Anyway, ramblings about
We stayed at Rosslyn Castle, about 15 minutes drive from the centre of Edinburgh. Hell, it takes me about 30 to get into central London from home! The castle was really more of a manor built in the grounds of the castle ruins but it was nonetheless magnificent. Had some scary moments initially trying to get the rented Citroen Xsara Picasson over a rather narrow bridge with a sharp turn and very big drop on either side!
As soon as we saw the main building, my friends all immediately commented that it looked like something out of a Buffy episode. Personally, I thought Hammer myself... Inside, the house was still heavily furnished with Sinclair family artifacts - lots of portraits, photos, certificates, awards etc, including an awful lot of masonic regalia.
While looking for the shower, we found the stairs leading downwards into old castle tower sub-levels. All 3 of them (there's only 2 above ground!). They were seriously like something out of a game of Dungeons and Dragons. The only thing we lacked were the 10" poles (I'd remembered to bring torches). Needless to say, after heading back up, we found the shower door right at the top of the stairs by the basement entrance door. We also couldn't help but notice the very strong bolts on the door and wondered what exactly they were trying to keep locked up in the dungeons! Zombies were the most popular answer...
The chapel was also magnificent, filled with lots of very interesting carvings - the apprentice's and mason's pillars, the 7 deadly sins, the 7 virtues, Green Man heads in odd places, Lucifer dangling upside down, Moses with horns, North American plants (carvings were made before Columbus - it's believed one of the Sinclairs made a trip to North America before Columbus) etc. We were even able to catch a play about the legend of the Apprentice Pillar in the chapel itself. Not the greatest thing at the Festival but the setting was stunning.
Liz and I also took a meandering walk in the surrounding countryside which was breathtakingly beautiful, all greenery and running rivers. And got adopted by a border collie...
All in all a real Templar/Conspiracy theorist geek's paradise. My friends appeared to be in equal parts intrigued and concerned by the all the stuff I was able to tell them!
I've also got sheldoads of photos and video which I plan to edit into a DVD!
We drove in most days to Edinburgh for the Festival. Random recollections of Festival things I saw there (this is probably the closest I'll come to displaying any signs of being cultured):
- Karen Loftus - American Woman. Very promising premise: standup comedy about being an American travelling round the world but the execution fell rather flat. Not actually a lot of laughs
- Blind Date - Dutch improv comedy, having worked in the Netherlands for 18 months, this was a notion so odd I had to see it. Actually, there were a few Americans in the group! Anyway, moderately amusing.
- Cathy Holroyd: with condiments - To be honest, I only went to see this because I have a friend by that name but am very glad I did. Very funny indeed: TV chef who's been dumped by husband is filming promo slots for new channel and getting sidetracked into rather bitter and twisted asides.
- Jeff Mizra, Walking With Muslims - Heard about this because he was handing out flyers on the Royal Mile dressed as Saddam Hussein. As you might expect, standup about being a Muslim in the UK and recent events in the Middle East and Afghanistan as well as impressions of Comical Ali and Abu Hamza "Bush says he wants to disarm Iraq. He can't even disarm Charlton Heston". Pretty funny but not for the politically sensitive!
- Reduced Shakespeare Company, All the Great Books - Same format as the Shakespeare and US history productions. If you liked those (I did), you'll like this too. Requires you to be at least partially familiar with the likes of Ulysses, War and Peace etc.
- Bill Bailey. Really not sure how to describe him except as very funny.
- Donnie Munro - Former singer for Runrig. Played similar stuff but didn't grab me as much.
- Life and Times of Wonder Woman - Very clever one-hander blending and shifting between the character's fictional and real-world origins and evolution through the years up to the 70s TV series. Really need to be a comic geek to fully appreciate it though.
- Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure - Best thing I saw at the Festival. The guy is a superb storyteller, extremely funny and completely mad. He tells the story of his challenge to meet a chain of 10 Googlewhack results before his next Birthday. Hell, he even had my friends asking me to get my PDA out so we could try to find some Googlewhacks!
- The Wicker Woman - Very silly spoof on The Wicker Man with rather amusing props (including hand puppets for crowd scenes). Not bad.
- Dante's Inferno - pretty amusing irreverent walk through Inferno by Arthur Smith who points out that the Divine Comedy isn't actually very funny (he claims the closest it comes is one fart gag), with some very odd interludes by his Virgilian sidekick (including yodelling and song verses in Norwegian!).
- So Close - Hong Kong action movie on as part of the Film Festival. Classic HK movie elements - lots of guns, kung fu, blood and death plus three very attractive female leads! As usual, just don't analyse the plot too much...
Other things recommended by friends which I didn't see:
- Antonio Forcione - acoustic guitar
- Boothby Graffoe, Ross Noble - comedy
- Camarilla and Bedtime for Bastards - dark political dramas by Van Badham
Oh, we also did a day trip to Glasgow, mainly to see the Whistler and Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibits (was somewhat less than amused when one of my friends wanted to check I was aware the Mackintosh exhibit wasn't about Apple computers - cheeky sod!). As a result, I now want a Mackintosh-styled PC case!