Archive for August, 2011

On Friday morning we left Edinburgh at 8.30 am to make our way to Northampton. The A407 is a lovely bit of road.

Part of the A407 scenery. Would be lovely on a trike.

We stopped off at Gretna Green Services where Chris went in search of a pastie and came back grinning like a naughty school boy. He hadn’t found a pastie, but he had found sweets. “Car lollies” he proclaimed proudly.

Then we got to the M6 and the scenery got a bit boring and I started to doze off. The journey was longer than the Google Maps lie of six hours, as bad traffic caused us to travel only 16 miles in nearly two hours. We finally got to Den and Sam’s place in Northampton at just gone 6.00 pm. We had a nice time catching up with them and had an early’ish night for a change.

Saturday morning we left Northampton at 8.30am and got to Henley-On-Thames at not long past 10.00am. This was far too early, so we ate the sandwiches Den made us then queued until midday. We bought a souvenier program for seven quid, then went straight to the only stage and made sure we were near the front for Haircut 100 as they were the third act on. But again we had to wait. The acts didn’t start until 2pm. So Chris went and got some noodles for lunch. Then it rained into our noodle boxes, and during most of he first two acts; The Real Thing and Hue and Cry.

Haircut 100 brought the sun with them, with their songs Blue Hat for a Blue Day and their closing song, Fantastic Day. Apart from a bit of feedback at the beginning of Whistle Down the Wind, their set was lovely.

Nick Heyward on stage with Haircut 100

After Haircut 100 we went for a walk around, away from the main stage, and got some afternoon tea. We could hear the sets by Billy Ocean, Fiction Factory and some of Katrina of Katrina and the Waves. We bought two three-legged stools for five quid each so we could rest our feet, then we went back into the crowd at the main stage half way through Katrina’s set. This time we got about half way through the crowd as I couldn’t face being so hemmed in again.

We got The Original Bucks Fizz, who finished with Making Your Mind Up, and ABC, who really rocked the crowd and finished with The Look Of Love. Then there was Bananarama, who were better than I thought they would be, Howard Jones who was brilliant as always, Village People, who performed with backing tracks instead of the band that others had used. And lastly Holly Johnson who sang some Frankie Goes to Hollywood songs and some of his solo songs. He sang Relax of course, everyone was waiting for it and we thought it was last song. But then he sang The Power Of Love, “a song he’d rather be remembered for”, he said. And it was amazing. Then we got some fireworks to end the shows for the night.

We picked our way through the litter to the food outlets and bought pancakes with sugar and lemon, then spent three-quarters of an hour in the car trying to get out of the field so we could get back to our Travelodge in Maidenhead.

I was impressed not only by the performers today, but the people who made an effort and got dressed up. All that fluro, and all those characters. I suspect many of them were drunk. Personally I had a latte and nothing else, the less time spent in Festival portoloos the better. I only used them twice and both times I was thankful for Royal Britannia serviettes in my pocket because there was no loo paper. I saw one lady pull a loo roll from her bag, no doubt a seasoned festival-goer.

Even clowns get stressed and need a massage

Tomorrow we get to do it all again…


Scottish music, a familiar sound during the Edinburgh Festival.

After last night’s shenanigans I had a long lie-in before heading off to the souvenier shops for a last-minute shopping spree. After that we both had a massive cottage pie lunch at BHS. Honestly, the meals were so big they lasted us all day.

In the afternoon we went to the Pleasance Courtyard for Emily Watson-Howes’ show, Seminar. As we were waiting in the courtyard I spied Mark Watson for the second time during our stay here. At first he was talking to someone, then he was chatting on the phone, but I saw him a few minutes later all alone, so I seized the opportunity to have a quick chat… Yes I know, Chris calls me a stalker.

After our quick chat with Mark, we went and watched Emily’s show. At first I was a bit uneasy, but as I got to know the character, I enjoyed it more. Emily played a rather flawed self-help speaker called Kimberly Jane Feldhauseur, all professional at the beginning but gradually unravelling and becoming more unstable as the Seminar played out. The show was engaging and funny and different to the usual comedy.

After Seminar we did a bit more shopping and then we went back to the hotel room, where I caught up with Facebook, Twitter and my blog notes while Chris had a nanna nap watching Terry and June on the TV. Understandable.

We left our room quite late to watch our last show of the fringe, so by the time we got to the venue, the queue for The Boy With Tape on his Face was pretty long, and we ended up sitting three-quarters of the way back. This meant Chris felt quite safe as there’s quite a lot of audience participation in the Boy’s show and Chris is not one to join in: but the people who did join in were great. I was mesmerised by this show, how he can hold the attention of a room without uttering a single word for a whole hour is just amazing. So that was our last show of the Fringe. A good show to end on. More information on the Boy can be found on his website.

The next day we trudged down the 67 steps of our hotel, The York Place and walked along to Princes Street to catch the bus to our car. We had arranged to park in someone’s drive for five quid a day via, which is much better than nineteen quid a day in the car park near our hotel.

