I Made My Own Paper Yesterday

Dearest Readers,

I went to some craft shows yesterday at the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow: Hobbycrafts, the Scottish Quilting Show, and the Stitching & Sewing Show. There were a lot of absolutely beautiful quilts on display there.

Seriously, if you can go to a quilting show with a variety of categories (so not just traditional, but also contemporary art and journal and even themed groupings from quilting communities), I totally recommend it. Not only is it soothing (I’ve been pretty stressed so that was important), it’s also extremely impressive and inspirational. The things these people can do is so impressive.

And yes, unfortunately, most of the people I saw there were older than me, and most of the people that weren’t were someone’s kids.

The best part of the day, though, was when I found out Jonathan Korejko, papermaker, had a little demonstration of how it works to make your open paper AND had a thing set up so you can make your own piece of paper out of pulp made from denim.

I’ll let that sink in.

Make your own paper. From Denim.

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How cool is that?

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I, of course, did it.

And it was just as amazing as I thought it would be.

The paper while still wet.
The paper while still wet.

Look how beautiful it is.

The paper while dry.
The paper while dry (I apologize for the low-quality of this image. Looked better on my phone.)

I don’t know what I’m going to use it for, but I honestly might just hang it up on my wall to remind myself how absolutely amazing handmade things are and how amazing humans are for figuring things like that out.

It’s a good thing to remember that, because I’m an awesome human, and so are you! We all have the capacity to make things with our own hands, and many of us do it every day, whether we’re making actual things or results or communication.

We’re all pretty awesome. Keep it up.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

Glengoyne Distillery Chocolate and Whisky Tour

img_0038Dearest Friends,

Last Wednesday, my flatmate and I went to Glengoyne Distillery for a Chocolate and Whisky Tour. This wasn’t difficult to do. We caught the B10 bus to Balfron and hopped off at the distillery (…not literally, of course. The bus stopped at the stop right outside the distillery).


img_0027We were there early enough to grab a few pictures of the surrounding landscape before getting our tickets for the first tour of the day. The distillery itself had the exact atmosphere you want with whisky: lots of old wood and white paint with architecture that makes you (okay,
me) think of sheep.

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The tours run every hour on the hour, but I recommend going early in the off season. There were four people in our tour, and it allowed us to do this lovely thing called see everything and get near stuff and not be squished. I wouldn’t want to be in the distillery with a much larger group, and they apparently can get relatively large during peak season.

It’s still worth it, though, if you’re interested in some whisky and some history.

For the tour, I armed myself with a notebook, a pen, and my camera…although I didn’t take pictures of inside. I was too intent on what our tour guide, Janet, was telling me. She was very kind and started to make sure I was able to take accurate notes. She went so far as to spell the questionable words.

That means I have many pages of scribbles, but I’m going to pull out the things that I find the neatest.

  • Glengoyne has copper stills instead of stainless steel ones. Stainless steel ones cause the alcohol to come of tasteless, meaning it needs to be blended to make a whisky, but it can also be used for vodka. Using copper means it’s a whisky straight away and mostly just needs to be weakened to an acceptable level of alcohol before bottling.
  • The first person to make whisky there was a farmer in 1833, although Janet pointed out that he probably practiced first because his 1833 whisky was really good.
  • Most distilleries, including Glengoyne, but their grain prepared instead of going through the malting process themselves. Glengoyne can store 100 tons at any one time.
  • A coup is something the grain goes in that tips over when it fills. 95 of those makes 1 mash, and 1 mash is 3.25 tons.
  • Glengoyne doesn’t use peat at any point, so their whisky doesn’t have the smokey flavour of some others. I don’t actually know entirely what this means in terms of taste, but I’m assured it does, in fact, matter.
  • 22,000 liters of water go through 1 mash over 7 hours to get out the husks of the grain and create the wort, which is then mixed with yeast…60 kilos of yeast with 19,000 liters of wort. The room with the big tubs for this part smells like baking bread and it’s glorious. The tubs are made of Oregon Pine (she thought us Americans would enjoy that), and when the mixture inside stops bubbling, it’s done.
  • The fermenting with the yeast sparkles a bit because of all the bubbles. Sparkly, bread-dough-smelling, alcoholic mix.
  • After going through the whole distilling process, the liquid is from 75-78% alcohol/volume. They mix in water until it’s weakened to 63.5%, at which point they put it in casks. The whisky comes out in 10-25 years at a lower %, and then they sell at 40% for the 10-year, 43% for the 15-year, 18-year, and 21-year, and then 58% for the 25-year.
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This is a wall in which they show the stages of maturation for the whiskies. From left to right is the 10-year, 15-year (could also be the 12-year…my notes aren’t clear on that), 18-year, and 21-year. On top, it shows the types of wood used for the cask, and the casks on the bottom have the name of the type of cask on them.
  • They have two different warehouses. The older one is still stacked like they did originally: three high with the ends of the casks facing. The newer one has more shelves of casks and rolls them in, so if there’s a leak at the back you won’t know for a while.

