Edinburgh Festival 2007

Edinburgh Festival 2007
Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Apologies that this is more like a list than a blog! It's my annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh.

Thursday 9 August: travel up to Edinburgh on GNER up the east coast. Spotted 6225 Duchess of Hamilton (or was it 6233 Duchess of Sutherland visiting? a tea trolly got in the way) outside York Railway Museum, possible the most beautiful loco ever built. Child playing with Thomas the Tank Engine toys doesn't even look up. Customary pint of 80/- at the Cally Bar at Haymarket, followed by walk to Sam's, then walk to Pleasance courtyard for a few more pints.

Friday 10 Aug: Hangover, vow to 'never again'. Visit Warhol exhibition at the Mound. Sam is a 'friend' so we get to the front of the queue and free entry. Play with the silver balloons (I take an illegal photo!), liked the children's room with the robot paintings. Walk to Fruitmarket to see the Alex Hartley exhibition (he who climbs buildings) and have a sit down. Up to Halfway House on Fleshmarket Close for a pint. Took in a couple of galleries on Fopp Street, notably John Stezaker's montages at Stills and a comic book thing I couldn't see the point of at Collective. Free comedy at Canon's Gate - inc. the whole of Peter Buckley Hill's one-man show. Sam and his friend Kenny sneaked out. Off to Udderbelly for more pints - spotted Nicholas Parsons in the queue.

Saturday 11 Aug: Art Bus to the Modern Art Museum to see the Richard Long exhibition - lots of mud, mud, glorious mud! Shame they didn't sell souvenir pots of ... mud! Met Paul at Guildford Arms then bus to pub near Queen's Hall, thence to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. They did a great 1.5 hour set, but didn't do 'Smells like Teen Spirit'. I had an early night (watched miserable Mike Leigh film 'All or Nohing' on TV with a wee dram).

Sunday 12 August: Festival Sunday on the Meadows, just behind Sam's flat. Saw (heard) some comedy: Paul Sinha, Josie Long and Al Pitcher, all very funny. I'd just about pushed my way to the front and a view, when an American woman with guitar came on and cleared the tent. Sat outside the Speigeltent in the rain for a bit then went for a meal at Kushies and then to the Bow Bar and met Nick. Up to the Underbelly (I asked Sam what this building was used for when the festival wasn't on - he said nothing, it was too dangerous!). In the Belly Dancer we saw Fisher King Leven, of which Jackie Leven was the star. Didn't really work - they were all good, but each sat and waited for his turn.

Monday 13 Aug: day trip to Newcastle. I've been through Newcastle on the train for the past 11 years and always wondered what it looked like so got up at the crack of dawn for a day oot on the toon. Got metro to Monument and walked to the Laing Gallery. I love Victorian art and this is a gem. It has a lovely room of 1930s paintings too, all beautifully captioned. Star is Holman-Hunt's 'Pot of Basil' but there is a whole wall of John Martins and a Burne-Jones. I was delighted by an exhibition of watercolours by the Richardsons, and the Thomas Bewick collection of wood engravings. Had lunch with old friend Yvette and she told us aboot the electric bus. My tip: forget about the metro, etc - get a £1.50 day saver and use the electric bus (Quaylink) - it goes everywhere you want to go (except Seven Stories and the Biscuit Factory). So I got one across the swing bridge and into Gateshead to the Baltic, went up in the lift and walked down (Beryl Cook show was on, plus Dazed & Confused vs. Warhol, with silver balloons you could photograph, but weren't allowed to touch!), across the Millennium eyelash bridge for a lovely pint of Gladiator at the Crown Posada - no idea where that name comes from! Back on the bus to the Sage for a coffee then back to the station via the Bigg Market (didn't spot the Fat Slags tho). Train was running 40 minutes late so thought I might miss Stewart Lee (the 41st best stand-up ever) at the Udderbelly. Got cab and they kindly let me in! He was great and did a very brave Josie Long silent surreal ending! Spotted him the next day with a bag of chips in his hand but forgot to shout 'Weightwatchers' at him!

Tuesday 14 Aug: bus to Talbot Rice Gallery (outside which I spotted the above Stewart Lee!) to see David Batchelor's show Unplugged, basically totem poles of pound-shop objects ordered by colour. There were some geodesic spheres made from sunglasses that Nick Sayers would have liked, but the drawings were disappointing. Windows have mysteriously been revealed in one wall! Walked down to the City Arts Centre and got a concessionary admission with my bus pass to see the huge 'Hand Heart and Soul' arts and crafts exhibition. Some beautiful objects and paintings, I particularly liked Basil Spence's perspective of a church complete with comical figure mowing the lawn. Met Nick at the Stand for our annual trip to Simon Munnery's AGM, always good value. After a one-hour show we were led down to Arthur Smith's art gallery for another hour and half of chess-pool, motions and various pieces of Sherlock Holmes and Germaine Greer. Lost my brolly while going to loo so got taxi to Pleasance and Andrew Lawrence's show 'Socal leprosy for beginners and improvers'. I'd never seen him before. He was young and edgy, both nervous and offensive in a very funny fast way. Nick and Sam both got picked on (we were on the front row) but he left me alone!

Wednesday 15 Aug: home. Dumpling business lunch with Sam and Rob at Chop Chop then on the 12.58 from Haymarket to Euston, changing at Crewe! It was a ridiculously cheap ticket and I've always wanted to change at Crewe so went for it. Never again. The journey was along the west coast was pretty at first, through mountains and the lake district, but tedium soon set in and on the penultimate leg on Thameslink I was squashed in by a bloke with laptop! It took 9.25 hours to get home - not recommended! Thanks to Toni my courgette survived my absence and there weren't too many phone messages or emails either. Now I need a rest!

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