To help you take part in the Great British Birdwatch, we’re offering a Bumper bird food gift box with feeders worth £29.99. This large box is crammed full of a fantastic selection of seeds, suet and nibbles – every kind of top-quality treat, that will attract a wide variety of garden birds – as well as two suitable bird feeders. A great gift for bird lovers or the perfect starter set for those who are new to the pleasures of feeding garden birds.
Check out the original article here.
Everyday, we hear more and more about the irreparable damage that humans are doing to the planet. The realities of climate change are becoming scarier with every news article we read. It leaves us wondering what we can possibly do to combat the current state of our planet.
The fashion industry has one of the largest effects on climate change as a result of greenhouse emissions and the use of unsustainable materials. That’s what makes sustainable fashion so important. One of the ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint is by spending our money on products that are sustainable, efficient, and that use recycled materials.
Therefore, we’ve curated some of the most energy efficient (and stylish) luxury sportswear brands that represent that the fashion industry is taking strides in becoming more circular. These companies remind us that sportswear doesn’t have to compromise style for sustainability.
According to Sundried–an active sportswear company focused on sustainable fashion–275,000 tonnes of plastic are used each year in the UK, which is about 15 million bottles per day. That why as Sundried, their ethos surrounds “leaving the planet in a better state than how it was found.” In order to achieve this goal, Sundried has created ethical activewear that is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Three plastic water bottles go into each piece of their recycled collection, such as the women’s training vest (£35) and men’s gym shorts (£50).
But the sustainable products don’t just stop there; they also have a line called Eco Charge which boasts recycled activewear made from bottles and recycled coffee grounds. And these products aren’t only sustainable; they claim to be “fast-drying, sweat-wicking, and de-odorising” which means they aren’t compromising their effectiveness for the sake of sustainability. The fast-drying qualities of the Sundried products are quite innovative, in that they don’t need to be tumble dried and dry fast enough that they can be used soon after washing. Another element they aren’t compromising on is style. The Sundried recycled collections manage to maintain a chic and modern look that any fitness enthusiast will gravitate towards. The designs are fitted and conform to your body so you can feel comfortable being as active as possible.
This sports bra is our Star Buy because it is truly astounding in the fact that it’s made from 100% plastic water bottles, yet it manages to be breathable and lightweight. It boasts having sweat-wicking, multi-way stretch, and temperature control, and its high neck gives support and a “locked-in feeling”, perfect for those especially active gym days. The neon red trim is detailed and eye-catching and the racerback style will make you want to sport it with nothing but your confidence.
Form is a UK based retailer of carbon negative, sustainable yoga mats. They seek to make “sustainable thinking the standard, not the exception,” with the aim of “taking more carbon out of the atmosphere than we put into it.” The company is known for their beautiful carbon-negative yoga mats that are made out of completely recycled materials. They boast their mats being made out of the best quality materials, giving the mat user an efficient and comfortable experience that is slip-free as a result of the high-performance, grippable materials, as well as it being alignment improving. And again, the style is not compromised by the attention to sustainability.
Their newest line, The Pro Collection, is nature themed, with images of the cosmos, galaxies, snow, and water, and they are just as a dreamy as you’d imagine; the purples, blues, and greens will certainly propel you into a state of serenity as you’re stretching and downward-facing-dog-ing. Form has recently introduced a circular-shaped mat, which they claim “shows positive effects on the human mind, with circles shown to help increase focus and evoke feelings of completeness – ideal for those practicing yoga and meditation.” The price of this sustainable fashion ranges from £59 to £84.
This gorgeous yoga mat with its detailed image of greens will catapult you into a state of serenity. Why chose this particular design? According to Form, “Spring invites you to take on a new perspective by zooming into details that we may often miss in our everyday lives. By taking a moment to acknowledge our surroundings we can become more mindful, improving the quality of our lives.” Form is proudly presenting their new–and quite unique– round mats, that they claim helps you create your own space and improve your focus. The mat is recyclable, carbon negative and made from durable recycled material, and simultaneously helps with gripping and alignment, and is portable and machine washable.
