Helen goes to V Fest

Festivals are a HUGE part of summer in the UK, so this year I finally lost my festival virginity and headed off to V Festival in Chelmsford with all my uni buddies – and it was incredible. 

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Now, those of you who know me will know that I’m not a very outdoors-y person so in any other circumstance 3 days camping would’ve been a nightmare but I coped surprisingly well. We arrived on Friday morning and after what felt like hours of lugging all our stuff through a field, we reached our home for the weekend: the yellow camp site. 

On Saturday, we headed into the arena early to see Fuse ODG sing different versions of the same song – or that’s what it sounded like. After heading back to the tent for some vodka slushies, we ventured back to arena for Alan Carr, Kaiser Chiefs, Bastille, Ed Sheeran and Mr Justin Timberlake. 

Ed Sheeran is just amazing – it’s literally just him and his guitar and it’s perfection. I swear, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I just melted when he sang ‘Thinking Out Loud’. He was followed by JT. Now, Justin Timberlake is just one of those people that you don’t actually think is real, he is the definition of cool. The crowd participation in ‘Senorita’ where the guys sing then the girls sing was pure awesome and his acoustic version of ‘Not A Bad Thing’ was so beautiful.  It was so surreal seeing someone as famous as him performing right in front of you – a definite highlight of the weekend.

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Sunday brought with it a whole new host of amazing acts including M People, Jess Glynne, Sam Smith, Rizzle Kicks, Rita Ora, Paolo Nutini and The Killers. After being very excited to see Paolo Nutini, I was a little disappointed with his set as he didn’t really do any of his old stuff and what he did do, he slowed it way down. I mean, ‘Pencil Full Of Lead’ is not a song to be slowed down, and the song we were most looking forward to hearing – ‘Last Request’ – he didn’t even sing! On the plus side, he was looking exceptionally hot – minus the massive love bite on his neck, which everyone noticed. The Killers were unbelievable, they put on such a great show, and even though they’ve been in the business for years and are one of the biggest bands on the planet, you can still tell how happy and appreciative they are that they get to do what they love for a living. The look on Brandon Flowers face when the crowd was singing his lyrics back to him was priceless. 

So aside from getting a full can of beer chucked at my head waiting for The Killers, my first festival experience was a definite success. Would I go again? Yes, but I’m not sure I’d camp again. I have this OCD thing when it comes to washing my hands and that anti-bacterial thing they have in the port-a-loos just doesn’t do it for me, it’s not soap!

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Top 3 Performances

  1. Justin Timberlake: SexyBack
  2. The Killers: Mr Brightside
  3. Ed Sheeran: The A Team

People I Wish I’d Seen

  1. Kodaline
  2. Jason Derulo 
  3. Train

Until next time,

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Something different

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As a student journalist I am forever faced with the question: What kind of journalism do you want to get into? This is a question that makes me shiver to my core as the honest answer is: I have no idea. I am going into the final year of my degree in September and nothing terrifies me more than what kind of job I am going to get when I graduate.

Everyone seems to have something they’re really interested in and want to write about like sport, politics or fashion. For me, it’s entertainment – particularly TV.

I watch an awful lot of American TV series’ so my dream job would be one that allows me to be in the press room at San Diego Comic Con interviewing all the stars of my favourite TV shows. I’ve decided that this TV season, starting in September/October, I’m going to review episodes of my favourite shows every week and maybe try to do a few Q&A sessions with the cast on twitter.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still like the idea of working for a local paper or lifestyle magazine but I think this could be another branch to try out.

Keep a look out for TV related posts come September!

We’re in for a super season!

When it comes to superheroes, I’m kind of obsessed. No matter who it is, although I’m a little impartial to Superman – mainly because of Lois Lane.

Smallville is and always will be my favourite TV show and in my opinion, one of the best incarnations of the Superman story on both the small screen, and the big one. Smallville gave us without a doubt the best Lois Lane in Erica Durance and in turn, her chemistry with Tom Welling made Smallville’s Lois and Clark even more iconic.I remember sitting down to watch the Smallville finale when it aired 3 years ago and thinking ‘I can’t believe it’s over, what am I going to do now?’

Luckily, a year and a half later a show called ‘Arrow’ was due to start. Having fell in love with Oliver Queen on Smallville, I was eager to watch this new series and I am so glad I did. With some of the same writers and producers Smallville had, Arrow has definitely brought back all those feelings I used to get when I’d watch Smallville. In the second season of Arrow, they introduced Barry Allen, aka The Flash and now he’s getting his own series which starts in September and after watching the extended trailer, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome.

Along with ABCs Gotham which also starts in the fall, TV is about to get super again and I am so excited for it. Everyone says that Marvel films are better than DC films and that may be so but nobody makes a TV series like DC.

