Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Andros - Summer 2017

What better time than the next year to write about my summer? 
I had an action-packed seven weeks and then went head first into my busiest semester of university - now I finally have time to write for pleasure.

In July I set off for my first ever excavation on the sunny island of Andros in the Cyclades, Greece. We were excavating a neolithic site (about 5000 years old) which involved a lot of animal bones and broken pottery. The site was on a promontory of the island which meant most of the time it was very windy, which meant it wasn't unbearably hot, but it also made it hard to work sometimes. I'm not allowed to show pictures of the site itself so instead here is the incredible view we had each day.

Weekdays were spent waking at 5am and getting to site for 7am, which meant on most days a nap was required when we got back to the accommodation at around 3pm. Luckily Andros is small and Greeks eat dinner late into the evening. Many late afternoons and evenings were spent wandering through tiny streets of blue and white houses and petting a seemingly infinite number of cats. I developed a love of fresh bread dipped in olive oil washed down with a few glasses of the local wine. 

On weekends we explored more of the island including a monastery perched high in the hills and an ancient city at the bottom of a ravine. Some highlights of the three weeks included getting thanked by the mayor on stage and then doing traditional Greek dancing in front of a huge crowd, finding a tiny bead amongst a lot of dirt, and making new friends wherever I went.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Hadrian's Wall Trip

I recently got back from a small trip to Hadrian's Wall. I am a huge archaeology and Roman history fan so seeing these sites in person (and actually understanding what they were) was truly incredible! 


Located on the rocky crag section of the wall, it was much easier to imagine how Roman soldiers felt when the wall was at it's full height and strength. You can see the wall snaking up the hill from the fort, and it was so cool to see such huge sections of the wall. 

Temple of Mithras, Carrawburgh and Poltross Burn (Milecastle 48)

These are both sites that we just stumbled across, they aren't as spectacular as the large forts but both were worth the visit. The Temple of Mithras would have looked quite different in it's complete state, but it was still cool to see the general layout and replica altars.

Birdoswald and Chesters 

Visiting Roman Britain sites in the rain only adds to the atmosphere and reality that thousands of soldiers lived at these forts. The museum at Chesters had so many artefacts, including tiny altars which may be my new favourite thing. 


Finally my favourite site, and also the site where I will be excavating in August! Vindolanda is by far the most excavated site that we visited. The museum houses the preserved leather shoes, and some of the famous Vindolanda Tablets. Most exciting to see was the current excavations, meaning we could watch archaeology and archaeological discoveries right in front of us! 

I'm doing a module on Roman Britain next year which this trip has made me even more excited about! I'll also be writing a post about my time excavating at Vindolanda, alongside a post about my excavations in Greece this summer!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Earl Grey Banana Bread

This is my favourite recipe to make and coincidentally my favourite to eat. When I tell my flatmates I'm making banana bread they squeal with joy and the whole loaf is gone in a day. 

Earl Grey Banana Bread

140g butter
140g caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
2 large eggs, beaten 
3 ripe bananas, mashed 
Earl Grey tea (bags or loose leaf)
vanilla extract 

1. preheat oven to 180C. line the loaf tin with parchment paper
2. cream butter, sugar, vanilla extract together. add in a teaspoon of earl grey tea
3. add in the eggs. 
4. fold in the flour and add the bananas
5. whilst it is in the oven poke some holes in it and drizzle steeped earl grey into it
6. leave in the oven for around 40 minutes
7. let it cool down and then enjoy!

I've not tried any variations yet but you can use other teas as well!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Early Spring Playlist

March has been peppered with days of glorious sunshine and a cool breeze, spring is around the corner. 

Lorde / Green Light
Lawrence / Come On Brother + Albi 
Father John Misty /I Went To The Store One Day 
Dear Evan Hanson / Waving Through a Window

Alt J / 3WW
Janelle Monae / Isn't This The World

Kishi Bashi / In Fantasia
Local Natives / Colombia 
Francis Lung / Oh My Love
Tom Rosenthal / It's OK

Monday, 20 March 2017

Everyday Emily

So it turns out third year is a lot busier than I anticipated, hello again my lonely blog. 

