Art and Culture in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire is a region overflowing with art and culture. A dazzling range of art galleries, museums and theatres, many located in the imposing granite buildings which are enduring symbols of the city, certainly won’t disappoint.At its heart is Union Terrace Gardens, nestling below the imposing backdrop of three of Aberdeen’s finest granite buildings. Together the Central Library, St Mark’s Church and His Majesty’s Theatre known locally as ‘Education, Salvation and Damnation’ provide the key to the evolution of the region’s cultural life.With such a prosperous heritage, there are many splendid places that capture the colourful history of Aberdeen- – the impressive turreted Town House on Union Street; the castellated Citadel at The Castlegate and the striking grandeur of Marischal College. In old Aberdeen you can discover the past by visiting 500 year old University Kings College and St Machar’s Cathedral. Old Aberdeen, which surrounds the University, is like taking a step back in time, with its tranquil cobbled streets and narrow walkways.Museums and Galleries
Art enthusiasts will love Aberdeen. The city’s Art Gallery, which was opened in 1885, houses a wonderful collection of Scottish and international works and contemporary exhibitions. It is the largest public gallery in the North of Scotland and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. A beautiful granite building with a striking marble lined interior, it houses a varied collection of works of art, including outstanding examples of Modern Art, and work by the Impressionists and the Scottish Colourists. Visitors can also see contemporary craft, Aberdeen silver and a wide range of decorative art and there are regular changing displays and special exhibitions, events and activities.There are also many smaller galleries worth seeking out within the city and Aberdeenshire, while local artists are often displays on the walls of the region’s restaurants.Marischal Museum holds the principal collections of the University of Aberdeen, comprising some 80,000 items in the areas of fine art, Scottish history and archaeology, and European, Mediterranean and Near Eastern archaeology. The permanent displays and reference collections are augmented by regular temporary exhibitions. The museum is in the old building of Marischal College, on Broad Street, the second largest granite building in the world (after the Escorial, Madrid) which will soon also become the headquarters of Aberdeen City Council.The 16th century Provost Skene’s House is now one of the city’s few remaining examples of medieval architecture. It contains an attractive series of period room settings, recalling the graceful furnishings of earlier times. The displays include a suite of 17th century rooms, a Regency Parlour and an Edwardian Nursery. Visitors can also see a unique series of religious paintings in the painted gallery, where scenes from the life of Christ can be found on the ceiling.The Tolbooth on Castle Street was built between 1616 and 1629. Formerly known as the Wardhouse, it was a gaol for those awaiting either trial in the adjacent court or punishment. Now the home of Aberdeen’s Museum of Civic History it focuses on the history of crime and punishment within the city. Here you can visit the original cells where witches, debtors, criminals and felons spent their days. The Museum features an extensive programme of events for all ages with a variety of talks on aspects of local history and exhibitions featuring objects related to Mary Queen of Scots, James VI, crime and medieval instruments of punishment.Situated on the historic Shiprow, the award-winning Aberdeen Maritime museum also incorporates Provost Ross’s house, which was built in 1593. The museum tells the story of the city’s long relationship with the sea, from the days of sail and clipper ships to the latest oil and gas exploration technology. This unique collection covers ship-building, fast sailing ships, fishing and port history and is the only place in the UK where you can see displays on the North Sea oil industry. It includes an 8.5m (28 feet) high model of the Murchison oil production platform and nineteenth century lenses from Rattray Head Lighthouse.On the outskirts of the city The Gordon Highlanders Museum is home to the regimental treasures of the world-famous Gordon Highlanders and tells the exciting story of one of Scotland’s best-known regiments, while in the countryside near Maryculter, Blairs Museum of Scotland’s catholic heritage displays an interesting collections of paintings, church textiles, silver and Jacobite memorabilia, including a full length memorial portrait of Mary Queen of Scots dressed as she was on the day of her execution.The Japanese Connection
One of the most influential of the region’s historical figures is Thomas Blake Glover, (1838-1911), the founder of Japan’s mighty Mitsubishi empire. His family home, Glover House, can be visited at Bridge of Don on the outskirts of the city. Thomas Blake Glover is today revered in Japan as being one of the founders of modern Japan. He had a crucial role in the industrialisation of Japan and in the introduction of Western developments in manufacturing, while helping to overthrow the Shogun and restoring the rightful heir to the Imperial Throne of Japan. His personal life may also have provided the basis for the Madam Butterfly story, immortalised in the opera by Puccini.The house has been recreated as Glover would have known it in the 1860s. A guided tour will help explore Glover’s story, and visitors will see an authentic Victorian Parlour, Dining Room, Bedroom and Victorian Kitchen, as well as admiring Samurai armour and other Japanese memorabilia.Music and Theatre
The Music Hall has been the heart of entertainment in the city for over 180 years. Formerly the city’s Assembly Rooms, it was designed by the celebrated architect Archibald Simpson. It now features more than 200 performances a year from pop to country and classical to contemporary and regularly plays host to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra, as well as a variety of pop/rock concerts and the annual Aberdeen International Youth Festival.For larger ‘stadium’ style events, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference centre is the North’s premier facility for major rock and pop concerts, sporting events, public shows and exhibitions.Aberdeen’s music scene includes a variety of live music venues including pubs, clubs and church choirs. The bars of Belmont Street are particularly known for featuring live music. Ceilidhs are also sometimes held in the city’s halls.
His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, which first opened its doors in 1906, continues to attract an eclectic range of top quality theatre productions from West End musicals to opera, ballet, contemporary dance, drama and much more. Acclaimed performances of Grease, Chicago, Miss Saigon and Equus have all been enthusiastically received by sell-out audiences.For art house cinema and independent productions, head for The Belmont Picturehouse on Belmont Cinema, and don’t forget to take a look at Aberdeen Arts Centre, the venue for the region’s many excellent drama groups which reliably stage first class musical theatre and drama.Events and festivals
Aberdeen is home to a host of events and festivals including the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (the world’s largest arts festival for young performers), Aberdeen Jazz festival, Rootin Aboot (folk and roots music event) Triptych (Scottish music) and the University of Aberdeen’s literature festival, Word.Inspired by over half a century of rich musical tradition under the direction of Lady Aberdeen, the Summer Music Festival at Haddo House has also become a firm fixture in the Aberdeen City and Shire cultural calendar,
Cultural influences within the region may have been many and varied and all warmly welcomed, but the Aberdeen character remains firmly grounded in the traditions of the past. The local dialect Doric is often celebrated in poetry readings and literature, there are many highland games throughout the region which keep alive the traditional ‘heavy’ sports such as caber tossing, while highland dancing and bagpipe or fiddle playing are still popular choices with youngsters taking up music and dance.If you are lucky enough to be visiting for Hogmanay, the Stonehaven Fireball Festival is a unique event not to be missed. To welcome in the New Year, a procession swinging huge fireballs over their heads walks through the town before flinging their fireballs into the sea. Street entertainment and a firework display add to the atmosphere.
Literary ConnectionsRobert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island while staying in Braemar in the summer of 1881 and Lord Byron lived in Aberdeen in his early life, attending Aberdeen Grammar School. Named George Gordon Byron after his grandfather, George Gordon of Gight, an Aberdeenshire laird, Byron bore Royal blood, descended through his mother from King James 1. In his epic poem, Dark Lochnagar, he described the ‘steep frowning glories’ of one of Deeside’s most famous mountains.South of Aberdeen you’ll find the Lewis Grassic Gibbon visitors centre, which celebrates the life and times of the region’s most noteworthy literary figure. Grassic Gibbon grew up in the village of Arbuthnott in the early 20th century. His most famous work, A Scots Quair, and in particular Sunset Song, document his life there and have become a Scottish classic.The Word Festival, one of Scotland’s most popular literary events takes place each spring. With readings, discussions, music, art and film it has played host to many celebrated authors such as Irvine Walsh, Lionel Shriver, Deborah Moggach, Iain Banks, Ian Rankin, Lynda La Plante, William McIllvanney, Richard E. Grant to name just a few.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Eat Healthy – Nutritional Labels – How to Read, Analyze and Understand – Part 1

The first step in ensuring that your family and you maintain a healthy way of eating is to be able to read, analyze and most importantly, to understand the nutritional labels on the food products you purchase. Reading and analyzing nutritional labels might be a hassle and an embarrassment (for some) when you have to do it in a supermarket at the beginning but, once you’re use to it…believe me it’s not as bad as it sounds!!I will be referring to the sample nutritional label of Macaroni & Cheese (courtesy of US FDA) throughout this article thus it might be easier if you could print out the word document prior reading further.1) SERVING SIZE AND SERVING PER PACKAGEThis is the top most section of a nutritional label, and is the first thing you’ll have to look at to understand the label. It’s important to know the difference between Serving Size and Serving Per Package.Serving Size is a standard measurement. It is always presented in familiar units such as in cups, pieces, bottles and etc followed by the relevant metric values such as grams, milligrams, litres and etc.On the other hand, Serving Per Package refers to the specific’s food content in terms of the Serving Size…is it 2 times the Serving Size or 4 times the Serving Size? Well, let’s look at the nutritional label above. This is a sample label of a Macaroni & Cheese Frozen Food package. Now…it says that the Serving Size is 1 cup (228g). And the Serving Per Package is 2 times the Serving Size. So…what does this mean? It tells us that the whole Macaroni & Cheese package is 2 times the Serving Size i.e the package if actually 2 cups or 456g (228g x 2) in weight.The nutritional information and the amount of calories presented in Sections 2,3 and 4 of the nutrition label (refer to the above label) are based on the Serving Size of 1 cup or 228g of Macaroni & Cheese. Therefore, if you were to consume the entire pack of this Macaroni & Cheese….you’ll be consuming twice the calories and nutrients displayed in the label.Serving Size is essential when you compare different foods. For example…let’s say there was another frozen food package Chicken Pie, and you’re in the midst of deciding which would be a healthier choice for dinner…you’ll have to use the Serving Size as your comparison basis. Compare the calories and nutrients of 1 cup of Macaroni & Cheese with the calories and nutrients in 1 cup of Chicken Pie!! If the Chicken Pie contains more nutrients and less calories per cup than the Macaroni & Cheese…then it’s obvious that you should purchase the Chicken Pie.2) CALORIES AND CALORIES FROM FATSection 2 of the nutritional label displays the Calories Information of ONE Serving Size of the food. This tells you how much of energy will you obtain from the consumption of one serving of the food.Calories from fat tells the portion of calories which is contributed by fat. For example, from ONE cup (228g) of Macaroni & Cheese…you’ll obtain 250 calories. And of that, 110 calories are contributed by fat. Can you imagine that? Almost half the calories are from fat…and that’s only if you consume 1 cup of Macaroni & Cheese. If you ate the whole package i.e 2 cups of Macaroni & Cheese…you’ll be putting 220 calories from fat into your system!!3 & 4) AMOUNT OF NUTRIENTSSection 3 and 4 of the nutritional label displays the nutrient information. Section 3(yellow coloured) shows the types of nutrient which should be consumed in moderate, while the nutrients listed in Section 4 displays the nutrients that should be consumed in abundance.Generally, we take in the nutrients in Section 3 beyond what our body needs and consume very little nutrients in Section 4. This may cause heart diseases, malnutritions and etc.We’ll talk about the recommended intake of each nutrient and its effect on the body in another article. For now…let’s just try to learn the nutritional label first…According to the above label…1 cup (228g) of Macaroni & Cheese contains 12g of total fat, 3g of trans fat, 30mg of cholesterol and 470mg of sodium. If you ate the entire pack, you would have taken twice these amounts…i.e 24g of total fat, 6g of trans fat, 60mg of cholesterol and 940mg of sodium.As you can see, the values of the nutrients displayed in Section 4 are not in metric values but are in percentage of the daily value. Therefore to analyse the metrical value of these nutrients, you will need to first familiarize yourself with the meaning and impact of daily values.5) FOOTNOTEThe asterisk (*) beside the Daily Value in the nutritional label brings us to the footnote. Well, the footnote basically exist to inform you that the Daily Values (in percentages) beside the nutrients displayed in Section 3 and 4, are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This statement (highlighted in yellow) appears in all food products and is the same for any kind of food. According to research, most of us are only required to consume 2,000 calories a day!!However, you’ll not find the amounts circled in red in all nutritional labels…they are commonly omitted from small nutritional labels. These are the Daily Values (DV) for each nutrient listed and are based on the public health experts’ advice. Daily Values are the recommended levels of nutrients intakes on a daily basis. We’ll discuss more on the recommended level of nutrients in the next article.For example, it says that the DV of sodium for a 2,000 calorie diet is 2,400mg. This basically means that you are only recommended to consume 2,400mg of sodium in a day. And this is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt!! I’m sure that’s a shock!!The DVs of those who need more calories a day…such as construction workers, tractor drivers and etc..will however be higher.6) DAILY VALUES AND %DAILY VALUEHow does daily values