In Full Bloom Winter Edition 2020

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Welcome Back...


inter is finally here, and that means new starts and new beginnings. 2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year. A year of questions you never thought you’d ask yourself, ‘Do I have my facemask?’, ‘Is that shop open?’, ‘Where can we travel to exactly?’ It’s a year of sadness for missing out on what could’ve been, saying goodbye to concerts and the theatre, saying goodbye and hello again to restaurants, cafes. Saying goodbye to travelling, to seeing new places and new people. But it also brought us closer together. It didn’t stop us from talking, from walking, from laughing and smiling. It brought people to cooking, making time for yourself and becoming new people, with help from some dodgy lockdown hair-jobs too. It brought households together, gave people time to heal and grow. It bought time for families, for people to be at peace, get excited for the small events that would spark joy. The excitement of sunsets and cooking good food. It brought many lockdown birthdays, drinking, dancing in your living room. It brought meditation, self-care, self-acceptance and appreciation. And where you could focus on the negative, the sadness and the defeat of being restricted from your freedom, you have time to discover your hometown that little bit more. Find a trail you’d never had time to go on, become a tourist for the day and look for the little details and embrace them. It made people creative, become more apparent, posed a threat to the patriarchy and laughed in the face of racism. We said goodbye to an orange man and hello to a Ms Vice-President. And with every new year brings promise of a redemption, of a weary hello after being struck down by the worst. The world is weeping but 2021 brings redemption, prosperity. Well at least we can hope.

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This Is Winter HEATHER


This is winter. Waking up to dark skies, Cups of tea, fireside talking, Twinkling of birds waiting for the day. Its dragon’s breath, clouds of fluffy smoke, Car engines purring without owners inside. It’s seeing sunsets every night, The hum of silver bells, It’s travelling home, Its warm food that fills your belly, Its fuzzy sweaters and bright lights, This is winter.



An Early Morning Promise BRAD MEEHAN

I had stayed up purposefully that night, like a child waiting for jolly Saint nick. Jolly myself too for I knew the magic doesn’t work without a warming glass That I might spy the silhouette of something fit to leave of that great something. out for that man himself. Which sparks a thing that’s not really feeling, not quite emotion, but Waiting up, trap set to sets in motion turning gears or catch a peek of that most salvation from early fears and Forbidden Figure. replaces it with nothing. Less defined a being, Nothing of this world anyway, these days, It feels like… it seemed. that excitement you felt, when you thought you’d seen the man who Maybe more divine. gave you your wishes for nothing. Yet I still believed in the magic of it, Hope, and comfort. though I would never say. The bearded white skies might deftly paint that indescribable joy across my face I’ll wait up to catch them.



The Girls on Princes Street Make a Gingerbread House Clara




is the season to drink mulled wine, bake, sleep andfeel all things wintery, but where we all differ in our christmas traditions, there is no better way to bring the holiday spirit then coming together. The inner Swede in Clara was begging for an extravagant build like no other. A gingerbread house that was so incredible, it would be enough to knock your socks off. Clara is not one to shy from a challenge, but Heather was a little bit apprehensive. Her one horrifying experience saw the gingerbread house collapse catastrophically before her own eyes, killing all those inside. But despite the two quite different aspirations, they both agreed on something essential: one gingerbread house was coming, and it was coming soon. After scrolling through pinterest for seemingly hours for inspiration, or achievable inspiration, we’d met our match. We had decided on a gingerbread greenhouse, with built- in fairy lights and little glass windows. It’d looked ideal online, and pretty easy to create, I mean, what could go wrong. Isn’t that how these stories always start? We’d been sent the dough over from Sweden, so all it took was for two girls to create a template, a baking strategy for our relatively small oven, a ton of extras and any idea of how to do it. Research was key to success, It turned out that you need a thick base for the gingerbread to not be a flimsy, crumbly mess. The best slices were those with more junk in the trunk, but they in comparison were heavier and sort of toppled when trying to glue them into each other. But the fatter slices meant they weren’t all perfect when they came out of the oven. Plus one of us happened to be rather forgetful in some places and some pieces ended up a little on the burnt side. As soon as the decision was made that 3





Heather guarded the oven, that seemed ok too. When going onto finding the perfect icing consistency, the two girls also faced a little bit of a challenge. Too thick, too runny and not enough were our biggest contenders. Icing pretty and artsy, as they had seen done on Pinterest, was out of reach, and gluing down the gelatin windows with sugar also proved a threat to the integrity of the house.

Thankfully the two girls on princes street make a good team. Where one lacks patience, they make up for in creativity, and best of all: they never give up. After a few faulty batches of icing and additional burns of melted sugar they could successfully observe a gingerbread house of the finest quality powdered in white sugary snow and surrounded by edible christmas trees. Tired, but with a smile on their faces they brought up the camera and pictured what they would later proudly refer to as “their masterpiece”. It might have taken almost a workday to finish this edible creation, but they couldn’t have been prouder. When the pictures were taken, they both yawned while carefully avoiding to look at the big pile of dishes in the kitchen corner. They looked at each other, turned off the lights and said: Let’s go to bed.

This Year, For Them, I'll Paint My Nails LAURA



see my grandmas sitting in their different kitchens. Patiently. Always busy. Enduring. Sufferers of the constant need of surviving anything that comes their way, and yet, remain hopeful. Conscious of the time they’ve had to live in. Oblivious, long ago perhaps, of the change they would have to adapt to. The warmest of hugs, despite the distance. A voice on the other side of the phone that sometimes lowers. Worryingly perhaps. The surrender of acknowledging that time goes by. Encapsulated in their pills. Locked in their tired minds. Two atypical women, each in their own way. The shining shadow of a past that still haunts us. The boiling patience of a generation that fades away.

inhabit it. They embrace it. In their own way, they give me wings. For one I will always polish my nails. Just in case someone (who I believe now to be me) ever decides to look at them. For the other, the insatiable tenacity to always be who I want. Even if they don’t understand. Even if it’s from afar. This year, unlike others, they will not offer me an extra serving. We will not have to fight. But this year, for them, I’ll polish my nails; impressing all passers-by.

I see in my grannies everything that I wish I could become. With a pinch of salt, almost inexplicably. Hands with perfectly polished nails, reflections of the hard work that inevitably leaves a scar behind it. Photo albums covered in memories. Brushstrokes of a lifetime that I wish was very far from being over. I might have inherited from them both a lot more than I ever imagined. The tenacity to overcome a life very far from easy. The sweetness, the kindness of always wishing the best to your surroundings, not even glimpsing at the weight you carry behind.

Despite not understanding my world, they PEOPLE


I Became a Stereotype. CAT



y hair is long and blond, I attend workout classes multiple times a week and prefer an organic green tea with lemon, ginger and cracked black pepper. The mirror is as confused as I am. I am hiding out the pandemic in a stereotype, finding comfort in the anonymity provided by my new appearance. As the pandemic robbed my chosen life, I went and stole another. The first lockdown provided time to grow out my short coupe; an expensive visit to the hairdressers took care of the blond. The finishing touch was a lavish gym membership that doubled as a postcode escape and entry ticket to a mystery world I’ve always wanted to discover. While buzzwords like “soul cycle”, “EMOM” and “barre” previously only featured in LA beauty guru vlogs, they now dominate my google calendar notifications. I have mounted futuristic stationary bikes, fallen face-first into fitness torture racks and cracked my spine hanging off an aluminium folding chair in the name of Iyengar yoga. The secretive world of fitness has revealed to be dimly lit workout spaces where inflammatory techno blasts and attractive women sweat fashionably. It is a microcosm where language is replaced by mantras and countdowns where you yell in constant excitement for yet another round of excruciating cardio. It’s a world I judge profusely but can’t leave. There is something about the almost cult-like atmosphere that holds you hostage. You’re part of a secret society of people who are healthy and disciplined. You get to wear work out leggings without being a fraud and practice an air of slight superiority. Yet, the flashy workout sets and bedazzled water bottles cover up a genuine truth. Movement is transformative. Pushing through your limits is freeing. Fitness affects more than just your scale, it teaches you restrictions are nothing but perception. Ironically, my escapism has led me right back to where I was running from. Yet this time around my head isn’t a home for self-pity and fear but one of focus and determination. Fitness returned some of the control I had lost and gifted me with a new form of self-mastery that has made me more curious than ever. If blond has managed to teach me all this, what will red have in store? 5


Anne Boleyn: The Queen of Henry’s Life Her feminism, Her Power, and Why Henry Really was a True Simp HEATHER



C R E D I T: N A T I O N A L

veryone who knows anything about royalty in the UK, knows about Henry the 8th. Maybe it’s the controversy, the scandal or his brooding portrait, but there is no denying his longevity in the history books. But those six sorry wives? They were simply pawns in the game of the Tudor dynasty and written off faster than you can utter a breath.

But Anne Boleyn, arguably the true love of Henry’s life, met her end in a way which is captivating as it is brutal. Their affair started as Anne became a lady in waiting to Henry’s then wife, Katherine of Aragon. Anne grew up formally in Europe, surrounded by women in power, and the large question as to whether women should be given equal status to their male counterparts. As a teenager, Anne served in the court of Margaret of Austria. She was it made him angry that she wasn’t complacent to his needs. She raised at a time of renaissance feminism, where most male figures would allow their daughters the suffered from multiple miscarriages, many of which were sons. opportunities to be literate and educated. Their marriage lasted 1000 days before Henry ordered Anne was not seen as a conventional be- Anne’s execution for adultery, incest and conspiring for the king’s death. The charges brought against her were to paint her auty, but her whit, her educated tongue and how as a sexual deviant that no man would be able to contain, let well travelled she was entranced the king. alone a king, to protect his honour. Henry bombarded Anne with countless letters, and the two even used a Book of Hours to pass between each other, to send love notes. Anne swore she would not be a mistress, however. For their love to work, Henry would have to leave his wife.

The only crime Anne committed was her failure to produce a male heir to the throne. The pressure on the king to have a male and continue the Tudor bloodline was immense, especially after he had sacrificed his kingdom for this woman. Her final words, that she perhaps didn’t show him the ‘humility and reverence’ that he deserved, ultimately meant she herself agreed that her whit, sharp tongue and cleverness, all what attracted the Henry broke from the Church of Rome, king, led to her ultimate destiny divorced his wife, and changed the faith of Engof being the first executed. land to be with her. He really set the tone of religious divide for the next 500 years for one woman. And the irony? Their #simp daughter, Elizabeth, was one of the best remembered Queens of Anne soon found she was jealous of all time. Sucks for you Henry. Henry’s wandering eye. As he expected her to sit quietly and play dumb to his marital affairs, PEOPLE


It all Started Wit

The Girls from Book Nook Talk About going Vir


magine a room, covered n green book shelves that are filled to the brim with titles ranging from Frankenstein to Bosh’s Healthy Vegan Cookbook. The scent of grinded coffee-beans lingering in the air, the gentle buzz from conversations bouncing off the walls. A place where everyone is welcome – a real-life Central Perk café. Where the elderly come to socialize and where students anchor down for the day, highlighters and post-it notes sprawled across their tables. A big, comfy sofa, a few tables and many, many books. Large, frameless windows facing the high-street, creating the perfect people-watching spot. A dog-friendly; child-friendly; all-round friendly zone. That is what English graduates Leanne

Brown and Jasmine Stenhouse did two years ago. They imagined this space. Dreamed about this place. Joked about opening a bookstore/café that would become their workplace. Then they adopted Nikes’ slogan and just did it. The concept is simple: There’s books, bagels, baked goods and beverages. A few literature-related bits and bobs to browse through around the till, whilst waiting for your hot-drink-of-choice to be served. Enough seats for the small staff to manage. And so far, this concept is proving a success. Since The Book Nook first opened its doors on 24 Upper Craigs in Stirling back in September this year, Leanne and Jasmine has hardly had a moment of rest. Today is no different, so both of them breathe a sigh of relief as

we sit down for a chat in their busy venue – it’s the first time since breakfast that they’ve taken a break. “The one thing I would say to someone who’s thinking of starting their own business, is: Be prepared for it to take over your whole life,” says Jasmine. She is currently never off the clock, with the store and a ten-monthold baby waiting for her at home. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says, “the response we’ve gotten from people has been incredible!” Then she excuses herself to run over and help diffuse the queue



of thirsty customers lining up by the till. Left at the table is Leanne: A bubbly, positive and accommodating book-lover. After making sure Jasmine’s got everything covered, she proceeds to retell the Cinderella story of how this place came to be. Born from a drunken chat over lunch at City Walls, The Book Nook is the labour of love, intense research and scrupulous planning. Neither of the girls come from families with a background in business: They had to learn from scratch. “After our boozy lunch we stumbled into Waterstones and found ‘How to start a business for dummies.’ That’s where it

th Goosebumps

ral, Dreams Coming True and How it all Began so much space it has been easy to adjust in regard to social distancing,” says Leanne. When asked about what it’s been like opening in the midst of a pandemic, Leanne shrugs and points out that they don’t have much to compare it to.

all began, recalls Leanne, with a laugh. Soon after, she managed to get Jasmine a job at her office. With the synced schedules, they would head home together after work to spend hours on Pinterest, finding inspiration and ideas for their future business. A two-year-long process was then set in motion. Building a business-plan; securing loans; finding a suitable venue. Paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork. But the girls enjoyed this part too, as it taught them the value of patience and perseverance. “This venue was actually our third choice, but now we’re so happy that we went with it. It’s absolutely perfect and with

table quick enough. But, as Leanne points out: “being too popular is quite a good problem to have in the times we’re living through.” And their success is not bound by borders. Last month, a meme titled ‘How it started & how it’s going’ on The Book Nook’s Twitter-page went viral. Today it sits on more than 600,000 likes from people

“To be honest, I feel like it might actually have helped us – especially in terms of students. With the lockdown and all teaching being online, they’re probably spending way more time in cafés than they would’ve normally.” And that homeaway-from-home feeling which customers keep complimenting the staff on, is what both Jasmine and Leanne was aiming for across the globe – many of when setting up their shop. whom have contacted the girls asking how to support “We’ve always the business from respectiimagined it from a custove countries. mer’s perspective. A place where people can come in, Leanne couldn’t sit for the whole day, read believe her eyes, waking up a book, have some tea and in the morning and seeing just relax,” explains Leanthe massive response to ne. her tweet: “It was insane! And people are so lovely, This laid-back telling us they’ll come approach has however also visit when they travel to received a few bad responScotland…Can’t believe we ses from customers, disapwent viral!” pointed over not getting a

”Their forces have more than joined, they’ve intertwined.”


