Edfringe – tips from a local.

4 Aug

The worlds biggest arts festival is in Edinburgh every August. I live in Edinburgh. It just so happens that I also like live comedy so it would be a shame not to take advantage of this.

Please share in our experience of the Fringe…

Booking tickets

Probably too late for this year but, if you have a particular comedian or show that you want to see, most have cheap preview tickets and 2-4-1’s for a couple of nights.  These are especially good for more experienced, tried and tested comedians who have already been touring their show elsewhere.  We always get a bunch of cheap tickets for the “must see’s” for a fraction of the cost.

Dealing with flyerers

Those bearing flyers are, more often than not, a complete pain in the arse.  They come in various different flavours, 1.) those promoting their own show, 2.) Those promoting their friends’ or family’s show 3.) those employed by a 3rd party to promote someone’s show.

The general rules are thus: don’t let them interfere in what you’re doing. If you’re on your way somewhere, don’t let them stop you. You may have to be rude. Don’t worry, by the second week of the fringe, they will be quite used to this.  If you’re not really doing anything, i,e, sitting in the Pleasance courtyard having a drink, accept their flyers but have a wee look to see what flyer is for before entering a adiscussion. A handy tip is to mention what you already plan to see.  Those in the know deserve some chat, but if you mention that you’re seeing David O’Doherty (like we did last night) and they stare at you blankly, they don’t deserve to be promoting someone’s show.  John Bishop recalls the time when a promoter actually tried to give him a flyer for his own show.  He played along, “is he any good?” “Apparently he’s alright”.


Comedy at the Fringe is pretty much dominated by a collection of main venues, namely The Pleasance, Bristo square, George square, the Stand and the labyrinth of stairs joining Cowgate and Victoria street.  The Pleasance will have some big names but in reasonably sized rooms which really helps the atmosphere. It also has the famous Pleasance Courtyard where you can sit with an overpriced pint of Fosters and spot comedians pretending they want to blend in.  “Assembly” used to be based, aptly enough, at the Assembly rooms on George street. With this being in the midst of renovations, they’re relying on their other venues across the city. They’ve taken over where the Spiegeltent used to be at George square – a funfair-like garden with 3 different rooms with a central garden area of plastic grass, picnic tables and deckchairs. It was dead comfy when we were there on Wednesday but then, that was the first day of the fringe. I expect it to get unpleasantly full in no time at all.

The Stand must get a mention. It is a quality comedy venue all year round cited by top comedians (see Stewart Lee‘s “How I escaped my Certain Fate”) as being one of the best in the UK.  Being north of Princes street, they get a little bit left out of the buzz that’s around Bristo square and the Pleasance but the quality of their acts always ensure that there’s something there for you to see. It’s a small room though so if the act you want to see is playing there, get your tickets WELL in advance and turn up good and early to ensure you get a seat.

You just have to walk down any street in Edinburgh in August to come across a venue. Most pubs, cafe’s, churches, galleries etc all have the “Fringe Venue 235” sign up outside. If you have plenty time, pop in and see what it’s all about.

The Buzz

There is always someone there to tell you who you should see at the fringe. Keep an eye on reviews. Kate Copstick is a well respected comedy reviewer who writes for the Scotsman. A bad review from her is often bad news for a show’s sales.

Twitter is a great place to get the festival from the performer’s view. Most of them are on there. Look at the #Edfringe hashtag and see what everyone else is saying about the fringe too.

Most folk have friends who know (of claim to know) comedy. Listen to those people. You can normally tell if you’d fancy the show or not by their description.  If you haven’t heard of them, try searching for them on Youtube. There might be a clip of them.

A week or so into the festival, chat (or secretly listen) to strangers in Pleasance courtyard or at the Teviot bar next to Bristo Square. First hand reviews.

Basically, if you like the look of something, try it out. That’s what they’re there for.

The Costs

There’s no escaping it, it’s not cheap. £3.50 at most venues for a pint of lager. Tickets for anyone who’s had any kind of tv or radio exposure will normally be upwards of a tenner. If you haven’t managed to take advantage of the preview or 2-4-1’s, there’s the PBH’s Free Fringe running across the city.  It pretty much does what it says on the tin. Free gigs. And normally in pubs which means not so inflated costs for your drink. Bonus! Makes it easier to take a chance on an act if you don’t have to pay to get in.

There are plus and minus points to living in Edinburgh during August.  One of the advantages is knowing that, while you can’t get to work on time because the tourists have made the bus run half an hour late, you’re not paying hundreds of pounds to sleep on someone’s sofa. If you don’t have somewhere to stay, I can’t help you with this, so don’t ask.



