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Fringe Festival 2018

August is fast approaching… HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? I know right? Seems like just yesterday we were snowed in! Let’s hope the great heatwave returns for the month to maximise our outdoor cider drinking and street food eating in time for the biggest event of the Edinburgh calendar – The Fringe! For us as a family, the Fringe has a special wee place in our hearts, as Oscar was born during our first festival that we lived in Edinburgh for, so now we try and take him to a few shows as a birthday day out as a little tradition. We’ll be doing that again this year with Scout in tow too.

For those of you that might not be familiar (maybe you live under a rock..?) the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world and runs alongside the Edinburgh International Festival, but don’t worry, there’s no real need to get hung up on the difference. I always thought it was just comedy, but it’s so, so much more…

Last year, for it’s 70th birthday, the Fringe featured 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows across 200 venues throughout the city – it’s kind of a big deal.

But ya know, that’s a lot of shows. This year, I picked up my Fringe guide and there are no less than 400 pages of shows – it’s a bit daunting. And so, back by popular demand (well, I did it last year, and at least 3 people told me it was helpful…) I’m doing my annual Fringe Guide – for bigs and smalls.

For The Smalls

Before I had Oscar, I had no idea how many kids shows there were at at the Fringe, but now finding the good ones is one of my favourite things to do. The atmosphere is so good throughout the city during the festival season and kids just lap it up! There is also a great kids area in Pleasance Courtyard so they can make t-shirts while you enjoy a cold cider/beer/wine/gin/whatever – that’s the dream, right?!

I’ve started my research and here’s what I’ve found so far –

Fringe for Bairns @ The Three Sisters, Cowgate

Running from 29th July – 1st August, there’s a whole load of FREE events for kids taking place in the courtyard of this Edinburgh pub! Every day is jam packed with activities from arts & crafts to magicians, face painiting, and much more, as well as a different daily theme from fairy-tales to superheros, animals to Lego! Oh, and there’s even a petting zoo on Tuesday 31st July!

There is also a kids cinema event every Sunday of the Fringe at 9am in partnership with Scottish Autism! We will be heading along to the first cinema session on Sunday 29th to see Frozen, but no doubt will be hanging around for the magician and some face painting in the afternoon! Keep an eye on my Instagram Stories! 🎈

There’s loads of info on each days activity over on their Facebook Event.

MamaBabaMe by Starcatchers and Curious Seed @ EICC Pleasance

I took Oscar to see his first ever Fringe show the day after his first birthday, and it was a show by Starcatchers… It was SO GOOD and Oscar was honestly enthralled by the mix of dance, theatre and live classical music. Even though I was a bit unsure as to what to expect, I thoroughly enjoyed it too and it was so lovely to see Oscar so engaged!

I am keen to go back this year with Scout and check out this new show as she loves music too.

Tickets can be purchased HERE

The Amazing Bubble Man @ Underbelly, George Sq.

We took Oscar to this last year and WOW it was amazing! He’d just turned two, so I’ll be honest with you, tensions were running high and we were worried about whether he’d sit through an hour long show. We needn’t have worried – he was captivated from the moment it started. The lad is the world’s leading bubbleologist afterall.

I reckon this is one we’ll go back to again this year as he’ll get even more out of it now he’s a bit older. Highly recommend you give it a shot!

Tickets can be found HERE

AnimAlphabet: The Musical @ Pleasance Dome

This one was recommended to me – apparently it’s “funny, fast-paced and bursting with witty songs” so I’m here for it! It looks like a show Oscar would love, so hopefully I’ll get to check it out and report back!

Tickets can be found HERE

For The Bigs

On first look, there seems to be a lot of shows about Brexit and Trump… there’s probably a few about Russia too – it was to be expected I suppose, but of course, there will also be a multitude of hidden gems. I usually find the best way to weed them out is to wait and let other people find them then try and get them booked for later in the festival. Although, if you’re looking at booking a big name – best to do it soon. I’ve missed out a few times over the years – notably least year when we tried to get tickets for Ian Stirling, ya know, the voice of Love Island… sob.

