EDINBLOG 2015

August is my favourite month of the year, for the simple reason that it’s the month that I visit the Edinburgh Festival. If I could, i’d go there for the whole month.

I actually went later in the month than I usually do. The latest i’ve been since I first visited in 2009.

This year, for the first time, I bought my tickets in advance rather than waiting to purchase when I arrived. I got everything I wanted, barring having to rearranging my Saturday night and Monday night choices.

All I had to do when I arrived at the ticket office was to swipe my Debit Card, and my tickets printed off. It wasn’t totally problem free, as the printer ran out of paper when printing off my tickets. Only a minor hitch in an otherwise efficient system.

I flew out on the Saturday morning, and after getting my tickets and getting checked in, Saturday afternoon was all about football, as I headed to Tynecastle to watch Hearts take on Partick Thistle.

Despite being an Edinburgh veteran, I managed to get lost en route by not paying attention at Haymarket Station and taking a wrong turn.

I managed to make it to the ground in plenty of time for kick-off regardless, and saw Hearts maintain their lead at the top of the SPL with a 3-0 win.

I only went to one show on the Saturday, Stewart Francis at Assembly George Square. You will recognise him from various panel shows, specialising in bad puns. Groans and laughter were plentiful in equal measure.

On the Sunday, I decided to head to Glasgow for a few hours, while taking in Rangers v Hibs. Before I set off for Glasgow, I got some photos of Street Art in Edinburgh, near Waverley Station.

Every year that i’ve visited Edinburgh, i’ve always wanted to visit another city or town in Scotland, just to escape for a few years.

I have in my head to visit Stirling some time. Maybe next year?

I was a bit delayed getting out of Glasgow, I missed the start of John Lloyd’s show. That, and the fact I got lost en route to the venue. I am an Edinburgh veteran, trust me. It’s just that there are so many venues called Assembly.

Turns out it was Assembley opposite Hotel Du Vin rather than the one at Potterrow.

You probably know more about John Lloyd than you think you do mostly famed for his work behind the scenes on Spitting Image and creating QI. His show was an entertaining look at trivia and knowledge.

Later on Sunday, I headed to Pleasance to see James Acaster. I’d previously seen him do a slot at a charity gig in London a few years ago, so I was looking forward to seeing him.

His humour is very deadpan and surreal. This year, he has made a breakthrough into panel shows. This show focused on him sharing celebrity gossip about the Chilean Miners, and his experiences on jury duty.

One more show followed on the Sunday, and I managed to go to the wrong venue. Again, a case of two many venues called Assembly.

That show, was a live recording of Josh Widdecombe’s XFM Show. I’m a big fan of Widdecombe, and actually listen to the show when i’m getting ready on a Saturday morning.

As a bonus, James Acaster was on it. Double Acaster in the one night.

There was one bonus of my getting lost, as I found out where Roxburgh Hotel was. On the Monday morning, I headed there for a Record Fair. I didn’t get anything, but if I didn’t go, I knew I would have been annoyed at myself for not going, and thinking that i’d missed out on something.

I spend Monday morning wandering around the West End and visiting my two favourite shops in Edinburgh – Fopp and Football Nation.

One of the best things about Edinburgh is, that you can escape from the Fringe for a few hours if you wish, and you don’t have to go very far to do so.

One year, I spent so much time in Cowgate, Potterrow and Pleasance, I didn’t even spend a minute in Princes Street/George Street, so it’s good to get a nice mix of Edinburgh.

My first show on the Monday was to see Mark Watson do a show called Work In Progress, which as the title suggests, was to try out new material.

I’d seen him previously, as well as him hosting the Comedywealth Games last year. It was classic Watson, moving from one topic to another in rapid time.

I’ll be keeping an eye out if he does a full proper show next year.

From there, I quickly legged it from The Stand to Pleasance to see Batfan, about one performer and his obsession with Batman, and his quest to create the perfect Batman film. He’s not a fan of Joel Schumacher.

Not enough 60s Batman in it for me, but it was still enjoyable, especially some of the obscure/forgotten/unknown references. You didn’t need to be a massive fan of Batman in order to enjoy it.

I’d wanted to spend Monday night seeing FFS in concert, but unfortunately, all the tickets were sold out. I didn’t want to spend the evening at the venue in the hope that some tickets become available, so I decided to just go to a comedy show instead.

Quite literally, a case of FFS.

If you don’t know, FFS are a supergroup comprising of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. They are rather good. Looks like i’ll have to cross my fingers for a Belfast gig.

So what would fill my FFS void? Aisling Bea. You may have seen her on various panel shows. She was very good. The audience got a bit of a fright when they entered to room, to see her dancing in a morph suit.

Tuesday morning was spent walking around Princes Street Markets and Rose Street, before going to see The Man Called Monkhouse, set in the mid 1990s around the time of the theft of his joke book and the 20th anniversary of the death of his writing partner, Dennis Goodwin, sees Monkhouse looking back at his life to that point.

