Monthly Favorites Post Grad edition (February)

Monthly Favourites. So far not so monthly but I’m finding that writing is a good outlet for me just now so I intend to keep this blog up a bit more. Still in the midst of Post Graduate studies, still looking for a quick way to save time and money…

  1. Late night Tesco shops. Everything is discounted and there’s no queue. Perfection.
  2. Sleepyti.me. You can download this as an app as well. It suggests when you should fall asleep and when you should wake up if you were to fall asleep at a certain time so that you can wake up “naturally”. I’ll admit I’ve resorted to different alarms everyday so that I don’t become accustomed. I miss sleeping.
  3. Instagram. In times of stress I like to take a 5 minute break to tweak some travel photos and put them on instagram. It’s the ultimate ego wank but also very therapeutic and procrastinationy
  4. Craft beers/ciders. There’s something about drinking a ThistlyCross cider whilst doing an essay that makes me feel quite smug…
  5. My Naked 2 palette from Urban decay. In two swipes of glitter across my eye lid I can convince everyone I’m a real human that puts effort into her appearance. Genius.
  6. Hula Hooping. I invested in a weighted hoop. While my room isn’t big enough to swing a cat in I can sure as hell use a 3Kg hula hoop (so long as I can keep it around my waist otherwise it hits off the bed. Maybe I should try it in heels?)
  7. Pole dancing. When I was about 19 I used to pole dance with the university and recently a friend and I decided to give it another go. I think I should get a blood test because I am bruising like a peach as a result but It’s super fun and super good for you. Plus when you’re drunk you can try and do it for free on lampposts. Win.
  8. The stock market. Don’t ask, it’s just been fascinating me recently.
  9. Yankee candle offers. Humans are one of the only animals to alter the scent of the place they live in, so why not choose to live in a red apple or a mint leaf. (Hint – I like the minty ones, send me some.)
  10. Franks hot sauce. Have you ever tasted that stuff? I’m just really into it at the moment.
  11. Discounted meats. Someone tell me where I can find more discounted meats.
  12. Just-eat vouchers. Gimme gimme gimme.
  13. Tetley tea bags. These were possibly in the old monthly favourites but you can’t say I’m not consistent. Love you guys, thanks for all the caffeine.
  14. Ok, ok. A serious one. Lush’s “Silky Underwear” dusting powder. It smells so god man. It saves valuable time drying in the mornings, just empty the bottle onto your body then put clothes on.
  15. 2 o’clock lectures. Days where I have lectures are the days where I can actually wash my hair (it’s a trail and a tribulation in itself)  exfoliate and moisturise (I heard girls are supposed to do that) and eat a decent meal before going. Who honestly has time to do their hair and make up and choose a well coordinated outfit before a nine o’clock lecture when you have a 30 minute commute. There’s a reason I look like I get dressed in the dark, and it’s because I do!.

Tag me in your monthly favourites. You can see my old one from November here.

The GART – pt 2. CanaMex route.

Route 93 – The CanaMex Highway.

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The standard CanaMex Highway is the major North to South American route. You don’t have to cross the border, starting at Port of Roosevelt in Montana and ending up in Wickenburg, Arizona, or you can really travel the Americas by starting in Jasper, Alberta and cruising over three states to Tucson, Arizona, about 70 miles away from Nogales at the border. The first route is around 1457 miles long (or 2345 kilometres) and would probably take around three weeks. The latter is around 1995 miles/3210 kilometres, and I would suggest taking around 10 weeks to do it.

Now that the logistics of the trip are over we can get along with the Fun Parts; starting up in Jasper, Canada. The only place I have been to in Alberta was Edmonton which, granted, was a riot, but was a bit too north for me to get a look in at Jasper and Banff. However I’ve called upon some sources (Thanks Brad!) and hopefully can give some good enough information about everywhere!

Jasper is found pretty much in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. Depending on the time of year you go there are different things to do there. However, what I would suggest doing is visiting Maligne Lake. There, you can fish (check permits first!), rent kayaks and canoes, and in winter they offer snow-shoeing and Canyon ice-walking.  It’s beautiful camping territory up there as well, if that’s your thing! As for food I would suggest Evil Dave’s Grill. Their Caesers (or Bloody Mary’s for those UK readers) look lethal, as do their Lollipop shrimp and Alberta beef. Yum!

Because Canadian distances are incredibly deceptive, Banff looks close to Jasper, though it is a good 4 hour drive away. But worth it, as there is a wealth of beautiful countryside to go through and indeed see once you are there.

