Underneath we are all the same

blank canvas: blood, bones, breath, reams of

skin stretched taut on each human frame.

The difference: a tone, a name,

the designated palette of birth.

Underneath we are all the same.

Basic design is not to blame,

perspective changes everything.

Skin, stretched taut on each human frame

becomes the focus.  Hidden shame:

painting in layers to mask what’s

underneath.  We are all the same

on paper, our colour bleeds.  Disdain

is managed in monochrome.  Our

skin, stretched taut on each human frame,

defines us.  Freedom is not a game

of melanin, portrayed by white

skin stretched taut on each human frame.

Underneath we are all the same.

A Beautiful White Lie

– Fanny Haushalter (Literature and Creative Writing Student)

Frost puts its blanket on Earth;

Sugar coating the land into a flamboyant white lie.

Most will paint the scenery gold,

Turning it into the sweetest golden cage

To keep their hearts safe;

Chains of bright green tinsels

And lock of red candy cane.

But to maintain the illusion,

You are doomed to stay at a safe distance.

Better not come too close if you don’t want to face

The bittersweet taste of loneliness

That the blinding lights are trying to tame.

Wivenhoe Park

– Sean Smith, Literature and Creative Writing Student

Overgrown tufts of weedy grass

Where the Jackdaws come to snoop and snigger.

They watch wryly from the boughs,

Which, like leering hands, offer a hand to the earth;

Gentlemen of Oak, to the Worms and the Woodlice.

Through the mulch the ‘Daws caw and cackle,

While mallards reside near the lake

Under an old crones arms, a Willow

A pillow; for the old cold to settle.

Hard as metal yet soft as rain:

The icy air – the summer slain.

Through the fallen of the sun, Jackdaws wade,

Crooked claws crunching the corpses of the solstice –

An Autumnal graveyard of life, come to lay bare

In golds, coffees and coals;

a pretty palate of pallid Earth.

Oaks bald in the cold,

And the loneliest of trees shrivel and wear.

The gods of stone loom,

Far beyond the lake;

Tall creatures, towers, four brothers alike,

Cutting sharp their figures against the Heavens:

Where no tree here could dream to reach.

‘Gainst some sour grey sky,

Ugly as the blocks themselves.

It’s barely midday

It already feels like night.

But pretty lights pervade,

Peppering the lakes paths

Where pretty souls pass: couples, kids, students.

A hundred minds pass these lamps,

Who smile and row

Their quiet eyes, soft and kind,

Against the ripples of the lake.

Providing life for the moths and the moss,

The lamps do not age, but grow.

The roots of urbanity carve against the romance,

And bloom in thick blocks,

Grey like their gods,

And gushing great gases from their ‘hinds.

A frosty damp holds in the air,

And clutches to the artificial hair

Of the lecture halls, the dining balls,

The blown-in corpses of the boughs

Of those left behind.

But where the branches cannot stretch,

The wings can.

The Jackdaws harbour in the ports of chimneys,

Benches, fountains and signs.

And another:

Us – we creatures of modernity.

Loving and kissing and laughing and bringing

Gifts of potted plants and coffees late at night.

Lover-to-lover, man-to-man, sister-to-brother.

We gentle creatures, roosting in the eyrie of love.

Our wings, coats, wrapped about us, tufted like chicks,

Children of some greater intention.

Trading smiles and cash, masks applied,

We survive, and our roots change

Far more than any tree.

Love is found here, amongst every building,

And dies here,

Autumnal graveyards of love.

But through composts of grief

Comes beetles of faith.

Bundles of joy.

People of trust.

I find them here,

Amongst the weeds and words

Amongst the pens and swords

Maybe they love only half as me,

But the words of the wild ground me.

But while the tree grows and the sky snows and the lake glows,

While the air dries, while the towers spy, while the Jackdaws cry,

While the world dies.

At least there is me

At least there is you.


Yaya Arnostova (MA Creative Writing)

I don’t understand empty spaces,

Gaps and abysses in embraces.

Strangers full of smiles

Are my trembling lips, and lies –

All the untruths I compose like odes

On cracking pavements, shaking walls

– Shatter like the pictures on the wall

When the tremor comes


The shining stars

– Lizhong Zhang

Chapter 1

The Beginning

The night mutes every slight sound, justice gradually falls into sleep, murders and crimes eventually wakes up, hides in every invisible corner, among every empty street, desire to find the correct target.