The voice was good but not perfect, but the look was. It looked like Monkhouse was in the room. As a bonus, we got some classic Monkhouse one-liners as well.

That was my only show on Tuesday, as Tuesday night was spent watching football, making a short train journey to see Dunfermline Athletic take on Dundee.

On Wednesday morning, I was curious and went for a walk around York Place and ended up in Leith. Even though this was the seventh year I had visited, it’s always good to explore new parts of the city I haven’t seen before.

One part of Edinburgh i’d love to visit is Arthur’s Seat, a hill which offers some spectacular views over Edinburgh. I’d planned on going on the Thursday morning, but the weather had started to turn. I didn’t quite fancy a hill walk in the rain. Maybe next year.

It was great though to have a trip to Edinburgh without having to wear a raincoat for the first four days. There were short periods of rain in my last two days.

My only show on Wednesday was to see Matt Forde. He specialises in Political Comedy, but he’s not a preachy type of comic, instead focusing on funny things in politics and amusing observations.

I’d previously seen him on Rory Bremner’s Election Report, and was not disappointed. He began by saying that he supported Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to be Labour Leader, not for political reasons, but for the material it will offer.

Wednesday night was spent at Princes Street Gardens to see James in concert. James doing a gig was part of the reason why I chose this particular week to go to Edinburgh.

Thurdsay was my last day, where I went to Edinburgh University to browse through the various charity shops for possible bargains.

Thursday lunchtime saw one last show, Pippa Evans celebrating the guilty pleasures of life, through the medium of song, even briefly bringing back her character of Loretta Maine, who I saw make a guest appearance on MacAulay and Co a few years ago.

Talking of MacAulay and Co, it wasn’t on this year. It was cancelled by Radio Scotland, and they didn’t even bring it back for the Edinburgh Festival.

In it’s place, was Kaye Adams. I’d love to be able to tell you if it was any good, but I slept in each morning I had a ticket having stayed up too late the night before. Maybe next year.

After Pippa Evans, a wee brief stroll around Princes Street, before getting the bus back to the airport.

That was it, that was my Edinburgh adventure for 2015. I didn’t see an awful show, which is almost disappointing. Already looking forward to 2016.

Edinblog 2014

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

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2013 IN PICTURES – APRIL

It’s fair to say that April was a busy month.

The first Saturday of the month, I went to two football matches in a day, both Irish Cup Semi-Finals. That night, I went to see Ellie Goulding at Waterfront Hall.

The following morning, I went to get some Street Art photos from the Lagan Towpath.

Three days later, I was in Glasgow to see Linfield in a friendly. I stayed for a few more days so I could see James at SECC, supported by Echo and the Bunnymen.

While I was in Glasgow, I managed to get some Street Art pictures, and attended the Scottish Cup Semi-Final between Falkirk and Hibs.

As you can imagine, I went camera happy during that trip.

Upon my return to Belfast, I was out getting photos of a mural of Bananaman in Great Victoria Street, as you do, before seeing Linfield finish off a miserable season with two home defeats.

Glentoran v Portadown

Glentoran v Portadown Photo Album

Cliftonville v Crusaders

Cliftonville v Crusaders Photo Album

Ellie Goulding Live At The Waterfront Hall

Ellie Goulding Live At Waterfront Hall Photo Album

Down By The Towpath

Glasgow Street Art

Glasgow Street Album Photo Album

Rangers v Linfield

Rangers v Linfield Photo Album

Falkirk v Hibernian

Falkirk v Hibernian Photo Album

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At SECC

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At SECC Photo Album

James Live At SECC

James Live At SECC Photo Album

Bananaman/Stay Puft

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Linfield v Crusaders

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – APRIL/MAY

April began, like February, with two matches in one day.

Unlike when I was in London, I knew where I was going. I went to both Irish Cup Semi-Finals as a neutral.

The Glentoran v Portadown game wasn’t very good, and I didn’t get much in the way of photos. Crusaders v Cliftonville was a batter game with better photos, the Sydenham End of The Oval being a lot more photo friendly

The following midweek, I was in Glasgow for the friendly between Rangers and Linfield. The match wasn’t great, but it was a friendly, so I was hardly expecting both teams to go for it, especially with it being towards the end of the season (ie – if it was in pre-season, it would have been a lot more intense, with teams working towards the new season)

Ibrox is a fantastic stadium, architecturally stunning on the outside and inside. Managed to get some fantastic shots of the ground. Not so much match action, as I was closer to the corner flag when Linfield had their bets spell of attacking, in the second-half.

I stayed in Glasgow for a few more days, and went to the Scottish Cup Semi-Final between Falkirk and Hibernian. A brilliantly crazy game for a neutral, maybe not so much if you supported one of the two teams. Got some ok photos, Hampden PArk, as fantastic stadium as it is, isn’t very photo friendly.

