Edinburgh Festival and Fringe

August in Edinburgh is a really busy time.  At this time of year, the centre of Edinburgh, particularly the area around the Old Town, is jammed packed full of people, including many visitors and transformed into a vibrant, noisy atmosphere as the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe get into full swing.

This year, it ran from 3-29 August and the Royal Mile was closed off to accommodate stages for the many performers to perform for a few minutes and promote their shows.  Any space space that could be found was plastered with posters for various shows.  Old buildings that are usually closed up are opened for a month to create venues for the thousands of performers that descend on the city for the month.  During this month, accommodation for visitors is at a premium so many of those who come do so for the day if they can.  Otherwise they have to plan their trip at least a year in advance to get accommodation.  As a result of this, hotels raise their prices because they know they’ll sell their rooms at such a high price at this time of the year.

With the amount of people in Edinburgh at this time, it can be difficult to find somewhere to eat and drink if you want time away from the madness that is the festival.  Looking towards Edinburgh Castle, seating borders the Esplanade as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo runs during the festival period with this year’s one running from 4-26 August 2017.  Bus companies run tour packages to the Tattoo for those who wish to see it and park their vehicles in designated areas, for example, Chambers Street, and the audience has to walk up the steep hill to the Castle Esplanade.

So, what if you’re going to Edinburgh by car for the day?  Regardless of whether or not you are going to see the Festival, Fringe or Tattoo, the best way to get there by car, if you’re going for the day, is to drive to the Park and Ride at Ingliston where you can park the car for free.  A short walk from the car park is the tram stop.  The trams in Edinburgh run between the Airport and York Place in the city centre.  For the cost of a day ticket (about £3.60) you can leave your car at the park and ride and take a tram into the centre of Edinburgh.  The trams run every eight minutes during the day and this frequency reduces slightly at night.  The trip takes about half an hour and once you disembark, whether you go to the Old Town or the New Town is up to you.

If you go by train, Haymarket and Waverley Stations are in the city centre so you can walk straight into town from there.  The newest station is Edinburgh Gateway which is near the suburban Edinburgh Park Station.  If your trip to Edinburgh by train takes you to one of those stations, they are both close to tram stops so you can take the tram into the centre of Edinburgh.

Shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, particularly the Free Fringe, is a gamble but you can find a gem. This year, my partner and I went to a few shows, two of which were less than impressive.  The best of the shows we went to were by comedians Dominic Holland and Ashley Storrie.  Dominic Holland is the father of actor Tom Holland and his gem of a show was all about how he has been eclipsed in show business by his more successful son.  Ashley Storrie is a regular at the Festival with her mother Janey Godley who is also a comedian.  We laughed until we cried at her excellent show and although we did not have time to see her mother, perhaps we will one day.

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New Drivers and the Law

I recently passed my practical driving test so now I thought it was the right time to start writing this blog again after a couple of weeks off.  This time, I won’t be writing as a learner driver but as a newly qualified one.  Therefore, there will be other things to write about, starting with the New Drivers Act 1995.

This piece of legislation is also known as The Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995 and affects everyone who passed their practical test after 1 June 1997.  The effect of this Act is to impose a probationary period on every new driver for two years.  If, during these two years the driver commits an offence and gets 6 points or more on his/her licence then that licence is revoked and the driver reverts back to a provisional licence.  In order to gain the full licence once more, the driver has to pass a theory test (including hazard perception) and a practical test once more.  This probationary period only applies once (on passing the first test), so, once a driver whose licence was revoked under the New Drivers Act 1995 regains his/her licence, he/she is no longer subject to the terms of the New Drivers Act.  However, the points gained on the licence are valid for three years and will be on the reissued full licence.

So, how do you avoid your licence being revoked?  First of all, not to commit an offence that can lead to points on the licence, for example speeding or using a mobile phone while driving.  The latter can now get six points straight away therefore, a new driver would have his/her licence revoked immediately for this.  The DVLA have no need to notify you when your licence is to be revoked and the process of revocation is automatic.  However you should receive a letter from the DVLA with regards to revocation of your licence within 5 days.  Most of us have mobile phones these days and when the phone rings or a text message comes through it must be tempting to answer it.  However, doing so while driving distracts a driver and can result in tragedy because the driver is distracted.

While driving, it is best to ignore the phone or, if it has to be answered, find a safe place to stop.  What I do is place my mobile phone in a bag which I then place out of reach.  That can be in the back seat of the car, the front passenger footwell or in the boot.  That way, if it was to ring for any reason, I can’t reach it and therefore, I can’t answer it.  However, when you’re driving, you’re more concerned with what is going on around you to care about answering your mobile phone if it rings while driving.