You can hike Sulphur mountain which is pretty much right in the town itself. It’s not terribly difficult at all and has some nice views on your way up. If needs must there is a cable car (I’m such a fan of cable cars) and I’m lead to believe it’s free to take down if you’ve walked up… however you have to pay to ride up. I have also been suggested to go out to Johnston Canyon which is about a 30 – 40 mins drive from the town. It’s a great a hike with some walkways that ends in a beautiful waterfall.

After all that hiking you’re bound to get up an appetite, so I shall give a small list of places to go and things to get there. Courtesy of Brad!

  1. A Barpa Burger from Barpa Bill’s Souvlaki Restaurant.
  2. A ‘Litre o’ Sangria from Magpie and Stump. I’ve been told it’s the best Sangria our of Spain. Ask for a ‘litre o’ to get a litre of your favourite drink!
  3. Head to Eddie’s for a gourmet burger – Aussie style! For drinks try a TrashCan. I just hope it’s tastier than it sounds!
  4. Another good watering hole is the Rose and Crown, with live music at weekends
  5. For those late night munchies head to Aardvark for pizza and sub sandwiches.

So we’re done with Canada! For now…

There’s sadly no Man v Food stop in Montana (Get on it Adam) so if you can face the prospect of a state without food challenges, travel six hours south and you’ll reach Sun River, Montana. The main information I found about this site revolves around fishing and camping. Some companies offer packrafting, which I have sort of down in my own country and would definitely root for – it’s great fun!  Another two hour drive south and you’ll come to Missoula, MT.  Now, if I was going there I’d personally be hitting up the Ghost towns, which may not be for everyone but it looks right up my street. There also a number of breweries and campsites you can visit, and if you just aren’t happy with that you can try the bar where time stands still for two hours a day and head to Finn and Porter’s bar and grill, where happy hour lasts for three hours…

Next on out whistle-stop tour of the United States (and Canada) is Bitterroot National Forest, which borders Montana and Idaho, the next state we’re heading into.  Bitterroot offers a Full Moon Walk, which starts at about 7pm and lasts an hour and a half. There’s so much else you can do during the day, such as hiking, horseback riding, boating, and hunting. Not sure how we all feel about the option but hey. The option is there for us.

Pass through the forest and we end up in Idaho (No, Udaho. Guess whose least favourite joke that is. Hint, it’s everyone I know because I say it all the time) Unfortunately all three of the Man v Food locations are located in Boise, which is near the border of Oregan and far away from Highway 93. About five hours south of the Montana border is Sun Valley, where you can ice skate, snow board and climb up numerous mountains such as Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. There’s an activity there called Snow Tubing, which caught my attention, so after a quick google I found this video. Look at it. How peaceful does that look? Very.

For the more adventurous head down through Idaho to Twin Falls. There you can head to Shoshone Falls aka “The Niagara of the West”. It’s over 200 feet tall and 900 feet wide, and although it’s $3 entry fee it seems to be well worth it.  You can also BASE jump at Perrine Bridge, where there are festivals yearly that are worth a visit.

Let’s move swiftly through “the Loneliest road in America” to yet another state; Nevada – famed for its gambling. To break up the enormous nine hour stoat from Twin Falls to Las Vegas I would suggest a stop off at the Great Basin National Park and take a little trip up Jeff Davis’ mountain. You know, to stretch your legs a bit. After that you can jump back in the car for another four hours to the gambling centre of the world, the epicentre of cash flow, Las Vegas.

There are three spots to eat in Las Vegas, according to Richman. Let’s jump in at the deep end and eat at the challenge restaurant, the NASCAR Cafe. Food won in this 6 pound burrito challenge. If eating something the size of a small baby does not appeal to you our pal Adam can suggest Hot N’ Juicy Crawfish or Hash House a go go  which probably has a different meaning to some, but I can assure you they are talking about hash browns.

For those of you looking for something to do in Las Vegas I suggest you turn your television on and watch any American made sitcom from the 1980s onwards, as they will each have at least one episode where a main character is swept up in the lights and glamour of being in a brightly lit room 24 hours a day gambling away their children’s inheritance money. If that’s not your thing I suggest a trip to the Venetian – the biggest hotel in the world. It’s the size of a small town and has underground chambers to help staff keep the efficiency. If that doesn’t float your boat, Red Rock is a 30 minute drive away, as is Hoover Dam.

Passing through the Grand Canyon National Park at Lake Meade should provide some much needed respite from the built up chaos of Las Vegas. Drive through the Grand Canyon state and hit up a rodeo in Wickenburg before hitting up Phoenix; where our Man v Food fun begins.

