09
Aug

Final Fringe

By: muttler
you've never seen a big purple upside cow before?

you’ve never seen a big purple upside cow before?

Sadly, this was our last full day at the Fringe Festival, and in Edinburgh. So we decided to do three shows to say farewell.

overlooking edinburgh

overlooking edinburgh

Before we started, we decided on a nice morning stroll up to the top of Calton Hill, which offered great views across Edinburgh, as well as a chance to explore the monuments perched on top. Kate was happy to relax, while I wandered, climbing on everything I could and looking out over the great Edinburgh skyline.

With our morning exercise done, it was time for pints and festival. First up was something a bit different. Rather than the usual standup comedy, Kate was keen on some Potted Sherlock… a panto-esque recap of all 60 Sherlock Holmes stories in just over an hour. These guys are quite famous for their Potted Potter show, and they indeed had a fair audience, as the show was sold out and full of families.

In the end it was a lot of fun. While there were some obvious cheats to get through all 60, there was s great spirit to the show and everyone, especially the kids and teens, left very happy.

great venue, evil beer

great venue, evil beer

We had some time to relax at in the Pleasant Courtyard, and like usual, my curiosity got the better of me. The bar and courtyard it seemed were sponsored by Fosters and it was the prevalent beer. The fact that Fosters is sold around the world has always been an oddity, so I had to know. Was it different? Was it even drinkable? I had to know.

The answer to the first question is that I am not sure. But the answer to the second question is definitely NO WAY. Man, it was disgusting. How on earth is it popular? This was to be a mystery I would not be able to explain.

With a bad pint in my belly, it was time to get rid of the bad taste with some more comedy. So it was back to the Gilded Balloon to see expat Aussie Bec Hill in her solo show Ellipsis. This was a total random pick (I didn’t know she is Australian) and all I knew was that it was a mix of jokes, story, and props.

Overall, it was a mixed bag. I really liked the central idea, however I found that it was just not side splittingly funny. The props were great, and I have a feeling her kids show is probably the one to see. But kudos for doing something a bit different.

We had some time to chill out a little before heading to our final show. Rather than finish with comedy, we were finishing with some music. I was super lucky to find out that The New Medicants (i.e Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub and Joe Pernice) were playing one show in the festival Spiegletent, and we could make it! Woo!

two fine gents

two fine gents

So in we went, nice and close, and proceeded to soak up an hour of these two magical gents, singing their own and collaborative tunes. I cannae lie, the Teenage Fanclub songs were the highlights, and to finish with Norman singing Everything Flows, I was in heaven. I even got to have a very quick chat with them both after the show and as usual, Norman was the loveliest dude. It made me wish I had more Fanclub on my iPod, as it was all my brain wanted for the rest of the evening.

But alas, it was time to pack and get ready to depart Edinburgh and the UK the next morning. Thankfully, Shaun of the Dead was on the TV to help and get us set for the next part of the adventure.

06
Aug

The Pictureless Edition

By: muttler
a picture of a pony. just because.

a picture of a pony. just because.

Hi all!

This blog entry will be a rare one in that I don’t really have any pics for you today. Everything we got up to either didn’t allow pictures, or didn’t really involve pictures. Super sorry, but that is the way it is sometimes. But I did provide you with this picture of a pony from last nights Tattoo, which I realised I didn’t post earlier. So there you go. Everyone loves a pony.

So what did we get up to today? First up was a visit to Mary King’s Close. This is a local tourist attraction that lets you visit some of the narrow hidden streets and “houses” that are still buried under the main streets of Edinburgh. It seems that many were built over during the past few centuries, but many were not actually filled in.

The Mary King’s Close experience is more than just a walk through, rather you are led through by someone in character who weaves facts and stories in together while leading you through. It was pretty cool. Being in the main close was quite incredible to think we were in what is a narrow laneway, but buried below the streets above. While a bit kitsch, it was worth a visit.

We had tickets to some comedy later on in the day, as well as having a bunch of tickets for tomorrow, so today we decided to see a film for a change. Knowing I had no other chance of seeing Guardians of the Galaxy on the big screen, we decided to head and see that.

Verdict? It was pretty OK! Nice and irreverent and self-aware which was nice, but also a little of a missed opportunity in that regard, as for long stretches, while it had its tongue in cheek, it was still ultimately a regular comic book movie. Albeit a bit smarter and funnier than normal. It was hard seeing Andy from Parks & Rec running around like that though.

