Jun 14, 2007

Edinburgh Festival Preview

Ah... the Edinburgh Festival. There is no experience like it - apart from possibly having your loud, fat nephew come to stay for the whole of August, draw all over your antique wallpaper, take a crap in the sink and leave again with the chilling words 'same time next year'.

My initial plan was to pore my way through the programme (drink in hand, of course) and offer you a carefully crafted guide to my picks for this year. But having gawped defeatedly at its positively biblical proportions I've decided I'm not really up to the job - and besides Ben Yeoh has already done some sterling work highlighting a variety of interesting bits and bobs.

Instead I am going to create the definitive guide to other things you could be doing in edinburgh rather than spending £15 to watch Les Dennis performing in a sweaty corner of some fringe venue/fire trap. So without further ado I present to you:

My Top 10 Edinburgh Un-Festival Tips 2007 (in no particular order)

1. Buy some Liqueurs
Halfway up Victoria street, a politely beautiful, winding, cobbled alleway shameless plaigerised by JK Rowling, there is a liqueur store called Demi-Johns. There is undoubtedly something magical about its vast glass couldrons of Port, Brandy and Whisky. Get yourself a flaggon of port, buy some nice crumbly blue cheese from the shop next door, sit in the park and party like its 1899.

2. Have a lovely meal
I would recommend either Maison Blue on the aforementioned Victoria Street or the Reform on the Royal Mile. Both less flashy and expensive than some and always with tantalising and pretentious menus. Plus I once ate ostrich and Kangaroo at the Reform. Tasty.

3. Go to the beach
North Berwick is but £7 and 40 minutes away from Edinburgh Waverly. You can swim, you can fly kites, build sandcastles, shop for second hand John Grisham novels, eat fish and chips and relieve yourself in the award winning public toilets.

4. Go to the Pub
Cloisters in Tollcross is musty, wooden floored pub with a wonderful wine/real ale list. The Barony Bar on Brougham Street in New Town has the city's (nay the world') best pub band, Bedford Falls, who pound out Crowded House to a packed bar every sunday like it'll be their last. Check out the man mountain on lead guitar - a local legend, rumour has it he is in fact Eric Clapton in a fat suit.

5. Stay in and watch a film
Might I recomend 'Beautiful Girls' - a carefully crafted, gently sad little film with a wonderful performance from Natalie Portman as Meryl Streep trapped in the body of a 12 year old Jewish girl. Either that or go for the zietgeist-defining teen triple bill of The Breakfast Club followed by Clueless and then Mean Girls.

6. Take a walk by the river
It took me two years to discover Edinburgh had a river but if you can actually find the path down to it, its about the most beautiful walk in the whole of the city. Mainly because you feel like you are no longer actually in the city. This I find is the key to any city's most desirable spots.

7. Go to the Zoo
Edinburgh Zoo has the only Koalas in the whole of the United Kingdom and a large colony of relentlessly entertaining penguins. Last time we were there we bought matching badges and met a strange man who told us all about the chimpanzees. These are just some of the treats you can look forward to.

8. Listen to some good music
Marvel at the absurd disco-pop of Of Montreal's new album Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer, like swallowing sequens and cough syrup. Or if you want something a little more sedate try Boxer by the National - a rich melodic album that sounds like U2 would if they weren't such pricks.

9. Find a Scottish Person
It's harder than you'd think. (N.B. Going to Glasgow is cheating)

10. Go on Holiday
I hear London's lovely this time of year.

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