Thursday, September 29, 2011

HAPPY MICHAELMAS!!! Please have a piece of blackberry pie today!!!

"In the Christian world, today is Michaelmas, feast day of the archangel Michael, which was a very important day in times past, falling near the equinox and so marking the fast darkening of the days in the northern world, the boundary of what was and what is to be. Today was the end of the harvest and the time for farm folk to calculate how many animals they could afford to feed through the winter and which would be sold or slaughtered. It was the end of the fishing season, the beginning of hunting, the time to pick apples and make cider.

Today was a day for settling rents and accounts, which farmers often paid for with a brace of birds from the flocks hatched that spring. Geese were given to the poor and their plucked down sold for the filling of mattresses and pillows.

Michaelmas was the time of the traditional printer's celebration, the wayzgoose, the day on which printers broke from their work to form the last of their pulp into paper with which to cover their open windows against the coming cold — the original solution for those who could not afford glass yet had more than nothing — and the advent of days spent working by candlelight.

In the past, the traditional Michaelmas meal would have been a roast stubble goose — the large gray geese that many of us only get to admire at our local state and county fairs. Today, when most poultry comes from the grocery store in parts and wrapped in plastic, a roast goose can be a difficult luxury to obtain, but any homey, unfussy meal is a fine substitute — especially with a posy of Michaelmas daisies or purple asters on the table.

In folklore, it is said that when Michael cast the Devil from Heaven, the fallen angel landed on a patch of blackberry brambles and so returns this day every year to spit upon the plant that tortured him. For this reason, blackberries would not be eaten after today, and so folks would gather them in masses on Michaelmas to put into pies and crumbles and preserves. And they would bake St. Michael's bannocks, a large, flat scone of oats and barley and rye, baked on a hot griddle and then eaten with butter or honey or a pot of blackberry preserves.

Whether you recognize Michaelmas or not, you can still greet what comes with the symbols of today: gloves, for open-handedness and generosity; and ginger to keep you warm and well in the coming cold."*

*Writer's Almanac Sept. 29, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Grill

This is where Rachael worked for the last three years. She has gained an incredible knowledge about Scottish whiskey and this knowledge might be more valuable to her in the coming months as she looks for a job than the actual political science/international relations degree she received.

The Grill

THE GRILL, an unlikely name for a bar, and yet in Aberdeen it is synonymous with all that is best about Scotland’s family-owned traditional pubs.

Originally established as a restaurant in 1870 from whence it takes its name, and converted to a pub some time later, it has remained virtually unchanged since 1926, making it one of Aberdeen’s oldest pubs. In their listing of pub interiors of outstanding historic interest, CAMRA included The Grill as the only Scottish entry north of Dundee. Many generations of resident and returning Aberdonians have quenched their thirst in its comfortable and congenial atmosphere.

Enjoying a prominent position on Aberdeen's main thoroughfare at 213 Union Street, The Grill is located directly opposite the Music Hall which plays host to a wide range of concerts and shows, including Classical, Folk, Rock, Pop and Jazz, and is only a 5 minute walk from the newly refurbished His Majesty's Theatre.

The Grill is very much a standing pub due to the presence of a long bar counter and offers a welcoming environment to people of all ages and tastes who merely wish to have a drink and a chat. In addition to a first class range of draught and packaged lagers, cask and keg ales, a homely range of tasty bar snacks, including the famous Stovies & Oatcakes and Haggis, is offered at all times.

Due to its central location, the pub is surrounded by many of Aberdeen's favourite restaurants and is a popular meeting point prior to a meal or for an after dinner malt.

The Grill Aberdeen Scotland

Interior of the bar featuring the long bar counter,
the mahogany panelled walls and
part of the ceiling plasterwork

The Grill has been named Bar of the Year by Whisky Magazine in its Icons of Whisky awards for its collection of whiskies and its commitment and passion to educate the consumer. Currently on offer is a selection of over 500, some 60 of which are from around the world, including Japan, Ireland and America. The selection includes probably the oldest dram on sale anywhere in the world, a 65 year old Macallan distilled in 1938, several more single malts distilled in the late 1930’s, and the legendary Black Bowmore.

Scotland Whisky With several members of staff having gained a Certificate of Expertise in the Sales and Service of Scotch Whisky, The Grill is now recognised as a “Whisky Embassy” by SCOTLANDWHISKY.

As smoking is now banned in public places in Scotland, the only smoke you can now enjoy in the bar is in your whisky, be it an intense Islay experience or one of the rarer lightly smoked Highland malts.

A Glimpse At The Place Rachael Has Been For Four Years

We had to go onto campus the day after graduation so we snapped some pictures that might be of interest to you. Queen Mother Library...very impressive name, not so impressive building. They are building a new library which is much more interesting to look at than the old and probably much more fun to head to in the dark of the Aberdeen winter.

Here is Eileen protecting herself from the drops of rain that just started to fall.

Kilau, Rachael's favorite coffee shop at their new location on campus. They make the best cupcakes! And the coffee is good too!

Here is a glimpse of the new library building as seen at the end of a nice narrow walkway.

Fans of Harry Potter will appreciate the Cruckshanks Building...

Here is a final look at the new library. Love all the windows! They will really let in a lot of light in the winter.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rainy Day at Balmoral

Balmoral has belonged to the the British Royal family since 1852, when it was purchased by queen Victoria. It is a private residence owned by the royals so it closes in August for the queen's visit and extended stay. The estate is next to the river Dee and it was thought to be good for one's health to be near the river. It was raining like crazy when we arrived. It should be great for my asthma!

Look how lush and green it is!

This is the south side of the castle. It was designed by William Smith, city architect of Aberdeen, in 1853. They used granite quarried from the estate. The style was known as Scots Baronial but it was considered somewhat Germanic as parts of the design were greatly influenced by Victoria's husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coberg and Gotha.

This is the front and side

The sunken gardens were added by George V during the 1910's and 1920's

Sue, Rachael and Rick walking through the grounds

This is a bridge queen Victoria had built over the river Dee. It was designed by one of the most famous British engineer of the 19th century, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

View of the river Dee from the bridge.

Leslie, this is a wooden corgie!!!

Rick and Eileen taking a tea break in the restaurant at Balmoral.

Graduation Day

The label inside the cap Rachael rented for the graduation...very impressive.

Eileen, Olivia and I waiting in the hotel lobby for the taxi to take us to graduation.

Elphinstone Hall at the University of Aberdeen. The graduates walking in.

Eileen, Rachael and Olivia afterwards.

Rachael, Rick and Eileen

A little out of order but here are Rick, Olivia and myself waiting to go to the graduation ceremony.

Rachael and her friend Tilly after the ceremony.

Eileen trying on the cap.

Proud parents and the graduate.

The Ewings and the Sivaks with the graduates.

A little happy celebrations afterwards.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yo Sushi!

Loved the Sushi at Yo Sushi at Union Station in Aberdeen.

Eileen and Rick

Checking out the conveyor belt...

Eileen using children's training chopsticks...

Seared tuna

Rachael Sue and O

The damage. We needed another walk about town to clear the air to get ready for the graduation.

4th of July in Aberdeen

July 4th found us sitting in Aberdeen at a restaurant called Handmade Burgers. We decided they represented traditional American food pretty well. Here was the Blue Cheese and Bacon burger...
Big ol' French Fries


Eileen getting a big bite!

We were so full afterwards that we had to walk back just to get some exercise and hopefully help digestion. This picture was taken around 8:30 at night. Look how light it is and look at us all bundled up in nice warm jackets. All the clothing stores close at 6:00 p.m. so we had to head back home for the night to watch some television in English...a secret treat!