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Review: Romeo and Juliet

Article 19’s production of Romeo and Juliet is exactly how student drama should be done. The venue, (Rainbow Courtyard) the vision, the music, the acting, and Vita Fox’s direction contributed to an extremely high quality production that a professional company would have been proud to put on. This adaptation was set in 1966 and was filled with cute costumes, and an incredible score of music. The band, comprising of Sam Forbes, Lily George, and Ben Lyth, were fully immersed in the performance, from interacting with the actors to setting the tone of the scenes. Having a live band on stage brought so much to the performance; at one point during the play Juliet (Phoebe Ruttle) asked Forbes to play a more upbeat song for them to dance to. As the audience entered the venue they were asked to join the cast members for a dance on stage. There was a fair bit of audience interaction, but nothing cringe-worthy! Capulet (Touwa Craig-Dunn) handed out letters to members of the audience, and at points some of the actors would sit at the audience’s feet. For example, Mercutio (Becky Hansell) positioned herself between two people in the front row who had to awkwardly move their legs to make room for her.

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The acting overall was of a very high standard. Benvolio (Elliot McDowell) and Mercutio (Hansell) brought some much-needed comic relief in the play, and Grace Hussey-Burd played a sultry Lady Capulet. Beth Gilbert gave a charming portrayal of the Nurse; she was particularly good when informing Juliet of Tybalt’s death, bringing real emotionality to the heartbreaking scene. Similarly, Catherine Butler shone in the role of the Friar. Towards the end of the play, when she becomes aware of the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, the pain she feels is palpable. Tom Ling and Phoebe Ruttle were wonderful as Romeo and Juliet. Ruttle was funny, feisty, and sensitive at different points in the play. There was a beautiful moment when the lovers were reunited and the band played ‘For What It Is Worth’ by Buffalo Springfield while the lovers kissed before falling asleep on stage. One of my only criticisms is that I wasn’t a big fan of the multiroling in the play. Alex Wilcox played both Tybalt and Paris, and Hansell reemerged on stage almost immediately as another role after dying as Mercutio. I found that this took away slightly from the sadness of Tybalt and Mercutio’s deaths.13265934_844772848960999_7472257150139106013_n

 

Several key moments during the play are highlighted by a lack of music and simple lighting with just two actors alone on stage. When the Friar tells Romeo about his banishment, she is positioned in the shadows sitting in the corner of the audience. On the other side of the stage, the Nurse kneels and Juliet leans against a pillar covered in fairy lights. This created a beautiful picture on stage during such an emotionally charged scene. Without a doubt, my favourite scene in the production was when the Nurse thinks she has discovered Juliet dead on stage with the band, who start playing ‘California Dreaming’ by the Mamas & the Papas. Capulet (Craig-Dunn) enters and crouches down on the ground, clutching Juliet’s hand and crying. Craig-Dunn demonstrates that he can play an emotional, devastated father, in addition to the frightening, aggressive man we saw earlier in the play. The scene ends with Forbes beautifully singing A capella. The sound of the pouring rain coming down on the roof seemed to add perfectly to the atmosphere.13256532_844772628961021_1640765927185909153_n

Students Fight for Veggie and Vegan Options at University

Originally posted on Huff Post Young Voices.

2016 is the biggest ever year for vegans, with brands such as Quorn releasing egg-free products, Guinness planning to create a vegan beer, and Ben & Jerry’s announcing dairy-free ice creams. Universities are generally known as places that advocate this sort of forward thinking and embrace positive change. Why then do so many British universities seem so behind on providing vegetarian and vegan options in their student unions?

