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Lego Day

Celebrating Lego Day

It’s world Lego day today. Lego is one of those toys that is ubiquitous with childhood. Anyone growing up in the West will know immediately what you mean when you mention it. It is the joy of Children everywhere, and the thing that drives most parents mad. Is there anything more painful to stand on!?!

In fact, people who have regularly experienced walking on hot coals and broken glass say Lego is by far the worst thing to walk on (source). Feeling brave? You always have a go at the Lego Firewalk. Personally, I’d rather walk on glass or coals!

History

It was in Denmark, at Ole Kirk Christiansen’s workshop where Lego was firstborn. In 1934 it became called Lego after the Danish phrase leg godt.  They were originally called Automatic Binding Bricks, but less originally they were based on the Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks, already patented in the UK.

Over time Lego has grown to become the biggest toy company in the world and is not only used as toys but as movies, artworks and they even made an amusement park you can visit.

Mindfulness and Lego

Lego is no longer just for children; in fact, they have many Lego sets dedicated to adults. There is some fascinating research connected to mindfulness about how doing Lego can help our mental health. We actually keep a Lego set behind each Library Help Desk you can borrow for free. Why not check one out next time you visit…if the library staff aren’t already playing with them that is!

Learn More

We have a fascinating and diverse range of materials for you to read on Lego, from issues with Dentistry (teeth and Lego are a bad mix it seems!) to build your own Lego Robots. Check out Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk.. Just type in the word “Lego” and start reading!

By Juliet Kinsey

Sources: Wikipedia

Australia Day

Australia Day takes place on 26th January and is the country’s national day which celebrates national unity and acknowledges its citizens and their contribution to the country. It marks the date in 1788 of the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove. Around 750 mostly petty criminals were transported from the UK along with around 300 medical and military personnel to establish a colony which has since become a desirable place to live and a vibrant tourist destination.  Between 1945 and the early 1980s many UK nationals emigrated to Australia through the £10 ticket programme which sought to bring in migrants to fill labour shortages. The programme saw more than a million UK nationals leave for Down Under. Nowadays it’s one of the world’s top destinations for backpackers hoping to experience some of the enviable Australian lifestyle.

Australia

Australia has come a long way since 1788 when that first penal colony was established. There are iconic and innovative buildings and architecture such as Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Australia now celebrates its indigenous heritage in the form of Aboriginal art and culture. There are also stunning natural wonders: vast outback, Uluru, Great Barrier Reef (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the vast outback and spectacular coastlines. The Australian wildlife is pretty unique, there are those cute koalas and bouncing kangaroos. Sydney also hosts the Mardi Gras one of the world’s largest Pride festivals. Australia boasts top-flight cricket and rugby teams, tennis players and let’s not forget surfing which must be the country’s national sport. Then there’s the barbecue-the country’s best-known foodie export. Simple cooking on coals outdoors works well in Australia; perhaps we should have left it to them. We’ve all been to a barbecue in this country where the sausages have been burnt or which has been cut short because of the weather.

Long before remote teaching was introduced for students during the covid pandemic, Australia had been remotely educating students living far from the nearest school in the outback. School of the Air launched in 1951 using radio to deliver classes to these children. Now wireless technology is used enabling better communication and faster marking!

Neighbours

We couldn’t think about Australia without giving a mention to what must be Australia’s most famous export – the soap opera Neighbours. Launched in 1985 it quickly became a daytime tv favourite of students. Set in the fictional Ramsay Street in the suburb of Erinsborough, Melbourne it’s the show that launched a thousand pop careers (Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and  Stefan Dennis to name a few). With far-fetched storylines, impossibly good-looking residents and seemingly endless sunshine it’s no wonder that for 30 minutes each day from Monday to Friday we were quite happy to be whisked away to the other side of the world. In 2022 it was announced that Neighbours would end, and the final episode aired on terrestrial tv on 28th July 2022. Only a few months later Amazon Freevee announced the return of Neighbours on their platform in 2023 so loyal fans will still be able to follow their favourite soap once again.

