Netflix: Favourites and Upcoming Releases.

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Netflix Recommendations and Upcoming Releases: March 2018

As a student, I of course spend a lot of my downtime browsing through Netflix for new series to binge watch into the middle of the night.

Over the last month there have been several programmes which I have been loving. So here is a selection of my favourites from the last month.

Warning Spoilers Ahead

  1. Riverdale: Season 2

Riverdale has finally returned from its mid-season hiatus. Tensions are as the Lodge’s continue to seize control of the town and relationships in the small town are feeling the strain.

Riverdale continues to captivate its loyal followers with its consistent writing, and unexpected plot twists and cliff-hangers keeping everyone hooked.  As we continue into the second half of the season, I can’t wait to see if Cheryl escapes the clutches of her mother, will Betty ever uncover the truth behind Chick’s past?  And does Jughead ever get one up on Hiram Lodge?

Currently we are on episode 17 of season 2 (March 28th, 2018), with 5 episodes remaining. Whether any my questions will be answered by the end of the season remains to be seen, but with a musical episode coming up on 18th April, it’s sure to be an interesting conclusion to season 2.

  1. Flint Town

Flint Town is an eight-part documentary about the city of Flint, USA.  Flint is plagued by crime and is suffering through a shortage of police officers. Only 99 police officers serve Flint, which is a city home to over 100,000 citizens.

This documentary follows a select few officers from the Flint Police department as they carry out their day-to-day activities. Violence and illegal drugs are some of the main problems within Flint, alongside the water crisis created by a mission to cut costs.

The documentary is a fascinating look into one of the poorest cities in America and well worth watching.

  1. Rebellion

Although this five part drama was released in 2016, to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Easter Uprising, is has only recently made it into my top recommendations. This programme follows three women through Holy week, leading up to the Easter Uprisings in 1916.

Despite the historical inaccuracies which run throughout the show, the drama is still a captivating watch. If you were a fan of Peaky Blinders, then Rebellion is the show for you.

Upcoming Releases

  1. 13 Reasons Why: Season 2

13 Reasons why was one of the most talked about programmes in 2017, both positively and negatively. Based on the novel by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why follows two main characters; Hannah Baker, who’s POV is displayed through her suicide tapes, and Clay Jensen who we follow as he uncovers the truth behind Hannah’s suicide. The finale of the first season is an extremely difficult episode to watch and comes with a trigger warning for obvious reasons. The suicide of Hannah is something which divided the entire audience of 13 Reasons Why and is likely to affect the number of people willing to watch the next season.

The second season rumoured to be released at the end of this month and is now featuring a short warning video directly before the start of the episodes due to the nature of it’s content.

Despite the controversy surrounding the programme I am still greatly looking forward to watching the new season as it was one of the most addictive programmes of last year.

  1. GLOW: Season 2

GLOW season 2 is scheduled to be released within the next few months. GLOW (Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling) dramatises the way in which women entered the world of wrestling, as images of beauty and strength. Controversial issues within the show, such as the sexualisation of women and stereotypes, are all highlighted within the show and provokes a range of discussions amongst fans of the show.  I watched the first season of GLOW more than once and I am eagerly anticipating the next instalment.

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Blink and you’ll miss it…

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Second year of uni has gone by in a blur.  We’re now 5 taught weeks away from the end of the semester and assignments are rushing up thick and fast.  This is just a quick update to say how second year has gone so far.

This last year has so far been pretty successful.  I took more time off work in first semester to concentrate on uni work and I came out of first semester on track for a 2:1! Last semester was possibly one of the most enjoyable semesters I have had at YSJ, all of my modules were well run and for a change I felt like I had time to breathe and organise my life in the way I wanted.

This semester my part time job has taken over once again. Working 25+ hour weeks on top of university and hoping all my assignments will be done in time.  One positive of this semester is my linguistics module which is e-communication. Researching people’s online profiles and investigating how the online world is changing our language is one of the areas of linguistics that I have been most interested in throughout my time at uni.

