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All Posts By Sam Allcock

Travel Tips for Guitarists – Guitar-saving ideas & hacks

By Posted on 2 m read

If you’ve ever travelled with your instrument, you’ll know the amount of preparation and stress that can go into ensuring it arrives safely from one destination to another. Guitarists are no stranger to this feeling, and we’re certainly well versed on horror stories from the travelling guitarist.

With this in mind, consider this guide to three tips you need to consider when travelling with your guitar. These tips might just save your instrument (and wallet) from unnecessary damage, so jump right in…

  1. Travel with a Hard Case

Whilst travelling with a hard case is often not the most easiest way to travel with a guitar, or even the most inexpensive, it’s often the best way to decrease any anxiety you may have about your guitar in transit. Quality hard cases are not always cheap, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and when it comes to travelling with your beloved axe we advise you don’t skimp on the hard case (the same goes for transporting guitar equipment such as effects pedals and accessories too)!

  1. Purchase a travel guitar

One way to ensure that your guitar is prepped for travelling is to purchase a guitar designed for that specific reason! Travel guitars are a fantastic solution for seasoned bands and artists on the road, and are also useful for long trips when you simply cannot be separated from your guitar for an extended period of time.

The size of travel guitars usually ends at ¾ of a standard guitar, however you will be able to purchase a full-size, foldable option if you’re willing to spend a little extra. Having increased in popularity over the years, travel guitars are certainly a viable option if you’re going to be travelling regularly. Consider consulting a travel guitar buyers guide to get the complete low-down on sizing, shape and transport considerations for a travel-specific guitar.

 

  1. Protect your guitar from the inside & outside

This travel hack is amazing on two levels. Firstly, you ensure that your guitar is padded to reduce any chances of bumps and scrapes, and secondly you can use the clothes you’re travelling with as tools for padding! From previous experience, it’s recommended to pad the inside of your guitar with socks, whilst saving the outside t-shirts, jumpers and heavier items to reduce the surface area that the guitar has to move around within the case.

Travelling with your guitar is all about prioritising the reason you’re taking your guitar with you. If it’s a short trip, a hard case is a perfect option. For longer trips we recommend the travel guitar option, which also means you can leave your main guitar at home (but let’s be honest, it’s not exactly easy to choose a favourite guitar). Happy travels!

 

 

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Shaping the future: How Zhejiang University transforms lives

By Posted on 4 m read

Responsibility. Hard work. Loyalty. These are the three tenets of a good life according to Zhejiang University Associate Professor Imran Haider Shamsi; a man who embodies the university’s motto: seeking truth, pursuing innovation.

Eighteen years at ZJU has helped to cultivate Shamsi’s talent, from undergraduate student to Ph.D. and Postdoc holder to becoming its first foreign faculty member of the Department of Agronomy, College of Agriculture and Biotechnology.

“I was made in ZJU by ZJU and for ZJU,” says Shamsi. “I know my Pakistani ancestors and my family and my beliefs; I never lose my identity. But I have also adopted the Chinese culture with a very open heart.”

Having embraced the opportunities offered to him as a student of ZJU, Shamsi is deeply passionate about his role as a teacher helping nurture future generations of ZJU students and he has amassed multiple awards, including the first place in the 2016 National University Young Teacher’s competition. He believes ZJU, as one of China’s leading research-intensive universities, is providing a pioneering environment for the creation and dissemination of knowledge.

Academic freedom is felt throughout ZJU and positively encourages the pursuit of interdisciplinary collaboration, the application of research to real-world problems, and the exploration of new ideas and concepts.

It is an approach that manifests in ZJU’s International Design Institute, as its deputy director Lingyun Sun explains: “We are good at inviting professors and students from other majors to join us. We think the most creative area is where science meets art, meets design, meets engineering — these four areas coming together can provide immense opportunities.

“Our ideas are concerned with how we can invent the future and ZJU is unique because of the environment, because of our joint institute with Alibaba (the Chinese e-commerce giant headquartered in Hangzhou) and because of the local manufacturing background. It is very interesting for us to have the opportunity to encourage students to transfer their ideas into the market.”

The latest exhibition of ZJU design students’ work included origami robots, an electric bicycle and a technology pillow that helps users enter a shallow sleep by simulating the ‘white noise’ of nature. Additionally, a lighting product that was on show is proving a huge commercial success.

Innovation is also evident in the teaching at ZJU and in 2018 one of its most creative and popular instructors, Weng Kai, was honoured with the Yongping Outstanding Teaching Contribution Award. Across the 14 courses per year he teaches, Weng’s classes are heavily attended, while he has also attracted 2 million registrations for his Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

“I’m kind of a ‘wild’ teacher in that I wasn’t trained in a normal way. I graduated, thought maybe I could be good at teaching and wanted to do it,” offers Weng modestly when asked about his teaching style. “Actually, Zhejiang University has a very good tradition in how it teaches students. I graduated here, and I have the experience of the teachers here. I even use in my classes some of the examples taught to me by my teachers, so it’s like an inheritance, a legacy.”