Students at the University of Birmingham were recently appalled to find that the Guild of Students altered the only vegan option on the menu in Joe’s Bar (vegan wedges) making them unsuitable even for vegetarians. This came as a huge blow to vegan students, especially as it followed the decision to introduce milkshakes to Joe’s Bar rather than providing more vegan options. Lizzy, a French and Drama student at Birmingham, commented:

 

‘I think it really speaks volumes when an accessory food option such as a milkshake is chosen over introducing a new vegan option (when no others exist). Also for a uni that claims to be going green, they’re not really attempting to fight climate change at the heart, with food and agriculture. It just feels like a punishment for being vegan (as usual) and that the university doesn’t take the lifestyle seriously, viewing it only as a fussy eating habit which they are not obliged to cater for, when it is so much more than that. Also, Joe’s can’t even give you the 14 allergens when asked which is pretty awful considering it’s a legal requirement in restaurants and bars now. This makes it very difficult to find an unlabelled vegan option on the menu when the staff cannot tell you if it may or may not have dairy or egg etc in it. It’s not very nice to have to sit and watch all your friends eat in Joe’s every day while you have to hope that there’s a vegetable samosa left in Spar.’

Rosie, a second year English student, was also disheartened by the change in menu at Joe’s Bar. She said, ‘it’s outrageous that I can’t eat in my own student union, they shouldn’t only bring the wedges back but there should have been many more options in the first place […] Veganism is a growing worldwide phenomenon and to not support it really illustrates an outdated element of the university as well as highlighting its failure to cater to all students. The uni claims to be inclusive but really falls short at this particular element.’

 

It is not just Birmingham that seems to be struggling with providing for vegans and vegetarians. Students at both Huddersfield and Middlesex University have started petitions to include more vegan and veggie options on campus. Mark from Huddersfield said that there is only so much cheese or hummus a vegetarian can have. In his petition he requested that the SU shop provide a wider selection of veggie options considering there are so many vegetarians at the university. 74 students liked the motion and it had no dislikes. In the comments, students seemed concerned that there were not enough dairy-free options, aside from just chips. Last year, Jack started a similar petition in Middlesex. He noted that the choice of vegetarian food was poor at best, not even catering to those who were lactose intolerant. Jack commented, ‘I have no choice personally but to bring my own food due to this. I’m sure that others will agree.’ The petition gained 48 likes and no dislikes. Students from Middlesex also noted that vegan options, as well as being few and far between, were extremely expensive, making them far less accessible.

 

However, it is not all doom and gloom; universities such as Bristol, Sussex, Sheffield and UEA are introducing more and more vegan and veggie options every year. Bristol SU offers a veggie Sunday roast, UEA have vegan sandwich options in the Grad Bar and Unio every day, and Sussex have a vegetarian café on campus serving Quorn Bolognese, mezes and quiches. Sussex also holds Go Green Week, the UK’s largest week of student climate action, where you can get vegan hot chocolate, vegan-friendly cider, and vegan bean burgers. Alastair, a final year Drama student at the University of Birmingham, said ‘I can remember eating in the Sheffield SU back in October and the vegan options were incredible!’

 

If you would like to see more vegan and vegetarian options at your SU, start a petition, and remember that you are not alone.

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Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Article 19 transported us back to the 90s with their fun spin on Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The production was awash with silly string, glitter, and double denim. The costumes were brilliant. Puck (Antonia Strafford-Taylor) was dressed in a tie-dye t-shirt, dungarees, and a bum bag. When she wasn’t rollerblading around the stage, she was playing with a Tamagotchi. The grandma in me was a bit concerned that Strafford-Taylor wasn’t wearing a helmet or kneepads when she was rollerblading, but luckily we didn’t witness any accidents!

Strafford-Taylor was full of energy throughout the play, constantly reacting to the other characters on stage and running around like a little sprite. She had a great relationship with Oberon (Alex Wilcox), almost like a father-daughter bond. There was a nice moment when they both appeared in the windows of the Room of Requirement looking down at the mischief they caused with the lovers in the forest. When Wilcox had to spy on the lovers, he threw glitter into the air and exclaimed ‘I am invisible!’ which was very amusing. The whole cast were covered in glitter by the end of the play.

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Vita Fox was outstanding as Helena. We felt her for in her bouts of sadness, but Fox also made the audience laugh with her quick timing and bitter remarks. When she kissed Demetrius (Dominic Ryder) at the end of the play, the audience let out a happy cheer. Fox made the Shakespearean language sound like present day English, which demonstrated impressive skill. Unfortunately, some of the other performers lacked clarity, notably Lysander (Reece Roberts) and Quince (Abby Gandy), who were hard to understand at points. In addition, Hermia (Arianne Brooks) was very natural, yet quiet, and perhaps too understated for the role. Brooks and Roberts seemed to lack chemistry. In the scene where Lysander tries to convince Hermia to let him sleep with her, a moment of potential heat or tenderness between the lovers was lost, as the directors opted instead for Roberts to perform a cheesy dance.