Finally, Happy Australia Day to all our Australian staff and students!

You can use Library Search to find books and articles on Australia, soap operas, and Australian tourism.

Image source by Joeyy Lee

Beginners Guide to Hosting Your Own Burns Night

Beginners Guide to Hosting Your Own Burns Night

Hosting a Burns Night Supper is a wonderful way to celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet. Burns Night is typically held on or around January 25th, the poet’s birthday. Here’s a beginner’s guide to hosting your very own Burns Night Supper:

The Gathering

Gather friends and family together at your chosen venue, whether it’s your home or a communal space. Decorate with Scottish flags, tartan tablecloths, and candles to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Encourage guests to wear something Scottish whether that be traditional kilts, tartan scarves, or sashes. Less formal options could be a Scottish sports shirt or your ENU hoodie!

Menu

The centrepiece of the meal is the traditional haggis. Not a meat eater? Many stores now have vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Haggis is traditionally served with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes). BBC Food provides a guide to Burns Night Food. Serve Scottish whisky for toasts (non-alcoholic whisky is now available too, or you could opt for Irn-Bru!)

The Procession and Address to the Haggis

This is a key part of the evening. Traditionally, a piper plays during the procession of the haggis to add to the ceremonial atmosphere. Not everyone knows a bagpipe player, so you can also find some music on YouTube, Spotify, or Tidal. The host or a chosen guest then recites or reads Burns’ famous poem, “Address to a Haggis,” before cutting into the haggis and serving.

Toasts

Begin with a welcoming toast to the guests, followed by a toast to the immortal memory of Robert Burns. Other traditional toasts include the Lassies (a toast to women) and the Reply to the Lassies.

Scan of old book of Robert Burn's poetry

From The Edward Clark Collection at Edinburgh Napier University

Poetry and Songs

Incorporate readings of Burns’ poetry throughout the evening. “Tam o’ Shanter” and “A Red, Red Rose” are popular choices. Have someone lead the group in singing Burns’ songs like “Auld Lang Syne.” You can find a list of his works available on Library Search.

Entertainment

Consider playing music, particularly Scottish folk music (Spotify and YouTube have several pre-made playlists) or organise a quiz or trivia game related to Scottish culture or Robert Burns.

 Thank You and Farewell

End the evening with a thank you to your guests and a farewell toast. Express your appreciation for their company and participation in the celebration. Remember, the key to a successful Burns Night Supper is to create a warm and festive atmosphere that honours the spirit of Robert Burns and Scottish culture. Enjoy the evening!

By IanSudlow-McKay

 

Read about Robert Burns in our article on his life “Burns Night’

Welcome Edinburgh Napier International College

Welcome Edinburgh Napier International College

Welcome and welcome back everybody. Happy to have campuses back being busy.

We would like to give a very warm welcome to students from the International College at Edinburgh Napier. As things are getting started and getting settled, we would like to cover our library services on offer and what the library can do for you. We do recommend this induction that covers all computing and library services.

Finding information: reading lists, subject guides and subject librarians

You will have a reading list for each of your courses. It is through LibrarySearch that you will find these items. Please remember to log in at the top right corner as a university member.  We also have subject guides and research guides that have been created by your subject librarian. These guides are designed to help you find information and develop research skills. You can find them here. Additionally, you can contact your subject librarian for more information or arrange a 1: 1 appointment for extra guidance. On who your subject librarian is, please refer to our web pages.

Library Resources: Books, Databases and more

We have an extensive catalogue, and it is all available through library search. Here you will have access to all our online resources and be able to locate where our physical resources are. You will also find access to journals and databases. You can borrow up to 30 physical items. Books are 7-day loans but they renew automatically up to a 4 month period unless requested. If you are looking for something we don’t have, we have an inter-library loan service.

