As the Festival comes to an ed, first timer Grace Sanson relects on an amazing experience

DAY ONE: bruised biceps, welcome drinks and first show jitters

I think I’ve overpacked to a new extreme. I love a walk, clears the mind, but a walk through Edinburgh city centre with a case and two bags does not clear the mind: it incinerates it. And bruises your bicep - I’ve definitely pulled a muscle. It’s all worth it though! I won’t have to carry such a heavy load for the rest of the week, so I have now built up my strength and I’m invincible. Positive spin for a big week ahead.

I carried my invincibility into the scheduled Welcome Drinks. I haven’t had time to be nervous, but I probably looked it. Everyone was really lovely and the wine was free, which made everyone even lovelier. We’ve moved into our accommodation and it’s a cosy little uni flat, where I am now. We’ve all scurried off to be flatmates and now six of us share a shower that resembles a horror set. Should be fun.

I went to my first show this evening - Lovefool at Summerhall. I loved it! I’m a fizzing mix of excitement and gratitude, and soaked up that first experience through every pore.

DAY TWO: body doubles, rooms that smell and five star shows

I met my editor, Barry Didcock, in the Pleasance Courtyard. I’ve never been anywhere like that before. somewhere so harmonious, where you can meet such interesting characters! I’m used to those traits not crossing over much… It’s like some mythical land where private school boys dress as Mr Blobby, and you can accidentally get chatting to Taylor Swift’s Hollywood body double. She was about 5 ft, so I’m not sure how that works out for tall Taylor.

I had my first PR meeting! Feel professional! She was fun, kind and helpful, and I didn’t sell my soul. I got a free coffee too. I like this industry. I headed to the show she was representing, Alison Spittle’s Soup. It was great, but was in possibly the worst room I’ve ever smelt. The air was rainforest thick, and the room was packed. It was down in The Hive, which I think is infamous for this kind of thing.

I’m now sat on The Meadows, people watching. I’m heading back to Summerhall in a sec for a play from Paines Plough Roundabout. Last time I was in that big yellow tent, I was working as a frostbitten usher, after a long day in retail. I remember trying to catch a glimpse of the play I was working, so as to get a review up on my blog that night. This all feels like a gorgeous full circle moment, and I’m enjoying basking in it. Just a little.

DAY THREE: football, musical tears and teenage dreams

Caught the World Cup Final at the brunch Pitch hosted. Free pastries and the Lionesses? Happy Grace. Not the result we hoped for, but there was a beautiful atmosphere there. I came out feeling a little pep in my step - it was a great start to the day. I then had to run off to Pleasance’s Dome (which is different to The Courtyard I learnt) for Half Moon. I regretted downing a can of sprite just before, but I kept it together.

I had such a lovely afternoon. I found a pub near The Traverse, my next venue conquest, and got a Guinness, a seat by a plug, and a view of the telly to watch West Ham beat Chelsea. I also smashed out a load of writing that I’m actually happy with for once, so that pep into my step has turned into a bounce. I bounced off to Trav for No Love Songs and I am so happy I went makeup-free today. My face was wet from tears.

It was then time for Trainspotting Live - a little bit of inner-teenage-Grace healing. It was a teenage dream come true. I loved it. I loved how loud it was. I loved its unapologetic predictability and revolutionary excitement. Note to self: ‘go to more raves like you used to. Heroin is still a hard no’.

DAY FOUR: The characters of Pleasance, one woman shows and cheesy craic

Today started with another trip down to Pleasance Courtyard with my laptop. I sat at one of the picnic tables, opposite a boy about my age. He turned out to be a very posh West Ham fan - apparently they exist? He was sat doing the crossword while his girlfriend worked on box office: a Fringe fairytale. Him and I sat with our other picnic table buddy, a theatre owner from Norway who was looking to buy a show, and chatted, drooling over Haaland. The viking striker is uniting classes and nations.

After another day of shows and writing, I headed to EIC again to see The Spirit of Ireland for a good old boost of home comforts. The show managed to ‘tell the story of Ireland’ without mention of freedom or fighting, just the Titanic, Terry Wogan and Riverdance. All the highlights. It was good fun: I sang along and it was all set in my motherland, a Catholic pub in Cobh.

DAY FIVE: Crashing, downward dog and (actually) really great improv

The infamous Fringe flagging has sunk its claws. Time and energy are creeping away from me, but I’m relishing in the delirium. I saw Yoga With Jillian this morning and belly-laughed; it made me miss my downward dog days in Donny. I’m just back from the final media drinks in that same sweaty room where I was welcomed. I feel like I’ve aged 10 years (I bet I look it too). The dark circles and frizzy hair are signs of a brilliant time!

I’ve had a night of comedy at Pleasance and it’s been excellent. Great drinks, great laughs and great celeb spotting. Very Fringe. Chloe Radcliffe’s Cheat was a hard show to digest and has left me stewing in my own thoughts. I then caught Kiell Smith-Bynoe’s Kool Story Bro which was beyond hilarious and great fun. Jamie Demetriou joined the show, which was an absolute treat.

Just me, my battered laptop and my blister plasters have taken on our first Fringe and I’ve got to write about some incredible work. My brain feels fried, but the delicious kind of fried. I’m a better writer, and I’ve got very good at beating the predicted journey times on Google Maps. I know I have to come back to the Fringe every year now. I’ve been bitten. It’s a crazy, glittering bubble where you meet amazing people and see the best work in the world. I’ll be leaving Edinburgh Waverley having lived through many different lives and stories. Not bad for a little week’s trip.

Grace Sansom was working with The Herald for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's prestigious Emerging Critics Scheme.