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James Ferrier Shand's love for travel has grown from a youth spent in the exceptionally lively tourist hub of Australia's Gold Coast. Obtaining a university degree in International business and event management, James packed his bags for experiences in this wonderful world, and currently travels while writing for us. Currently touring Canada, we are envious of the amazing ski lodges he is visiting, rock faces he is climbing, icy lakes he is picnicing by, and warming mulled wine he is tasting in the land of winter. We love James Ferrier Shand's outlook on life!
The Queen’s Head tavern sits only a block away from Lake Ontario beachfront in Burlington, Canada. From the outside, The Queen’s Head tavern would happily sit alongside pubs in downtown London, rather than downtown Burlington Ontario. With rich wood featuring such detailed architecture, you are in for a truly genuine pub experience.
A friendly greeting at the door sets the tone for the evening ahead. I had called a local mate for a beer, and we decided to sit on the newly built outside patio, with a great view of one of the main thoroughfares in Burlington. Our bubbly waitress was eager to explain the menu with detailed knowledge of the food on offer. After just a few moments of chatting, it was obvious staff have a lot of confidence in their chef, and it wasn’t too long before we found out why – the food is good.
The Queens Head pub has a great reputation with locals and is popular throughout the entire week so expect it to be busy at any time. Try to get in early in the evening, as even though it was Wednesday on our visit, it was busy so it’s not fast food. We had a great night, kept well entertained by the live music and the surprisingly extensive selection of beverages.
I generally am quite indecisive when it comes to menus, but this starter menu gives the perfect amount of options – i.e. not too many to choose from. Try the pumpkin and prosciutto flatbread, which you don’t see in many pub style restaurants, it’s worth it.
For the main, I suggest the Parmesan haddock. The dish is presented in a large white bowl with two large crisp pieces of haddock on a bed of beautifully spiced fingerling potatoes, blanched with salted purple kale and a creamed leak sauce. Your taste buds will come alive! The complementing flavours and texture blend charmingly. A perfectly proportioned dish left me satisfied.
I could smell the mouth-watering dessert long before the dish reached my table. I almost regretted ordering this …almost. I was pleasantly full-bellied from dinner already, and the dessert plate served up intimidated me – it was huge! Who knew such wonderful taste could convince you to fit the impossible into your already full stomach. Every bite left me wanting more. My waitress suggested it, and I pass on the secret to you – definitely try the candied ginger and preserved fruit bread pudding at the Queens Head, Burlington.
The Queens Head has amazing food, great live entertainment and quality service. There isn’t much more you can ask for with a pub experience – I’d say it’s a winner.
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"Burning man, how was it?" Asks everyone. Words cannot properly describe the week I’ve just had at the Burning Man festival, but I’ll give it a shot. I am an avid festiver go-er, though never have I experienced an event remotely like Burning Man. You may have heard the event described as a concert, a giant workshop, a festival, a conference, an art exhibition, a temporary commune, an experiment, or a bunch of naked people camping in the desert. I agree 'Yes and no' to all such round ups. Let me explain..
Burning Man is the world’s largest temporary city. It is close to a hundred thousand people together in the desert for one week, held in Nevada's Black Rock desert of the USA. As an annual event, Burning Man brings together people's celebrations of art, music, workshops, dance, yoga, and creative gatherings on a mass scale. All leading up to a traditional Saturday ceremony where a symbollic man sculpture is set alight 'burning the man.' Art is a big part of the experience with a dedicated theme each year, such as Time, The Floating World, The American Drean and this year 2014 was Caravansary.
So what does one actually do at Burning Man? This is the kind of festival everyone experiences differently, so I'll give you the break down of mine. On reflection, my time does sound like some very warped children’s story. Most people travel to Burning Man with a group, which I did, and each day we would start by sharing tales of the previous days amazingadventures.
“..First thing inn the morning, I hopped on the back of a mechanical dragon taking me to a wedding in the most beautiful temple I have ever seen, right in the heart of this desert festival. Then, I climbed inside a car decked out as a potion bottle for a ride to a yoga workshop, which halfway through - I left. This was so I could dance along the road with an alien marching band, leading me to a butterfly woman who gave me the best hug of my entire life and told a happy tear jerking life story. The butterfly woman gave me some refreshing fruit and drinks, then introduced a man in a rubber suit who discussed the concept of reality, love, and perception, along with the meaning of life.
At this point, to my bewilderment, out thousands of people at Burning Man, my own burning man family walk in the door. No need to quesiton how they found me. A simple smile, nod, hug and understanding were given. ‘Well of course you found me, its Burning Man's Black Rock City’.
Night descends, we link arms and walk onto the beach. Breathtaking fire and lights are a beautiful sight for us, then in the blink of an eye my family disappear into the night again. Heart racing and completely overwhelmed, I don't panic, rather quickly make new friends and jump inside a naughty teapot installation with them. My new friends and I catch a lift to a surprise show from Skrillex and Major Lazor. It was fantastic. We dance and sing for hours until a flaming octopus came along and showed us the path to a volcano with a slide inside. Soon exhausted, we found reprieve in a library where all books are written by patrons. So in quiet contemplation each of my new friends sit and write ..until the sun rises behind an art sculpture showing two giant wooden lovers caught in embrace.
I took the hand of a leopard princess and walked home across the desert. Bones weary and with the lights and sounds of The Playa fading behind us, we collapse into blankets and pillows and drift off to sleep. Soft sounds of The Doors and Star Wars theme music are a distant lullaby. For a second, I look up and smile, knowing that life is great and that tomorrow it all begins again. But first sleep.
This was only one day at the event, I can barely scrape the surface of feelings, emotions and profound happenings which Burning Man present to you. People are together in the desert not just surviving as they say, but thriving. It is the most profound expression of human potential that I have ever personally witnessed. It is a place in the world truly showing just how wonderful life can be, for all people - if simply given a space of freedom, of love, acceptance and support. I'd recommend the experience to anyone.
Ticket info, getting there, Q&A
You want it. Why?
You get to look extremely stylish while rolling your suitcase through check-in. Almost as stylish as the cabin-crew.The Globe-Trotter 21 suitcase from The Merchant Fox has a chocolate brown body, tan leather trim with burgundy edging and brass fittings. The interior is lined with Fox Brothers and Co's Prince of Wales 100 % flannel check with a red deco, woven at its West Country mill. How luxe. Dimensions Height 54 cm, Width 38 cm, Depth 18cm Weight 4.2kg
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You want it. Why?
You’re having a moment; wishing you were seeing the world and all it’s colourful glory, not tomorrow, but right at this very miniscule of a second. Not to worry, in theory – you are. With a giant, vibrant world map wallpaper installed, you are. Perhaps it’s not exactly the same as squashing tomatoes beneath your feet at La Tomatina festival in the meditteranean, but this stylish visual board will make sure your travel passion is never forgotten. And it looks good with arty butterflies.
Where do you get it?