The scene between Titania (Nia Tilley) and Bottom (Benedict Churchus) was very entertaining. Churchus gave a wonderful performance as Bottom. He had the audiences in stitches with his singing as an ass, which was only intensified when Tilley awoke with the line ‘what angel wakes me?’ Regrettably Titania does not get enough lines or stage time, because I would have liked to see a lot more of Tilley. Her stage presence was captivating.

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Considering it was the first time the cast had run the play with tech in the Debating Hall it was a bit shambolic, but they pulled it off. Some of the scene changes at the beginning were rather slow, and it would have been good to have music on for longer in the opening scene as Hippolyta (Robyn Hughes) was on stage for a while in silence and we were left wondering when it was going to spring into action. Some of the actors seemed unsure of their cues, and at one point the side door was left open and you could see the actors running back stage, which made it look slightly unprofessional. However, this did not take away massively from the strength of the performance. There were some lovely elements, such as Snug (Nell Baker) performing a lullaby to send Titania to sleep, which was written by Ellie Galvin. Baker played guitar and sang beautifully. Laura Sharpe, the assistant director, created puppets for the fairies, which were a great addition to the production. At one point they were used as shadow puppets behind a screen. The effect of this was beautiful and I only wish that there were more moments of shadow puppetry throughout the play. Overall, there were some great performances and the actors had us laughing constantly. Another successful production for Article 19 this term!

Review: Decadence

This risqué two-hander directed by Rosie Solomon was thoroughly engaging to watch. Steven Berkoff’s play shows snippets into the lives of two couples, played by the same actors multi-roling. One of the couples is the upper class Helen (Katy Owens) and Steve (Joel Heritage) who take delight in hunting and gorging on expensive meals. The other couple is the working class Sybil (Owens) and Les (Heritage) who are plotting to murder Steve. The play is a series of monologues accompanied by exaggerated, stylized physical gestures.

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In an interview with Burn FM’s Culture Vultures, Solomon said ‘the characters don’t show their true selves to the world.’ The set in the Dance Studio was full of mirrors; the mirrored wall was visible, as well as hanging mirrors on the other side, and a full-length mirror on one end of the traverse stage. The make-up was like French mime artists, which created a sort of mask for the characters. The set and make-up linked with this idea of falseness. The audience could see different sides to the actors in the mirrors, but ultimately they were hidden behind their heavy-duty make-up masks.

Owens and Heritage are undoubtedly brave. In one scene, Owens performs oral sex on a banana while standing back to back with Heritage who fakes having an orgasm. This was cleverly staged, as the audience could see the actor with his/her back to them in the mirrors. In another scene, Owens mimed horse riding on Heritage, whipping him, and bouncing up and down while delivering a monologue. This evidently required a lot of stamina. The scene itself was very amusing with Owens exclaiming lines such as ‘hunting is so f**king thrilling!’ and ‘some kid’s pet cat is torn to shreds!’ with a gleeful smile slapped across her face.

Heritage had great physicality. Particularly when acting like demons after having five shots. His movements and facial expressions were really expressive and entertaining. Additionally, in the scene where he eats a ridiculously extravagant meal with what feels like a million courses. After the meal he crawls about the floor and exclaims that he needs to be sick, piss, and sh*t all at once. He then spasms on the floor and shakes out his trouser leg. Despite this all being mimed the audience were still pretty revolted.

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In one scene, Heritage has a racist rant where he shouts racial slurs, which I found the most uncomfortable part to watch. However, it was clearly in place to highlight what a horrendous character Steve was.

The transitions between the working class couple and upper class couple scenes were smooth and seamless. Owens and Heritage had great chemistry. Although, I thought that the characters of Helen and Steve were a lot more developed than those of Sybil and Les. The Sybil and Les storyline was slightly confusing and difficult to follow at points.