Darkness hosts this room, as if here is where the night derives from, none of the light is welcomed to become its guest.

Only the flickering cigarette uncovers that a person is sitting here in silence.

“I believe you come here is not for my answer.”

Lewis gazes at the man sits in front of him. Although everything is covered by darkness, he immediately realises that where the guest stands.

“You`re right, Lewis. This is the invitation from Sir Dornan. He wanna hire you to protect his painting.”

The man gives a letter to Lewis, the detective takes that yellow paper, then reads it line by line:

Dear Lewis Peterman,

This is the invitation which exclusively belongs to you.

Sir Dornan William Jackson earnestly wishes you to protect his painting: ‘The Shining Stars’.

During the exhibition, Sir Dornan William Jackson will show his well-known and foremost collection ‘The Shining Stars’ for the first time.

‘The Shinning Stars’ is one of the most precious and invaluable paintings around the world.

Sir Dornan William Jackson spent one million pounds on buying his treasure in 1992. He firmly believes that ‘The Shining Stars’ is his collection par excellence amid all the treasures he has, consequently, the painting never be shown to anyone.

Sir Dornan William Jackson unswervingly insists that all the guests will never regret after attending his exhibition.

However, out of expectation, Sir Dornan William Jackson receives a threatening letter which written by a man names Aden about he plans to steal the invaluable collection during the exhibition.

Sir Dornan William Jackson extremely worries about the destiny of ‘The Shining Stars’ and desires to have an outstanding person to protect it.

After solemn and serious selection, Sir Dornan William Jackson invites you for the heart, Mr. Lewis Peterman, to protect his unparalleled, inestimable ‘The Shining Stars’ and catch that brutal, savage thief.

                                          Sir Dornan William Jackson

“Boring! Boring! Boring! I have no interest in protecting any painting.”

Lewis yawns, leisurely stretches his arms.

“Sir Dornan believes you`re the right one, the incomparable one, the only one! If you`re willing to come, you can write down any amount of ‘budgets’ on it.”

With extremely calm and impassive tone, the man puts a check book on the desk.

Lewis stares at it, suddenly bursts into laugh.

“What a fucking wealthy man! If I write one million pounds down, will Dornan still let me protect his painting?”

Lewis gazes at the man who hides in the darkness, motionless and emotionless.

That`s what Sir Dornan told me. Just wrote down the number you want.

Lewis stops laughing, picks a pen and draws a smiling face on the check book.

“Interesting. How valuable the painting is? How brave your Sir Dornan is? He invites a little-known detective to protect his favourite painting. It`s illogical, but I love everything illogical.”

Lewis throws his check book to the corner, gazes at that indifferent man.

“So, you`re willing to come?”

The male voice slightly increases, Lewis nods and stretches his arms.

“Yeah, just for my curiosity. I`m so curious about Dornan`s intention. But the painting is not what I interested in. How many people will attend?”

“Around 100 people. Sir Dornan will give the list to you. By the way, they`re all elites, we believe they won`t steal ‘The Shining Stars’.”

The male voice gradually returns to calm and impassive.

“Why not? Nothing is impossible.”

Lewis stares at the shadow, the man stuns, suddenly bursts into laugh.

“Maybe, but why? Why they`ll do something definitely ruin their reputation?”

“Well, you may be familiar with a person`s face, a person`s habit, a person`s intelligence, but you`ll never know their minds. All the people have their dark sides. No one can diminish his or her desires after they are successful, on the contrary, they will have much more desires. My friend, please don`t underestimate them, they can help you, they also can ruin you!”
The man keeps in silence for a while, then claps his hands.
“I start to understand why Sir Dornan chose you.”
Lewis laughs again and stands up, stares at the serene metropolis outside the window.
“Please remember, Sir Dornan doesn`t wanna see the painting be stolen.”
Lewis nods with smile, then takes a deep breath.

“Well, I`ll try my best, but you know: nothing is impossible. I`m still confused about something. I need to see your lord first.”

Lewis turns back, the darkness covers up his eyes.

“What a weird! You`re definitely not English, you just leave here without telling me!”

Lewis disappointedly shakes his head, then turns back and stares at the noiseless night again.

