Now well and truly into the academic year, Rose Butler reflects on her summer holiday travelling with her To Be Frank performance crew to Edinburgh. It was a time for adventuring and experiencing new things, days that we only wish we could have back right now rather than being neck-deep in assignments. Here’s to reminiscing about the days without uni.
This summer, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to Edinburgh for ten days, not only as a tourist, but as a performer in a show – To Be Frank, the performance poetry night I’m involved with. We decided to take a show to Edinburgh for the first time ever. Seeing the famous Fringe Festival from both sides was a unique experience that I won’t hesitate to repeat.
The first thing worth stating is of course that going to Edinburgh, whether as a tourist or a performer, was no easy task. For the casual tourist, it’s simply a matter of an hour’s flight. However, as we were mostly strapped-for-cash students and also carrying a lot of equipment, we opted for the coach. And so, at 4.30am on Sunday the 5 August 2018, my companions and I boarded a coach bound for bonny Scotland (via London, of course); fourteen hours later, we arrived in Edinburgh.
Staying in an AirBnB on the outskirts of the Edinburgh, we got the tram into the city every day. And since our first full day in the city was also the first day of our show, we were straight to work! After a few hours of desperate flyering, and after a pitstop for lunch (BRGR – the best value burgers in Edinburgh!) we were ready for another break.
It was then that we discovered a place that would be a staple rendez-vous and base of operations for the rest of the trip: Black Medicine Coffee Co. Describing themselves as “more Partisan than Artisan,” it was the best coffee for a mile; it was only natural that it quickly became our most regular haunt. Seriously, if you’re ever in Edinburgh, go there. Bring me back a scone.
Obviously, the main point of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the shows. Performers bring the best of the best – and sometimes the weirdest of the weird; you get a little bit of everything. When I checked the website to try and plan what I wanted to do, there were over 300 pages of events. There’s certainly something for every taste.
Since it was my first time in Edinburgh, and actually my first time in Scotland, I decided to do a fair amount of sightseeing as well. Now, I still didn’t do as much of this as some of the others in our little group (I’m saving Arthur’s Seat for when I’ve got better footwear) but I’m pretty content with what I did manage to see.
First stop for me, and most important, due to listening to too many folklore and paranormal podcasts, was Greyfriars’ Kirkyard. In use since the mid-late sixteenth century, Greyfriars is meant to be one of the most haunted spots in the city. And I’m sure it is if you go at night. I, however, went at lunchtime. I found wandering around the graveyard to be incredibly peaceful, as well as fascinating. It also gave me a chance to get out my camera. I’m itching to go back to Edinburgh, and this is going to be one of my first stops.
I also paid a visit to the Scottish Poetry Library and spent an hour wandering around the gift shop and the stacks, appreciating the variety on offer. After this, I wandered down towards Holyrood Abbey and on the way was pleased to wander past the Scottish Parliament Building, which I found in the middle of town; I also stopped by the Scottish Storytelling Centre, a marvellous establishment (complete with gift shop, of course) which felt like a tangible demonstration of Scotland’s storytelling tradition. Aside from actual cultural experiences, I spent a lot of time exploring the cobbled streets and coffee shops of Edinburgh; not doing anything particularly remarkable, but soaking in the atmosphere of the city. Honourable mentions go to Procaffeination and the entire area of Grassmarkets.
After only those ten days in the city I’m already itching to go back – Edinburgh offers the perfect mix of city break and escape to the country, it’s comparably affordable and there’s an endless amount of things to do, even when the weather turns undoubtedly Scottish and soaks you through (which happened to us – Primark raincoats are a lifesaver).
Words by Rose Butler
Featured Image by Robert. V. Ruggiero
If you’d like to hear more about Rose’s performance group, To Be Frank, check out their instagram account: @tobefrankpoetry