A day at Edinburgh Fringe
My visit this summer didn’t get off to the best of starts. My accommodation was not as described. The flat I’d booked had broken beds, a door off its hinges and once white pillows that were now the colour and texture of recently used teabags. The landlord was clearly a glass half full person if they thought it was any state to rent out. And I think the glass might have been a pint glass, half full of gin. So I was homeless for a bit. Like the Littlest Hobo but with jokes. I’ve been here a week and I’ve already been in three separate beds. And that’s nothing to do with sexual prowess. So, in this ideal day, I’ll try and cover a lot of ground in the city.
I’m not really a breakfast person but if you insist, I’m sure the staff at Black Medicine (2 Nicolson Street) will be able to knock something up for you. It’s an independent place but I quite enjoy the eccentricities (music you’d never hear in a Starbucks, the staff trying to ‘steal’ any belongings you don’t keep an eye on). They’re known for their coffee but I think the smoothies are the bee’s knees.
Next up, I’d go to The Scottish National Gallery (The Mound, free entry to permanent exhibits). I’m a bit ashamed to say I only visited this for the first time last year. It’s bloody brilliant. They’ve basically tried to cover every square inch with masterpieces, as if the picture hanger was playing too much Tetris when he was given the job of placing the paintings. Look out for Ken Currie’s Three Oncologists, a haunting almost spectral depiction of three Scottish medical professors.
Next up, I’d walk up the mound and follow Bank Street down to The Meadows. The Meadows during the Fringe has all of festival life upon it. Jugglers practicing, student actors hurrying back to their flat to retrieve forgotten props, sweaty comedians playing football, last night’s alcohol rising off them in a fine spritzer mist. It’s a brilliant place to just sit against a tree and people watch. If you cross Melville Drive onto Bruntsfield Links there’s also a public golf course, an 18-hole pitch and putt. It’s free with your own clubs but you can hire clubs for a nominal fee at the nearby Golf Tavern. Oh, you’ll need a golfer’s name to fit in. To create your own golf name take a colloquial name for a workman and combine it with the surname of a minor Simpson’s character e.g Sparky Van Outen or Chippy McClure. Hey presto! You’re now fully qualified to have a man follow you around with a bag of metal sticks.
All that golf might have worked up an appetite. Though you might have spent less time playing and more time trying to track down that elusive little ball, like Hitler’s mum’s midwife. Anyway, forget about that mental image, it’s now lunchtime. I’d head over to the excellent Wedgwood on The Royal Mile (267 Canongate), recently voted Restaurant of The Year by the Scottish Licensed Trade news for the second year running. Incredibly friendly staff and seasonal menus make this a gem in an area a bit overpopulated with unimaginative chains.
For the rest of the afternoon, I’d pop to Charlotte Square Gardens and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. You might spot your favourite author, sign up for a workshop or just play a game of “Spot how many people are reading 50 Shades of Grey”. One point for each person. Five extra points if they are sat alone. Fifty extra points if they are a man. One hundred points if they admit to enjoying the prose.
Later on, it would be churlish not to go and see a show, especially during the largest arts festival in the world. In terms of standup, my recommendation this year would be James Acaster. A deliciously skewed view on the everyday and a relaxed onstage presence means he’s definitely one to watch. As well as being an excellent comedian he also has a jaw-dropping party trick involving six ring donuts and his own penis. I’m not sure that’s in the show though.
To top off the night, I’d finish up with a wee dram at The Bow Bar (80 West Bow). A great selection of whiskies and draught real ale. No stags and hens or children allowed either, so it’s tantrum free too. If you’re going to the bar, I’ll have a Glengoyne 17 year old please. Cheers!Tagged in: Arts, edinburgh, Edinburgh Fringe, things to do
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