    Types of wood they use.
    Types of wood they use.
  • They use lots of different wood, including casks once used for bourbon since bourbon only uses casks once. They only use Spanish sherry for the older whiskies, and they don’t use a refill cask for the 21-year.
  • Only the casks made from American wood are called barrels.
  • The 15-year we had is 30% bourbon.
  • The 21-year was 100% a first filled cask.

This little trip was also the debut of Boudicca, my Valentine’s gift to myself and my new companion hedgehog. She had a good time.

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Overall, if you like whisky or are curious about distilling, this is a good place to go to. We didn’t have many questions, but our guide looked really interested in answering some. She might have welcomed the chance to get off-script a little bit. My flatmate and I got the chocolate tour, which was amazing and a little strange mixing the sweetness with the whisky, and the other two people with us got the Gold Medal tour, which was slightly older whisky. They seemed to enjoy it.

They let you takimg_0081e your whisky home from the tour, too, if you’re driving or just want to. They have cute little jars to put it in.

 

However, if you don’t really like whisky, stick to one of the shorter tours that only has one tasting. You’ll save some money and still get lots of information.

What do you think? Have you been? Did you enjoy it? Would you go? Let me know!

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

What in the World is Paddington Bear?

Dearest Readers,

At dance class last week, I had an interesting exchange.

It went something like this.

Me: ‘I got this sweater in Peru.’

Guy: ‘Deepest, darkest Peru?’

Me: ‘What?’

Guy: ‘Deepest, darkest Peru. Where Paddington Bear is from.

Me: ……

Guy: ‘Paddington Bear.’

Me: …..

Guy: ‘WHAT?!?!?!’

(Later, after bringing five others into this discussion and determining no other Americans were around to back me up on the lack of cultural exposure of this bear in America.)

Guy: ‘I’m so disappointed in you.’

Me: ‘Take it up with America.’

Okay, so that discussion was full of sarcasm and mock disapproval…that lasted the entire class but never failed to make me laugh. I learned that, apparently, a Paddington Bear movie was released in the States a couple of years ago…I just never heard of it.

Maybe it was big is some areas? I don’t know.

Anyway, it was pretty firmly established that Paddington Bear is a beloved British icon also known a bit in Germany but not so much in Spain and America, so I decided to do something I should be pretty good at by now: research.

I had two research questions in mind, the second of which takes precedent: Who/What actually is Paddington Bear and why is he from deepest, darkest Peru, of all places?

Follow-up question: does he speak Quechua or Spanish, like they do in real-life Peru?

Let’s find out, shall we?

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Paddington Bear is the creation of Bond…Michael Bond. The first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958, and there are over 150 titles related to this Peruvian bear, from the original novels to board books for little ones. There are Paddington books translated to at least 40 languages.

Right now, Paddington’s signature look is a blue raincoat, a red hat, and a beat-up suitcase, but that wasn’t always the case.

According to summaries of the chapters of the first book, Paddington is sent from Peru to London because his Aunt Lucy needs to go into a retirement home, the Home for Retired Bears in Lima.

The summaries make it seem like this little guy causes a lot of lovable trouble, so I can definitely see how he would become a cultural icon really fast.

Paddington’s Peruvian name is Pastuso, but they call him Paddington after the train station they found him in because apparently people can’t pronounce Pastuso. He was originally supposed to be from Africa, but there are no bears there, so he’s from Peru because they have bears…but not Paddington-like bears. They have spectacled bears, males of which weigh 220-440 pounds and when mature aren’t less than five feet tall.

Compare:

From

But okay, okay, it’s cute, he’s a anthropomorphized bear, he’s from Peru, and he goes on adventures in London. There are now Paddington-based itineraries created in his honor and a Paddington Trail. There are statues of him, and Google made him a Doodle. He also loves marmalade.

But the question I keep wondering is does he speak Spanish or Quechua? His Aunt Lucy taught him to speak English, but that doesn’t explain what language the people around him are speaking.

So…what then?

TV Tropes describes the books as presenting Fridge Logic, which is just another term for internal consistency issues that tend to hit people as they’re staring into their fridge, but not during the movie/book/tv show. Paddington’s internal inconsistency is that he and his community doesn’t speak Spanish or Quechua. This is how TV Tropes puts it:

Paddington doesn’t know Spanish because he speaks a different language from the rest of Peru (let’s call it Darkest Peruvian) which by sheer coincidence is exactly like English, explaining how Paddington and Aunt Lucy are able to converse in English.

This doesn’t mean that Paddington is somehow downgraded, though. Lots of shows have internal consistency problems. It just makes some things easier.

Some Final Thoughts:

  1. I am still wary of Paddington Bear, mostly because I went to Peru and it will forever bother me that he is really not in any sort of way Peruvian.
  2. I now want to read all of the novels because I want to be up-to-date with this UK-based phenomenon and also because why not?
  3. I’m curious how many people in America really and truly know what Paddington Bear is.

Thanks for reading this sorta-long, sorta-rambling post! Remember to share it if you liked it, and please tell me if you know Paddington Bear and how (especially if you’re from the States). I’d never even heard the name before last week, so it blows my mind that Paddington was at some point directed to the entirety of the American public.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani