Ruby Wax enjoys the Glesga patter

I’ve always liked Ruby Wax and when I saw she was performing her new show Sane New World about her thoughts on mindfulness I jumped at the chance to see her.

She didn’t disappoint.

Her show somehow strikes the right balance between humour and honesty in dealing with her struggle with depression and her use of mindfulness to deal with the insanity of the modern world. There are jokes in abundance…her replies to spam mail being one…she simply cannot resist replying to emails even dealing with erectile disfunction “I don’t need you now but keep in touch in case I do in the future” she replies…

She has recently completed a masters at Oxford in Mindfulness and is now using this as a tool to deal with the constant bombardment of modern life. She regaled with examples of focussing her hands on the steering wheel when faced with the imminent onset of road rage. She even got the Glasgow audience to fall silent for a few moments as she lulled them into mindfulness, focussing on the feet I felt the solidity of the ground beneath me, focussing on sound I heard breathing and the lull of the studio lights..but she was right..the thoughts returned within seconds..”what train would I get?” “should I cook something in the slow cooker tomorrow?”…her next prompt and now back to the feet brought me back to peace for a few moments..

She chatted about retreats promising that after a weekend you would find your inner elf? Hiding under a toodstool she joked. She made light of the “positive thinking” manuals promising you that if you thought yourself beautiful you would be. Really???? How would that work? She wanted to be a ballet dancer but wasn’t blessed with the long legs for it. Thinking herself longlegged had, surprisingly for those convinced that what we believe we become, hadn’t worked so, after a tough childhood, her only options as she saw it were serial killer or comedienne. She chose the latter, thank goodness!

After her stand up show, performed with great energy, she did a workshop. A man in the balcony above asked:- “would mindfulness help his mate clear his mind block about buying a round (of drinks)?” She laughed it off!

Others posed her tricky questions which she dealt with well and openly not acclaiming to be an expert but just someone talking about her own experiences.

I met her afterwards when she signed her book for me. She looked great and was lovely.

“Has anyone ever told you you look like Cate Blanchett?” she asked me.

That alone would have made her my friend for life! IMG_0109 IMG_0112 IMG_0114 IMG_0117

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Swimming around an underground car park

Visit Fleming House, 134 Renfrew Street to see an underground car park transformed into an imaginary swimming pool…the walls painted as if you are underwater, heads pop out of the tarmac wearing goggles! Imaginary changing rooms complete the look! Part of Glasgow International Art Festival.IMG_0069 IMG_0074 IMG_0079 IMG_0081 IMG_0089 IMG_0093 IMG_0094

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It never rains but it pours….a Scottish road trip to Glencoe and Glen Etive

Now it’s been quite a while since I updated my blog…so spurred on by my New Year’s resolutions, here goes…..

After a fun Christmas at home with my brother who flew back from the US of A, I headed off for a few days after New Year. The forecast was awful. But if you let that stop you in Scotland, let’s face it, you’d never leave the house. So putting my brave traveller face on…the one that saw difficulties as a mere small bump in the road of life, rather than a mountain, I headed off to Glencoe.

I’m not sure whether Scotland has just become more beautiful since I left…or did the months (and years) on the road change my eyes somewhat…but I really have turned into “tourist Ange”. On the road through Rannoch Moore, I pulled up alongside a minivan containing Japanese tourists sporting large cameras and not enough clothes (I also had on not enough clothes) I really felt like one of them, especially as I jumped out, got the snap and jumped back in!

Here is the snap…the Japanese tourists warned me “it was dangerous out there”! Now I don’t look so delighted but it was bloody freezing!

Me in Rannoch Moor

Next stop was the obligatory waterfall stop at the start of Glencoe.

Waterfall, Glencoe

After a little wander around, and some coffee from my flask (an obligatory of the great Scottish road trip) I watched a busload of travellers get out, clothed in whatever warm clothes they could find with some blankets for good measure, take the obligatory snap and jump back in. I did the same! I was one of them.

Next photo stop was Glencoe. I’ve always loved it here with its mighty mountains and history of clans doing battle. The aim was to do the “Lost Valley”. It was my second attempt at it.  However, yet again, the weather beat me and the valley still remains “lost” to me. I look forward to seeing it though in summer with its great big boulders where they used to hide cattle. Crossing a river in freezing conditions just didn’t hold the same attraction for me that it used to.

So, again, parked up alongside camper vans and some of the same tourists we had seen at the waterfall, out I got, took a snap and back into the warmth of the car!


