Edinburgh: Day Seven

In which we see Side by Side by Sondheim and Sara Pascoe, visit the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition and do some shopping.

Last Edinburgh update this morning; in about eight hours I will be in London.

We went back to the walking yesterday and walked to The Space @ Venue 45 (45 minutes) for Side by Side by Sondheim. This was a sort of revue of Stephen Sondheim songs with a cast of five. What I liked best about this show is that it mainly used songs which were less well known or not actually known at all. I quite enjoyed the show in all; the cast were pretty talented. But the show was maybe slightly too long, or maybe it should have had an interval.

We then walked to the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition (15 minutes). This was mainly a massive shop but with a little bit of extra information and the ability to watch what’s happening behind the scenes. It was none the worse for this though. There were lots of extremely helpful staff, I found out a bit about the Taylor clan, and we spent over two hours there. Plus I had a candyfloss ice cream in the cafe, quite an interesting taste.

Shopping was next and we looked around some vintage shops on West Port, and I found the Forbidden Planet on South Bridge Street (always important to find the Forbidden Planet). Dinner was in a pub by Bristo Square and I had far too much pasta. Far too much. We then went on to Starbucks, and then to the bar by Assembly Three.

The last show of the day, and my last show of Edinburgh, was Sara Pascoe: The Musical. I enjoyed this; it was more stand-up with the occasional song, but it was extremely well-structured and entertaining, although less laugh-out-loud funny and more interesting and amusing. But it was a great show and I’m really glad I saw it.

So, this is the end of my Edinburgh adventure for now; I’m sure I’ll be back again some time in the future. I had a really good time and saw some great shows and lots of Edinburgh. The shows I’d most recommend are Othello: The Remix (obviously), The Horne Section and Marcus Brigstocke, and of the touristy things I’d recommend the National Museum of Scotland, seeing the sunset from Calton Hill, and going up Arthur’s Seat (the easy way). Photos will be up soon (probably tomorrow).

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Edinburgh: Day Six

In which we visit the zoo and see Dylan Moran: Yeah, Yeah.

Yesterday was mainly about the zoo to be honest, so this post is probably going to be kinda short.

We walked to the zoo (20 minutes) at about 11am and spent most of the day there; I took over 400 photos. We were mainly obsessed by monkeys, who were all being very interesting when I didn’t have a camera on them, although I think I was with the meerkats for about half an hour. I enjoyed the aviary as well, and the big cats. We couldn’t get to see the pandas unfortunately as all the time slots were gone by the time we got there, and the penguins have been scattered all over the place while their enclosure is refurbished so we failed to find them. And we couldn’t see any otters, which is never good. But apart from that it was a pretty good day.

We had dinner at the hotel before getting the bus to the Playhouse Theatre for Dylan Moran. We were right up in the balcony so didn’t have the best view, but the show was pretty good all the same. I’ve seen better this week but I laughed plenty and that’s important.

Today is my last full day in Edinburgh so my next blog post will be the last of my Edinburgh daily reports. I could do one for Day Eight but it’d just be packing, train, unpacking, so I think maybe not.

Okay that really was a short post, I’ll have to pad it out with pictures of meerkats when I get back to Croydon. Something to look forward to.

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Edinburgh: Day Five

In which we see Othello: The Remix (again), laugh with Roisin Conaty, and I visit Arthur’s Seat.

We had another hotel-based morning yesterday before getting the bus into town for Othello: The Remix. We’re not so much about the walking anymore… Othello was great (again); we were almost at the front this time due to not getting lost and confused, so that was something. They’ve picked up a couple of awards (for best lyrics and best new musical), which makes me happy, but they deserve more. All awards! All awards should be theirs!

We then split up and Caroline went to the ………* museum whilst I went exploring Arthur’s Seat. This was really great but I took a ridiculously steep route which was occasionally a bit like rock-climbing; maybe I won’t do that again. I came down a much gentler way which would have been better for me to have used going up as well but ne’er mind. Got tons of great photos though (some of which will be put on here when I have time to upload images, sorry) and met some nice people on the way. It took me about two and a half hours in total but I could quite happily have spent a good three or four hours there.