Libraries: Physical and Online

At the library, you will find plenty of study spaces: we have silent areas and areas for talking if you have group work. There are study rooms, PCs and macs, with printers and scanners. Each library has a relaxation space with games, colouring sheets and comfy sofas to relax. We have a wellbeing collection that focuses on shelf help. If you can’t make it campus, most of these resources are now available online.

Useful Information

And more information you can find on our library web pages or you can contact us either in person at the help desks or email (library@napier.ac.uk) or phone 0131 455 3500. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch, we are here to help. Good luck in the trimester.

You can also find more library information from previous articles 

January and Wellbeing

January and Wellbeing

It’s that time of year when the festive celebrations are over, and the promise of spring still seems quite far away. January is often the time when many of us start to feel the winter blues which is why it is increasingly important to be kind to yourself and look after your mental health. 

While the short winter days and cold weather can sometimes make it less appealing to adventure outdoors, there are benefits to wrapping up warm and heading outdoors to experience the smells and sounds of the winter. Small things such as the feeling of crunch of snow underfoot, spotting a robin on a tree branch, or stopping to admire beautiful patterns created by frost can all bring a little joy and help to boost spirits.

Self-care

Thriving with Nature – a guide for everyone was published by the Mental Health Foundation to help readers find ways of connecting with nature throughout the year. The guide contains creative and straightforward suggestions for activities to help engage with nature and encourage you to get outdoors regardless of whether you live in the centre of a city or out in the countryside.

The Library has several books on nature and the benefits it can have on our health within the Shelf Help collection:

Braving the wilderness: the quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone by Brené Brown.

The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell

Into the forest: how trees can help you find health and happiness by Qing Li

Don’t forget, ENGAGE Fitness at Edinburgh Napier University provides a performance gym, fitness suite and sports hall at the Sighthill campus for those days when you don’t want to exercise outdoors.  A student trimester pass is available for only £55!

Search the Library more nature or fitness-related printed or online resources on LibrarySearch.

Read more on wellbeing in our section Wellness Collection, full of useful and interesting books or take some time out in our Online Relaxation Zone

Can music improve your wellbeing and health?

Can music improve your wellbeing and health?

Numerous studies suggest that music can have positive effects on both mental and physical well-being. From running to Dementia.

Here are some ways in which music may contribute to improved health:

  1. Mood Enhancement: Music has the ability to evoke emotions and enhance mood. Listening to uplifting or calming music can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also elevate mood and promote a sense of well-being.
  2. Stress Reduction: Music has been shown to have a calming effect on the autonomic nervous system, leading to lower levels of stress hormones. Slow-tempo music with a relaxing melody can induce a relaxation response in the body.
  3. Pain Management: Music therapy is used in various healthcare settings to help manage pain. It can distract individuals from pain, reduce the perception of pain, and contribute to a more positive experience during medical procedures.
  4. Cognitive Benefits: Listening to music can stimulate cognitive functions, including memory and attention. It is often used as part of therapy for individuals with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  5. Improved Sleep: Calming music before bedtime has been shown to improve sleep quality. It can help people relax and create a conducive environment for restful sleep.
  6. Enhanced Exercise Performance: Upbeat and rhythmic music can enhance exercise performance by providing motivation and increasing energy levels. It can also distract individuals from feelings of fatigue during physical activity.
  7. Social Connection: Music is a universal language that can bring people together. Group music-making activities, such as singing or playing instruments, promote social interaction and a sense of community, contributing to overall well-being.
  8. Emotional Expression: Music provides a means of emotional expression and can serve as a cathartic outlet. Creating or listening to music allows individuals to express and process their emotions.

Resources

The neuroscientist Indres Viskontas has done a lot of fantastic research on the subject and you can access many of their articles through Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk, such as:

Music on the Mind: an introduction to this special issue of Neurocase
Viskontas, Indre V. ; Margulis, Elizabeth Hellmuth

Music Therapy has long been recognised as a helpful treatment. We have many books and articles for you to read on the subject. Check out:

Music therapy
Rachel Darnley-Smith and Helen M. Patey.

