The new Starbucks is bound to leave you penniless!

The new Blackfriars Circus Starbucks, taken by Kaleb Harvey

The new Blackfriars Circus Starbucks is bound to leave you broke, but satisfied, so if that sounds appealing to you, go right ahead and try their delicious coffees. If not, I warn you to stay away.

Do you ever think our society is cruel? Well I do! A new Starbucks has opened opposite my university halls of residents, I mean come on. Talk about the biggest tease ever! Being party enthusiasts as well as hard working students, really knocks the life out of you.

So, tell me: how are me and my fellow broke, and exhausted students, supposed to resist the urge of buying a delicious, warm coffee on the way to university every cold and wet London morning?

We aren’t!

The inside of Blackfriars Circus Starbucks, taken by Kaleb Harvey.

Of course, I end up going to the Starbucks and it all went down-hill from there. Almost being December, they have their Christmas collection and I decided to try the ‘Eggnog Latte’. I had to, every American Christmas movie talks about eggnog, so it was simply a must.

Bad Decision!

The moment I took my first sip I was in love, the frothy, cinnamon spiced coffee filled my mouth with, what I can only describe as, a little bit of liquid heaven. I was stuck in between wanting to down the drink then and there, or treasuring it for as long as it would stay warm.

No, I haven’t bought 4 within the last week…and no I didn’t use my overdraft.

So, as you can tell, I couldn’t stay away for long. If you are a university student I urge you to stay away or else you’ll be living off coffee for the year. Due to your addiction, you won’t be able to afford anything else.


Southwark Council offering free parking to help support local businesses!

Southwark council spreading the word about #SmallBizSatUK in order to support local businesses and get people to shop at them!

This weekend coming up, on the 1st of December is the 6th year of ‘Small Biz Sat UK’. The aim is “to support, promote and inspire small business all year round” and is done all around the United Kingdom.

They have a website to help people get involved either as a ‘small business’, ‘a customer’, ‘a local authority’ or ‘a small biz network’.

A small business has the opportunity to be added to the small business finder. To create logos for their website/social media to help attract people. To get access to a free marketing pack and Small Biz Sat UK offers to give shout outs to any events the business has going on.

A customer has the chance to search for specific shops that are in their local area. They also have access to a Cook Book and are able to pledge support to their local businesses.

Southwark Council has been using its twitter handle to spread the word about Small Biz Sat UK. They are offering free parking in Southwark town centre, every Saturday of the month of December. They are “encouraging residents to support local businesses by shopping local.”


Residents want Southwark Council to reinvest park hire fees back into the Park!

A petition has started for the reinvestment of Southwark park hire fees back into Southwark park and so far 28 people have signed the petition, with 100 being the goal.

The petition explains how Southwark Council hires out the park. Using it for events, film-making and other commercial activity. This “restricts access to, and can interfere with the enjoyment of Southwark Park”. Therefore, the hire fees should be reinvested into repairing and improving Southwark Park.

The Friends of Southwark Park started this petition to the London Borough of Southwark and are using their Twitter handle to convince people to sign the petition.

People such as Andrew Ormerod signed as he believes “This is a wonderful park”. Continuing that “it deserves all the support it can get as its widely loved and widely used!”.

Barry Duckett signed as he wants to “bring back the adventure playground and the netball and the hard-standing football pitch”.

The petition shows that people are not happy with the way that southwark Council are using the park.

Lauri Locstelli said “I actually object to the park being hired out for private enterprise. And then as a resident have to pay for the privilege of using it.” Continuing on that “The very least Southwark can do is give the money back to maintain the park”.

Others agree such as Gary Glover who said “The park is used as a cash cow for Southwark Council”.  


London’s pollution problems taking us back in time by causing expected earlier deaths!

London Pollution
Outside Friars Primary School, taken by Georgina Blackwell

London Boroughs with high diesel pollution causing children to suffer with ‘stunted lung capacity’. These children are expected to die at an earlier age.

 Area’s in London are failing to meet the EU requirements for nitrogen dioxide, and researchers found that this is causing children to have an increased risk of getting lung cancer, as reported by BBC.

BBC continued on that the research covered 28 primary schools. In London Boroughs of Greenwich, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and the City of London. They all fail to meet the EU regulations.

A worried mother outside Friars Primary School said “my son constantly has a cough and sore throat” adding that “the moment it goes away, its back within the next few weeks” and that she feels like “London  needs to sort out it’s pollution problems to keep our children healthy”. 