Overall, the production was really hilarious; members of the audience were cringing, slapping their knees, and laughing shamelessly. Solomon will be directing an original play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer. I look forward to seeing more of her work!

Review: Birmingham Footnotes Level Up

Last weekend The Birmingham Footnotes presented a new sketch show directed by Will Jackson and assistant directed and produced by Laurs Oakley. The sketch show Level Upwas centered on the theme of video games. This was perfectly complemented by an electronic soundtrack. The six performers (or ‘players’) were really strong and it was encouraging to see a female heavy cast with lots of freshers. A bit of word play was even used in the cast list with the cast being called players, which could refer to players of a video game or Jacobean actors.

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Some of my favourite sketches included The Great British Bake Off, which became The Great Yiddish Bake Off and then The Great Quidditch Bake Off. The cast came on stage removing the icing from the top of cupcakes and wiping it on to each other’s faces. This meant that they had icing all over their faces while they impersonated GBBO’s Mel and Sue. Another amusing sketch was a recurring scene of Mathilda “The Blonde Bombshell” Blythe deciding to do stupid things and then Paul “The Silver Fox” Kerr would run on wearing a cardboard sign saying ‘Brain’ looking distressed, as Mathilda had forgotten to use him. The moment that got the most laughs from this sketch was when Paul the Brain ran on after Mathilda decided not to use a condom.

Mathilda was excellent throughout the show, her facial expressions are very amusing and she is thoroughly entertaining to watch. Hats off to her for eating sellotape for a disgustingly long time and then moving on to paper later on in the show. Taylor Hebert was also brilliant. She shone in her portrayals of Kate Bush and the puberty fairy (don’t ask, you had to be there). Jack “Mysty” Beresford also had some great moments, for instance, in the zombie sketch where someone asked ‘did anyone get bitten?’ and he replied ‘I bit my tongue!’

There were several references to pie charts, which seemed a bit random and got lost on most of the audience who presumably weren’t in on them. There were a few other sketches that went completely over my head including one where bricks were placed on the floor, and the diving sketch, which seemed to fall flat.

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Will Jackson’s directorial presence was certainly felt, with the lip-syncing, dancing, and silly string reminiscent of his recent production of Anthony Neilson’s The Wonderful World of Dissocia with 3Bugs Fringe Theatre. The Queen of Pie Charts scene was rather similar to the Oathtaker scene in Dissocia and other sections of the play.

This was the longest sketch show I have ever watched, and the cast looked pretty exhausted by the end. I can’t fault any of their performances and would love to see some of freshers try stand-up as well. Unfortunately, the writing was mixed, and I really wished that I found the show funnier overall. The sketches that stood out were ones that the cast kept returning to throughout the performance, which brought the random mix of scenes together.

Review: One Man, Two Guvnors

Ciara Cohen Ennis gives a glowing review of Infinity Stage Company’s production of the classic comedy ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, a play by Richard Bean.

Infinity Stage Company’s One Man, Two Guvnors was a hilarious and enjoyable piece of theatre from start to finish. Set in the 1960s, it tells the story of how Francis Henshall (Euan Codrington) manages to acquire two ‘guvnors’. One being Rachel Crabb (Zoe Head), in disguise as her late gangster brother Roscoe, and the other, Stanley Stubbers (Tom Inman), a posh boarding school bloke who Rachel is in a relationship with – despite him killing her brother! Head gives a comedic performance in disguise as Roscoe, with amusing facial expressions and a low tone of voice. The accents were consistently strong throughout the play, which is no mean feat, as Guild performances can often seem particularly amateur if the accents are shaky.

James Corden has previously played Francis Henshall, and although I haven’t seen the West End version, I imagine that Codrington gives Corden a run for his money. Codrington is constantly running around the stage trying to serve his two guvnors while keeping the two of them apart so they don’t catch on that he has two employers. His energy and stamina is impressive, particularly in the scene where he has a physical fight with himself, choreographed by Jessica Barber. Codrington pulls his own hair, slaps himself across the face, strangles himself till he falls on the floor, and then hits himself over the head with a bin lid. If that’s not commitment to drama then I don’t know what is.