Tragic Peaches

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When I first heard the news about Peaches Geldof’s death, my first thought was ‘how could she do that to her children?’ – I know that thought might have been a little presumptuous as, at that point, nothing had been confirmed about how she died. I so hoped that it was a tragic accident, however, it turned out that I was right…

There is no doubt that the death of the 25-year-old mother of two is an absolute tragedy, however I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed when it was revealed yesterday that heroin was ‘likely to have played a role in her death.’

After reading this comment piece on the Independent, I felt I had to say something. While I agree that the heroin aspect does not make her death less tragic; I do believe it makes it very selfish. Peaches left behind 2 young boys who now have to grow up without a mother because she did what her own mother did to her when she was just 11-years-old – she knew what it was like to lose a mother and to grow up without one, yet she has left her sons, Astala and Phaedra the same way. No child should have to grow up without a mother, and I just hope that these two young boys find a happier, more fulfilling future than their mother and grandmother did. If I was in Tom Cohen’s position, I would keep my two boys away from the spotlight for as long as possible.

It is wrong to say that overdose victims do not deserve sympathy. Suicide, in any form, is difficult to comprehend for an outsider looking in on the situation and we will never know why Peaches chose, if that was the case, to end her life in the way that she did. In fact, that her death was due to heroin makes it more tragic in a way as her family and everyone who loved her will have to continue on in their lives not knowing why she chose to die.

Gillingham goes green for Medway’s first St Patrick’s Day parade

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Above: Children with their homemade St Patrick’s Day banner.

With the sun shining, everyone in green and Guinness in full flow you could say that Medway’s first ever St Patrick’s Day parade was a success.

Hundreds of people gathered in Gillingham High Street on Sunday afternoon with shamrocks painted on their faces, Ireland flags wrapped around them and Guinness hats swaying in the breeze to join in the festivities.

The parade was product of the Medway St Patrick’s Day Group which was set up in 2013 by Tina Lawlor-Mottram, who is from Dublin and Sarah Jenkins, whose mother is Irish.

Sarah Jenkins said: “When we started this we never thought we’d get such an enthusiastic, happy response to our little parade – we thought there would be five of us.”

“We’re so grateful for this wonderful turnout and would never have dreamed there would be such a huge representation of the Irish in Medway,” she added.

Creative artist and co-chair of the Medway St Patrick’s Day Group Tina Lawlor Mottram led the creative art workshops with local children and their families where they made badges and designed the banner which led the parade.

The banner was followed by The Pentacle Drummers and Irish dancers from the Hackett Kyne Academy of Irish Dancing and McManigan’s Academy of Irish Dance who jigged up and down the High Street in traditional dresses.

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Above: The Pentacle Drummers march through the High Street

There was also a nod to Britain in the parade with volunteers carrying two Union flags and the Air Cadets marching band could be heard playing ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’.

Mayor of Medway, Cllr Josie Iles was also in attendance and she hopes the parade will be an annual event.

“Why not?” she said, “there are so many cultures within the Medway towns so it’s important to show support and get around them all in the same way.”

After the parade, the festivities continued at St Mary’s Social Club – a hidden Irish gem in the heart of Gillingham – with a buffet, Guinness on tap and traditional Irish music courtesy of Calliope House

As St Patrick’s Day falls during Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish language week) there was also a ceilidh dance and a number of workshops put on at St Mary’s including Irish language classes and Irish dancing tutorials.

Nula McManigan, 34, of the McManigan’s Academy of Irish Dance was more than happy to get involved with the parade to showcase Irish culture in Medway.

“As everyone else is, we’re giving our time and experiences to represent the Irish in the community and let people know we’re here,” she said.

Despite having taught Irish dancing for the past 14 years all over Kent, Nula too, was thrilled at the fantastic turnout.

“I don’t think anybody expected it to be this big,” she added.

So what is next for the Irish community in Medway?  An annual parade, hopefully, and Sarah Jenkins, Co-chair of the Medway St Patrick’s Day Group believes we need to be celebrating the Irish language:

“I think it’s important when you own your own language, you own your own story. A lot of people say ‘Oh no one speaks Irish’, I don’t care – it’s part of your identity, what shapes you,” she said.

 

 

Surviving Christmas with an Eating Disorder

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It’s hard to imagine Christmas Day without the beloved turkey dinner perfected by ham, Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes but for those with an eating disorder it’s hard to imagine anything worse.

Figures from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence suggest that 1.6 million people in the UK have an eating disorder, a figure that is up 15% since 2000.

It is estimated that 10% of sufferers are anorexic, 40% are bulimic and the rest fall into the EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified) category, including those with a binge eating disorder.

One person who knows just how tough Christmas can be is 19 year old Louise Maye from Dublin.

“Christmas dinner is always awful and although it’s just one dinner, there’s just so much anxiety about it because you feel guilty for not eating it but you feel so guilty when you do,” she explains.

