Tram drama

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What in Gawds name is going on in Princes St. Gardens? From the road all looks well. The Scott Monument above looms large.The Castle still presides over the gardens below but look a little closer + you may well ask what happened to the lush green grass where young lovers used to lie entangled oblivious to the rest of the world? Alongside the 3-piece suited office workers sprawled like starfish gulping the fresh air before returning to their sterile air conditioned pens for the afternoon ahead. Cheek by jowl with young mums + toddlers
escaping the confines of their homes to see the real world + save their sanity.

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Judging by this photo l wonder whether our chip intake has dropped to such an alarming rate they’re planting potatos where the grass used to be.  Or perhaps more appropriately the Council have started a market garden to grow vegetables to sell in order to raise funds for the elusive  irritating black hole financial money pit which  will allegedly one day bring us trams.

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I am yet to meet anyone who lives here who doesn’t think the whole tram debacle is a load of bollocks.
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PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST ON BEHALF OF TAX PAYING LOCALS

Stop trams.

Free beer for all..

Above a brief extract from our manifesto for Sept 18th 2014

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Getting round Edinburgh

Trams Calton HillLeave the car at home.
Simple.

The sort of thing an aged gran might say but it’s true. But there are more one way streets, pot holes and confused drivers in Edinburgh than any city in the known world. The reason is there has been an ongoing expensive and ill managed attempt to put in a tram system going on for years. Literally. Years.  During this time the local council have spent millions of the tax payers money and as you will spot on immediate arrival in the city still not delivered any trams. Roads have been shut, dug up,re-surfaced, dug up again, closed for 6 months, opened up one way, shut, opened up the other way, turned into pedestrianised areas and all the while local business after local business has been put out of business. SO yes it’s a sore point. As you can tell.

So leave the car miles away and get a bus. Or train. Or walk. On a clear day walking is the best way to get round the centre of the city. Areas a little out of the centre are easy to access with public transport or by taxi.

Our traffic wardens love giving out tickets and what is a rule on one street may not apply on the adjacent street. There is nothing they love better than to slap on a ticket to an unsuspecting drivers car. Expect no sympathy from them just as I keep saying – leave the car at home.

Try these taxi numbers: 0131 229 2468  or 0131 228 1211

Lothian buses  – they go everywhere, all day and night – and there are hundreds of the little darlings.

So keep that hard earned cash in your pocket and leave the car at home. Edinburgh is your oyster.

Insiders Guide to Edinburgh Festival & Fringe 2013

If you’re heading to Edinburgh this year for the Festival or Fringe then allow me, a local yokel with many years (too many to admit to) living in the city and working in the Fringe/Festival as a writer/presenter/audience member to help you navigate the rather overwhelming information you can be bombarded with when heading to this lovely city.

Firstly. Don’t panic. It looks confusing but with a little help from your friend – me – all will become clear. It helps if you have a few quid – but if you are sitting reading that thinking, Oh dear I am no Warren Buffet (no relation to Jimmy or wedding) then fret not you don’t need a bottomless pit of cash to do the rounds.

First. There is the Edinburgh International Festival which runs concurrently with The Fringe. The former is the highbrow stuff. The operatic, international, cultural, wildly expensive and desperately hard to understand sort of stuff.  As a rule, apart from The Military Tattoo – this is the one event that the world knows and is a sell out every year. This is the elite end of the whole jing bang. Having said that if you do want to do the Tattoo don’t believe that sold out nonsense, keep hitting their website as they do sometimes release tickets on the run up if returned, unsold or suddenly available. Other than the Tattoo  the Festival as such, the conductors, orchestras, serious dancers, audience members who wear suits, long dresses and updos I honestly have no experience of at all.  Sorry I am a mere Fringe veteran not the high falootin’ sort of girl that goes to this wonderfully high brow stuff. SO move along if you are in a state of disapproval.

However if you want Fringe chat you are in the right place.  Here goes.

Planning ahead is all very well but it takes a few days for the jungle drums to beat to the tell the world at large what is the must see show for any given year.

So you arrive in Edinburgh…..one your marks, get set………go.

The Fringe 
Get into the habit of buying our local rag, The Scotsman every morning. Scotland on Sunday on a Sunday – the Sunday edition. To be honest their website is not exactly state of the art but this paper is the oracle of all things fringe and festival. You may be more of an internet reader and user and be out of the habit of buying a newspaper but the fact is performers, promoters, locals and visitors alike read this tome. It is great for the purpose of navigating this mayhemic event for minimum money and maximum information to get you to the right shows on the right days.

Weekly they give out Fringe Firsts – which are a great accolade and reliable as shows well worth seeing.

A couple of days before the fringe officially starts pick up your copy as it keeps abreast of previews, does great 2 tickets for the price of 1 deals, plus it is the oracle for daily reviews of all the shows. It will guide you through whats hot and whats not to see.  There are easy to read listings too. All on one page, by time not  venue – venues meaning nothing if you are not from this here Parish.

Whether comedy, drama, theatre, music, art they have a top notch platoon of reviewers swarming the city and reviews are printed with an easy to read star system in a daily supplement.

No I do not work for them. No I am not on commission. It’s just a fact.