I’ll be updating this as I go, but here’s a few I’ve picked out that I wanna see!

Jessie Cave @ The Stand

I’m a fan. I follow Jessie on Insta and have one of her doodles, so when I saw she was doing a show about motherhood, Instagram and getting through a breakup, I was intrigued! My friend Megan of It’s The Mother also mentioned that she fancied it – so maybe we can make it a date – what d’ya say?

Tickets HERE

Adam Kay: This Is Going to Hurt (Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor) @ EICC Pleasance

I saw Adam back in 2016 with his show Fingering A Minor On The Piano (yeah, I know, bear with me…) and it was my shout out show of the year… maybe even one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was lighthearted, interspersed with witty songs and audience participation, and then BANG. The show did not end the way I expected and it genuinely left me a little bit shooketh. It was hard hitting and i’ve spoken about it countless times since. So if this show is anything like it, and Adam is wonderful, so I’m sure it will be – go see it. You’ll laugh and you may cry, but you’ll be talking about it all the way home.

I’ve just the moment realised Adam Kay is the author of the book ‘This is Going to Hurt : Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’ that I’ve seen so many people talking about on social media – I’ve just ordered it! 

Show tickets are HERE

Baby Daddy @ Assembly Rooms

“Baby Daddy is a funny, rude and infectious musical account of life in your twenties with a baby in tow.” – I have a feeling this show could be one of the true hidden gems of the Fringe this year, and it’s gonna be the first ticket I buy… I’m going, even if it means I have to take Scout along for the ride (more about this later…)

Tickets are HERE, please leave a few for me.

Trainspotting Live @ Venue 150 EICC

Now, I saw a version of this last year at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. I think this show is slightly different to what I saw, but if it’s even half as good, you’ll be blown away!

“An immersive adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s classic, staged in a unique tunnel beneath Edinburgh’s streets. The audience are literally part of the action, including the notorious ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene”

I’d love to go see this and see what it’s like in comparison to the full length theatre version. Let me know if you’ve seen it! Would you recommend?

Top Tips

Did you know a lot of shows have a babes in arms policy’? Nope, me neither!

Until, the other month an amazing theatre producer (who is also a new mum) got in touch with me to chat about what she’s doing to make the theatre culture more accessible to parents of young children. Now, as I’ve said, there are hundreds or shows made for kids… but what about the shows made for adults? What if you’re a breastfeeding mother to a 6 month old baby and really wants to see a show?! That’s where the babes in arms policy comes in – a LOT of Fringe shows will allow a baby to come into the show free of charge as long as they’re under a certain age (often 18 months, or 2). Information on this is clearly noted on the ticket info page so watch out for it – a young baby does not mean you need to miss out on some Fringe Fun, and I’m sure their baby ears won’t be offended by anything rude, yet!

Anyway, like I said, it’s daunting sifting through 400 pages of shows, so listen out for recommendations, that’s what I’ll be doing and updating this blog as I go. If you have any, please get in touch with me, I’m always on the lookout for something to see whether it be with the family, or out with friends!

And lastly, embrace the Festival and have a ball!

Lou x

Motherhood: Levelling up in London

Taking the Plunge

This weekend I travelled down to London, solo, to see one of my dearest friends. She hadn’t had a chance to meet Scout yet, and it was proving difficult for her to find a date she was able to get back up to Scotland. So on a bit of a whim, I decided instead to book a flight down to London to see her instead.

I booked it, and told everyone that asked that I was really looking forward to it and it would all be brilliant. And I was really looking forward to it – spending time with one of my oldest friends and exploring more of a city, that previously I’d only actually been to twice… but I was also worrying a bit (maybe more than a “bit”)…

You see, I don’t think I’d ever have done this with Oscar when he was a baby. Generally, I’m not a worrier, but I’m not sure I had the confidence as a first time Mum to a six month old to take the plunge and go it alone on a solo trip. I think it would all have been just a bit too scary.

However, I’ve spoken before about how in some ways I feel like a “different mother” second time round. So I decided I’d just go for it and push myself out of my comfort zone.

As last week rolled round I did start to get a bit nervous. We went on a wee outing to pick strawberries in the week and Scout was on such poor form. Screaming in the carrier and generally just being a massive grump which gave me the FEAR. It did not bode well for our trip considering I was only planning on taking the carrier. No pram.

I think I’m a fairly relaxed person, and mostly, I feel confident in my parenting even if a vast majority of it is definitely filed under the heading “winging it”, but man, I’d be lying if I said I don’t get stressed out sometimes, especially when it comes to crying. That, coupled with the fact of be completely on my own with no one to take turns with if things turned tricky was scary.

The reality was, as ever, nowhere near as scary as I had thought! Ok, so the 4am start wasn’t ideal and as a result, Scout was a wee bit grumpy but that’s where the carrier comes into its own – for sleeping. Sitting on the runway for an hour before we took off also wasn’t ideal… but I survived. At the other end the public transport was seamless and I was sitting on Jess’ sofa by 10.30am.

Preparation was Key

I packed light… very light! I took one little Kanken rucksack. It was more than enough for two nights for both of us. I dwindled my list down to the essentials – an outfit for each day for Scout and the same for me. I wore my bulkier items of jeans and a jumper, although, turns out I definitely didn’t need them in the 32 degree heat of the Capital!

I also packed smart. I had 4 nappies and half a pack of wipes in my trusty Mutha.Hood pouch for the journey and asked my friend to buy me a small pack to use while I was down there. I also borrowed most of my toiletries – cause ya know, what are friends for?! A large muslin, ie. the most versatile baby product of all time, (this one is one of my favourites from Book of Deer) packs smaller than a changing mat, and is perfect for changing, wiping up any sick, using as a wee sun cover or blanket etc.

I also took an extra wee pouch that I kept all my travel essentials in for easy access – passport, boarding pass, phone, some cash and my card. That way I didn’t have to keep taking my backpack on and off to get stuff in and out. If I had been super duper organised I’d have actually bought a little karabiner to hook it onto the baby carrier… I thought about this at the airport on the way home, and I’m gonna get one for future use!

Wear that Baby!

The thought of navigating London transport with a pram brought me out in a sweat, so I decided to just take the carrier, but this came with it’s own worries. It was really hot in London and I was worried about Scout or me, overheating. It also didn’t seem the ideal way to be able to enjoy a meal. As with my packing though, I was keen to travel with as little stuff as possible and the carrier meant I was able to do this. I have a few carriers and I chose to take our Connecta. It was the first time I’d used it but I would highly recommend it as a holiday carrier. It’s nice and light but with good support and really easy to get on and off by yourself – even in the confines of an EasyJet plane seat!

No Pressure

Just have fun! We had ideas of stuff we could do, but it was all really relaxed and we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves to see or do loads over the two days. We stopped in parks when we needed to let Scout out the carrier and stretch, kick and feed and we stuck to the shade when we needed to.

I can be bad for piling pressure on myself sometimes when it comes to doing things. I build days out or activities up in my own head, and then feel like I’ve failed a bit if they don’t go exactly to plan, but it’s taken me a while to learn that sometimes… or even a lot of the time… things don’t always go to plan where kids are involved, and that’s ok.

Levelled Up

I ended up having the best time, I’m so glad I did it… and actually wish I’d done it sooner, or even with Oscar when he was little. I know that I’ve not scaled Everest blindfolded, but still, I’m proud of myself, and I think that’s ok!

There’s been quite a few points recently that I’ve felt a bit bogged down by everything. Parenting two littles has felt like a bit of a slog. As expected, having two has come with a whole host of new challenges, and quite often I’ve felt a bit defeated. This weekend has given me the wee confidence boost I needed. It’s left me feeling refreshed, and reassured me that maybe I’m doing alright after all.

