Carpe Diem: Beekeeping – DONE!

Sad to finish my Beekeeping course at the Uni. It was lots of fun and I learned so much every lesson. We had 5 classes, but on account of the weather (it’s getting chilly!) only one trip out to open the hive, but it was a blast and I am totally amazed and excited about honeybees!

We learned loads in our first class which was ace.

In the second class we went out to the hive, opened it up (which required a J-bar tool to crack through the hard propolis that the bees make to keep the hive secure), and had a look around. We were checking to make sure the bees were doing okay and getting ready for winter, when they go sort of dormant to survive the cold. We were also feeding them sugar water. We learned how to open the hive properly so as not to accidentally confuse or kill the queen (which would be terrible for the hive!).

It was super exciting and we were very lucky because with only a bit of looking around, our teacher Matilda managed to find the infamous Queen bee for us and we all got to actually see her running away! She was indeed much bigger than the worker bees.

It was a bit weird and exciting being in a beekeeper suit and knowing that bees were landing on me all over. I’ve never been stung before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the bees were so calm and we’d been prepared in advance so nothing to worry about! (And I managed to leave unstung!)

For the third and fourth classes, we learned loads and went over the information we’d taken in so far. We watched an awesome retro video (which Matilda gave us a copy of on the last day for reference). We talked about swarming, and why a hive might do it, and how to ‘catch’ your swarm if it leaves your hive. We learned about varroa mites – parasites that can kill your bees and that you need to treat with special chemicals to keep at bay. We also learned about the different beekeeping societies we can join, locally and further afield. I think once I get a house and get settled and such, I’ll try to join the EMBA (Edinburgh Midlothian Beekeepers Association) at the very least to support their work. Matilda said essentially as a member you can go to the apiary and practice your skills out on the communal hives there, and you can ask for help and advice from the community of beekeepers, which seems a great resource!

For the final class, we did a honey-tasting and got to taste honey from our actual bees! It was delicious! We did a taste comparison between our honey, and a couple types of store-bought honey. It was interesting to taste different types of honey together, mostly because I don’t think I’d ever noticed the quite significant differences in flavors! Ours was definitely the best though – and I’m looking forward to seeing the Pollock Halls honey in shops, but I think that won’t be for another year or so.

It was a really brilliant class and I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for a follow-up course perhaps in the spring with the hive is more lively and ‘buzzing’ and the bees are in peak foraging season. That will be really exciting!

October catch-up


Onwards and upwards in October!

Started the month with a win – the last BBQ of the year (perhaps? who knows!) at our friends’ new flat to celebrate a pal’s birthday. I’m not big into birthdays, so was nice to just hang out and chat and laugh and be outside with good friends. Followed the weekend up with family dinner at S’s folks with our niece and nephew. <3 I aspire to be as good and kind and interesting and loving a parent as S’s sister & her husband. They’ve got that parenting stuff on lock.

A happy kid! Bakewell tart, bakewell pudding, and scone w/jam&cream!
A happy kid! Bakewell tart, bakewell pudding, and scone w/jam&cream!

Went to a friend’s wedding in Derby and made a holiday of it! Ticked off lots of boxes – went by train, rollercoastered at Alton Towers, fishing, pod camping, hill walking in the Peak District, Bakewell tarts in Bakewell!, and some much needed respite from our 9-to-5s. Expect some rapid-fire posts of ‘completions’.

Mega-sads on the house-front again this month. Saw a beautiful house in the neighborhood near where S grew up. Needed a lot of work and there was LOTs of interest on that one… The following weekend, we saw another beautiful house that we definitely wanted – but as we walked up to the open viewing the owner said they’d already accepted a verbal offer. Gutting! Have an offer in on another perfect house; not getting our hopes up; closing date next week.

I bought winter boots and a cool bag in Derby, so +2 on my ‘bin 30 things’ goal. Lame. We’re having a bake sale / book&dvd sale at work though end of November so will hopefully get rid of all my donate-ables there. Overall at -18…

Alton Towers - Oblivion 'Don't look down!'
Alton Towers – Oblivion ‘Don’t look down!’

Another 1.5hrs karaoke under our belt! And +4 flavours of Wings! (That’s 3.5hrs, and 8 flavours so far.)

Beekeeping was AMAZING! Will post asap.

Signed up for the Edinburgh Christmas 5K Fun Run, to support the SSPCA. Have got S to chum me along. Excited to tick off my ‘run a race’ and support animals!

