ARU’s Creative Response to COVID-19

By Ciéra Cree – The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care (FHEMS) Arts and Well-Being Research Interest Group are seeking to learn more about how staff and students…

By Ciéra Cree

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care (FHEMS) Arts and Well-Being Research Interest Group are seeking to learn more about how staff and students have been engaging with arts, cultural and creative activities during the lockdown period caused by COVID-19. The idea stemmed from the creative approach of the public displaying rainbows for the NHS in their windows, but in terms of this research the umbrella of “creativity” reaches far further out.

By “engaging” in these areas the research is not only referring to actively creating, for example, by drawing, writing, painting and playing instruments, but also engaging with the arts virtually through the likes of Zoom groups, watching gigs online and by taking digital gallery tours.

In regards to becoming involved, if you so wish, it is simple. There is a three-part survey available for staff and students to fill out which takes only around ten minutes to complete in total. The first part of the survey asks participants via multiple choice to select which creative activities, from a list, that they have engaged with over the lockdown period both within their households as well as online. The second part asks for some details about you such as which faculty, age group ect that you fall under as well as whether any specific COVID-19 circumstances applied to you (e.g – shielding, assisting a vulnerable person ect). And lastly there is a short set of multiple choice questions about your wellbeing.

Participants are additionally offered the opportunity to write a haiku about their lockdown experiences or feelings, and to provide an email address for contact in relation to sharing some of the projects that they have been working on in an online exhibition space.

‘We aim to capture the range of activities [that] staff and students have engaged in, the motivations behind this engagement, and the perceived impact it has had. We are also inviting photos of your artwork/creations to be put into a virtual exhibition as well as an exhibition on campus when it is safe to do so.’

ARU Researchers

The research group intends to send out a follow-up survey in six months time in order to track shifts in the creative engagement of people after this time has (hopefully) passed or, at least, progressed. If participants would like to elaborate on their responses to anything within the survey via an interview, or if you have any further questions about the project in general, please get in touch with Dr Ceri Wilson at for more information.

Click here to access the survey.

*Deadline for survey responses is August 16th, 2020*

Who are the researchers? : Dr Hilary Bungay, Dr Ceri Wilson, Professor Carol Munn-Giddings, Anna Dadswell and Dr Sally-Anne Francis. The wider FHEMS Arts and Well-Being Research Interest group are also advertising on the project.

Image: Rhondak on Unsplash


Life During COVID Archive

By Ciéra Cree – People from across society are being invited by a group of researchers at Anglia Ruskin University to share their stories from the lockdown period caused by COVID-19…

By Ciéra Cree

People from across society are being invited by a group of researchers at Anglia Ruskin University to share their stories from the lockdown period caused by COVID-19.

The digital archive, which shall be known as ‘Life During Covid’, is being compiled by Dr Ceri Wilson, alongside Dr Pauline Lane, Rebecca Chandler and Dr Julie Teatheredge. This project has been funded by the Anglia Ruskin University Research and Innovation Support Fund and is operating as an extension of StoryLab’s initiative ‘The Frontline’, where stories of frontline workers during the pandemic have additionally been collected. Both of these archives will result in the production of insightful historical compilations that can be looked back on in the years to come.

“We are living in unprecedented times and everyone is trying to overcome their own challenges during this global pandemic. It is a time of reduced social contact, of isolation and concern, but there will also be positive stories that have come out of lockdown too.”

ARU Researchers

The appeal is specifically seeking to hear stories from certain groups of people to remain in line with work paralleling the efforts of ARU’s Positive Ageing Research Institute (PARI) and academics from the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Thus, the stories being sought after are namely concerning those who are shielding and over the age of 65, those who are 18+ and have been identified as ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’, parents of children identified as vulnerable, and unpaid family carers of people who are living with dementia. 

If you know anyone who falls into these categories that wishes to become involved they can upload their stories, photos, artwork or videos to The tales uploaded there will then be published online for public viewing, and will potentially become a part of the formation of a longer audio-visual documentary reflecting on the COVID-19 period. Although the uploads shall be public and also go on to inform future research publications and presentations, none of the participants will be identified by name in any reporting of the findings.

‘We hope [that] this initiative will give vulnerable communities a voice, empowering them to share their own unique perspectives during the outbreak.’

