Craig Box's journeys, stories and notes...


Edinburgh Castle is a well-polished tourist machine, even on a rainy day. We missed the one o'clock gun because we were enjoying excellent Italian sandwiches and friendly banter from Caffe Espresso on Bank Street. If you go to Edinburgh, eat there. Or just go to Scotland to eat there.

The castle contains the "Honours of Scotland", symbols of their thrown: a sword, a sceptre and a stone, which wouldn't really be a comfortable place to sit when being crowned. No wonder they use a throne these days. These are not allowed to be photographed. Why? We also got to hang out in the room where James VI of Scotland, later to become James I of England (and ancestor of our current Queen), was born.

We walked through the courtyard where the Edinburgh Tattoo is held, but tickets for it sell out between seven and ten years in advance.

Two acts of street theatre caught our attention between the castle and the car: The Human Knot, an entertaining hurt-himself-for-our-pleasure act that reminded me a little too much of Sam Wills, and the Daredevil Chicken Club, a reasonably theatrical juggling/acrobatic act. Both had the requisite amount of audience participation and enjoyment provided, although the latter did it dressed in chicken suits, and with more bad puns.

Dinner had the option of haggis, neeps and tatties (turnips and potato) in a whiskey sauce as a starter, so had to try that. It was absolutely fantastic!

We then went to see some free stand-up: Caimh McDonnell (that's pronounced 'queeve', and is the Gaelic for Kevin) and his show "I.D." gave us a very funny look through his wallet. He was a great blend of fantastic humour with the social message of "information is useless without context", as a protest against British national ID cards. He was a capable funny Irishman without requiring Dylan Moran-esque drunkenness. Unfortunately, Pam Ford's All Legs and Ladders, was just an Australian woman who had fallen into the "only make meta-jokes about being a brash woman in comedy, and thus just Not Be Funny" trap.

We stayed with Cathy's friends Mike and Shaw (thanks guys), and the boys repaid them by catching and removing an errant rodent from the flat.

Edinburgh was Tom's favourite place on the trip; he thought it felt like Melbourne. I like Melbourne, but I like New Zealand better, so I preferred Dublin.


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