The Free fringe is just what it says – free. It’s a hit or a miss. But this is how the fringe started as a side order to the festival and you might just find a gem or the next huge thing lurking in a warm bar in broad daylight where you least expect it, so open up your eyes to all possibilities.

Busking is rife and one place to be guaranteed some seriously good entertainment. At the foot of the mound beside The National Gallery on Princes St. our main thoroughfare. These guys are not giving you a flavour of their show -this is their show – and their living.  Chances are they are living out of and in some cases in an actually suitcase to follow their Edinburgh dream – so be generous before your swan off to your next port of call.

During the first couple of days a production is settling in and warming up often you can get tickets at bargain prices.
Head towards the top of the Royal Mile aka The High Street and grab a leaflet – well it’s hard not too – you will be inundated by Brazilian rainforest, but quite often you will find a deal there.

Performers pepper the streets giving a flavour of their show so you can try before you buy. You will see buskers as described earlier here but you will also see makeshift stages going up in a moment as a barber shop quartet or theatre group perform an extract to tempt you to buy tickets for their show.
The official box office is here too – but the myriad of performers, buskers and marketing dafties that wander the cobbled streets may just thrust you a leaflet with a deal that can’t be missed.
Brass neck required. If you have one then head to the production of choice – this will not work in the big venues* – but in a church hall, small room, bar, off the beaten track kind of space – barter. Why not? The production would rather have someone in there than no-one and when you think there are literally thousands of productions on in Edinburgh at this time, they want bums on seats – full price or not.

If there are 2 of you suggest 2 for 1. If there are more than that then go for a group discount.If not – look as though you might walk away – likelihood is they will call you back.

The large venues The Assembly Rooms, The Pleasance, The Gilded Balloon, The Underbelly are big business venues and likelihood is they’ll be non negotiable but if you do have some cash and want to see some of the big names then keep an eye out for the Best of The Fest days and nights – they are great. Essentially a showcase of names each perform a few minutes of their material – a taster of their individual show – it’s not a cheap ticket but you are getting a load of entertainment for your buck and i you like the household name/face chances are you will find them here. Also there is usually a night at The Playhouse for Amnesty and a night for Wavereley Care at The Pleasance- great causes.

Speak to people. You can see by the gait of an exiting audience whether they enjoyed it or not. If they did ask what they saw? Equally if they all look bored, grey faced and livid – ask them too – don’t waste you hard earned cash. It’s not cheap this arty farty nonsense.

Tell the world. Be their PR. The majority of performers lose money in Edinburgh. It is heart ruling head to come up here and compete with thousands of others but if you enjoyed it – tell anyone who will listen. Tweet. Facebook. Blog. Shout. Whisper. Cajole.  It takes balls to do what they have done and without them – what a dull world it would be.

Next priority in life – well if you’re me – is food and drink. Consider that being taken care of and appearing here within the next few days.

Marathon….

The Edinburgh Marathon is over – as ever they huddled their way through the streets early today making us mere mortals like lardy bottomed useless lumps. To make myself feel better I scoffed a huge Lucas ice cream sitting in Princes Street gardens watching the world go by. I am happy with my sloth once again.
So Edinburgh what next?

Rain rain go away – och well please yourself – it’s great regardless!

Morning.
Built an Ark yet?
Edinburgh Fringe and Festival is a great time of year for Scotland.
A great time of year for the arts and then we get this deluge.
Unseasonally wet. Sorry tourists.
BUT
If there is one thing that us Scots know how to do it’s make the most of dreadful weather – with the exception of The Tattoo most productions are inside so it shouldn’t make a blind bit of difference. After all you didn’t come here for the sunshine did you?

Great bars, restaurants, late licenses and aye a smiling face. Yes there is little complain about.

Edinburgh Fringe kicks off if you want an hour or two away – here’s a cracking idea.

 

Beautiful Harris Tweed bags by Catherine Aitken.

OK it would be foolish to ignore the impending explosiong of the arts in the centre of Edinburgh and I won’t. I really won’t. I love it and spend most of my days during August in Edinburgh in small venues watching all sorts of productions. Small, big, free, great and frankly appalling but I love it.
This is the week where you can get your 2 for 1 tickets as the previews and first nights abound so keep googling and get yourself to the Edinburgh Fringe Website and you will surprised what great deals you get.
Within a week the jungle drums are beating and the absolute beezers are already being booked solid – no really it happens that fast. I will endeavour to give you the heads up when I can so here is your first steer.

This weekend as the centre of the city begins to strain with sheer numbers of people if you are fancying a little respite then try taking a wee trip down to Coburg Studios on Coburg Street. In this great multi-level space you will find a literal warren of studios inhabited by a collective of great artists, some well known some not, jewellery designers, sculpture, ceramics really something completely unique. They open their space a few times a year and this weekend the place is open.

Artist Lynne Hanley

 

 

 

 

Really worth a guddle about.
AND
Two other tips when in the area.

Mimis Bakehouse just round the corner – delicious cakes, coffee and in a quirky delightful place….and if you fancy something a little stronger then head to The Shore which is on the waterfront at Leith (pictured at the top of this post it’s a great area to explore )and order their ham hock cakes with poached egg and hollandaise sauce – the best hangover cure on the planet. The Shore is a bad just bursting with atmosphere you will love it and live music is highly likely if it’s Sunday so enjoy yourself and as they say in these parts Stick In til you Stick Oot!