Monthly Archives: June 2013

Humanities in decline

Humanities in decline

The above article in the New York times regarding the decline of humanities majors this past week struck a chord with me. Having been a true humanities major in my undergrad education, I can’t expound the impact it had on my life. It truly gave me a love and appreciation for writing, reading and the arts that I would not have had otherwise. It’s a real tragedy for our society that youth aren’t finding it a worthwhile field to go into. 
I originally went into university as a landscape architect major. It was obvious a semester into college that learning about the rich history of human design was something that truly inspired me. I was lucky to go to a university which had a major which allowed me to explore this field. And sadly, that major no longer exists. I think I may have been one of the last graduates. But I can’t imagine majoring in anything else. It’s too bad that others since haven’t had the same option I did. Because I think the degree is so flexible, allowing people to go into any field they want to. It provided me with a foundation, which I so firmly stand on for both my career and in life in general.

In a way come full circle thanks to the major. In my current role I’m getting a chance to be a landscape architect of sorts. I get to affect the landscape of our cities with the choices I make everyday with my work with trees. And it’s really rewarding and exactly what I wanted to do (without having to be stuck in an office drafting up plans). 

In my personal life, I read and write all the time. Would I do as much without being forced to read loads of wonderful literature and write a lot as an undergrad? It’s possible but I probably wouldn’t know how to dissect it as well as I do. 

So if you’re looking for a major, don’t pass up humanities! It’s a wonderful, enriching degree. And don’t fret right out of college that you don’t have a specific field to get into. In the long run you’ll come out on top.  

*off my soap box*

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

FyneFest 2013

There is no beer fest I looked forward more to in my 31 years than FyneFest 2013. It was my first time going and I’m pretty certain won’t be my last. Fyne Fest takes place in Argyll up in Western Scotland. Here’s a helpful map to help you get your head around where I went:

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From London I took the Caledonian Sleeper from Euston to Glasgow. It was lucky for me to have made it as I decided to go out for a few pints with my co-workers after working an extra long day. I had to rush back home to grab my things, shower and get back into the city, just making the last train into the city for the night. Well planned by me. But I did make it and I was lucky to get a sleeper berth to myself. Booya.

Cozy sleeper berth

Cozy sleeper berth

The sleeper train is well worth taking. I slept like shit, but it was the best way to go really. The bed is warm and comfortable. If you can book in with someone you know, even better. And book early as it can be very cheap! One of my tickets was £19.

I got into Glasgow around 7 and caught the 926 bus to Cairndow. I called the brewery when I got there and someone nicely came to pick me up! It was only 2 miles to Fyne Fest, but I had no idea on how far it was. It was so nice of Fyne Ales to arrange transport for campers, especially single and mostly lost ladies like myself.

I got there around 11 and the festival didn’t officially open until 4. So I set up my tent, went to the brewery tap which had been remodeled since my first visit. It’s really nice and welcoming. My first pint was Jarl, which is one of my favorite Fyne Ales. After a short nap, the festival officially opened.

Welcome to Heaven/FyneFest

Welcome to Heaven/FyneFest

I had my first festival pint which was Oakham Citra, which I think I’ve had before but couldn’t remember much about. It was good and I paired it with salmon kedgeree. The kedgeree was my favorite dish of the weekend and I should have had it again, but I was too busy trying all the rest of the food.

Delicious kedgeree

Delicious kedgeree

With a full stomach I started ticking off the beers on the list. I got 20 beer tokens (1 token = 1/2 pint) and figured that would just about last me into Saturday evening. 10 pints is a lot, but with so many delicious beers I knew I would be drinking plenty. The night ticked on and I made a few friends and started chatting about this and that beer, the glorious city of London (which Scottish people don’t seem to see that glory), and basically everything else under the sun. Before I knew it it was night and it was absolutely bucketing down with rain and very windy. I was struggling to stay awake after a long week so I retired early to my bed. I am happy to report that my tent was indeed waterproof and thank god for that!

Ye little tent

Ye little tent

As you can see I have a pole sticking up in my tent awkwardly. That’s because the pole in my never-used-before-tent broke when I was trying to set it up. I was very pleased about this. I even got a guy to tape it back together but it snapped again. Luckily it was just for the rain fly, so I was ok. It was super awkward to keep putting the pole up when I got in and out but not the end of the world.

So Saturday was the main day of awesome. I got to the beer tent when it opened up at 11 AM. My first beer was Fyne Ales Bell Rock n’ Hop which started me down a long and treacherous path of IPAs and high percentage alcohol for the day. I was planning to walk that day to the Walkers Bar up the glen. I struck up a conversation with a nice guy in the beer tent who was also heading that way so we decided to walk together. I packed a Superiour IPA (7.1%) in my flask for the 3 mile walk like any sensible person would do. The rain was intermittent on the walk but overall really pleasant.

