OUR WINNER’S JOURNEY…. FUN AT THE FRINGE

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OUR WINNER’S JOURNEY…. FUN AT THE FRINGE

I was the (very) lucky winner of the recent Innis & Gunn 'The Journey' competition run in the summer of 2014. Entrants were asked to nominate a local attraction which would be of interest to a visitor to their area and submit their reviews on the I & G wall for travel tips that you wouldn’t find in the guidebooks. My husband and I had recently shown a Chinese colleague of his around Oxford, our local city, and she was amazed by the Oxford Covered Market. My husband had taken some photos, so I submitted that to the contest.

Several weeks later, I received a lovely email telling me I had won! This meant that my husband and I got to spend a long weekend at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The planning of the trip was taken care of by the lovely Katherine and Sophia from Innis & Gunn who organised our flights up to Edinburgh, our hotel – the amazing Scotsman Hotel, a personalised tasting of the beers they sell, an amazing meal at a top restaurant and finally six tickets to see whichever shows we wanted to see during our stay.

Both my husband, David, and I are members of ‘CAMRA’ and had sampled Innis & Gunn beers before at a festival in York, and also recently in Oxford’s Browns restaurant. Unfortunately they are not easily available on draft at the moment in Southern England, and bottle locations are few in the Oxfordshire area. Happily online shopping takes care of that issue.

We flew up on EasyJet on the Friday of the Bank Holiday, and were greeted by Katherine with her personalised sign for us (which we kept as a souvenir). We checked in to the hotel, and later that evening were collected by taxi and driven to Innis & Gunn’s HQ in the West End of Edinburgh. Claire, their Events Manager, took us through a personalised private tasting of five of their best beers including some Limited Editions. The five on offer that evening were their popular Original, Malt Whisky Trail, Rare Oak Pale Ale, Rum Finish, and Canadian Cherrywood Finish.

Both David and I are especially fond of dark beers, but the flavours of the range brewed by Innis & Gunn were all great. My favourite was the Original, however, I was also smitten by the Rum Finish and Malt Whisky Trail too. Claire explained that the Original recipe was discovered by accident. A famous whiskey distiller approached Dougal (Master Brewer and Managing Director of Innis & Gunn) to tell him that they wanted to produce an ale-finished whisky. He came up with a special recipe to season their barrels only for it to be thrown away after the process was complete. The workers at the distillery sampled the beer they were pouring away only to find it was delicious having been transformed by the barrels. From there the rest is history!                                                                                                                                                     

We were then treated to a delicious meal at the nearby Edinburgh Larder Bistro, with Innis & Gunn’s Rare Oak Pale Ale to accompany our meal. Our evening finished with a show to start our Fringe experience ‘ La Clique’ which was best described as a variety circus show with performers varying from energetic ‘pole acrobats’, to a magician who appeared to be failing until you realised he’d fooled the audience…… again.

The following day we saw three more shows, including a variety of comics at ‘Afternoon Delight’, the very funny ‘Bob Moore’ – Barbie and Ken’s Australian love child as my husband named him, and finally ‘Camille O’Sullivan’ who was an amazing singer and entertainer. During the weekend we also made time to go down to the High Street. This has been closed to traffic to allow performers space to do samples of their shows. We saw some amazing short previews during the days, so felt we had experienced the variety on offer.

Our final full day started with a free show from a comic called Dan Willis. He was a die hard ‘Walking Dead’ fan, who like many in the audience with us, actually had a ‘zombie plan’.

Our final show was the amazing Al Murray who was previewing and testing material for his forthcoming tour ‘One Man, One Guvnor’. His show was topical, and based on him deciding to be governor of the country, one election, then he ‘couldn’t be bothered with all that’ and the audience were the parliament. Al Murray’s character ‘The Pub Landlord’ is known to be unamused by ladies  not drinking a white wine spritzer or a ‘fruit based cocktail’. Thankfully I didn't have a pint with me, so on that occasion I was glad not to be drinking pints... I wouldn’t have said before the show I was a particular fan of his shows, but seeing him live changed all that. He was brilliant, witty, took down hecklers and people who had strangelaughs, confiscated a woman’s phone for taking photos, and heckled another man for trying to film the show. This was one of the best shows we saw at the festival by far.

 

My tips for the next lucky winner who comes to the Edinburgh Fringe:

1. Allow plenty of time to find the venues you are booked in for. Keep a note of the postal
address; a few times we found ourselves in the wrong street adjacent to the actual
venue. Even the taxi drivers don’t always know where the venues are.

2. Don’t try and go to too many shows. Pick shows or themes you like but try some other ones
you aren’t sure about.

3. Spend time in the High Street watching the previews and street entertainment.

4. Have a fab Fringe!

We’ve just launched the competition to residents of Canada, US and Finland. To win a trip the Edinburgh Festival 2015 enter here. Terms and conditions apply.

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