The meme shows a four-year-old tweet by Leanne, stating that she’d just spent 3 hours imagining owning a bookshop that also sold baked goodies. The thread then shows Jasmine commenting on the brilliance of this business idea, suggesting that they’d join forces. Today, the girl’s forces have more than joined – they have fully intertwined. Having met at uni, Jasmine and Leanne first bonded over their mutual love of a series of horror books: “It all started with goosebumps,” says Jasmine with a big smile, returning to the table having dealt with the cohort at the counter. “And now we work together, alongside my partner and her brother, running our dream-shop – pretty crazy when you think about it.” Books have been a constant in both of their lives, no matter what else has been going on, they’ve been there and available to dive into at all times. That’s the type of space they now want to provide to Stirling residents. And In my opinion, they’re pretty much nailing it.




Life After Experim HEATHER


I was going, it no longer mattered that it wasn’t guaranteed, what mattered was that I at least tried. I was taking heavy pain relief, as well as multiple drugs a day to combat MS, give it a couple more years and I would’ve been in a wheelchair permanently. After fundraising efforts from friends, family, work colleagues and helpful strangers, the £40000 was raised. Elaine was booked for 24th September 2018. Were you nervous? When I first got there, we were placed in the Russian quarters


laine Dalgleish sits across from me, now aged 54, shoulder-length brown hair and a bright smile. On her lap sits two poodles, both fighting for her attention, but she is too focused to take notice, recollecting her story. Elaine (my mother,) was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2014, following a series of continuous kidney infections, and pins and needles in her body from the waist down. She described herself as otherwise feeling fine, and at that stage, she could still walk fine. An 9


MRI confirmed doctors’ suspicions, that it was MS, where your immune system mistakenly attacks your brain and nerves. The doctors told her she wouldn’t die, but it was likely she could die from complications. In a short time, she deteriorated rapidly, she couldn’t walk or cut up her own food. Her otherwise normal health had been torn apart and she walked with her grandmothers’ old cane for short distances and mostly had to use a wheelchair. MS formally has no cure, but it does have experimental treatment, Ha-

ematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT,) available in Russia for £40,000, with no guarantees. The treatment is still not fully available in the UK as you must fit certain criteria as the treatment is still going through rigorous testing and can be unpredictable. Even with the slim odds, she felt her health had declined so rapidly and that her quality of life was so poor, that the odds were better than what she had now. Were You Scared? I didn’t really have a choice. Yes, it was scary, but at the rate

” You are born again, in a body MS free ” as there was no space for me in the ‘foreign’ quarters and that was very scary, as it was barren and outdated. It wasn’t even guaranteed that I would be allowed to get the treatment until I’d gone through medical testing. The treatment was over a span of 4 weeks, consisting of - getting a full medical

mental Treatment from X-rays, blood tests, to a full MRI to check your suitability. She had five days of being pumped full of steroids twice a day, the removal of stem cells, then intense three times a day chemotherapy for 4 days. Prior to the chemotherapy, you are made to shave your head, as the hospital didn’t want to risk the chances of hair falling into the catheter resulting in infection. Elaine notes that her husband actually was the one who got to cut and shave her head, she laughs at the thought. Finally, your stem cells are replanted into your system, known as your ‘born again day.’ What is your born-again day? It’s your new life, a complete wipe of your system. Based around the Iris flower, on this day you get your stem cell party, where you get a new life badge, you drop three splashes of dry ice from the container that your stem cells were stored in onto the floor and everyone claps for you. Kind of like ringing the bell after you finish cancer treatment, everyone gets biscuits and tea and celebrates your new life ‘MS free.’ Following your party, you are put into

isolation until your white blood cells increase usually for around 10 days. Only doctors, nurses and the daily cleaner were allowed into your hospital room. Did you like isolation? I mean it wasn’t bad, it was hard. But the staff made the room super clean and the armed guards in every building made you feel safe. A form of Russian pain medication is referred to Ketamine in the UK, which basically took away the discomfort, but I won’t be eager to try it again soon. The food wasn’t exactly gourmet, but highlights included the steak and cooked apples. It was hard knowing I was alone, but I had a great support system who were poised to answer my calls at any time. Leaving the hospital, Elaine knew her journey was far from over, she remarks she actually flew first class on the way home to reduce the chance of catching infection with her low immune system. How was first-class British Airways?

I slept most of the way in all honesty, I was very tired, a little bit emotional. I had to wear a facemask and be incredibly clean, I wore them and used lots of hand sanitizer even before corona was a thing! But we did get a lot of freebies and my husband made full advantage of that! And I did sneak a couple of glasses of free champagne before I slept.

difficult, I’ve had delays with getting a hernia and my physio stopping because of COVID. But now I’m no longer in pain, I can walk better than I have done and I no longer take any of the heavy doses of medication I did. I wish I would’ve gone sooner, as soon as I was diagnosed in fact before most of the serious damage was done.

So, it came down to the big question, almost two years on since the treatment to cure MS. I was a little apprehensive to ask such a personal question to my own mother, just from how desperate I knew she was all those years ago for it to be a success. We don’t talk about it much, but I know some have judged her on the treatment not ‘working’ and that has hurt her.

Do you have any advice for other MS sufferers who are thinking of the treatment? Do it, go and get the treatment. If it doesn’t work, tell them at least you tried, and that’s the most important thing of all.

Did the treatment work? Yes. Definitely. Maybe not in ways that people had hoped, but in ways that I didn’t expect. It’s not a miracle cure, you can’t expect to go there and magically be better and be able to walk and run. It’s slow and it’s

”A wild Iris blooms by itself in a dark forest” RumI P E O P L E 10

The Ghost of Boyfriends CLARA




ver since the 14th of May 2016, I have calculated my life in heartbreaks. That is when my high school sweetheart Ewan and I ended our relationship, and I started to feel broken. The feeling of loss was unfamiliar to me before that, and since then something within me constantly felt out of order. Then finally we ended. I don’t think I’ve ever hurt this much. I love you more than I’ve ever loved someone else, and it hurts so much pretending that everything is normal. 14/05-2016 The note was taken on my computer that day I experienced my very first heartbreak. Since then, I have been obsessing over the boys I meet, why they leave me, what I do wrong and how I can save myself from being hurt – all without answers. The feeling I felt that time, the one that would frequently repeat itself at the end of all of my future relationships, was an abyss of grief. The heartbreak coach Johanna Danis describes it like this: “It IS emotionally absurd to have to separate from the people we love.” That was exactly how I felt. It felt absurd. Unnatural. In fact, I could not quite understand that it had happened at all. 11


CREDIT: Aine Donnellan

“Of course it’s much harder to let go if you aren’t the person who wanted to end the relationship. You then find yourself in a state of crisis. This is the same feeling as if that other person would have died,” explains the Swedish relationship coach and KBT therapist Jacqueline Joo.

ners I meet always do this to me? The truth is that I do not know why they act as they do. As my mind starts to wander, I cannot even clearly remember all the details of what actually happened with Ewan and Victor before I met Cole. Time does not heal all wounds, I thought to myself Now, almost four years and bitterly, before deciding that soone new heartbreak after that note was mething had to be done this time. written, I hang up the phone with tears It was time to take some drastic trickling down my face. Cole used the measures to receive closure and same excusing phrases and made me fall an explanation. I decided to do down the same bottomless void of grief, the one thing that everyone had as I had been in before. Once again, I always advised me not to do: conwas doomed to feel the same irreparable tact my exes. pain that high-school-sweetheart, Ewan, caused me in an empty parking lot, or According to Jacqueline perfect-boyfriend-Victor in a colourful Joo, there were two different ways bedroom on the west coast. that this endeavour could go in.

Why does it feel like the part-

“If you feel like you never

s Past... got an ending I think you can benefit [from sending them a message]. You will get emotionally calmer.” “Love is like a type of addiction. If you get an answer you get a kick (…). We can’t keep chasing this person because our brain thinks that we will get rewarded. That just triggers more anxiety.” I spent the whole afternoon in the library, trying to construct the perfect text message and struggling with the notion that texting our past lovers is something that is generally associated with failure. Most people feel like they give up when they succumb to texting someone that they have ended a relationship with. This is because the majority of the messages are constructed from a feeling of grief or desperation, as Jacquelin Joo told me, and somehow I was scared about my real intentions. Did I really message these boys just to get an explanation or was this my twisted broken mind wanting to reconnect and feel less lonely? I somehow feared that they would see right through me or that I would fall in love with them all over again and find myself even deeper down that bottomless void of sadness.

Bloom talks all things relationship I’m right now writing an article in the spirit of “social experiment” where I don’t think I’ve ever hurt I’m diving deep into ended relationsthis much. hips, behaviour and so on. (…) I can understand if this all sounds a bit I suddenly remembered soweird, but I would really appreciate mething that I stumbled upon from your help if you want to answer some The Anxiety podcast a few weeks ago. questions. (…) It was some days after Cole’s words had left me numb and I cried when // Clara the host of the show, Sofie Hallberg, put my feelings into words. One hour later Victor got back to me. Would a person even survive that?

”I dont think I’ve ever hurt this much” “When I have felt very deep for someone and really let them in, it takes a very long time for me to fully let them go. (…) A small part of me will always belong to them and I can be embarrassed about relapsing [into that feeling] even back with the first person I ever fell in love with.” After all, this message would be sent to two individuals that I once loved, and now I wanted help from them to clarify why things didn’t work out. However, I also needed to be prepared for them to feel differently, so I told myself that they would not answer.

This is such a weird coincidence. I was writing to you just a few days ago. I’m absolutely free for a chat. (…) I hope everything is good with you too. Victor’s answer caught me off guard. I was not prepared for the nervousness that hit me. Now I would have to talk to that person that I no longer knew anything about, and I would have to listen and understand his side of the story. Needless to say, our time together did not end well I thought, as I tried to prepare myself for a difficult conversation that most people would instinctively avoid.

Then I sent the message.

Hi! I hope everything is good with you. PEOPLE




met Victor a summer night one and a half years ago in a small town by the coast where my grandparents have a summerhouse. Our time together was equally intense and beautiful as it was confusing and hurtful. I was confiding in someone that I repeatedly described as ‘the kindest person I’ve ever met,’ while he later said I was a rebound after a harsh break-up. It all ended when he told me he used me to prove to himself that he was over his ex-girlfriend.

