Why the Edinburgh Festival is better than Glastonbury

Why the Edinburgh Festival is better than Glastonbury

As my friend and I queued and shuffled, trailing four stumbling children, to get through the festival crowds on Princes Street, a woman with a clipboard approached my friend about her credit rating. Su-Ling reeled away, shocked. ‘No!’ she cried. ‘She can’t ask me that! It’s just wrong!’ That lady was from another place: normal life. A strange place of jobs, houses, rent and credit ratings. I remember thinking when I went to Glastonbury a very long time ago that it was like a whole alternative town (now a city!), a glimpse of how life could be if things were different. I was 17. Now that I’m nearly 40 I don’t want things to be THAT different – I never want to go to a portaloo in dungarees again for example. But I want them to be a bit different. During the festival, like at Glastonbury, life is about something else – fun, spontaneity, bumbling from show to show never quite getting there on time, seeing funny stuff, beautiful stuff, mind opening, life-affirming stuff. Where the number of people bravely getting up there to share something they feel about life with the world is amazing. Even if what they feel seems best expressed by gyrating in a lycra faun suit with platform hooves. And the fact that so many of us are open to this alternative world, where laughing, or being amazed, or made to think, or listening to some new and brilliant music is a million times more important than your credit rating, makes you happy again to be part of the human race. And I do mean...
Helpie! It’s The Kelpies!

Helpie! It’s The Kelpies!

We struck out: my parents, Stroppy, Whingey and I crammed into our car with me driving, nervously. I’ve never found driving a very natural thing, what with it’s RISK OF DEATH and all, but sat nav is helping quite a lot. Not this time though. It took us to an industrial park in Falkirk and forced me to do all kind of manoeuvres including on a big road. Anyway. We made it to The Kelpies car park eventually (£2 per day), about a 40 minute drive from Edinburgh. In case you don’t know, The Kelpies are two enormous silver horse heads that are visible enough from the motorway to make a person very curious. And being there is even curiouser. They are situated on the Forth and Clyde Canal, which has recently been extended, and the whole area is still being landscaped so there’s a half-finished feel to it, but it will soon be lovely. There are new wetlands with bulrushes and birds and probably frogs; cycle trails and canal boat trips; you can watch barges going up and down the locks and there’s the Helix – an enormous wooden playground great for all ages, with a fountains splash play area. All of that for free. As for The Kelpies themselves you can pay to take a tour, but there’s no obvious information yet about what two great horses heads are doing sitting there in the middle of nowhere (sorry, Falkirk).  Undaunted, we found a friendly shop worker and he told us. Kelpies are mythical creatures who live in water and like to lure people in and kill them....
Keeping it clean at Muddy Boots farm

Keeping it clean at Muddy Boots farm

When my friend Anne-Marie suggested Muddy Boots farm for a day out during the summer holidays I wasn’t convinced. I’m the kind of parent who thinks muddy boots sound like a pain, because you have to clean them. But luckily for my kids Anne-Marie is more generous, and I grudgingly agreed to go along with it to avoid being home alone all day with Stroppy and the Whingey. It was a fair old drive from Edinburgh, about 45 minutes to Cupar in Fife, which was brilliant because it meant driving over the Forth Road Bridge, next to the beautiful red rail bridge. S and W were as impressed as I and the atmosphere in the car got quite giddy for a few minutes. Arriving at Muddy Boots farm our spirits lifted further. There were chickens! And goats! And pygmy goats! There was a pulley system wherein the kids could feed the goats by winding a bowl of grass up to a platform where the goats were waiting, having walked up two wooden planks. The kids loved it (humans and goats) and mine would have happily spent another three days there winding the handle and cheering. Instead, we dragged them past the nice-looking café and farm shop to a paradise vista spread out before their eyes. There was a huge bouncy castle cushion set into the ground, a grass sledging slope and a train being pulled round a dirt track by a bloke on a quad bike. The children ran around madly, unable to decide where to start. Further afield (in a further field) was a wooden adventure playground, a huge sandpit,...
Drivin’ out to Craigie’s

Drivin’ out to Craigie’s

It was the first day of the summer holidays. A day of hope and joy only paralleled by the first day of school at the end of the summer holidays. Childhood memories of summer were flooding my brain like endorphins, amongst them fruit picking, and me sitting in the middle of a field stuffing my face with strawberries. Such a lovely, gentle, British thing to do. Other mums had told me about Craigie’s farm, and I knew today was the day. It wasn’t even cold or raining. The sat nav said a 25-minute drive from Edinburgh, but then it took me down a tiny lane blocked by an enormous gate. There was another car similarly stuck and we reversed awkwardly together then followed each other round a housing estate, shrugging and laughing merrily at the fun to be had in being lost. Take note: the turning is actually the second on the left along the main road from where the sat nab says. Arriving, I was disappointed to see the fields of my childhood had become polytunnels, whether because of advances in technology or just cooler Scottish climes I don’t know. They’re less romantic, but still as much fun. We chased the ripe raspberries up and down the tunnels where they were hiding, with the kids following strict instructions on what colour they should be to avoid unpleasant toileting. There’s also an art to picking the ripe but not too ripe berries without squishing them. I’d have said eating as you go is part of the experience, but as I guess it’s also basically stealing we munched with moderation....