Chapter 2

Sir Dornan

As if the detective has been here for uncountable times, the manservant recognises him immediately when Lewis arrives at the grand hotel and stands in front of the main entrance.

“Mr Peterman, Sir Dornan is waiting for you, he hopes you are willing to immediately meet him when you arrive.”

The manservant leads Lewis to the second floor, Lewis then follows him to the tremendous office, looks at he knocks the door three times, subsequently opens it for the detective.

Simultaneously, a beam of genial and warm sunshine touches Lewis, he looks at the man stands in front of him, smells a puff of cologne.

“Lewis, it`s so great to meet you! Oh, you`re totally different from what I imagined: old, fat, stubborn. You`re so handsome! You should be a superstar!”

Dornan turns around, stares at Lewis, gestures him to sit on the sofa.

“You should know what I look like when you chose me. But to be honest, I don`t think you made a good choice.”

Dornan suddenly bursts into laugh, pours a cup of water for Lewis.

“No! no! no! I believe I made a best choice. Well actually, I felt regret before I met you, but now, I know how stupid I was!”

Lewis frowns, stares at that cup of water.

At same time, Dornan gives a key to him.

“I chose you because I believe you`re the best! Your room is on the 10th floor, presidential suite. You can stay and enjoy as long as you want, totally for free. But please remember: DO NOT LET MY PAINTING VANISHES!”

Lewis picks the key up, imagines what will the presidential suite looks like, then puts it into the pocket, stares at the man ahead of him.

“I can`t ensure anything. But I promise: I`ll try my best!”

Dornan shakes Lewis`s hand, then spontaneously leads the way to presidential suite.

“This is your room. You can stay here as long as you want!”

Dornan glances around the decoration of his room, then smiles to Lewis.

“I won`t bother you anymore, you can enjoy your room now! But, please don`t forget what you should do.”

Lewis immediately nods, stares at Dornan until he closes the door.

Simultaneously, the warm sunshine swaggeringly descends into the presidential suite through its transparent window, leisurely lies on the six-seater leather sofa.

The fragrance of sunshine flies into Lewis`s nose, the detective picks a taffy up from the gilded table, relaxes his weary waist on the soft cushion while the TV is switched on.

“Good Morning, Mr Peterman. I`m your butler Sam.”

Sam walks into the suite, puts one bottle of champagne on desk.

“Butler? Why I have a butler?”

Lewis stares at the man who straight stands ahead of him, steadily holds a silver plate which has a cup of coffee and a piece of cheesecake lie on it.

“Because Sir Dornan believes that: as an excellent detective and our paramount guest, you deserve to have our best service, such as be serviced by the best butler.”

Sam stands in corner and smiles, analogical to an extraordinary sculpture. Lewis looks straight at the butler`s eyes, a hint of weird feeling marginally grows in his mind.

Unexpectedly, the detective is unable to explain it.

Sam slowly opens office`s door, gestures the paramount guest to walk into.

Mr Peterman, Sir Dornan told me that I need to lead you walk around the  suite.”

Sam smiles, Lewis stares at the butler`s soft and white hand, follows him to the office.

The office is as large as the living room, a wooden desk and five gilded bookshelves stand in centre. Hardcovers are cosily and leisurely lying on them.

Mr Peterman, this is your office.”

Sam introduces the office in detail, but Lewis just immovably stands in front of a painting.

“What`s this?”

Lewis finally comes to life, points at the painting in excitement. Sam glances the painting and laughs.

“It`s the copy of ‘The Shining Stars’, all the suites have one copy.”

 “‘The Shining Stars’!”

Lewis murmurs.

“It is the best name for this painting.”

At same time, he suddenly ignores everything around, as if his world solely includes the painting, it is the only thing exists in his world, and he suddenly becomes a moveless and senseless sculpture.

Sirif you like the painting, I can hang up some copies on the living room and bedroom, so you can see it at any time.”

Lewis nods, Sam bows to him, then leaves the suite.

Silence subsequently accompanies the detective, Lewis sits in front of the copy, his constricted muscles and depressed mind simultaneously relax.

Unaware but pleasing feeling fills in Lewis`s body, the detective closes his eyes, feels he is lying on a mountain`s summit, stares at pure stars which are shining like transparent and precious crystals lighten the verdant grass and multicoloured flowers. Lewis stretches his arms, unconsciously tries to touch those stars.

But suddenly, a series of knocks pull Lewis out of his mental world.

“Who is it!”

Lewis furiously stands up and runs to the door, the fade away of that magical feeling makes the detective open his door in angry.

Dornan is shocked when he sees that resentful face, but he still keeps smiling.

“Lewis, do you wanna see my favourite ‘The Shining Stars’?”

Dornan`s invitation as if an effective medicine, the angry face replaces by excitement in the blink of an eye. Then Lewis nods, follows Dornan wild with joy.

“These are all my collections, I spent half of my life for collecting these, I can say with no remorse: they are the symbols of my life, of myself and of my family! Lewis, I`m so proud of myself!”

Lewis glances around the sculptures, vases and paintings.

Unfortunately, none of them attracts the detective`s eyes.

Lewis tightly grasps the trousers, tries to control his excitement again and again.

Dornan stops to stand in front of the central wall. Lewis stares at that frame which is covered by a large piece of scarlet cloth. The collector gestures two men to loosen it.

“My friend, this is ‘The Shining Stars’!”

Dornan stretches his arms straight, as if he is a triumphant captain who finds a new continent.

Lewis expectantly and fretfully gazes at the cloth which seems to be reluctant to leave that painting.

But suddenly, the detective frowns and cools down when he sees the most famous, precious and authentic work.

“‘The Shining Stars’! My best and most valuable collection! Lewis, what do you think about it?”

Dornan proudly smiles, the detective just stares at the painting.


Lewis carefully inspects each of the shining stars, but no one provides that magical feeling again.

“What did you say?”

Dornan turns back, curiously looks at frowning Lewis.

“Oh, nothing.”

Lewis shakes his head, shows a reluctant smile.

Dornan frowns, but chooses not to ask any further question, then turns back, stretches his arms like a triumphant captain again.

“This is ‘The Shinning Stars’! This is my favourite! I can`t find any painting better than it. That`s why I fell in love with her when I saw her for the first time in 1997. I was so crazy, I decided to spend one million pounds for getting this treasure—just in one second!”

Dornan excitedly looks his favourite, but Lewis solely gazes at the painting, confirmedly refused all the words to come into his ears.

“So, Lewis, please make sure no one can steal it, you`ll get everything you want if you achieve that!”

I`ll try my best, Sir.

Lewis bows to Dornan, the owner smiles at same time.

But suddenly, Lewis frowns when he sees that smile.

A Date with Death

– Written by Lorna Kelly

Do you ever get déjà vu?

It was a late Sunday evening, and my hands trembled as I pushed my way through the heavy double doors. White light flooded out of the restaurant and hit my eyes, leaving them burning. For days I had been preparing myself for this date, but now, coming directly into a bright dining room full of blurry-faced strangers, I wanted to crumple to the floor and die.

“Rose!” At a small table by a window, a tall, raven-haired man stood up and gestured me over. He was wearing a grey suit, without a tie.

It was too late to turn back now. With my legs shaking like twigs about to snap under my weight, I hurried over as elegantly as I could. “Hey!” I gave him a little smile. Because of the way he looked at me— unblinking and intently fixated on my face— I wasn’t certain whether he was incredibly disappointed or pleasantly surprised. “Uh, you are Damian, aren’t you?”

His smile was so wide that he could have been wearing a mask. “Of course, darling. Who else would I be?” His voice was deep, and he had a dramatic way of speaking that suited his accent; don’t ask me what accent it was though. There was something strange about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but whatever it was, it was certainly fancier than mine.

I gave an awkward chuckle. “Well, it’s nice to meet you.” Wasting no time, I dropped my coat onto the chair and slumped down on top of it, leaving Damian standing there.

“Aw. No hug for me?” He pretended to frown.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” I got back up, and he eagerly wrapped his arms around me. Our height difference forced me to stand on my tiptoes, and my face was smothered by his broad chest.

He made a little noise of satisfaction. “Aren’t you a cute little thing?”

I suppose his handsome face made up for his patronising attitude. “Uh, thank you,” I murmured, patting his shoulder until he let me go, and we both sat down.

“I already ordered the wine. Hopefully you like red.” He gestured to my glass.

“Oh, uh, yeah. That’s fine.”

I was already finding myself fighting the urge to hide behind the ridiculously oversized menu that lay on the table before me. We were silent for a while as I slowly sipped the wine, and Damian practically poured it down his throat. Something about him seemed so familiar… Perhaps it was the floral scented cologne he was wearing.

“You look even better in real life than you do in your pictures.” He gave me a cheeky wink.

“Oh, thank you.” I blushed and gave him a smile back.

He leaned back in his chair and rested one leg up on the other. “So, sweetheart… Tell me about yourself.”

“Uh… Well, I think you already know a lot about me.”

“True, true… Hmm, let me think…Oh, I know! How about your worst fear?” He took a sip of his wine.

“Oh… I’m not really sure what I’m afraid of…” I wracked my brain for an answer. “I’m not a fan of water, I suppose. I couldn’t swim to save my life.”

“Oh, you poor thing. Never learnt how?”

“Well, I tried, but I never got very far.”

“Maybe I can teach you, darling.”

I scratched my neck. “I’m sure you’re a great teacher, but, uh, probably not.”

“Hmm… that’s alright. I’ll do the swimming, and you hold onto me. I could be a dolphin for you.”

I smiled in amusement. “That’s not a bad idea… So, what about you? What scares you?”

He took no time at all to come up with his answer. “I’m terrified of being alone.”

“Oh… that’s kinda sad.”

“Sad in a pathetic way?”

“No, no! Like… cute sad. I don’t know.”

“Cute like you?” He raised his eyebrows.

“I’m not that cute.”

“Yes, you are. Look at that little round face and those chocolate ringlets, you’re like a little porcelain doll.” He leaned in closer. “I could squeeze you to death.”

I chuckled uncomfortably. “Don’t go that far!”

“I’ll try not to.” He grinned.

There was another stretch of silence. I fidgeted in my chair, trying to focus on the menu, while Damian examined me. I cleared my throat. “Uh, have you already decided what you want?”

“Yes, darling. It’s up to you now.”

“Oh, well, let me think.” I held the menu up in front of my face.

“Choices, choices… So, how was your day?”

“P-pretty good, I, uh…” My mind was blank. “Watched some TV, worked on an essay for uni, pretty much it.”

“Are you hiding from me?” He peered over the menu, smirking.

“Huh? Why would I do that?”

He casually took the menu from my hands and put it down. “There’s no need to be nervous.”

“Why do you think I’m nervous?”

“You’re shaking like a little leaf!”

“Oh, shit, am I? Now I feel self-conscious,” I joked, even though it was the truth.

Damian put his cold hand on mine. “It’s okay, little Rose, there’s nothing to worry about. You’re completely safe with me.”

I licked my lips, trying to get some moisture back into them. “It’s just, uh, b-been a while since the last time I was on a date.”

“Well, I’m glad it’s not because I’m scaring you.”

“Not at all.”

“Good.” He squeezed my hand and captured me in the mirrors that were his beautiful black eyes. It seemed he was trying to bewitch me. “How about the Bucatini all’Amatriciana?” He pointed to the menu.

“I do like… that.” I hadn’t the slightest clue what he was talking about. I tried to look at the menu again, but I could barely process it. “Yeah, I’ll go with the Buc-bucatini Americana… or whatever.” 

Almost too well timed, a waiter appeared beside the table. “Would you like me to take your order, sir?”

“Yes, I’ll have the steak— rare— and she’ll have the Bucatini all’Amatriciana. Also, we’ll have another bottle of the wine-” He looked at me. “-and a pomegranate martini.”

I raised my eyebrows. “I don’t remember telling you that was my favourite.”

“I must be clairvoyant.” He grinned impishly.

“Is that everything, Sir?”

“Yes, yes.” He shooed him away, and with the waiter went my menu.

I curled my hair tightly around my finger, and Damian looked me up and down.

“You know what? You look absolutely incredible in that dress. It matches your lovely eyes.”

I was wearing a blue velvet cocktail dress. “Aw, thank you! I love your, uh, suit.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. Grey s-suits you.”

“Why thank you, sweet. I had the most frustrating time trying to choose a tie. I remembered you like blue, but-“

Damian’s voice disappeared as soon as I heard my phone vibrate in my coat pocket, but I didn’t want to look at it. Instead, I grabbed my wine.

