Tuesday, 11 August 2015

EDINBURGH FESTIVAL TIPS

It's the most wonderful time of year (assuming you are in or near Edinburgh, like being entertained, and agree more with this article than this one!). The Edinburgh Fringe has rolled back into town, bringing over 3,000 shows with it, and Scotland's capital is heaving with tourists and comics and theatre kids who still haven't been battered down by four weeks of flyering. It's brilliant!

It can also be pretty overwhelming if you're not quite sure where to go or what to see, and sometimes it feels like too much of a headache to think about. To help, I wrote a fringe do's and don't's post a few years ago, and I thought I'd update it for 2015.

Here's my top ten tips for surviving this year's festivals...

The Royal Mile, photo by Chris Scott
1. Walk down the Royal Mile 
Yes, it's FULL OF TOURISTS. And yes, you will want to kill them for suddenly stopping in front of you, and bashing you with their massive backpack. But it's also packed full of (free!) street performances from circus types to living statues to pop up musical theatre. You are almost guaranteed to see someone swallowing a sword, and sometimes you'll find a flyerer with some free tickets to give away. The Royal Mile is also lined with pubs, so you can escape from the masses if it all gets too much!

2. Read reviews
The List's top-rated page is REALLY useful, as they aggregate all of the main reviewers, so you can easily spot who is rising to the top. Take reviews with a pinch of salt though, and don't let them put you off something you like the look or sound of - a quick look at FringePig (a site that reviews the reviewers) shows you they aren't all to be trusted!

3. Be prepared to see terrible things
The fringe isn't the fringe unless you've cringed the entire way through a one star show. It's always good to take a chance on someone or something you haven't heard of before - they might be the next big thing! And if they are awful, then it probably wasn't expensive, and you'll have a good fringe horror story for the pub.

4. Stay out late!
During the festival Edinburgh's partying hours extend until 5am, and there's loads of shows on to keep you going until the very, very small hours. Late n Live is Gilded Balloon's infamous original late night show and it's just so much fun! It starts at 1am and the line up changes each night. Underbelly have their own party night, Spank, which starts at midnight in the Cowgate.

Hendrick's Emporium of Sensorial Submersion
5. Find a hidden bar
It's fun to hang out in the festival beer gardens, but sometimes the crowds get too much! Luckily there's a secret spot for curious types. This year Hendrick's (of the excellent, cucumber-infused gin) have taken over an empty building on 91 George Street, packing it with curious oddities, synaesthetic diversions, and a mysterious and scientific trip through the world of gin. You can either chill out in their bar (which feels like you've snuck into an eccentric gentleman's townhouse), or book into their Emporium of Sensorial Submersion - a two hour experience of cocktails, peculiar performances, sound and taste!

6. Visit the Book Festival 
I love love love the Book Festival. It's held in the most gorgeous garden in Edinburgh, is the most perfect place to be on a sunny afternoon, and they have millions of really excellent authors each year. For the last few years they've also been running Jura Unbound, a free and super sociable event with world-play, music, drinks and surprises. This runs every evening from 16 - 31 August at 9pm, and each night promises something different.

7. Prepare for terrible weather
If you assume that it's going to rain constantly, it means you'll never be disappointed and you'll be SO DELIGHTED if the sun actually does come out. That's how Scots think, and it makes life so much easier. Even if it's sunny and bright in the morning, that doesn't mean it won't thunderstorm later that day. Keep a raincoat or something with a hood handy at all times, and avoid umbrellas - Scotland is windy and you'll poke someone's eye out on the Royal Mile!


8. Eat a good breakfast
If you're spending your day running between shows, it's hard to find the time to eat something for dinner that isn't just a burger! Instead, breakfast like a king, and carb load in the morning to keep you going. I've already written about my favourite Edinburgh breakfasts - featuring the best poached eggs in town.

