Sunday, 15 October 2017

Kindly and Joyous

An Empress Is Born.

An Empress taken from her family, bundled through the back of the Palace - for someone like her could not possibly pass through the front, it's unthinkable - and stripped of her name. To this day, it is still unknown.

An Empire surrounded on all sides, being eaten out from its insides. Bottom of the pecking order, one of eight wives, a mother and nothing more, she is told. An Emperor intent on war.

The Summer Palace destroyed in an inferno. The treasures raided, a lone puppy discovered. Bottom of the pecking order, one of eight wives, a mother and nothing more, she is told. An Emperor intent on dying. 

An Emperor gets his wish. An Empress ignored - someone like her could not possibly rule, it's unthinkable - and strangers are crowned.  

An Empress grows out the nail on her littlest finger and coats it with the finest jewels. It becomes so long, so sharp, one could easily mistake it for a knife.

An Empress is crowned.

The Empress changes the world.

At some point, The Empress begins to lose her hair. She isn't quite sure when. All she knows is that the thick black locks on her pillow and the skin-coloured patches on her head terrify her. She wears a wig.

 A Summer Palace rebuilt, treasures abundant and shared, her lover executed. An Empire saved. The Empress revered, but the Woman destroyed.

Monday, 9 October 2017


It's not a sting of fear, nor the nail-biting tension of worry.
It's the sharpness in-between.
An ache in quiet moments,
A stress unheard of at sixteen.

It's found in chest pains that leave me paralysed,
In migraines that last days.
I can push it back, for a moment,
But still it always stays.

It finds its way home, like the cold creeps in Winter.
Into soft blankets and candlelit rooms,
It lingers, slips under every door,
And taints the bed sheets, like smoke fumes.

It's not a warming crimson, but a bright white,
That makes my head hurt.
It's a destroyer of opportunists,
And a breeder of introverts.

It is parasitic.
But it is not a definition,
Nor a dangerous disease.
It does not rule me.

By E.H.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Single, Don't Want to Mingle

If you’re single, raise your hand.

Now, raise your hand if you want to be single.

When I asked my creative writing class the last one, every hand went down. This got me thinking, what exactly is wrong with being single?

Just to preface this: I’ve never been in a relationship, I don’t want to be in a relationship, and I’m quite happy with my inevitable future of becoming the resident crazy cat lady, so my experience with love and relationships is entirely what I’ve seen from other people. And honestly? I don’t see the appeal.

In my opinion, relationships just take up time and effort that I could be putting somewhere more useful. For example, the ever-growing mound of college work that, much like the items in Bellatrix Lestrange’s Gringotts vault, burns me and multiplies every time I touch it. And when I’m not busy with that? Well, you can bet that I’ll be spending my free time doing fun, mindless things that I want to do, not sat on someone’s lap making kissy faces.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think true love is out there; I firmly believe it’s impossible to hear the way Ellen DeGeneres talks about Portia de Rossi and not think so. If being in a relationship would truly make you happy, then I’m sure there’ll be a Prince Albert to your Queen Victoria somewhere out there (except hopefully not your first cousin). I’m just saying that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be single. After all, Queen Elizabeth I never married and she did pretty well for herself, didn’t she?

Society puts so much emphasis on relationships, and you can see it everywhere. Babies who waddle remotely close to one another being referred to as a future couple. High school kids gossiping about their crushes and firmly believing that you’re lying about not having one. Valentine’s day, a can of worms I am absolutely not opening here. There’s never any doubt that everyone will one day find the perfect partner and settle down, but sometimes people don’t want to do that, and that’s completely fine.

Relationships aren’t everything. If you don’t want to be in one, don’t get into one solely to please the people around you. Proudly embrace the single life. Marathon that series you’ve wanted to watch. Hug a friend. Eat those chicken nuggets. You only have yourself to impress, so why not go all out?

By Beth Robertson

Sunday, 24 September 2017


Scoop the pale Lurpak butter,
one knob… plop and puddle.
Add a splash of oil
to dance in the pan;
to mush, meld till a single sticky layer
coats the metal like a blanket.

Sprinkle in the kernels,
to roll in the butter like children in mud.
Playing patiently
until the heat finally grabs them.
They leap, reach into the air,
pop in springs of cool cream.

Finally, toffee drizzles
it slivers into each popped piece;
smears them in a thick sticky skin.

