Wednesday, 15 August 2007


Wow! What a weekend! Fantastic friends, superb scenery, cracking comedy and marvelous music (is that superlative enough for you?)

Really - I had a brilliant time up in Glasgow/Edinburgh. Huge amounts of alcohol on the Friday, Edinburgh Fringe on the Saturday and touring the Lochs near Glasgow on the Sunday. Picked up loads of cooking ideas as well (definitely going to try making Sarah's spanish omlette and Ben's american pancakes in the very near future!)

The Fringe was great fun - the damp weather certainly didn't stop the crowds (fortunately, we only really encountered them at the top end of the Royal Mile and on first bit of the walk from the bus.) However, two out of the three shows we saw seemed to have our group of five as the major part of the paying audience!

Ionesco - Jack or the Submission
This was billed as an absurdist play, and absurd was a very good word for it. I had no real idea of what was going on throughout. There were some nice touches - all of the parental parts were amalgamated into one person per pair (Mother/Father; Grandmother/Grandfather; Inlaws) This worked really well with the Mother/Father pair (in fact, I thought that it had been scripted that way), but the other two parings didn't come off so well, partially because the costumes weren't so good (the M/F had very obvious half and half costumes, but GM/GF had something tucked inside a jacket that I didn't even see for the first half of the show, and MIL/FIL apparantly had a blouse half of a shirt and a male half of a shirt, which I didn't spot at all!). There was nice use of non-scenery - the only bit of scenery was the door, which meant that there could be lots of pratting about, particularly with M/F.
However, I don't think I will go to see another absurdist play unless I have read the script and the information around it first!

Aeneas Faversham Returns
This was a completely random performance - we were having lunch/tea in a French restaurant, and John was looking through the festival guide - he spotted that this was going on at a venue that was between us and Mikelangelo, and was at about the right time. Trying to make amends for the Ionesco, he suggested that we have a look and see if there were any tickets left. We managed to get the last five (and that appeared only to be because there was a return...), which was a good sign. An even better one was that we managed to get pretty much to the head of the queue, meaning that we had second row seats. And it was well worth it - a first class show. We were laughing from beginning to end, and I think I can honestly say that these guys are the funniest group I have ever seen. Even with the bounds that they had set themselves (Victorian themed - the whole group in starched collars and cravats), the range of sketches that they were able to perform was brilliant. There was even an heart-string tugging one (the man telling his imaginary friend that he is leaving...), and a totally unexpected nudity one.... (very brave of the actor!)

The Honeymoon Suite
This was the show that we had come up to Edinburgh to see. Mikelangelo (of the Black Sea Gentlemen fame) performing a cabaret style duet with his wife, Undine Francesca. This was a very 'intimate' gathering - two on stage and eleven in the audience... (and we were five of them!) However, I was complely blown away by Mikelangelo's voice and musicianship. The CD recording does not do his timbre justice (and I have been listening to the BSG CDs on MP3 on a fairly constant basis since getting back!) - you can feel his voice as well as hearing it. Plus, he whistles... For most musicians (and I count myself in this band), the practice of whistling is incredibly difficult - most people can hold a tune for approximately five notes before descending into something that might vary in pitch by a semitone. But this was crystal clear and note perfect, and I can understand Mikelangelo's title of "The Nightingale of the Adriatic." Undine's playing of the organ can be termed as 'interesting' - a little painful on the ears at times, but at others, a good accompaniment to the song being performed. The hour went by far too quickly - I'm sure there was room for one more song!
Plus we got to meet them both afterwards, and chat (getting reassurances that the BSG hasn't disbanded... Looking forward to their next album, which should be out next year.). We did manage to skew their sales statistics as well - usually their ratio for selling items is 1:10 (1 item for 10 members of the audience). Well, we bought three sets of their single and three sets of the "Floating Islands" (a really interesting project, where Undine's father drew the pictures, Undine then picked out 100 of them and wrote a story round them, and Mikelangelo created the music. It was completed just before Undine's father died), meaning that their ration for that performance was 6:11!

The shows over, we went to find chips (the French meal had been at 4.30, so by 10, we were all getting a trifle peckish...), and John impressed the seller by asking for Haggis with his...

Sunday it was still raining, but less persistently than on Saturday, so, after a very leisurely start, Ben drove us out to Loch Lomond and round Loch Fyne (photos when I get round to unloading them off the camera...) The scenery of Scotland is breathtaking, particularly for someone who isn't used to mountains, or even really hilly areas!

On Monday, Sarah suggested that we had lunch in a vegetarian cafe called Grassroots. Absolutely delicious food (butternut squash and carrot burger - fantastic combination!) Then, home, with only a 20 minute delay on Easyjet...

All in all - a brilliant weekend, and a much needed rest - I hadn't realised before leaving work on Thursday just how stressed I was getting - a long weekend away from work pressures and the need to think constantly about the wedding was just what my brain needed. And I only came back to 70 emails...

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