirds remains of a tray sledge, he actually did reasonably well with it. Of course, there’s always various cardboard pieces and oven trays, one Aldi bag did ok, there was an Ikea bag but I didn’t see it tried out.

The pilfered road diversion sign went very fast, it did look to have been bent and shaped somewhat. An old hand shovel seemed a daring and somehow old-fashioned cobbled sledge. Today’s best was a camping ground sheet, yes, really. His mate helped wrap it around him then he hurtled off the side of St Leonard’s Crag (scarily steep). Wow! It looked scary, dangerous but somehow oddly safe, and very exhilarating!! Even when it completely spun round the chap was fine, cocooned inside. Genius.

Of course, there were plenty of sledges too. Some of the cheaper ones left shattered in park bins by the end of the day. There were also skiers and snowboarders around and about, they almost seemed quite dull compared with the antics of some of the sledgers. As I said, every reasonable and some rather unreasonable slopes have been playing host to young and not so young these last two days, a tonic for all who have ventured out! The snow could stay until Sunday morning as we’ll only get up to 2°C before then, after that the wind changes direction, brings rain and higher temperatures, and it’s back to normal winter weather for these parts. Bah!

I’ll leave you with two more pictures from Holyrood Park today. It’s possibly the most photographed sledge in the Park over the last two days…….

I so wish I could have been there and seen it when it happened!