There’s now only 2 taught weeks left until Easter break and my diary is pretty much packed for the rest of the term.  Currently I’m sat with a coffee, staring at an outline for my first deadline of the semester, procrastinating putting any words down on paper till I actually understand the theories behind my research and hoping that my study playlist will actually motivate me to begin writing.

For now at least, uni is taking priority over all my activities (including this blog) so it might be a while before I catch up with my post schedule again!

Lets hope we have a more organised end to the semester …

Stranger Things 2 (Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

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Stranger Things has taken a very different turn in the brand new season, released October 27th 2017.  Will is back, new girl max and her brother have arrived in town, and Bob, Joyce’s love interest this season, is new to the show.

As one of the most popular series on Netflix of last two years, Stranger Things has brought a retro feel to the Sci-fi world in a new, yet nostalgically brilliant way. It is a combination of comedy and engaging real world issues, wrapped up inside the small American town of Hawkins. In the new season of Stranger Things 2, issues such as racism and abuse are key aspects of the storyline, as well as the continuing themes of bullying which are present in the initial season. Aside from the programme itself, when it comes to real life, the actors in the show are continually dealing with issues of sexualisation and racism. Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) is the focus of attention as she is continually sexualised by the media and public despite being only 13 years old.

Millie Bobby Brown

Source: IMBd

 

The new season brings out a darker side of Millie’s character, with Eleven’s return to Hawkins and adventure across the US.  This season the episodes almost have a disjointed feel, created by the dual narrative which takes place during a large part of the season.  The multiple storylines are a confusing part of the new season, in the sense that the secondary narrative in some way detracts from the main events of the season.  Despite the development of Eleven’s character, you might find yourself wishing her episodes were shorter, just to get back to Hawkins.

As a whole, the new season of Stranger Things has been a mixed bag, with several episodes resulting in disappointment after the year long wait. Ending on a cliffhanger once again, season two will not be the last we see from the Stranger Things cast, and despite the unusual format of this season, the lure of the upside down is too strong to resist.

Grow your own Forest (literally)

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Forest is an app available on IOS and Android designed to help you focus and spend time away from your smart phone.

This is an app I recently re-discovered through a recommendation from one of my classmates at University and so far I have found it extremely useful. The app is designed so that your phone and notifications (apart from the app itself) are off limits to you for a period of time which you select. Depending on the time you select, you have a choice of different virtual trees and plants to grow in your own forest. If you leave the app to look at anything on your phone the tree dies and you have to start over. This method of encouragement to concentrate or spend time away from your phone really works as there are consequences if you fail.

Apart from the virtual forrest, there are also real-life implications for this app. After you have earned a specific number of coins, you have the choice to spend them on having a real tree planted in Africa through the charity Trees For The Future.  Therefore keeping consistently can now become a real benefit for the environment.

Personally I am going to persevere with the app as it has real lasting benefits for myself and the charity.

Prepping for Uni – Second Year

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Being a fresher was stressful, so going into second year I know I can’t afford to make the same mistakes I did last year.  It turns out that being on an English degree requires quite a lot of reading. Reading that takes up hours and hours of your life. Reading that is not always as straight forward as picking up an easy to read book and sitting for hours till it’s done. So, this year I decided to get ahead.

The reading lists for my two book-heavy modules were published around a month ago, giving me the chance to purchase and get a healthy start on most of the texts. I know that as soon as first semester starts I will be too busy going to class and my part time job to get any of my reading done. Trying to read 2 books a week as well as going to university and my part-time job alongside food shopping, cleaning and generally living is a lot to juggle. As well as pre-reading all of my books before semester starts I also decided to create summaries so I don’t forget what each text is about before the week I need to know.

Alongside preparing for classes at uni I have also been getting ready to move into a new house. In first year, I lived in university accommodation but this year I am renting privately with 2 friends. There is a lot more to consider when you are moving into a house compared to halls.  For example, you have to be prepared for paying bills on your own, arranging insurance, and the entire logistics of the move in general.