I am currently halfway through my university spring break*, and after a week at home I am back in the library writing an essay about imperial architecture in Pompeii, the fun never stops. * I am aware that this is a very American term and also that it isn't spring yet, but that's what its called.

I've done a lot of fun things in these past few weeks, including getting news about more fun things that I am doing this summer. 

Castles, walls and rain:

I am now the president of the archaeology society for 2017/18 and we went on a trip to the incredible Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire last Saturday. The last time I went it was a beautiful sunny day and I only had to climb the stairs. This time was very different. Firstly, it rained for most of the day, and secondly, we walked along the coastal path to the castle. As much as I love coastal paths, walking in the rain is never fun. Despite the weather I had a great time, which is probably due to the fact that all three of my flatmates came along, so it felt like a flat trip. (#ladsontour anyone?).
On a very similar note I got to spend a week at home with my dad, which was very much needed. It's not a trip home without going to a historical or archaeological site. We managed to fit in a lot of trips including a roadtrip to the highlands where we made sandwiches and only left the car to take photos. We drove through many small towns and past lochs, discovering little snippets of history, including a tiny one room church with the most incredible painted ceiling. We also visited a section of the Antonine Wall, aka the Scottish version of Hadrian's Wall, and as someone who is hopefully doing a module on Roman Britain next year it was cool. I spend so much of my time reading and studying about Roman sites in Italy that I sometimes forget there are ones so much closer to home. 

I know it is only March but I have been planning my summer since October, mostly because I will be applying for masters courses next year and I need practical experience but also because filling out applications is a practical way to procrastinate. It turns out that I have a seven week period over the summer where I will be extraordinarily busy. I'll be staying in St Andrews in June to start reading for my dissertation, which I am weirdly excited about and would happily start now. After one week at home I am flying to Athens and then catching a boat to Andros in the Cyclades. I'll be spending three weeks getting sunburnt whilst digging a Neolithic settlement and learning very basic Greek. Then come July 29th I will be packing up for the journey back to Athens to do a two week internship and somehow squeeze in visits to all the sites and museums. August 12th is where it gets interesting and also the point where I may burst from being too busy. I fly back to Edinburgh for midnight and then have less than twelve hours to wash seven weeks worth of clothes and pack for another excavation. Come noon on the 13th I will be in the car driving to Hadrian's Wall where I am spending two weeks digging in the rain and learning loads of archaeological skills. Then I get to come home and relax for a week before my final year of university starts! I've been very productive and applied for scholarships and bursaries and any opportunity that came my way!, and it has clearly paid off! 

Everything else:
I moved on from my Hamilton obsession (even though I bought tickets to the London show..) and moved straight onto another musical, Dear Evan Hanson. I also love the La La Land and Hidden Figures soundtracks, and of course Moana. Artist wise I am loving Tom Rosenthal, Lawrence and Lorde blew me away with Green Light. 

I lasted approximately a week of being vegan before I had a bad day and needed cheese. I'm definitely eating less dairy and more vegetables than before, so all is not lost. Speaking of food: I am trying to broaden my palate in anticipation of summer in Greece and a lot of food I don't like. (I'm looking at you fish).
I've also got really into plants. I have always loved having flowers in the house but this year I've branched out and started my collection of house plants, and so far they're still alive!

(I actually enjoyed writing this and feel like I've got my own style of writing now? Plus it is refreshing writing and knowing that no one you know will read it. Maybe this blog will be making a comeback, who knows?)

Monday, 16 January 2017

Becoming Vegan: Some Preliminary Thoughts

After being vegetarian for six years and then fully embracing meat again for the past 3 years I have decided to go cold-turkey vegan. I know this will not be an easy attempt but I am sure that the positives will outweigh the difficulties.

1. I'm still going to eat honey. It is not something that I consume regularly and I buy my honey from reputable sources which care for and protect their bees.

2. After reading this opinion piece I know I am not going to be too hard on myself. As someone who eats a lot of dairy products I know that I will slip up. I am also going to accept free food and drinks even if they have dairy in them, I am a student and free food is free food. However, I will not eat any meat, or products that came from the death of an animal.

3. I am doing this for health reasons first, and environmental/ethical reasons second. As someone who has breakouts, asthma and just generally could be in better health I want to see how a vegan diet will impact me. I am also intrigued about how this will impact my mental health.

4. Trying a vegan diet means that I have to cook and prepare meals, something I have got out of the habit of doing. I live in a small town and have a student budget, meaning I don't have access to pre-made vegan meals or food. I'm hoping this will allow me to try new foods and experiment with different flavours. I am way too fussy for a 21 year old, this needs to change.

5. As I am trying to be vegan for health purposes I won't be too focused on the other aspects. I own leather items and will continue to use them. I am already conscious of ethical purchasing and will continue to be so.

6. For me to be successful I will have to plan my meals somewhat in advance, which is something  have been interested in doing for a while. This means I need to schedule grocery shopping and preparing meals into my routine and university/work balance.

- I plan on writing update posts about how I am doing and also some recipes I have made -

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Second Year

Two months after finishing second year and just over a month until I begin third year I have been thinking about the various ways these past two years have impacted my life and how the next two years and beyond will shape my future. If you believe what the papers say then we're all doomed to work in minimum wage jobs and never get a graduate job, regardless of how good your degree is. This is why I think it is so important to make sure you get the most out of your time at university. Of course the main reason people go to university is to get a degree but it is so much more than those hours you spend in lectures and the library. This past year I really put myself out there and got involved with stuff I am interested in, my attitude was that it wouldn't hurt to go out into the world and meet new people.

Every post written about university emphasises how great societies and I couldn't recommend joining one enough. In first year I didn't make the effort to go to many events but this year I attended meetings every week and even joined a committee! My best advice would be to go to events and join societies that you are genuinely interested in. There is nothing more boring than going along to events that you don't care about with people who don't interest you, purely because the society looks good on your cv. Sometimes committees and societies are super cliquey and intimidating but who wants to be part of that anyway?

Although you shouldn't join random societies because it looks good on your cv, university is such a good time to build your experiences and thus your resume. I've started writing for a human rights magazine which allows me to improve my writing skills whilst writing about issues important to me. I've volunteered at and helped organise events for different issues, gaining more experience each time, and enjoying myself raising awareness for various causes. Join LinkedIn and put all your experience in your profile, nothing is too small or invaluable! Go to workshops on ancient and medieval coins because you think it's interesting, buy tickets for a feminism in Islam conference because you want to learn about something new, hold a last minute bake sale and stand for ten hours selling baked goods - why not? 

Friendships blossom throughout university but they also die, it's just part of life. I lived with eleven people in first year and eight of us became fast friends, fast forward a year and our group is down a person. Initially I was sad, I had made an effort with this person and put myself out there, yet there was nothing in return. But now I realise that if the respect and effort isn't reciprocal then it is not a friendship that I want in my life. Life is too short to continue with friendships that aren't good for you, cull your friends on facebook and enjoy a more peaceful life. 

Get to know your tutors and lecturers, make an effort with them and that effort will pay off. Simply saying hello or good morning really does make a world of difference. In the years to come they might be your dissertation supervisor, your colleague or the one person who helps you get into a PhD scheme! Don't be scared or worried about annoying them with your questions and queries, one answer can help you go up a grade or mark. 

Looking after yourself is hard, especially when deadlines and commitments are overwhelming, Speaking from too much experience university can be really bad for your mental health, but it can also be revolutionary. Take full advantage of any mental health sessions or counselling sessions offered by your university, talking to someone neutral to your situation helps you see it from a new perspective. 

Take a day off from worrying about that essay, grade or scary future. Go for a walk, buy yourself flowers, have a well deserved nap. In the grand scheme of things one day is nothing, so go outside and relax.