9. Escape to Leith!
Yeah, it's the world's biggest arts festival, and yeah yeah, culture. Sometimes you need a break, and Leith is an easy place to escape to, just jump on a bus for twenty minutes and head for the Shore. I'm biased, cause this is my neck of the woods, but the Shore is lovely. There's a big park, a woodland walk along the Water of Leith, nice cafes and restaurants and bars. Plus, even on a sunny Friday, it's still going to be millions of times quieter than George Square.

10. Remember the fireworks
Marking the end of the Edinburgh International Festival, the annual fireworks concert combines the playing of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with a display specially choreographed to the music. The concert is held in Princes St Gardens, but you can get a great view from most places in town.

Have fun, and remember that sleep's for September!

Monday, 10 August 2015

JULY CATCH UP

I do this every year, I'm a bit of a baddie. As soon as the summer rolls round, I abandon any attempt to stick to my blogging schedule, and shelve my laptop for a few weeks. I've been a bit distracted with work and life lately (more on this soon!), so it's been nice to get some headspace and not fret about any upcoming features!

Now I'm back, I'm feeling a bit creative again, and I've been writing my monthly catch up posts for so long now, I couldn't let one slip!

So, yes yes yes, I know it's basically halfway through August already, but here's what I got up to in July.

Instagram username: @eversojuliet
1. As soon as I returned from Croatia (which I will blog about very soon!), I had to speedily repack my bags and head west to Kelburn Garden Party. The Garden Party is a music, art and theatre festival set in the beautiful grounds of Kelburn Castle - Scotland's famous graffitied castle (isn't it beautiful?).

2. Apart from a torrential downpour on the festival's first night, we were lucky to have lots of sunshine and beautiful weather. The Castle is nestled next to the most beautiful glen, which had pop-up installations and sculpture threaded throughout, plus a little cave packed with blankets and beanbags. So perfect!

3. I've decided from now on I'm going to conquer all holiday blues by just immediately going on holiday again days after I return (ha, I wish!). Thanks Kelburn, you were ace!

4. My new favourite hobby is cooing over Soba, who remains as cute (and as grumpy) as ever. I think he's getting fat, but I can't tell, does that make me a bad hedgehog owner? Eep!

5. July was made up of long mornings and lazy breakfasts, in an attempt to get some rest before the madness of August started. This was one of my favourites: Joshua made me a breakfast in miniature, with quails eggs, tiny bacon, mini aubergine slices, tiny button mushrooms, and mini potatoes (made with a melon baller). It took him AGES (and was eaten very quickly), but was so sweet!

6. I dress pretty regularly like a five year old these days, so I couldn't pass up this jumper from H&M. Guttingly, it has just shrunk in the wash (making it appropriately sized for an actual five year old), and I'm weighing up whether it's worth buying again. Is that too insane?

7. I am a fan of subway tiles, and little hipster coffee shops, and bunches of wild flowers. This cafe in Stockbridge has all three!

8. I know it's a bit weird to take a selfie with a hedgehog, but Soba was looking cute, and I was having a good hair day! I was also dressed like I'd just come out of the 90s, wearing a strappy dress over a t-shirt. That's cool, right?

9. One of the perks of my job - I went out for dinner with the British Council, at a super fancy hotel in Edinburgh. A few glasses of wine in, I was seriously impressed with the gold-embossed pudding with a mini palace on it, SO cute.

10. A new farmers market has opened up round the corner from my flat, which means there's lots of interesting food stalls to go to each week... so much nicer than tesco! After my mini breakfast I was quite partial to more quails eggs - look how tiny they are!

11. It was a beautiful sunny day in Edinburgh, so Joshua and I went on a massive cycle. On our adventure we passed a big skateboard tournament and a biker's festival in an industrial state (which included a massive motorbike in the air? It was all a bit mad!). I've been watching loads of Sons of Anarchy recently, so it was cool to stumble across it, although we didn't stay for long.

12. August began with sunshine and pints with the loveliest of friends (and the cheekiest of dogs). Now we're over a week into the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and I am already totally knackered and in serious need of salad. Bring on the rest of the month!
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