 

Bibliography

http://www.drivingban.co.uk/drivingban/drivingbannewdrivers.htm

 

Driving Practice Sessions: Week 153

Tuesday 18 July 2017

 

I met my instructor at the car park near the office and we set off on today’s lesson.  We left the car park and turned left to follow a series of one-way streets to make our way to Union Street.  When we go to the junction of Union Row and Union Street, we turned left and went down Union Street until it continues as Castle Street then around the corner where it becomes King Street.  We were stopped at the traffic lights at the junction with East North Street and West North Street and when the lights changed, we went straight ahead to continue along King Street.  We were stopped once more at the traffic lights at the junction with Mounthooly Way and Seaforth Road.  When the lights changed, we carried on ahead and then turned right onto Merkland Road East.  We turned left onto Ardarroch Road and the right onto Pittodrie Place.  There, I was asked to reverse parallel park the car.  I also noted a young man was on his driving test.  Once we were done, we went straight ahead and turned right before we carried on to the roundabout at the junction of King Street, School Road and St Machar Drive.

We turned went straight ahead and made our way into the Bridge of Don via Ellon Road.  We used the traffic light controlled roundabout to get onto the A90 Aberdeen to Peterhead road.  We only went along the dual carriageway until we arrived at the junction with Broadfold Road where we turned left and then right to go into the test centre.  We used the car park to reverse park into a parking bay.  The young man who was on his test came back but I don’t know if he passed his test or not.  I hope he did.  Another test candidate arrived back after he left but I don’t know how she did.   I hope she passed too.

We left and turned left and the left onto the Parkway from Broadfold Road.  We then followed the road towards the roundabout that leads to the Diamond Bridge (Third Don Crossing).  We crossed the bridge into Tillydrone and at the junction with St Machar Drive, we turned right and then made our way to the roundabout at the junction with Great Northern Road.  We took the second exit off that roundabout onto Leslie Road and we went along Leslie Road onto Hilton Street then went straight ahead at the Six Roads Roundabout onto Westburn Drive.  From there, we went straight ahead onto Argyll Place and left onto Rosemount Place.  From there, we turned right onto Esslemont Avenue and made our way back to where we started from.  We agreed to meet on 24 July 2017.

 

Driving Practice Sessions: Week 152

Monday 10 July 2017

 

I met my instructor at the car park near the office and we set off on today’s lesson.  I confirmed the date, time and venue of my next test which meant that we returned to the more familiar territory of the Bridge of Don for the lesson.  To get there, we went through a series of one-way streets to get to Union Street and when we got to the junction of Union Street and Union Wynd, we turned left, avoiding the bus lane on Union Street which was in operation.

We went straight ahead onto Castle Street and King Street and carried on going straight ahead.  When we got to the bus lane at St Peter’s Cemetery, noting it was out of operation, we used it but left it to avoid a portion of the lane that was closed for repair near Aberdeen University.  At the roundabout at the junction with St Machar Drive, we turned left and went up St Machar Drive.  We went straight up towards the roundabout at the top of the road, beside the junction with Great Northern Road.  There, we took the third exit to go along Great Northern Road and carried on until we got to the junction with Western Road where we turned right.  We then turned right to go along Hayton Road and from there, we made our way to the Third Don Crossing and went over towards Grandholm Drive which we turned right onto.

From there, I had to turn right and then right again to head along Balgownie Drive.  At the fork, not far from St Nicholas School, we turned left to go up Scotstown Road and followed that road towards its junction where we turned right onto North Donside Road, just beside the Blackdog pub and then left to go along Gordon Road.  There, I was asked to reverse around the corner onto Gordon Avenue then from there, I was guided further along the Bridge of Don then we made our way back to the city centre and back to where we started.  The next lesson will be on 18 July 2017.

 

Driving Practice Sessions: Week 151

Monday 3 July 2017

 

I met my instructor at the car park near the office and we set off on today’s lesson.  As he wanted to show me the area of the Aberdeen South Test Centre, we left the car park and turned left to use a series of one-way streets to make our way towards Union Street.  At the junction with Union Wynd, instead of turning left, we went straight ahead onto Bon Accord Street then from there, I was directed towards West Tullos Road which is a long road that goes us a steep hill.  At the top of the road, my instructor called the roundabout a mini version of the Haudigan Roundabout.  It didn’t seem that bad and so we turned right at that roundabout to go along the A956 past the shell garage and towards the slip road to the A90 south.