The well-known high street Swedish fashion retailer, H&M, released their very first line of sustainable fashion in 2016, called Conscious, and it includes a wide range of sportswear to choose from. According to H&M, the collection is made from organic and recycled materials, and the exclusive seeks to “prove that there’s no contradiction in loving beautiful clothing and living a sustainable life.” Their goal is to offer 100% sustainable clothing, and to create a “closed loop for textiles in which unwanted clothes can be reused or recycled into new treasures, with the ultimate goal that by 2030 all of its products will be made of more sustainable or recycled materials.”
Some of the sportswear includes Yoga Tights (£19.99), Shaping Waist Tights (£24.99), a Running Hat (£8.99), and more. And, just as H&M always is, this line is sleek and simple, offering buyers products that they know will be comfortable and reliable, while simultaneously allowing them to sleep well knowing they are doing their part by giving their money to the circular economy fashion market.
The Running Top is simple and sleek with its basic long sleeve cut and rounded hem, and is offered in the colours Petrol and Black/Light Pink. H&M claims that the fabric is fast-drying (which makes washing and wearing it a breeze) and includes recycled polyester and ventilating mesh sections.
Protest is a luxury sportswear brand based in the Netherlands that offers anything sportswear you can think of– fleeces, bikinis, bags, hats, and even thermo underwear, all of which are available for women, men, and kids. Their mission is to end stigmas surrounding snowboarding and to make activewear available for all people – especially those living in Holland, which they deem to be home to “exactly five hills and fourteen waves.” AKA, one of the flattest place in the world.
However, what makes Protest distinct is their desire to incorporate eco-friendly materials and fabrics into their pieces, without compromising style or function. GeoGreen is their label that is the most heavily focused on circular fashion, the products all being made from recycled products or sustainable fabrics. Indeed, their focus on sustainability does not compromise their dedication to fashion and style; Protest makes products for the more “fashion focused”, and they offer three families of colours: winter berry, sky blue, and grass green.
Not only is it our Star Buy, but Protest, themselves, are quite fond of the the Sloane jacket, as well. They claim that it is was “made from biodegradable bamboo-blend with mechanical stretch and waterproof breathable hydrophilic lamination.” According to Protest, bamboo is “a sustainable resource which is also moisture wicking, breathable and stretchy.” This particular jacket comes in “True Black” and “Concrete”– the Concrete is a gorgeous navy blue colour with a coral coloured zipper. They call is the must have piece of the year.
Research and writing by Cassidy Anthony. Cassidy is studying for an MA in Journalism at Kingston University, London.
Is there anything cozier than cuddling up on the couch with a cup of tea and a great program on the TV? It’s truly one of the best things to do when the weather is cold outside and Christmas is right around the corner.
We’ve curated the 7 shows and 3 Christmas films that you should definitely be watching this holiday season, all found on a variety of channels for your viewing pleasure.
This review is spoiler free!
People have been talking about Killing Eve for so long. There’s even ads for it on busses. It stars the immaculate Sandra Oh and a potentially unfamiliar face, Jodie Comer, who is just ridiculously talented and charming. The show follows Eve (Oh) who’s a brilliant M15 officer-become spy who falls into an exhilarating game of cat and mouse with Villanelle (Comer), an incredibly dangerous psychopathic assassin. It has its visceral moments of violence (noted to us by an audience warning at the beginning of each episode), but is somehow still lighthearted and endearing. Each episode beautifully blends into the next, and keeps you at the edge of your seat scene after scene. Killing Eve is easily one of the best shows of 2018.
If there’s one thing that’s at the heart and soul of British media, it’s panel shows. Would I Lie to You, a BBC 1 comedy panel show, is hosted by Rob Brydon, with David Mitchell and Lee Mack as weekly team captains, as well as guest celebrities and comedians each episode. The point of the show is for guests to reveal unusual information about themselves, and for teams to decide whether that information is a truth or a lie. The show is simply so much fun and so ridiculous. You end up learning lots about these guests and the (very often) true events that actually have happened to them, otherwise you witness their keen lying skills. It’s similar to the banter between you and your own friends and is truly the best show to watch over dinner.