When Clara Messaged her Ex

in a great place and I couldn’t handle it.” Already then I knew that this conversation was not going to be easy. What he later referred to, as ‘not being whole’ had nothing to do with me I learnt. This was mainly because I had nothing to do with his life, not even when I was in it. I started to understand that the feeling of emotional ine-

ex when he met me. He was not in love with her, but he still missed and longed for what they had together. An unpleasant realization spread through my body, and it started to get painfully obvious that I had just been a rebound to this person on the other line. I still decided to ask the one question that had saddened me the most throughout the years. Did he even think that we were in a relations-

I don’t think I’ve ever hurt that much. A week passed, and suddenly I found myself rushing home through the streets of Stirling equally eager, as I was nervous. When dialling Victor’s number, I anxiously started to realize that it might not have been a good idea to relive all this, but now I found myself at a dead end. As I heard his voice on the phone for the first time in one and a half years, I suddenly forgot everything I wanted to ask. This feeling was so strange. Thankfully my notes in front of me clearly displayed the first question: Were you in love with me? Silence fell between us. “Yeah, I was. I think that’s what made it all so weird. I should have been in love, but then I wasn’t 13


quality between us was what had also made me so lost and confused at the time. He had meant the world to me back then, and when things were broken off I felt simply like a brick in his game. When thinking about it, that was exactly how Cole made me feel during the last couple of weeks. Maybe he was not my perfect fit after all? Victor went on to explain how he still had feelings for his

hip? A minute of nothing passed before he answered. “I would say that we were not together.” “Our relationship, mostly because of me, just became so weird. I would say that when one is together both parts give equally as much, and I didn’t give you that much.”

x’s, She Didnt Quite Know what to Expect... The end of what was Victor and me had haunted me for a really long time, and as he spoke about it I started to realize that he had regretted it too. “I needed a clear end and I ended it because I didn’t manage to both fulfil myself and be together with you at the same time. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m not very happy with how I ended it all.” He calmly kept explaining how he thought that if we had continued to see each other he would have collapsed. That night that he told me that he used me, I left while he stayed in bed having an anxiety attack. According to him, it would have been just a matter of time until he was to break completely. I didn’t know about any of that. Instead, I biked home with a broken heart that night and spent the following months feeling like I was slowly dying. “If you didn’t hate me then already, you would have hated me at the end of that month,” he said. I don’t think I’ve ever hurt that much, I thought to myself. As the phone call ended and we wished each other good luck with studies, articles and relationships I felt like I could finally breathe again. Most of what Victor

had said had been extremely hurtful to hear, but listening to his slightly metallic voice on speakerphone in my tiny little room also made me sort of distant to it. It was the harsh truth, but it did not seem to hit me that bad.

from Ewan. In a way I understood why he did not answer me – It is simply not a pleasant feeling to relive past heartbreaks. Despite all that I could not help but feel a little bit

”One can miss what was once was, without for that matter, wanting to have it back” Maybe it was because so much time had passed since it all happened, or because I was not in love with him now, but in a way, it was relieving to get told the truth: I had mainly been a cause of anxiety to him, which made me realize that this heartbreak had been for the best. It was now time to let go of it. Despite how cliché it might sound, I realized that it was not about me as a person. We just did not work as a couple.

disappointed. After all, that was the boy who started this whole journey in May 2016. I would have loved to talk to him again, but instead, I had to happily resign to my memories of him and let go. With Jacqueline Joo’s words in the back of my mind, I decided to look forward.

“One can miss what once was, without for that matter wanting to have it back,” Jacqueline Joo writes on her website. At that moment it could not feel more true to me.

The start of looking forward meant being here and now. It meant somehow dealing with a broken heart that this endeavour had helped me avoid. It also meant closing the chapter of Cole and opening another, and finally, that felt somehow possible.

The phone call to Victor occurred two days after I sent the forbidden text, and at that point, I still had not heard anything back

“Of course you’re going to be happy again, but right now it doesn’t feel like that,” she told me.

I don’t think I hurt as much anymore. PEOPLE





Breath: Our Sec

eet Jack Patton: A middle-aged RAF-Solider-turned-Hot-Yoga-Instructor, speeding up the healing process of his hip-surgery, through breathing. That’s right, breathing. “I’m sitting at home losing weight just by doing breathwork and the rate at which my hip is healing is just incredible. I used to think of breathing as something you had to do – now I am first hand experiencing the true power of it,” says an ebullient Jack. Just weeks out of getting his hip replaced, the gym-owner is finding his footing with more ease each day. That is not to say, however, it is a facile experience. Jack is built like a powerhouse and comes from a background of ultra-endurance-sports, but when explaining the horrors of recovery, the agony in his voice is tangible. “It’s pain like I’ve never felt it before. I can’t even begin to think about my hipbone, because the muscles around it are giving me so much torment,” he says. Without knowing, he’d gone through life with a disfigured femoral bone, which consequently didn’t fit into his hip-socket. Being a Jackof-many-sports: rugby; football; boxing – you name it, as he aged, the injuries caused by this deformity started piling up. By the time Jack reached his forties, he was desperate for a remedy for the bodily pains he had brought on by building muscle from an imbalanced base. Then he found Hot Yoga.

Think 90 minutes of intense yoga, per15


”It’s free, marks the start of our l formed in a room heated to 40 degrees, with the same percentage of humidity. Think pools of sweat. Think pain. “That first session in the hotbox: I thought ‘these people are insane!’ It was the hardest, most torturous thing I’d ever done,” says Jack. Waking up the next day, however, he couldn’t believe how great he felt. Within one year he had completed the nine-week Hot Yoga Teacher Training.

“I dropped a stone and a half of my frame and felt

cret Superpower Other practices that Jack swears by, is breathwork and cold-exposure. He is throughout the year a regular visitor to cold-water-pools across the Stirling Area. “When you can exert that power over your mind, to endure a cold shower or a dip in a semi-frozen lake: that is powerful stuff ”, says Jack, adding that it is proven to help fend off both anxiety and depression. All these passions have a common denominator: Breathing. Yoga is movement marrying breath, breathwork is, well, breathwork, and focusing on your breathing during cold-exposure provides you with an anchor to latch onto through the pain.

life and once it’s gone, so are we” better than I had in my early twenties,” says Jack. Eight years on, he cannot wait to get back to teaching again. Two of the main benefits that come with the practice, according to Jack, is the improved lung-capacity and the mental resilience you gain from persisting in the heat. Another perk is all the compliments, Jack explains with a chuckle. “I used to have good male friends coming up to me – big, muscular blokes – asking for my secret. They could see the radiance in my skin. ‘I do yoga’, wasn’t the answer they expected.”

Jack swears by the breath: “It’s free, marks the start of our life and once it’s gone, so are we.” Just like his 87-year old dad, an avid yogi, Jack’s biggest fear in life is succumbing to dementia. “Yogis put themselves to sleep, that’s the way I want to go out. Self-euthanasia; deprivation of the breath,” he says with a smile. But for now, he is content to keep breathing and spend the second half of his life passing on the knowledge he’s gathered so far, to anyone willing to listen. PEOPLE


A Jungle is Thriving in I

n rare occasions, life brings us the opportunities we never expected will be in front of us. You find a place where you want to let your roots grow. Where you feel safe, where you feel you can be you, and after rooting - everything blooms. A good start is key to every project, but sometimes the best is yet to come. And things come when you don’t expect them. Glasgow Plant mama found her place in Glasgow. Many attempts at how to make a living. A lot of moving around. She couldn’t keep her plants anywhere because what if she had to move? What would she do with them? She gave away most of them, but then she found Glasgow. “Nature has always been there, and it has always been a big part of my life,” she says. Her passion for plants started when she lived in the States, where her mum had a conservatory full of plants. Her eyesight suddenly turns up, and I can almost see the conservatory myself as she stares into the wall. I visited her thriving jungle in Dennistoun in a very cold but very sunny December morning. She welcomed me with the 17



same kind smile she welcomed me any other time I had been to her shop. Perhaps her facemask did not let me see her smiling, but I definitely knew she was. Velvet green, or perhaps blue, facemask. A soft landing into an overwhelming world of botanical wonders. It was the middle of the day. Like any other business, she had clients coming in. In this particular case, it was a couple who were looking for some plants for their home. I waited for her to finish her sale. The same kind smile and the same warm welcome. They had multiple locations in mind, and they had done a thorough examination of lighting and space. Plant mama had answers to all their questions. A

minute description of every item they enquired as if she knew her plants on a personal level. Not only a minute description but also, in my opinion, a wonderful taste for interior design. She knows the spaces, listens to people. She will always find a perfect fit for anyone. No matter how much sunshine your window gets, no matter how big of a space, no matter the budget. The couple had so many requests I had long ago lost track of what they had asked for in the first place. But she knew. She went through all the options with the patience of someone who genuinely wants you to find the perfect plant for that exact spot you’ve got in mind. She remembered everything. After exposing

many options for every particular request, choices were made. But paying wasn’t the end. “They all have what I like to call Plant Mama warranty; just give me a message if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to help,” she said. Imagine not only buying a plant, but also professional help in case you need it. I know I would. She hands them the card reader. One of those minimalistic white squares that connect to some kind of electronic device. “I feel like a proper business now, I have my own card reader and all.” I suppose it is the small things that make you realise what your reality is. Something as common and as irrelevant as a card machine. Truth is, she’s always been what she calls herself “a crazy plant lady”.

n Dennistoun... Never imagined her plants will allow her to make a living. “And now I’m a full-time plant mama” she proudly and happily recognises. Always trying to make ends meet, as everybody does, she recently found a way to make a living out of her passion. And I’m very sure how much she knows, and how much she cares, has a lot to do with her success. As the couple left, she presses her hands against the glass door. Almost farewelling her friends. And by her friends, I mean the plants. I asked if she felt sad every time someone bought one of her plants, and she said yes. “Particularly the big ones, they’ve been with me for longer, so I grow a personal attachment to

out of what you’ve grown yourself, I guessed the number wouldn’t be small. And it isn’t. “If I’m being conservative, probably around 500”. Imagine having 500 plants in your house! She has less now because some have been moved to the shop, but she recognises there is still a lot of them. The business idea came actually from her partner. Having to jump over plants to get into the shower and smashing your head against plant pots in the wall. That’s not a very pleasant experience, I imagine as she tells me the story. They decided it was time to let some of them go. At this time, the world was already living through


in her house. “There were people queuing outside my garage from half an hour before we opened until way after we closed.” Connections were made. And the business bloomed. She thanks Glasgow for the opportunity. “I think people here really care about supporting local businesses, you wouldn’t find this atmosphere anywhere else”. The jungle in Dennistoun has been open for less than a month, and I only wish it will stay for much much longer. “I had the feeling I had support, and that made me believe I could do it,” she says. What is the worst mistake people make with their plants? I asked. She

”Imagine not only buying a plant, but also proffesional help incase you need it” The Plant Mama Warranty

them”. The sadness in her eyes almost disappears when she starts telling me how she grew her plants. Almost every single plant in her shop has been grown by her. The majority of them come from cuttings. I couldn’t help but being curious about how many plants she has at home. After managing to open a plant-shop

a world pandemic, so Plant mama wasn’t going to work. “I was in furlough, so I had a lot more time to dedicate to the things I really cared about, and relax because I could still make ends meet, and I know it’s bad to say but it made me unbelievably happy”. And that’s how Plant Mama was born. Her first plant pop-up was back in July

hesitated for a little bit. Too many tips came into her head. Too many things she wanted to say. But she chose “overloving their plants” above all else. Her description of “overloving” is a sugar-coated synonym of overwatering it or worrying too


much. “Plants are made to survive; they don’t need us as much as we think. Sometimes you just need to let them do their thing.” However, before you let yours die, I would message her just in case. She would be devastated to know one of her plants was killed and she couldn’t do anything about it. If you’re lost on what to get for Christmas, support Plant Mama. Give those who have fought for it, the opportunity to bloom, and to thrive. She assures the biggest personal attachments to plants have nothing to do with which one is the biggest or the most expensive. So, if you wish to find a little rooty friend, I would definitely visit Glasgow’s Plant Mama. I doubt you’ll find plants grown with such care in many other places. But do remember; don’t overwater them. They like their independence.



Ho Ho Home

Ashley Powell Talks Ab

tant factors such as shape, form and texture. The most important thing is to have fun and be experimental and if you’re stuck, I always resort back to the trusty rule of three.

THREE, THE MAGIC COMBINATION One may make a space look empty or the object look lonely. Five may be overwhelming. Why three? The rule of three isn’t just in almost all aspects of design from editorial to interiors, it also spans across so many other subjects from literature to maths. In interiors we best relate wo thousand and twenty has this back to the philosophy of Feng been a roller-coaster of a year, but Christmas is certainly not cancelled. Shui which teaches to arrange pieces within space in order to create a baThis year more than ever, there is lance or harmony of energy between a strong focus on togetherness and appreciation for the small things that the individual and their natural surroundings. Feng Shui states that spread joy and cheer even if we are odd numbers create greater energy apart. It may be a small gathering in a space than even numbers which this year, so why not make it extra contract energy. A space or arrangespecial with some Christmas amment that successfully uses the rule biance and décor? Welcome to our of three will look balanced, more guide to decorating this Christmas, relaxing on the eye and will also feel the year we stayed home… much larger than it actually is.



Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive or unsustainable. I’m here to show you how you can create a beautiful scene with many things you can probably gather from around your house. When styling a scene, it’s important to not overcomplicate or cram too much stuff or ‘props’ in. Gather more items than you need and place them all out in front of you so you can clearly see everything you have to work with. When doing this, don’t just think about colour, you’ll get better results by also considering just as impor19



Christmas Crafting

eing appreciative and making the most of wh important than ever and can give you beautiful o Here are two ideas I used to give you some inspi


Create a template of your star or other sh newspapers. Cut around your template taking ca together. Once cut out, carefully stitch up from the bottom to the top leaving some extra thread tie into a loop for hanging on your tree!


I was inspired by the architecture of Stockholm’s old town to create these cut out houses which can add a playful touch to any styling scene. To do this you can use recycled card like I did or find some cardboard from around the house. I found a white paint or chalk pen worked well to decorate the façade of my building, have a play with scale and add your own artistic touch to your building to create a successful result. Cut out your façade and repeat to create the sides and reverse of your building and glue together to construct your final structure.

bout How to Style Your Home This Festive Season

The Main Event and All the Trimmings

hat we have at home this year is more organic results for your seasonal styling. iration for some sustainable crafting!

hape and draw onto a sheet of stacked are to hold the grouped sheets below to


he big day is here… You may be a pro in the kitchen but are you an Interior Designer? Don’t panic! You can dress up or dress down the décor all you like and still create a beautiful setting for your magical Christmas to unfold. When it comes to the table it’s important to remember practicality. You can create the most extravagant floral centrepiece, but someone needs to be able to pass the gravy along! My top tips are as follows.


Dried flowers and fruit are all the rage this year in a bid to bring the outdoors in so why not bring this to the Christmas table too to add a pop of colour? Alternatively, pick up some foliage whilst out on your daily exercise, these could be placed in vases or laid out along the table to add length to make everyone feel welcome at the table.


Create a welcoming and homely atmosphere with candles and soft creams and neutrals these will go great with almost anything and help to relax guests whilst at the table


Table runners can make or break a table setting, use them to your advantage and these will ground your scene and provide a fantastic backdrop to your Christmas dinner. Personally, I love using a simple brown paper roll as this isn’t only sustainable, but it also makes it much less hassle if someone were to spill the red wine!

C r e d i t: A s h l e y






The Best Trailing Plants S

- With Heather Dalgleish -

o, you want to hop on the trend and have plants that trail throughout your home, but you’re overwhelmed with choice and not sure what to opt for. I feel you on that one. The world of plants is daunting – but there’s nothing better than a trailing plant to frame your space. Hanging plants are useful to provide privacy and generally look very impressive sitting proudly in your window. So, without further ado, here are the best hanging plants to add to your collection.

Devils Ivy (Pathos)

A really beautiful plant and one with rapid growth - buy it small and watch it trail. Mine has grown over a metre since I originally bought it and I can’t see it stopping. It’s a form of ivy, which means it pretty much grows with little involvement and is hard to kill. Plus, it has lots of little nodes, meaning it’s very easy to make new plants off.

Monstera Monkey Leaf

This plant actually surprised me on how much it trailed, it changed from a stagnant upright plant to my second longest. This one has the unique leaves of a miniature monstera, but with a higher concentration of new growth. This one I thought I’d lost last year after some terrible plant advice, but it fought through the pain and resurrected, which to me is a plant worth keeping. Again, it has lots of nodes, meaning you’ll be able to make extra plants in no time.

Fishbone Cactus

This one is a really interesting, wiggly plant that loves to spread out and hang. As it is a cactus, this one has slow growth and doesn’t require much water – this makes it a good plant for those who are prone to killing more needy plants. But don’t be put off by it being a succulent, it really is a beautiful plant with a lot of personality.

Trailing Jade

This plant was on my bucket list for its simplistic, but really pretty, rounded leaves and trailing stems. This one doesn’t grow quite as quickly or trail as long as the others, but it is a really beautiful plant to keep in your window. The plant grows in all directions and is really easy to care for, plus, minimal watering is perfect for this low light plant. Having one healthy plant around can help the others along, just watch out for bugs – a sticky plant like a Venus flytrap will help stave off the flies if they arrive. ENTERTAINMENT-nature


Creative Corner

with Pernille Søholm


s I found myself stuck in the third round of isolation, I was determined to make the most out of the period. Not only for my sanity but also purely for my well being. I somehow had the need to feel accomplished in one way or another. Isolation does weird things to your brain, I’m telling you. I bet anyone who has gone through isolation can relate. Anyhow, I decided it was time to pick up a new skill; crocheting. Many years ago I had tried to take up knitting which was an extremely short-lived hobby as neither my patience nor my ten thumbs were collaborating. Therefore, if I could manage to learn how to crochet in this period, I would be thrilled. Fast-forward a couple of months; I’m crocheting cloths, coasters and other various wee projects. Who would’ve thought? Whether you’re brand new to crocheting or already the king of the castle, these scrunchies are a fun, wee project to get started on. And with Christmas around the corner, they work excellently as little presents too. It’s easy, quick and small hiccups can easily be hidden and forgotten. Interested? Let’s get started!

What you need:

Yarn Crochet hook Scissor Needle (for weaving in ends)


Make sure to match the crochet hook with the right size of yarn. The yarn will say what sized hook you should use, so no need to eyeball it. For the scrunchies featured here, I have used organic cotton and acrylic yarn with a crochet hook size 3 and 4 respectively. Although acrylic makes wonderful scrunchies, it is a synthetic yarn made from plastic, so I would highly suggest using either recycled acrylic or natural yarns instead. This pattern has two variations, one smaller scrunchie and one larger. Depending on the yarn you use, the size will vary and you can therefore pick and choose whichever pattern suits the yarn and your hair the most.

How to:

1. Make a slipknot.

2. Insert the hook into the hair tie and make a

double crochet to attach. Continue doing double crochets all around the hair tie. Make sure to push the stitches together so they cover the hair tie completely. The more you do, the wigglier the scrunchie will be. Finish the round with a slipstitch.

3. Now do three chain stitches. Then do two treble

crochets in the same stitch. Afterwards, do three treble crochets in every stitch. Continue all the way around the hair tie and finish with a slipstitch.

4. VARIATIONS: The next step will vary depen-

ding on if you do a small or a big scrunchie. For the small scrunchie, do one double crochet in every stitch around the hair tie. Fasten off and weave in ends. For the big scrunchie, repeat step three except this time only do two treble crochets in every stitch. Fasten off and weave in ends.

5. And voila, one wonderful scrunchie! 23


Picture: Pernille Søholm



It’s Beginning to Look a L I

live in Sweden and I love vintage, antiques and old things. I also love finding beautiful vintage pieces and sharing them with the world at my online Instagram store @Sameness.clo. Therefore, I decided to make a selection of Christmas gift ideas based on vintage and second-hand items. Sweaters Christmas sweaters with reindeers, Santa or snowflakes. There are a lot of them now in the mass-produced fashion industry, but it's better to buy a unique sweater from the 80s or 90s. They look more stylish and fashion from these centuries is now very popular. If you don't want sweaters like this, vintage stores have hundreds of options for warm, oversized wool sweaters, sometimes hand knitted. Wash, pack, and gift it for yourself or someone else. Candlesticks and candles You can never have too many candles in winter. It is a win-win gift to anyone. Pop into any vintage boutique or marketplace and you will find thousands of cool items in excellent condition – from porcelain, silver, wood, hand-painted, gilded etc. A set of glasses made of crystal or coloured glass If you buy glasses in these materials in stores it will cost you several hundred euros. But in vintage or second-hand boutiques, you can find excellent options, in perfect condition and to a much cheaper price. This gift will be unique and perfect for drinking a glass of mulled wine a cold Christmas evening. Cups, saucers and spoons You can make your own vintage set of porcelain cups, plates and gilded spoon. They are perfect for having a cup of warm chocolate or tea in the cold winter. By the way, don’t forget to buy delicious Christmas tea from local brands so you can support their business. And your gift box will become unique and made with love. 25


Lot Like Vintage Christmas Finally, a few more packing tips:

Pictures : Anna Makrentsova

Board games of the past A surprising gift, since few people are looking for games in second-hand shops. In fact, you can very often find interesting options: the old Monopoly, Scrabble, Bingo or others. Even classical chess, checkers can be found, and vintage pieces also often look aesthetically pleasing, made of wood, in beautiful wooden boxes. Perhaps you can even find old puzzles. Check with the seller if the sets are complete. This gift is a great idea if you don't know what to give. Books It is always a win-win gift for every reason. Put in more effort and search for rare editions of classic literature and you may find books of incredible beauty.

Order a few crates from any packaging store, buy silk paper, find different vintage cards for Christmas, buy a spruce branch, dried oranges and berries. You can also create and design your packaging yourself without plastic decorations. It is exciting and in this way, you can create your own unique gift for any person. Where to find vintage items: Instagram - by hashtags associated with the words: t.ex. vintage, second-hand, vintage boutique, vintage gifts, vintage shop, add the name of your country or city etc.). Tradera – is a Swedish marketplace auction site but many sellers ship worldwide. eBay, Asos marketplace, Etsy, Depop Local second-hand shops, vintage markets, flea markets, vintage shops. They are a must in every city, I’m sure. Many places sell vintage items, you just need to search a little. But it is not at all difficult, and even fascinating and inspiring to look for unusual and unique things, and then create unique gifts from them.

Let's create a sustainable, conscious, eco-friendly world together with vintage. I wish you a warm, cosy and magical Christmas. AN N A





Winter Blues

hilst the far and few complain and groan whenever they hear the slightest jingle of a sleigh bell, the Winter season would not be complete without Christmas music. Some will cover their ears and protest that the songs are irritating, before finding they are humming these tunes to themselves, transfixed in the addictive spell the melodies hold. Others will have these songs on full blast as soon as Halloween ends. Personally, I tend to be a ‘Christmasstarts-on-December-1st’ person, but with lockdown and all this extra time on my hands, I couldn’t resist getting my festive spirit underway. Without further ado, grab a hot chocolate or a mulled wine, get those decorations down from the loft, get your Christmas cooking on the go, or finally begin to fill out cards, as my Christmas playlist is sure to warm your soon-to-be tinsel wrapped heart. Papa Elf – Elf Soundtrack Elf is my favourite Christmas film, and the opening music is enough to get any festive blood pumping. For those who have never watched Elf, Will Ferrell stars as ‘Buddy the Elf ’, a human who was raised by Christmas elves. After realising he does not belong in the elf world, he travels from the North Pole to New York, to find his real Dad. As he enters the real world, Buddy sees that no-one, including his own family, has any Christmas spirit and does his best to bring some into the world. This year, Christmas will be a difficult time for a lot of people with COVID-19 massively affecting income and fa27

mily loss. So what better way to start a festive playlist with the track from a film all about believing in Christmas. This song is also great to drive to, so while you’re driving home for Christmas, make sure this is turned up.

Step Into Christmas – Elton John This is my favourite Christmas song of all time. It is happy, upbeat, and almost welcomes everyone to the festive season. Christmas is a time to be lively and full of happiness, and this track fills my heart to the brim of Christmas spirit. With catchy tunes, a funky piano and cheerful lyrics, it is hard not to get the old moves going. Michael Bublé Now I have shown you my opening tracks, it is time to talk about the King of Christmas. From ‘It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas’ to ‘Cold December Night’, Bublé knows how to warm hearts on a cold night. One of my favourite parts of Christmas is my youngest sister, my cousin and I, all gathering together to decorate my gran’s tree whilst listening to Michael Bublé’s Christmas album. In this time of uncertainty and waiting for reviews on tiers, it is difficult to know whether we will be able to do that this year. Even though this Christmas is going to be a lot different, Michael Bublé’s album will remind me of a happier Christmas but also to be thankful for what I do have this year. Bublé’s voice is calming and warm, making his Christmas songs chilled but jazzy at the same time. Christmas Classics:




Christmas definitely would not be the same without the classics. These are the songs that come on at Sainsbury’s far too early in the year, everyone complains about it and announces at the dinner table how outrageous it is to hear Christmas music before Halloween. Songs like ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ and ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’, are all songs that everyone knows. The energy that the artists bring to these tunes certainly gets those Christmas boogies defrosted once your auntie has had too much to drink. Also, songs like ‘Stop the Cavalry’, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ and ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ are slightly slower songs but still have a strong dance feel. Not forgetting the females of Christmas, Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue and The Ronettes. ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ is an iconic song for those who want a winter romance, have a winter romance, or just think it is a bop. Finally, although incredibly controversial, ‘Fairytale of New York’ reminds me of fun college days. Thankfully, the new modification of the song brought out this year gives a more inclusive listen. You can’t have a Christmas without your parents telling you how Kirsty MacColl tragically lost her life in a boat accident whilst she was diving with her family in 2000, so this song remains a favourite in my playlist. I hope you all enjoy Christmas songs as much as I do, and that you think my playlist is as festive as Santa’s sleigh. Whatever holidays you celebrate through the Winter, I wish you all the best!

