Edinburgh. City At Festival Time.

 

A few days ago I took a train journey up to one of my favourite destinations, Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Scotland’s a place I have been travelling to for many years, my connection being my late father who was a Scot from the Lanarkshire area. The reason, or excuse for this latest trip was that fact that the Edinburgh Festival which always adds an extra dimension to the attractions of the city.

It was to be a day trip, something which is easily managed from where I live in Lancashire, the journey time is about two and a half hours also on this trip I travelled by first class which made it even more of a pleasure than usual. So after an excellent breakfast on the train and a lot of window gazing I landed up at Edinburgh’s Waverley station, nestling in it’s narrow valley between the castle on it’s rock and the well tended greenery of Princes Street Gardens. The station is always a busy, bustling place and some aspects of it’s layout can confuse the traveller unused to it’s ways.

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My Eggs Benedict, a very enjoyable way to start a train journey.

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The always busy  Waverley Station concourse.

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Yes, its the same platform, just remember which end of it you want.

I left the station by the Waverley Steps, a brisk way to leave the station and get myself onto Princes Street. The festival had started the previous week so it was now into it’s stride. I took a walk up to St. Andrew’s Square to get a flavour of the atmosphere, Festival time the square is a popular venue site with pop up arenas and bars.

After an hour or so of people watching I was making my way back towards Princes Street and I decide to stop off at Jenner’s, an Edinburgh department store of some repute. There is a cafe on the top floor which gives and excellent view over the gardens and across to the castle. So I took in this marvellous view while I enjoyed my sandwich and coffee.

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Cafe at Jenners

I like exploring places on foot and Edinburgh is a great city to do this in. I made my way along Princes Street and then up Lothian Road to the district of Morningside, Passing by one of Edinburgh’s great open spaces, Bruntsfield Links. This area is a hive of independent shops and cafes and is one I like to visit with my camera and people watch.

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Jogging by a Bruntsfield Cafe

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Keeping an eye on Morningside.

It was now time to make my way back to the city centre and the Royal Mile to take in the atmosphere of the Fringe performers on the preview stages. The route I chose took me across The Meadows and along the George IV Bridge. Built in the late 1820’s to span one of the many valleys that cut into the city centre this doesn’t look very bridge like as you walk along it, as over the years Edinburgh has crept up on it and absorbed it. It leads you past Greyfriars Kirkyard, the cafe where Harry Potter came into being and onto the Royal Mile by St. Giles Cathedral.

This is the hub of the previews for the shows and is always a must see destination as the performers do their best to drum up and cajole and audience for their own particular show.

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Bright colours to bring in the crowds

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The cathedral looks on as another story unfolds.

So that is a flavour of my Edinburgh trip, it’s a brilliant city to visit in it’s own right and when the festival is on even more so.

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Edinburgh, The Quickness Of The Hand.

 

 

Watch carefully, is it here, or is it there? The quickness of the hand deceives the eye. This is Edinburgh, on the Royal Mile by St. Giles Cathedral and the Festival is at it’s height. This event is in my top five of locations for candid street photography. You just have to pick a spot and it all unfurls before you like a tapestry of a carnival. Here a magician was working the crowd with an assistant picked from the crowd. Time and again the young lad carefully followed the action but at each reveal that darned magician had done it again.

For candid images I always think that monochrome is the only way, colours can distract from the action, plus for me the black & white tones always add a timeless quality.

I like to get in at least one visit to Edinburgh each year and timetables are being consulted as I type this.

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Down The River Clyde.

 

 

 

Send In The Clowns

Today’s image was taken at the Edinburgh Festival in 2013, the show being promoted was ‘The Greatest Liar In The World’, I think it may have had political connotations……….. The Edinburgh Festival is alway an event I try to get to, I’m generally in Scotland for a couple of weeks during August, if not I take a day out and go up by train for the day, make an adventure out of it. I’m lucky to have an excellent rail service to the north and the unfolding adventure of the day is something I like to revel in. The early morning on the station platform waiting for the train to arrive. The other passengers some very relaxed, others nervously clutching all the necessary tickets and reservations. It’s a part of the day that can provide at least one or two candids. Once on the train and sat in my seat I can switch off and let the world roll by the carriage window. Over time I have learned to strip back the  amount of equipment I take on these journeys, my bag of toys, one medium rucksack holds a camera bag with Sony SLR plus notebook, flashgun and small tape recorder. Plus there is a compact tripod, everything neat, tidy and where I can find it. The rest of the space is usually taken up with chocolate bars and fruit so I can have a quick pit stop as I walk around. There’s also a compact camera for the shirt pocket as a back up.

Arriving at Edinburgh is an event, if I have got myself on the first train up of the day, generally 6,30 am, I am walking off my train at about 9.15 am into the bustling anthill that is Waverley station. The station sits low in a small valley below the castle, the valley was once a small loch, the Nor’ Loch which after many years as  a dumping ground was cleared out with the arrival of the railways. There is a choice of exits from the station, if you leave by the main ramp you rise up and as you exit you are faced by Prince’s Street Gardens in front of you, with the old town and castle to your left, while to the right is Prince’s Street and the New Town, it’s not actually that new, the fine and grand Georgian buildings date from the 18th century and were an architectural response to the cramped midden of streets that cluster around the axis of the Royal Mile, itself topped and tailed by the castle and Palace of Holyrood.

During the Festival,  that’s the festival proper, the fringe and the art & music festivals almost every building, corner or open space takes it’s turn as a venue.  The clown shot was taken on the Royal Mile, or Lawnmarket, High Street and Canongate for the Edinburgh purists, the stretch by St. Giles’ cathedral has preview stages along it and this is where the festival madness can be at it’s highest as each act tries their hardest to be noticed. If you like collecting flyers this is the place for you, it’s impossible to walk more than five steps at a time without having at least three thrust into you hand. I put together two collages of flyers from my last trip, the acts and performers range from the mildly amusing to the seriously odd. This is one of my favourite areas for candids, I normally walk around  to get a feel for the atmosphere then pick a spot to watch what goes by. I have found that it doesn’t pay to stick in one place for too long or you can find yourself being dragged into someone’s act or improv session. I tweet some pictures as well, referencing the particular act, it’s a courtesy, it’s their livelihood  after all. When the mayhem gets too much I make my way to either the open spaces of the Meadows, they lie to the south of the city centre or down to a favourite cafe, Clarinda’s,  at the bottom of the Royal Mile. Recharged I’m ready for another round. By the late evening the crowds are still there but the atmosphere is different, crowd are making their way from the first performances and the chat is all about the show or the act that been seen. If it’s been a day trip for me It’s the last train out, in the past I have tried to do a rough edit on the train back but these days I much prefer to do that once I’m home, the train journey is part of the day so I just sit back and enjoy it.