4 Jun

So, after a few nights at the sewing machine and taking over the entire living room with stray threads etc, I have finished the rouge Moulins that we shall be fixing to our bras for the big walk. they have the added feature of red fairy lights embedded in them so should make an impact on the streets of Edinburgh in the middle of the night!
One week to go. Becca and I will be doing a final 5 miles training walk tomorrow (pah! Nothing!) and will be finalising our outfits then. She’s working on some ingenious sleeves that’ll help keep us warm whilst showing off our windmills. Outfit so far can be seen here . I think we’re planning on doing big quiff and bright red lips on the actual night. Obviously, more photos to come!

A bit of publicity

27 May

Yesterday, I got a call on my mobile from the Edinburgh Evening News for a quick interview regarding the Moonwalk. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I volunteered to have my name put forward by the press office. I don’t think I’m special or anything but I do think that hearing about my history, and the fact that I’m quickly becoming a Moonwalk veteran, will help people understand the cause and support it all the more.

I got a bit hyper while on the phone and was a afraid how I would come across in the article (I have a habit of talking a hundred miles an hour, especially when I have a lot to say on a certain subject.) As it turns out, I come across ok. There are a few wee mistakes (I’m not a care assistant, my mum’s name was Tineke and Fi is not 29 – although I think she’s keen to let that one stand).

You can read the article here

I’m also celebrating today as we’re half way to our online target! Thank you to all the people who have donated already and thanks also to all the people who, rather than give me a slap when I’ve rudely shoved a sponsorship form in their face, have given me a tenner instead. I love you all.

If you haven’t sponsored us yet, please go to http://www.walkthewalkfundraising.org/nipplesofsteel3 and give what you can.  Not only does it support a fantastic cause but it also gives us the boost that we need to get through the training and the night.

the second biggest walk we’ll do

21 May

Yesterday we had had all the Nipples of Steel (4 people, 8 nipples) together for the second time. This was for our 20 mile walk. From this point on we taper the training and do less for the next couple of weeks until the big night. The team agreed that we needed an incentive at the end of the walk to keep us going so we decided to walk to North Berwick for chips. Ali, Fi and Becca all took half days from work and I had a full day off. We arranged to meet at Joppa at 2.30 but, as is becoming a regular theme with our team this year, we started slightly later than planned. The forecast was for strong winds and heavy rain showers. I was beginning to think that we’d made a mistake planning to do a mostly coastal route but we were very lucky. OK, so the wind was still pretty fierce, but the rain held off for the full 5 and half hours that we walked plus it stayed dry long enough for us to enjoy our chips! Fortunately, there were very few injuries. Blisters etc were kept at bay and the only things we had to complain about were aching feet and legs. when we reached the 20 mile point were we all agreed that, although we could probably manage another 6.2 miles, we were quite glad at being allowed to leave it there and have our fish supper instead.

Sponsor the Nipples of Steel and help raise money for breast cancer charities by going to http://www.walkthewalkfundraising.org/nipplesofsteel3

the all important outfit

16 May

I’m guessing you all know that part of the novelty of the Moonwalk is that you do the walk in your bra. Come 11th June, Edinburgh will be awash with boobies. Every year there’s a theme, although I confess I didn’t really pay attention to the theme in previous years, rather customise my bra to suit our team name. (Nipples of steel *is* a good team name, if I do say so myself). I’ve never failed to be impressed by the quality of some of the outfits. A memorable one from last year was a duo dressed as Mario and Luigi. this year, the theme is Moulin rouge. Obviously this means dressing all burlesque with net, velvet and nipple tassles! Perhaps we could just wear our outfits from Becca’s hen do?! Maybe not. As our physio (also Becca) has pointed out, corsets don’t help the respiratory system on a 26 mile walk! Instead, we’re going to be rocking the windmill look. If you come out to support us you’ll see quatre moulin rouges coming towards you at speed. Still to be decided are face/body paint etc. All ideas welcome!

not exactly a regular blog…

16 May

I’ve kept you all hanging for quite long enough for the next instalment of the Nipples of Steel blog. The main changes since the last blog are that Niamh was unable to sign up to do the Moonwalk with us this year (sorry, Niamh fans!). She’ll be busy counting puffins, as you do. Also, Ali Williams (another moonwalk virgin) has joined us in the team so we’re still a solid 4. The rest of us (Becca, Fi, Ali & I) have been trying to get together for a few training walks. I said in the last episode that we were going to try and get started nice and early. We didn’t really. We’ve been trying to make up for lost time though with 2 walks a week for the last 6 weeks or so. Not everyone’s been able to make every walk, but I reckon we’re on track… The team (minus Ali who’s at a wedding) managed a 16 mile training walk today. (have a look at it here http://soc.li/I27eqyF) It wasn’t the easiest of walks but we did it. The weather was surprisingly good but meant that, due to my being very irresponsible, I got burnt and am now rather embarrassed! We’ve all the time off work next Friday to fit in a 20 mile walk – the last big one before the big night. I’ll definitely be slathering on the suncream for that one. There’s nothing quite like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted!

a woman in January.