As we left Edinburgh we listed to David Tennant being interviewed on the radio. Listening to his Scottish accent and his choice of song, The Proclaimers, I’m on My Way. I realised how much I’d miss the place, and we hadn’t even left yet.

To be continued…

Chris and a cannon at Edinburgh Castle

On Tuesday we had a nice meal at Olly Bongo’s Cafe Bistro, a Turkish place with a warm and friendly atmosphere, a nice contrast to the busy, wet and cold street outside. It was a bit more expensive than most eateries we’ve been to, but it was a good meal and we wanted to be close to Udderbelly to minimise our time in the rain.

That night we had tickets to see Heath McIvor’s show, Randy is Sober. Randy is a purple puppet, we knew what to expect as we’d seen him before in Rickett’s Lane back home in Brisbane. It is a show so hilarious that we went to see it twice, so I didn’t book it for Edfringe. What I didn’t expect from Randy is Sober, was the fair amount of audience interaction we got. Just because his eyeballs aren’t real, don’t think Randy can’t interact with the audience. In fact I enjoyed those bits best, Heath has a very quick wit, or should I say Randy? Anyway the show was excellent and played to a full house.

Talking of full houses, Tim Minchin tweeted the other day for folks in Edinburgh to go and see Anyone for Tennis? This was very good publicity for them and ensured a well deserved full house for their next show. They rock very hard even when the audience is small like on the night we went to see them, so it’s nice to know they are playing to bigger crowds in their first Edfringe. I bumped into Doody and Jase in the street the other day, and they’re lovely guys.

Anyway, after Randy’s brilliant show we went to see The Horne Section, a shambolic (in a good way) show incorporating the jazz band Horne Section plus other guests, and a large spinning wheel to dictate the elements of the show. We got a game of Top Trumps between audience members, a hilarious Morris Dance by three of the band and then one of them was stripped, yes, all the way to a bare bottom. My favourite guest performer of the night was The Boy With Tape on his Face. We are seeing his full show tomorrow. There was also a funny and talented guitar player, Antonio Forcione, Swedish group Fork, and lastly poet, Tim Key.

Yesterday was quite sunny so we went to Edinburgh Castle and spent three hours wandering around with earphones and audio guides. As usual for Edinburgh there were many hills and steps.

Lang Stairs at Edinburgh Castle. 70 steps.

My overall impression of Edinburgh is oldness, comedy and steps, and to a slightly lesser extent, drizzle. We finished our castle visit with a latte in the coffee shop and by nearly 4.30pm we could see big grey clouds rolling in so we made our way back down the hill while ducking in and out of the many souvenier shops to find presents to take home and to drip dry all over shop floors.

Chris at Edinburgh Castle. Grey clouds coming.

We grabbed a delicious chicken and cheese melt from The Square, just around the corner from our hotel and took it back to our room to have with a cup of tea. Then we went set off into the night to see The Pajama Men’s show, In the Middle of No One.

We saw the Pajama Men’s show last year so we knew we’d probably spend most of the show watching a multitude of different characters played by two men in their pajamas, with only two chairs for props, and wondering what on earth was going on before everything tied up nicely at the end. The show did exactly that, again it was bewildering, funny, clever and silly at the same time. The stand out character for me was what I imagine to be an eagle type of bird with a very unusual cry.

After that, the night took an unexpected turn as we met up with some online forum friends for a drink at the Guilded Balloon. It was brilliant to meet the comedy fans I’ve got to know online for the past couple of years. After a pint and a half of cider and lots of comedy-talk some of us went to a one-off free Sammy J gig, which was also recorded for a DVD. Jase and Doody from AFT? were in the audience, along with lots of venue staff, and a few other people silly enough to still be up this late. We ended up walking back to our hotel room at 3.30 am. I was a very happy fangirl.

We climbed the 67 stairs to our room and eventually rolled into bed at 3.45am. This is exactly how I wanted Edinburgh to be: but not all the time, I’m too old to cope with this much awesomeness every night.

Today the forecast is for rain… all day. A good day to do the laundry and catch up on my blogging duties. This morning Chris and I trudged through the rain for about 25 minutes to Ace Cleaning Services to do our laundry, we had an early lunch at the very friendly and inexpensive Flip! café while our clothes were washed and dried a few doors down the road. We wimped out and took the bus back to our hotel for a very reasonable one pound 30 each.

The past few days have been a blur of Festival Fringe comedy shows and sight-seeing. Two days were spent just wandering around to get our bearings, but mostly getting lost. We were amazed by funny and talented street performers, while we dodged the drizzle and enthusiastic flyer-hander-outers, and spent a fair amount of time finding free toilets. Quite by accident we came across the Elephant House, place of Harry Potter’s birth, well, where JK Rowling wrote the first novels anyway. We had a cuppa in there, it was hot but the ambience was nice.

Tea at the Elephant House, a place full of elephant pictures and ornaments, wood panelling and mis-matched wooden tables and chairs.

