My 2019 Festival Diary Vol 1

Edinburgh styles itself ‘the festival city’. We have all kinds of festivals, about all kinds of subjects, all year round. But it is in the summer where the party really gets started.  Over the course of a few weeks, we have the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh Art Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  It is an incredible period of vibrant creativity, excellence and fun.

My Mum and I kicked things off this year with art-immersion over a couple of days.  We saw the City Art Centre’s stunning exhibition of Victoria Crowe’s work.  I wrote about my love of this artist here and here. It was wonderful to see some familiar paintings again, and plenty of new-to-me ones too.  Here is a screen-shot montage of some of the photos I took as we went around.  I love this collage display of colour and texture, which is the epitome of Crowe’s style:

 

Talking of collage, we also went to see Cut and Paste at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art. Among my favourite works were this pair of c1830 pictures by George Smart, depicting a goose woman and a postman.

 

And we managed to fit in a whizz round the National Gallery of Scotland’s Bridget Riley exhibition.  It is always fascinating to see her ground-breaking geometric work, but I particularly enjoyed the room of sketches and preparatory pieces which, in true maths good practice tradition, showed her workings:

 

Next came a few comedy shows with Hub and our nephew, Mitchel.  Perhaps the most compelling was the stand-up routine by New Zealander Liam Malone, who is a gold medal winning paralympian.  Mitch has his own paralympic ambitions, so Liam’s show was hugely motivating and inspiring for him (as well as being very funny).  He was also very kind and generous with his time, talking to Mitch before the show, giving him a shout-out during the routine, and posing for a photo afterwards.  Thank you Liam!

Mitch (L) and Liam (R)

 

Finally, I kicked off my book festival programme with a couple of memorable events.  Tim Winton spoke about his new book, The Shepherd’s Hut. I could have listened to him for ever.  He reflected powerfully on the importance of landscape in his work; the creative process (or lack of process in his case); and how he sees optimism and hope as disciplines and obligations which have the capacity to break and re-make things.

“Surfing and writing both involve a lot of waiting. A surfer is waiting for a swell, the residue of an event that happened in the past. When you get one, you ride their energy to the shore. That’s what I do as a writer. Stories and ideas are just ripples from old events.” ~Tim Winton

 

After a couple of hours relaxing in the festival’s garden, seated under this lovely old tree…..

…I saw Damian Barr and Kit de Whaal talk about the recently published Common People: an anthology of working class writers. I am a huge fan of both authors and this was a wonderfully entertaining session, with an important point about the need for us all to make space for perspectives and experiences which are different from our own.

Of course, a festival would not be a proper festival without the addition of a bit of weather.  This is Hub and Mitch in the queue waiting to see Irish comedian Jason Byrne:

Never let it be said that we allow a bit of rain to dampen our festival enjoyment! 🙂

The gulls are back….

Early April, but you wouldn’t know it from the temperatures and weather we are having here in Edinburgh. It’s more like early January on both counts.

Nature is unpredictable. She keeps us on our toes. This is our view on a sunny day:

This is how it looked this morning (it’s snowing now as I type!).

 

I am in no way complaining. I find these changes endlessly fascinating.

And I am also captivated by those events which remain regular and routine. Nature is the ultimate paradox – plus ça change plus c’est la même chose.

Take ‘our’ gulls, for example. Every year, these greater black-backed gulls* return to the roofs of the houses opposite us.

Our regular neighbours (with apologies for the terrible photo)

 

With spring comes, of course, mating. They seem to enjoy many weeks becoming reacquainted before getting on with the business of creating life. This involves spending a lot of time together on the right-hand roof, before they build a nest which, appropriately enough, nestles among the chimney pots of the roof on the left.

Right roof = courting; left roof = nesting!!

It has become such a pleasure, over the five years we have lived here, to get to know their routine. Waking up to their soft cawing and cackling as an added dimension to the dawn chorus. Watching their courtship, home-making and in due course incubating. And most excitingly of all, watching the chick-rearing. That comes later. But it will come – of that we can be certain.

 

*of course, we have no way of knowing whether they are the same gulls. But I like to think they are… 🙂