For more information about contributing to the ‘Life During Covid’ archive, or if you would prefer to submit your story via email, please get in touch with Dr Ceri Wilson at

Keep up with the ‘Life During Covid’ Twitter page here.

*Deadline for submissions is July 31st, 2020*

Image: De an Sun on Unsplash

Barista-Visa: Will Brexit Leave a Bitter Taste for the Coffee House?

By Grace Martin – Has Brexit left a bitter taste for the coffee shop industry? At long last, the government has come together to create a new immigration system…

By Grace Martin

At last, the government has come together to propose a new post-Brexit immigration system long-touted by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. After the country officially ‘left’ the EU on the 31st of January, the effects of Brexit have, so far, been rather muted thanks to the transition period within which we currently stand. And while the government continues to propose legislation to prop-up their vision of the future for the country, there are those in the hospitality industry – such as myself – that believe that Brexit poses an imminent threat to the humble coffee shop.

A Brief History

The historical relevance of coffee consumption can be tracked alongside the history of foreign influence within our society. From it’s Turkish origins, the ‘coffee house’ has become an essential component of British life. Historically, it’s created spaces for both the middle- and upper-classes to gather and discuss literature, hold intellectual debates, talk politics, and consume the finest liquor imported from the Middle East.

The first documented coffee-house – the ‘Pasqua Rosee’ – opened in London, 1652. King Charles II (b. 1630, r. 1660 – 1685) once banned the coffee-house, believing it to be a place of political gossip and rebelliousness after the Restoration. However, this decree was practically unenforceable, so by the late 1600s and early 1700s, there were as many as 3,000 coffee houses in London alone.

pasqua rosee
Pasqua Rosee commemorative plaque

This growth of ‘coffee-house culture’ contributes to our understanding of Britain’s larger ethnic, social and commercial history. ‘Coffee-house culture’ led to the emergence of new political philosophers, and provided a space for those more socially-inclined to reflect on the world around them – as did Samuel Pephys, famous for his memoirs (1659 – 1669).

The coffee-house quickly became ingrained within our society, and while present-day coffee shops may not resemble those of history, I believe that they do maintain many of the elements historically associated with them. Even today, people gather to discuss their bright ideas, the important issues of the day, or just what’s been happening in their own lives. Though we live in an age of democracy, so we’re allowed to.

Screenshot 2020-03-09 at 22.04.21
An illustration of a coffee-house of old

Why is ‘Coffee-House Culture’ Relevant to Brexit?

In a word – immigration.

On the 19th of February, the government proposed a new points-based immigration system that’s similar to those used by the likes of Australia, Canada and the United States. It’s expected to come into operation from January 2021, though the reforms will sweep away some of the existing rights that EU nationals currently have when working in the UK. Some date back to January 1973, the month when the UK joined the European Economic Community.

While there will be a number of different processes to go through depending on where the person might be emigrating from, the nine main requirements for skilled workers, under this new system, will require every applicant to score a total of 70 points to be able to successfully emigrate to the UK.

The British Coffee Association (the BCA) estimates that 95 million cups of coffee are consumed per-day in the UK, which is a huge increase from their 2008 calculations that estimated a figure of around 70 million cups. Additionally, the BCA estimates that the coffee industry ‘creates approximately 210,000‘ jobs, 160,000 of which are known as ‘registered baristas’. As a result, the BCA will work with the government to ‘ensure a smooth transition [for] all its members on behalf of the industry’.

However, experts believe that the so-called ‘Barista-Visa‘ will hit hardest for the three major coffee chains in the UK, those being: Starbucks, Cafe Nero and Costa Coffee. This is because the Barista-Visa would only help those deemed to be a ‘very low-skilled worker’, despite the fact that many hospitality-related positions require relatively high-skilled workers to fill them. That, and all three of these companies rely on a workforce that KPMG believes consists of 12.3 to 23.7% EU nationals. Costa Coffee themselves believe that approximately 20% of their workforce are not ethnically British.

And that’s to say nothing of the potential impact on the price of the coffee bean with the proposed import taxes, or of the current shortfall of more than 40,000 baristas that, experts claim, will be exasperated by Brexit going forward.

And what about the smaller chains like Signorelli’s Deli here in Cambridge? Could they be impacted by the new immigration system or the proposed Barista-Visa? Colloquially, I believe so.

Why Does This Matter?