By day three our feet were screaming for mercy, so we took three open top bus trips in a row to sight-see while sitting.

The Scott Monument. For 3 quid you can climb all 287 steps to the top, given our fitness level and sore feet, I think this will not be high on our agenda

We got off the Majestic Tour at the Royal Yacht Britannia for a tour of the yacht and afternoon tea.

Chris posing with a pretend pint on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

It felt a bit voyeuristic to be looking at the double bed that Charles and Di slept in, but it was a pretty interesting place to visit and my lemon drizzle cake and Earl Grey tea at the Royal Deck Tea Room was very swish.

Afternoon tea at the Royal Deck Tea Room

We went to the Military Tattoo on Saturday night, there was a little drizzle but it didn’t matter as we wore our shower proof jackets just in case. In fact we have been carrying them around all over Edinburgh and they’ve been very handy. The Tattoo was good, my favourites were the Band of the Royal Netherlands Army Mounted Regiments, they were on bicycles, very funny. They came back later without their bicycles and played something from Harry Potter too: excellent. The night ended with the Massed Pipes and Drums then spectacular fireworks. The DVD will be out in October so we will be ordering that online so we can relive the night.

Military Tattoo massed pipes and drums

On Sunday we spent a few hours wandering around the Scottish National Museum. It’s a massive and grand building. Chris was very happy to see a bubble car and I was amazed to see a ZX81 computer. I remember when they came out, they were 50 quid. There were lots of Christian religious artifacts, a fantastic collection of rocks and a huge amethyst geode. There were stuffed animals, including Dolly the sheep, and dinosaurs bones, fossils and Egyptian coffins, it was all very interesting.

Chris and a bubble car

The comedy shows so far have been extraordinary. I’ve already blogged about Sammy J’s show, Potentially, since then we’ve seen five more shows. Alex Horne’s, Seven Years in the Bathroom was very good, tightly scripted to keep up with the momentum of living a whole life in an hour, but it didn’t feel too rushed. Next up was Melbourne duo, Anyone For Tennis in Prepare to be Tuned. Doody and Jase sang beautiful harmonies about Margherita pizza, that time of month, and finding your one true love (among other things). They rocked very hard with their guitars for a tiny audience of about a dozen people. They so deserve a full house for their first Edinburgh Fringe.

On Tuesday we saw three shows, our first was Chris Cox in Fatal Distraction. A mind-reader who confesses straight away that he can’t read minds, but it doesn’t matter a jot. By the end of the show, I’m sure everyone in the audience was amazed by what they’d just seen. During the show he’d recited a bit of Tim Minchin’s beat poem Storm for me, so I was a very happy fangirl. Next up we saw Asher Treleaven in Matador. We saw him last year in Secret Door so we knew we were in for a slick performance. This show tackled racism in a hilarious way, he’s quite a physical performer and my personal favourite was an impression of a squid. You had to be there. Lastly we saw The Hermitude of Angus, Ecstatic,  quite possibly the most physical and weirdest show of the Fringe. Think of Angus as Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean, but more socially inept and child-like, and wildly changing into other characters along the way. There’s a messy encounter with chocolate cake and some dancing too, this is a show that you think about for a long time after it’s over.

So that’s the story so far. It’s still raining outside but tonight we are seeing the purple puppet Randy in Randy is Sober and Alex Horne again, but this time with jazz comedy band, The Horne Section. Can’t wait.

We are three floors up, in our hotel room in Edinburgh, and after several trips up and down them, I’ve already decided I hate the stairs. However, this lofty room is our home for the next seven nights and I am very happy to be here in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival.

The weather is damp, we’ve had showers on and off all day, but thankfully my cold has gone, although husband Chris is still coughing his guts up.

We have had a look around The Royal Mile, watched some street performance and seen our first comedy show, Sammy J in Potentially. The venue, Underbelly, is an amazing labyrinth of a place, full of character, comedy posters, and I’m sorry to say it, more stairs. Sammy J was in White Belly, one of goodness knows how many rooms in the building.

Tucked in at the back of the tunnel shaped room, sat Bristol comedian, Mark Watson. He caused a buzz among the first couple of rows where we were sat. He wore a bright green T shirt and stood out like the green man you have to wait for before you can cross the road, except he didn’t flash… to my knowledge.

Sammy J, in a natty looking shirt and waistcoat, looked very dapper and performed brilliantly. Potentially is dialogue-heavy, he does sing a few songs to backing tracks but there’s no keyboard in this show. The story-telling incorporates some cute animals, some heartache, a red G-string and a happy ending, just like one of Sammy J’s favourite Disney movies: except maybe the G-string bit.

I’d have liked to have said hello to Sammy J and Mark Watson after the show, but I thought I’d better take Mr Cough-a-lot home to our hotel room for a Lem-Sip: and unfortunately for Chris that’s not a euphemism for anything.

Don't know what this is, but it looked impressive. Will check it out tomorrow in the daylight.