7 Jan

It’s January.
As much as I convinced myself that I wasn’t bothering about “image” or size or anything over the Christmas period, there’s that annoying knowledge in The Cold Light of the New Year that, had I eaten less and exercised more of the festives I wouldn’t look like I do now.

Has this been put in my head by all the adverts and magazines? Is this what I expect to feel like therefore it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy? I would perhaps say that these things don’t help but, the point of the matter is, I don’t ever have snacking foods in the house until December. All my lovely friends get us delicious homemade truffles for xmas. Even the ones who made us chutney, pickles etc are contributing towards our calorie intake: there is no chutney without cheese.

So now I have the question of what to do with this extra weight. I have limited options:

1.) accept that I look like this and “build” on the look (i.e. get bigger)
2.) stop eating (or cut back)
3.) exercise

I’m going to attempt to do a combination of 2 & 3 but 2 is difficult anyway when you’re used to grazing and you have to stop. It’s also difficult when you are “good” all day and then your chef husband cooks you a delicious but calorific dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been a calorie counter and never will be, but even I know cream sauces are baaaad.

As for solution 3: you may know already that I’ve committed myself to a 30 minute a week regime of swimming, (not a lot but sustainable for an exercise-a-phobe). The problem with this is that, for some horrible reason, I only own bikinis. Awesome bikinis (polka dotted alter neck and a Spongebob one) except for the fact that my big belly is completely on show. Motivation is often lacking with me so having to bare all to strangers gives me get out. (not logical but enough in my mind).

I’m determined not to let this be a continuous thing. I will start walking soon. Obviously I walk but I mean for training. You will hear more of this soon.
Until then, wish me thin/healthy/athletic/realistic.

things I have learned over Christmas : a list

27 Dec
  1. Champagne makes for a good breakfast
  2. Golfing superstar, Ian Poulter, is my cousin once removed
  3. St. Felician is probably my favourite cheese
  4. 11 is not too many to have for Christmas
  5. Everyone does Christmas differently
  6. The East Neuk of Fife is beautiful in December
  7. Fraser’s dad doesn’t like cricket
  8. Soft drugs help a family to bond.
  9. Christmas makes a mess of a house
  10. The overflow pipe of our toilet doesn’t go anywhere
  11. Homemade Christmas pudding is actually quite tasty
  12. There is never enough sherry or port.
  13. A bath warms you up quicker than sitting inside with your coat on.
  14. When I have kids, I don’t want them to move away to another continent : it’s obviously very upsetting
  15. can get away with wearing a maxi dress
  16. I get grumpy when I’m over heated
  17. We’re never going to get round to eating last year’s cranberry sauce
  18. My husband is getting more tasteful in decorating the tree every year.  There is hope in sight


Happy Christmas everyone.

The first moonwalk blog of 2011 (early)

8 Dec

I’ve signed up for yet another moonwalk. This’ll be my third! We’ve also got Becca Freeden joined up to do it a second time, a promise from Niamh that she’ll join us to do it for the second time, and Fi will be our resident Moonwalk virgin. If you’re reading this and thinking you could fancy giving it a shot, join up and join in. There’s more than enough room for newbies on the team…

I’m already quite excited about it even if it is a long way off. The other day I received a call from Walk the Walk HQ asking me to help them complete a case study that they can punt to the press to get publicity. They contacted me last year to see if I could be featured in the Scotland on Sunday alongside some other walkers. I wasn’t able to help last time, but hopefully I might be able to be of use this time round.

Not sure when training will start up. We were a wee bit late in starting last year so we might be more on top of it this time round. We’ll have to wait for the snow to thaw first! I know we can count on everyone’s support and donations for another year. It means a lot to us. Thanks.

donate and keep up to date at http://www.walkthewalkfundraising.org/nipplesofsteel3


16 Nov

Last night, I was listening to a podcast (I think it was the Guardian’s “The Family Podcast”)  whilst in bed at work (on a sleepover shift).  I thought I smelled something burning so I switched off the podcast so I could identify the smell.  I switched off the podcast so I could identify the smell. It was only after I did this that I’d realised what I’d done.  I’d switched off all my other senses, (It was dark too) so I could concentrate on what my nose was doing. It made me acutely aware of  how closely linked our senses are and, equally, how much they can be concentrated when necessary. Anyway, I found it interesting and maybe you do too.

Also, today I was walking up to the grassmarket from work on Leith walk and would, again, be listening to a podcast but I’d run out. (If only Desert island disks was a twice a week affair) so I decided to listen to some music *gasp*

In a moment of guilty pleasure I decided on “Folie a deux” by Fall out Boy.  This is one of the funnest albums I’ve bought in the last 5 years.  It’s silly and epic at the same time.  There were moments when I felt that everyone I walked past were listening to it at the same time > some fun moments of synchronicity.  If you have a spare 5 minutes, listen to it.  Preferably on headphones.