Netflix’s original series, House of Cards, is certainly a well-known one. It has been around for 6 seasons, with Netflix claiming this previous season as the very last one. It stars Robin Wright and previously starred Kevin Spacey, and tells the story of the ruthless politics of Washington D.C.. It follows the Underwoods (Wright and Spacey) viciously making their way to the top of the political hierarchy. The show is an absolute must-watch; the storylines are compelling and exciting, despite the fact that people might find a show about politics to be quite dull (it’s not). The cinematography is stunning– some of the highest quality camerawork I’ve seen on TV. House of Cards really serves as the series that catapulted Netflix into a much more serious realm of entertainment. As a result, suddenly anything deemed a “Netflix original series” became a must-watch.
But content aside, what was really astounding about this final season of House of Cards was the way in which the series dealt with the drama surrounding the show. Spacey recently faced various sexual assault allegations, and as a result, has lost all of his credibility and was immediately fired from House of Cards. But what a difficult predicament to be in, firing the lead role – the show runner– from your show. But the show did a fantastic job picking up the pieces. They didn’t want to give Spacey or the drama anymore spotlight than necessary, so they simply wrote him out of the script in the newest season in a way that was natural and logical. Robin Wright subsequently took over the entire show and did an absolutely incredibly job making the show her own, giving the series a compelling feminist makeover. So, whether you consider yourself a “political person” or you just like an exciting, well-made show, consider having House of Cards be your next binge.
Dark Tourist is a Netflix original documentary that many are comparing to the work of Louis Theroux documentaries, which couldn’t be more accurate (and who doesn’t love Louis Theroux?). It’s hosted by David Farrier, a journalist from New Zealand, and it follows him as he gives us a glimpse into the world of dark tourism. Never heard of it? Neither have most people– that’s what makes the show so darn interesting. According to the show, it’s an entire industry that Farrier describes as being for people who “avoid the ordinary and instead head for holidays in war zones, disasters sights, and other offbeat destinations.” Some of the episodes include a town hit by heavy radiation in Japan, a reenactment of an illegal border control crossing in Mexico, a voodoo festival in Benin, and so much more. It’s that sort of train-wreck-you-can’t-look-away-from content that gets us instantly hooked. Farrier is similar to Theroux in his ability to remain quite objective in scenarios where it seems impossible to do so, but he still fully immerses himself in the surrounding chaos. The content is absolutely fascinating, and truly unlike anything else on TV.
Netflix has a wide variety of stand up to choose from, so it can be difficult to know where to start. Well let me give you a suggestion: start with Hasan Minhaj. Minhaj is a comedian, as well as a writer and a (former) political commentator for The Daily Show. His humour is refreshing and unique, as it pulls from his experience growing up as an Indian-American and subsequently the lessons he’s learned and racism he’s experienced. He manages to interestingly blend these political messages with incredibly witty and hilarious humour, as well as personal anecdotes that paint a vivid picture of what he was like growing up and how his experiences have shaped him. It’s one of those standups that you just can’t seem to watch enough times.
AMC (American Movie Classics) is an American television channel that has made a name for itself over the years as a creator of incredible original TV shows. Some shows that have come from AMC have been Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead, and Preacher, all of which are award winning and/or critically acclaimed. One AMC show that really stands out for me is Mad Men. The show stars Jon Hamm as Donald Draper, and tells the story of a 1960s New York City ad agency and the individuals within this agency. While the show was running (it ran for seven seasons, from 2007-2015) it was recognized year after year for its incredible costume and setting design. The attention to detail in the show is truly what convince the audience that this show very well may have taken place in 1960s New York. In addition, from the very first season, the show depicts just how terrible women were treated in the 1960s and how they were never taken seriously in the workforce. But by season 7, the women have truly taken over and are revealed as the ultimate champions within the series as the characters we had been rooting for all along. The show is truly a spectacle, and if you’re a lover of a well-made period piece, you’ll love Mad Men.
One of the quintessential parts of Christmas for Americans involves watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. The channel has its annual Countdown to Christmas in which it plays Christmas movies everyday to get audiences in the Christmas spirit. Some of these movies includes A Christmas Prince (2017), Crown for Christmas (2015), and Once Upon a Holiday (2015). Haven’t heard of them? That’s probably because they’ve never really been seen anywhere but the Hallmark Channel. That being said, while they’re not particularly well-known, they’re incredibly fun and easy to watch, and always succeed in getting you in the Christmas spirit.
