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Come with me back in time to LAST week - this is the first of the blogs I wrote while up in Edinburgh. MUCH more to follow!

I set off on Saturday morning VERY heavily laden down with all the gear for Edinburgh - guitar, ukelele, flyers, CDs, t-shirts, clothes, easel, placards and a whole menagerie of other bits and bobs, but it was not directly to Edinburgh that I was heading.

For LO! I was heading to Derbyshire for Mr F A Machine's STAG do. I met with Francis and his two colleagues from his old band The Almanacs - it was a three band affair, with all male members of the Frankie Machine Band and The Validators in attendance. We arrived at a FIELD next to a PUB, and went to the PUB while we awaited the other attendees. After a delicious BEER we headed back to set the tents up - I had cunningly bagsied a space in Tim's ENORMOUS family tent as I knew he'd bring LOADS of gear - as well as a CONSERVATORY we also had table, chairs and kettle, and it was only POLITENESS that stopped me asking why he hadn't bought a telly and fridge freezer too.

After setting up we set off HIKING across the peaks to another pub where we had more beer also FOOD, including PUDDINGS. Ollie, formerly of The Validators, had a MOUSSE and when the lady said "I'll get you a small spoon" the look on his face demonstated his complete awareness that we'd all be calling him Small Spoon for the rest of the day.

Heading back we found two BULLS blocking our way across a field. There was debate about what to do, until the BRAVER, MANLIEST members of the group decided we'd be fine, telling everyone else that if we walked calmly across the field in a tight group we would a) not alarm the bulls but b) appear to large for them to intimidate. THUS we had the bizarre spectacle of nine grown men ZIGZAGGING in a mincing and increasingly speedy way across the field shouting "STAY CALM! DON'T RUN!" to each other while very excited bulls ran round them like horned sheepdogs.

Once back we spent a couple more hours in the pub NOT joining in with the folk singing, especially not the hugely bearded pensioner singing a VERY long slightly rude story that, I reckon, he was making up as he went along. We got kicked out at 1am,so went back to the tent and some WHISKY for a bit of a singalong, including an AMAZING bit where we sang HARMONIES in the chorus of "Waterloo Sunset". It was BRILL.

A scant few hours later we were up, packed the tents, then headed over the road for a DELIGHTFUL greasy spoon breakfast - DELICIOUS in fact - before saying our goodbyes. I got dropped at Chesterfield Station and ended up having a lovely, and very long, conversation with an elderly train spotter. It shames me to say that I would normally have made an excuse and gone off somewhere else, but this time I stayed and chatted and had a very nice time indeed.

I then had a LENGTHY, SLOW train journey to Edinburgh (in pre-booked first class tho, so FREE TEA AHOY) where I found NO taxis but a HUGE queue waiting for them. After 15 mins during which ONE taxi arrived I decided to walk... and ten minutes later, struggling uphill with HUGE piles of gear and MILES to go I was intensely regretting it. I'm VERY worried about making myself poorly before I've even started and this seemed like a very efficient way of doing exactly that.

LUCKILY a taxi stopped nearby to let someone out so i HOPPED in with GRATE relief and was soon meeting Mr S Hewitt at our DELIGHTFUL flat, where he had already put the kettle on. HOOPLA!

One MUCH MUCH MUCH needed shower later we headed out for some TEA, and as we walked over NOrth Bridge we found ourselves suddenly NOT in Tourist Edinburgh and in THE FRINGE. It all felt very real at last, and also very exciting. We had a BRILL curry at a place called Red Fort, which seemed to be PACKED with thousands of essential vitamins - I'd been FLAGGING somewhat beforehand, but now felt MUCH better. We popped to the Pleasance for a quick beer - we met pals Ewan and Jo and their friends, looked at some people off the TELLY going by and - ZANG! - met Moo aka Dr Cocacola McDonalds doing some flyering. HUGGING occurred.

At this point I had to admit defeat, however, so said my goodbyes and came home, very sensibly. And now I'm typing this up at home in my bedroom, not quite believing this is FINALLY happening. Tomorrow it all kicks off!

posted 10/8/2008 by MJ Hibbett

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