Local we met on the way to the Walker's Bar

Local we met on the way to the Walker’s Bar

Path up the glen

Path up the glen

Walker's Bar across the river

Walker’s Bar from across the river

In the hut

In the hut

 

This was the best part of the festival for me. The walk was a welcome reprieve from the beer fest. The glen was beautiful. Inside the fishing hut was 4 kegs of Fyne Ale and some lovely burgers. We got to chatting with Jamie from Fyne Ales and one of the brewers from de Molen for a while as we sank a couple pints. I had a Raad & Daad from de Molen the night before which was the most vinegary beer ever to pass my lips. Yikes. But after speaking with the brewer from de Molen we gave the Amarillo a try on his suggestion back at the beer tent, which completely redeemed them. It was one of my favorites of the fest.

Once back at the brewery we went on a brewery tour where I was surprised at how small the brewing set up was at Fyne Ales. From what I remember from my alcoholic haze they have a 7 or 9 barrel system. The amount they produce from this is amazing. They must have been brewing like mad before Fyne Fest to produce all the beers they had on at the festival. They did have quite a lot of fermenters to be fair.

Kettle

 Brew kettle

We headed back to the beer tent from there and got onto that Amarillo I spoke of earlier. Then I went for the Lemoncello IPA (9%) from Siren Craft Brew. It was some bit after that when things began slipping away from me. Luckily my little internal sober conscious took over, dragged me out of the beer tent, made me eat loads of food and boshed a 1.5l water in like 10 minutes. I sat down for a while to gather myself and suddenly I was back! Back ready to dance! I drank a bit more but mostly I was focused on dancing. This went on until midnight when I excused myself from the dance floor and went back to my tent.

I woke up Sunday  at 7 a bit worse for wear. Walking back to my tent from the loo I thought I may toss my cookies. Drinking a bit more water and heading back to bed seemed to help me quite a bit. Finally I got up at 10 and made a double cup of tea. This tea certainly saved my life. Thanks to my co-worker for lending me his little stove.

The most important cup of tea in my life.

The most important cup of tea in my life.

I did lay around a little bit more as I wasn’t scheduled to leave until 3. And in my drunken stumblings the night before I pre-ordered some seafood paella for Sunday. Well done drunk Colleen.

Paella getting served up by Loch Fyne Oysters

Paella getting served up by Loch Fyne Oysters

I can’t say enough about the food I ate all weekend. It was just as good as the beer. All of it was by local guys with local ingredients. I really enjoyed everything I had.

After getting my paella I got a beer and ate. It took a lot of courage to get a lot of beer. I will admit that I tried to go up at 11:30 to get a beer and had to step away and go for a walk. I just couldn’t face it just yet. But I did get two more beers the last being the Sublime Stout. It was pretty sublime and I would have enjoyed it more on a different day.

Putting on a brave face.

Putting on a brave face.

Not long after, I took down my tent and headed out for Inveraray for the rest of my Scottish adventure.

Really, it was such a phenomenal festival. The brewery really looked after everyone there so well. I have very little to criticize about the festival. Everyone was in a great mood. Lots of happy kids running around. Well, a lot of happy adults running around as well. Next year it would be great to bring some friends along, but if I go alone again I know I’ll have a great time too!

A pretty good place to be in the world.

A pretty good place to be in the world.

I’ll write up a bit about the rest of my trip later and share some photos.  Until then enjoy the rest of the weekend! Peace.

Categories: Beer, holiday, travel, Uncategorized, Walking | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Musical World Tour: London

Unsurprisingly, I’m partial to songs on the topic of London. Enjoy these!

Flavorwire

We’ve rather enjoyed choosing our favorite songs about a different city every Friday. But thus far we’ve only looked at cities in the US — namely New York, Chicago, and Detroit — so this week we’re hopping on a plane and heading across the water to Europe. Our first stop on the other side of the Atlantic: London. Of course, England’s capital has had innumerable songs written about it, and as ever, this isn’t some futile attempt to define the “five best” — it’s just our five favorites. What are yours?

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Feeling pretty Fyne

My liver. Scotland, what have you done to my liver? I am finally home this evening after a long, public transport frenzy of a trip to Scotland for Fyne Fest. It was so good and I will never forget the weekend and memories made.

I’ll be sure to do a full update this weekend when I have some time. But I will show you a few sneak peak photos. See, it all started lovely. This was me on Friday morning.

Cheerful and ready for beer!