Inman is another standout cast member. His portrayal of Stanley is absolutely hilarious and constantly has the audience in stitches. It turns out that he edited the script to say that he was at Harrow, instead of its rival Eton. Inman certainly had some great lines to work with such as ‘I wouldn’t trust a Spaniard alone with a Swiss roll’ and the not-quite-swear-words, ‘buggerello!’ and ‘country life!’

The play was very well cast, with strong performances from Brad Carpenter as the slightly clueless Charlie Clench, and Hannah Dunlop as his ditzy daughter Pauline. Pauline and Alan Dangle (Lucas Rushton) provided an entertaining subplot. Pauline was engaged to the late Roscoe, but since thinking he had died she entered into a relationship with actor Alan. Dunlop and Rushton were almost caricatures; Dunlop with her exaggerated blinking and Rushton with his hammy melodramatic declarations of love.

I can’t go without mentioning the audience interaction. Charlotte Boyer was selected from the audience to guard Henshall’s stash of food. She proceeded to be a very good sport by going up on stage, being forced to hide under a table, and then soaked with a bucket of water. I’m told that the amount of water increased each night. After the interval Boyer emerged from backstage in a much needed dressing gown.

The sixties costumes were great, especially for the female characters. Dolly (Olivia O’Neill) had a pink cardigan wrapped over her shoulders, and Pauline wore a cute floral dress. The elderly Alfie (Ben Evans) emerged complete with the classic Guild Drama talcum powder hair dye. This provided additional comedy at points when Lloyd (Charlie Harris) rubbed Alfie’s head and got talc all over his hands, and when Alfie fell on the floor he was engulfed in a cloud of talc.  The play was really entertaining, and James Harrington and Will Poysner did an excellent job of directing. It was telling that extra seating had to be brought in for the final performance because so many people wanted to see the show.

All proceeds of the play will go to Dignity in Care at the QE Hospital.

Terrible Tales of Bad Landlords

Every student in the UK has their own horrifying story of bad landlords and disgusting houses. Letting agencies and landlords are legendary for ripping students off, failing to pay back deposits, and providing practically unliveable houses. There have been cases of a bedroom ceiling collapsing in Bristol, lucky escapes from carbon monoxide poisoning, and of course; mould.

Minna rented her house in Cardiff through an agency and never met the landlord. She noticed damp in the lounge, but no action was taken after she reported it. The damp spread to her bedroom and across three walls in the house.

Minna said, “I started getting panic attacks, went to the doctor and they said that my asthma from when I was a child had come back. I told them about the damp and the doctor said that was definitely causing the asthma. I phoned the agency again and explained what happened so they sent out two people to look at the house, they were very sarcastic and told us we need to keep the windows open and that we had caused the damp. I explained to them we keep all out windows open all the time and never have the heating on, as it was summer.”

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The agency finally sent out a contractor after a series of complaints. He noticed that an outdoor pipe was broken and leaking into the lounge. The landlord still made no efforts to fix the leak. Minna noticed that after about three months of moving back to her parent’s house her asthma became better and has now practically gone.

Tom, also living in Cardiff, was shocked by the state of his flat in his third year of university.

“There was a huge chunk of jagged metal jammed into the doorframe leading into my bedroom, which also had a slanted floor and a stained mattress in which the springs were twisted and broken. There was mould around the windows of two of the bedrooms which were also filthy; used tissues and cotton buds under the beds and behind the desks, there were no curtains in the front room, the taps for the bath didn’t work, and in the kitchen there was a stain on the wall that made it look like someone had been executed there.”

Tom reported all of these problems to the letting agent, who refuse to provide the tenants with the landlord’s contact details. When Tom and his housemates moved out, they each received £10 of their individual £400 deposits back. This was owing to the problems that Tom had reported before they moved in. Tom encouraged the landlord to check the inventory the tenants and letting agent signed.

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Tom continued, “when we went to request a copy (of the inventory) from the agency we were told that it had been misplaced after copies had been sent to the landlord. Fortunately we had the idea of asking for the inventory from when the previous tenants had moved out. Sure enough there were all the same issues that we’d been accused of causing. We sent this copy to landlord who didn’t address the fact that he’d been caught out. That was two years ago… I still haven’t got my bond and I don’t think I ever will.”

In Birmingham, housemates Hollie and Emma had a nightmare with their third year accommodation. Hollie’s bedroom was a converted bathroom, with a mouldy extractor fan still in the centre of the ceiling. When she asked the landlord to remove it, he left a whole in the middle of the ceiling.

Hollie said, “over time, mould started to appear in the room. Sometimes, the room was so damp the walls were soaking wet. The curtains and a photo-frame became so mouldy they were unusable. The landlord’s solution was to say that we weren’t allowed to dry our laundry or hang our towels in our room, but he refused to give us a tumble dryer, so there was no other way of drying our clothes. He only did something about this once we threatened to get the council involved, because I got a chest infection due to the mould.”

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Their landlord did eventually repaint the room, but did not give the students any notice that he was coming round, and spilt paint over a jacket and a coat that were hanging in the living room. In addition the freezer was broken, the shower fell off the wall in the bathroom and was not fixed for months, there was no hot water for a week in October, and there were slugs everywhere – even on the toothbrush holder! When the girls moved out on 1st July, the new tenants turned up at the same time as they were told they could move in on the same day. This led to Hollie and Emma having to rush out of the house, losing and breaking things in the process.

Emma added, “sometimes we couldn’t get hold of the landlord for days due to a ‘family problem’. He eventually admitted to us that he didn’t know what was expected of him, as he never actually read our contract.”

These horror stories are endless. Landlords and letting agencies need to start treating students and young people like adult human beings and charging such outrageous fees and rent prices! It is completely unjust to keep deposits of hundreds of pounds when students are moving into unclean, mouldy, dusty houses, which are making them ill.

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Liebster Award Nomination

I was lucky enough to receive the Liebster Award, by Meghan of Travelingking. Make sure to check out her amazing blog and follow her adventures! Thank-you so much, Meghan, for the nomination!

The Liebster Award was created to help new bloggers connect with each other, and spread awareness about bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

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Here are the questions I have been asked to answer…

  1. Where are you from?

I’m from Cardiff, Wales, but I study in Birmingham, England. I have one more year left of university and after that I don’t know where I’m going to live!

  1. What was it that first motivated you to travel?

I was very fortunate and privileged to receive a means tested bursary that allowed me to attend a GDST school. During my school years I went on trips to Berlin, Krakow, New York, Washington DC, Paris, Croatia, and China. In sixth form I volunteered with the 5Cs charity in Belarus. A returned volunteer from a charity called Project Trust gave a presentation at my school, which led to my decision to teach English in Senegal for my gap year. I now give these presentations myself, and haven’t stopped travelling since!

Beijing, China
Beijing, China
  1. What is your best travel memory?

This is a ridiculously hard question, but now I’m looking down the list I can see a lot of them are very hard… It’s going to have to be something from Senegal. I lived with an amazing host family who I became really close to, so I think the best memory is really just being accepted into their family, and the community of Joal. Probably just the last week of my stay in Senegal, when my Wolof was the best it’s ever been and I had so many friends to say goodbye to, which made me feel like I was leaving my second home.

Joal, Senegal
Joal, Senegal
  1. What festival would you like to visit the most?

I was sure that I would go to Coachella when I studied abroad in the States last year, but sadly, going there from New Orleans would have been far too expensive. I still hope to go one day. I’d also really like to go to Primavera in Spain, and so many others. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Saint Louis Jazz Fest in Senegal, Jazz Fest New Orleans, Voodoo Fest, Buku Music Fest, Glastonbury, Green Man, Bestival, and Reading Festival.

Buku, New Orleans
Buku, New Orleans
  1. What has been your scariest travel experience?

About six months in to my stay in Senegal I got mugged. I was feeling extremely comfortable and stupidly put all of my valuables in one bag. I was in the capital city, Dakar, and the next day I would be picking up my sister from the airport and travelling to the Gambia for my Easter holiday. When I got out of the sept-places (taxi) around 9pm, with two of my male Senegalese friends, three guys ran up to us and grabbed our bags. At one point I honestly thought we were going to die. It was like being in a nightmare. After they left I was screaming so much and crying and had to run into the road to hit car windscreens in the hope that someone would stop and pick us up. Luckily someone did. When we were in the car I noticed blood on my arm but I didn’t feel physically hurt. I thought maybe the adrenalin had numbed the pain. This wasn’t the case. It turned out that my friend had been stabbed in the head and the arm. We had to rush him to hospital where he was given stitches with no anaesthetic. Fortunately none of us were hurt too severely and my friend is completely fine now. Someone even found my passport, though I lost everything else, that was definitely the thing I was most happy to get back. I just kept reminding myself that this could have happened anywhere, I could have been in any city. We were just really unlucky, as this kind of violent crime is extremely rare for Senegal. I have returned to Dakar since and it’s been completely fine.

  1. Where is your favourite travel destination?

I love travelling to lots of different places, rather than having one favourite. However, I will probably go with India. I did an internship in Bangalore for two months, and also visited Pondicherry, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Jaisalmer. India is incredible beautiful, the people are lovely, and the food is amazing – especially as a vegetarian.

Flower Market, Bangalore, India
Flower Market, Bangalore, India
  1. What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten abroad?

As I’m a vegetarian I haven’t eaten too many strange foods, although I did become a pescatarian for a year in New Orleans. I guess these foods are going to seem really normal to most people but for me it was weird eating crawfish and muscles. I couldn’t bring myself to try catfish or alligator – the other Louisiana delicacies. I did try a fried Oreo in America though, that’s pretty weird.

Crawfish, New Orleans
Crawfish, New Orleans
  1. Do you prefer travelling solo or with company?

I always prefer company. I think it’s great travelling with organisations as you always meet the nicest people and make great friends. This is definitely true for Project Trust, and Career Journal International. If you think travelling with these kind of organisations seems too expensive (which believe me – I did!) look out for travel bursaries and scholarships. After doing an application and an interview, I received £800 from the University of Birmingham to go to India, and £500 to go to Senegal through my secondary school). I have a bit of a fear of doing anything by myself. I recently went to London and saw the Carsten Höller exhibition at the Hayward and ate at the Southbank market alone, which was embarrassingly pretty good going for me.

Carsten Holler Exhibition, London
Carsten Holler Exhibition, London
  1. If you could only travel in one country, which would it be and why?

This is another crazy difficult question. At the moment I think I’m going to have to go with the USA because it is so vast and so varied. You have incredible cities like New York, Chicago, and New Orleans, as well as National Parks, some of the Seven Wonders of the World, etc.

Chicago, USA
Chicago, USA
  1. How long have you been blogging?

I started blogging when I moved to Senegal, so that would be four years ago.

  1. What inspires you?

People.

I am nominating:

  1. Tansu from Tastingwithtansu.com
  2. Elizabeth from elizabethpilar.wordpress.com 
  3. Olivia from oswildlife.wordpress.com
  4. Anju from travelingnoodles.com
  5. Rachel from theworldinaweekend.com
  6. Carlotta from nomadswind.com
  7. Keren from year-34.blogspot.co.uk
  8. Lucy from lucycheseldine.wordpress.com
  9. Cammy from wanderinglesbies.com

Instructions for Nominees:

  • Create a blog post on your site, answering the questions that I’ve provided below.
  • In your post, be sure to link back to the blog who nominated you with a thank-you and shout out) (aka myself, Ciara from CIARA COHEN-ENNIS)
  • After completing the questions, add a section for your nominees. Select, list and link other bloggers with under 200 followers. Provide these instructions. Finally, create 11 questions for them to answer.
  • Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so that they know what to do.
  • Once you’re done, come back here and comment with the link to your post so I can check out your answers.

Questions for nominees (and visitors!)

  1. Where are you from?
  2. If you had to live in another country, which would it be and why?
  3. What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you while travelling?
  4. What festival would you like to visit the most?
  5. What has been your scariest travel experience?
  6. What travel destination most exceeded your expectations?
  7. What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten abroad?
  8. Where did you make the best friends on your travels?
  9. If you could only travel in one continent, which would it be and why?
  10. Do you prefer travelling in large cities or smaller towns and in the countryside?
  11. Where did you feel the most at home while abroad?