It was a wild night in Glencoe so we enjoyed the local pub with locals. I’d have done the same on my travels I guess though this time I could speak the same language and I guess laugh at some of the same jokes. I didn’t eat local food though. It was more tempting to have the delicious halloumi platter with the lovely company of Paul who I met in New Zealand, then India, then Edinburgh. We met at the Laroch Pub in Ballachulish, a locals pub with a lovely atmosphere. We had a great laugh about the wonder of onesies.  Why had a babygrow for adults without even the sensible studs which featured on the baby ones and allowed for toilet trips become a “fashion must have”.  What hope was there for civilisation when the “twosie” became the next “fashion must have”. As I thought back to Christmas and my brother and I swinging on the Ikea reading chairs wearing our onesies I did think that perhaps the world had gone mad…he’s recently turned 40 ! Whoever went on dragons den and said “now I’ve got a great idea….a baby grow for adults without the studs”?

Laroch Pub, Ballachulish

Next day it rained….and rained….and rained…..

We went a walk around Glencoe Lochan. We played with a huge alsatian who looked like he had eaten a child for lunch but had a really nice nature and then we headed to the Clachaig Inn.

Glencoe Lochan IMG_2338

My mate Paul has worked at the Clachaig Inn on various occasions between his worldwide travels. The Inn has offered shelter for over 300 years and I felt the warmth as soon as I got inside. There is a log fire and the piece de la resistance a pool table!  To escape the rain, we played pool!

Clachaig Inn IMG_2361

Travellers are not usually put off by the weather….so off we headed to Glen Etive. There is something about Glen Etive which draws me. I’d been once before on a wet and windy night. On that occasion, I’d read about the lovely “swimming holes” it offered in my guide book.  The raging torrent which ran through the Glen didn’t invite me to swim then and nor did it now. When I asked Paul about the swimming holes he said there was too much water to see them just now!

Now just to show that the great Scottish phrase “it never rains but it pours” is perfectly true and being a person who likes, if I can, to back up the great Scottish phrase…here is the evidence!!!!!

I’m not sure why but roads which lead nowhere always somehow attract me and the road through Glen Etive fits that definition. 14 miles to a small carpark. We joked en route about advances through the ages. At one time (1847) you could take a steamer from here all the way to Oban. Now there is nowhere to go but there is talk of using the waterway again to transport logs out of the area. So the little pier may yet again find some life.

Glen Etive IMG_2373 IMG_2383 IMG_2386

As we headed back out of Glen Etive, some stags came to take a drink from the river.


It felt like a long drive back up and out of Glen Etive. I still wasn’t able to see these swimming holes and realised that my dreams of seeing these pools filled with nymphs (I’ve no idea where I get my ridiculous ideas) was nothing other than a fantasy….

Oh well, back to the guide book I guess…..

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Lola Cab-arette….a festival first

A lone red feather flies above fringe venue 183. Behind it lies Edinburgh Castle sitting on its volcanic mass. Beside a Hackney cab stands Lola, her red feather boa blowing in the Edinburgh breeze, a cigarette holder balanced as she welcomes us to her show. For this indeed is a unique fringe experience. I’ve always loved the fringe for its diverse venues. I have been locked in a container with people emerging around me in the darkness from below crates, had dancers floating above me in a swimming pool suspended from the skies but never before have I been in a taxi lit by red fairy lights, a disco ball swirling around and ze French Lola welcoming me into her boudoir.

Some Caravan Palace (French Electro Swing) fills the air as we settle into our red seats and prepare for the show. Lola tells us she came over from France and before long we are winging through the Grassmarket as she regales us with its history of a hanging place and points out some locals waiting to be “hanged”.  On the pretty Victoria Street she shows us “ze lil dog” which she keeps in her handbag. It’s time to walk it so without further ado a little red curtain is pulled over the front of the cab and Lola becomes “Geraldine”. From a French cabarettist to an Irish nun (complete with fantastic accents) we are introduced to Geraldine who found God, repented her sins and now drives us around down the Mound (to the astonished gasps of passersby!) with a few little candles adorning the dashboard. She takes us into Waverley Station where she sings a rendition of Waterloo but with the words changed to fit the setting. It is hilarious!

