Song in My Heart: Scotland - Edinburgh, Monday 2018 August 6

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August 6th 2018
Published: September 20th 2019
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Westwinds approaching St Giles Cathedral Westwinds approaching St Giles Cathedral Westwinds approaching St Giles Cathedral

We are going to sing in a 14 century cathedral!
Since Edinburgh was a fairly short drive, we were allowed a slow morning. Ironically, we were so well drilled that everyone was assembled on the street before the buses arrived!

As we drove through the rolling landscape filled with sheep and grain farms (hay and barley), our new guide informed us that we were looking at relatively poor agricultural land. As we entered the outskirts of Edinburgh, light industrial land uses took over and then residential areas appeared. We drove all the way into the city, which was heaving with the Fringe Festival. St Giles Cathedral, our distinguished performance venue, was in the heart of the Fringe; our bus could drive only so far, and our guide walked us the rest of the distance, not more than five minutes.

Entering the magnificent historic Cathedral, knowing we were to perform, was like entering into history. We already wore our black clothes; a Cathedral docent escorted us to the toilets, four women at a time because of our numbers. For a short while, we wandered through the incredible structure. The altar is in the centre of the church, and the seating for the congregation is on the four sides amongst huge pillars.
St Giles naveSt Giles naveSt Giles nave

Inside the huge building
The aisles for walking are wide, all around the church and beside the chapels.

Soon our director, Nicole, quietly indicated we should gather in the choir stalls. These were modern, grouped in three rows in a curve to one side of the altar. For ease of access after my introductory words, I was positioned in the back row at the end; usually, I don’t like this position because I cannot hear the others well, but after so many performances, I can now keep the tune quite well on my own. An achievement! We must have been intimidated by the vastness of the space, because both Nicole and accompanist Greg (very unusually) encouraged us to sing out with confidence.

After the short rehearsal, we had a bit more time to wander. Band members had the whole time free, because there was not enough space for them to set up and perform. Nicole did a warm up for us. At noon the service began and ran 15 minutes with prayers. The short sermon was about the belief that we are all one, regardless of our homeland, a controversial concept to some British (and other) people right now. The priest announced
My view of St Giles CathedralMy view of St Giles CathedralMy view of St Giles Cathedral

Quick snap with pocket camera
our group. This was the only venue that there were no posters.

Because of the confines of the choir stalls, we performed “
">Yanaway Heyona” in our places rather than spread through the church as usual. And at the finish, we did not exit while singing “
">Kom!”. Tourists circled around all the time; some sat to listen, perhaps 200 – 250 people. The seating on all sides made counting difficult, especially since I was supposed to be concentrating on the songs. For the first time during my intro, I went blank for a moment. “Yanaway” gave me the shivers, as the chanting sounds rose high into the arches. Time passed quickly.

Suddenly, our singing of this repertoire during this adventure was over! Now I felt as let-down as the band members. Later, some band members told us our performance was at a professional level, for which I was glad - hearing ourselves was difficult.

Beautiful piano music rolled through the Cathedral. Greg Massey, a splendid pianist and our accompanist, played a rich piece of music from memory, his own composition. Appreciatively we gathered round to soak in this personal moment for him and by osmosis for us.

Groups of
Our first taste of Fringe feverOur first taste of Fringe feverOur first taste of Fringe fever

Tron Kirk Tower 1647
us went to lunch. My group went to Burgers and Beer (B&B), a bit of an odd choice for a day in Edinburgh. Except the burgers were delicious – both the meat and the charring. Susan and I shared one, and I drank hot water and lemon to stay sober and counteract dehydration.

Susan and I broke off to walk out into the fun of the Fringe Festival. Crowds of people cheerfully brushed shoulders and pushed their way through others who were watching street performers. Every fifty metres or so was a stage with an act. In between those were buskers and single street performers, such as painted people who pretended to be statues until a tip was given – then they moved like stone come to life. Noise poured into our ears, from performers, friends, other people and off-duty performers thrusting handbills at prospective customers - if you put on a show, you must persuade an audience to come.

With only time for a few blocks and few pictures, we met the guide again in front of St Giles Cathedral. He walked us some distance to the bus; an enormous number of tour buses thread through these

Innovation draws audiences
narrow, tourist-clogged streets. Designated areas were closed to traffic; otherwise pedestrians and vehicles contended for road and sidewalk space. Arriving in the suburbs, we checked into a Marriott Hotel. Kind of nice to have a big room with all the amenities.