Contemplating a glassblowing course – will start saving pennies. Also looking for somewhere to donate my hair (we have Locks for Love in the states, but can’t find an equivalent in the UK?). And looking into donating blood/marrow donor list in the UK; used to do this a lot in the states but haven’t looking into it since moving to Scotland.

Poem front is still struggling… I finished one called Butsudan but it still needs polishing.

As for paleo and cutting 30lbs progress – we’re still doing ‘lazy paleo’ (ie. have cut grains, dairy, etc for the most part, but ate like normal at our various outings). I was doing a lot of stretching to learn to do the splits, but managed to pull/strain my quad muscle so have stopped for a while. Been getting totally battered in my basketball games as well; need to toughen up! That said – Edinburgh Kool Kats senior women are currently undefeated! And I’ve been running home still even though it is getting crazy dark and rainy, so there’s that.


John Burnside, The Asylum Dance (amazing!)
William Letford, Bevel
Helen Ivory, Waiting for Bluebeard
Jorie Graham, P L A C E
Philip Gross, Later

Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Son Lux – Lost it to Trying (whole album is streaming on NPR. Amazing stuff! Thanks Mike for the rec)
Foxes – Youth (she’s also feat. in Zedd’s Clarity which is ACE.)
Daughter – Amsterdam (vid from Field Day, which we went to last year!)
Haim – Don’t Save Me (Cyril Hahn remix)
Santigold – Disparate Youth

Also, old news now, but I watched this movie Life in a Day which made me cry and cry and feel amazing about humanity and life. It’s available to watch in full online!

See you in November!

September catch-up

Lots of fun and eventful as ever in September! Just checking in with a note of my ‘progress’ so far:

Barter Books in Alnwick

We adventured to Alnwick. (Which took two attempts, as initial train-ride was scuppered by ‘user error’ – we overslept!). Barter Books was AMAZING! Next time we will bring our books to trade. We also enjoyed a lovely wee lunch in the Treehouse.

I submitted my application for UK residency. Received the ‘processing’ letter, followed by a notice to go get my biometrics taken (fingerprint scanning, etc). Will do a proper post once I get my ‘results’.

We put an offer in on a house! And got beat at closing date. We’ve done this already and been beat before, so not getting my hopes up as easily anymore… Still, demoralising!

Aiko the beekeeper

I seized the day and signed up for a beekeeping class!

I’m still the same weight (well, minus 1kg…), but we are doing pretty well with paleo-eating so far! (Check instagram for photos of yummy things S has whipped up for us.) Still caving like a chump at any sign of cakes though….

I’ve started running home from work. I walk to and from already (1.7miles each way), but figured I’d up my game. So far so good!

I dug out 23 items to bin/donate so far! (Mostly books…) I have given 3 away already and binned 6… I also donated a 7.5kg bag full of ‘mixed clothes’ (S’s and mine) that’s been in the closet for ages; sweet relief! However, I accrued an additional 5 items this month… so decided that I need to end up at an overall minus-30 items by end of year. That seems more fair, no?

Thursday Date Night: Wings & Karaoke!

For Thursday date night (our usual family tradition) in week 2, we went to Wings and tried 4 flavours! Then on to Supercube for our first 2 hours towards karaoke challenge. =)

My Spanish level is up! Shout if you fancy a Duolingo invite and I’ll send you one. Have just started on German – fingers crossed.

A colleague clued me in to free online courses on EdEx and there’s one for Intro to Computer Science so I’m contemplating taking this in January to ‘learn to code’. (I’ve taken a similar course at UCLA so hopefully not too redundant, and would be good to top-up and get a certificate hopefully).

I’ve written TWO poems I’m happy with this month! (‘Mold’, and ‘A Wound Masked as a Boast’.) Both need fine-toothing in the next few weeks but happy to have some progress on this front! Imagine it’s because I’ve been trying to digest LOTS of poetry this month (and hopefully going forward). Speaking of which…

readingSimon Armitage, Kid
Jenny Bornholdt, These Days
Jenny Bornholdt, Summer
Leontia Flynn, These Days
Lavinia Greenlaw, Minsk
Seamus Heaney, District and Circle
Dennis O’Driscoll, Reality Check

DC Pierson, The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Didn’t Have To
Orson Scott Card, Xenocide

(Strange to read two books with the same title! Jenny Bornholdt is my new favorite for the month. Everything she writes is magnificent.)

Tegan and Sara – Closer (from Heartthrob! So good!)
Grimes – Vanessa
Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welch – Sweet Nothing
Ellie Goulding – Burn
Lana del Rey – Young and Beautiful


Roll on October!