Staring down into the glass, I was distant from everything around me, locked inside my mind, buried deep beneath my thoughts. Then the pomegranate cocktail appeared before me, and I realised that Damian had stopped talking. He was just watching me, his chiseled face expressionless, as if he’d turned into a mannequin.

“S-sorry, what were you saying? I completely zoned out.”

He suddenly came back to life. “Don’t worry yourself… Try your drink.” He smiled.

I took a sip, my hand shaking slightly as I held the glass. “It’s nice! Quite refreshing.”

“I’m glad you like it.”

An hour and a bit later, Damian had finished his food, and I was too full to continue.

“Want me to finish yours?”

“Yeah, go ahead. I can’t eat anymore,” I groaned.

“You don’t like it?” He furrowed his brow.

“Oh, no, it was r-really, really good… I just… I-I just have a small stomach… I guess.” My face flushed.

He gave me a funny look. “Are you a little tipsy, my sweet?”

“Uhh, yeah, a little.”

He dragged my plate closer to him. “If you keep being so adorable, I might have to eat you too.” He winked at me, poured himself another glass of wine and gulped it down as he devoured the rest of my cold pasta. I couldn’t comprehend how the man was still conscious. In fact, he seemed completely sober. I suppose he was a big boy, but it was still quite inhuman.

“Aren’t you tipsy at all?”

“No, no. I can handle my drink. What have you had? Two glasses?”

I rubbed my neck. “I think I’ve had more than that.”

“Don’t be embarrassed, darling. You’re only a little thing.” He scooped the last of the pasta into his mouth. “Want dessert?” he asked before his fork had even had the chance to rest on the plate.

“No, I’m alright. Don’t let me stop you from having some though.”

“Oh, I’m fine.” He turned to a waiter who had plates piled on both arms and waved to him impatiently. “Hey! Bring us the bill.”

“Yes, Sir.” The poor waiter bowed his head in obedience, turned around and hurried back the way he had come. 

“D-do you come here a lot?” I asked Damian.

“Mm, nope.” He smiled. As we waited for the bill, he leaned in closer again and kept his eyes intent on me. I was starting to worry that the thing about eating me hadn’t been a joke afterall. “Don’t you look beautiful.” He licked his lips.

“You’re sweet.”

“Will you let me kiss you then?”

“I, uh…” My blood rushed to my face. “Yeah, okay.”

He gave me a quick peck on the lips, observed my reaction, then went in for more. “Mm, you taste lovely.” We continued to kiss for a little while, until he was satisfied. “So… What do you want to do next, sweetheart?”

I leaned back in my chair. “Um…” I stared at the table. “I… I have no idea.”

Damian cleared his throat. “Back to mine?” He raised his eyebrows.

“Uh…” Now the anxiety really kicked in. I had to close my eyes for a moment to ground myself. Thankfully, the waiter came back with the bill, and Damian got out his wallet, giving me some more time to think. Not that I really could think. I got my phone out of my pocket and opened my messages. There were no messages; that vibration from before had been a pointless notification.

I took a very deep breath.

“I was just thinking that we could watch a movie together or play some games. But I understand if you don’t want to, darling,” he said sadly.

I looked up from my phone, locking eyes with him. “No, no! I would love to.” I smiled sweetly.

His eyes widened. “Oh? That’s wonderful!”

I jumped up and pulled on my coat before I could change my mind. My head was spinning a little, but I was sober enough to think clearly… or at least that’s what I thought.

“My car’s just outside.” He smirked and put his arm around me in triumph.

On a phrase of Christina Rossetti

– Professor Chris McCully

How could we have known? It seemed

like a stable, not a fulcrum; stank

of damp and dung, cinnamon and clay.

A chain-saw hung in a corner.

Earth fled away.

Someone had been working: wood-shavings

in sodden drifts; two beams

crossed, ready to be joisted. That day

extinguished any remaining light.

Earth fled away.

You tried to find an angle

but what you saw had nothing to do

with anything you wanted. Refugees, they say.

Officials swore at the paper-trail.

 Earth fled away.

This little piece is to appear in a new collection, A Few Late Wasps, which in turn will open the Collected Poems 1980-2020

The 9 days of Winter

by Gabrielle Herbert. 