In my opinion, the concern should be focused on smaller, independent businesses and chains that are most at risk from the additional import taxes brought on by Brexit. We should also be concerned with how this newly-minted immigration system might impact the barista workforce, whether that be new applicants or members of the existing workforce.

I’m also concerned about whether we’re relying too heavily on large multinational chains from whom we purchase our coffee. I’m concerned about the local coffee shops who are having to compete with these businesses who can afford to undercut them. And I’m concerned that, with this reliance, comes a dampening of the slightly bohemian image cultivated by the coffee-house over the last 368 years.

And I’m also concerned about what the future holds for coffee shops in general. With the advent of personal coffee machines that boast about their café-quality coffee, what room will there be for the humble coffee shop in the future? I personally believe that coffee is best enjoyed socially, although this is an issue that could be its own article.

With the potential for disruption ever-present, it would be beneficial to see more students filling in the gaps by taking on part-time roles alongside their studies. As an MA student, and a part-time barista myself, I want to open the minds of students reading this to look into the possibility of joining the trade. Coffee shops are an important staple of the high-street, and an important pillar of the wider economy. So despite the trials that might lie ahead for the industry, I would encourage students to try to fill-in that 40,000 worker shortfall, as previously mentioned.

In my experience, most coffee shops offer flexible working hours, respectable wages, and provide a means of socialising, whether it be with other team members, or regular customers. So, when this COVID-19 crisis has abated, why not give it some thought?

Images: Grace Martin & Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


‘The UK’s points-based immigration system: policy statement’ – 2020
‘Avoiding a No Deal Brexit Is Imperative for UK Coffee’ – 2019
‘Barista shortage fears as Brexit blamed for holding back recruitment’ – 2019
‘Barista visa plan does the UK hospitality sector a disservice’ – 2017

The Truth About Valentine’s Day

By Maria Cristina-Ionita – What if I told you that Valentine’s Day is a commemoration of a martyr? According to history, the Catholic Church celebrates three martyrs with…

By Maria Cristina-Ionita

What if I told you that Valentine’s Day is a commemoration of a martyr?

According to history, the Catholic Church celebrates three martyrs with the name ‘Valentine’. One of them was a priest who defied Emperor Claudius II by performing marriages in secret since the Emperor had decided that single men were better soldiers and banned his men from marrying their lovers. When Claudius found out, he had the priest killed. Others believe that the celebration is reserved for yet another man named ‘Valentine’, a bishop beheaded by the same Emperor at a different time. Not so much of a romance story so far, but certainly one of bravery and kindness.

Another story states that ‘Valentine’ was helping the Christians to escape Roman jails as the prisoners were tortured and killed for their beliefs. He ended up being jailed himself, though he fell in love with a lady – believed to be the jailor’s daughter (a bit of a cliché if you ask me) – but before he was executed, he offered her a letter (a card, if you will) signed ‘From your Valentine’ and this is where the phrase supposedly comes from.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike romance or the idea of love, but I do believe that Valentine’s Day has lost its meaning. Today, when we talk about relationships, we all have our own values and experiences, but somehow with all this love, we forget to love the most important person – us. Some people feel like they should constantly be in a relationship to feel appreciated, or to enjoy life. We associate being single with loneliness – they’re not the same thing. Let’s change this perspective and remind ourselves that we are already whole as a person. We don’t need to be with someone, we choose to be! As Chiddera Eggerue – my favourite boss lady – once said ‘we are sold romance and relationships as though they are the ‘ultimate goal’. But your own company, with yourself, is just as valuable.’

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I feel this tension in the air as I am expected to celebrate it with somebody else – and I will: with myself. I am going to buy myself a huge bouquet of flowers and go out with my other single ladies. We are going to praise all sorts of love: self-love, friendships, kindness and devotion.

Image: Cathal Mac an BheathaUnsplash

Holocaust Education Trust – My Experience

By Elle Haywood – The 27th of January each year marks Holocaust Memorial Day across the world, which is the liberation of notorious concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Institutions across the UK recognise this memorial and pay tribute through…

By Elle Haywood

My experience as an ambassador for the Holocaust Education Trust, and the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day.