and %daily values relate to each other? Well…based on the above nutritional label, the recommended daily value of nutrients are equivalent to 100% daily value. Let’s take the Daily Value of total fat for instance. It says that the DV of total fat is 65g, making 65g the 100% of total fat that you can consume a day.Now…look at the DV (%) displayed beside each of the nutrients in Section 3 & 4…and search for the total fat nutrient. What do you see? One cup of Macaroni & Cheese contains 12g of total fat…which if described in a percentage…would be 18% (12g/65g x 100%). That’s how you obtain the DV(%) of 18% for total fat.Let’s try another nutrient…cholesterol. The recommended DV for cholesterol is 300mg. Now look at how much of cholesterol will you consume if you ate one cup of Macaroni & Cheese…30mg…thus when this is described in percentage…it would be 10% (30mg/300mg x 100%). Voila!!Now…how do you analyse the daily value and daily value(%) when deciding your purchase?Simple…since you are informed that the recommended amount of total fat to be consumed in a day is limited to 65g…try not to exceed this amount!! If you consumed one cup of Macaroni & Cheese…you would have taken 18% of the daily total fat, leaving you with only 82% to consume. That’s about 53g of fat which you would easily exceed through consuming other fried foods, rice, pasta and desserts!!It’s even worse when you eat the whole package of Macaroni & Cheese…you’ll be consuming twice the total fat…i.e 36% of your daily total fat limit, which only leaves a room of 64%.These information allows you to plan your meals in a healthier way. If you decide to enjoy something fatty for lunch, you can decide to eat low fat food during your dinner to stay within the total fat daily value. You don’t need to let go off your favorite foods to be healthy!!We’ll exercise reading and understanding nutritional labels in the next article. Together with that I’ll discuss about the importance of knowing the ingredients of the food products. Please feel free to comment on my articles at my blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Under Water Photography Tips and Techniques

The general purpose of under water photography is to bring sea life to the surface. Most people are curious about what lives underwater and what actually goes on beneath the ocean surface. Underwater photographers make it their mission to capture this hidden world on camera and bring to those people who will never get a chance to see it firsthand. The under water world requires a specific skills and techniques that are different from general photography skills.The underwater world needs to be captured up close unlike wildlife photography for example. Since the water refracts and distorts images, the closer you are to your photography subject, the less distortion you will have. A great deal of patience is required for under water photography. You may be trying to take a photo a fish or dolphin, but than they suddenly swim away before you get a chance to. Also, water contains many particles like plankton that can cause the image to lose contrast and sharpness.Using an underwater flash, or strobe, will help provide the proper lighting necessary for taking a great picture. Therefore, it is essential to use an underwater camera with a flash. This will help to bring in other colors and contrast them with the colors of the subject. A medium sized strobe is all that is necessary as a large strobe can end up getting in the way.Composition is extremely important. The same basic rules apply as in regular photography, but you should shoot at an upward angle towards the subject. Because of the camouflage technique of most sea life, they tend to blend into their habitats. Since they do not stand out like this, they do not make good photographs. The key is to always try to get a clear shot whenever the subject blends into the ocean background.If you are looking to improve your under water photography skills, you will first need to work on your photography on land. When you get to the point where you are taking great photos on land, than you can move into the more advanced world of underwater photography, where taking great pictures takes more patience and skill. Photography under water brings sea life to the surface which gives us more information about the mysterious marine world. If you are just beginning to have an interest in under water photography you should consider taking an underwater photography course to learn proper technique.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off