Winter Solstice: The Eighth Sabbat in Wicca Tradition NIAMH


ade legal in 1951, witchcraft has a long and complicated history that ranges from the patriarchal deeming of subversive women as committing a crime punishable by death; to the foolproof Halloween character that musters up images of pointy hats, broomsticks and cobwebs; to the contemporary practise of Gardnerian Wicca, who’s witchcraft centres around the practise of magic, worship of Goddesses and other Dieties; and respecting nature’s cycles. In the Northern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice falls around the 21st of December every year, as one of eight annual Wiccan rituals. Most people know this as the shortest day of the year. For Witches, it is a celebration of the rebirth of the sun, and a shift away from darkness, symbolising new life and revitalisation in the barren cold of Winter. Also known in Wicca circles as one of eight ‘Sabbats’ that revolve around the stages of the sun over the course of the year, and respected as lynchpins for Wiccan spirituality. Swept with a broom, and blessed with the four elements - air, fire, water and earth - a consecrated circle is drawn on the ground within which the ritual will take place. Most Witches seek a natural environment, unscathed by man built structures: a beach, the forest or mountainous area could be a perfect location - Witches want to feel close and connected with the Earth in it’s most natural and untainted form whilst they celebrate.

Spiritual practises leading up to the Winter Solstice include those that erase the emotional and physical baggage accumulated over the course of the past year. These practises aren’t necessarily associated with Witchcraft, but are more focused around a personal feeling of connection with the Earth’s cycles and their symbolism on a personal level. Some of the Wiccan traditions that characterise the celebration also include inviting symbolic plants into the home. Ivy represents the continuous cycle of life, mistletoe to represent fertility, and evergreen to serve as a reminder of the perseverance of greenery and life even in the depths of a dark winter, as well as holly to symbolise protection bringing an air of safety and comfort to the home. Some Wiccans also ‘smudge’ their homes. This refers to the use of herbal incense to cleanse and refresh a living space, to aid with the spiritual sense of re-birth that comes with the Solstice. Sage, mistletoe or pine incense are amongst those used: the stick is lit and its scented smoke is physically carried around the entrances and window frames in the home.


rative evocation of light in the dark, as with the sun in the dark winter. Some share cake and drinks, and decorate evergreen Yule trees. Others bathe, consume warm drinks and write down intentions for the new cycle of life into which they are about to emerge. Winter Solstice can be celebrated regardless of faith or spiritualities, as simply a means of acknowledging a sense of connection with natural cycles, as a physical and figurative shift takes place in the solar system, as well as within oneself. When was there a better excuse to cleanse your environment and experience a revived sense of self? Synchronising somewhat of an individual fresh start with the emergence of the sun’s new cycle of light could be beneficial mentally for anyone: Witch or no Witch - negative energies expelled, and a spiritual re-birth are not restricted sacred practises.

Other traditions on this Sabbat include lighting candles or bonfires as a figuENTERTAINMENT


Pushing Through the Fog F

- Dealing With Winter Depression -

or many, the holidays are a joyous time of year. The warm twinkle of fairy lights, Christmas songs on the radio and the comfort of home-cooked meals make this the best time of year. But many of us struggle to feel joy, especially since new government restrictions and travel bans mean that some of us will be spending the holidays apart from our families. With the days getting shorter and the sun setting at 4 pm, you may find that the world outside your window mirrors your mood; dull, dark and gloomy. You may find yourself feeling unmotivated, anxious and isolated, despite the cheer of the holiday season. These feelings are more common than you may think. In fact, new research has shown that in the UK, one in three suffers from winter depression, or the aptly abbreviated Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is predicted that this figure will rise during the current winter lockdown, so if you find yourself feeling this way, you’re certainly not alone. If you suffer from SAD or are feeling low over the festive period, here are some tips to help you feel your best: Try to get outside every day This can be especially challenging in winter months as the weather becomes colder and wetter, making us unwilling to step outside and brave the elements. If once a day is too challenging, set yourself a goal to go for a short walk three or four times per week.Fresh air is proven to boost serotonin levels as the more fresh oxygen in your blood, the more happy hormones your brain will release! It also provides greater clarity to the brain, helping you to think, focus and concentrate better. A good way to get some walking in is to ditch the car and instead walk to your nearest supermarket. Or meet up with a friend for a socially distanced walk! Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep to keep the mind and body working at their best. An irregular sleep schedule can contribute to or even cause feelings of anxiety and demotivation. SAD can also cause sufferers to oversleep, so make sure to set an alarm to 29


make the most of those few hours of daylight. Relaxation apps like Calm can help out if you’re struggling to sleep. Start a creative project Research has shown that doing something creative can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as give purpose to your days inside. You could try painting along with a Bob Ross tutorial, start that book you’ve been wanting to read, try collaging with old magazines, or make some homemade gifts to send to family members. The possibilities are endless! Keep in touch with friends and family This is especially important if you’re spending the holidays apart from family. Everyone’s holidays are going to be a little more low-key this year (thanks, Covid), so make sure to send your friends and absent family a message or two to let them know you’re missing them. It’ll make them feel less alone, and it’s always reassuring to know that there are people we can talk to when we aren’t feeling our best. Try meditation or yoga to reduce anxiety Stretching and deep breathing exercises have been proven to reduce tension and feelings of anxiety. If you’re not sure where to start, apps like Headspace can show you the basics of deep breathing and getting yourself into a more positive mindset.Additionally, there are countless guided meditation and yoga practises on YouTube catered to everyone - from complete beginners to more workout-style practices. And lastly, use the upcoming holiday period to rest and reset. Taking extra care of our mental health is especially important after this turbulent year we’ve all had. Try not to stress about work or deadlines, and, for those of us lucky enough to return home, focus on spending quality time with family. If you find yourself feeling this way for the first time, don’t feel guilty about not feeling the festive vibes. This has been a difficult year for us all so it’s perfectly normal to feel a little less festive this holiday season. JASMINE


the pandemic Enola Holmes and me

ockdown and the spread of a worldwide pandemic make me feel alone, or at least rather lonely. From where I am sitting on a sofa with my best friend, observing the persistent British rain angrily throwing itself towards the rattling window, I am yet to figure out the difference between the two. The pandemic and its restrictions make it so painfully obvious that humans crave company: diverse, varied, different company - and here we are, restricted from seeing all of our friends. Up until this year I was not even sure I had a problem with being alone, and now every unintended second of it makes me squirm. After all, the only things we have are each other, and if we’re isolated - well, then we are alone. The film that we are watching from that old, rugged and surprisingly comfortable sofa is called Enola Holmes and is based on the novel with the same name by Nancy Springer. It seems to be a sort of costume drama and even though it has my interest I know these types of stories. Tragedy befalls the lady, she gets saved by a boy, and they live happily ever after. The first impression of the film is simple; the brown eyes of Enola Holmes, played by Millie Bobby Brown look right into mine when she says: “The first thing you need to know is that my mother named me Enola. (…) Enola spelt backwards reads “alone.” She would continuously tell me: You’ll do very well on your own Enola. And yet we were always together.” I am taken aback by the forwardness of the


scene. Even if it is just some wordplay with the word alone, it speaks to something within me. A little part of me thinks that this is intriguing and relatable. Maybe Enola is not the typical damsel in distress as I first thought. Maybe Enola and I are alike, even though my name sounds more like a Russian officer when it is spelt backwards, and not a beautiful wordplay. As scenes from the late 1800s play before my eyes one after the other with beautifully draped outfit changes, the story unfolds into something much bigger than just the stunning scenery of London in the 1800s. This film is very much like the books found in my bookshelf. Enola Holmes could be a title found between ‘How to Be a Feminist’ and ‘A Feminist Manifesto in 15 Suggestions’. Enola’s mother is leaving her to fight for women’s rights, or as she says herself in a heartfelt moment with her daughter: “I left for you because I couldn’t bear to have this world be your future.” When the credits start to roll I am left with Enola’s last words: “Being alone doesn’t have to mean that I have to be lonely.” It makes me realise that maybe Enola and I are the same. We might be alone, but we have to realise that it doesn’t mean we are lonely. If we hold out a little bit longer the future will be brighter. clara



Picture: Luke Stackpoole




Skip PlasticThis Christmas A



rguably, anytime food is involved, you’re set to inherit a large amount of waste. It doesn’t have to be this way. I wanted to test the hypothesis if you could make a Christmas dinner 100% plastic-free, if this is achievable on a budget, and if it works. For this experiment, the dinner would have to be vegetarian, (since our household is,) and it would have to not miss out on anything. It was to have all the trimmings of a regular roast dinner, without compromise. Your best friend in this scenario is farm shops and zero-waste shops. Of course, there are restrictions if you are off-grid and your only shop is a measly newsagent, maybe this challenge isn’t for you. But for me with access to both on my doorstep, it made shopping easier. So what was the plan? Normally, our dinners would have honey-roasted carrots and parsnips, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, gravy (very important,) and sprouts. Plus the nut roast or I guess any meat you choose. I wasn’t worried about the vegetables, as both the zero-waste shop and the farm shop offers plastic-free options to take your food home in. But the nut roast was worrying. Normally, I’d access my local Holland and Barret for an easy nut roast but that comes wrapped in single-use plastic, so I had to delve into making my own from scratch. It also meant I spent hours rummaging around the internet looking for a nut roast that wasn’t 100 miles long and contained a billion ingredients.

I chose almonds, walnuts and cashews for my base since I knew these were widely available in zero waste shops and bought a loaf of bread packaging-free to make breadcrumbs. And the best way to make gravy and utilise my plastic-free initiative? Make your own stock out of your leftovers from the week. This can be everything and anything including garlic skin, onion skin, carrot skins and tops, literally any veg you are about to throw away, you can repurpose and make stock. If you are worried about it rotting before you have time to make it, throw it in the freezer until it is time, and this stops your scraps from smelling or going bad. And cornflour is readily available to purchase zero waste style, in jars or paper bags. For Yorkshire puddings, you can buy eggs, flour and milk (yes fresh milk!) from any of your local zero-waste shops. Not to mention you can also buy your oil for your roasted potatoes and puddings. Seasoning is also very readily available, and you can purchase whatever and however much you want from zero waste stores, or sometimes farm shops depending on which you go to. So is it possible to have a plastic-free Christmas dinner? I would say yes. It is possible in terms of a veggie Christmas dinner, or even a vegan Christmas dinner too. The resources are available (for some,) the waste is minimal, and the time is now. Christmas dinner doesn’t need to result in tonnes of waste. Picture: Heather Dalgleish







Homemade Hash Browns H

ash Browns are a stable part of any breakfast, and to be honest, they’ll do nicely for any other meal. The triangular ones that come frozen are good enough, but for real satisfaction and a sense of achievement, you want to try the rosti kind with grated potatoes. They’re literally so easy that I can cook them, and I am awful at cooking. All you’ll need is a few potatoes, an onion, whichever seasoning you like best, and butter (which you can substitute for a dairy free alternative if you’re vegan.) I usually make them for myself and my partner, and we never usually use any more than 5 average size potatoes. They also go well in evening meals with tender fish like salmon, or meat like duck – happily, on their own, there’s no limits on who can eat them.

Here’s how:


Boil your potatoes on a medium heat. When they’re soft and a fork can slide in relatively easily, they’re ready to be taken out and drained. It doesn’t really matter what kind of potato you use; I like to go for a Maris Piper just because it’s big enough to hold while you’re peeling. Sweet potatoes will also suffice!

4 With the potato and onion in the

mixing bowl, add a few healthy spoonfuls of melted butter or dairy free spread. Olive oil-based spreads give them a really classy flavour, but then again, I just really love olive oil so it may be a matter of personal taste. Mix, and keep adding butter until the mixture is sticky enough to form clumps. Waxy potatoes will help this process – it will be a struggle if they are underdone.

7 Once each side has browned well

and the hash brown isn’t wanting to fall apart, you’re ready to eat! Simply put them onto a plate with whatever else you’ve prepared and season to taste.



2 Finely dice and then gently fry an

onion (or half if you’ve got a big one) with some herbs like basil, oregano and chilli flakes while the potatoes boil. Some salt flakes will also help improve the taste of your hash browns but can also be added at the end. When the onion is soft and browned, put it into a mixing bowl and keep it for later.

3Grate your potatoes into the

mixing bowl with the onion – you don’t have to peel, but I like to because it helps the hash browns look a bit more uniform. If you’re using average size potatoes, you probably want to have an onion for every 5 potatoes. Remember to add some more salt and pepper to the bowl every time a new ingredient is added.