The 27th of January each year marks Holocaust Memorial Day across the world, which is the liberation of notorious concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Institutions across the UK recognise this memorial and pay tribute through events, activities and talks in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the holocaust from the period of 1933 – 1945. It is also a time to talk about the atrocities that occurred during this time in history, and to ensure that genocide of this scale never happens again. The holocaust, also known as Sho’ah and Huban, was the systematic extermination by Nazi Germany and its collaborators of over 6 million Jewish people by cremation, firing squad and gas chambers. This religious and political anti-Semitism is rooted in the ideology that the Jewish race was evil and trying to take over the world, which was fuelled by Adolf Hitler and his belief in total annihilation. This barbaric act of state-supported genocide continued beyond the end of World War Two until the liberation of camps by the allies in the mid 20th century. A detailed history of the event can be read here:

In 2014, I was elected by my sixth form to be an ambassador for the Holocaust Education Trust as part of the Lessons from Auschwitz programme. The aims of HET are to educate young people across the UK about the holocaust and how the lessons learnt from it are relevant in today’s society. The foundation was formed in 1988 and it trains teachers and students within various programmes, whilst also providing a platform for Holocaust survivors to work with UK media and parliament in continuing the discussion of their experiences. On the LFA programme, I attended a training day in central London with many other students to be fully educated on the subject and trained in how to bring these messages back to the school to teach other students. We were also able to meet with one of the survivors, Susan Pollack, who was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. She spoke to us about her time in the camps and why she works with the trust. 

Susan was one of the most inspiring individuals I have ever encountered. Her ability to carry on after all that she had endured and her determination to help others who had survived the camps left me in awe. She faced severe antisemitism during her life in Hungary before the camps, and lost over 50 relatives during WWII to antisemitism laws. Her bravery in telling us her story allowed us to pass on her messages of hope and to keep a promise of making sure that the memories of her and her family pass on to future generations. We must do all that we can to continue informing others in order to best assist the prevention of history repeating itself.

The next stage was a visit to the old Jewish village of Krakow, Auschwitz One, Auschwitz-Birkenau. My experience there will haunt me for the rest of my life. Both of the camps were an endless barren wasteland of barbed wire, crumbling shacks and the remains of the incineration chambers. Walking around reminded me of a prison, but one that would have been filled with people who had committed no crimes but of their religion, ethnicity and heritage; who had suffered at the hands of hatred and evil. The camps held rooms filled with pictures of those who had lived there, as well as all of their possessions. From a mountain of hair still tied up with the ribbons of young girls, to the piles of glasses and watches of the elderly who knew that this was the end of the road. To this day I still think about the room filled purely with the shoes of every person who walked those very halls, but unlike myself, did not get to walk out again. It is something that we as a society should think about every now and again, how simple it is to take off our shoes when we get home before then being warmly greeted by our friends and family. We get to put back on those shoes and continue with our lives, whereas so many people would never get to put theirs on again. 

The concentration camps epitomise a literal hell on Earth. The empty gas chamber sent me into a cold sweat, being in the confined stone room of which those four walls were the final sight that millions of people saw before their last breath. There is no comprehension of the fear that they felt, and that this damnation was due to no fault of their own. In threadbare pyjamas, starving and with certain death staring them in the face, it’s a situation no human should ever have to endure. The incineration pits held the ashes of so many individuals who had a background and a story; a family and a life. Yet within a few short moments, they were reduced to dust in the air. Their stories deserve to be told, their lives deserve to be remembered and it is our responsibility to honour their memories. 

As the evening drew to a close, we lit candles on the train tracks at the end of the camps near the mass burial sites. Each candle represented a life lost and the light of their memory living on. This simple light repelled the darkness of this cruel place and was a message of renewed hope that everyone there shared. 

The holocaust was over 70 years ago, and unfortunately, there are still so many traces of antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia and racism in our world. It is down to us and our leaders to fight against these acts of hatred. We are not born into this world hating others, and there is no place for isolation, fascism and ignorance in the 21st century. It is important to read about the genocide that took place, to feel anger at the horrors so many innocent people faced and to protect others in our lives from facing persecution such as this. We can teach others the lessons we have learnt, open our lives to inclusivity and promise to not let history repeat itself. This can be from small acts of speaking out against bullying and hate speech, to protests supporting equality and talking about history. Acceptance, tolerance and freedom are obtainable if we ensure that hope trumps hate and that we can forgive, but never forget.