Cheerful and ready for beer on Loch Fyne

Then I added a bit of this:

Woo sun!

Woo drinking in the sun!

And some of this Saturday night:

 

Woo dancing!

Woo dancing!

And it lead to this on Sunday noontime:

Keep on trucking.

Keep on trucking.

Please let the record show that I kept going on Sunday, converting the remainder of my beer tokens for beer. Like a boss. Luckily it was only 2. No way was I going to give up so close to the finish line.

It was really fun and I am definitely going again next year. I hope I can convince some people to join me. If not, I imagine I’ll still enjoy myself.

I’m off to bed to try and regain some sort of normalcy in my life. Look for an update come Saturday! Cheers friends.

Categories: Beer, travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

So camp

Getting ready to go

Getting ready to go

The above photo makes me happy. I love camping. And since moving to England, I haven’t camped once. So this coming weekend will be a momentous occasion. Finally I get to break out the tent, which has been sitting on my wardrobe for nearly 2 years. I hope I can put it together with no problems. I don’t want to look like an idiot in front of my fellow campers. Any ways, it’s only two nights in the tent. Not very much but should be enough. Then I’ll be hosteling the other two nights. It’s a pretty short trip I’m taking up to Scotland but is a desperately needed break from the city. I will be drinking lots of whisky and beer.

It’s been a much better week this week. The bottom has dropped out of my stress. I feel much more settled knowing I’ll be here for a while longer. No need to rush back stateside. I’ve barely been home this week as I’ve been been playing loads of tennis and out and about with friends. It’s nice. I had a couple tennis matches today, but I’m happy to have the evening to myself to catch my breath.

Not sure if I’ll update before heading up to SCO, but I will try. I’ll leave you with a photo of one of my lunch time breaks at work this week, Gray’s Inn Gardens. I’d never been there before properly, so it was wonderful to finally enjoy it. Even dragged one of my friends out of his stuffy office to join me. Good times.

Gray's Inn Gardens

Gray’s Inn Gardens

Out like a trout! Peace.

Categories: Garden | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Random life moments

It was a fine weekend. Even with working. I’ve been enjoying the nice weather by spending nearly all my time the last 4 days out of doors. I feel like I was devoid of sun and blue skies for so long my body just can’t get enough. And I’m happy to oblige. I will forever be an outdoorsy girl. If I ever get permanently stuck inside of an office, I will inevitably go crazy and then crumble into a pile of ash after combusting in my chair. I just can’t handle sitting still so long. Especially when I could be out working in places like this:

Brunswick Square

Brunswick Square

Any ways, I hope you all had a nice weekend. I mowed my lawn. It was nice to be “back on the tools” as they say. After being a turf professional for 6 years, I can’t shake the PPE. I have to mow in sunglasses, boots and ear plugs. It just doesn’t feel right not wearing all of it. Like it’s not the full experience. Sans bra? No problem. But the PPE must be on.

Could mow in a bikini as long as I have boots, ear plugs and sunnies.

Could mow in a bikini as long as I have boots, ear plugs and sunnies.

I realize I look ridiculous mowing in all that with a bloody electric mower. A shitty electric mower, but that’s the way I am and probably will always be. It’s surprising I don’t have a hi-viz shirt or tabard on. Although at that point the neighbors would begin to talk and my landlady would likely ask me to find a place without a lawn to mow.

What also happened yesterday is that a very small kitten dropped out of the sky into my back garden. Well, probably not out of the sky as it would be a dead kitten in that case. But a small black kitten appeared from no where. It is 3-4 weeks old and pretty adorable. How does this happen? Of course it doesn’t want anything to do with me. But I keep trying to pet it. If I’m lucky, perhaps I’ll get to touch it by the end of the week. That’s if it hasn’t escaped into another garden by then. The mom is obviously like “WTF, kitteh? Why are you here?” It appears that some situation arose which allowed the kitten to get into our garden and it is not able to find it’s way back from where it came from. The mum keeps coming back over to take care of it, so that’s a good sign. Of course I’m feeding and giving it water. It seems interested in those things.

Kitteh and big kitteh

Kitteh and big kitteh

So I’ve been pretty glued to the kitten drama since it kicked off last night. Like keeping tabs on how much the mom comes over. What the kitty does when other cats come in the back garden. I certainly can’t get enough of this. I’d stay home from work just to watch if I could afford to do so. It’s the biggest thing to happen in the Norbs in months.

Any who, I have a super big day tomorrow. 30 miles of cycling, tennis and being outside all day doing tree stuff. So I should get a good night’s sleep. Have a great week everyone.

Categories: Garden, Rando | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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