Dinner was at Pizza Express today to make use of Caroline’s Orange Wednesday two for one offer, and then we were back to the Pleasance Courtyard to see Roisin Conaty: Lifehunter. Ashamed to say I’d never heard of her but she was brilliant and very funny. We were in Beside which is a tiny room, but it had a great intimate atmosphere and a wonderful mix of people. I’d recommend going to see her, definitely; I imagine it would be very difficult not to leave far happier than when you entered.

Today we’re going to the zoo! I’m very excited, I like a zoo. And we’re off to see Dylan Moran tonight. We’re not seeing Othello: The Remix though, so it’s going to feel a bit weird.***

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* Well, she did tell me…but I forgot.**

**Writers’ museum, off Lawnmarket/the Mound.

***But I can see it on The Space (and so can you) any time I want until the end of October.

Edinburgh: Day Four

In which we see The Happy Prince and The Horne Section, get a bus, spend far more time in a gallery than I originally intended, finally visit the National Museum of Scotland and watch the sunset from Calton Hill.

We continued to not walk everywhere yesterday and got the bus into Edinburgh. We successfully got our tickets to see Othello: The Remix again (yay!) and then popped into the Talbot Rice Gallery at the University of Edinburgh Old College (South Bridge Street). They have an exhibition by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. called The Black Spot and I’d seriously recommend it. We spent about an hour going round it, and there is an excellent documentary at the end which you should make time for. We hadn’t unfortunately, so we didn’t get to see the end.

Our first show of the day was The Happy Prince at C, and the term both of us used when describing it afterwards was ‘alright, but…’. The show had four cast members, a keyboard, a flute and some original songs, a couple of which weren’t actually that bad (I ended up with one in my head for about an hour afterward). Definitely the weakest show we’ve seen so far, but I’m perfectly happy to have seen it and it wasn’t a bad way to spend an hour.

Central hall at National Museum of Scotland

After this we successfully managed to visit the National Museum of Scotland. I love this museum, it has so much variety. We were mainly in the Natural History bit and I was really impressed with the layout, the displays and the information available. Possibly one of the best museums I’ve ever visited, and I’ve visited an awful lot of museums.

We went to dinner across the road at a place called Revolution, and sat in the window (far, far away from the rest of the customers). This of course meant that we were occasionally left unattended, but overall it was a really nice, cheap, meal.

Sunset from Calton Hill

We walked up Calton Hill to watch the sunset, which was another great thing to do. We got rained on a bit but we stuck it out and by the time the actual sunset happened the rain had stopped and I could take lots of photos without ruining my camera.

Our last event of the day was The Horne Section, which was at 23:15. I’ve seen them four times before so knew exactly what to expect and although it wasn’t the best I’ve seen them it was great fun and a show I’d recommend and want to see again. We had great guests as well: Lloyd Langford was pretty good, Up and Over It really good, Simon Amstell sang a medley and was brilliant, and we had Suggs as a surprise guest at the end which slightly made my day. Didn’t get home ’til about 2am (we walked) so this blog is a bit late again. I suspect I’ll probably be putting up my Day Five blog (which is today’s) tomorrow. It’s our second Othello: The Remix, and Roisin Conaty. Plus, I’m going to visit Arthur’s Seat later on.

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Edinburgh: Day Three

In which I force Caroline to watch Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, see Othello: The Remix, and a Blues Brothers tribute band, don’t walk somewhere, and go to the National Museum of Scotland (but only manage to see the restaurant).

I’m actually posting this on the morning of Day Four, sorry. My plan of posting the night of the shows isn’t working out so well, because I can’t stay up long enough to do so. But I can blame Caroline, because she said it was okay. (“I did say that, and I stand by it.”)

Had a bit of a hotel-based morning. I brought a couple of DVDs that I wanted Caroline to watch and today I successfully subjected her to Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. She has The Fades to come; isn’t she lucky. We walked to Forth in The Pleasance Courtyard (1 hour), but got a little confused and only just made it in time for Othello: The Remix.

Now, I saw this hip-hop Othello before as part of the Globe to Globe Festival at Shakespeare’s Globe and utterly loved it (it was my 5th favourite of the 38 productions, yes I have ranked them all). So when I knew that I was coming to Edinburgh and that it was coming to Edinburgh there was no question that I was going to see it again. In fact it was even a factor to me deciding to come to Edinburgh at all; a big plus of this holiday is that I get to see this show again. And it was even better than I remember it.

