Week 2. Edinburgh - The Tattoo & The Fringe

Sunday 11th August 2013

Today we moved north into Scotland to Edinburgh, a journey of just over 120 miles straight up the M6/A74M to junction 13 and then onto the pretty cross country tourist route the A702. All was going well until as we approached Edinburgh we missed the turnoff to the by-pass. Those of you who have been to this city at Fringe time (compounded by work on the tramway) will know taking a caravan through the city centre is shall we say “interesting”.

Having arrived at the Caravan Club Site and set up we set off for the city centre and the first of our twenty booked events - well David did, I would rather fill my ears with burning tar than endure the noise that is Mike Oldfields Tubular Bells. David came back enthused and excited having enjoyed every minute. On to the next event - Be Captivated, Ballet Central. This is not the sort of event that would normally float my boat but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. As you read earlier we went to twenty ticketed events plus a number of free events so those of you with a low boredom threshold can click here to by pass the blurb about them

We had travelled into the city centre by bus, a twenty minute walk to the bus stop and then a 45 minute £3 per person bus ride followed by another walk. Feeling tired on the way back we took a cab which worked out about twice the cost of the bus without the walking and took around 15 minutes door to door.

Monday 12th August 2013

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As well as the tickited events there are hundreds of free events for which you simply turn up and sit down we attended a number of these and they ranged from the very good to the very bad. I havn't described any of these in this journal.

Three shows to see today, the first is not till 1.00pm so we elect to go into the city on the bus laid on by the camp site just £3 single or £5 return, unfortunately return busses must be pre-booked on the way out and the last one runs at 8.30 but our last event does not finish till 10.00pm. We arrived in the city and got dropped in a totally different place to that scheduled, “Oh! I’ve taken a wrong turn you’ll have to get out here” was the drivers only comment, leaving the return ticket holders with no clue as to where they caught the bus back.

The first show of the day “Best of the Fest” was what I imagined The Fringe to be. This was performers that had been awarded 4/5 stars by The Scotsman newspaper with different performers each day. Our performers consisted a magician, a poet and some stand-up comedians. Sadly despite being an all ages event the “F’ word was a frequent visitor and even the “C” word made an appearance, not it must be said by the stand-up comedians but by the poet, well he does come from Colchester in Essex so I suppose it must be expected. Across the city again to the next venue, and with around four hundred venues they are not all close together, for a performance of The Pirates of Penzance by Durham University Light Opera Group. This small group performed with great enthusiasm to make up for their lack of numbers - a good afternoon. Back across the city again for our final event of the day, dinner at Faulty Towers. Basil, Sible and Manuel kept us very well entertained almost, but not quite enough, to forgive the poor dinner, which, I suppose is to be expected when around 100 people are to be fed at the same time in a quite small restaurant.

Tuesday 13th August 2013.

A totally different event started our day today with a two hour walking tour entitled “A Tale of Two Cities” during which our guide Neil told us of the history etc., of the old Edinburgh of the 16th/17th century and the new Edinburgh of the 19th century. The guide was extremely  knowledgable and an entertaining speaker. Our second event today was a one hour theatre production entitled “The Sex lives of Others”. It was performed by a cast of four on a tiny stage, measuring about six square feet in the corner of a shipping container (yes you did read that right). The acting was pretty good particularly one of the cast but the play itself unremarkable. Onwards ever onwards, next another play - Darts Wives - a comedy take on the TV show “Footballers Wives” which told the story of four women whose husbands were, had been or wanted to be world darts champion. The four actresses played both wives and husbands - a very funny play. Directly that was finished it was rush across the city again for our next event entitled Fright or Flight. A very strange offering of acrobatics and comedy that cannot be described so I have included a link to their “youTube” offering.

Wednesday 14th August 2013

Our first event this morning was a monologue called Betty Davis Ain’t For Sissies - What happens when someone who always wants to win ....... loses!! A superb performance, one of the most polished and professional we have seen so far, excellent. Next in line for our attention was Taymar Broadbent (link)a comedy songwriter. I learned at this event that you should not sit in the front row of a Fringe show as I spent a not inconsiderable part of it on the stage, and a good show it was. This was our last Fringe event of the day as this evening we are at the Tattoo. With a capacity of 8500 the queue to get in starts to form around 6:00 pm for the 9:00 pm performance, this does have the effect of keeping thousands of people in one very long line and not wandering the already crowded streets, not being the queuing types we went to dinner in an excellent Kurdish restaurant. The meat on offer was lamb or chicken and the style was, probably, Turkish. All beer and wine on sale was non-alcoholic although it seemed that regulars were bringing alcoholic wine with them. At around 8:30 pm when the end of the queue passed the restaurant we joined it and less than fifteen minutes later were sitting in our seats waiting for what turned out to be a fantastic spectacle to start. Two hours of pomp and music from South America, South Korea, New Zealand and many other parts of the world culminated in a musical firework display.

Thursday 15th August 2013

Four events today, the first “West End at The Fringe” was a group of four who sang a selection of songs from current London shows. Then our most eagerly awaited production Wunderkammer described as “. . . a breathless cocktail of circus and cabaret. ‘White hot funny and sexy’ (Stage) . . . “. It was good, the performers were certainly skilled but each item went on to long, and why did every item end with the performer(s) getting most of their kit off after all mankinis are not the nicest item in the wardrobe. After dinner in a superb Italian restaurant it was off to the days third offering, the one I had least been looking forward to, a jazz quartet, now don’t get me wrong I like SOME jazz but what I believe is called modern jazz leaves me cold. This quartet, comprised Alex Yellowlees violin, Kenny Ellis double bass and Ged Brockie and Mike Nisbet guitars, described as intoxicating hot club jazz, was if fact very enjoyable. And so onto the last show of the day being X rated it didn’t start till 10:30 pm. Ivy Paige - “Head” Mistress unfortunately did not, for me, live up to it’s “funnyest class in Edinburgh” billing. I thought her accompanist whose  name I didn’t catch (but whose claim to fame was being a founder member of Dexys Midnight Runners) was a better singer and had far greater stage presence despite simply sitting at his keyboard for the whole performance.

Friday 16th August 2013

Five top rate shows to see today, unfortunately Sue is so ill, with a real and genuine man cold that she has spent the entire day without the energy to get out of bed let alone spend fifteen hours in the city centre, a great shame as Carol and David said todays shows were the pick of the week. Still I had a good day, in between looking after the sick I did the laundry.

The Fringe features 45,464 performances in 2,871 shows at 273 venues so there must be something for absolutely everyone. Would I do it again - in an instant, but only if staying in a city centre hotel.

Last Updated - Sunday 27th April 2014.             © Seve  Ghost 2014