You can read more about the wonderful work of HET here:

Featured photo by Mika on Unsplash
Written in January 2018

The Independent Group – Who are they?

By Joe Bunkle – Have you been at odds with your mates about Brexit? Well our two main parties in Parliament certainly have. The PM (Theresa May a.k.a. Maybot) and the Opposition Leader (Jeremy Corbyn a.k.a. Jezza) have seen a few of their MPs…

By Joe Bunkle

The Independent Group: Who are they? And what might they mean for Brexit and British Politics?


Have you been at odds with your mates about Brexit? Well our two main parties in Parliament certainly have. The PM (Theresa May a.k.a. Maybot) and the Opposition Leader (Jeremy Corbyn a.k.a. Jezza) have seen a few of their MPs resign their party memberships following disagreements over Brexit and equality issues in British politics. They have come together to form the Independent Group of Members of Parliament (catchy right?) Here I’m going to talk a little about who and what the Independent Group are, their goals, and what effect they might have on Brexit and the current British political scene.

With Article 50, the exiting clause of the Lisbon Treaty that lays out the rules for EU membership, being triggered in just over a month’s time (29/03/19), one has to wonder what this means for Brexit’s future? Are we set to get out? Or will these plucky few snatch a Remainer reprieve out of Leave?

From 7 members to now 11, Labour MPs such as Chuka Umunna and Tories like Cambridgeshire’s own Heidi Allen have rallied to challenge the incoming departure from the European Union. They’ve dumped their membership of their respective parties to stand as independent MPs, now calling for a People’s Vote (in simple terms: a referendum on the PM’s final Brexit deal), and even a second EU membership referendum.

Originally, our Gang of Seven, as they had been dubbed by a few British news outlets, did not only walk out from Labour due to Corbyn’s EU stance (his history of being a Eurosceptic, as well as committing here and now to Brexit). Ex-Labour MP Luciana Berger accused the party of being “institutionally anti-Semitic” and being too hard-left on the political scale. Meanwhile Corbyn and his supporters warned that leaving the party now meant they had handed voting power over to the Conservatives.

Speaking of Conservatives, deserting MPs naturally throw a spanner into May’s already strained works. Now, there’s not only a problem in Jeremy’s party with accusations of a rife of anti-Semitic bullying, the PM is now in the spot light for accusation that her party is being controlled by hardline Brexiteers. Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and our aforementioned Heidi Allen have officially jumped ship and joined their ex-Labour counterparts in the new group. Aside from their Brexit views, they’re also calling for a fresh, politically-central group to deliver more compassionate policies to fix the growing hardships that Britain’s most vulnerable such as the homeless. Homelessness has seen a rise in the UK by 4% according to a report by the charity Shelter and critics have placed a lot of the blame at the government’s failure to provide social housing and continuing systematic welfare cuts.

So, what does this mean for you guys? Well if you’re a Remainer then there’s good news and bad news. We’ll start with the good news (because who doesn’t?) and say that this shows more promise for a People’s Vote. Now, not only do MPs support one, but they’ve willingly left their own parties to show their disdain for how Brexit is currently being handled. However, this small camp of only 11 members opens the question: can they really stop a hard Brexit (or stop it all together)? They no longer have insider access to influence their former fellow MPs; they don’t concur on some policy issues outside of Brexit and equality; and they now lose the resources afforded them whilst members of a large party, none of which plays in their favour.

The prospect of by-elections could also be on the table. But what is a by-election? What it means in straight terms is that when you vote for a candidate at election, that candidate is usually backed by a party (Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, etc.) You might not necessarily like the candidate, but you do like their party, so you vote for them anyway. If they then leave that party, you may then feel a bit let down, and if enough people are in the same boat as you, then you can demand another election is held in your constituency, in order to make their sitting in Parliament democratic; it gives them a mandate. Jeremy Corbyn is one such person demanding that democracy be satisfied and that members of the Independent Group call by-elections. The Independent Group have announced that in spite of these calls for by-elections, they have no plans to do so.

Is this the beginning of the end for Brexit? Will the Independent Group form their own party and defy Maybot and Jezza? Or will the Group try and fail to bring about the change they wish? At this point, only time will tell, but at the rate MPs are becoming independent, that could even be tomorrow!