The British Journal of Music Therapy  available online

It’s important to note that the effects of music on well-being can vary from person to person, and individual preferences play a significant role. What works for one person may not work for another. Additionally, music is often used as a complementary therapy and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical or psychological treatment when needed.

Furthermore, why not check out our Spotify for some musical Inspiration?

So to answer the question can music improve your wellbeing and health? Yes it can!

Right, I’m off to dance around the Library and lift my January spirits!

By Juliet Kinsey

Read more January inspiration on the blog with our article on keeping New Year’s Resolutions

How to achieve your New Year’s Resolution

How to achieve your New Year’s Resolution

Why is it so hard? and what science can do to help.

It’s that time of year again when many of us make resolutions to change. Some of us set long-term goals such as losing weight, exercising more or spending time on productive hobbies. Others go for shorter-term ideas, such as following Veganuary or perhaps Dry January. A chance for us to “try out” lifestyles which are better for us.

Whatever your plans, it’s always good to try and live an improved, healthier, more considered life.

Saying that though, it’s incredibly hard to stick to these goals. The question is why? We all know what we should be doing. We all know that salad is better than a takeaway. That we should exercise more and turn off Netflix to read a good book. Somehow that knowledge alone doesn’t translate into action.

Although there is no simple answer to what motivates us, that hasn’t stopped science from finding ways to help us. So read on for some explanations of how our minds work and what we can do to work around them and achieve our desired goals.

Small Changes

One of the easiest ideas to follow is to use small changes that lead to bigger changes. Many writers promote this idea, and there is some good evidence to back it up. You can look up studies such as the “small changes/healthy Habits” study available through Librarysearch. Also, there are plenty of books based on the idea like James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” (Find it at Merchiston Library).

For many of us, big changes overwhelm us and send us running for the ice cream. No one wants to sit and eat only vegetables and drink water, however drinking one glass of water before each meal is a small, simple change that most of us can do and not feel pressured over. Skipping that extra sugar in your coffee can quickly become the norm, and taking the stairs rather than the lift can create real changes in your body. These small changes over time can help make big differences. Furthermore, doing these tiny changes keeps our brains happy, allowing us to embrace the new habit and make it a part of our routine.

Gamification

A bit of a buzzword in the last few years, this term can be applied to changing our habits by sparking the serotonin in our brains and turning something like exercise into fun. Why not use an app on your phone to turn a boring run into a race for your life away from zombie hordes? Yes, there’s an app for that! Many smartwatches and fitness trackers let you compete with friends to win virtual trophies. Or go old fashioned and simply join a team sport rather than just trudging to the gym. The comradery and the competition can help inspire you to keep to new fitness goals. You can check out some of the current research in papers like this article analysing  “Gamification for health and wellbeing: A systematic review of the literature“. Feel like going in-depth? Why not read up on conference proceedings like this conference paper ” Does Gamification Work? — A Literature Review of Empirical Studies on Gamification. Alternatively, try reading this inspiring and engaging online book “Gamify: how gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things”, available online through the Library.

Temptation Bundling

This is a fun term that basically means doing something fun at the same time as doing something you need to, but really don’t want to. It’s based on the theory known as Premack’s Principle. It is a relativity theory of reinforcement, which “states that more probable behaviors will reinforce less probable behaviorsSource. There is a wealth of articles on this in Librarysearch if you want a deep dive into its applications.

Here are some examples: Only watch that trashy tv show you love when you do the ironing, have difficult meetings at your favourite restaurant or listen to your favourite music whilst looking through mundane work tasks.

Present me/Future me

This is an idea that we are always “present me”, and future me is not here now so forget about them. Sadly poor future me always pays the price of present me’s decisions. So to “future-proof” yourself you need to make it easier for “present you” to make good choices. No snacks in the cupboards, have those workout clothes laid out first thing in the morning, or in your bag for work. Remove the social apps from your phone and prep healthy meals in advance. Make it easier to make good choices in the moment.

