There probably isn't a time of the year I love more than August in Edinburgh.

Royal Mile

Royal Mile

For sure, a lot of us locals like to complain about it. Buses take twice as long, trying to get anywhere beyond the royal mile requires a steely determination and flyers seem to make their way into every bag and pocket.1

Much like when we complain about the weather, complaining about the festival is just an easily accesible topic of small talk. Doing so may bring us together and cement our identity but deep down I don't think we really want things to be any different. Edinburgh without the festival season just wouldn't feel like Edinburgh at all.

We are proud of the fact that the world's biggest arts festival descends on our little city. Speak to a local and it won't be long before they tell you how the population of city doubles during the month of August.2 Edinburgh comes alive with a vibrant and pulsating energy and it's hard to be entirely cynical.

I find this energy contagious. Wandering around the sea of posters advertising every available show, I feel the buzz that I get when I visit major cities like London or New York.

One of the thing that brings me the most pleasure is walking back home late at night, camera in hand.

George Square and the Pleasance are still abuzz with people who don't have work in the morning. Musicians and jugglers still perform to small crowds in the dim light of the Royal Mile.

Performers are wandering back to their accomodation with spray painted faces wearing hoodies over ornate costumes. I wonder what kind of crazy show they are a part of.3

Food trucks and pop-ups are everywhere making it almost impossible to resist the urge for a for a late night slice of pizza.4

Pizza Geeks

And every night is accompanied by the familiar soundtrack of fireworks. Right on cue.

This year I tried to embrace it as much as I could. It was my most festival-y festival ever. The Fringe is often synonomous with comedy but it is also home to some unique experiences you won't find elsewhere. In total I saw 22 different shows, bands and events.

I saw Edinburgh Castle light up with 350 million years of history.

Deep Time

I saw Driftwood, an engrossing and gasp-inducing display of acrobatics inside an intimate venue.

I saw Mark Watson deliver another set which proved himself to be one of the most reliable members of the Fringe establishment.

Wifi Wars

Wifi Wars

I saw an elaborate technical show, Wifi Wars, go so horrible wrong that they resorted to singing Eminem covers on a Ukulele while someone tried to restart all the routers.

I saw Nish Kumar deftly switch between innocuous material on his desire to be the drummer in Coldplay to Brexit, bankers and gentifrication by the middle classes.

I saw Sigur Ros at the playhouse where they were not so much making music as a providing a sensory experience.

I saw Louis CK at the playhouse received like a rock star with comedy that took cynicism to a whole new level. In the best possible way.

I saw a somewhat crass, Australian foul-mouthed puppet reflect on the nature of life and whether we should sacrifice being a decent person in order to make good art. I loved it.

I saw Abandoman improvise a rap about my problems getting Wi-Fi reception in my bedroom.

I saw quite a lot of improv; including an improvised musical and an improvised album.


I saw a musical about the true story of a group of migrants from Glasgow fighting to have the law changed. With feel good song and dance numbers.

I saw Last Dream (On Earth), an immersive, technically astounding live audio experience recreating both a refugees journey to Spain and Yuri Gagarin in space.

I saw some alcohol experts turn a drinks tasting into an hour long show involving dodgy puns and cross dressing. The drinks were a lot better than the jokes.

I saw James Acaster deliver a slow-burn of a stand up set that was exceptionally well crafted and delivered with immense precision. Mainly about honey.

I saw James Thiérrée, grandson of Charlie Chaplin in a surreal, strangely beautiful, Dali-esque piece of theatre. And in which everyone ended up getting eaten by a giant polythene toad.

I (eventually) saw Kieran Hodgson in a charming hour of autobiographal character comedy after what was surely the most stressful and insane queuing system in the entire city. It brought everyone together.

I saw Sam Beam (of Iron and Wine fame) and Jesca Hoop bring their beautiful harmonies to end the month in the most perfect low-key way.

Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop

Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop

And I gathered with friends in Princes Street gardens, drank some wine, shared some food while we watched it all finish with a bang.

Thank you Edinburgh. See you next August.

  1. This is despite the fact you spend most of your time coming up with inventive ways to avoid taking them.
  2. Even though it might not be strictly true.
  3. Amongst all the shows in the festival 'crazy' is a pretty relative term.
  4. Although I was also pretty partial to a late night crème brûlée.

Starting a Blog

I've thought about creating a blog on and off for a while; a space to collect my thoughts and to put up some of my photos. I'm entering a new chapter in life and now seemed like an appropriate time.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

People blog for many reasons - to promote a brand or business, to make money, to build a platform, to gain readership, to feel part of a community. There are a couple of things in particular though that have driven me to create this one:

To be more creative

A few years ago, for 365 days in a row, I took a photo every day and posted it online along with a few words about the day.1 This process taught me a lot; not only how to use my camera but the impact that having a camera with me would shape how I viewed the world, for good and for bad. One of the most important lessons I learnt was the value of finding small ways to be creative everyday; even if it was simply choosing a photo to use. Since I stopped doing the journal I've found I missed that outlet.

There is a lot to consume out there. I'm really good at browsing the internet, listening to podcasts and binge-watching Netflix. These are things which I value and I recognise the ways in which this media enriches our lives. But there is often a relentless pressure to keep on top of the latest cultural phenomenon; without realising it our default setting becomes that of a consumer. This never-ending wealth of amazing content can not only be exhausting but can leave little room for anything else.2

Having a creative project allows me to disrupt this patten. Nothing motivates you more to get off the sofa and run than signing up for a marathon. Creating this blog is my marathon. It's an outlet and a motivator when I want to binge on another TV series; a gentle reminder to be intentional, to get out and to make something and not just be a consumer.

To find a new voice online

Twitter is a huge part of my daily life; I check it constantly and yet I contribute relatively rarely. In many ways it's become deeply problematic, for reasons captured perfectly by this recent comic. It's a great as an aggregator of news, but increasingly less helpful as a place to project thoughts and ideas.

A lot of the modern Internet, at least those online spaces I inhabit, is fueled by cynicism.3 It's easy to join in with those voices often without realising. Writing a snarky tweet feels much safer than projecting something sincere. There is absolutely a place for snark, viral videos and memes but this blog is my attempt to redress the balance slightly.

I don't know what that looks like yet. My interests are quite diverse - technology; spirituality; photography; coffee; tennis. I may write about the process of deconstructing faith. Or maybe I'll write about whether you should fill your house with Wi-Fi light bulbs.4

When I started posting photos online I'd never tried to use a camera properly. Similarly I've never attempted to write before but hopefully blogging can help me improve. One day I may be able to write and better communicate something that is useful or resonates. For now though this is primarily a personal endeavour.

I think I'm OK with that.

  1. I haven't posted in a long time but my journal is still there on I'm still proud of many of those pictures. It's an archive of that time in my life and how my style of photography changed.
  2. And I still haven't watched Breaking Bad. Or The Wire.
  3. And of course GIFS.
  4. Spoiler alert: you probably shouldn't.