Home Alone is absolute classic Christmas film from 1991. It stars a young Macaulay Culkin who is forced to defend his home from robbers after his family accidentally left him home alone during their Christmas vacation to Paris. It also hilariously stars Joe Pesci as one of the robbers, and he’s truly one of the best parts of the film; Joe Pesci is normally in more intense films in which he has much more colourful language, so it’s quite a spectacle watching him filter his language for a younger audience. The film is critically acclaimed and enjoyed by all, regardless of age, with some incredibly memorable scenes and moments.
This 1989 Christmas film starring Chevy Chase is one of the funniest you’ll see this season. It’s also one of the most quotable, as it brings Chase’s hilarious line delivery and screen presence. It’s apart of the “National Lampoon” series that are full of humour and ridiculous family antics. Its humour comes from the ways in which the audience can relate to the absolute chaos of family gatherings at Christmas, while simultaneously being completely unrelatable in just how chaotic and ridiculous their family is.
As a result of the mixed reviews being published about Bohemian Rhapsody, I went into the cinema unsure of what to expect. I had heard the pace was slow, the content was exaggerated, and most of all, that it hid Freddie Mercury’s bisexuality.
But for me, those reviews couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Queen is incredibly special to England—if you ask any English person about their taste in music, chances are they will mention Queen. Even if they don’t regularly listen to them, they’ll more than likely have an understanding and respect for what Queen means to England. Their music embodies a sort of rebellion and rise against convention that is often found at the heart of English culture, and Freddie Mercury himself symbolizes a defiance against stereotypes in his unabashed existence.
As a result, it would make sense that reviews about Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody would be particularly critical, as audiences more than likely went in with very high expectations and had hoped that the film would uphold a certain image of Queen.
As for me, I couldn’t have possibly enjoyed the film more if I tried. It was one of the best movie theater experiences I’ve had this year.
Malek as Mercury
First and foremost, it is safe to say that Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury was perhaps the role he was born to play. This is a constant that most critics seem to agree upon, regardless of overall opinions of the film. Malek embodies Mercury from head to toe; from teeth prosthetics to handlebar mustache. His confidence is nothing short of the confidence that Mercury, himself, appeared to exude on stage and in public.
It’s hard to assess whether I judged the film as well as I should have, because I was almost too invested in Malek’s performance to give a critical eye to other areas of the film. I can’t necessarily comment on the film’s cinematography or mise-en-scéne, as I do with mostly every other film I watch.
Malek’s Performance Dominates Bohemian Rhapsody
But that truly was one of the most beautiful parts of the film; Malek’s performance was emotional, passionate, and fun, and everything else seemed to fall into place around him.
Some critics argue—and I agree—that there was a lot that this film glosses over in terms of the telling of Freddie Mercury’s life. But it’s important to remember that in an 134 minute biopic, there’s only so much that can be told—especially when it comes to Mercury, whose life would need an encyclopedia to tell in full.
Additionally, the film’s main focus is on Queen—it isn’t meant to tell only Mercury’s story. The film shows the audience how Queen came to be, the origins of their music, and the relationship between band members. I would argue that focusing solely on the events within Mercury’s life would be a disservice to Queen as a whole, because the band was made up of so much life. In addition, the members of the band were heavily involved in the making of the film, and specified what they did and didn’t want to be told.
Critics aren’t pleased with the overall timeline accuracy of the film. While most moviegoers probably won’t pick up on these inaccuracies during the film, upon further research, will probably read about some errors such as Mercury’s diagnosis of AIDS not actually happening until two years after his 1985 Live Aid concert— in the film, he reveals this news to his bandmates before the concert. This was probably done as a way to increase cinematic drama and make his performance at Live Aid even more of a rising action, a subsequent depiction of his heroic acceptance of his diagnosis. Whatever the reason was, it wasn’t actually how the events took place in Mercury’s life, and viewers weren’t happy about it. It’s odd that details should be incorrect at all, as Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor helped with parts of the film production; perhaps they were focused more on the music and less on the intimate details.
Representation of sexuality
As for the details of Mercury’s sexuality, I believe that it beautifully painted a picture of the events that lead him to becoming the sexually confident rockstar that everyone knew him as. The first half of the film depicted the time he was married to Mary Austin, while simultaneously questioning his sexuality and attempting to shield his bisexual side.