In conclusion

If you want to know how to achieve your New Year’s Resolutions, the trick is to make it easy and fun. Small changes, preparation and finding ways to make less enjoyable activities more fun is the key.

By Juliet Kinsey

Read more related articles from our blog, such as our post on meditation, or check out our Wellness Collection guides and online relaxation space.

Image Source

New Year Traditions from Around the World

New Year Traditions from Around the World

A lump of coal just won’t cut it anymore. I need a more carbon-neutral gift to take to my neighbours at New Year, and you don’t get much more carbon-laden than a lump of coal. I started to wonder if there were any tips I could pick up from revellers around the world. My research didn’t offer up any gifts, but I did find some interesting traditions – some quite quirky – that I may adopt.

Japan

Let’s start in the land of the rising sun.  Joya-no-kane is the ancient Japanese tradition of ringing temple bells. The bell is typically rung 107 times on 31st December and once more when the clock strikes midnight. According to Buddhist philosophy, 108 is a holy number, representing as it does the 108 material desires that humans experience throughout the course of their lives. When the bell is struck for the 108th time, it is believed it rings away the problems and worries from the previous year. Many temples attract huge crowds of worshippers on these occasions. The Chion-in temple in Kyoto and Nara’s Todaiji temple are famous for their gigantic bells, the ringing of which requires the efforts of more than a dozen monks.

Brazil

Down in Brazil a rowdier, yet no less spiritual tradition, is unfolding as the goddess Iemanjá, Queen of the Ocean, rises out of the sea in Rio de Janeiro (in the form of a human representative). Revellers flock to the beach as fireworks explode overhead and samba music fills the air. Up to 2 million people, typically wearing white as a sign of peace, place white flowers and floating candles on the shore and send them out as offerings to the goddess, hoping that she’ll grant their wishes in the new year.  But beware – if your offer is washed back to you, Iemanjá is not pleased and may not grant your wish.

Costa Rica

Moving north, and those Costa Ricans really know how to celebrate. You’re welcome to join in as they feast all night and party on the beach. Make sure you dress for the occasion, though – and that means wearing yellow underwear for good luck. Oh, and don’t forget to throw a pan of water – containing all your worries – over your shoulder. The most endearing Costa Rican tradition, in my opinion, is the practice of taking a suitcase for a walk around the neighbourhood to ensure plenty of travel opportunities in the year to come. In these Covid-restricted times, however, it may be best to park the suitcase for the time being. Maybe next year!

Greece

Back in Europe, and the Greeks take a belts-and-braces approach to luck – letting out the bad and welcoming in the good. It’s customary for Greeks to hang an onion on their front doors as a sign of prosperity and regrowth. And on the stroke of midnight, Greeks open all their windows to release those pesky evil spirits, the kallikantzaroi. Try doing that during a Scottish Hogmanay hoolie!

Scotland

Speaking of Scotland. Here we celebrate New Year’s in a big way. The Scots call New Year Hogmanay and it’s used as an excuse for big parties such as Ceilidhs, usually involving large amounts of traditional Scottish food and drink. Once Midnight arrives it is traditional to sing Robert Burns‘ “Auld Lang Syne” whilst holding hands in a circle.

Another Scottish tradition still common is “First footing”. This involves being the first person over the threshold of another’s home bringing a symbolic gift for good luck. If you are being truly traditional it should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. The dark-haired male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your doorstep with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year! (source)

Denmark

But it’s those northerners, the Danes, who have a really smashing tradition. On New Year’s eve in Denmark, it’s time to gather up all your old broken and chipped crockery and smash it against your friends’ doors. They claim it’s a sign of lifelong friendship, and who am I to argue? After all that exertion, you reward yourself with a slice of kransekage, a huge cake made of layered marzipan. Pity there’s no plate left to serve it on.