Caroline loved it and appreciated its effective use of Columbian hypnosis, essence machines and Brechtian theatre. I had to ask her to spell those for me just now. I’m not so good with dramatic conventions so can’t really comment on this, but as a Shakespeare geek I think it is a wonderful adaptation of Othello: it is full of catchy tunes, brilliant characters, great lines and geek references, with a small and great cast. So many laughs and not a dull moment. I think it should win all awards (including those it’s not eligible for). We both really want to see it again and are going to try and get tickets for later on this week.

Haggis bon bons starter

Cumberland sausage salad main

After Othello we went to the National Museum of Scotland. We visited the restaurant first, which is on the fifth floor and is called The Tower. It’s pretty expensive but it does 2 courses for £15.95. Seriously good food as well. I had haggis bon bons and a sort of Cumberland sausage salad. We came downstairs to find that the museum had shut while we were upstairs, so we didn’t actually get to do the museum visiting part of the visit to the museum. Fail.

We popped home for a couple of hours after that and got a taxi back in. Yes, we didn’t walk somewhere. Our second show of the day was a Blues Brothers tribute at C eca. I wanted to see Blues Brothers Banned (my absolute favourite) but they don’t seem to be here so we went to these instead. I’ve seen many better Blues Brothers tributes, but I’ve also seen worse. I thought Elwood sounded and acted very Elwoody, and the band were very good.

Today, which is Day Four, we’re seeing some sort of version of The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde complete with songs (we really have no idea what it’ll be like, but it’s my favourite short story) and tonight we’re seeing The Horne Section. Very excited. Again.

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Edinburgh: Day Two

In which we see Mitch Benn: Reduced Circumstances and Marcus Brigstocke: The Brig Society, go shopping, do lots more walking, get very wet and get a little bit lost.

Firstly, to breakfast, as promised, and I can report that I have something else to add to the plus points for the hotel; very tasty. I had sausages (first time I’ve had sausages for breakfast since 2004), beans, cereal, fruit salad and juice. The breakfast is included in the price, so it was extremely important that we ate as much as we could stand.

We then walked into town (45 minutes) to do some not particularly blog-relevant shopping, walked back to the hotel for lunch and then back (1 hour) for Mitch Benn: Reduced Circumstances. All about the walking today. Again.

On to Mitch Benn. I love his songs and was really looking forward to his show; I was not disappointed. I last saw him about four years ago so he had loads of songs I hadn’t heard before, and also Proud of the BBC, which I have heard about fifty times and am always ecstatic to hear again. Seriously, check it out on YouTube, I adore it. I even have the t-shirt. Although I want a hoodie. And a canvas bag. Anyway, the show was funny, moving and entertaining; I particularly loved his Bouncy Druids song, the song to his daughters, and the opening which used an iPhone app which acted as a sort of hand held loop pedal. If anything could convince me that I should get an iPhone it was that.

After the show we popped to the National Portrait Gallery, which was really interesting to look around. The main hall is pretty impressive, and the library similarly so. Very good way to spend an hour or so, especially if you’re interested in history (like me) or, well, art. An awful lot of rain greeted our exit, and this started a series of unfortunate events based around our attempt to find the next venue, the Assembly Hall. We were given directions by someone at the Gallery, who directed us to George Street, which was unfortunately the wrong sort of Assembly for us. We were then redirected to George Square, which was closer, but still not our Assembly. Finally we were directed to the actual Assembly Hall, which we’d already gone past on the way to George Square. Basically we walked for about an hour in the rain and I came to the conclusion that if in doubt, it’s often best not to ask.

We had dinner at a place nearby called Porto & Fi on The Mound, which I would completely recommend. I had a light main, desert and a chocolate milkshake for less than £10.

Finally, we saw Marcus Brigstocke: The Brig Society. It would be fair to say that I was slightly apprehensive about this show; I quite like his comedy but often find him a bit sweary and angry. However, I found this show ridiculously funny and would recommend it to anyone. I was almost in tears of laughter for some of it, and the time pretty much flew by.

