WALKING MY EDINBURGH SOCKS OFF

When I change my browser page to call up my blog when I am already on the correct page, it’s time to admit that I am not firing on all cylinders.

It’s Edinburgh Festivals time and I trudged miles up and down the hills of the city exploring venues yesterday.  Yesterday I walked my toes off and I have a blister on the pad of my right big toe to prove it!  Luckily, I found I had a lovely gel toe protector sleeve in my luggage – the right size too-  which has worked just great today.

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A Refreshing Drink Of Scottish Bubbly Water

Edinburgh is like a huge flower bud opening at Festivals time.  Events managements have developed a range of venues in nooks and crannies all around the city.  Whereas in the past, ‘Assembly’, for example, meant wandering up to, at most, two large locations, now, you will find “Assembly” mini hubs all about the city.   The other major venues  also seem to have spread their wings like this.  I gave up on confusion,  it made me footsore and it took up too much valuable festive time!

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Moments At The Edinburgh Festival Fringes

It seems to me there are lots of Fringe bits to the Edinburgh Festival, but to keep things relatively tidy, (programmes, books, leaflets always being the exceptions) I see the Fringes divided up into the;

  1. International classical theatre, concerts and The International Book Festival;
  2. Professional Fringe; (worth a look)
  3. Mainstream Fringe (semi professional, can be interesting);
  4. Have-a-go Fringe (a huge range of options, often thought-provoking and clever);
  5. Stand-up Comedy, and
  6. Multinational talents Fringe, (A wide variety, some very beautiful).

Selecting from numbers 2-6  is not straightforward. This, for me, is a great big part of the fun of being at the Edinburgh festival…getting there and invariably taking pot luck. Number 5, is quite likely to be risqué! (I have no respect for ‘comics’ who operate with gratuitous vulgarity).

The Royal Mile pop up shows stand out on their own; The Royal Mile is always worth visiting.

This year I found myself second in a queue for a show; the Editor of The Children’s Guinness Book Of Records, Craig Glenday was first. We had a lovely chat and sat in the same church pew to watch a really good show called The Gin Chronicles.  It’s a spoof 1947 radio broadcast. If the show appears anywhere else, go see it.

And here is the Guinness Book of Records man doing his own ”show’ at The Book Festival. There were only a few tickets left when I got mine on the day. Craig gave the young audience, (and their adults) guidelines about what records would not get into the books,  such as anything that would upset the people who help animals. It was a gentle humorous  production. We saw a couple of record holders, a bagpiper, and  a cyclist without a bike seat. The seat-less cyclist also tried to break a record at the show.   Children were invited  to play the bagpipes, or, monitor something with stopwatches, or, click devices, or, race to make up a potato head. (There is one on the low table).

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The Festival seemed a bit slow to get into a bustling rhythm this year, partly because some of the elements of it were staggered not to clash too much with the Olympic Games. The new digital hub in the Centre of town had no  queues of festival-goers lining up for digital events in the Assembly Rooms, where, in previous years  you would have seen flows of people waiting for shows. It was all very quiet. The pop-up outdoor cafes and bars nearby were not over-subscribed with patrons. Up the hill in the Old Town where a lot of extra events seemed to be sited, it was busy.

What you see here is a newly refurbished banking hall at St Andrews Square, Edinburgh. It is gorgeous. The staff are happy for visitors to wander in and learn about the building’s history. In the front garden – a Festival venue – you could sit and eat, or under gazebos, sit and play with outsize light -weight dominoes, or, under another, lounge on large cushions and play  with large cards.

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So, in Princes Street, (the main shopping street of the city) I was darting through crowded spaces when I heard the attractive sounds of music.  I back tracked and gave the guy a donation. “Stop!” he called as I was about to dash off again. He raked around in a big bag and handed me a card… except it wasn’t. He’d given me a gift of his CD “Because you are so nice”, he said.

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This is busker Marcello Vacante playing a track from  his CD ‘Train For London’ .  (His name is on the CD cover)

 

Does anyone know anything about this type of teapot, (if it is a teapot) seen in a charity shop window?

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Oooops – In a back street I  found that The Driving License Authority had been busy (DVLC stamped on the clamp).

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Let me introduce you to Audrey.

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The last remaining vintage mobile cinema from around 1967.  Black and white Pathé News films, (remember those) were shown, a couple were of the 1947 beginnings of the Edinburgh Festival. My friend told me afterwards that she remembered going to the first festival with her mother!!!  You could have knocked me over with a feather.

