Edinburgh is a wonderful compact city with loads to do.
There are many highlights of the Scottish capital which are very well known. Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace (the Queen’s Edinburgh residence), the Scottish Parliament, the Royal Mile and the many museums and galleries are all great, even though I could personally do without the bagpipers & tartan shops.
I will show a few photographs at the end of the post, but here’s two or three of my Edinburgh favourites.
The Edinburgh Fringe
Every August Edinburgh is festival heaven with music, arts & literary festivals.
My favourite is the Fringe, an eclectic mix of comedy styles. Even better, there is an extensive range of free shows, many of which are really good. The rule is if you liked it put some money in the bucket, if you don’t just smile politely and leave with dignity.
I have now been five times, including each of the last three years. Sadly of course, none of the festivals will be happening in 2020.
Here is my 2018 review to give you an idea.
For the second year running I visited the Fringe and took in ten free shows, plus a paying gig in the absurdly funny John Luke Roberts.
Out of the ten freebies, there was a single dead turkey, a mad women on acid, a rank game show that was purposely rank for (ahem) comic value and a former favourite resting on their laurels.
However, with six shining stars (including one Pick of the Free Fringe show featuring six top dogs) and only one real stinker, I am happy that our pickings were sufficiently rich and worthy of the neatly folded notes and weighty coins thrown into exit buckets.
Here is my lowdown of the best that I saw.
We started at the iconic Voodoo Rooms, site of three venues (The French Quarter, The Speakeasy & The Ballroom), a wonderful building where seven acts were to be viewed over my 3 day visit.
Elvis McGonagall, Full Tartan Jacket, got my latest Fringe off to a brilliant start.
A snarling Scottish poet now based in Waitrose country down South, waxing lyrical on all the topical political heavyweight lightweights, supermarket snobbery and many other subjects.
His razor sharp wit was delivered at Usain Bolt speed with all the accuracy of a German penalty shoot-out. A tough act to beat in my pecking order and an 8/10 rating from yours truly.
Next up we had the best known of the performers, Porky the Poet, aka Phill Jupitus.
The long-term team captain from the hugely popular TV show Never Mind The Buzzcocks did not disappoint with personal poems from his life of music devotion, fatherhood and comedy.
Phill is in fact doing three different shows each day at this years’ festival but sadly we missed his stand up show due to a late bus, leaving us to witness the dead turkey instead.
8/10 for Porky, 1 for the turkey.
James Farmer was Scaredy Cat, using his feline friends to illustrate the traumas he has experienced so far in his young life. James is a comedy writer for several hit TV shows and he showed a great comic delivery and a well thought out series of topics to weave into a lively set. No Fringe pussy this and 7/10 in my eyes.
I fell completely in love with the next performance & performer. Harriet Kemsley performed Slutty Joan, an energetic windmill of laughter tinged with sadness and lots of underwear.
Harriet has enough energy to power a lighthouse and she left me both clapping enthusiastically and wanting to give her a huge hug. Well, I am no authority on comic tour de forces, but if HK is not a household name in a few years I will be very surprised. 9/10.
Over at Banshee Labyrinth Peter Brush will make you think about snails in a different light and you will be very careful what you pray for in the future if you see him perform.
He purposely comes across as an unassuming geek for his act, but beneath the surface he is a very clever and engaging comic. His act is not guffawingly (is that an acceptable adjective?) funny, but Mr Brush will have you tittering heartily. I would definitely be happy to see him perform again. 7.5/10.
My final snippet concerns the aforementioned Pick of the Free Fringe over at the Cabaret Voltaire venue. The whole show was great fun with a couple of stand-out acts in my view. The compère named David glued the five acts together brilliantly and got the audience warmed up expertly.
The star turn in the show in my opinion was ex- Religious Studies teacher, current atheist from Hull, Kevin Precious. I only wished that I hadn’t run out of time meaning that I could not see his hour long show entitled Holier Than Thou. 7/10 as a whole, but 8/10 for KP.
There are over 1,000 free shows at the Fringe and a meteor shower of talent to go along with just a few dung heaps. The atmosphere is brilliant and everybody should experience it at least once.
New Years’ Eve in Edinburgh is legendary. The main event is based around Princess Street Gardens and such is the clamour to be there, numbers are limited with ticket entry only.
With my good friend Chris moving to Leith (Edinburgh’s main port), it was an excellent opportunity for Mrs Wilbur and I to go in 2018.
Armed with our plastic bottles of red wine (no glass allowed and big queues for drinks), we took in the brilliant vibe.
There was music too, though the headline act of Human League were perhaps not the best choice for a vibrant celebration.
The fireworks were spectacular as you would expect. Click on FIREWORKS to see the display.
The elephant house coffee shop has a back room that overlooks Greyfriars Cemetery and the castle.
It was here of course that Joanne Rowling wrote the plot and early works of her acclaimed Harry Potter series. She had moved to Edinburgh from Porto where she had lived with her partner and worked as an English teacher.
She returned to the UK as a single mum with the idea of the young wizard and his evil nemesis Voldemort already formed in her mind. So Potter was conceived in Portugal and born in Scotland.
I hoped that some of her literary genius may rub off on me but it was far too crowded with Potterettes to stop and linger in the cafe, so we took sustenance in the next door Valerie Patisserie where I could still feel the presence of greatness!
Reveal – I absolutely love the Potter books!
The city beginning with the letter E that I would most like to visit that I haven’t yet? Essaouira in Morocco.
How about you?
Look out for F tomorrow.