Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh Expeditions

Last night, my dad and I went to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. We’ve talked about going to this event for years, since I started playing the bagpipes back in the early 2000s (I don’t play any more). Finally, circumstances brought us to Edinburgh (well, my living here and his being in Scotland for work).

Around 8.30, we joined the throng walking up the Royal Mile, the maddening bunch of tourists, a few locals, masses of students. I felt a bit like a salmon swimming up river, particularly as I had to go up hill to get to the Castle Esplanade. It was chilly, a sharp contrast to the day’s comfortable weather and Saturday night’s warmth. Sitting up where we were, it was slightly windy, but not nearly so bad as on top of the seats–the flags flew wildly.

The Tattoo started at 9 with a fighter jet flyover, which I unfortunately could not see. Not a real loss though, we could hear the four jets. They fly over the Meadows, and I’ve seen them fly by before.

Spilling from the Castle

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

I didn’t really know what to expect from the Tattoo. Bagpipes, obviously, military bands, yep. Highland dancing mixed with modern dance to interpret the Industrial Revolution? Nope, did not expect that–nor did I particularly enjoy it. It was entertaining and shiny, but, quite frankly, watching modernish dance bores me a bit. As does ballet, to a degree. I digress.

Top Secret Drum Corps

(C) Bethany Wolfe

My favourite part of the evening was when the Top Secret Drum Corps of Basel, Switzerland. I had seen a video of their 2006 performance and was hopinghopinghoping that they would be performing at this year’s Tattoo. Lo and behold, they were! It was a fantastic performance. I grinned ear to ear the whole time. “You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?” my dad said to me during the drum-stick-stage-fighting portion. I could only nod.

Top Secret Drum Corps

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

After the Top Secret Drum Corps came the King of Norway’s personal guard, a fantastic drill team and band. I like the patterns and movements created by drill teams, the precision and exactness (a bit strange that I can be bored watching choreographed dance and yet I really enjoy drum lines and drill teams…oh well).

Pipers and Others

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

The Tattoo ended with the lone piper on the Castle ramparts, playing a hymn for the fallen.

The Lone Piper

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

Thoughtcrime: A New Film

Edinburgh Expeditions

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is the moment you have all been waiting for. It’s the premiere of my first film, Thoughtcrime. Loosely based on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, it plays on the themes of surveillance, love, and honesty.

The film was written, directed and edited by yours truly and is my first film. I advise that you watch it wearing headphones, the sound quality is not the best.

Edinburgh sun on my skin

Edinburgh Expeditions

On a rare day of sun, I found myself far and away from my computer. I was across town, in the Corstorphine neighborhood. Needing a break from writing, I walked. I strolled, I looked through the gorgeous, affluent neighborhoods, admiring the gardens and the stately architecture.

The Houses

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

This building was just a street over from the bus stop. I took a bit of a detour in my wanderings today, going down a road I had never been before. I was struck by the clear blue sky and the building’s warmth. The colours were fantastic, so very Edinburgh.

Rather than a customary visit to a friend’s (he was in another part of town), I decide to enjoy the sunshine and my solitude and wander through the Water of Leith walk. The walkway goes along the Water of Leith, a wooded path by a stream. It’s so different from the rest of the city, a taste of nature amongst the stone. It’s like being in a different place.

Water of Leith

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

With the madness of the Fringe, the insanity of my dissertation, the regular hustle and bustle of every day life, it was refreshing to step aside, to walk through nature, to contemplate, to smile and to feel the sun on my (pasty, computer-sapped-all-remaining-colour) skin.

The Willows

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

The sun reminded me of something very important. Sometimes we need to set aside the stresses of every day life. The responsibilities that we find ourselves surrounded by. I need to let go, and just be.

Edinburgh: The culmination to my aMOZing weekend

Edinburgh Expeditions

‘What would Edinburgh be without the rain? Who knows, but it wouldn’t be Edinburgh!’ Morrissey proclaimed during his show Monday night at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.

