Fringe time

Its Edinburgh, its August, its time for the first stirrings of the world’s largest arts festival. The Fringe starts officially over the weekend, but already most shows are in town and running their (much cheaper tickets) previews. The husband and son of Mel’s cousin are over from Norway and I met them all straight from work at the Pleasance, one of the main spots for Fringe life. Mel and I introduced the Fringe newbies to our laid back way of doing it, which is to park out bums on a seat in the cobbled courtyard of the Pleasance (a hub with dozens of shows going on all the time, from tiny rooms to proper theatre sized shows) and wait for the many people coming round giving out flyers and telling folks about shows until we saw one we liked and off we went to see Son of a Preacher man, a stand-up comedy with Markus Birdman, an aetheist son of a clergyman – it was brilliant and I highly recommend it if you’re going Fringeing.

Afterwards we headed back down to the Royal Mile to get some food at Wannaburger and as we approached the Old College Building we heard a powerful beat and decided to have a quick look. We found Binari, a Korean musical group pounding drums in the old quadrangle, the sounds echoing around the space as they performed a sound check, that wonderful, almost frantic and kinetic drumming and singing. And its just so cool that walking past somewhere you just come across something like this, but that’s what happens in Edinburgh at this time of year. Its a circus, its maddening, busy and crazy and at the same time brilliant.

Last time I was in this building was for the launch of a major Scottish history book in the gorgeous Neo-Classical space of the Playfair Library, this time it is Korean musicians in the quad filling the night with music. After we’d had a late meal we walked up the Royal Mile, even near 11pm still buzzing with people as the Fringe starts up then as we approached the top of the Mile we had another treat.

A rehearsal for the Royal Military Tattoo was finishing up at the Castle and the cavalry were leading their horses down towards the horse boxes to take them home. Imagine a warm summer night in the middle of the Old Town, lights from the Tattoo flickering across the Castle and bagpipes playing while the clip-clop, clip-clop of horse’s hooves come down from the Castle, creak of leather and clink of metal as cavalry troops lead their immaculately groomed animals down the cobbled street then round past the hub to the waiting transports. Even in Edinburgh this isn’t exactly an everyday sight.

How beautiful is this horse? Just think, this is all happening in the heart of a capital city at 11pm, with a huge castle right behind me as I took this while behind the horse you can see the floodlit Herriot’s School which at night looks like where very young wizards get sent before they are old enough to go to Hogwarts.

Even at that time of night you can see the sky just doesn’t get fully dark at this time of year. Shame I didn’t have the tripod to take these properly but obviously I wasn’t quite expecting this. A little bit on unexpected magic.