Another weekend filled with sights, sounds and sensations. Pipes and fiddles, clogs and choirs, Edwardian style magicians with mutton chops to outdo Bradley Wiggins, a flutter of silk kimono and fans, a madame de pompadour living statue taking a break and enjoying a glass of wine with a man with a seagull on his head. Only at the Edinburgh Festival.
I took the early train north, settled in to enjoy my book and the scenery and arrived in plenty of time for a fast and friendly parkrun. It was a glorious morning on the prom, bright, sunny and barely a breath of wind. I set off with a couple of running pals but soon dropped back to a more measured pace.
When we turned, the bright morning sun hit my face and the heat rose, turning the air hot and dry and set me longing for the shade of the trees at the end of the run. Still I pushed on and reeled in as best I could and when I could finally see the finish line I put the hammer down and sprinted for it. Bright red and breathless, my exertions got me noticed.
After coffee and scones at the nearby cafe, I walked into the main part of the city to drink in the madness that is the festival.
The Royal Mile was a mad, glorious confusion of noise and bustle, singing, dancing, music and acrobatics as performers gave tasters of their shows and passed on flyers in a bid to attract the public. I spent a good hour people and performer watching, just soaking up the sunshine, smiling and enjoying the entertainment.
The fresh-faced students seemed so bold, so confident, so full of life. There was a group from Redditch in the Midlands dressed in the kind of clothes I associate with the cotton mills of Lancashire. Their boisterous singing and enthusiasm as an ensemble on stage caught my ears and I stayed to see their show taster which was about the needle-making industry.
They sang like they meant every word, stamped their feet and drew in the crowds, then stepped off the stage and challenged us face to face and just inches away to listen to their tale of hard work, long hours and short life expectancy.
Too much to see and wish to do and not enough time to fit it all in. But I tasted a little of everything and enjoyed wandering without plan and picking up bits and pieces of performances as I wandered by until hunger drove me in search of lunch and a well-earned sit down.
One day, I would love to spend a week at the festival, enjoying a great mix of comedy, theatre and music and more.
The only event I did have tickets for was a talk by Simon Callow about his book on Dickens and the theatre as part of the Book Festival. By the time I got to Charlotte Square, I was glad to escape some of the hustle and bustle and to slow down the pace among the reading crowds, browse the bookshop and fall into conversation with another lady waiting to see the same show.
Callow is a huge Dickens fan and so passionate, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his subject that I think the interviewer only had to ask him one question and he talked for 15 minutes. I learned a lot about this writer that I didn’t know, particularly about his love for the theatre, his career as an actor/director and bad playwright. He had a wonderful way of referring to himself as ‘the bottled lightning’.
And then it was time to go. To saunter back through the city, soaking up the last snatches of festival fun. As the train passed through the outskirts of my home town, I managed to get a mobile signal and watch as Mo Farah brought home his second gold medal.
I’d forgotten to take my headphones, so had the volume turned right down, but around me in the train carriage, people sensed I was watching something special and by the end, three of us were crowded round the little screen with me yelling ‘Go on Mo!’ and punching the air as he crossed the line.