Ed Fringe: Getting There
It’s hard to believe we’re already one week into our Edinburgh Festival Fringe adventure!
We have a lot to catch you up on - let’s start with a recap of how we motored our way up here.
Amy and I arrived in London on a very warm Tuesday afternoon in late July. I don’t think either of us will ever forget our Tube ride from Heathrow to our stop at Bethnal Green - the underground was punishing in the heat, plus we were lugging big heavy suitcases.
Thankfully my brilliant cousin Alex made us feel very welcome in his sweet London Fields digs, and we regained our composure after refreshing showers and a good sleep.
There was something of an irony to the timing of our three days in London, as we’d turned up just as the city was experiencing its hottest July ever. I believe the Thursday we spent there, July 25, it got to 38 degrees and beat previous records.
Amy is not particularly fond of excessively hot weather, but she didn’t complain as I made her hustle about the city to see the sights, such as the Tower of London, Monument, the Borough Markets, the Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Harrods Shakespeare’s Globe and the kitschy Clink Prison Museum.
We ventured to Oxo Tower Wharf on the South Bank to visit two sites used in Love Actually; we also took a trip over to Notting Hill to see not only the famous blue door from Notting Hill, but St Luke’s Mews, another filming location for the movie.
On Friday 26 July we picked up our rental car from King’s Cross St Pancras station and headed out of the city on our little driving holiday to Scotland.
First stop was Battle, the site of the Battle of Hastings, when William the Conqueror defeated King Harold. I was in history nerd heaven, while Amy was soaking in the English landscape like the “Escape to the Country” mega-fan she is.
We pushed on to Brighton for our overnight stop, and despite some rain, had a hilarious evening wandering its famous pier, full of dodgy arcade games, penny-gambling tables and rides.
The next day we made for Stonehenge, the most famous of all of Britain’s Neolithic monuments. I had previously visited the site in 2004, but since then, much has changed. A new visitor centre is set back from the stones by about 3km - it’s a half hour walk or a five-minute bus ride. We took the bus to save time, and enjoyed wandering in a circle around the famous sarsen and blue stone construction.
We spent that night in Bristol, enjoying a hearty Polish meal, and went down to the riverside the next morning to visit Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous ship the SS Great Britain. We didn’t have time to go inside the vessel, but admired it from the outside and took in the very pretty banks of the River Severn. Bristol seems like an up-and-coming hip city; the kind of place you that makes you want to stay longer.
However, we had to push on, and so made our way to Bath for the afternoon. First stop was the famous Roman Baths themselves, where we happened upon a rather odd event. A woman had got into the main bathing pool fully dressed, and was encouraging others to join her. Staff and other visitors were very patiently trying to encourage her out, but she seemed to be having a semi-religious experience; or at least a hippy commune with the water. Frankly I’m not sure why you’d want to - the stuff is not particularly appetising. At once stage I could hear her quoting lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.
Amy and I spent an hour in the museum part of the baths, and when we reached the main bath area, she was still in it. As we made our way around the bath, however, she finally got out. Those present applauded the staff, who very kindly escorted the woman away - I overheard one guard offering her a shower. It was all handled very well, particularly as one American tourist told a staff member that “If this was America, they would have clocked her in the head by now”!
We also took a turn about the Jane Austen Centre, a rather grand name for essentially a small tribute museum in a house on a street the famous author once lived on. The young staff members were very sweet and very patient with Amy and I playing dress-ups to take a picture with their Mr Darcy dummy.
That night was spent in Stratford-upon-Avon, where we spent most of the next day. We didn’t go crazy on seeing Shakespeare sites, but we did take that time to stop for a bit, and really enjoy the most brilliant summer sunshine. It was warm and balmy, but not so hot to have you running for cover. We wandered near the River Avon, and decided to take a 40 minute boat ride. It was honestly the best 7 quid we’d spent up to that point - a chance to really relax as the boat took a measured pace up and back a stretch of the river.
We spent the afternoon driving to Chatsworth, famed stately home and one of the inspirations for Pemberley, Mr Darcy’s home in Pride & Prejudice. Unfortunately the house had just closed for visitors, so we had to be content with a stroll about the grounds outside, kept company by many sheep grazing in between parked cars.
We crossed the Peaks and ended the night in St Helen’s, just outside Manchester. The final leg of our journey to Scotland had begun - but we had time to detour into the Lake District, driving through the pretty town of Windemere and stopping briefly to look at Lake Windemere itself. The towns near the lake were incredibly crowded and traffic was crazy given the small winding roads. People had certainly flocked to the region to enjoy the weather.
We then stopped at Carlisle to do a bit of shopping for show props. We knew we’d be hitting the ground running at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so we thought we’d grab stuff and shove it in the car to minimise panic.
We loudly sang “Flower of Scotland” as we crossed the border at Gretna, and an hour or so later arrived at our accommodation (courtesy of very kind relatives) in Glasgow. On Wednesday 31 July we were up early to drive over to Edinburgh for our bump-in and technical rehearsal at Imagination Workshop, based at The Intercontinental Hotel, George Street, in the New Town. The Imagination Workshop crew welcomed us with open arms, helping us get the lay of the land and settling us into our sweet little room below the hotel’s grand ballroom.
With our Edinburgh accommodation not ready until Thursday 1 August, it was back to Glasgow for the evening, via one of our favourite stops - a giant 24-hour Tesco. Amy and I share a love of foreign supermarkets - it may sound strange, but we love seeing how “same, but different” products are to those in Australian shops. Also, we had to stock up on our respective favourite British snacks - Cheesy Wotsits for me, and Monster Munch for Amy.
Thursday dawned, and we were up and out to Edinburgh by late morning. I dropped Amy at our venue with our luggage and the last of the props, and dropped off our faithful hire car.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet was the soundtrack to our driving adventures. When we drove to Newcastle for the fringe festival there in March, we began listening to the hilarious podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno. We managed to get halfway through series 2 on the drive there and back to Brisbane. So naturally, we picked up where we left off. Between each stop on our journey, you’d find us in the car, laughing our heads off to the “erotic” adventures of international sales director Belinda Blumenthal of Steele’s Pots and Pans.
It sounds unlikely, but I swear it’s true - we got right down to the wire with the end of season 4! We were wrapping up the big cliffhanger just as we were making our final turns into New Town, and our venue.
My Dad Wrote a Porno begins its fifth season next month - but I’m not sure we’ll be able to wait to binge them on our next driving adventure!
We finished our tech on Thursday, but with so much running around for last minute props and to pick up our apartment keys, we barely had time to breathe before we were onstage for our first ever show in Edinburgh! Thankfully we had about 15 in the audience, which was not a bad start. In my next post, I’ll walk you through all the walking we’ve been doing - from doing our own shows, to guest spots in others, to flyering, catching up with friends, and even sometimes seeing shows!
Thanks for reading, and for supporting Amy, me and Act/React as we take Love/Hate Actually to the biggest arts festival in the world.