{Photo from –

Ruskin Bicentenary: Letters to Ruskin

By Hannah Cox – The ninth of February 2019 marked the bicentenary of John Ruskin’s birthday. Since 2005, our University has been known as Anglia Ruskin University, in honour of John Ruskin’s work in multiple fields which led him to be regarded as…

By Hannah Cox

The ninth of February 2019 marked the bicentenary of John Ruskin’s birthday. Since 2005, our University has been known as Anglia Ruskin University, in honour of John Ruskin’s work in multiple fields which led him to be regarded as one of the leading art and social critics of the Victorian Period. Ruskin opened the Cambridge School of Art in 1858, the school which has transformed into the ARU we know today.

Anglia Ruskin’s Elizabeth Ludlow and Nigel Cooper hosted Letters to John Ruskin on February fourteenth, joining institutions all around the country honouring the Ruskin bicentenary. The letters, written by university members, reflected Ruskin’s own engagement with others’ works, leaving rhetorical questions for the author in his annotations. The letters related to a wide range of topics, as did Ruskin’s interests which included but were by no means limited to architecture, religion, botany, geology, ornithology, literature, education and art.

Zoe Bennett and Christopher Rowland, authors of In a Glass Darkly, The Bible, Reflection and Everyday Life attended and Rowland himself contributed a letter to Ruskin. Bennett began by discussing amongst other things, Ruskin’s annotations to his Bible and how it had influenced their work. Rowland’s letter drew on Ruskin and William Blake’s handling of criticism, their madness and their inner worlds. Elizabeth Ludlow followed with a letter recalling her first experiences of Ruskin as an undergraduate, and the importance of reading his works in context, as he continuously changed his mind.  Ruskin changed his opinions concerning women, becoming an advocate for women’s education. Ludlow’s letter reflected on the value she found within Ruskin’s work, despite her disagreements with some of his values.

“Mostly, matters of any consequence are three-sided, or four-sided, or polygonal; and trotting round a polygon is severe work for people in any way stiff in their opinions.” – John Ruskin

Nigel Cooper wrote a letter that highlighted a personal resonance with Ruskin and his work. Others wrote letters empathizing with Ruskin’s ecological values and his issues with industry taking away from the human experience with life and nature. Chris Owen wrote a letter showing how Ruskin’s influence continues to impact the Art School’s teachings today, something anyone in Cambridge can see come October when art students set about Cambridge to do their observation drawings.

The event ended after a discussion lead by Nigel Cooper. Questions were raised concerning the appropriateness of associating the University with John Ruskin, which yielded mixed responses. Ruskin has arguably been unfairly portrayed in films and literature, and his personal life was one of scandal. However, his works defined him as one of history’s finest critics. An admirer of nature and beauty, his views on life and art continue to influence students over a century later.

Ruskin’s influence within Anglia Ruskin continues to live on and inspire students! 2019 has many events lined up to celebrate the life and work of Ruskin, which you can see at

Culture Focus: Budapest

This gem of a city in the small country of Hungary in the heart of Europe is a popular getaway destination for young adults, partly due its eye candy…

Your non-tourist guide to a great Budapest weekend

By Rebeka Kancsar

This gem of a city in the small country of Hungary in the heart of Europe is a popular getaway destination for young adults, partly due its eye candy architecture and affordable flights and hotels. Now, you could google ‘things to do in Budapest’ and figure that catching the hop-on hop-off and going from Fisherman’s Bastion to Heroes’ Square might be your best, or you could focus slightly less on the tourist hot-spots and explore some of these not-so-hidden treasures of Budapest.

Road to Ruins

Take a city known for its history, add craft beer, and you get ruin pubs—filled with antiques, flacking lights and art. Notoriously in District VII, buildings—or rather, their remains—can look like what you’d expect to see on urbex blogs, graffiti and fallen pieces of concrete, where you can easily walk past a ruin pub without realising. Considerate to neighbours nearby, it’s an unofficial rule that you have to be quiet on the streets and near the entrance, but once you walk through the gates of Szimpla Kert and into the courtyard, you’ll find yourself in another world, consisting of chill music, laidback atmosphere, projected silent movies, multicolour lights and wall art, filled with thrift-shop gadgets that serve no purpose but are fun to twiddle. Bikes wrapped in fairy lights hanging from the ceiling as chandeliers, old square TV’s mounted onto the wall, disco balls, broken road signs and an old Trabant car covered with graffiti with a table in it—a perfect playground for young adults. Speaking of adult playgrounds, it’s also close to the Pinball Museum, where you can play with over 130 vintage and new machines.