5 Once the mixture is sticky enough, 6 Place 3-5 of the hash browns into heat up some oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat. You may want to add some of your favourite herbs to the pan to infuse the taste into your hash browns. Once it’s hot, take a clump of the mixture from the bowl and form it into a rough burger shape. If you have a circular mould for small cakes and biscuits, this will work even better. I don’t, so I choose the former method.

the pan (depending on how many you can fit.) Go with a little more oil if you’re doing a lot in one go. You want to keep the hash browns as separate as possible, so they don’t try to combine. Give them about 4 minutes to fry on each side, adding oil as it cooks away and adjusting the heat if they’re sticking. It’s probably better to overcook rather than undercook, as if the mixture isn’t sticky enough, they will just fall apart if they don’t fry well.



How Come I'm Not in the Mood For Christmas?



omorrow I start decorating my fourth Christmas tree of the season. I’ve spent the past few weeks helping my friends putting up theirs while blasting Christmas music. I’ve always been one of those annoying people that start getting into the seasonal spirit mid-November, but why not this year? Fall is still readily in my mind. It doesn’t help that the weather outside is gloomy, the streets are empty, and I’m only wearing my warm-toned sweaters. Everywhere I look online companies have dropped their Christmas collection. Silver sweaters, Christmas cookie candles, blankets with snowflakes on them. I usually live for those items, but why not this year? I haven’t even touched my Christmas playlist, haven’t started my Christmas shopping, didn’t scope out the new Christmas movies on Netflix. I woke up this morning realizing it is December 2nd - A date where it is actually acceptable to start getting into the spirit, and yet I’m still not feeling it. After narrowly ‘escaping’ another lockdown I’m one of the few lucky people who has made it home on time for the holidays. The Netherlands has another festive holiday that takes place on December 5th. Three more days but it seems like a lifetime away. I do however know I’m not the only one. When I look at my Instagram stories I either see people heavily overcompensating with decorations to make up for the fact that you can’t drink a hot chocolate with anyone but your housemate at the moment. Or I see people still sharing Halloween content as if the days haven’t passed at all. Is it really wrong to not be in the Christ-


mas spirit? This year has hardly been ideal, to put it lightly, and the circumstances just aren’t that jolly-inducing. Even companies seem to have given up pushing that ‘family’ experience and they are instead throwing big discounts at you because they know online shopping has become your new way to pass the time. Maybe I’ll do what I always do. I will grab my sister, drag her to the city with me, and look at the fairy light displays while wrapped up nice and warm. I will bake traditional Christmas cookies with her and pretend that half the family isn’t Gluten-intolerant. I will put my online shopping addiction to good use and gather some gifts. I wish I could end this on a really inspirational note. But all I’ll say is whether you’re overcompensating or not feeling it at all, it’s okay. The one benefit of having to stay in is that you don’t have to put on a brave face and celebrate love and life with twice-removed family that you only see once every three years. Put on that warm ugly Christmas sweater and pretend it’s just a regular day. If your family puts on a Christmas movie (which in my family would actually be a miracle) just join them with a glass of wine. And if you do end up being this season’s family Grinch, at least you’ll still be on theme.



Love in the Times of Cholera LAURA


hen everything is lost, that’s when we turn to love. The almighty power that makes every problem disappears. Or that’s what they like to tell us. Unlike Marquez’s story, Love in the Times of Cholera, these ones are real. The characters in the book by Colombian Nobel prize Gabriel García Marquez experienced a love tainted by misfortune. Having spent a very long time apart, the almighty power of love reunites the protagonists of the novel. Call it misfortune, call it globalisation, call it world pandemic. Whatever the reason, I’m sure you know someone who has their loved one far away, or maybe you

he says, with a mixture of excitement and surprise. Of those 5 years, they have spent 4 apart from each other. Life got in their way, or maybe they got in the way of life. I like to think of long-distance relationships as a bridge. One of those beautiful bridges you are terribly scared to cross, but once you step foot in them you don’t want to leave. Haunted by the feeling of flying above everything, of being able to look down, and having the security of knowing you will not fall. I don’t know how far away 2015 seems to you, but to me it seems like it was a whole eternity ago. Perhaps it was 2015 I was walking


Perhaps you would want to stop and look at a beautiful sunset. You are lucky enough to witness it. Once you’re there, you might as well appreciate the way. How the golden light of the last rays of sunshine filters through the bridge, fading into the water below it. Leo is definitely the second kind. He wants a normal relationship, but his normal is long-distance, and he is happy with his relationship as it is. In the end, he recognizes, “it has always been like that”. Despite how stressful it feels to be in two different places, having different schedules, different holidays… Leo says distance is not that bad.

”Life got in their way, or maybe they got in the way of life.” have gone through it. It’s easier now than it was when we didn’t have videocalls, texts were yet to be invented, Netflix didn’t exist, and immediacy wasn’t a possibility. But it still isn’t easy, and it will never be. Leo is now 24, and after having finished his undergrad in Dundee (oh Scotland, bonnie Scotland) he is now enjoying his MSc in London. Leo met his boyfriend, Paolo, almost 5 years ago in Turin, where they both are from. “It’s going to be 5 years the 10th of December” 35


through Dom Luís I Bridge in Oporto, over river Douro. It was 2015 when Leo had a crush on a guy who had a crush on Paolo. And again; life got in the way, or they got in the way of life. If we were to picture long-distance relationships as bridges, I would assume you could have either of these two responses. Perhaps you would want to walk through it as fast as possible, afraid of looking down, afraid to fall, only wanting to get to the other side.

“Paolo knows everything, literally everything, that is going on in my life”. And Leo believes that it wouldn’t necessarily be like that if they hadn’t been apart for so long. “It’s an invasion of privacy to everyone else’s life” he confesses, laughing. But I have to say I would do the same. I don’t think I’ve ever kept a secret for myself, there’s always someone who needs to know. And if I did have a secret of my own, my lips would be sealed for life. Saying it out loud would break the very condition of it being a secret.

And yet, despite knowing everything about each other, Leo assures that Paolo will answer my same questions drastically different. “Well, perhaps not drastically, but definitely differently”, Leo says. But, of course, the magic of life is that not all of us think the same. And not all of us are in the same situation. There might not be red threads that connect people, but there’s people who are worth sticking to. “He has a very particular way of staring at people, and that includes me. I guess that’s what I miss the most.” I listen to Leo say this while my girlfriend is sitting in the other end of the sofa. I asked Leo to think of something he misses of his boyfriend outside the obvious; something only Paolo does, perhaps something only Leo himself sees. I want to know because I definitely would miss the way my girlfriend moves her lips from side to side, almost shaking them, maybe as a response to something. That I am yet to find out. I firmly believe love lies in the small minute occurrences of everyday life that we fail to see in everyone else. For Leo it’s Paolo’s way of staring at people, for me it’s the way my girlfriend moves her lips. For Hector and Nuria it’s biting each other. Strange, I know. But it is in the details that nobody else sees, that love resides. At least I believe so. Hector and Nuria are the couple that made me believe in love. Or made me believe in it outside a romantic concept of love. Real love, everyday love. Nuria, after some thinking, recognises she misses

kissing Hector’s moustache. “It tickles him” she says. Tickles, what a weird thing to miss. Hector and Nuria are originally from Gijón, a city in northern Spain. I had no need to ask about how they met. I vividly recall Nuria’s phone call, panicking, because she had run into him in the street and had lost her chance of speaking to him. “I was so nervous, I didn’t know what to do, and now I missed my chance.” I remember hearing on the other side of the phone. She sounded like someone had just died. But life always give a second chance to those who fight for it. Fighting is something essential in long-distance relationships. Everyone I’ve interviewed has a different perspective on where the effort should go. But they all agree on something: having a life of your own is crucial. Your life should not be a constant fight against distance, wishing it wasn’t there. There is a bigger effort involved in long-distance relationships where there is no physical connection involved. Hector recognises and explains how a continuous communication is essential. “You need to have the certainty that the other person is there, and that they want to be there.

Acknowledge that the other person also has a life, and that sometimes we all get caught in the moment. You can’t time how long someone takes to reply to your text. Go on living your life. They will get back to you whenever they can.” “On Fridays we watch Star Trek now. Obviously sometimes both of us have things to do and then you rain-check. Like you would if you were living in the same place. It’s important to keep the commitment of doing something that feels like you are a little closer to one another, but still be understanding and realistic at the same time.” Some people build up routines, like Hector and Nuria. Two nerds who sit and watch Star Trek together every Friday. “Now it’s Star Trek”, says Nuria “because they’re releasing the new episodes, but it can be anything else”. And again, she points out the importance of knowing and acknowledging that the other person also has a life. “You can’t just get pissed at someone because they have plans on a Friday evening and you were going to watch Star Trek together. That’s just unsustainable.” On the contrary, Leo and Paolo don’t share that many hobbies

” But life always give a second chance to those who fight for it.” COMMENT


as Nuria and Hector do. “He’s into rowing and cars and I don’t know a thing about either of them” Says Leo. They don’t watch things simultaneously, but they do feel connected by commenting on the episodes of a TV show. Most recently, they have watched the fourth season of The Crown. He said it’s good, although in his opinion the whole Diana thing is a little too romanticised. Call it Netflix, call it Star Trek, call it whatever you want to call it. To me it is clear that people need to feel connected in one way or another. If who you love is far away, any connection makes the distance more bearable. But distance can feel a lot less bearable when the other person is actually not that far away. Spain, amongst other countries, suffered a very hard lockdown between March and May due to the coronavirus pandemic we are all living through. Adri and his girlfriend had been in a long-distance relationship before. She had moved to another city to do her masters just after they had met. But yet, it was more bearable to know and to accept that she was far away, than being less than 2km away from each other and not being able to meet, Adri confesses. Everyone I’ve interviewed agrees that the key to happily go through long-distance is communication. Communication and acceptance. They all came to say that you can’t live your life wishing it wasn’t as it is. You need to accept the reality in front of you and shape your needs around it as best as you can. You recognize you are in that situation because, despite the distance, it’s still worth it to go through it. They 37 C O M M E N T

all find joy in each other’s presence outside physical contact, and they all consider this connection worth keeping. But what happens when you are so close to one another that you never considered the possibility of not seeing each other? Reality changes drastically from one day to the other. “I wasn’t ready for it” says

”But distance can feel a lot less bearable when the other person is actually not that far away.”

Adri. We live less than 2km apart, and yet, I would only see Yoli (his girlfriend) once a week. On Fridays they would go grocery shopping together. Social distancing and face masks involved. They couldn’t see each other at all otherwise. “We went from seeing each other 4-5 times a week to walking through supermarket aisles together”. Adri recognizes it was a lot more frustrating than a long-distance relationship. “Now she is a big part of my life, I got used to having her around physically and our relationship had changed. And we had to give it all up for a situation that was completely alien to us. There is a big difference between wanting to do something or having it imposed on

you.” They aren’t the only ones whose relationship got shaped by covid. Everyone’s life has been shaped by this global pandemic, and we have all heard sad stories about it. But not all of it is bad. Leo and Paolo managed to be together longer than they expected precisely because of the pandemic. They both live abroad, and both went back to Turin, their hometown, earlier than expected. Leo recognized at the beginning it was scary, everyone was very confused by the situation and he tried not to see too many people outside of Paolo. But eventually he did. He wanted to take the chance to enjoy time with his people at home. People he believes are still in his life largely because of Paolo. They both go back because of each other. Not that they wouldn’t otherwise, but they would definitely not be as eager. Perhaps that is because they both live abroad. Nuria desperately wants to run away from Gijón, and Adri says he enjoyed being the one who travelled to see his girlfriend. A change of scenery. That’s all we need sometimes. And no matter how much scenarios change, we will always stick to the people we love, and who love us back. As creatures of company, I have come to understand we cherish and protect the connections that make us feel alive. Long-distance relationships are complicated. We are complicated. But if something is complicated and you still decide to go through it, that right there is love. Real love.

The Domino Pizza Attack


topic I would like to touch is the different dynamics around food, from a student perspective. As a university student in the UK, it is easy to notice the massive emergence of the takeaway industry. Not only at a campus level, but also on the high street of probably most of the British towns, there is a strong presence of fast-food branches. Many of these multinational companies have gained power recently with strategies like international franchising, which include expanding growth overseas to generate more profit and more independence. Their marketing practices are extremely smart, often targeting students (many of whom are on a budget) with appealing discounts and intelligent marketing practices such as McDonald’s free burger voucher on the back of the bus ticket. The US is a worldwide leader on many of the top 100 franchises. Many of which belong to the fast-food industry. For instance, Domino’s pizza ranks the 6th position, so the enormous influence this pizza leader exerts on population is considerable. With technology emerging, there are endless options to access food these days. For university campuses, which are a bit far from the city centre, getting food deliveries at your student accommodation is usually appealing for many of us. There is no need to worry about buying the ingredients or cooking, we just need to unlock our phones and wait to be fed within… 30 minutes? No wonder

By: Nela Cadiñanos

that many of my 1st-year flatmates would opt for this convenient option, especially considering the commercial partnership existent between our university and Domino’s pizza. Students and staff are given discounts and free slices of pizza at key busy events such as the Welcome Week every semester. I remember stepping onto the campus for the first time ever, walking around with my two big suitcases ready to find my accommodation, and noticing stalls with the D pizza sign, as well as people with their blue t-shirts giving vouchers and offering greasy slices. I’m not sure if this could be considered exactly a warmly welcome. Another anecdote related to these “benefits” we get as students, starts by me getting super excited after getting hired by the uni for a tele-fundraising campaign, to raise funds for students from non-traditional backgrounds, clubs and society projects. As the email stated, we were provided full 2-day-training, together with the lunch for these days. “Wow great, we will just have to give notice of our dietary requirements,” I said to my friend Rafa, who is also vegan. The training weekend arrived and so did our hunger. After the first 4 hours of getting used to the fundraising program, eventually, the computer room started to get smelly and the tables got filled with Domino’s pizzas. As our supervisor approaches Rafa and I, she apologies giving us two cold salads she had just picked up from the Nisa (supermarket at the campus) because she did not manage to get anything else.