I bubble with excitement.
Wait to fill my senses
with popcorn sweetness.

“Dad, I’ve had a bad day today…”
“Shall we make some popcorn?”

Whenever I'm feeling at my worst I always remember the simple pleasures I have in my life: like making popcorn. You don't have to make dramatic changes in your life to make yourself feel better. Small moments make life, appreciate everyone you have.

By Laura Rose Russell

Monday, 18 September 2017


It's a feeling of walking into an empty room, 
and having people stare.
It's the burn on a pan that
never washes.
Imprinting itself permanently on your heart. 

It may fade, like that of autumn leaves may
but just like such leaves,
it returns.

Stronger with a burning desire
a hot body filled with hate and determination
to silently wreck your soul.

All without a single word. 
Yet it's your words it fears, 
the stern 'no', 
the varieties of telling it no, profanities, singular words and clustered sentences meaning the same thing.

You have this, not it. 

You own your mind, not it. 

Everyone faces anxiety at some point in their life, some people more than others and that's ok! There are multiple ways on asking for help or coping methods and the most accessible being your PT or asking your friends. You can get further help from not only with anxiety but various other issues you may be facing as a young person. 
Anxiety is a common thing and 41.6% of students have issues with it: along with 36.4% struggling with depression and 35.8% of students struggling with relationship issues. ​

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Don't feel as though you're excluded from your rights as a student.

Know you aren't alone and can do this; no one has died from anxiety you are ok, it isn't a problem to just look over and there is plenty of confidential help in and around college to help support you! 

By Tarni Barclay

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Sleep Anxiety: The Monster Under Your Bed.

Sleep: it's important. It gives your body a chance to rest and recuperate; getting 8 hours a night helps you function and concentrate properly. But it's easier said than done- around 1/3 of people in the UK have insomnia or sleep anxiety. Sleep anxiety is more than just not sleeping; it's a tornado of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. I know students always pull all-nighters: we get zazzed on Red Bull at 3 am and zoom through homework (that probably has to be done for first lesson). But by the time the sugar rush has worn off, we're exhausted and don't pay attention in class. However, people with sleep anxiety do this every night. It's a vicious cycle. You pull an all-nighter, feel tired in college, lose concentration, don't absorb information, and worry about it the next night.


 The symptoms include:

  • Fear (like when I watched Insidious and couldn't sleep without the light on).
  • Physical symptoms like a clenched stomach.
  • Dizziness/nausea (imagine riding on a merry-go-round going 50 miles an hour).
        • Worries about amount of sleep- “If I go to sleep now, I'll get 5 hours and 48 minutes before I       have to get up”.
  • Worries stopping your mind from 'switching off' (such as exams, relationships, body image).
  • Exam stress/hormones (tiredness could be why that giant zit popped up)
    Top Tips:

  1. Wind down in the evenings
    It's no good trying to sleep if you've stayed up until 12 working. Set a specific bed time and start your bedtime routine 2 hours before.
  2. Ban caffeine after 7pm
    Drinking coffee leaves caffeine in your system for 4-6 hours. It stimulates your mind and body, so try drinking decaffeinated tea or chamomile (if you can stand the taste). Tea includes a protein called theanine, which is a natural calmer.
  3. Listen to Mindfulness/ASMR
    A great way to squash worries before sleep is to meditate.  Mindfulness is designed to help people with anxiety, such as “imagine your worries are a balloon and release it”. It is a great time to reflect without low mood or anxiety controlling your mind. ASMR is familiar sounds like the splat of rain or tapping on a box. It commonly helps insomniacs, as it can lull you into sleep.
  4.  Grounding Techniques
    I'm sure you've seen the posters in the toilets, but grounding is a technique to stop you from feeling overwhelmed and spaced out. All you need to do is look around and identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste. Try to do it with your eyes closed using 5 things you can visualise.
  5.  Don't try to force sleep
    If you don't feel tired, don't get worked up. Sleep will come, even if it doesn't feel like it. It's not be-all-end-all if you don't sleep. In Mythbusters they found closing your eyes for 20 minutes improves work efficiency by 50%. Do this throughout the day when you need extra energy.
  6.  Get up & have breakfast
     Breakfast is key. I know a lot of you come to college without it. Eating food with slow-releasing energy like Weetabix can stop you feeling tired and hungry. Even if you wake up too late, the canteen sells cereal and toast that you can grab before lesson.
  7. Stop using social media before sleep
    I know, I know. It's hard not to grab your phone when the group chat's lit at 3am. But put your phone on silent and mute your mates for a good night's rest.


