It's been a few years since I was in Edinburgh at the very start of the Fringe. My more recent trips have involved swanning up half-way through, asking and reading around to find out what's good, and having a fine time of it. This year, however, I arrived before the festival actually began and was discombobulated to find the place in a state of undress, figuratively speaking.

Venue staff are still painting, sign-making and rigging up lights; the streets, while not empty, are not yet full of people wearing matching T-shirts/'funny' wigs/their costumes; it is possible to find a seat in cafés and bars; I've been flyered, on average, only once a day; and, joyfully, there are no queues. The audiences at the shows I've seen so far have been understanding when it comes to the difficulties of first previews and all the performers I've met still have a look of terror on their faces. The next couple of days will see all these things change, but for the moment, I'm just glad of the calm. I'm here for the whole month, and a month is a long time at the Fringe.

I may have found a refuge though, in the newest addition to the Pleasance family, the Ghillie Dhu, which stands at the western end of Princes Street. I'll be seeing Frances Ruffelle's cabaret show, Beneath the Dress, there at some stage, but last night was just for drinking tasty ale in a proper bar. I don't want to knock the hostelries at the other, more makeshift festival venues, but I think we can all agree that there is something quite nice about sitting on comfortable chairs, drinking from glass rather than plastic and, crucially, being indoors. Anyone looking for me over the next few weeks, the Ghillie Dhu would be a good place to check.

Off to see Duality at the Merchants' Hall in a bit, so time to curtail my ramblings. I'll let you know how it is tomorrow, either on this blog, or at the very least on Twitter (follow the #wosed hashtag to be kept up-to-date of my movements and that of the rest of the Whatsonstage.com Fringe team). Until then, have a lovely start to the Fringe everyone. 

- Jo Caird