Nothing exotic for dinner tonight, rather something easy on the way to get some more comedy action. Tonight was a pick that was a little random, in that all my goal was, was to find something at about 8pm. Good word was spreading about James Acaster, and he seemed somewhat familiar, so it was he that was chosen. He was at the Pleasance Courtyard, which, like the Gilded Balloon, was an amazing hive of activity, with about 10 shows going on at once. At just past 8, we were greeted by Mr Acaster, down on knees with feet up (for reasons I will not share), launching into his show.

And it was amazing! I had a great time with this show. The perfect blend of theme/story, absurdity, recurring gags, and one-liners. Plus, the final few minutes tied it up perfectly in a way that I love in my comedy shows. I can’t recommend him enough, and if he makes his way back to Australia I will be there for sure.

So that’s it for today folks! Tickets for 3 more shows tomorrow, our last day in Edinburgh before heading off on more exciting adventures.

06
Aug

Getting Tattoo’ed

By: muttler
showtime!

showtime!

Today was another Fringe day, although one of a bit of a different experience. Rather than comedy or music, it was to be mostly about castles and cannons and bagpipes. Yep, it was off to the Royal Military Tattoo.

what time is it?

what time is it?

First up though it was a lazy start and a casual wander about Edinburgh. We did a bit of a pop in to the Portrait Gallery, which was chock full of royal portraiture as well as a good exhibition of WW1 portraits. Sadly though there was very little modern work on the walls. Maybe it had made way for the special exhibits, who knows.

After that it was a casual wander along the main shopping street, just for a bit of a look, but not really any shopping. Last thing we needed were things to be carting around for the next few weeks!

As you can see it was a bit of a day of recouping as we knew there would be many more fringe shows to squeeze in. One thing I knew I wanted to check out was an art space called Summerhall that was a bit of a walk away. There they had some work by street artists Faile and Bask, as well as a room full of Gary Baseman. So off we legged it and within about half an hour were in a rather cavernous building, with little art installations in every nook and cranny.

faile stencils

faile stencils

The first thing I found was a room of vestige board paintings by Faile that were not like their usual work. I’m not sure it was completely my thing, but it was interesting to see snippets of their more well known stencil work peeking through the chaos.

now this is an arcade

now this is an arcade

Their best work was in a shared space with Bask, called Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. Basically it was a collection of old school arcade and pinball machines, defaced by Faile and Bask, and were even complete with Faile designed computer games on them. They were all quite odd and random, but it was a bit of fun to be playing around with them, and also on the pinball machine.

faile pinball

faile pinball

 

faile arcade

faile arcade

 

oddball faile game

oddball faile game

 

random wall collage

random wall collage

In fact a cabinet like these would be awesome in my house! Not sure what Kate would say though…

baseman in the trees

baseman in the trees

It was then some more exploration around the building to find the Gary Baseman exhibit. Called Mythical Homeland, it was semi-autobiographical, and was set up amongst a small makeshift forest. It added to the intrigue of it all, and the work was quite cool, especially that done on the book pages.

mr baseman is hiding in here somewhere

mr baseman is hiding in here somewhere

Mr Baseman himself was also floating around, however, he was being kept busy with some hardcore fans, so I decided to leave him be.

We still had a couple of hours until the tattoo so it was time for some food. I had organised this to pass a pub that I had caught eye of their menu the previous day, and saw something I just had to try. Yep, of course it was the Haggis Balls in Beer Batter!

mmm...haggis balls

mmm…haggis balls

So in no time at all, we were seated and I was ordering a hearty plate of the haggis balls. The plate arrived and it looked delicious, with the haggis balls on top of a nice gravy and mash. So I broke one open and… delicious! Mmmm…. they were indeed tasty. You know I am not sure I know completely what is in haggis, but really, I don’t have to know, because it tastes great and that’s all that matters!

With the clouds looking ominous, we made our way back to Edinburgh Castle for the tattoo. With the stadium seating looking much more full than yesterday, we took our seats and waited for the festivities to start. Thankfully, the rain was keeping at bay, so we kept our fingers crossed that it would stay that way.

kate all excited

kate all excited

With a bit of warm up of the crowd by our emcee (“Anyone from… Australia here this evening?!”), two fighter jets flew overhead to kick things off.

some highland dancing to kick things off

some highland dancing to kick things off

And we were away! To be honest, this was not my choice of activity, but it is undeniable that the fighters flying overhead, the bagpipes starting, and the cannons going off all gave me goosebumps. As far as spectacle, this has it.