Food is pretty much unavoidable at Christmas. You turn on the TV or open a magazine and you’re greeted with adverts featuring succulent turkeys, yummy puddings and delicious mince pies.

She added: “Even when you’re not around food, you’re thinking about it. You can’t get away from it, and on normal days that’s bad enough.”

Louise describes her experience last Christmas as “awful”. Her eating disorder made her incredibly “sneaky” and left her feeling very “anxious”.

“I would always have a napkin with me to ‘wipe my mouth’ but would really be spitting out food, and one of my relatives picked up on it. She called me out about it straight away and my whole family became very aware about my eating disorder then.

“They watched me for the rest of the day and I couldn’t go to the bathroom to purge because someone would always be around me,” she says.

She adds: “I felt so hopeless because Christmas is supposed to be this extremely happy time but for me I just felt so upset.”

Louise was diagnosed with bulimia in early 2012 following a long childhood battle with binge eating and is now in recovery.

She admits that she spent the first six months of recovery in “complete denial”, continually making herself sick and lying about it to everyone around her; she even left college because things got so bad.

However things are finally looking up for Louise. “Now I’m back in college and things are going well. Recovery is a long process, and although I am technically recovered, there are days I still question what I’m eating.

“You think that everything will be solved when your collarbones jut out and you have a thigh gap, but no matter what you look like, you are still you with the same problems you started with.

“You are technically destroying your body for a peace of mind you are never going to get. It is so hard sometimes and you have to keep fighting, but it’s so worth it,” she says.

Moya White, 52 is a Freelance Dietitian in Kent who has specialized in eating disorders for the past 30 years and understands how stressful Christmas can be for people like Louise.

“Christmas is a time when we celebrate with food and there is often an excess of food around which these patients find hard. Stress makes eating disorder patients more likely to eat less or more depending on their problem,” she said.

She advises those with bulimia to have a “healthy, balanced diet” but would urge them not to have snacks around the house which could tempt them to binge.

“The sooner people get help the better the outcome”, she added. Those suffering with eating disorders can seek help from GPs, school nurses or from b-eat, a charity.

B-eat are based in the UK and aim to change the way people think about eating disorders and to improve the way services and treatment are provided to sufferers.

They want to help anyone believe that their eating disorder can be beaten by providing support and encouragement for people to seek treatment and recovery.

B-eat is also a forum where fellow suffers can come together, offer each other advice and feel comfortable talking to someone else who knows what they are going through.

Anna, 20, from Devon has anorexia but believes it is important for fellow sufferers to see Christmas as a “day off”.

“Everyone will have a Christmas every year for the rest of their lives, and so it is something that is part of our lives, not part of the anorexia.

“It is vital that Christmas doesn’t become a day of food terror, but rather, a day to celebrate love, family and friends,” she explains.

Lauren, 24, from Scotland will be spending her first Christmas free from anorexia this year and she plans to make the most of it.

“I remember refusing point blank to eat the Christmas food my mum had lovingly prepared. I skipped many Christmas parties and refused to go out with friends because of the fear and anxieties I had”, she says.

Food is a massive part of Christmas in Annabelle’s family. The 24 year old from London is now recovered and thankful she can finally enjoy all aspects of the holiday.

“Thankfully now I am recovered I can almost enjoy the ‘food’ side as much as the catching up with everyone, buying presents, carol singing and decorations,” she explains.

Christmas is a time to be with the ones you love, relax and be merry.

If you are suffering with an eating disorder this holiday season, beat it – don’t let it beat you. For more information or to seek help visit http://www.b-eat.co.uk/

 

Father of the Rainbow Nation.

Last night at around 9:50pm, I received a breaking news update on my phone from BBC News telling me that Nelson Mandela had died aged 95. While I immediately felt shock and sadness, I wasn’t exactly sure why.

I always knew he was the first black president of South Africa following many years imprisonment for his people. But it was not until he died last night that I became fully aware of just how remarkable he was.

After reading the initial BBC story, I quickly googled Nelson Mandela and spent a good half hour just reading about his life and everything that he achieved.

I was amazed.

He spent 27 years in prison fighting against apartheid and minority rule in South Africa. His election as President following his release from prison in 1990 paved the way for the future, not just of South Africa, but the world over.

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He was the epitome of all that is good and right with humanity and a true leader. He taught the world  that anything is possible and that reconciliation, not resentment, is key.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

South African President Jacob Zuma said: “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”

It is strange how people work; we don’t appreciate something until it’s gone.

I do not think there is anyone in the world who doesn’t know the name Nelson Mandela but I bet they are many who don’t know who he was and what he achieved.

I feel slightly ashamed that it took his passing for me to appreciate fully what he did for the world but I suppose it’s better late than never.

Even though he is gone, it is unlikely anyone will be forgetting him anytime soon. His legacy will live on and continue to inspire millions around the globe.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Nelson Mandela: 1918 – 2013