So, what do you have to do to become a ‘Herring Queen’? I’m just asking for a friend …

Now, Eyemouth, we didn’t have the best introduction. I realise that wasn’t your fault, and I’m sorry I held it against you for our first day. To put this into context, we arrived at Eyemouth in the pouring rain, like it was literally tipping it down, and I had severe caffeine withdrawal symptoms. As anyone who knows me knows, and let’s face it even if you don’t know me, this is not a recipe for a happy Grace. So, when Oli stopped the van to go and look for our performance location, I jumped at the chance to go and explore the town, even though there was an actual storm concurrently occurring because I am not settled in a new location until I know there is a good coffee shop!

After a stroll along the harbour we found Obolo bar and bistro, our very own barn in the storm (that’s a ‘To The Ocean’ reference lads). The staff were super friendly, the drinks were reasonably priced, and the WiFi was really fast. Basically everything we look for in a coffee shop, oh and there were plugs for charging all our electrical devices. We hit the jackpot. Once Oli had secured where we were performing, he and the others who had stayed in the van came to join us. As the rain had cleared, we now had to set about letting the good people of Eyemouth know we had arrived. We split into pairs and went around posting flyers through letterboxes and putting our posters up in any shops that were still open.

Safe to say it was a little bit grey when we arrived.

One thing that we had noted upon our arrival was the flags of all the ‘Herring Queens’ around Eyemouth. We continued to see these throughout our walk around the town, and those who have received the honour of the title of the ‘Herring Queen’ have plaques on their house denoting when they won this prestige. Obviously this phenomenon piqued our interest, how did one achieve this honour? What did this job entail? So, after dinner we did what any good millennial does when they don’t know the answer, we googled it. Google, however, let us down this time, even the Wikipedia page didn’t shed light on what a ‘Herring Queen’ is. We therefore had to be resign ourselves to the fact that we would never fully know the answer.

Even though this question still hung over us, we managed to get a good sleep, until we were rudely woken up by a rather loud lorry. Anyone would think we were sleeping in a working harbour … oh wait we were. The day was rather grey, but Ana and I adopted a positive spirit and went to the town centre to commence the first flyering shift. The weather, however, seemed to put a lot of people off a stroll along the promenade as it was kind of dead. We didn’t manage to hand out that many flyers at all. But those we did give flyers to, for the most part, seemed genuinely interested, which was a very positive sign! After our flyering shift Ana and I went back to the van to have our lunch. As we strolled along the harbour side we saw some worrying police tape near our van. We passed Adam on his way into town, and he told us that we had to go up the hill, past Gunsgreen House, and then down the hill, but we could still make it to the van. Ana and I were intrigued, and it’s safe to say we were not the only ones. It seemed like half of Eyemouth had come to see what was going on. The reason for the police presence is yet another elusive Eyemouth mystery that was never properly solved. All we know is that the lifeguards were involved. After the excitement of a possible crime scene, we went back to Oblo to get a coffee and some WiFi and were later joined by Oli and Rowan who were working on marketing for the Edinburgh Fringe. Our shows are on sale on line and they’re selling remarkably well, so head on over to get your tickets for ‘To The Ocean’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ now!

What a beautiful place to perform!

And then it was call time, and we headed back to the van to put the tent up outside the beautiful Gunsgreen House, where we had kindly been allowed to perform. Our beautiful Bell Tent Boutique tent didn’t look at all out of place in front of the stately house. It struck me how out-of-place, yet totally in the right place the almost stately home was in this little seaside town, and how it made so much sense for our tent to be pitched in front of it. The aim of this tour is to make theatre more accessible, so when we arrive in 16 out of the 17 locations (not including the Edinburgh Fringe, obviously) of our tour we don’t really fit. What is a travelling theatre company doing in Roundstone? Or Enniskillen? Or Bala? But all the towns and villages we have visited have had such a strong creative community, which may not be apparent upon first glance. So, when we pitch our tent in all these locations, even though we may look a bit strange with our hippy van and big bell tent, we’re finding ourselves amongst a lot of like-mined people. We are finding places where we fit.

With some new direction under our belt for the first scene, our performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was a really good show. And then when it was time to make dinner, we were joined by some rather fitting guests, seals! Ana was particularly taken with them, she may even have shed a tear or two. Topic of conversation at the dinner table then shifted from talk about seals, to discussion of other animal-related things, until we were reminiscing on the great film that is Madagascar. Then, after what can only be described as the BEST Mort impression ever by the one and only Hanna Lawson, we decided to watch Madagascar together in the entrance hall of the harbour building. While team clean did the washing up, Ana, Oli, and I brought up all our tent cushions, snacks, and prosecco. It was like the best sleepover ever!

Aren’t we the cutest dysfunctional family ever?!?!

The next morning did not pass in such a wholesome way, however, as I was mentally scared forever. I was back at the promenade, just innocently doing some flyering. I was mid- ‘Can I interest you in some free theatre?’ – when something wet landed in my ear. It took me a moment to process what had happened, and then it hit me, a seagull had just pooped in my ear! I went over to Rowan in a panicked state of disgust, and she took me to the public toilets to get myself cleaned up. You’ve got to give it to the bird that it managed to aim directly into my ear. There was next to no spillage, and there was no poo on my clothes. But it was just a very, very gross experience!

But the day was made better, by not only the reappearance of sunshine, but also a visit from our friend Caitlin Morris! It was so lovely to see her and her family, and to have some friendly faces in the crowd for our performance of ‘To The Ocean’. With Caitlin having already seen the original performance back in the harbour café last November, we were excited to show her how different it is now, with not only different cast members, but also in a completely different location! The Morris family, and the rest of the audience, seemed to really enjoy the show, which was great! So Rowan and Hanna decided that a celebratory ‘pizza crunch’ was in order. Adam, Ana, Oli, and I didn’t fancy a takeaway, so Oli and I went to the Co-op to get some ingredients for dinner. As we were walking through town we saw a sight that we knew would not please Hanna and Rowan, a closed fish and chip shop. We went back to warn them and the Morris family who were strolling through the town in blissful ignorance. I have not seen such a disappointed Rowan possibly ever before. They did, however, manage to console themselves with some treats from the Chinese instead.

Look, our friend came to see our show!!

Monday morning came around and we were rudely awoken again by lorries and a very hot and slightly smelly van (I mean fair enough, we have been living in it for nearly two months now!) and at just after 10:30 it was time to leave Eyemouth and head to our next location, Douglas. I’m going to leave Oli to tell you about our time in Douglas. All I’ll say is that it was not what we were expecting …



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