Wednesday 29 August 2012

A mad god's dream

It's the biggest arts festival in the world ... every summer, and particularly in the month of August, Edinburgh hosts the best in theatre, music, dance, books, opera and more.

Negotiating the Fringe alone can induce paralysis with the choices available - the programme is practically the size of a telephone directory - but going on insider tips, critics' choices and word-of-mouth guarantees good theatre experiences. Non-stop, all day, every day for a month if you so choose. 

In just a few days we saw brilliant stuff - plays dark, funny, touching - bowled over by the talent in writing, acting and staging taking place in seemingly every and any available bit of space in the city

(Then there was the five hours it took me to to buy tickets online for the Book Festival, as the website bust at the seams within hours of opening with the sheer volume of people eager to hear their favourite authors speak. Determination paid off, and I hooked us Simon Callow and Alexander McCall Smith amongst others).

The streets are entertainment in their own right, though. Negotiating the length of the Royal Mile, closed to traffic, is like walking through an explosion of creative energy ...

... as actors, artists, singers, magicians, acrobats and every kind of performer you can imagine take to the street, performing in whatever space they can find, to lure passers by to their shows.

Here you can expect the unexpected, and be entertained at every step

We were lucky in early August to hit days of beautiful sunshine, seeing the city (and its inhabitants) in their brightest colours, some getting their kit (but not their kilts) off ...

and away from the festival crowds there was plenty to do and see 

the Governor's House (left) and Scott Memorial (right)

in the city Hugh MacDiarmid called a 'mad god's dream' -  

Looking across Princes Street Gardens (top) and towards the National Monument and Observatory on top of Carlton Hill (bottom)

perched on rocky hills between old and new town, overlooking the sea.

Looking down towards the Firth of Forth (left); relaxing in Princes Street Gardens (right)

Blossoms and lavender outside the National Gallery, and a poster of possibly everyone's favourite Scottish painting, The Reverend Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch

Of course the festival was really just a convenient excuse for spending some quality time with top-favourite-Edinburgher, daughter the elder

here at breakfast at the lovely Peter's Yard, Swedish coffee house and bakery

and here visiting her cosy apartment - down a wee alley, directly off the Royal Mile, that is home-sweet-home-away-from-home for my Scottish lass who loves this city, as well she might

On our last evening, at a window table in a favourite Edinburgh restaurant,  we had a clear view to the Castle

which exploded later with fireworks for the end of the Military Tattoo

And so why not end with a spot of sentimental Scottish balladry ...
Fareweel Edinburgh, where happy we hae been, Fareweel Edinburgh, Caledonia's Queen! Auld Reekie, fare-ye-weel, and Reekie New beside,  Ye're like a chieftain grim and gray, wi' a young, bonnie bride 
(Carolina Oliphant, Baroness Nairne)

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