IMG_4606Now I haven’t watched an Edinburgh Tattoo in years. My dad watches them all the time, and I saw many on TV as a youngster, but had not seen one in recent years, so in some respects was not sure what to expect besides lots of bagpipes. What followed was much more international than I remembered, as after the very Scottish start we did a tour of the globe, with lots of performance by friendly nations, including our beloved Oz.

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The castle would be lit up in recognition of the performers which looked great. Best in show would have the be the Kiwis, wth both a strong Maori and Highland dancing contingent, and also the world’s only steel drum marching band… yep Trinidad and Tobago brought the reggae and disco (I heard some Boney M in there) to the castle. Good times.

scotland the brave

scotland the brave

 

it ends with a bang

it ends with a bang

But it is the Scottish that own the tattoo and with the full flight of bagpipes happening, it is pretty cool. So while I didn’t go intending to swept up by it all, in the end it is pretty hard not to. Kate still might have trouble popping some bagpipes in the car stereo though.

05
Aug

Scotland!

By: muttler
welcome to scotland!

welcome to scotland!

And like that we were in Scotland! We left Bamburgh late morning, and rather than do anything on the way, decided to head straight to Edinburgh. Fringe awaited! So we burned along the A1, making good time. But of course we stopped at the border for the obligatory we’re crossing the border” photo opportunity.

good times ahead in scotland

good times ahead in scotland

It was bit exciting, as I had not visited Edinburgh in about 15 years. Combined with the Fringe Festival, and it was good times ahead for the next few days. We dropped our car off, and then headed straight for our digs just quick enough to drop our gear off and get out into it.

fringe central at the royal mile

fringe central at the royal mile

When we got in to town we headed straight for the Royal Mile, home of the Fringe in a way. And man, was it crazy! People everywhere, performers everywhere, and we were not able to walk an inch without being given a dozen flyers. With 400 pages of Fringe guide, it is not surprising people have to do all kins of things to get you in the door!

edinburgh castle

edinburgh castle

Being a bit overwhelmed with choice, we decided to gather some info about things but then head to the Edinburgh Castle for a couple of hours to settle in to town. It was nice wandering the small city that lived within the castle. The views over the city are magic from up there too.

up above the city

up above the city

 

paying respects

paying respects

We made a point to pop into the war memorial, given the significance of the day (100 years since the start of WW1), although it seemed it was being taken over by BBC folk for something.

mmm... haggis crisps

mmm… haggis crisps

We stopped for a quick snack break, and what did I find? Haggis crisps! Of course I ate them.

thumbs up!

thumbs up!

They got a thumbs up. They were pretty tasty without being very distinctive. Before my trip to Edinburgh is out there will be some real haggis for sure.

attention!

attention!

 

entering the arena

entering the arena

In no time at all a few hours had passed, and we decided to get some food before comedy action. I did have time for some more cheesy photos though. As we left, the castle was also getting all prepared for the nights Military Tattoo (a post for a couple of days time).

denied the haggis!

denied the haggis!

 

wild boar burger

wild boar burger

We passed a pub which looked to be fine for dinner. There was an Edin-Burger on the menu with Haggis, so how could I not eat that! But sadly, they were out of haggis so I had to go with the wild boar burger. And how was it? It was not bad. A weird piggy-beefy taste to it. But tasty.

something happening everywhere you look

something happening everywhere you look

We had one show planned for the night already which we did online the night before. Knowing we would be lobbing into town with not much time to scout out the shows, we decided to go with one of my favourites from back home, Celia Pacquola, having missed her Melbourne show earlier in the year. We figured we would go with a familiar to start and then see where things took us for the rest of the festival. So it was to the Gilded Balloon for the show.

Celia was great as always. This show might have been her best, and it was a great one to start our Fringe with. Some nice little shout outs to some of us Australians, who she identified through a particular joke of hers. Seems us Aussies are hard to escape.

It was only a bit after 9, and the Gilded Balloon was a hotbed of comedy. So on the advice of a random leaflet handed to us as we arrived, we decided to check out another comedian, Tiff Stevenson. She is apparently a little bit known here, but we had no idea. In the end her show was a mixed bag. Some things were great, many others fell pretty flat. But given the show cost us 5 quid, who can complain? Fringe was already delivering some awesome.