What is interesting is that, as the only two people from the group with dietary requirements, we were asked specifically what we wanted to order days in advance. Being surprised by this kindness, we decided to go local and support a Greek family-owned café in town, which offers many affordable plant-based options. In essence, my point here is to address this unbalanced power existent in the food industry. With universities sometimes functioning as business organisations, there can be a lack of involvement with the local community, and this feeling can easily be transmitted to us, the students. Unlike our ancestors, our generation has grown up in a world where we can easily access food at all times and places. This has made us extremely unconscious about the actual value that food has, and when eating out, we can be easily manipulated by these large corporations for several reasons: a) convenience; b) low price; c) tastiness (due to flavour-enhancing additives). I am not saying that we should return to hunter-gatherer models, but a bit more attention to our eating patterns would be beneficial to start appreciating our immense luck. Particularly considering the innumerable list of countries with a population dying from malnutrition. COMMENT


Losing a Parent Young JONATHAN


had a pretty normal upbringing. My parents got married in 1995, bought a house in suburban England and had two kids in 1998 and 2002. When I look back on my early childhood, I fondly remember family holidays, parties with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, day trips to farmer’s markets and funfairs. My very earliest memory is of a little blow up dolphin my parents bought me to play with on holiday. I always felt my parents put a lot of effort into doing a lot with me and I remain thankful for that. However, when I got a bit older and started to settle into who I was, I realised I was a pretty withdrawn person. I always liked my own company; preferring not to join in with other kids playing games and sticking with what I knew rather than venturing too far outside of my comfort zone. As I got even older than that, I avoided doing things with my parents. I didn’t really have an image to preserve but I suppose I hoped I’d be invited out by my friends or some kind of better opportunity would present itself. Looking back, I should have dealt better when people were unkind to me and realised how unkind I could be to other people. I guess I can only cancel that 39


one out by being kind going forward, and we all do things we regret in our teenage years, but it’s important to acknowledge past trappings to move on. I don’t recall when I found out my Dad was ill; I don’t even really remember finding out at all. One thing I do remember is he hated the finality of it all – of course, when you find out a parent has a terminal illness, you avoid the thought that anything could happen. You just assume, that’s my Dad, nothing can hurt him. He was really good at putting that thought out of everyone’s minds, however much he must have been thinking about it himself. Even when my Mum would sit me down and try to explain that doctors had told her to prepare my sister and I that something could happen, towards the end, I wouldn’t believe her in the slightest. I must have been around 12 or 13 when I first found out he was ill, and then, not even doctors had uttered the word ‘cancer.’ I just thought he had a stomach problem, one of the teething troubles bodies have as they age. After all, he didn’t smoke, he didn’t work in a nuclear laboratory, he rarely even drank. His mother died when I was 3 or 4; I don’t


remember what from. But his father – and his sisters – were fine, so what could really be so wrong? My grandad on my mother’s side had a stroke around the same time he first got ill, so for a while, we forgot whilst we concentrated on helping him recover. I remember my parents helping him to first walk around his house again and completing a cycle marathon in support of the Stroke Association charity. Sure, my Dad would be unwell from time to time, but we were still going on holiday, going out for dinner. I was even avoiding going out to a lot of family stuff because I simply couldn’t be bothered; I thought, “there’ll be another time.” It got worse when I was about 14. I remember an especially difficult conversation where my father sat us all down and confirmed that no, it is cancer and I don’t know if it’s going away. It hurt to see my Dad emotional because I hadn’t remembered him in that state from when his mother died. I think it was the first time I ever saw him cry. I didn’t even know how to respond. As time progressed, it went from occasional checks with the oncologist to accepting an aggressive form of chemotherapy that meant staying in the hospital for 3 or 4 nights at a time. The

following days were spent at home but marred by trying to recuperate from the debilitating effects of taking chemotherapy. Even though my Dad didn’t lose his hair, I noticed he seemed frailer as time went on, and I found that especially difficult. I wanted to grow up with my Dad the same way he grew up with his, yet I found myself getting closer to accepting I would never be able to. I felt, I still feel guilty for not doing all those things as a family when I had the chance. There were flashes of hope – family and friends would take us away for weekends and we’d get a call saying he could come home for the weekend and was feeling much better. The gaps between hospital visits varied; the very last time I saw him was the middle of the week and he’d told me he’d probably be home by the Friday. Before that, we had gone to car shows, motor museums and

”They’ll always however far aw even on holiday a couple of times whilst my Dad managed his illness. I always said yes by then, but I hadn’t realised how hard this would have been on my mother, who’d often have to help my Dad with his medicine as it couldn’t always be administered by the patient. My Dad often couldn’t get travel insurance as a result of the complex medical situation surrounding cancer patients, so even when we got to go away; It was difficult to watch them both try to accept that every thing they did might be the last time they did it together. Saying that, our last holiday was pretty perfect, I remember it as a quiet, relaxing fortnight where we did all the things, we had always enjoyed doing in what had become our favourite place. I have thought about going back several times but never mustered the

The rest of the next year

be part of you, way they feel” was in and out of hospital – not the specialist that my Dad had secured for chemotherapy anymore, just the ordinary one in the centre of Preston. This gave me a sense of panic. Before it had just felt like a treatment option; I associated that hospital with emergencies. Saying that, I have to thank the NHS doctors and nurses for helping my father with both his pain and infection that occurred. They probably prolonged his life by some months; however much I found it difficult to be in that hospital. The hospital was on my way home from school, so I’d often stop by and visit my Dad. I still felt like he was going to be fine. I held on more to the moments where we laughed, and he gave me advice he felt I’d always remember than the difficult ones. As I’m writing this,


Everything pretty much happened in my last year of secondary school. I never translated my feelings particularly well so I can only apologise to everyone who knew me for how much of an arsehole I was all the time. I really don’t remember how the year started; the overriding memory is my Dad getting rushed to hospital on Christmas Day. I’ve got a lasting sense of discomfort that stems from that Christmas whenever it’s cold weather outside, particularly if I’m spending the day alone. I really think my Dad thought that was his last day; I just felt numb. I had never been asked to phone an ambulance before. A lot of the time it’s easy to disconnect and distract yourself from lasting feelings of grief, but when you allow yourself to lean into it, it’s hard not to feel lost.


strength to do so alone.

I’ve also dredged up some of the more painful memories – something as trivial as lifting a bike up onto a peg in the garage. I remember him saying “I’m not strong enough anymore.” It wasn’t intended to be quite so poignant, I’m sure, but it stuck with me since that day. I’d just think, ‘he’s having a hard day today.’ I wish I could have been a little older and understood a little better how that kind of illness affects your mental health; maybe I could have helped or at least empathised. It’s strange how completely unwilling a son can be to accept that anything is wrong with his father. The day he died; I remember getting taken out of a maths class. I already knew what had happened because it wasn’t my mother who picked us up, but her best friend. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for her on that car journey, because all I could ask was “Dad?” and all she could

say was, “Yeah.” I don’t like to relive that day too much. The days blur together in some cases, I know I was sitting my GCSEs at the time and I went and did the exams to distract myself. Nothing worked, and yet anything worked. I didn’t want to be around anyone, so I just tried to do anything I could to take my mind off things. I ramble around when I think of that day or the days that followed because they all seemed so numbingly similar. You think about all the times you fought when you didn’t need to, every bad thing you said to each other without resolving it. Most of all, you’re tired. It’s been difficult to write this because I’ve never really remembered it in order. My grandad wrote in the book at my Dad’s funeral: “my hero.” I couldn’t have put it better. I also haven’t seen the book since that day; it’s been 5 years and it doesn’t feel like it’s got any further

away. I don’t blame myself for all the fights that we did have, and if he were still around, I’m sure we’d still fight from time to time. The perspective I got from it was huge, though. All these years you see a person as your Dad, but he’s a husband, a friend – he exists completely separately from you, yet he gives up that person to raise you. I f you read this and were/are in a similar situation, I know it’s hard. It can be difficult going to a friend or partner’s family, it almost feels like a constant reminder that your parent(s) aren’t around. Almost every piece of advice you’ll get is both irritating and unhelpful – something I hope I can avoid with this next sentence. Hold on to the good memories you have and carry their advice with you going forward. They’ll always be part of you, however far away they feel.



“I’ve been wanking all night” LAURA





want you to stop and think. How many scenes can you remember on the top of your head that involve a girl masturbating? We don’t even need to go that far. Just try to remember the last time you heard female masturbation being mentioned in mainstream TV. If it was mentioned with a shaming purpose it doesn’t count. In episode 6 season 1 of sex education popular girl blonde Amee is asked what she wants while having sex. “I’ve never been asked that before” the character recognizes, worried. How are you meant to enjoy sex if you have never figured what you enjoy in the first place? How are women meant to own and enjoy their sexuality if pleasure is always linked to what a guy wants? If I can remember any mentions of female masturbation in main-

stream TV, they to shame the gi ly, according to to own your ow surprise… you’ The con slut is a fight fo time my rage is girls for touchin shame. Nature with the only p pleasure, and y a loss in my opi Mastur of what you are you’re supposed tion of what yo own body. It is people choose h sexuality, how t own, and wheth But it s ned by gender. expected to and don’t. If you’re a masturbate, and Neither one no think masturba mean, is anyon what you do wi own time and y think so. I remem sexuality havin Nobody had tau was. I didn’t kn even know that it. And I’m pret encounters of m

y were only placed there irls who did it. Apparento society, if you decide wn pleasure, surprise ’re a slut.

nnotation to the word or another time. This s directed to shaming ng themselves. What a has given you something purpose of giving you you don’t enjoy it - What pinion!

rbation is not a question e supposed to do or what d not to do. It is a quesou want to do with your a question of letting how they use their own they explore it on their her they want to or not.

should not be determiIf you’re a guy you’re d labelled weird if you a girl, you should not d if you do, you’re weird. or the other is what I ation should be like. I ne really allowed to judge ith your body in your your own space? I don’t

mber my career in ng a pretty rough start. aught me what consent now what I liked. I didn’t t I was supposed to enjoy tty sure most first sexual most girls who read this,

will be pretty similar. How sad. Always being told that you should provide pleasure to someone else while never acknowledging that the most important pleasure is your own. How unfair. Society is changing. Now there are more portrayals of female sexuality. Thank God we’ve moved on. And by this, I don’t mean everyone’s situation has to be like mine, or that all girls have been given the wrong message. But we still haven’t figured out that we need to talk about consent, or what the connections between consent and masturbation are. I got to the conclusion that consent is defined by enjoyment. Whatever you’re doing, sexually speaking, should be enjoyed. By as many parts as there are involved in the equation. And if someone is not enjoying it, then it is not consensual anymore. What does female masturbation have to do with all of this, you might ask. Well, I firmly believe that if you teach anyone, a girl or not, to enjoy their sexuality in their own private time, they will know how to extrapolate that pleasure. Extrapolate it to any situation in which someone else is involved. Then you will understand the limits. By this, I don’t mean to say that everyone should spend all of their time masturbating - No. What I am trying to say is that everyone should be given a safe space by society to do with their own body whatever they want. What I am saying is that we should stop believing we have a right

to judge what people do with their bodies in their own time. After my rough start in the world of sex, I discovered masturbation. I realised it was a lot more fun than I thought it was. I had always been intrigued, but always thought I was not meant to do it. Masturbating, I mean. A lot of years have gone by, and now it is something I will never give up. It has helped me shape who I am and owning my sexuality. Knowing what I want and what I don’t. I only wish someone had told me this before. I wish someone would’ve told me something about sex education. Something other than: wear a condom or you’ll get pregnant. I’m not saying that using protection is not important, but there’s a lot more to sexuality than pregnancy. There is pleasure involved in sex. There always should be, or at least that’s what I think. If you’re reading this and you never thought owning your sexuality could be an option, watch sex education, and investigate. It will only be to your own benefit. Don’t believe there are strict rules that define if you should or shouldn’t masturbate. That’s something only you can determine, nobody else can.



