Set up This year we have been promoted to the large South Gallery space at Dovecot Studios so we have expanded the exhibition to include a printmaker, Emiko Aida and we have challenged our designers to make a piece on the theme of Follow the Thread. The makers have embraced the theme and we have quite a number of large pieces to display on the walls. Worried that we will have time to do all the displays and hanging, in time for our Thursday opening, we load the car and set off at 4am, so that we can start our set up on Monday afternoon. We have a wonderful group of makers coming in to help over the three days of set up and working incredibly hard, fuelled by coffee, delicious cookies handmade by Glasgow jeweller Nicola Becci and sandwiches, we are ready to go for the opening and the exhibition looks amazing.
Private View 4pm arrives and the worry is always will anyone come and will they buy? We needn’t have worried, they came in numbers hitherto unseen at Dovecot. The Prosecco was flowing- but not our way- the heat was rising, in spite of the fans and lots of sales were happening. The one fly in the ointment was our lack of mobile signal, which meant that the credit card machines would not function in our space! Luckily we had found a small area in our back storage room with a signal, so all our customers had to be escorted into our lair to pay. They didn’t seem to mind- Dazzle customers are very resilient or maybe it was the Prosecco!
Absolutely exhausted by closing time at 8pm. Just manage to totter on aching feet and creaking knees to Spoon for a well earned supper.
Shows We have been coming to Edinburgh Festival with Dazzle for thirty years so we have been to countless performances and seen countless comedians. These days we go to far less shows than in the old days. Costs have spiralled and spending £5 on a ticket to see an unknown and spending up to £18 these days, makes a big difference. We tend to concentrate on serious theatre, with a small leavening of comedy. Our stalwart for serious theatre, The Traverse, let us down this year and we were not impressed by the plays we saw there. Our best show was Nirbhaya at the Assembly Hall. It was not an easy show to watch, being based on the Delhi rape case where a young woman was attacked on a bus and subsequently died, but it was beautifully staged and very moving. The only show we saw to receive a standing ovation. Our other two best plays were coincidentally, one woman shows – Dark Vanilla Jungle at the Pleasance and Don’t Wake Me with Jaye Griffiths. Both tackling very difficult subject matter but very satisfying to watch. Hopefully they will go on to reach a wider audience. Our one foray into comedy was German comedian, Henning Wehn, very dry sense of humour and a really quirky venue. Also enjoyed Jane Adam’s exhibition at the Scottish Gallery, lovely new work, we missed showing her in Dazzle.
Days Out As we are open seven days a week, we usually take Sunday off to go on trips out of Edinburgh. This year the weather was amazing! Our first trip, on the Sunday after the opening, was to Fife. We love Fife and always make several trips. This time we went to Elie on the coast, taking our son and his Italian girlfriend, who were visiting from China, where they are living and working. The gods were smiling, as the weather was perfect, sunny and still- people were sitting on the beach and even swimming. Obviously all those tales Simona had heard about horrible British weather were totally unfounded! A long walk topped off with local fish and chips- a good day.
Trips followed to Crieff in Perthshire to see friends, Menzies Castle also in Perthshire, where we also saw a Crannog, a reproduction of an Iron Age dwelling on the side of a loch. Very strange. Nice drive down the coast, south of Edinburgh to Eyemouth , where we had the best ever fish and chips and walking round the harbour, encountered three huge seals waiting to be fed fish from a nearby stall- they had stiff competition from the seagulls. We also had some great walks, along the beaches and by the Waters of Leith with friends and borrowed dogs. We do miss our dog, Eric.
Eating out eat out far too much in Edinburgh. Every year we vow not to, but it never works out. There are so many temptations and the thought of going to Morrisons and then back to cook at the flat loses its appeal. Best restaurants this year, Timberyard in Lady Lawson Street, run by the Radford family, late of the Atrium, Spoon round the corner from Dovecot and Mother India, just over the road in Infirmary Street. Porto & Fi continues to be a favourite, specially the chocolate beetroot cake. It is no wonder that we return somewhat heavier than we went.
The Exhibition It may seem from the above that Dazzle is the least important element in our stay in Edinburgh. Not true. We do work hard- honest. We were very proud of the exhibition this year. Many of the designers had made a really great effort with their special pieces and they looked amazing and also sold well, which was a bonus. We had tried to introduce quite a few makers new to Edinburgh and this made the exhibition fresh and interesting for our Scottish customers. Every one loved the space so let’s hope we can return next year. The Dovecot hosts the Comedy Awards on the final Saturday, so the place is awash with comedians and media types. They were not amused by the lack of mobile signal! This year Steve Coogan presented the prizes. I wish I could say he came into our space and bought loads but he didn’t, unlike the Comedy Award director, theatre impressario, Nica Burns, who is a huge fan of Dazzle.
We did, however, have one devastating day at Dazzle, when we heard the news that Nick Hubbard had died suddenly. We were totally stunned and very upset, Nick had been a Dazzle regular for years and he was such a lovely person. Dealing with Nick and his wife Jean was always a pleasure and he will be terribly missed.
Conclusion We’re home now. It’s taken some time to recover and it seems very quiet here in the countryside. Each year we wonder whether we can face another year but after thirty years can we bear to give it up? We would miss the stress, the excitement, the beautiful city, the shows, the food and all the friends we have made over the years. I expect we will be there in 2014. Who knows?