Edinburgh is well into pre-festival mode, and I have already attended its film festivals (one quite good film for £10), its jazz and blues festival (one quite good band, also £10) and its food one (one burger for £5, a single-scoop ice-cream for about £3 and a bit of free cake).
You may say: Gina, you're really splashing the cash up there in Edinburgh, and you would be right to note my parsimony. But please be aware, I am one of many millions trying to get by on a tight weekly budget.
These festivals, to wrap this perspective up, are for the tourists. Unless £10 is a drop in the ocean for you, in which case, go crazy in Edinburgh.
But if your budget is tight, what to do? I admit I spent most of my time at the food festival sitting at picnic tables with a friend looking slightly desperate, much like two losers at a disco, hoping for a change in luck. Eventually a kindly woman came over with a plate of cakes – she was closing up so it was us or the bins – and we were well-behaved and grateful until the cake-maker turned her back and my friend and I fought rather aggressively over what she'd given us. Elsewhere, I was disappointed to see Asian Street Food retailing at around £7, which is not the authentic street-food experience I was expecting. Effectively, any decent serving of food at any Edinburgh festival will cost you about £7. This, at least, is my experience. Considering the Scotmid Co-Op around the corner sells those ubiquitous sealed sandwiches for around £1 at discount time (around five o'clock to be exact, including prawn sandwiches, and also beef and horseradish), my choice of impromptu eating really is quite clear. In fact if anyone wants to really enjoy what Edinburgh has to offer, I recommend a tour of its inner-city supermarkets from the late afternoon, when everything is marked down. These places become treasure troves of gourmet eating (2 chocolate eclairs for 60p; a giant trifle for 80p with the proviso that you have to eat it by midnight).
As such, my weekly diary post is dedicated to Edinburgh's late-afternoon supermarket scene. Forget the bands, the movies and the £7 Asian Street Food. Weary traveller, somewhere beyond the magazine rack in a mini supermarket near you is a heavily discounted protein-enrichment salad with your name on it.