A shower and change of clothes later, we returned to the bus to go to Howie’s Scottish Restaurant. They offered a disappointingly normal menu, perhaps arranged to be dairy and gluten free, to satisfy allergies: chicken breast (overcooked) with a good complex red-pepper sauce, excellent new potatoes, carrots and broccoli. The glass of (white) wine was included. Lemon and orange sorbet followed.

We followed our guide through increasingly confusing but exciting streets towards Edinburgh Castle for the Tattoo (pronounced as if sneezing, we were told). As the pulsating crowds grew larger, the streets grew narrower - everyone was in a good mood. Gradually we siphoned into the purpose-built stadium in front of the Castle. Our bus 2 group, mainly the band, was seated on one side of the stadium, and our bus 1 group was high up on the other. The view was spectacular as the sun lowered, casting warm light on the historic buildings beyond the stadium. Gradually the 7000
Westwinds at TattooWestwinds at TattooWestwinds at Tattoo

Edinburgh Castle as backdrop
spectators filled all the seats.

The Castle glowed in the evening light as the first marching Scottish band entered with a flourish. Flourishing continued all evening as the sky darkened into night. My heart marvelled at the colour and variety of marching bands. A band from Oman featured two women on horses each playing two big drums, followed by men in flowing robes with their own bagpipes. An award-winning US military drill team wowed us with fast changes of gun positions in which a missed action would have injured all of them. Unbelievably they were upstaged by a much larger Belgium drum corps that moved so fast their drumsticks were a blur, sometimes even while marching in complicated formations. A group of young women from Malawi walked/ran in brightly coloured dresses, and later they shared a dance with Scots secondary school girls in which their countries’ dance steps were exchanged. In the long and massive finale, more kilted Scots bands entered the stadium with all of the other performers, all performing together in mind-boggling colour and sound. Then silence fell for the lone piper high on the Castle ramparts. Respects paid, all the bands marched out. ">View my video.

Girls from Malawi performingGirls from Malawi performingGirls from Malawi performing

Guests of the Edinburgh Girls High School
followed the safest exit I have ever experienced. Marshalls held back certain areas and rows, while allowing others to go. As we all had to exit along the same route as the bands, and as the narrow road up to the Castle was the only route out, their calm traffic management prevented any pushing and kept our high spirits flowing. Our guide led us through the streets of the old city to our buses.

At the hotel we all gathered in the lobby to say a group thank you to Nicole (choir) and Mike (band and organizer), Greg (accompanist), as well as Nancy (tour manager). In our room, Susan doubted she would sleep, because three hours later she would have to rise and get the bus to the airport with most of the others on the tour.

View map of trip to date.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 27


Driving towards EdinburghDriving towards Edinburgh
Driving towards Edinburgh

Intimation of fall harvests
Quirky deliQuirky deli
Quirky deli

Wish I could eat there
Standard Life House and Festival bannersStandard Life House and Festival banners
Standard Life House and Festival banners

Modern Edinburgh
Modern stained glassModern stained glass
Modern stained glass

St Giles
St Giles military coloursSt Giles military colours
St Giles military colours

Flags carried to war
Robert Louis StevensonRobert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson

The people you find at St Giles ....
Reverential feel in Thistle ChapelReverential feel in Thistle Chapel
Reverential feel in Thistle Chapel

Neo-gothic style built in 1911
St Giles organ 1992St Giles organ 1992
St Giles organ 1992

Over 4000 pipes
After our performance St GilesAfter our performance St Giles
After our performance St Giles

That glow lasted all day.
Fringe performance in front of St GilesFringe performance in front of St Giles
Fringe performance in front of St Giles

Pop-up stages everywhere
Burger lunchBurger lunch
Burger lunch

Delicious, but not traditional Edinburgh
Preview show to sell ticketsPreview show to sell tickets
Preview show to sell tickets
Street performerStreet performer
Street performer
Howie’s Scottish restaurantHowie’s Scottish restaurant
Howie’s Scottish restaurant

Traditional modern décor

20th September 2019

Another amazing day
What a spectacle - I had no idea the Tattoo was so multi-cultural. And what fun to go from being a performer to a (well marshalled, hurray) audience member in one day.
25th September 2019

Amazing Day
The multi-cultural spectacle of the Tattoo was a wonderful surprise to me.
22nd September 2019
Our first taste of Fringe fever

Lots of partying going on!

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