Sunday, 8 August 2010

A Festival Begins..........






Hullo ma wee blog,

I left home at two to pick up my Lovely G after her course had finished at half past three. I left early as I had an errand to run returning a faulty cake stand that a been a birthday gift for her a couple of weeks ago. The trip to Edinburgh was sunshine and sea on one side and grey and driech on the Lammermuir hills on the other, a typical Scottish summers day in these parts. Loud music is my preferred accompaniment when I'm in the car on my own and today was no exception, it being the turn of  The Flaming Lips to keep entertainment at a suitable level.

I love the drive to Edinburgh, I love this small city with its grand claims and aspirations looking to the world stage yet determined to keep a firm grip on its parochial underwear at the same time, with its selling of Tartan Scotland and its everyday ' but we still have to live here too' approach of modern bars and restaurants, even if they do fall prey to the oft misguided summer belief that its possible to live the continental street cafe/bistro life out in the open exposed to the cold wind and sudden showers of our normal weather in these Northern climes.

My drive took me into town via Holyrood Park, with Arthur's Seat on one side and Holyrood Palace on the other, and out of the park and into the Old Town via Dynamic Earth and the edge of Parliament building, passing the glass front of  'The Hootsman' newspaper and on up to the Cowgate and the remnant of The Flodden Wall, along past the old city mortuary, haunt of Rankine's Detective Inspector Rebus. Streets were filled with tourists dragging cases and loaded down with holdalls and rucksacks, with the beautiful, or merely over eager, young artists keen to start leafleting their shows, to lessen the blow of empty venues and missed opportunity, mingling energetically with the local inhabitants. Bill posters had been busy decorating the city with their wares and the whole place vibrated with energy for the festival starting. Menu's have been checked, rooms have been rented, prices have been hiked, the festival is in town and for three weeks anything is possible, and everything has a price.

As I entered the start of the Grassmarket, that spot below The Castle where cattle were sold and Old Town ne'er do well's had their necks stretched in olden days, I turned right up Victoria Street, but not before noticing that the Grassmarket's bars and restaurants had spilled out of their walls and were jostling for advantage on the cobbled street - tables, chairs and parasols proclaiming summer was here and here was the place to be. I parked the car on double yellow lines just where someone had kindly coned off a space with 'no loading' carefully signed and nipped into the shop to return the cake stand, getting back to the car in less than 30 seconds to find two traffic wardens eyeing up the car as a likely target. I know, naughty of me - but you try finding a parking space in the Old Town when you need one! I left the wardens glaring after me as I cheated them of their prey as I headed away from Old Town, crossed the Royal Mile and  headed downhill to Princes Street, the New Town and the Lovely G's office in George St. I love Edinburgh at this time of year and vowed to myself to come back with my camera and make a day of recording some of the sights. I promise you a blog on that very soon. I smiled as I thought of the tickets for the book festival lying in the house and the 10 different authors events that I have planned over the next three weeks, especially my favourite raconteurs, Ian Rankin, Ian Banks and Christopher Brookmyre.

The front of Waverley station was crammed with new tourists vying for taxi rights and early birds jamming themselves onto open deck tour buses to take the Old Town Tour, the New Town Tour or the Two Town Tour on a vintage tour bus - fine on a day like Friday but often a soggy treat for the unprepared. Eager tour reps settled customers and began to blare their oh-so-well-rehearsed blurb through tanoys at the poor unfortunates and the sound of their voices merged into the wail of the ever present piper in full Highland dress on the corner facing the station, the Scott Monument an appropriate background and photo opportunity combined. Oh! those Japanese do love a photo opportunity!

The traffic was halted by a man crossing the street on a red light, hand in pocket and deep in conversation on his mobile phone. An irritated driver blowing his horn at him  receiving a glare and a shrug of the shoulders in return, the man continuing both his conversation and his stroll across the breadth of the thoroughfare at an even slower, more considered pace in protest that a mere motorist would dare to do such a thing. I smiled at Edinburgh life in the Festival sun and imagined paint-balling the errant pedestrian with bright yellow paint. Don't ask, I have no idea why that came to mind. It just did and it made me smile.

Soon the Lovely G opened the passenger door an slid in beside me. We kissed and I turned the car to head for an impromptu trip to the cinema as the first drops of rain began to hit the windscreen.

What can I say? There's a film festival too you know............

See you later.

Litening to The Flaming Lips  'Do you Realise?'

6 comments:

Morning's Minion said...

I think I'd like to travel that route--- not during holday season. Or--maybe its better always to imagine historical sites rather than to visit in person and have the reality jar one's romantic notions.
I'll be back to follow the links.

Rebecca S. said...

It all sounds terrific! I'm so looking forward to your blog on Edinburgh, a city I know I would love, too.
My husband (I feel like I should be calling him the lovely V) and I enjoyed the series of Inspector Rebus made for television. It was on one of our channels over here last year - very gripping stories!
BTW, my kids and I saw a movie recently called The Stone of Destiny, based on a true story. It was really good.
Enjoy the Festival(s)!

Big Swifty said...

Super portrait of my favourite city. I love visiting Edinburgh. A couple of friends have arrived in town for the Festival; I'm sure they will have a super time, even with the price hikes! We have a list of about 20 places we'd like to live in, and Edinburgh's one. I'm hoping to get a job as a traffic warden there. (Oonly jookin')

Alistair said...

MM - It's a lovely drive in to town and you can see the city from several miles out with Arthur's seat and the Old Town and castle in view fro tat kind of distance. It all adds to the experience.
Rebecca - I have some boxed sets of Rebus which I sometimes dip into. You get a good sense of the town from the TV series. I challenge anyone not to love Edinburgh.
Swifty - a good job for someone who walks as much as you. But I think you might lack the killer intinct.

Kat_RN said...

I feel like I have just had a quick trip to Edinburgh myself. I have been there once, in 1987 or 1988. I would love to come back for another look, someday I hope. Till then, thanks for sharing it with me. Your festival sounds a bit like our Bele Chere.
Kat

Alistair said...

Morning Kat!

Just sitting with my morning 'Hootsman' newspaper reading the daily 20 page pull-out section on the festival........bliss!

Can't wait to get out to some stuff soon.

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