Tragically, the challenge establishment Big Earl’s BBQ, where food won in a 12 slider challenge has closed. According to my (minimal) research the wonder has opened up a new place in Scottsdale, but alas. Instead, head on over to Alice Cooper’stown (no, that’s not a typo). This rock star turned golfer turned restaurateur serves up an interesting menu and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s gonna be a memorable experience there with such a character at the forefront of it all. Acknowledge Arizona’s close links to Mexico by eating at Los Reyes de la Torta  and then heading south to Tucson.

So we’re nearly at the end of our journey. You’ve been driving for about 35 hours in total and covered 3,050km. You’ve crossed one international border and two state lines (the states are long and skinny in the west huh?) You’re so close to Mexico you can almost taste the tequila; however, you gotta make a couple of stops first. Tucson’s Lindy’s on 4th is our challenge restaurant of the city. The OMG burger (now called the OMFG burger…) is nine 1/3 lb. patties (3 lbs.) of meat with cheddar and Swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion & Lindy’s sauce and, astonishingly for the first time in a while on this trip, Man won! If you don’t fancy high blood pressure I’d suggest El Guero Canelo, famed for its hot dogs or the little nest where you can rest before the final leg of our journey, Mi Nidito.

Finally, Head through Green Valley which has some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the United States until you get to Nogales, AZ, where the film Oklahoma! was filmed…. Watch yourself here; a year ago the largest underground drug bust was carried out, resulting in the arrest of three people. Marvel at the immense security measures at the border of Mexico. Nogales, MX is one of the main ports of entry from the USA to Mexico especially for tourists. It consists of bars, strip clubs, hotels, restaurants, and a large number of curio stores, which sell a large variety of artesanias (handicrafts, leather art, handmade flowers, clothes) brought from the deeper central and southern states of Mexico. Local dishes commonly available in restaurants include many types of antojitos (Mexican food) such as enchiladas, tacos, burritos with carne machaca (dried meat), menudo and tamales, but sadly, no Man v Food.

Monthly Favourites – Post Grad edition

I thought about deleting this blog for a while. I have so little time to be active on it and not an awful lot to say. But. I thought I’d give it another shot. So here it goes.

Monthly Favourites – Post Grad Edition.

  1. Dry shampoo. Thanks Brown Batiste. You really save me a lot of time.
  2. Dry shower. Yes. It’s a thing. It’s kind of like foaming hand soap but for your body. Shout out.
  3. Endnote. Wow. Just wow. All my references in one place. I could have cried when I set it up.
  4. Slimfast milkshakes. Because who has time to make breakfast.
  5. Cuppa soups. Because who has time to make lunch.
  6. My flatmate. For cooking me tea. THANKS.
  7. Sketchers walkers. Like walking on air which is good because I walk fucking everywhere.
  8. (An actual serious one) Lush lip scrub in Mint Julip. I am that awful person that loudly chews their lips when they concentrate. Such a lifesaver.
  9. Free opticians. Hi, I’m Kirsty and I have stared at my screen so much in the past 3 months that I now need glasses.
  10. My printer. As much of a faff as you were to set up you have saved my scalp a few times now. Thanks
  11. And finally Tetleys. I swear to God I have kept those guys in business. Lifetime favourites.

I’d love to see your monthly favourites, so tag me if you do this and I tag all of y’all.

The Backpacker Workout

After a 3 week trip around Iberia I’ve managed to shed a (tiny) bit of exam weight. I can’t imagine it’s through the strict diet of wine, port, beer, and prawns in garlic I stuck to religiously, so I reflected on my exercise regime whilst away. I jotted down some handy hints to help you with your travelling weight loss.

  1. The Deadlift – Popular with crossfitters. Lay your rucksack on the floor, and any time the person you are with says they are ready to leave, heave it onto your back in a standing position. Hold for 10 seconds until you realise they are not ready. Put it down and repeat as many times as necessary. Particularly good for the lats and quads.
  2. The “Imfurst” Sprint – Good cardio. Wait outside your dorm room with your shower stuff until someone comes out of the bathroom, then sprint in before anyone else can.
  3. The “Imfurst” Sprint Variation – Good for footwork practise. While two people are standing in line but not pay attention, side step past them at great speed into the bathroom.
  4. The Ab Weave – Particularly good for the abs and obliques. Weave through crowds of people at popular tourist locations. Try and keep your top half as still as possible for full comedic and muscle toning effect.
  5. Hitchers Arm exercises – Triceps and biceps (obviously). Walk along roads (safely) with your arm out to hitchhike. Lightly bounce your arm to add a more dynamic quality to your workout.
  6. The Lost Marathon – General cardio and leg workout. Get hopelessly lost. Walk at a slightly agitated and panicked pace for 3+ hours until you know where you are.
  7. The High Jump – Gluts and precision coordination. Enter the sea while the wave are quite strong. Try not to drown by jumping through them. Potentially dangerous but quite exhilarating and tiring

So take these tips, good travellers. Stay healthy abroad.