The speed limit of this road is 50mph due to the work being done on it, connected to the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).  So, as we joined the road, I had to check it was safe to do so but another motorist chose to help out by going into the right-hand lane of the dual carriageway to make it easier for me to merge onto the road.  Once on the A90 south, we went along that road until the slip road for Portlethen which is where we came off.  I was then guided through Portlethen and we then joined the road to go north back to Aberdeen.  I was then guided around Cove towards the Gateway Business Park and the test centre.  At this one, the parking bays are aligned with each other which makes things a little easier.  There I was asked to reverse park into a parking bay which was a lot easier because of the alignment of the bays.

We then left the Aberdeen South Test Centre and we went back to Aberdeen which involved us more or less retracing our route back to the car park.  Due to a public holiday on 10 July, I agreed to meet my instructor again on 11 July 2017.

 

Driving Practice Sessions: Week 150

Monday 26 June 2017

 

Today, I met my instructor in the street, parked in a parking bay not far from the office.  That meant getting out from behind a parked car, a skill you’re tested on in the driving test.  We set off from the office and turned left to follow a series of one-way streets to get onto Union Street.  When we got down Union Wynd, we turned left onto Union Street and went straight down that street, keeping out of the bus lane that was well and truly in operation.  When we passed Archibald Simpson’s we continued onto King Street, stopped at the lights at the junction of East North Street and West North Street.

When the lights changed, we went along King Street and at the roundabout at the junction with St Machar Drive, we turned left to go along St Machar Drive and at the roundabout at the junction with Great Northern Road, we followed the signs for Dundee and went along Leslie Road.  At the junction with Hilton Place, we turned right and I was asked to reverse parallel park the car, keeping my right foot near the brake to control the speed going downhill.

Once that was complete, we turned right onto Hilton Avenue and then right again onto Clifton Road.  A short distance along that road, we turned left onto Greenmore Gardens.  At the end of that road, we turned left onto Great Northern Road and at the junction with Western Road, we turned right and went along that road, turning right to go onto Hayton Road.  We then followed that road then turned left to head for the Diamond Bridge.  There, I was directed through the Bridge of Don and reversed around the corner from Gordon Road onto Gordon Avenue.  After that, we then made our way back to the city centre and, when we arrived, parked up in the car park we normally set off from.  We agreed to meet again on 3 July 2017.

 

Driving Practice Sessions: Week 149

Monday 19 June 2017

 

I met my instructor at the car park beside the office and when we left, we had no option but to turn left as we joined a one-way street.  We then made our way onto Union Street via a series of one-way streets and from there made our way to the Bridge of Don area.  We made our way along Union Street which continues as Castle Street beyond the junction with Broad Street and then went past the Archibald Simpson pub onto King Street.  We were stopped at the traffic lights beside the Arts Centre Theatre.  When the lights changed, we went straight ahead to go along King Street.  We weren’t stopped again until we got to King Street’s junction with Seaforth Road and Mounthooly Way and when the lights changed there we carried on along King Street, making us of a bus lane that was out of operation.  The only time we left it was to overtake a bus that was taking on passengers at a bus stop.

At the roundabout at King Street’s junctions with School Road and St Machar Drive, we turned left and went up St Machar’s Drive.  We had to stop at the pedestrian crossing near Old Aberdeen and Aberdeen University but once the lights changed there, we carried on along St Machar Drive.  At the roundabout at the junction with Great Northern Road, we turned right and left the roundabout to go onto Great Northern Road.  We drove along that road until we got to the junction with Western Road, beside the Fountain Bar and the Canton House Chinese takeaway and turned right to go down Western Road.

We went along that road then turned right to go onto Hayton Road where we stopped.  There, I was asked to reverse parallel park the car behind a parked car and moved off after that.  We went along Hayton Road and then made our way to Gordon Mills Road and the Diamond Bridge, also known as the Third Don Crossing.  We went along the bridge and turned left to go along Laurel Drive and drive past Tesco.  We passed Bannantyne Health Club and Spa and at the roundabout nearby, we turned left to cross Persley Bridge and head along Mugiemoss Road towards the Haudigan Roundabout.  We turned left at the Haudigan Roundabout and went along Great Northern Road until the roundabout at the junction with St Machar Drive.  We turned right there to go onto Leslie Road which, after the junction with Clifton Road, becomes Hilton Street.  This led us to the Six Roads Roundabout where we went straight ahead to go along Westburn Drive.  We were stopped at the traffic lights at the junction with Westburn Road and when they changed, we went straight ahead onto Argyll Place and from there, we made our way back to where we started.  When we arrived at that point, we agreed to meet again on 19 June 2017.

 

 

Driving the roads of Scotland and the progress made from learner to newly qualified driver