A Love Letter to Queen
The second half of the film unabashedly demonstrates his acceptance of his sexuality and his catapult into life as a bisexual man. This half of his life (and subsequently, this half of the film) also shows his diagnosis of AIDS, which critics argue the film didn’t go into enough detail about. However, I appreciate the film for keeping out these details; the specificities of AIDS can often be incredibly gruesome, and fans of Queen know how much Mercury suffered during this time. The film stood as a love letter to Queen and therefore didn’t feel the need to convey extraneous details of his suffering.
Many films depicting the lives of gay people will often resort to focusing on their suffering, perpetuating suffering as unavoidable side effect of gayness. This trope is incredibly common and is colloquially called “burying your gays”, otherwise known as a homophobic cliché of film and TV to kill off their gay characters. Therefore, I applaud Bohemian Rhapsody for respectfully conveying Mercury’s fight with AIDS, but simultaneously focusing on his life as the Queen he was.
I can’t recommend enough that you see Bohemian Rhapsody as soon as you can—if you get the chance, seeing it in cinemas feels like an actual rock concert.
Review by Editorial Intern Cassidy Anthony. Cassidy is studying for an MA in Journalism at Kingston University.
Edited by Alison Jane Reid
Images Copyright 20th Century Fox 2018, All Rights Reserved. Strictly No Reproduction.
The Big Garden Birdwatch
Half a million people are getting ready for the Big Birdwatch next weekend. They will be settling down by their windows for an hour to take part in the RSPB’s birdwatching survey and it’s a particularly special celebration this year. Forty years ago, the Big Garden Birdwatch was launched as an activity for our junior membership and even featured on Blue Peter. Decades later, it’s going strong and has become the world’s largest garden wildlife citizen science project – providing an essential snapshot of how our garden birds are doing.
Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people have volunteered their time providing the RSPB with over 8 million hours of monitoring garden birds. In the last four decades, an astonishing 130 million birds have been counted giving the RSPB real insight into how our birds are faring.
The Red List
The survey results always make interesting reading. In last year’s top ten, the birds at number one (house sparrow) and two (starling), are both on the UK Red List. This means that their populations have fallen so much in recent years that conservationists are seriously concerned about them. Indeed, since 1979, the start of the Big Garden Birdwatch, numbers of starlings visiting gardens have dropped by 80%. But it seems that gardens are providing a lifeline to both species. Through careful planning and planting, and provision of extra feeding when times are hard, gardeners can help to support these birds.
Help for Birds in Winter
Cold weather makes it harder to find food in the wider countryside where the ground is frozen, and the berries have vanished from the bushes. But our gardens are oases for hungry birds. There tends to be plenty of plant cover, a ready food supply and, often, fresh water. So, many birds have adapted to garden feeding. Among these are a host of familiar species: blue tit, robin, blackbird, house sparrow. But Big Garden Birdwatch can bring a few surprises, for example winter migrants like bramblings.
And it isn’t all bad news. Last year revealed a golden year for the goldfinch along with a number of other small birds after a surge in sightings in gardens across the country. Record sightings of the brightly coloured finch rose by 11% from the previous year and its bright red face was seen in more than two-thirds of gardens. Other small birds that rose in numbers were the long-tailed tit and coal tit – which can usually be seen visiting gardens and outside spaces in flocks. It is thought that mild autumn and winter weather helped these small birds thrive more than previous years.
Understanding Bird Behaviour
The Big Garden Birdwatch is also a great way to get younger family members interested in nature. Homemade bird cake or bird feeders fashioned from pinecones or old plastic bottles are great fun to make. You can find tips on creating feeders on our website.
Most of us, even dedicated birdwatchers, rarely spend an entire hour watching the garden. So Big Garden Birdwatch can reveal interesting insights into what’s happening outside your back door. The behaviour of the birds can be just as fascinating as the list of species you might find. For example, who is top of the ‘pecking order’ on your bird feeders? The bossy great tit? The sharp-billed nuthatch? Or does the great spotted woodpecker swoop in and send them all flying?
