Category Archives: The journey begins…

Day 16 of 60 – Summer 2018

Sunday, 1st July

Free day in Athens staying at Titania Hotel.

Breakfast on the rooftop terrace with amazing views of the Acropolis and the city over to the sea. Could sit here all day in the shade…but no. Time to get out and explore!

Day trip booked for tomorrow and walking tour at 1700 today.

Headed to the Plaka district, the old town and lots of window shopping in the numerous leather bags and shoe stores. One store caught our eye with their linen and cotton designs. All made in Greece. Left with a couple more additions to the travel wardrobe.

Met Sam, our Free Tour Guide at Hadrian’s Arch and she took us on a winding tour of the city. She had arrived for a two week holiday 24 years ago. Married a local and has a son in university. We started by heading to the Olympic amphitheatre where it was being set up for an upcoming concert by the local philharmonic and the Scorpions.

Next to see the changing of the guard where a growingly heated demonstration allowed us only a short time watching the soldiers.

Seemless transitions of life

When are some toys not fun anymore?

When do we no longer believe in Santa?

Fashion is no longer the driving force in buying clothes and shoes?

What other people think doesn’t really matter anymore?

The Top 40 are no longer on you playlists?

You realise that being alone is not being lonely – footsteps on a beach

You are in control and can make life changes

Compromise is a choice not a necessity and not the only choice.

Hobbit toes?

Before there was independence there was Rutgers!

Queen’s College was established in 1766 before the American Revolution and exits today as Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey. It owes it’s name to Colonel Henry Rutgers who gave a generous donation of $1,000. With 50,000 students spread over four campuses the University dominates New Brunswick.

I was lucky enough to experience some of Rutgers University life through my old Dubai music friend Ben who is currently a graduate student studying for a Doctorate. After visiting the main campuses lunch in Stuff Your Face in the main university social area was much needed after an early start and long flight. Stromoboli is a Rutgers stable for hungry students. With an infinite range of fillings this baked pizza dough parcel available in sizes from mini to huge it is the perfect comfort food. Stuff Your Face is just around the corner from the fraternity and sorority houses with their greek symbols displayed above doors and on the ‘sidewalk’. The first opened in 1845 and there are now over 80 open to new students.

IMG_1902The High Points Solutions Stadium is the home of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team. The current stadium was opened in 1994 and can hold over 30,000 spectators. Supporting the football team is the marching band and it was a band rehearsal which took me to the stadium. Moving the band around is a logistical operation of some scale as drums and the larger instruments are moved from the music campus across the river. The band currently has 250 members and perform at home games as well as other university events during the Fall semester. My question as to how everyone knows where to be and where to go was answered by sheets of paper which at first glance resemble a cross stitch pattern but each cross is each individual performer. The plan shows where each person needs to be at different points in the music with points of reference to the markings on the football pitch. I have never seen a marching band such as this in action – we are not just going forward but back, turning, sideways and in this drill dancing moves too. Six hours of rehearsal each week makes this a major commitment for all involved but well worth the hard work when it all comes together. By far the majority of the band members have been involved with marching bands having been part of their high school bands. The ones I chatted with were passionate band members with many ideas for future musical content and themes along with marching drills to extend their current repertoire. Some are music education students who will make sure that this tradition of marching bands continues in American high schools for the next generations.

Rehearsal was one thing but to see the Scarlet Knights Marching Band in action was something else. Performing an exhibition drill at the New Jersey High School Band’s competition was the chance to see the routine come together and to see their pre-match drill too. Coming running on and marching as closed columns then separating to form the shape of the letter ‘R’ was received with much cheering from the watching high school students. Many of these high schools students will go on to attend Rutgers and hopefully join the marching band.

 

The competition itself was, for the many schools who attended, the culmination of a year’s hard work perfecting in some cases performing some very intricate, innovative and entertaining drills. The schools are rated in classes from 1 to 6 depending on size with 6 being the largest school marching bands. The enter either the ‘O’ or ‘A’ competition depending on whether they have previously won competitions.

Thanks Ben and the Rutger’s Scarlet Knights marching band for a great start to my US experience.

The plan so far…

The plan is not to over-plan!

The idea of having 365 Saturdays in a year came from one Dubai Saturday morning in June when I awoke early. It was a Saturday like any other Saturday: I had a gym session booked later in the morning and a few things I could do, some I perhaps should do, some I wanted to do but nothing that I had to do. As I sipped on some freshly brewed coffee flicking though an online newspaper reflecting on how much I loved Saturdays I realised that I could have a whole year of days like these. Yes, there would be days when I had booked flights or agreed to meet friends along the way but there would always be a sense of flexibility to reschedule and rearrange if necessary.

So here is my 365 Saturdays in a Year very rough outline which is highly subject to change!

I will update as plans develop. Am always open to new ideas and suggestions of places to visit along the way.

July:
Scotland catching up with friends and family
July-August:

23rd July fly from Glasgow to Rennes visiting friends

Early August Couple of days in Paris to see the sights then train back to Glasgow

August:
Scotland to recharge the cultural batteries and visit the Edinburgh Festival

August/September:
Fly south to visit friends in Cambridge, Baskingstoke and London then driving to visit friend in Derby before flying back to Scotland.

September:
Back in Scotland for the vote on 18th September then heading to Dubai on 21st September.

September/October:
3 weeks in Dubai to enjoy my home for the past 20 plus years as a tourist and put things in storage for forwarding when I finally decide where I will end up.

October/ December:
Fly to New York to hopefully catch up with friend there.
Drive around New England to see the colours of fall.
Possible visit to Toronto to visit old Dubai friend.
Travel to Winnipeg to visit family there.
Onwards to Vancover and then across border to Seattle.
Collect car in Seattle and drive to San Diego – a month road trip.
Grand Canyon…Texas…Florida, Kennedy Space Centre to have lunch with an astronaut…
Fly out of New York back to Scotland for Christmas, my mother’s birthday and New Year.

January/ February
Australia

February/March
New Zealand

March/April
Hong Kong, China

April/June – wait and see, may have stayed in some previous places longer…

Watch this space…