We arrived in Edinburgh full of the joys of the Highlands and admittedly we weren't sure that we were ready for a big city quite yet. However, the Edinburgh Festival was on and we had precious tickets for The Edinburgh Military Tattoo, so there was a lot to see and do.We soon discovered that the historic centre of Edinburgh is actually quite small and easily walkable. It is divided in two by Princes Street Gardens. To the south is Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and the city’s famous "closes". To the north lie Princes Street and the New Town. A short bus ride from our B&B in Leith dropped us on Princes Street and we were soon right in the hustle and bustle of the festival.
I hadn't planned much before our arrival in Edinburgh. We had those tickets for the tattoo and we also wanted to go to Camera Obscura & World of Illusions on Castlehill to enjoy their rooftop telescopes and see the city close up and far into the distance, but otherwise we wanted to roam and perhaps see a show or two. It was a great plan.
Within minutes the youngest son spotted a poster advertising a production of Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful. Now, we're all big Michael Morpurgo fans in our house, so we were quick to call and find out about tickets. In the end just Mister Handmade in Israel and I went to see the production. The kids decided that a one-man show was not for them and Grandpa was happy to hang out with them in the meantime.
Scamp Theatre’s production of Private Peaceful tells the story of Tommo Peaceful, who at 15 goes to the trenches, and who in the play is awaiting his execution for cowardice by firing squad. It was a exceptional piece of theatre, beautifully performed and very moving. I am very glad that we saw it.
Yes, it rained again whilst we were in Edinburgh, but this time only for a short period as we watched performers on the Royal Mile and, incredibly, just for a few minutes right at the end of the tattoo. After our experiences in the Highlands, I was sure that the show was going to be a wash out - literally - but that wasn't, and apparently has never been, the case. We were able to enjoy the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, the Kapa Haka of the New Zealand Highland Dancers, the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra, the only marching military steel band in the world, and more, without getting wet. With the beautiful Edinburgh Castle in the background, it was an imposing sight. At the conclusion, the sky erupted in fireworks and the crowd roared its approval. It had been a fabulous performance by military groups from around the world. Definitely a highlight of our trip to Edinburgh.
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions were superb. It was a great way to see Edinburgh. We continued to be entertained by the various street performances on the Royal Mile, ranging from the incredible classical guitar of Tom Ward, to the rich harmonies of the Soweto Spiritual Singers. We saw the statue of Greyfriars Bobby and enjoyed The Improv Musical, a performance chosen by the kids which was fun, but nothing like the standard set by Scamp Theatre’s Private Peaceful.
We had one more night in Edinburgh and then it was time to return home, or at least to Grandpa's home in Hull. Our route saw us stop in the rather chilly seaside town of Whitley Bay, where we could barely understand the locals, and then another stop at the truly incredible Angel of the North, a contemporary sculpture designed by Antony Gormley, located in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. The magnificent steel sculpture is 20 metres tall and is believed to be the largest angel sculpture in the world. Beautifully designed and most significant for its sheer scale, I was very happy to see it up-close.
Then it was foot down and a straight drive back to Hull, in time to see an Arsenal game. We made the second half.