A current University student in London, Mike Blair had just came back to London after visiting his home in Devon. He said “Going home is so refreshing”.  Continuing that “you don’t realise how much the air pollution in London affects your breathing and throat until you leave.”.

According to BBC, Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said “The Government needs to tackle toxic air by putting in place a new Clean Air Act to keep everyone – especially children – safe.”


Everyday Justice

Court case
Overview of Court 3 in Highbury Magistrates’ court, taken by Georgina Blackwell

After visiting Highbury’s Magistrates Court on the 15th of November, I was able to get a better understanding of how the UK’s justice system works. The visit really opened up my eyes, showing the struggles that innocent people go through. As well as the abuse that the court has to deal with.

After an unsuccessful sit-in in Court Room 3, where none of the defendants showed up to their case, I decided to sit in Court Room 12, where I got to experience 4 cases.

The Case 

The case that hit me the hardest was the 2nd case about a young man whose children failed to attend school often enough without any proper justification. He started explaining how he was in prison during the time that his kids weren’t going to school, he had been falsely imprisoned for 11 months for something that his brother had done. Thus, during this time, his ex-wife was taking care of the kids and should have been the one taking them to school. However, money was being taken from his account (almost 1000 pounds in total) from social services and still is being taken.

The magistrate said that “it sounds like you have a good case” and that we have “accepted your explanation”. Thus, the case was re-opened and the young man must return in December for his second trial to try and get his money back.

Overall Opinion

I found this an extremely emotional case as I could see the pain in the young man’s eyes. Currently struggling to support his children by himself. Needing the money that has been and is being taken from him. He was completely helpless, having done absolutely nothing wrong. This case showed me the hardship that some have to go through when they are completely innocent.

This same case showed a hint of an opposite perspective, showing the abuse that the court has to deal with. They are trying to do their job and help people get out of their sticky situations.  When they were providing a mandatory warning the man got quite loud, speaking over them and using inappropriate language. Saying he didn’t need the warning as he hadn’t done anything. The court has rules which mean they have to read the statement out, whether they believe the person or not.

My general opinion on the Magistrates Court was that it was a lot less formal than I thought it would be. The members were getting up a lot to talk to one another or to drink water. It made me think that people don’t take the magistrates courts as seriously as they would the Crown Court. They seem to talk over the magistrates and not follow the rules.   


Could VR in news make people too emotionally connected?

Virtual reality
Man with VR headset on, from Pixabay.

Arizona State University, Cronkite School of Journalism has started a “Location-Based VR (Virtual Reality) Data Visualization” project. It is a $30,000 project and is led by Retha Hill. The project aims to help people, mainly journalists, to easily create location-based data visualizations in a virtual reality format. Meaning the audience could explore particular neighbourhoods’ crime and education data. Done by using virtual reality footage taken in the given areas.

The editorial opportunities with this project are that it enables people to become more involved with the story. They are able to not only read the story but are able to experience it themselves, it makes the story immersive. This could help people to understand the situation a lot better, especially as 65% of the world are visual learners. It also allows for journalists to add a lot more detail.

The two main editorial pitfalls that come with this project is the expense as well as emotional connection. VR is an advanced piece of technology which is very costly. Thus it won’t be easy to start using it constantly for news stories. Journalists are already struggling with getting paid because of technological advances and citizen journalism. Meaning it will be a struggle to find the money for such an advanced project.

When it comes to emotional connection, because people will be able to experience the situation for themselves, they might become much more understanding towards the situation. They may gain bias opinions. For example, say one could follow the life of Donald Trump, seeing how harsh people are on him and the facial expressions he has, one might start to feel sorry for him and change their opinion on him. This is what journalists are strongly encouraged to avoid. 


A Taste of Christmas in November

Some believe Christmas in November is ridiculous, but head to Southbank’s Underbelly Christmas market and I guarantee that your mind will be changed by the cosy atmosphere and delicious food that takes you around the world.

It was the mulled cider that sealed the deal for me. Although it may seem impossible after stuffing my face with a juicy sausage, crispy halloumi fries and fluffy pancakes, I somehow managed to become cold. The sweet tasting drink with a slice of berry infused orange hit the right spot. Warming my body and driving my taste buds crazy, as I sat around a fire pit sipping away and feeling right at home.