-4 degrees, on the 23rd of winter. Snow begins to glisten as glitter on the high mountaintops, gone by morning come. Frost replaces its nap, waiting for the sun to rise and tear it from its sleep, like an early morning school run. The fog follows -3 on the cool 24th of winter, drifting past, not having anything to do with the winter air, snobbishly, head up, at 6:00 like a visible ninja, hiding in plain sight. -2 will come tomorrow, bringing scarfs and boots running up, snug. Finally -1 where you expect it’ll snow soon. But the snow on the mountain which was there at 6:00 am, is gone again by 7:00. 

Then we go deeper, 0. The point were we should freeze. The blood working quickly, to warm us from our sneeze. -1 and -2 chillier and chillier, as you travel up Great Britain, to Scotland at its peak. Then we go up to 0 then 1, here I am in London Town, on a cold winter morning. Christmas lies far from now as winter isn’t coming. Where is that white Christmas we all dreamed for as kids? Too far gone in the past as if it was forbid. 

What Will You Do This Summer?

By Sarah Lawrence, 3rd Year LiFTS Student

Welcome readers,

Do you remember the times when you would return to class at the end of the summer and, without fail, you would be asked to write a piece entitled; ‘what I did during the summer break’? Most of the time, mine read; ‘I watched TV’ and nothing else. My teachers were so unimpressed with this that they encouraged me to make something up – how depressing is that? In my eyes I had lived my best life, why change it?

Of course, now I realise how unhealthy and unproductive that was.

As, I approached this piece I realised I finally have something worth writing about and, most importantly, it is all true. Now, your life may be far more interesting than mine, but as we are hurtling towards the end of the academic year and the sand in my hourglass of University time is dwindling, I felt like I should share.

Last year I joined a social networking organisation called The Ladies Circle. The Ladies Circle is a club for women aged 18-45. It focuses on the making friends, having fun, encouraging each other to do new things and giving back to the community. There are 130 clubs nationally and several others spreading across 45 countries. Each circle has a chosen charity, elected by their chair – our local charity this year is the Alzheimer’s Society. We also have a national charity which, this year, is the Societi for Kawasaki Disease. We fundraise for both of these charities with events ranging from a bake sale to an abseil.

Two years ago, when I started to participate in events, my sister and I completed a 10k walk around Warwick, raising just over £1200 for The Brain Tumour Charity. Last summer we took part in a half marathon, raising just over £730. This year, we are hanging up our shoes and heading to the waters. Anyone who knows me is aware that I am severely lacking in the aquatic skills department. Yet, this summer our circle will be swimming the width of the Channel. This is what my summer will consist of, practising and promoting the event. We want to welcome everyone to come along and get involved; clap, wave a banner, do a Mexican wave. We haven’t set an official start date, but when we do we will post it on our Facebook page. So, to loosely quote the kids of today; watch that space.

It is said that girls compete with each other, while women empower each other. That’s what Ladies Circle is about. Empowerment doesn’t have to be encouraging you to tackle your fear of heights or water, but maybe going out and meeting strangers. This year my sister and I travelled to Rome, where we met two members of the Roma Ladies Circle. A few years ago, I didn’t know this group existed and here I was in another country meeting strangers who soon became friends. Whatever your weaknesses are, we can help face them.

Although I have listed only a few examples of our fundraising activities it is not our main focus, we do so much more, and it is a great way to make a difference. We want it to be a fun social group; whether we go for a meal out, go to the cinema or snowboarding.

It is great for those looking to make friends, find events near them and/or get involved in charity fundraising. Now, although I have solely spoke about the Ladies Circle, there’s also its sister – Tangent- a group for women aged 45+ and its brother -Roundtable- for men aged 18-45. There are groups in Clacton, Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend (to name a few). On our website there is a ‘Circle Finder’ where you can locate your nearest group.

So, if you want to be able to boast about ‘What I did with my summer’, then just email your local group, attend the events, like our Facebook pages, volunteer, etc. If writing is your passion you could be the Circle’s secretary, if digital marketing is your thing, you could be in charge of membership or making posters for your group’s events. We just like to get involved and  motivate others to do the same.

This year our motto is; #celebratingfriendships – so, why not start with yours?

Useful websites to get you started;

Ladies Circle:

Our Facebook page:



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