Overall preparing for second year has been a lot smoother and calmer than last year. In some ways moving back to York again in September will feel familiar. I now know the city and the university quite well rather than being thrown into a completely new environment like I was last year.  Move in date for my new house is set for the 1st of September and honestly, I can’t wait to get back and settle into the messy routine of uni life again.

Travel Diary: Sorrento, Pompeii and Capri

All Posts, Reviews, Travel

In the last week of June I travelled with my parents, using TUI, to Sorrento Italy.  Here I just wanted to re-cap some of the highlights of my trip and suggest some tips for anyone who is planning on visiting Sorrento.

Sorrento

The journey to Sorrento from Naples airport is a long one.  With one road leading the entire way down the Amalfi Coast plus the risky Italian driving style, you can imagine how congested the traffic was. The coach transfer between the airport was roughly 2 hours long but despite the length of the journey, the views were unbeatable.

Our hotel for this trip was the Hotel Minerva. The view across the bay of Naples, towards Vesuvius was incredible. The terrace dining room of the hotel meant that every evening we could sit and watch the sunset over the volcano. The sunlight picked out the brilliant white sails of the yachts drifting along the coast and the trails in the water left by the occasional Jet Ski.

The town of Sorrento is very traditionally Italian. Within the town centre, the main piazza is filled with shops and restaurants, with the main roads leading off towards the ports and the train station. The first trip we went on during the week was to visit Pompeii, which we visited by train.  Although it is advertised by the TUI reps as being a difficult commute, this was not my experience. The TUI goal is to sell you their excursions at extortionate prices, where it is actually very simple to  make the journeys independently.

Pompeii

As I mentioned, Pompeii was my first trip of the week. The walk to the train station from the hotel took around 20 minutes and was a straight route through the town centre. The train tickets for Pompeii cost €2.50 single and €5 return. The journey on the train takes around 50 minutes to reach Pompeii. There is only one train line which runs from Sorrento to Naples, making commuting on the train very simple. Before leaving the train station at Sorrento, a family of Romany Gypsies boarded the train to play music for the passengers, moving up and down the carriages. Just before the train left they jumped off of the train and made their way around to the next one.

We reached Pompeii at lunch time and easily joined a tour group who were about to set off into the city itself. Being an EU student made the entrance fee cheaper for me with the presentation of ID. It will be interesting to see if this remains the same for us in our post-brexit world.  The ancient city is a complicated place, and to get the full value out of your time there, getting an official guide is important. All of the official tour guides within Pompeii have degrees in the study of the city so therefore have a vast knowledge on the history of Pompeii. The city is also a lot bigger than you might expect so getting lost is easy if you are not familiar with the site.

Our tour lasted 2 hours, in which a lot of important parts of the city were covered. If I was to go back again I would definitely make the trip to see the amphitheatre which, because of the long walk it is away from the forum, I didn’t get chance to see. On the day I visited Pompeii the sky was clear, and the temperature was around 36 degrees, so I cannot stress enough how important it is to take bottles of water and suncream with you into the city.

Capri

The only other trip I took in the week was to the island of Capri.  Capri is the island where the rich and the famous come to live, and take their summer vacations. This is obvious from the streets filled with designer shops and high end restaurants, aimed at the vastly wealthy people who visit Capri.

To get up to Capri, from where the boats arrive, you have to travel either by taxi or on the funicular. From Capri you can also choose to travel up to Anacapri by chair lift, however as someone who doesn’t particularly love heights, this was definitely not an activity for me. This particular day, Anacapri was also shrouded in a thick cloud, making the journey up to Anacapri a pointless one as there would be no view out over Capri.

 

Overall the trip was an amazing one, although personally I don’t feel as though it is anywhere close to the sights at Venice. If I was to return to Sorrento again, visiting Herculaneum and seeing more of Pompeii are at the top of my list.

Pretty Little Liars: Till Death Do Us Part.