Huge shout out to my wonderful friend for letting me stay with her and making the weekend so great – for picking Scout up when she cried, playing with her to give me some peace and most importantly, holding her while I ate my ramen! We even got to enjoy Love Island together in person rather than over WhatsApp.

I feel like I’ve levelled up and I’ve earned a new badge for my ‘parenting sash’. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this one little trip has earned me Superwoman status, you might be reading this thinking “I do that all the time, big deal!” But parenting can sometimes feel relentless and can be a thankless task and I think we should always celebrate the wins big and small because that little pick me up can set us back on the right path and remind us that we’re doing more than just surviving!

I’d love to hear about the badges that you’ve earned. Is there any feat you’ve undertaken big or small that has given you a much needed parenting boost?

I mean… even just changing a baby in a plane toilet deserves a medal – amma right?!

Lou x

Maid Of The Forth

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

So, on the day after the sunniest May Bank Holiday on record we took a trip on the Maid of the Forth to Inchcolm Island. Of course, this is Scotland, so it rained all day, but we had such a great adventure regardless!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

The Crossing

The Maid of the Forth sets sail from Hawes Pier in South Queensferry and we opted for the 3 hour tour with a landing on Inchcolm Island… which I didn’t even know existed until I read about it on their website!

The ferry sets sail from beside the Forth Rail Bridge and Oscar was losing his mind watching all the “Choo choos” cross it before we set sail, ice creams in hand.

The sailing to Inchcolm Island is a leisurely 35 minutes which was perfect for keeping a toddler engaged – not too long! On the way there we got to see some of the other islands of the Forth and hear about the history of them which for some was quite colourful – like Inchgarvie Island that features a prison, I mean, that basically the Alcatraz of Edinburgh, right? We were also lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a huge group of seals on ‘The Haystack’ next to Inchcolm, Robin and Oscar sprinted up tot he top deck to get the best view.

When Oscar was born we were living in a flat in Leith overlooking the Firth of Forth, so for us, it was really interesting to hear about all the little islands that we used to be able to see from our flat!

When the boat arrives at Inchcolm, those with passes for ‘landing’ can depart, otherwise the ferry heads back around the island and continues it’s tour (I think the wonderful Karen did this trip, and you can see her blog here – note the weather on the day she went was A LOT better – lucky sod!)

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid of the Forth - Edinburgh

The Island

We chose to include the island landing for our trip (despite the weather) where you get to spend around 1hr 45 minutes there, which is ample time to take it all in. Inchcolm Island itself is fab and the Abbey was brilliant for exploring – lots of hidden rooms and staircases to scout while it rained outside (Scotland, innit?).

Then, when the weather cleared for half an hour we headed down to the beach to skim some stones. If it had been nicer day, the beach would have been perfect for a picnic and we could easily have spent the day there, the views are amazing!

Amenities wise, there’s a small gift shop with the usual souvenirs and toilets but no cafe, so best to take a packed lunch and invaluable toddler snacks with you, or buy some on the boat to take ashore!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid of the Forth - Edinburgh

Toddler Friendly

As the weather got a little worse, it was time to head back to the boat for the return journey. While we opted to take Scout in the carrier for the day (she sleeps better this way), those with prams were helped onto the boat by the crew who couldn’t have been more helpful!

The sailing back to harbour took us under all three of the Forth Crossings before we docked back at Hawes Pier with a completely exhausted toddler that couldn’t stop talking about boats and castles and a baby asleep in the carrier – so all in all, a success!

Funnily enough, when I wrote my Adventure List: Part II back at the beginning of the year, this trip was one of the suggestions that cropped up and I don’t doubt that we’ll end up back there in summer armed with a bucket and spade and a picnic! If you have an inquisitive toddler (is there such thing as a toddler that isn’t inquisitive) or older kids that love to explore, then it’s a great day out, with a little bit of everything thrown in – a huge thank you to Maid of the Forth for inviting us along!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh