Sunday, August 26, 2012

"What I've learned this year" by Garrick

Hey, everyone, it's Garrick. I don't write much on this blog because Andrea is so good at it and because I'm always tempted to write about scribal habits reflected in the reuse of scriptural texts in Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity. This topic would make for a rather sexy blog post, but not really sexy in a sexy sort of way. Therefore, I leave the chronicling of our fairly mundane existence to Andrea. But, because it's the first sunny weekend here in forever and she has better things to do, Andrea has asked my to reflect on my first year in St Andrews. I don't have anything too inspirational or important to say, but this experience has taught me much. Academically and personally I have grown a great deal. So I will share with you some things I have learned:

  • I've learned that giving it my best go is important. For the past 12 months I consigned myself to my desk for a 8 hours per day and 5-6 days per week. I've earned decent marks, began learning three languages, and completed a 16,000 word dissertation. I've been able to do these things not because I'm a gifted student (I am not) or have a photographic memory (I do not) but because I sat in desk and went for it even at the risk of giving it my best go and still failing. I was certainly an athletic disappointment in high school, but one thing I learned from my cross-country and baseball coaches was that the fear of failure can be debilitating.
  • I like the slow pace of life in Scotland. Meals run longer, parties wander into the wee hours, and few people are rushed. 
  • I like haggis and blood pudding. 
  • Few Scot's appreciate good coffee.
  • Most Scot's appreciate good whiskey.
  • Baseball is truly an American phenomenon.
  • I'm happy to be able to enjoy this experience with Andrea. Without her love, honesty, and financial income this would be an empty and literally impossible endeavour.
Thanks very much for reading our blog over the last year and you can look forward to more since we'll be abroad for four more years. Also, a few brave and apparently bored people have asked to flip through a copy of my thesis. If you want some free bedtime reading, leave your email and I'll send you a copy. Signed copies are 50 pounds.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Recycled Homes

In a transient community, free stuff flows like the Kinnessburn.

At times, it's a little frustrating to live in a furnished flat. Decorating decisions were made without your consent, kitchen appliances are not nice, and living on a student budget makes it hard to get what you really want. Plus, most of your belongings sit in boxes a few thousand miles away.

So, our community recycles. Not just plastic, cardboard, and glass, but household items. I will never need to buy a cooking oil or spice again, thanks to those who emptied their entire pantry into ours upon moving. We've also adopted a microwave, kettle, and kitchen island. For a small price, I've purchased an immersion blender and wicker basket from families who are moving within the week.

Need a little more? Macgregor's Auction House is full of good and bad surprises. We trekked up to Largo Road last week and bid on a few items. We won two large mirrors for 4 GBP total. With a little splash of paint, they'll make a great addition to our new place.

I'll admit my Amazon purchases have increased lately, as we now know we'll be here for a few more years. But still, most items in our flat will be a pleasant reminder of those who've left them behind.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cycling The Kingdom of Fife

We have some new members of our family:

I am the proud owner of a 2012 Trek 1.1 and Garrick, a 2013 Genesis Equilibrium. Through the recommendation of some good friends, we met John, the owner of a laid back and quality bike shop, Fife Cycle Centre. He gave us quite the deal and got us set up to ride.

St Andrews is a beautiful town, but so are many other places around Fife.

Tentsmuir Forrest is about 10 miles from St Andrews. A major perk of this ride is that some of our friends live on the way, in Guardbridge and Leuchars.

Strathkinness is an 11 mile loop with a good hill. Garrick times himself on this ride on an almost daily basis. I'm just happy to make it the whole time without stopping!

On Saturday, we road over 30 miles round trip to Crail , a fishing village on the East Neuk. Rolling hills, sheep, cows, and villages dot the cycle path along the way. We made it the the Honey Pot Tea Room and sitting down never felt so good.

We're excited to get in shape, see Fife, and also spend time together. Cycling is an all around win!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pitlochry (Baile Chloichridh)

When we got married at Lord Hill Farms as 20-year-olds, we never thought in just four years we'd be living in Scotland. (Okay, maybe Garrick did.)

On 27th July, 2012, our 4th Anniversary, we took one bus and three trains to get to Pitlochry, a small town in Perthshire.

We arrived in the early evening and checked in to our B&B, located a few minutes from the main street.

If you're feeling brave, try pronouncing the name. Having trouble? We did too. The friendly and comedic owner, James, greeted us at reception and we enjoyed his company on the tour. Finally checked into our room, we untied the tartan ribbon on our breakfast menus and made our selection for the next morning. The sun came out and we took a "4th Anniversary Photo" in the back garden before going to dinner.

On Saturday morning after french press coffee and a full Scottish breakfast, we put on our trainers and headed out on a hike.

Our destination? Edradour Distillery. But along the way, we took a detour to a waterfall called Black Spout.

Back on the trail to Edradour, we heard bagpipes faintly in the background. As we approached the distillery, we knew why:

Even in the rain, this piper serenaded visitors and sounded great!

Fast Facts about The Edradour Distillery:
  • Smallest distillery in Scotland
  • They bottle as much whiskey in a year as big distilleries do in a week
  • They do not use dyes and produce their whiskey naturally
A wee 85-year-old woman greeted us in the gift shop to begin our tour. She kept everyone in line and teased our group quite a bit. She showed us the warehouse of aging casks as well as the Malt Store. The process of making whiskey is complex and one that requires at least 10 years of patience.

Token drams in hand, we made our way back to town, stopping at Black Castle, which was destroyed to prevent the spread of the plague around 1500.

After some Indian food, we retreated to our B&B to enjoy the Olympics opening ceremony. Sunday morning we enjoyed another lovely breakfast and made our way back home. I did leave my purse on the train, which Garrick retrieved in Glasgow a few days later. I'll spare you details.

We're so thankful for one another and look forward to many more adventurous years!