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The final ever episode of Pretty Little Liars aired last week on the 27th June. This was an episode in which fans hoped some of the mysteries from the last seven seasons would finally be explained. Unfortunately, it is clear from the wide reaction on social media that this last episode was largely a disappointment and after following the programme for years, sadly I feel the same.

The finale left many questions unanswered. It also featured a shockingly clichéd ending which I personally think added nothing of value to the episode but opened up questions over a possible PLL spin-off series.

So here are my seven main issues with Till Death Do Us Part:

1. Alex Drake 

Despite the gaping plot holes there was one thing that bothered most fans of Pretty Little Liars more than anything, and that was Alex Drake. More specifically the obviously fake accent that Troian Bellisario had adopted for the character. The accent completely destroyed any moments of suspense between Alex and the other characters by having the audience crying with laughter. The effect of the accent should definitely have been more carefully considered by the directors before filming.

The secondary issue with Alex Drake (A.D) is that she was only introduced during the final episode of the season. Despite the evil twin theory being popular online before the finale, it was possibly one of the weakest ways to reveal A.D. Personally I feel that A.D should have been a character who was heavily involved in the entire last season, instead of being introduced within the finale and explaining her entire back story. Surely one of the existing characters would have resulted in a more shocking twist.

2.  The Basement 

During one of the previous seasons the mums were all trapped in a basement by A. At some point the mums all get free from the basement however it is never revealed how. During the rehearsal dinner for  Ezra and Aria’s wedding this is brought up again but still left without an answer for the audience. Why this loose end hasn’t been resolved is unclear.

3. Jenna and Bashful 

The problem of the twins in the season finale is further complicated by Jenna and Bashful the horse. There is some confusion over why these two characters in specific were able to tell the difference between Spencer and Alex but yet Toby, Ezra and the Liars all couldn’t. Toby has possibly been the closest to Spencer throughout all the seasons and for him to only work out that Alex wasn’t her through a book was questionably weak.

4. A.D Discovery 

The discovery of A was a long process. The complicated backstory behind A , Alison and all of the liars took literally years to develop, both in the real-life process and in the character’s story lines. This long process made logical sense as the characters had time to fully explain the events of the show. What did not make sense was the rapid discovery of A.D and the location in which she had Ezra and Spencer trapped.  Why did Alex reveal herself and her location to Mona so easily? This is possibly the most confusing part of the entire plot. This fast paced discovery is the reason why Alex’s backstory is rushed, leaving supporters of the programme disappointed that A.D was a brand new character.

5. Wren 

Throughout the show Wren is a character who appears many times. It is revealed during the season finale that he is also a character who cannot be trusted due to his strong loyalties to Alex. It is also disclosed within the episode that Wren is the father of Alison’s twin babies. Although this is an excellent twist to the show, the fact that Ali and Emily never discover this is somewhat problematic.

It is also unclear whether or not the other characters, beside from Spencer and Alex, ever hear of Wren’s death or the fact that Alex turned his ashes into a diamond. There is also the question over what happened to the Wren diamond after Alex’s arrest.

6. The Wedding

Throughout the numerous seasons, Aria’s character has always been supported by her family.  Family and relationships is the main theme which follows Aria in her entire storyline. Therefore arguably the biggest plot hole in the narrative is Mike’s absence from the wedding. Considering the importance of family to Aria as a character, her brother missing her own wedding is ridiculous.

Another flaw with the wedding scene is the interruption of the service by I.Marlene King. Although the writers and directors most likely assumed that she had a right to be in the final ever episode after all of the work she has done on the show, personally I feel that the way she was presented was too obvious and broke up the natural flow of the scene.

7. The Final Scene

Potentially the worst part of the episode was the ending. Although it refers back to the very first series, in which Alison disappears from the barn, the style of ending has been heavily overdone.  Personally, the ending was far too similar to the end of Mean Girls. It was almost a complete copy of the ending. The ending also detracts from the completeness of the programme. If the episode had ended with Mona, Alex and Mary then it would have been a near perfect end, regardless of the other issues.

 

Despite all of these flaws with the final episode, the last seven years of Pretty Little Liars has been a rollercoaster of emotion. Although the end was inevitable , PLL will always be one of my favourite TV shows of all time and will be missed by many fans around the world.

 

 

 

 

General Election 2017 – My Thoughts.

All Posts, politics

The general election is only a few weeks away. This morning, at the University of Bradford, Jeremy Corbyn announced the Labour Party’s manifesto.  A manifesto which in Labour’s own words is ‘For the many not the few’. The launch of this manifesto seems like the perfect opportunity to address my own opinions on the snap general election.

Since I was born I have lived in Barnsley. Barnsley is often described by the media as a small mining town in the heart of South Yorkshire.  Within Barnsley, the main constituency is Barnsley Central and is considered to be a Labour safe seat. To anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time in our small town, it is not difficult to understand why this is the case. Walking around our currently half-demolished town centre, the level of poverty here is obvious to everyone. People within Barnsley are suffering more than ever, arguably as a direct result of the current Conservative government and their policies. Since September I have been living in York to study for my degree and coming back to Barnsley after spending a considerable amount of time in York, the difference in wealth is astonishingly clear.

The new Labour manifesto focuses strongly upon starting to support the weakest in society, as well as the vast majority of the public, whilst reigning in the richest in an attempt to redistribute wealth. They plan to do this through improving the education and health systems as well as beginning to renationalise public services. One of the biggest promises that Jeremy Corbyn has made is to increase living wage to £10 an hour. This increase in living wage is an increase which is desperately needed by the large amount of people who currently are struggling just to get by and who are relying upon donations such as food banks. Food banks have become a necessary part of many people’s daily lives, including many of our nurses.

The NHS is currently strained, almost to the breaking point. Across the country hospitals are running at full capacity, in a system where people can only able to be admitted once other patients have been discharged. This is in a system where there is also a lack of nurses and junior doctors available to run the wards to the high standards that we hope for in our hospitals. Barnsley Hospital is one of the hospitals being affected by the lack of funding within the healthcare system.  A few years ago I was admitted to Barnsley Hospital for emergency surgery. Whilst I was there it was shocking to witness that because of the debt surrounding the hospital, there were entire wards completely closed dow. During my stay post-op I was moved into one of the wards which, the day before was empty. The ward in question had been re-opened to deal with the high intake of patients over the weekend. Two nurses covered this entire ward of new patients alone for the two days I spent there. The nurses in question provided me with excellent care throughout my stay in Barnsley Hospital, as did every other member of staff who treated me during the week. However with more funding and more staff, Barnsley Hospital could be providing an even higher standard of care than they currently are. A Conservative government, going forward from 2017, would attempt to privatise an increasing amount of the NHS. However I strongly believe that the value of patients lives should not be judged upon what they can or cannot afford.

In September 2016 I became a full time undergraduate student at York St John university. Throughout my time living in York over the past year I have been faced with a wide range of political opinions. Currently in York Central, the MP is Rachael Maskell who is a member of the Labour Party. York Central is a highly contested seat between Labour and the Conservatives. The four other constituencies which are under The City of York council are all currently Conservative held seats, including York Outer. When taking into consideration the average household income within York this is not a surprising fact. The Conservatives are widely known as the party of the wealthy.  However within York there is also a large student population as a result of being a city with two universities. The majority of students now are surrounded by debt after taking out loans to cover their education, myself included.

Currently, as government statistics suggest, it is the younger voters who have the power to sway the results of the election. 18-25 year olds are the demographic which have been proven as the least likely to vote or even register to vote.  In regards to the general election in June, it is vitally important that they do register, as various polls suggest that this demographic is vastly in support of Jeremy Corbyn and a new Labour government. This is not surprising when increase in tuition fees and the withdrawal of bursaries over the last few years is taken into consideration.

The last day to register to vote for the snap election is the 22nd of May. It is important to register to vote so you can have your say in the election.

Although there are many conflicting opinions between the main political parties, there is one message which is universally agreed upon: REGISTER AND USE YOUR VOTE.