Talking about home, this market was a delightful taste of it. Having lived in Holland and visited German Christmas Markets, when I saw ‘Mini Pancakes’ which were a Dutch snack called ‘Poffertjes’ and German ‘Bratwurst’ sausages, I had to take a bite and fill my mouth with a pleasant remembrance of home and it did just that. When talking to a man from Spain called Jose Fernandez he had the same ideas, telling me that being at the market is the “one time I feel at home” with a massive smile on his face.

There are many people in this world that don’t agree with a Christmas market in November. Fortunately, I am not one of them. You won’t regret coming to this beautifully decorated, deliciously catered and festive Christmas Market, trust me!

Below you can find a video of mine and my friends experience at the Underbelly’s Christmas Market. It displays the food that we ate, the drinks that we drank. As well as an overview of the entire market, from start to finish! 


Citizen Journalism creating uncertainty in the world of news!

Citizen Journalism
Social Media Apps Screenshot by Georgina Blackwell

The role of journalists in a world where news is also provided by citizen journalism and user generated content, is a world that is much tougher for journalists than in a world without it.

The technological advances have led to the mobile phone. Enabling anyone to write, voice record, video record and photograph whenever and whatever they want. This is tough for a traditional journalist to go up against. They can’t be biased and have an editors code of practice. Meaning an obligation to follow ethical and moral codes.

Citizens do not have this commitment; they can share their views and opinions very openly. Which our generation seems to love considering that it brings in controversy and drama.

The mobile also makes it easy to share a story almost instantaneously. A traditional journalist is unable to do as their pieces have to be put through numerous steps before being published.  

With the mobile is the growth of social media apps such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. These have opened up a platform to enable the public to post their own news on. Although these apps can be very helpful for a traditional journalist when sharing news, citizens can also share news on the apps. Where can the line be drawn between the sharing of ‘real news’ and ‘fake news’?

Do people trust corporations that have specific codes and rules to follow. Meaning the distribution of tangible news. Or do they trust ordinary people that can put a twist on what they see/hear. Sharing  fake news with the world?


‘FREE’ Jack the Ripper Tour leaves you feeling guilty!

Jack the Ripper tour group, taken by Victor the tour guide.

Being a Sherlock Homes fanatic and always wishing I was smart enough to be a detective, when I saw a ‘Free Jack the Ripper tour’ pop up on my Facebook, I couldn’t resist.

I was impressed with how in depth the tour was, the tour guide didn’t only talk about the murders. He discussed the responses to the murders, all the different suspected people, the evidence as well as conspiracy theories.

Another viewer, Kaleb Harvey, agreed with me saying “there was a lot more to it than I expected, it put you in the timeline of events and gave you the chance to work things out for yourself.”

The tour guide who was an actor, Victor, played a big part in the tour. He knew how to send shivers down your spine when telling the story. He also had a really clear and easy-listening voice.

‘White Chapel’: the area where the Jack the Ripper murders took place, taken by Georgina Blackwell.

We soon found out that a mystery was being hidden from us, much like the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

‘Wonders of London’ offer the ‘free’ tours, however during the tour Victor asked if we would leave money for him at the end. Considering they offer the tours for free. It’s a cheeky way for the company to go about things.

My seven university friends and I stood there, with not a penny in our pockets and had to leave him empty handed with guilt staining our faces.

This personally, slightly, ruined the tour for me. I left feeling so terrible that I couldn’t give him any money. Especially when he had done such an amazing job. They should definitely go about things in a different way.


Transport troubles making Londoners aggressive!

Main entrance to Wateterloo Station, taken by Angharad Akideinde, @angharadsphotography

It’s a disastrous day for Londoners wishing to take the Central and Waterloo & City lines today on Wednesday the 7th of November because of the strike of the drivers for Aslef and Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Unions.

The bosses of the Unions are saying that the 24-hour strike is happening because of a “comprehensive breakdown” regarding industrial relations, as stated by the Evening Standard.

The London Underground has said that Aself and RMT have demanded the reinstatement of two drivers. One who purposely opened train doors while in a tunnel. The other who failed a drug test. The union leaders were furious that the appeal was rejected by the Tube Chiefs.

When talking to a train conductor at Waterloo station about this affecting him. “We have had some real aggressive people” he said, adding “they shout and swear at us, when there is nothing we have done or can do”.

Luckily in order to save these irrational Londoners, 150 extra busses will be available during this time. Transport for London (TFL) staff will be at stations, offering any advice to those struggling to get around.