To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch visit: www.rspb.org.uk/Birdwatch
To help you take part in the Great British Birdwatch, we’re offering a Bumper bird food gift box with feeders worth £29.99. This large box is crammed full of a fantastic selection of seeds, suet, and nibbles – every kind of top-quality treat, that will attract a wide variety of garden birds – as well as two suitable bird feeders. A great gift for bird lovers or the perfect starter set for those who are new to the pleasures of feeding garden birds.
Written by Ness Amaral Rogers for the RSPB. Edited by Cassidy Anthony.
David Attenborough has done it again.
The BBC’s new nature documentary, Dynasties, tells the compelling and emotional stories of five endangered species and their respective families during particularly crucial moments in their lives. It is (of course) narrated by the world’s greatest living naturalist, David Attenborough, as he lends his recognizable voice and repertoire of knowledge to these emotional and compelling narratives. While the classic Attenborough documentaries – Blue Planet, Planet Earth, etc. – are all exquisitely filmed, there is something about Dynasties that is even more intimate and personal than any other nature documentary before.
Up Close and Personal with Lions, Tigers, Penguins and Chimps
While previous documentaries have focused mostly on being as informative as possible, Dynasties goal is to tell the stories of the families involved, which is highlighted by the powerfully intimate footage and close-up camera work. What Dynasties offers us is a unique twist on the conventional nature documentary by depicting perspectives of the animal kingdom that have never been told before. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the narrative and forget that this was actually captured in the wild. The intimacy of the cinematography is perpetuated by the love that the camera people have for these animals.
They filmed and followed them for a total of two years, after all, so their connection is almost palpable. After each episode, there is a segment called Dynasties: On Location which demonstrates the behind the scenes moments of filming. It is during these segments that we witness just how connected the camera people were to these animals over those two years, and how much they suffered when the animals suffered.
The Importance of Family
One of the most intimate parts of the series exists in the way that the footage captures just how similar the animals’ families are similar to our own. In one particular scene, two sister lionesses are reunited after months of being apart, and their reunion is not only moving, but it’s incredibly relatable. The way they run to each other is not unlike how we run to our loved ones after long periods of time apart. Truly, no one can argue the beauty of this documentary and the powerful message of the importance of our families and our clans.
But does Dynasties do enough?
Audiences are questioning the extent to which the series challenges the status quo of species loss and biodiversity. The David Attenborough nature documentaries have never been shy when it comes speaking about the drastic effects that climate change has had on the environment and surrounding ecosystems.
The Crisis in Nature – Does Attenborough Say Enough?
For example, there is a segment within Blue Planet that depicts a mother walrus and her baby struggling to find a section of ice to rest on as relief from their swimming. As we watch the walruses become more and more fatigued, Attenborough explains that situations such as these are becoming much more common as a result of climate change and the melting ice caps. He finds a way to effectively weave together the images of suffering animals and the direct effect that humans have on them.
Dynasties has similar moments, but never quite reaches the levels that other Attenborough documentaries do. But by virtue of the format of the series and the unique matter by which it tells its stories, it focuses more on sharing than teaching. Rather than focusing on a particular species, the series follows individual families and the dynamics of their group.
Attenborough touches on ideas pertaining to species loss and biodiversity, but he doesn’t take them as far as we’re used to seeing in BBC series. For example, in the episode about lions, the pride ventures into an area with poisoned cattle put there by farmers as a way to keep away predators. Attenborough briefly discusses the tragedy of this event and the danger of farmer created toxic meat. He mentions that audiences would be surprised to know that there are less than 2,000 lions left in Kenya. But he doesn’t quite express just how dire the situation is.
According to LionAid, a UK charity working to save lions worldwide, approximately 93% of wild lion populations have been killed or have died in the last 50 years. In addition, every day, almost half a dozen lions are gunned down by trophy hunters each day.
Perhaps what the world needs right now is something more than aesthetically beautiful content. In a world where Iceland’s anti-palm oil advertisements are being banned on television for being ‘too political’, a nature documentary that speaks to the dangers that species and ecosystems are facing could be exactly what we need to see right now.
You can donate to LionAid here.
Written by Cassidy Anthony, an MA Student in Journalism at Kingston University, London.
Images courtesy of the BBC. Copyright 2018, all rights reserved.
Edited by Alison Jane Reid.