If you ever came across a photo of Budapest, chances are you’ve seen Buda Castle on it. You could take the £40+ walk inside the castle, or you could opt for a walk in the Castle Gardens for free and see historical architecture and a panoramic view of the Chain Bridge and Parliament Building over the Danube.

Another skyline spot on the Buda side of the city is right next to Gellért Thermal Baths—which is worth spending a day in if you’re one for spas, soaking in warm waters that are believed to be healing, although it’s crowded with tourists during holiday season, but Ryan Gosling apparently enjoyed it too. Climbing up above the Cave church, you can sit on a bench surrounded by trees in the middle of the city, overlooking its skyline AND Buda Castle.

Fiumei Road Cemetery & Memento Park

Cemeteries are generally not included in holiday plans, but here I give you Fiumei Road. Being the largest and one of the oldest cemeteries of Hungary, it houses the mausoleums of national heroes, politicians, poets, artists and the famous Anonymous’ Statue in a green, tree-filled park. Creepy, sure, but its architecture and statues are something worth seeing if you’d rather avoid the tourists. If you’re into statues but you’d rather opt from creepiness to a longer drive, Memento Park is right outside city with 42 pieces of art from the Communist era of Hungary, meaning you could have a picnic next to the massive statues of Lenin and Marx—which is, you know, less creepy.

Food & Sustenance

One wonderful thing about Budapest is that wherever you go, there will be a kebab/gyros/pizza place around the corner, where you can get a slice for as cheap as 300 forint, which is around 80p (yes, you read that right). But if you feel fancy, you could visit the New York Café and its Italian Renaissance glamour for a champagne breakfast. You could also try Gozsdu Courtyard for a variety of bars and restaurants, where you can enjoy a huge range of traditional and international foods outdoors.


You want to avoid the hop-on hop-off—not only because it takes away the genuine excitement of exploring a city, but because Budapest has pretty good public transport, especially the tram network. Tram 2, 4 and 6 serve not only get you from one place to another, but you’ll have the best views of the city’s buildings. There’s always a stop within a short walking distance and you’ll avoid the crowds and stairs of the tube.

Vintage Souvenirs

Most tourist leave with an I love Budapest t-shirt, and while you’re free to do that, why not leave with something better, if you really insist on souvenirs? Budapest has a number of amazing vintage shops, such as Szputnyik D20 and Anfifactory, where if you’re lucky, you can find brands such as Vivienne Westwood and Versace for ridiculously low prices.

So, booked your plane ticket yet?

Image: Rebeka Kancsar

American Gun Violence

By Elle Haywood – On the 20th April 1999, 13 people were murdered at a shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. On the 15th February 2018, 17 people were…

By Elle Haywood

On the 20th April 1999, 13 people were murdered at a shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. On the 15th February 2018, 17 people were murdered at a shooting in Parkland, Florida. In 19 years, there have been 25 fatal school shootings in the United States of America, let alone other incidents including the Orlando Night Club shooting in 2016 and the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 which has been recorded as the largest mass shooting in history which included the deaths of 58 people and the further horrific injuries to 851 others. (1)

This week’s shooting, occurring at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is one of the deadliest US school shooting since 2012 at Sandy Hook high school. At Douglas, three teachers and 14 students aged 14-18 have been reported to have lost their lives in the violence. The shooter has been named as Nickolas Cruz, an ex-student at the school. The FBI has admitted to having been tipped off about Cruz last year, and there were images on his now-deleted social media page of him with guns and knives. The BBC has reported that:

“He has appeared in court charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder”. 

“Two separate Instagram accounts, now deleted, purport to show Mr Cruz posing with guns and knives.”

“US media quote the head of white supremacist group the Republic of Florida, Jordan Jereb, as saying Mr Cruz had once trained with them, but the group had not wanted or ordered him to carry out a school shooting.”  (2)

Despite these attacks on citizens, the issue is highly politicised and requires White House legislation to push through gun laws, and receive a majority vote from congress and the senate. To those not familiar as to why there is a lack of legislation, one of the reasons is because of the 2nd amendment in the Bill of Rights which was written in 1789. The Bill of Rights includes the 10 amendments to the constitution which was written in 1788 (3) . The document was written by the founding fathers as a physical way in which Americans would have set laws to abide by, and rights in which they owned as citizens of this nation. However, over 2 centuries later, the world as we know it has changed, including weaponry and society – which is a case to argue for laws that are appropriate for the modern world.