However you celebrate, wherever you are, we wish you a very happy New Year, Akemashite Omedetou, Feliz Ano Novo, Feliz Año Nuevo, ευτυχισμένος ο καινούριος χρόνος, Godt Nytår.

By Lesley McRob

Read more about New Year on our blog with our articles on Spanish traditions and New Year’s resolutions

Image SOurce: Pixabay

Scottish New Year Traditions

Scottish New Year Traditions

An old Scottish New Year tradition was First Footing – all you had to do was grab a lump of coal and a bottle of whisky and visit your neighbour to “see in” the New Year. This tradition is thought to date back to the Viking times and is quite quaint and sedate, but in modern times some of our New Year traditions have become a little bit crazy…..

Stonehaven Fireballs

This spectacular display takes place in the town of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. Roughly 40 people take part and at the stroke of midnight, the fireballs are lit and are whirled around by those brave enough to take part in the procession along the High Street. The balls are made from wood and fabric soaked in paraffin and then enclosed in wire mesh. The procession takes around half an hour and the balls are hurled into the sea at the end. The origins of the tradition are unclear, but it has now become a popular tourist attraction. If you can’t attend the procession, there has been a webcam allowing remote viewing in the past which will hopefully be running again this year and the link is here. You can check out previous processions online by clicking here.

The Ba’, Kirkwall, Orkney

The game begins at 1pm on New Year’s Day when the Ba’ is thrown up from the Mercat Cross outside St. Magnus Cathedral. Two teams, Uppies and Doonies try to get the Ba’- a leather ball filled with cork handmade by local craftsmen- to their respective home goals. For Uppies it’s at the far end of the main street opposite the catholic church, and for Doonies it’s Kirkwall Harbour. If the Ba’ “gaas doon” then the players are expected to jump into the harbour. It’s a contest of scrums, pushing, shoving, fast sprints and sneaky smuggles. Where your allegiance lies used to depend on where you were born with Uppies being born south of the cathedral and Doonies born north of it. Now with many women being sent to Aberdeen to give birth, most men play on the side their father or grandfather played on. The game mostly takes place on the town’s main streets with businesses and homes boarding up their properties to prevent damage.

There are no rules, and a game can last for many hours with little movement of the scrum. Only when a team member manages to get the Ba’ to the outer players can a fast break or smuggle (up a player’s jumper) take place. It is then chaotic with those in possession of the Ba’ trying to get as close as possible to their goal whilst throwing the opposition off the trail by using the winding lanes in Kirkwall’s streets.

Once the winning team has reached their goal, the Ba’ is presented to a member of the team-usually someone who has participated for many years. It’s a lot easier to watch than take part in-click here to watch the Ba’ from a previous year.

The Loony Dook, South Queensferry

Held on New Year’s Day, The Loony Dook is a charity event requiring the participants to dip into the freezing cold waters of the Firth of Forth. The name comes from two Scots words, loony (a crazy person) and dook (to bathe or take a dip).

The first Loony Dook took place in 1986 when some friends suggested it would be a good hangover cure. The following year it became a charity event with proceeds going to local charities such as RNLI Queensferry. Over the years the event grew to include a fancy dress parade and became so large it had to become an organized event. Each year thousands of onlookers come to watch participants who are greeted by pipers and offered hot porridge before taking the plunge.

The event has caught on in other Scottish seaside towns along the Firth such as North Berwick, Kirkcaldy and St. Andrews so if you can’t make it to South Queensferry, then you may be able to catch the action at a different venue. If you prefer to stay warm and dry at New Year then click here to view a previous Loony Dook from the comfort of your home!

By Vivienne Hamilton

Find amazing resources on Scotland in LibrarySearch.napier.ac.uk

Read more about Scottish Traditions with this post on Burns Night.

Festive image saying Merry Christmas and and a wonderful Festive Season from the edinburgh napier Library Blog

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