By Lucie Stanfield

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Top Ten Tips for Surviving College

So now you’re an official student! How does it feel? Great, right? But, you’re gonna start to realise you have to pay for a lot more. Freedom does come at a price, as they say, so here’s a couple of useful tips on us.

1.       Buy a reusable drinks cup to stop you buying a Starbucks every day, because it adds up quick (believe me). This tip helps save our beautiful planet by creating less waste. Also: Caterlink. The app is linked to the college catering and gets you cool deals on food and drink, such as Black Friday last year: everyone got a hot drink for 1p! Want even more? UNiDAYS and Student Beans are another two apps I owe my life to - They give so many discounts: clothes, books, a good old takeaway. Living on a budget has never been easier!

2.       You’re gonna roll your eyes at this one and say “Yeah, sure,” but trust us: use a few of your frees for studying. Two years may not feel like a long time, but two years of info sure is a lot to remember and revise all at once. By the time May rolls around and exams are knocking on your door you’ll wish you’d have put in some extra work earlier on in the year. You can thank us later.

3.       That said, in the first few weeks you're probably going to find yourself with nothing to do at some point. So, instead of sitting in the canteen staring into space, use this time to make some friends. Don't just limit yourself to people in your classes; most people will be happy to chat! Sure, you'll have to sit through a dozen, "So... what subjects are you doing?" conversations, but eventually you'll find someone who also likes Pok√©mon, Cosplay, or 17th century themed heavy metal just as much as you do, and it'll all be worth it.

4.       Whilst you’re here, you may as well try as many new things as you can, and the best way to do this would be to join some clubs. Fancy some beekeeping? There’s a club for that. Want to knit? There’s a club for that. Feel like writing? There’s a club for that. Even if you’re on the fence about whether you want to or not, go along and take a look! You might make new friends or find a new passion, and if you decide later that it’s not for you, at least you can say you gave it a go.

5.       At some point, you're probably going to end up tearing your hair out with frustration. And you know what? That's perfectly okay. It only becomes a problem when you don't do anything about it. Feel free to go and see your teachers during lunch or in one of your frees— they're always happy to help, and they don't give you that vague sense that you're ruining their life like High School teachers tend to do. So speak up!

6.       Your pass is VERY important! Do not lose it. Passes get you in, out and around college so you’ll need it a lot. So keep your pass safe. Keep it attached to your lanyard and tie your lanyard to your bag that way you can get to it quickly. If you do lose your pass, you can get a new one at student services in guidance. The ladies at the reception are very understanding and will print you a new pass in a few minutes.

7.       Most college days you will be carrying three heavy binders with you. Save yourself the trouble of lugging weight around and get a locker. It’s less than five pounds to get one, although there is a long waiting list so get yours ASAP. The first day is ideal to put your name down on the list for lockers, so quick! Ask at Student Services in Guidance.

8.       College life can be stressful. Homework, deadlines, and revision makes it seem like the entire world is bearing down on you. Don’t worry. There’s many places you can go to escape/chill out. The Library steps have cushions for anyone wanting a quiet read (or nap). The Art block always has cool exhibitions for anyone who wants to look around. You aren’t expected to be working 100% of your time, so relax and enjoy the social side of college.

9.       The Canteen fills up as soon as Lunch starts, with queues lasting half an hour (which is horrible when you’re hungry.) But, there are ways to get around the lunch time mayhem. Free fourth lesson? Go then! Get your chips fresh and quick. Don’t want to wait in a long queue? Starbucks serves jacket potatoes and sandwiches. Want to go on a walk? The chippy is a 15 minute walk away. Pro tip: Don’t wait until last lesson to go to the canteen, the food will be mostly gone.

10.   And lastly, just remember to be chill. College isn’t like High School where you felt like you had to fit in with the crowd and conform. You can dress as fancy as you like, or throw on some sweatpants and an oversized hoodie. No one will care either way! You could probably even wear a dressing gown and no one would bat an eyelid.

At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat, rowing against the tide and trying to make it through our A-Levels with as few mental break-downs as possible. College is short, so just be yourself and have fun.