We Have a Problem HEATHER


very teenage girl knows the stereotypical sleepover, filled with the embarrassing enjoyment of watching the classic chick flick film. Now, what I remember is the feelings associated with awkward, goofy stories of friendship, young love and the comedic value, and the early 2000’s really brought this genre into life. But what about now, what about chick flicks made post-2010? What happened with those? Where those of the last decade fell relatively short on inclusivity, the feelings of friendship and love were very much real. Look at Wild Child, for example, sharing a humble chip butty, trying on embarrassing outfits in charity shops, fancying the hot older boy from the year above, these all are realistic. Yes, they are hyped up to unrealistic standards that aren’t your average person’s life, but that’s showbiz for you. These old movies capture the nostalgia, romance and awkwardness of dating in ways that 2000 movies do, in cliché, weird, wonderful glory. So, what about modern-day chick flicks? Now, this is a rabbit hole. They are highly inclusive (lots more roles for minorities,) awkward in some parts and they do describe themselves in the same genre. But where they are grossly misfiring is their relatability. Yes, these movies play into the fantasy of sexually frustrated teenagers well, but most of these supposed chick flicks sit on the edge 43


of soft porn feel to the extent they could be the next fifty shades of grey if they played their cards right. The awkward fumbling is long gone – this is evident when looking at ‘After’ for example, which was rated PG 13 at the cinema and clearly aimed at its teen viewers. The film portrays the stereotypical bad boy and the nerdy teenage girl who wants to change him for the better. Yes, this film is inclusive and shows important themes, but society truly has moved past this stage of an abusive partner who drinks, manipulates and preys on a weaker individual for sexual gains. The careful camerawork doesn’t show any nudity, but there really is little left to the imagination here. Not even mentioning the incredible amounts of bullying, intenseness and cheating that is normalised throughout. This cliché narrative is overrated and toxic and arguably isn’t necessary in modern-day cinema.


And at the other side of the spectrum comes the tragic love story of two teenagers who are very ill, who find each other in recovery, only for one of them to die. Now, these are more intellectually equipped and do display lots of important values, but the problem arises when these types of films are now being made in such high quantities and always are made to show relatively high functioning individuals. Not only could you make an important film discussing disabilities, and by using actors who are disabled, but you could also make it so there is a happy ending too, rather than one character always dying. This Fault in our Stars narrative is overplayed and not romantic or healthy to constantly be delivered to younger audiences. Chick flicks have changed drastically over the years and I’d have liked to say for the better, but simply this isn’t how the world of cinema has chosen to go.

Above the Clouds - a corona-icle S

omewhere between rubbing sleep out of our eyes and discussing existentialism, we miss our stop. Me, Nela and Dirk are the only passengers onboard this bus – masked up like robbers, geared up like Bear Grylls. Adventure – and potentially corona – is in the air. We get dropped off by the side of the road. It’s a crisp November morning. The sun has yet to warm the air and a thin layer of frost coats the fields around us. No one’s looked up the route: we’re ‘winging-it’ – and so far, that feels amazing. Dirk glances down onto his Google Maps, and in an unsuccessful attempt to mask his delight, states: “So, we’re starting from even further back now guys. We better hurry.” The master plan is simple in theory: Hop on bus X53 toward Kinross. Hop off at Dollar. Hike up to the peak of the nearest Ochil. Trekk across the hills, until we reach Dumyat. Stumble down and high five each other for making the 32-kilometer-walk feel like it’s counterpart in a park. However, the reality of it may come to prove more challenging. Things can change quickly, and things can change drastically; something we’ve all learned over the past year. So far, so good though. We make our way through the forest, passing the outlines of a castle, engulfed by the intensifying fog. At the brink of our first hill, we snap some photos. The sun is beaming down with more determination now.


“Que día tan fabuloso!” exclaims Nela, whilst in a storm of childlike ecstasy jumping down the path leading us into what looks like a scene from Lord of the Rings, but in actuality is the gateway to the Scottish Highlands: “What a wonderful day!” And she is right. It is a wonderful day. Despite the pandemic. Despite our not-water-proof-shoed feet being utterly soaked from the minute we set foot on the hills. Because the sun is shining. And we are outside. Breathing, walking, eating, talking. The dramatic Ochils dressed in light-green grass and windmills, provide sights so stunning that we constantly have to stop and stare. It’s impossible not to. I jot these lines down in my note book: “Sadle Hill: Ontop of the clouds: Air is still: Sun is kissing our skin: Mist is slowly caressing the mountains: Sheep approaching: Life is good.” We get lost a few times. But it’s the sky that’s blue, not us. The fresh mountain air; the crunchy sound of hiking-boots stepping on dried-out Heather; our hearts pumping – is like chocolate to our hungry souls. Once the sun sets, the dropping temperature make our tired bodies tremble. It gets harder to see. But we carry on, there is no other way forward, but forward. With Dirk at the lead, we eventually make it across in three whole pieces – albeit three wholly frozen pieces. And the cold, the company, the views and the burning muscles remind us once more of what lockdown has made us forget: what it feels like to be alive. Que día tan fabuloso!



Safe Travels Dear


e’re all longing for a trip abroad. A break away from the COVID chaos. Less hand sanitizer and more sunscreen. Fewer face mask spots and more awkward tan lines. A reality where social distancing is a distant memory and we’re instead queuing up close, like real close. Just to get a glimpse of those overrated attractions that numerous overly edited photos on Instagram tell you to see. Actually, in all fairness, most of us would probably be happy to see those queues being left behind in the pre-COVID era, but you get my point. It would just be wonderful to go - You know, when it’s safe to do so. That’s what we keep reminding ourselves. We’ll travel again - when it’s safe to do so. When we’re sure to get some means of transport back. When an awfully long quarantine period isn’t awaiting. When all the attractions are open and the bars serve ice-cold margaritas again, well beyond 10 o’clock. We’ll certainly go when it’s safe to do so. You know, to the typical, safe tourist destinations. A destination where people speak English. Or at least a form of English that seems somewhat comprehensible. A place where we’re sure to find restaurants serving up classic foods suitable for a western palate. A hotel where socialising involves drinks with fellow countrymen or people from other western countries. A place where you never need to venture far to reach either the pool or the beach. And most importantly, a stress-free destination where our everyday worries can be long forgotten. Not surprisingly, eyebrows are lifted when someone decides to take the less travelled road. Especially if that someone happens to be a young female. We are worried about their health. For their well-being. And most importantly, for their safety. I remember the looks I got when I said I wanted to travel to South America by myself. The immediate scepticism and disapproval: ’Dear don’t you think there are better places to go? I don’t think South America is safe for a young woman.’ As if South America was just a country. Imagine, if others assumed Germany and Spain to be the same. Same culture, same food and same problems. Absurd, right? Yet, no one seems to question these assumptions when it comes to the Global South. There’s a simple reason why. We just don’t know much about these areas of the world. Our knowledge is 45


based on news articles reporting the dangers of Venezuela or the war on drugs in Columbia. And certainly, there are places it’s well worth staying away from for the time being. But categorizing countries, even continents, on such basis, is not only naïve, but it’s also incredibly judgmental. Just like Africa is not all malnourished children working from the age of 5 to provide for their family. Nor does everyone live in clay huts with lions as their family pets. How many can even mention more than a few countries in Africa? Never mind, locating these. The Global South continues to be a mystery to the Western world. Personally, I spent the majority of my time in South America in Patagonia, the stunning tip of the continent stretching between Chile and Argentina. Rocky, snow-peaked mountains, lakes in the most wonderful shades of blue and winds strong enough to push you out of course. Unlike the assumptions, Patagonia is one of the safest places I have ever been to. A quick Google search would tell you the same if you bothered to look. Wherever I went, I was met with such kindness. They introduced me to their local drinks, mate and piscola, invited me along to asados and karaoke (to which anyone knowing my lack of singing skills was a terrible mistake on their behalf) and miscommunications were solved with a smile and a laugh. Differences were met with interest and curiosity and they showed incredible patience with my shockingly poor Spanish skills. I truly wish travellers visiting the Western part of the world would be met with the same kindness. But we stay fearful, protective and scared of the foreign world. The unknown. We develop stereotypes based on old tales, news stories and the occasional odd character we have met on our way. Yet, we do embarrassingly little to learn about these ’others’. Their world, their story and their experience. So while we’re waiting and dreaming ourselves away to warmer skies and easier times, perhaps this is the perfect time to learn about the mysterious south. Maybe, a wee look at a world map? Or a little history lesson perhaps?So when the time comes, you can with a clearer conscience, tan away, sipping blissfully on your ice-cold margarita. PERNILLE


Picture: Pernille Søholm



Christmas in tha NAMEETA



hen I first got introduced to the winter theme, I didn’t know where to begin. Having lived in a tropical city (Mumbai, India) for more than 15 years, I have not experienced cold weather in a very long time. It gets a bit nippy here for a few days, but nothing to brag about at all.

Now the struggle to describe a season I’ve never fully experienced was real and I could do with some inspiration. That evening when I got home from work, I poured myself a glass of red wine, began to play some music, and in the middle of other things I also messaged ten friends asking them all a question ”What does winter mean to you? Halfway through my second glass of wine, this song began 47


to play - a much-beloved one - and like magic, memories of a Christmas long-forgotten began to reveal themselves to me. At the bottom of my burgundy glass was the inspiration I was looking for all day. I could visualize it, feel it, repeat it. Like it happened yesterday. It was 1999, a cold night in my dusty old town (Bhusawal, India). A 13-year-old version of me was standing in the living room of a big white house, beaming and swaying as I sang along to ’Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.’ Among the many Carols I knew, there was something quite special about this one. I don’t know what it was, Maybe the melody, the lyrics, the fact that everyone smiled when they sang it together or maybe all of it. Even today, the resounding vibe of this carol makes my heart warm and mushy like a giant marshmallow melting over the campfire. I used to go carolling with the older boys and girls from church. We rode on our bicycles from house to house extending the Christmas cheer. Our cycle bells were our constant companions as we signalled people and stray dogs out of the way in the dark by lanes of my little town. There was no

other kid my age in the carolling crew. Many parents wouldn’t allow their early teens to cycle late into the evenings. With much convincing, cajoling and an impeccable display of responsible behaviour on my part, my parents permitted me to join the gang. On the winter nights, I often saw the older boys and girls hold hands, smile at each other, and even sneak in a kiss whenever possible. There was something magical about those nights. Everyone always seemed to be falling in love. As I am typing this piece further, it reminds me of the countless things we all did over the

at dusty oolld town Christmas Holidays. There were 20 days of celebrations systematically planned and each day was different from the other. We played sports till we were exhausted and competed in a fancy dress-up competition where the wackiest ideas came to life. I remember being painted with talcum powder to resemble a statue and standing with a massive pot on my head for nearly 30 mins without moving an inch. Thank God I won! We acted in plays, went for picnics, danced together, and even participated in an exclusive winter pageant in which beautiful girls competed to win the title of ’Winter Queen’ every year. For a place of its size, Bhusawal certainly had a lot going on during Christmas. There was excitement, nervousness, some chaos, and lots of laughter. With the new dresses and decorations and the smell of the yummiest homemade Christmas cakes, we would all prepare for the shindig of the year with great enthusiasm.

My grandmother believed in making Christmas an immersive family experience, and so no matter what, on a designated day before the Christmas festivities commenced, she invited all her children over (10 of them) with their kids (about 20 of us) to gather under the same

roof and prepare Christmas sweets together. Eating yummy treats on Christmas was a highlight for me, but eating homemade ones and making memories with my family inevitably made them even more special. When I come to think of it, I may have grown up in a town where

civilization hasn’t properly reached even today, although the celebrations and merry times sure found their way to us long ago. I think that that’s the beauty and rarity of small towns. Traditions, festivals and the little joys of life that elude the bigger cities, always find a place of importance here. Everybody knows everybody and the whole community is like your extended family - Think Gilmore Girls! Over the years, much has changed. Families moved out to bigger cities and never came back. Some people grew old and some people stopped caring. I got lost in the hustle and bustle of modern-day life, and just like that time flew by. Sometimes it feels like I am still living there and at other times it’s like a beautiful distant memory. Today, as I sit back and read the replies from my friends in the COVID era, it’s incredible how most of them have said that winter to them means making ’’Memories”. It makes me hopeful that someday soon the world will heal, and we will all get a chance to make new memories without taking our time on earth for granted. It makes me optimistic that all of us will make a sincere effort to relive the moments that make life so exceptional and meaningful. So, here’s hoping all the readers of In Full bloom have a holly jolly Christmas and a safe 2021. TRAVEL


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Watch Out for Our Spring Edition Coming March 2020 All Original ArtworkBy Heather Dalgleish