Untranslatable words.

Whilst browsing on reddit I discovered Playing in the World Game‘s fantastic list of words which do not exist in English. These have always fascinated me since my discovery of the word saudades (pt.) because such a feeling really can’t be described in one English words. The phrase “tener ganas” in Spanish is so much more emphatic and powerful that “desire/want/need/keen-ness” in English. I often find myself wanting to say ganas as opposed it’s rough English equivalent. Some translations don’t make aas much sense, granted. For example, a European Portuguese driver may put you in the “death spot” (lugar do morte) instead of the “passenger seat”. That may have more to do with their driving as opposed to their language but we’ll leave that to the imagination.

This train of thought lead me onto untranslatable words from English. And I am really raking my brains here. We are a far more idiomatic language than I care to imagine, so I’ve thought about a few of those as well. If any of you can come up with more, please comment below!

  • Gobbledegook – the oral version of “dasldka;dka”
  • Googly – cuter than bulgy.
  • Poppycock – talking nonsense. In an elevated manner.
  • Kitsch – being ironically garish (ok, so this word is technically German…)
  • Spam – Something posing as meat.
  • Chuffed – to be very pleased with oneself.
  • Whimsy – quaint or fanciful behaviour.
  • Cheesy – cheap or low quality. Somethign which makes you cringe under different circumstances. (think the end of every high school movie)
  • Hoodwink – deceive (I guess we have desenganar in Spanih but it has a slightly different sentiment)
  • Daunting – An immense task.
  • Hassle – Kind of like a pain in the ass but less so.

As for phrases… Here we go…

  • To throw a party (How far can  you throw one?)
  • To throw/take a fit (Where do we get fits from to take them?)
  • To give a damn (To whom?)
  • “I’ll give you a phone” (Gee, thanks!)
  • “I’ll call you back” (Backwards? Behind?)
  • Here goes nothing (How does nothing go!?)
  • Change your mind. (But the brain!)
  • Fall in love. (From a great height one can only assume)
  • Spanking new. (What?)
  • Cut the mustard – (surely anyone can cut the mustard? Actually… That’s the point isn’t it…)
  • Flip the bird – [to give someone the finger] (Why a bird? It should be more dramatic if it’s a bird!]
  • Hit the books – [to study hard] (hitting them won’t help!)

I’m sure there are thousands more, but I have a cat to play with and some wine to drink!

Pre-grad gripes.

I am a soon to be graduate. In the worst possible era to be a soon to be graduate. Despite 92.2% of graduates becoming employed within 6 months of graduation in 2010 at my university, I do not hold out much hope for myself.

The reasons are fairly simple. I’m an sporadically motivated Faculty of Arts student. I chose my degree at the age of 16, and as Imagea sufferer of chronic decimal blindness (you need to read some Douglas Coupland books if you don’t know that reference) I did not fast forward to what 22 year old me might want to do. What she wants to do is watch Netflix and drink copious volumes of tea for a living. I guess Netflix didn’t exist when I was 16 and my view of the internet was restricted to Bebo, MySpace and YouTube. I still drank a lot of tea though. I’m British, sue me.

However, 22 year old me also has a will to work. When I have a task to do I do it. When I have a job I freaking work. I am the queen of unskilled labour. Charity shop girl. Check. Kitchen Porter. Check. Hospital cleaner. Check. Followed by a magnitude of jobs such as teachers assistant (in Spain, thank you!), waitress, silver service waitress, receptionist/tour guide/chef/cleaner (again, but this time in Portugal), flyer-hander-outer, a bouncer at school rugby matches, debates hostess. It stretched to unofficial pub crawl leader. I’m currently an ironer. I iron things. Have you ever taken a jumper with fringe trim into a dry cleaners? Then you are Satan. Bitches are hard to iron.

The picture above is something I’m fairly proud of. Over a three day period I applied to all the places you see chicken scrawled in the picture. Side note, I’m pleased I learnt how to write before the internet, because I just don’t think I’d how to spell otherwise. Kids have it easy these days. Anyway. I applied to 19 positions, 12 of which were in Lisbon. I heard back “No” from 6 of them, split equally between Glasgow and Lisbon. They were all in the tourism industry, stating I could do all hours bla bla bla. And nada. What’s even more insulting is that 13 didn’t even bother with a response. I applied for some graduate positions earlier in the year, online, and one sent me a rejection email which said “Thank you so much for coming in for your interview”. I looked around at my room, which I hadn’t left for a few days and was suddenly panicked I had been a victim of job fraud. How bad would it be if the person frauding me couldn’t even get the god damn job.