This was called “The Rook”. The Game Of Thrones seemed to be a theme, does it refer to it?

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It looks like a close relative of the Kelpies based in Falkirk (Scotland). However, the Kelpies don’t have reins or a feather topknot.

Scenes of Festival relaxation in Princes Street Gardens and Granny’s Drying Green below Edinburgh Castle:

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A musical venue, where guitars  also became percussion instruments for both classical and fusion genres.

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Last, but definitely not least:

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A view of Edinburgh Castle with an interesting wee look-out tower and a clear view of a lump of Dolerite, a coarse-grained Basalt rock.  The Castle rock is estimated to have formed about 350 million years ago and is the remains of a volcanic pipe.

References:
MacIvor, Iain (1993). Edinburgh Castle. p. 16. ISBN 9780713472950.

McAdam, David (2003). Edinburgh and West Lothian: A Landscape Fashioned by Geology. p. 16. ISBN 9781853973277.

 

SPEAKING OF PLANTS…

We’ve had frosts, sleet, and snow, which did not settle.  Daily temperatures are still in single figures, at night it feels the numbers are very low.  Though it is very light till late, it feels cold enough to draw the curtains to insulate us from the chill outside.

I checked my five ‘baby’  Weigela bushes, which I planted last year. Their leaves vary in colour, two are light and dark variegated greens.  I also planted two dark purple leaved varieties. The plants burst into life and sprouted leaves during the short-lived. false spring we had early April.  Since the temperatures dropped, four of the Weigela’s furled up their leaves and appeared to be trying to protectively wrap them round their main branches.  Like the Euphorbia,  they were looking quite sorry for themselves.  The light green variegated leaf Weigela, which I thought may be a tender offspring, seems to have survived the cold snap quite well.  You never can tell, can you.

On a recent visit to Edinburgh’s lovely Botanical Gardens, I took a guided walk to learn something about plants and the garden’s  highlights. It turned out to be a group of one plus the guide, a retired botanist; lucky me! Amongst other things, I was introduced to three plants I have. My Begenia is not yet flowering, theirs is.  I planted it where the Livingstone daises are  by the tree trunk. This picture is pre-Begenia. There was a great big green leathery elephant ear leaf, (my description, it’s real name I cannot recall) which I hope will reappear. It is in the blue pot  in the picture.

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And last, a bronze Fennel; I was told it was an aggressive growing plant. I’ve had mine two years, it grew upwards to about 4.5ft last year and was  spectacular to look at.  I can think of other plants- like the one behind it – I wish I had never planted, however, my bronze fennel is not one of them. It is staying.  A local visiting cat nuzzles up to it, I do believe the cat likes the aroma: why not, I do!

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70 MPH WINDS – FESTIVAL GOING IN EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, IN AUGUST 2015

It’s tea time and it is late October, I am looking through the pitted glass; it’s pitted with the salt spray that has gusted around on stormy wet winds, winds gusting at about 70 miles per hour today.  Memories of a fine pleasant Edinburgh in August this year, seem unreal on this rip roaring weather day;  it feels like it was a really long time ago.  The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The International Festival, (main stream theatre) and  the Edinburgh International Book Festival, all ‘colluded’ to start simultaneously this year. I thought it was fantastic. Virtually the whole of the city centre and many nearby suburbs buzzed with Festival. 

My shoulder and neck ached from carrying my camera,  so, there were some days as a festival-goer I gave ‘me’ a rest.  A couple of times I saw the most fascinating person, or, action, and I had nothing with which to physically record the moment. You never know what wonders there will be at Festival.  It sometimes works in your favour focussing your eyes 100% and chatting with people, like, when I climbed on a bus one afternoon and sitting facing me was the most stunningly made-up young man, who was on his way to perform in a cabaret act. Exquisite feathers of shiny and many coloured hues, for eyelashes, fluttered at me.  He had fine very pale pink lips and a white face.  All of this theatrical beauty was crowned with dressed fiery curly auburn hair. “You look wonderful“,  I found myself blurting out.  I know he was surprised, it showed. He was also pleased and he thanked me. I sat next to a woman in the seat in front of him and  there began a  friendly three-way conversation. The man rifled around in his capacious handbag, also part of the theatrical wardrobe, to find me a card for his fringe venue. Well, you can’t remember every little thing can you. No card I’m afraid, but, I did learn that the eyes transformation took about an hour and a more careful application (!!!) required about two and a half hours.

I wonder what this glorious ‘lady-in-waiting ‘ is loitering for.  Maracas perhaps?

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 The Royal Mile, is about a mile to walk; the top end has the iconic Edinburgh Castle and at the lower end you arrive at Holyrood Palace, where the Queen stays when in Edinburgh.   The top end was closed off to through-traffic during Festival.  With the good weather most days, snapshot fringe performances took place.

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There was all this activity  at the top end, near the castle.  Manipulating a puppet while playing a violin – what a brilliant act!

The cyclist in the picture above is a mime artist and is not moving.

Here below, onlookers filming and taking photos of the puppeteer and her fiddler

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A puppet act with a difference

 

 

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A quarter of the way down…. this group had a regular longer performance at an indoor venue. Here on The Mile they were providing a taster of their act.  They worked their audience well and a good crowd gathered.

 

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And more….  the boards, like the one in this picture to the left of the stage, gives the  schedules of free Fringe acts throughout the day at the various similar stage venues here.  This is just a wee snapshot of one day at The Festival when I was wandering around exploring what was happening on The Royal Mile. There was a lot more to find in many different places.

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NOT HOME BUT HERE

I’ve been a bit busy being one of the millions of people at the Edinburgh Festivals, which, is why I have neglected writing here. Once I get home, unpacked and am re-orientated, (the way things look that could take some time) and sort out my photos, I will  tap the keys again.

The August weather was very kind to Edinburgh this year, for one thing, there were no monsoons!  There were very occasional momentary showers; it was warm by my standards and I revelled in wearing my short sleeved tops and cropped trousers that had not seen the light of day for two years…..at home it has been just too cold to even think of wearing lightweight clothes, or, exposing an ankle or a forearm.

Performers from Englanf kept saying how cold the temperatures were. They must have been basking in heat, such as we are not at all familiar with.  Never mind, I ‘m sure those people will have acclimatised when it’s time for them to depart.

VARIOUS KINDS OF WAFTINGS FROM ONE YEAR INTO THE NEXT

What have I done so far since the last weeks of 2013 wafted away and 2014 blasted in.

I have felt weary, tired, but definitely not fed up; I am not affected by the long dark days at this time of year. What I am affected by, I believe, is the relentlessness of the festive expectations that are manipulated by commercial interests.

For heaven’s sake, Christmas trees hanging from store ceilings in September, all dressed up with their tinsel and faux parcels!

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This in-store tree in Edinburgh was a  real one, which, unlike others,  was a great feature with twinkling lights, at about the expected [right]  festive time. It would have been wilted and horrible had it been in place in the very warm environment of the store, for around three months.  Perish the thought!

I was pleased our town’s street lights were not switched on until the 7th November 2013. That’s weeks behind the lighting up in major cities. The lights are pretty, a gentle tradition to brighten up the darkness.

 

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Getting back to the frenzied reality, there’s the need to get packages and well-wishing correspondence sent by mid October if you want it to definitely arrive in time for mid December in the Antipodes and the Americas, we’re told, notwithstanding the blatant profiteering of the mail system; the costs of posting anything have soared. There are leaflets telling you what can and cannot be sent and where whatever it is, can and cannot be sent. Added to that, there’s a memory test, you are interrogated by the teller as to what is in the parcels and packages. It is almost like airport security. My gift package of two mini Xmas puddings was checked against an explosives list!!!!

We travelled on Christmas Day, 25th December. It’s rare to share the road with many cars on this day. This year was an exception. People had taken note of the severe weather warnings and delayed their journeys. One of the few businesses open, a Brewers Fare restaurant, was quiet when we arrived before the lunch rush. We were looking for restrooms and a hot drink. The staff were so accommodating, finding a space for us to sit and have cups of coffee, then giving us takeaway drinks for the journey.

On lower ground it poured with rain. Up high, there was some snow; the snow ploughs and gritters were busy at work, we passed four.

At The Portrait Gallery Edinburgh

When we returned home, it felt so good slipping back into my own bed for the first time in 2014 and drifting off to a relatively restful sleep.

This week, we have waved cheerio to our liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tank, a garden feature for far too many years. I got to connect the lifting chains.

 

The hydraulic lifting mechanism was a fine bit of engineering. It took quite some time to complete the manoeuvrings both sides of the fence. Once on the lorry in the right position, our tank had to be strapped securely into place. Regulations prohibited the vehicle to be driven off till the remaining LPG was drained out of the tank into the fixed white one on the trailer.