Upon my return, I went to Linfield’s last two games of the season. Fixture fulfillment really, and making sure I got my money’s worth out of my Season Ticket.

I would have got more Value For Money if i’d stayed at home.

But that wasn’t the end of the season. The following week, I went to Clandeboye Park to see Bangor beat Tobermore United and avoid relegation.

And with that, my season was over.

Glentoran v Portadown

Glentoran v Portadown Photo Album

Crusaders v Cliftonville

Crusaders v Cliftonville Photo Album

Rangers v Linfield

Rangers v Linfield Photo Album

Falkirk v Hibernian

Falkirk v Hibernian Photo Album

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Linfield v Crusaders

Bangor v Tobermore United

Bangor v Tobermore United Photo Album

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : 2012-2013

Barring something dramatic, the 2012-2013 season is over for me in terms of football attending.

The season began in June at the Amsterdam Arena, and ended in May at Clandeboye Park.

Unsurprisingly, most of the Linfield matches I attended weren’t particularly enjoyable.

There wasn’t much in the way of curiousities (last season, I saw two twins on opposing sides) apart from going to two matches in once day – twice, and there being a power failure at a match I was at.

Amazingly, it was an FA Premier League game, rather than an Irish League game.

So here, is a statistical look back at my 2012-2013 football season :

Matches Attended : 52

Goals Seen : 147 (should be 149, but I missed 2 goals in 2 different matches due to being late)

Red Cards : 11 (Plus also 2 players sent-off in dressing room for on field incident)

Hat-Tricks : 2

Matthew Tipton (Orangefield OB v Linfield, Linfield v Coleraine)

Penalties Missed/Saved : 7

Highest Scoring Match : 7 (Linfield 5-2 Coleraine, Falkirk 3-4 Hibernian AET)

Countries Seen Matches In : 5

England, Holland, Northern Ireland, Republic Of Ireland, Scotland

Teams Seen Play : 35

Australia (1st time), Azerbaijan, B36 Torshavn (1st time), Ballinamallard United (1st time), Ballymena United, Bangor, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Donegal Celtic, Dungannon Swifts, Falkirk (1st time), Fulham, Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders (1st time), Hibernian, Heart of Midlothian, Holland (1st time), Israel, Linfield, Lisburn Distillery, Luxembourg (1st time), Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Norwich City, Orangefield OB (1st time), Portadown, Queens Park Rangers (1st time), Rangers, Reading (1st time), Rosenborg, Shamrock Rovers (1st time), Scotland, Tobermore United (1st time)

Competitions Watched : 11

County Antrim Shield, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship 1, Scottish Cup, Scottish Premier League, Setanta Cup, UEFA Cup, World Cup,

Stadiums Visited : 20

Amsterdam Arena, Ballyskeagh, Clandeboye Park, Craven Cottage (1st time), Cregagh Sports Ground (1st time), Easter Road, Ferney Park (1st time), Hampden Park, Ibrox (1st time), Loftus Road (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Stangmore Park, Solitude, Tallaght Stadium (1st time), The Oval, Tillysburn Park (1st time), Windsor Park,

RANGERS 2-0 LINFIELD 10.4.2013

When it was announced last year, that Linfield were to be invited to Ibrox for a friendly game, I was excitedly looking forward to this game.

I’m not that fussed about Rangers, but it was a chance to see Linfield play an away game somewhere different, get to visit a new stadium, and have an opportunity to properly visit Glasgow., was certainly something to look forward to.

When flicking through the programme, it featured an article about past meetings between the sides. From memory of games from 2002 onwards, I knew Linfield’s record against Rangers was awful, six defeats and only one goal since then.

What surprised me most was the fact that this was Linfield’s first ever visit to Ibrox. For some reason, i;d always thought there would have been a game there in the 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s.

Getting to Ibrox was easy and cheap, a short train ride from St Enoch’s in the City Centre.

Ibrox is a fantastic stadium visually. It combines old classic structures with modern facilities. The players entrance made for some good pictures.

When I got in, Linfield fans were given the usual away end. If you’ve seen a match at Ibrox on TV, it’s the end at the top left of your TV screen.

There was no segregation however, and it was possible to walk across one stand to the end behind the other goal.

I decided to watch the first-half from that end as Linfield were attacking there in the first-half, then moving to the other end for the second-half.

It wasn’t the best game in the world, though I wasn’t expecting it to be. It was a friendly in April for crying out loud.

You could tell that the Rangers players were fitter and stronger on and off the ball, and they deserved the win, even though Linfield rallied towards the end when the score was 1-0.

Despite that, it was an enjoyable evening and a chance to visit a top class stadium and managed to get some nice photos.

Photo Album