If it wouldn’t be Edinburgh without the rain, it wouldn’t be a Morrissey gig without the legion of devoted fans. Amy and I got there pretty early, several hours before the gig was set to start (a note to our professors and families, we did bring work with us). Turns out that we weren’t even close to being the first people there–some had been camping out since 3 am, the hardcores, of which a few of my friends would say I belong to, but which I fervently am not. Though, if I were returning to the States this autumn, I would definitely try and get to his Boston gig and at least one of the NYC gigs.
Yes, I have been bitten by the Moz bug, and after that show it isn’t difficult to see why.

Edinburgh was the gig that Manchester should have been.

The audience was mixed. There were those who have followed Morrissey since The Smiths, hipster kids in skinny jeans and knotted hair, parents and children, everyone else imaginable. Whilst queuing, we swapped stories of the Manchester gig and discussed vegetarianism–I am not a veggie and probably couldn’t be one, I like chicken too much. I did attempt it for the weekend, though.

I ended up in the second row, which was fantastic! The floor was far more subdued than in Manchester, filled with energy but not nearly so dangerous. There were still flying arms, all grasping to reach Morrissey’s hand, but the elbows and bodies did not fly around so much.

Morrissey himself was brilliant. Witty, engaging, his voice even stronger than in Manchester. You would never have realized it was the last night of the tour. He sounded fresh (though looked a little knackered to start).

As I’ve said earlier, there is something visceral about his music. It hits me in the gut. I find that I can relate to his lyrics, perhaps more than any other musician. Seeing him sing live, with all of the emotion in his voice–there was nothing else I needed. It was the sort of show where time stood still, life was on hold. Captivating, entrancing, wholely part of something.

That’s the thing I love about fantastic gigs. The music transcends social barriers, and together, the audience, the musicians, become part of something bigger. United for a few hours by a common love–the music.

Edinburgh captured this more perfectly than any gig I had previously been to–and I’ve been to some fantastic gigs. The sound, the power, the emotion.

The encore (“How Soon is Now?”) was incredible. People launched themselves over the barriers, keen to hug Morrissey, to shake his hand, to be a more active participant in the night. The chaos, the excitement, the cheers, the voices raised to match Morrissey’s, could never be described perfectly, only experienced.

Who knows if I will ever have another weekend like this one. But I certainly will be at another Morrissey gig, standing on the floor, my hand raised to shake his.

Tickets

(C) Bethany Wolfe

May Day, or Beltane’s Aftermath

Edinburgh Expeditions

Happy May Day to you all!

Last night, I stood out on the cold Calton Hill with about 10,000 other revelers to banish winter and welcome in summer. We watched the Beltane Festival, a modern reinterpretation of the pre-Christian Spring celebration. We weren’t entirely certain of what we were getting ourselves into, only that there would be fire

The Drummers

The Drummers, Beltane 2012

At nightfall, we moved to the other side of the Acropolis, to welcome the much-needed fire! It was absolutely freezing on Calton Hill–I wore my heavy down coat and shivered more than at Hogmanay (New Year’s celebrations). Unfortunately, being a bit vertically challenged (and in the middle of the crowd), I couldn’t see much more than this, the Processionals lighting the fire.

Lighting the fires

Lighting the fires

After, we watched some fire dancing (including flaming hula hoops), thoroughly impressed. I’d like to try my hand at it some time.

The night continued on, still freezing cold. There were more processions, dancing, and finally the Green Man and May Queen lit the massive bonfire! Warmth at last!

Dancing by Flames

Dancing by Flames

For more serious information about Beltane, visit beltane.org

Linlithgow Daytripper

Edinburgh Expeditions

To celebrate my second semester being completed, I left Edinburgh for the first time since I went up to Loch Tay in January.

I didn’t travel too far, only to Linlithgow, a town about 20 minutes outside of Edinburgh by train. The main attraction? Breaking in my shiny new Historic Scotland pass. I’d heard good things about Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots.

I didn’t know what to expect. I did no research on the palace, only finding out that it was there and I could get in for free with my pass.

I certainly wasn’t expecting a ruined palace. No roof, and slick stone–thank goodness it was a sunny day!

The View

The view from the tower!

Unicorn

Unicorn in the Courtyard