 

 

A morning and two mugs of tea later, (for the driver) a signature on a receipt for the tank’s removal, the job was completed and the driver was off to pick up the next tank.

 

EDINBURGH FESTIVAL STREET SCENES (1)

Street scenes from Edinburgh (U.K.) 2008 International Festival. When it rained you didn’t notice, when it didn’t, more people, more artists came out in to the streets to play.

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The bongo band added to the tropical warmth and sunshine.

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Two delightful Taiwanese dancers on The Royal Mile.

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This little bobbykins was ‘guarding’ the entrance to a brilliant bookshop.

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…and here it is.

BOGGLING OR NOT – IT DOES GET SORTED

What a muddle of thoughts I have experienced this week. Par for the current course of events I suppose. I never thought I would make sense of my ‘to do’ list, let alone get the order right. I even thought I wouldn’t get through it.

You know,” someone said, “at times like these,” (bereavement he meant) “you feel its all a great mess that can’t get sorted. It does you know.” Nice man. I plodded on.

Today, I saw that Edinburgh University Medical School was left £2 million, (just part of a range of academic bequests from one estate) sixty years after the donor had died. The thought of dealing with the affairs of an estate for that length of time – a lifetime – made my mind boggle.

A Little Corner of Student Life.

Not so long ago, I was a hard working student, living the pressures and the stresses and strains of time limits, word limits, sweating out my thoughts to make, what I hoped, would be quality presentations that would get me decent grades.

The nearest academic library to me is 200 miles away and takes as long to get to as it did to arrive in Edinburgh. Apart from studying and creating assignments, there was the necessity to travel a 600 miles round trip to get to the University of Edinburgh campus when I had to get to lectures and to the university libraries to obtain the materials I needed. It was a total energy-draining performance.

Light relief was sometimes to be found in the Edinburgh Law Library; it is a brilliant place for anthropological observation. This is where I discovered the existence of Ya’s (pronounced Yah’s) male and female, I watched them gravitate towards one another, the men/boys with smart ‘tailored’ hair styles, wearing trendy casual gear and soft shoes; the women/girls with carefully applied make up, in fashionable bright tops, trousers or short-ish skirts and soft gathered primary coloured, leather footwear. They invariably stood in the middle of the walkway, parading like peacocks, ya-ing in a communication code of their own. Some got caught up in the book shelf aisles appearing to seek knowledge in the printed form. It was a good opportunity to show off physical form and shape. They were first year students, I decided.

Some young people at other tables who were meant to be researching a group topic, looked like sixth formers who’d been delivered to the library from the same school establishment and placed out of context. There was not much resulting from group effort there. Like their Ya counterparts, they were obvioulsy newbies.

The numbers of mature students were notable, mostly younger than me, nevertheless they were obviously mature. There were also the very studious overseas students. I expected these two groups to be equipped with the latest technology to help them in their abstractions of information. The main pieces of modern equipment they used were a biro pen or a pencil and an A4 notepad. Their studious intent was palpable. They mostly sat by themselves or in pairs, across from one another. They were very quiet.

In another corner were the experienced young students. You could tell they’d been around a while. there was no need to posture, their only posturing, if that’s what it was, was to get on with their studies. They had assignment creation style; many books strewn across desk surfaces and their own laptops in front of them at which these students tapped out their analyses of all relevant passages they obtained from fusty tomes, many of which were on short-term loan, likely to have been timed in hours rather than days. In this way, money was saved on the cost of photocopying.

At various break times, elevenses and lunch, the laptops would be closed and packed up under the arm. Cables and books would be left as a visual sign that the work space was taken. These were hardworking students, who took short breaks, attended lectures in-between times, then returned to their labours with the same intensity and professionalism I had seen earlier. With these role models, it was highly likely that those who couldn’t hack it – a minority – would be filtered out, and those that could, would stay the course, in turn becoming the hard working role models for the future generation of new students.

THE NAKED RAMBLER

For the first time in his Scottish rambling career, Steve Gough, known as the naked rambler, has received a not guilty verdict for alleged acts of public indecency, that is, being naked in the car park of a Scottish Prison. :>

It’s not exactly summer anywhere in Scotland yet. Steve could therefore, still end up suffering from the affects of exposure. The man must be really hardy. He deserves a medal for sheer stubbornness, but where would you pin one ❓