Weng has been at the frontline of teaching and education reform at ZJU for 23 years. He believes that the close relationship between teachers and students at ZJU is crucial to success. “The students here feel part of a big family, we are quite close.”

Emphasising that point, Ma Keyi, an undergraduate in Chu Kochen Honours College, which is attended by the top 5% of ZJU’s students, is eager to give examples of how she has been supported in her endeavours.

“The college provides us with a lot of resources,” she says, “I have opportunities to do research and publish papers. Meanwhile, I can do internships to gain experience and put theory into practice. If you have an idea and you want to implement it the college will help you, if you want to study abroad the college will fund it, if you want to do anything that is valuable or meaningful the college supports you and will provide the resources.

ZJU also has an impressive record of supporting its students to achieve success in global competitions. In 2018 the university claimed victories at the Tokyo International Choir Competition, the RoboCup and the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition.

The RoboCup – a humanoid version of football’s World Cup – was held in Montreal, Canada and offered the team from ZJU the chance to demonstrate their innovative ideas in a competition that is designed to promote robotics and Artificial Intelligence Research, as well as push advances in technologies.

Chen Zexi, a member of the victorious team, revealed it was a surprise success: “We won the small size league. It was amazing. We won in 2013 and 2014 but this year we did not think about being champions because we were trying out new innovations. I have to give credit to the university for the great support we get and the funding.”

ZJU’s stated aims include advancing civilization, serving and leading society, and promoting national prosperity, social development and human progress. Its policies are providing the platforms for its students and staff to excel, just as it did with Shamsi nearly two decades ago. Wherever a person comes from, and whatever their background is, ZJU is eager to guide their evolution.

“A foreign talent should never consider themselves as a foreigner,” Shamsi says, “Instead, consider yourself as part of the society where you are and then you can contribute. Take responsibility for life, yourself, your work, your family and your organisation. Never be afraid of hard work. Show loyalty towards family, tradition, country, and the organisation you work for.

“I will tell you a secret: Every morning when I arrive at work at ZJU, I tell myself that it was ZJU that gave me respect and honour, and with this belief I start my day. This is the love I have for this college.”

 

Source: https://www.prfire.co.uk/shaping-the-future-how-zhejiang-university-transforms-lives

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Snowdonia Gin Launches – Modern gin that delivers delicate plum and citrus notes

By Posted on 2 m read

Snowdonia gin is a new, modern gin that delivers delicate plum and citrus notes, layered over juniper, oak and soft spice.

This recipe innovation brings flavours local to Snowdonia to produce a beautifully smooth and modern tasting gin.

With sales of gin in the UK topping 60 million bottles in the year end June, 2018, there seems no let up in the growing demand for new and interesting flavours in the gin category. Flavoured gin spirits are strongly on trend and it is the addition of unique botanicals that are creating a very interesting choice for gin drinkers.

With the an ever increasing selection of mixers for your cocktail and garnishes ranging from fruit berries to herbs and spices, the humble G&T is certainly having its finest hour.

Snowdonia gin creators say “ It’s all about the taste .. flavour innovation is producing some quite outstanding and interesting gin spirits and we equally have really considered our recipe.”

Snowdonia Gin chose botanicals that had a natural home in Snowdonia region including juniper, plum and oak.

Juniper grows wild in Snowdonia but the juniper population is declining in the UK, due mainly to a lack of seedling habitat.

Most juniper berries for the UK gin trade come from Italy and are hand foraged, juniper is not cultivated and just grows wild.

“ Our juniper berries for Snowdonia Gin are imported, this helps protect the natural UK grown juniper. The key is to source berries that offer a quality of flavour, as batch by batch there can be differences in the maturity of the berries, this can affect the taste, so sustainability of botanical quality is key to sustainable and great taste “

Plum also has a home in Snowdonia with the Denbigh plum claiming one of the finest plum tastes so it was a natural addition to our Snowdonia gin recipe.

“ We also chose plum due to its richness and intricate taste, it’s quite mouthwatering on the palate and once distilled produces a beautiful delicate fruit sweetness that really compliments the juniper. Plum and lemon are equally great taste bedfellows, they compliment each other and their pairing in the gin produces a quite memorable taste experience.

The Snowdonia region was once covered in Oak trees and today the most common tree in the Snowdonia National Park is Welsh oak.

“ With the addition of Oak bark we bring a slight hint of soft vanilla which combined with selected spices delivers a very smooth taste to the gin.

“ We created a very modern gin and we are very pleased with the final taste, it’s still true to being a dry gin, but with a unique flavour,  that has its heart in Snowdonia. ”

Snowdonia gin is available from good food and drink outlets or online from www.snowdoniagin.com

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