Basically I’m sick of the “What are you doing after university?”/”Are you ready for the big bad world?” questions. With my degree (Hispanic Studies) everything thinks there are two career paths. And ONLY two.

  1. Teacher
  2. Translator

Are those my options? Have I worked for five whole years to have two options? Can’t I just work in a bar in Madrid or maybe become a professional surfer in Peniche? Professional bed tester at Bed, Bath and Beyond? Original Netflix productions script reviewer? 

The answer is probably not. Because this generation of arts students are being royally seen to. They cut the funding (anyone remember the Hetherington Occupation? I was there…) then they cut the strings of hope. Ok, that was dramatic but you see my point. I just think it’s a shame that there are so many intelligent people in the arts that won’t get the job they deserve. Like me, god dammit.

So… If any of you know someone in need of a “motivated and punctual individual” who is actually pretty good at analysing texts and films… Hit me up. I’ll be there with bells on. And my hair out of my face wearing modest work outfit with sensible shoes. Presentable…

Glasgow at a Glance pt. 2!

_41754302_marditonea416Once again I turn to my friends to help me make the most of my last few months in Glasgow. Today we feature one of the first friends I made at university Leslie, who is 22. He currently works at The Nancy Smillie Shop, located in the heart of Glasgow’s West End.

Best place for a first date?

Would honestly recommend any of the coffee shops around the Byres Road, they all offer something a bit different and have a really nice, relaxed atmosphere. Avenue G is to name but one.

Avenue G just had a wee vamp of their menu as well! They have a good system in which you can buy one of their travel cups and get a free coffee or tea! But you’re right, most of the shops along Byres Road offer a little bit of privacy but aren’t too intimate, though Avenue G does often get quite busy up top!

Best place for a cheap meal?

Black Rabbit, Great Western Road. Why have Two for Tuesdays when you can have Three for Tuesdays? It may not seem like much but it does great food and sides and drinks included you can easily feed three people for under a tenner.

I will say I’ve visited the Black Rabbit (though very late at night) and was underwhelmed! I might have to reconsider things now….

Best place to go all out/best night?

For a night out, The Polo Lounge has always been a great night. A cheap drinks (£1.50 for pretty much a measure of anything) through the week and free entry all weekend if you’re there early enough. Has 2 great dance floors and an adjoining cocktail bar, with some decent entertainment some nights; all in all, a great place for a few (or a lot) of drinks.

I’m a huge fan of Polo’s tea pot cocktails. And prices. And music. And their naked butlers. Ok, I’m just a huge Polo fan.

Best place to go with your S/O’s parents?

The Grosvenor (Ashton Lane). Great refurbished cinema, fully licensed with bar, restaurant, and the novelty of being able to take the bottle of wine you got with dinner into a movie never gets old. It’s a great place to go if even just for dinner, especially if the steak is still anywhere near as good.

I usually take wine into the cinema regardless but it’s nice when it’s legal to do so… Their pulled pork burgers are amazing and if you have the SR app which I mentioned in my last blog you can get cheap cocktails during the week!  Orange Wednesdays also work in the cinema there.

Hidden gems?

Tchai-Ovna, Otago Lane. Idyllic tea house hidden in one of Glasgow’s lanes, Has a huge selection of teas, shisha pipes for those inclined, and hugely tasty vegan friendly nibbles – a relaxing place to go and sit hour for ages with a book or do some work.

Dammit, this was my hidden gem! I almost considered deleting this and forging Leslie’s response as I like it so much here. The teas are fairly expensive, bu the food is very cheap and delicious! There’s a great atmosphere inside as well, perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

A place you couldn’t pay me to go to.

Ashoka. Don’t do it. It has good variety, but there are far better places for curry and the like in Glasgow, such as Shish Mahal on Park Road (Kelvinbridge), had amazing food and is decently priced for the quality. Mother India is also always a safe bet, if a tad on the pricey side.

Ashoka has some good lunchtime deals, but Leslie is right, there are better and more authentic places to go! Like the Shish Mahal, which holds a special place in my heart. Get their Chicken Chasni. It’s divine. I think they know me there actually….

A huge thank you to Leslie for his little guide to Glasgow. Again, if any of you think that your favourite place is not being represented drop me a line answering the questions above and I’ll include your opinions!