Edinburgh Fringe Festival!


On Thursday this week, I went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the very first time. Despite having lived in Kirkcaldy (which is only a couple of train stops away from Edinburgh) for the guts of four years, I’d never made it to the festival… Until now!

I was part of a team of people from Northumberland scouting some of the shows to possibly bring to our area (if not them, then shows like them), and so we all hopped on a mini bus at silly-o-clock in the morning and headed to Scotland for the day.

We saw four shows in total – all completely different from what we’d expected and totally different from each other, and each of them was wonderful in their own way.

The first show was Anatomy of the Piano (for beginners) by Will Pickvance at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. This show was aimed at a younger audience, but there was plenty to entertain folks of all ages. The music was fabulous, and the story behind his love of the piano, accompanied by quirky animation that was perfectly timed, was absolutely adorable. This is a children’s version of a show he’s done for adult audiences, but it was well worth seeing.

After that, we went for lunch at Circus Bistro, which was just around the corner from the Scottish Storytelling Centre. It was crammed full of people who were in Edinburgh for the festival, but the atmosphere and the food were great. and then we were off again.

Next we saw Pss Pss by Baccala Compagnia at Assembly Roxy. When I saw the write up mention mime, by heart sank, because I don’t like mime and never have (I subscribe to Lord Vetinari’s idea of hanging mimes upside down in a dungeon opposite a sign that reads “Learn the words!”), but this couldn’t have been more different from my preconceptions if it had tried for a hundred years. There is no accurate way to describe this act – it’s like traditional clowning-come-acrobatic act with a storytelling element that is utterly delightful – we understood every single word they didn’t say (the only sound they uttered was a whispered “pss pss”). There was so much going on between the two characters on stage, and within the audience participation sections, that to write it all out here would take forever – what they conveyed with the slightest movement or facial expression was immense. They thoroughly deserved the standing ovation they received at the end.

After the highs of Pss Pss, I feared that the next act would be a little depressing, based on the two-sentence summary I’d read. I have never been happier to be proven wrong!

One Hundred Homes by Yinka Kuitenbrouwer was presented in a large wooden hut at Summerhall, with the seating crammed together, There were blankets on some of the chairs, in case it got chilly, and we were all given cups of hot tea and homemade biscuits shaped like little houses (they were delicious, by the way!). Yinka visited over one hundred people, and talked to them about the idea of home. The resulting show, where she relates their stories and links the together in the most unusual manner, was most uplifting, filled with warmth and hope and the friendship she had developed with the people she interviewed. We were very pleased to be there when it was announced that she was the winner of an award – I think we all got a little emotional along with her, as it was very well deserved!

After being left almost completely speechless by Yinka, we headed to a giant  up-turned purple cow at George Square, where we watched Closer by Circa. This was another acrobatic show with elements of dance involved – it was a very lyrical performance showcasing strength and agility, with moves that had the audiences collectively holding their breath as they performed high above us. It was quite indescribable!

Everywhere we went throughout the day, the air was crackling with excitement – the atmosphere was electric! I don’t think any of us wanted to come home at the end of it, despite being completely exhausted. The entire experience was out of this world and I know that although this was my first time at the festival, it most certainly won’t be my last! I look forward to returning for future festivals, and also to taking Tadpole and Choochie along when they’re a little older, because this is something that everyone should experience, at least once, and it will never be forgotten!

A busy summer…


Crikey, it’s been just over three weeks since I last posted on this blog – simply because we’ve been so busy! It’s the school holidays, you see, and with both the kids at home, and Hubby having a fortnight off work, we’ve been all over the place on day trips and excursions to local events and attractions, which have included:

  • A music festival
  • A theatre trip (I went to see Chicago with my sister and niece)
  • A family fun day (with bouncy castles and entertainment stuff)
  • Rock-pooling on a tidal island with a light house
  • Going to the circus
  • Blackberry picking with the kids
  • A trip to Beamish (huge open-air, fully interactive museum)
  • A trip to the Hancock Museum
  • Watching a football match

This coming weekend we have a four day festival to celebrate the Tall Ships coming to our town. It’s all rather exciting!

Hubby has been working hard on DIY projects – he’s laid our drive (all lock-blocked beautifully), and has started work on a built-in cupboard and bookcase in our living room, as he’s about to start redecorating in there (it will be followed by the kitchen, all three bedrooms, and finally the bathroom, which will be completely ripped out, a new suite put in, re-tiled, and basically started from scratch!). He’s also decorated my Mum’s spare bedroom and kitchen – what a handy man!

Tadpole has lost not one, but two teeth during the holidays, and we have tackled potty training with Choochie – he’s now something of a pro (thankfully!), and we have no problem going out and about all day with him – he’s very good at “holding it in” till we can find a toilet!

I, on the other hand, have been busy in rehearsals for Sister Act, and have also begun auditioning for other shows, as well as preparing for singing at Blyth Battery again next month. And tomorrow, I’ll be heading off to Edinburgh for the day, to take in a few shows at the Fringe Festival – I can hardly wait!

So, if I’ve been AWOL for a little while, you’ll understand, as we’ve been spending most of our time outdoors and away from all things computerised!

What we did on our holidays…


Hubby has had two weeks off work, so we’ve used that time to do loads of day trips and family activities. Here are some of the photos of our adventures during the past fortnight, during which time we have:

  • Gone to a teddybears’ picnic, Blyth
  • Gone rockpooling at St. Mary’s Lighthouse, Whitley Bay
  • Gone to the circus, Blyth
  • Visited the Discovery Museum, Newcastle
  • Gone to Kirkley Hall Zoo, Ponteland
  • Gone to Beamish Open Air Museum, Durham
  • Gone to Alnwick Castle and Gardens, Alnwick

I hope the photos will give you an idea of the fun we’ve had!

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When the circus came to town…


I’ve not been to the circus since I was younger than Tadpole (he’s almost 6 years old) and every time I’ve seen an advertisement for a circus local to us, it’s been at a time we were unable to take him to see it. This time, however, the circus came to town while hubby is on holiday from work, and as tickets are cheapest for any seat in the house on the first day, we booked online and went early to get the best seats we could.

We got ringside!

OK, so it wasn’t Cirque du Soleil, but we weren’t expecting that, and what we DID get was a very entertaining show and a great family afternoon out.

Half way through, I asked Tadpole which part was his favourite so far. Here’s what he said:

As you can hear, he loved having his picture taken with the giant polar bear (obviously not a real bear, but someone dressed up as one, but it was a pretty good costume), and the rope act. You can see the rope act right here:

Even little Choochie couldn’t keep his eyes off the acts – the was absolutely glued to the action and awake for the entire two-hour show, clapping his little hands with everyone else at the end of each section.

I’m no fan of clowns, but their Ukrainian clown, Georgie, absolutely stole the show with his inter-act fillers, getting the audience involved, and even dragging some slightly unwilling “volunteers” up to take part in the performance.

We’ll definitely go again if and when they return – it was a wonderful family afternoon out.