Then we are off again down Market Street then round the back of Waverley Station where a lovely green lit bridge gives Geraldine a stage for a bit of dancing complete with her cross! This is no ordinary nun it seems! We bump up Calton Hill, with Geraldine advising the married woman not to let her man go up there alone at night and onto, what must be my most favourite street in this city, Regent Road.  A few camper vans have parked up and it’s easy to understand why. The view of Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh’s other volcanic mound looms ahead of us. Behind us lies the building once destined for the Scottish Parliament at the last time of referendum and a row of impressive town houses attracts our eyes with thoughts of “Through the Keyhole”.  Geraldine heads off at this point to be replaced by Emma Lou, from deepest New Orleans complete with her southern drawl and some beads some men in that town had thrown her from a balcony, in exhange for…well use your imagination! She sings us a song then heads off for a ketamine injection. The curtain closes and in comes Morag with a brown bonnet, tartan flags hang across the inside mirrors and some cloth adorns the dashboard. Morag puts us all at ease. She loves the little baby which the couple have with them and as we look at the view over the city she sings us Caledonia! It feels right with the former Parliament behind us, the new one below us and the Robert Burns Memorial in front of us.

We drive along Princes Street, a rare privilege as we are in a taxi. As we rattle over the tram tracks the words of one of the songs come back to me ” We didn’t want the tramworks…..” After three years away from the city it remains in the same chaotic state with the trams still not commenced and vehicles rerouted in all such ways. On George Street Morag goes to tend her sheep, she had brought them down to the city but it’s time for her to go back with them to her steading. So we say goodbye to the tartan and greet Lola back her French accent and cigarette holder. It’s nice to hear her funny pronunication of “ze crap”. From here, it’s back to the start at the Grassmarket where Lola originally came to feed her habit she tells her but was disappointed when you could never even find astro turf in the area! With an “au revoir” and time for a few photos, our show is over! We laughed, sang and left a trail of red feathers in our wake in this original and fun performance.

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Gangham style meets Riverdance, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

As the largest arts festival in the world draws to a close I thought I’d share this video of some performers on the Royal Mile…

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A weekend of sea swimming, sunbathing, and train travel

I had a touch of restlessness on Saturday so decided to head off to the seaside! Not deterred by the Open Golf at Muirfield I decided to head to North Berwick. Seaside and chips were in my mind as I boarded the train. The new route from Airdrie to Edinburgh has changed things around here. Within an hour and a half I would leave behind the central belt and breathe in the fresh sea air. 

On the train two women behind me chatted. Now I’ve really started to appreciate the Scottish banter since I came back and it was the second time in a week that the same phrase had come up. A few days ago, I can’t remember why, I’d explained to my mum the phrases “out” and “out out”. Now used in the context of a night “out”, “out” usually means just going to the pub, while “out out” means clubbing. These two women were also discussing this phrase in the context of a night “out”.  

I changed train at Edinburgh Waverley and boarded the train down to North Berwick. A few open golf fans were on the train. I could tell by their accents and their nice appearances. I met my friend at North Berwick station. I’ve always liked this station with its pretty flowers and end of the line feeling. We headed straight to the beach which was full of holiday makers. The Bass Rock had its usual unearthly appearance…a huge volcanic mound stuck in the sea and covered by white bird shit. It maintains a certain beauty, perhaps its scale. It is the largest rock gannetry in the world, providing a home to some 150,000 gannets! Now I was discussing a few weeks ago why a greedy person is called a “gannet” and not a sea gull or swallow. The explanation from wikipedia is that the gannet’s ability to eat large quantities of fish (which they dive down for in the sea) is the explanation for the use of gannet in our everyday vocabulary.  The Rock seems almost a counterweight to Berwick Law, the other volcanic mound placed in an otherworldly way at the back of North Berwick. I’ve climbed this one before but in the new tropical weather it was simply too hot to climb!

After sunbathing for some time on my sarong (it has rarely, if ever, seen the light of day in Scotland) we headed down the coast to get a glimpse of Tantallon Castle as the sun dropped a little in the sky.  The Castle appeared an orangery colour in the light perched at the edge of the sea as if one day it may fall in.

We headed to Gullane where I was to spend the night. The Open Golf was taking place at nearby Muirfield meaning the town was filled with smart looking golfer types, some a little red in the face after a day of wandering round the course. Gullane has always enticed me. I’ve often passed through here either on my bike or the bus and thought of the incredible design of the golf course straddling the road. On the bike I was happy to have my helmet in case a stray ball caused me to come a cropper. It is one of those places that has never lost its charm for me. Perhaps it is the space and undulating landscape, characteristic of this part of East Lothian, or the surrounding fields with their yellowly colours, neat lines of crops and barley blowing in the wind and reminding me of waves in the sea.