So today has been a pretty good day comedy-wise, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when I get to see Othello: The Remix again (I previously saw it at Shakespeare’s Globe a few months ago). We’re also seeing a Blues Brothers band; I’m a sucker for anything remotely Blues Brothers-related. A very musical day tomorrow. Can’t wait.

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Edinburgh: Day One

In which I travel to Edinburgh, do more walking than is strictly necessary, check into the hotel, do yet more walking and visit the Royal Botanic Gardens.

For the next week I am going to be in Edinburgh for the Festival with my friend Caroline, and I have decided to write daily blog posts about my experiences. They may not be informative, they may not be interesting, but they will be there.

The day unfortunately started at 4.15am, which was so early for me that instead of turning off my alarm I sat staring at it for about twenty seconds, treating the rest of the house to the opening bars of Good Morning from Singin’ in the Rain. After that initial failure I succeeded at both getting ready to leave the house, and leaving the house. My dad took me to Kings Cross to help me with my ridiculously heavy suitcase (I am a terrible packer, I pretty much decide that I need ALL THINGS) and I boarded the train, despite it doing its best to trick me by being on a completely different platform to the one it was meant to be on.

The journey was uneventful, apart from being five hours long, which is the longest I’ve ever been on a train. It’s not the longest I’ve been on a coach though, which is unimportant.

My original plan on arriving at Edinburgh Waverley station was to get a bus to the hotel, but I decided on the train that I should walk there. This walk is 55 minutes long and I had a heavy suitcase, rucksack, handbag and jacket, but I decided that all of this was absolutely fine for several reasons:

  1. I quite like walking.
  2. I don’t really like getting buses.
  3. My suitcase is at a level of heaviness that makes it easier to wheel for quite a long way than it is to lift for quite a short way.
  4. Getting the bus would make me ridiculously early for checking in.

So, you see, makes perfect sense really. I did manage it, and I managed it in 45 minutes, which I’m pretty happy about and keep boasting about to anyone who will listen. As you can see. Also, the great thing about walking was that I got to see more of Edinburgh, and of the area where the hotel is, than I would have on a bus. I like what I’ve seen of Edinburgh. It’s got some amazing architecture, and lots of bustle and excitement, and REALLY WIDE PAVEMENTS. Does anyone else think that Edinburgh has really wide pavements? I didn’t notice so much in the centre but as I moved further out I got to thinking that these pavements are about twice the width of the pavements I get at home.

Anyway, moving on. I checked into the hotel and unpacked. Caroline doesn’t arrive until later tonight so I pretty much have the run of the place. There are a couple of problems with the room. For a start it’s a double rather than a twin, which to be fair is our fault due to some booking confusion and not actually the hotel’s fault. And the shower, although perfectly happy to turn on, is very unwilling to turn off again. It was slightly on for most of the day, but about half an hour ago I had a sudden burst of strength and managed to turn it off. Go me. I can only hope that these sudden bursts of strength continue for the rest of the holiday. Finally, the room is quite old, and there are cracks in the sink and a minor mould problem around the window. But on the plus side: really good area; very nice staff; pretty good view, although slightly obscured by trees (pretty nice trees, though); good sized room; TV with Freeview and all the channels, not just a random selection which doesn’t include the one you actually want to watch; DVD player. Tomorrow I will be able to comment on the included breakfast; may your joy be unconfined.

Here, have a picture of a tree from the Royal Botanic Gardens.

At around 3pm I decided to pay a short visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, and, of course, walked there (40 minutes). I really enjoyed them and would definitely recommend them if you want to get away from all the bustle and excitement for a bit; there are lots of themed areas which gives you a good choice of what to look at, and you can sit on the grass and have a bit of a relax (which I did). The Gardens also gave me a chance to indulge my passion for taking copious amounts of pictures of trees. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to stop taking pictures of trees. I spent about ten minutes on one particular tree (see image on the right). I need to stop.

On my way back to the hotel I got an iced lolly. I never eat iced lollies outside, due to the likelihood of drips, being chased by bees, and my hair getting all sticky. But I managed today with only one minor drippage incident outside Waitrose. I’m extremely proud of myself.

I’m now back at the hotel and my feet are starting to feel the effects of my day of walking. I imagine there’s going to be plenty more tomorrow; we’re going to see Mitch Benn and Marcus Brigstocke. For tonight, though, it’s just custard creams and Casualty for me.

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