Most countries place emphasis on protecting their constitutions because of the rights they have entrenched within them, especially the US constitution which references freedom of speech in the first amendment. In the UK, we have an unwritten constitution, which allows the courts to interpret laws as they choose and not to a strictly worded document. This could be viewed as more democratic and applicable to the 21st century. In 1987 in Hungerford, UK 16 people were shot dead, and in Stirling, Scotland in 1966 – 18 were killed at Dunblane Primary School. After this, strict Firearm rules were implemented which require an individual to have an SGC FAC certificate and have no prior convictions or a history of medical conditions (4).

The point here is that, having no regulations in regards to guns is contributing to these fatal mass attacks in the US. Many individuals are quick to comment on the fact that it is ‘people not guns’ who cause these unnecessary deaths, however fail to acknowledge that it is access to these weapons that is the issue. Many high profile figures have commented on the mental health of the individual as an issue, but currently the US and sadly the UK government has reduced mental health funding. There is a correlation to suggest that by having gun license laws enacted, then there would be a reduction in gun violence – as seen in the UK for just one example.

These sentiments are similar to those expressed by the students and families affected by the shootings in Florida. Many young people who attend Parkland High School have spoken out on Twitter. A few high profile figures have commented on not politicizing the matter, however the unfortunate students who were literally hiding in cupboards and rooms in fear of their lives have condemned this. During a CNN broadcast, one of the survivors begged to politicians: “We are children. You guys are, like, the adults. Take action, work together, come over your politics, and get something done”. In terms of changing the legislation, VOX reported that:

“The truth, obviously, is that it’s extraordinarily unlikely that anything will be done. Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the United States Senate, and even if two or three moderates could be tempted to cross the aisle and endorse a modest gun control measure, as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and a couple of others did in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, you’d need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, which is very hard.” (5).

Despite this, it appears evident that people are going to keep protesting against the lack of gun controls, including thousands who attended the funeral of those who lost their lives. As university students ourselves, it is devastating to even consider this happening in our country and we are lucky that we have laws in place to reduce the ownership of firearms. This issue needs to be tackled head-on, with the commentary and cooperation with other governments and secret services globally to help reduce, nay eliminate mass shootings.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Source References:






‘Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution’ (2017) – Documentary Review

By Bethany Mattocks – It’s the centenary of the Russian Revolution this year and so it’s a good time to learn about this important event in history…

By Bethany Mattocks

It’s the centenary of the Russian Revolution this year and so it’s a good time to learn about this important event in history!

This is a documentary that has a countdown to the Russian Revolution showing events day by day until the revolution occurs in October 1917. It explains why the revolution happened and why this is important. The revolution was very important it showed how the people could take power and get what they wanted. It showed a big change in history and affects how the world is today.

This documentary explains the Russian Revolution in a simple yet informative way so even if you have no previous knowledge of Russia you can understand it. It explains the key figures: Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Kerensky and more using historians to get in-depth profiles on them. Also, because of the use of many different historians, it offers many points of view and you do not get bored of hearing the same voice constantly.

I also love all the use of film to depict historical reconstructions as it really illustrates what is being said and makes the documentary incredibly fascinating as it is trying to represent a previous event in history to a contemporary audience.

This year in my studies at university this year I have taken a module about Russia and therefore I find this interesting to see to support the knowledge that I already have, however even if I was not a History student I would be interested. It is amazing how Lenin and the Bolshevik gained the support of the majority of the population and were able to spread his message of creating a Socialist Russia. The people wanted a change after living in such bad conditions, there was mass famine and many lives had been lost in the war. After the Tsar is forced to abdicate there is a Provisional Government created which fails to answer any of the people’s many questions and so when Lenin comes along and establishes himself as a leader the people follow with the hope of change.

Watch this documentary on BBC IPlayer because it is important to learn about our history and understand just why things have happened to prevent the same mistakes being committed.


Image Credit: Lenin Image
Image Credit: Countdown to Revolution Image: British Broadcasting Corporation