The town felt alive with people and I hoped it would bring some nice business to the local shops. Certainly the chip shop where we bought some chips for tea with salt and vinegar was doing a roaring trade with 6 members of staff dishing out fritters, fried sausages and mountains of fresh chips! 

Now this weekend’s restlessness brought with it an irresistible desire to swim in the sea. So tankini on we braved the sea. It was cold. My friend said that the day before it had been as hot as the sea in Cyprus but alas the weather had chilled down a little and it was a bit cold. Still we managed 10 minutes of refreshing splashing around while those on the beach watched with apologetic looks in their eyes. A plane circled overhead, perhaps taking photographs of the open. 

I admired once more the pretty and huge houses in Gullane wondering “who lives in these places?” Some may be rented out for the Open, others are still family homes, though I guess I couldn’t face cleaning a house of that size anyways! 

I went to an allotment and saw artichokes, onions, beetroots as big as turnips, strawberries, all manner of other berries and courgettes as big as marrows growing. I saw butterflies and bees, everything seemed to be alive and thriving! 

On the train home I chatted to a couple from Texas. They had been at the Open, being big golf fans. I asked them if they’d had a nice time (not knowing anything about golf I didn’t know what else to ask) and they said it had been really special as they had a special picture signed. The lady then produced from her bag a photo mounted on a piece of wood which showed her husband (in the 1990s) with Graeme McDowell (number 7 in the golf rankings they told me).  They had brought the picture with them from the States having met McDowell many years ago at a local golf club. The husband then managed to trace McDowell leaving his hotel, shouted to him about the picture and “McDowell bounded over the barrier and signed it”.  Of course, “McDowell didn’t remember me one bit but it was still nice” the husband added smiling! The wife placed the picture back in her bag and said they were off to Leith to catch their cruise ship on to Hamburg and would watch the rest of the Open in the ship before they set sail. I wished them well and headed off to Princes Street Gardens to catch the last of the summer sun.  I saw a piper playing. I took a photo. Some Chinese tourist prepared their large cameras to photograph him too. At that exact moment the piper stopped playing and packed up his things. I laughed at the coincidence. I admired the layers of buildings in Edinburgh’s Old Town, each one balancing on the other like some lifesize game of Jenga. As the wind picked up and the heat left the air I headed back to Waverley Station and caught the train home.

My restlessness had passed. My hair smelled and felt of the sea.  Sand had somehow got into every crevice of my bag. I didn’t mind.  It was a nice reminder of my lovely weekend spent at the beach! ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage


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Bikes and the bard

It was a rainy day in Glasgow today but that did not put off the “Handlebards” from their fab performances of Twelth Night and Romeo and Juliet at the Riverside Museum (2013 Museum of the Year).

“4 men, 4 bikes, 40 characters and a 926 mile adventure” the Handlebards will, for 2 months, travel from Glasgow to London carrying with them all the necessary set, props and costumes to peform the plays!

Twelfth Night was outside, in a grassy area around the side of the Museum.  The bards popped out from their tent which was pitched in the middle of the grass. The stage comprised their bikes, with flags roped to the handlebars!  A little bit of cord marked the edge of the stage. I enjoyed seeing parts of the bikes and their camping stuff being made into props.  Pots and pans made drums. Bike bells made music and rings.  Bike pumps doubled as swords.  The priest had a cross made of 2 spanners strung on a bike chain. It all appealed to my love of bikes and my love of reusing stuff! The bards changed costumes and moved scenes by flying in one side of the little tent and emerging from the other. Tweed costumes were replaced by net skirts held up by braces and baskets made breasts! (see the photos!).  Camping plates became characters held, at times, by members of the audience! Two kids became part of the show, as did I at one point, though thankfully my direction was to “stay still”.  I am certainly no actress! A violinist accompanied the bards with an umbrella sheltering her during the shower! It is Glasgow after all!  A mouth organ and small string instrument also gave music during romantic moments! The bards slipped slided across the grass like Djokovic at Wimbledon. With energy, humour and real life, even in the inclement conditions, they brought the bard to life!

Romeo and Juliet was staged inside. Juliet sat on her bike rather than her balcony (better for her health I guess!). Camping plates became dancing partners at the masquerade ball, a bike bell was Juliet’s token of love given to her Nurse to pass on to Romeo and Mercutio was slain with a bike pump.  It all worked fabulously.

A perfect combination for me of two of my favourite things, live performance and bikes!  Check out the bards at www.

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