Dream Car

Mercedes-Benz is a German automobile manufacturer, a multinational division of the German manufacturer Daimler AG. The brand is known for luxury automobiles, coaches, and trucks.

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My favourite car is the new S-Class Coupe. I like it because it has nice wheels and I like the patterns on the seat in black. The Coupe has three doors, which makes it look sporty.

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Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Over half term I went on a visit to London and on Tuesday 28th October I had the privilege of seeing the new memorial of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London which honours the sacrifice of British and Commonwealth soldiers in the First World War. In total there are 888,246 handmade poppies which blanket the Tower’s moat in a sea of red.

Some of the poppies that make up the display at the Tower of London.

Some of the poppies that make up the display at the Tower of London.

The installation started on August 5th earlier this year when the first of the poppies were planted. Since then more and more poppies have been planted by volunteers and some members of the royal family. The last poppy will be planted on 11th November in line with Remembrance Day.

Each poppy was handmade from clay by volunteers.

Each poppy was handmade from clay by volunteers.

Each and every one of the poppies was up for sale for twenty-five pounds. They have all now been sold raising over £22 million. The money will be shared between six charities which help and support ex-servicemen and honour the great sacrifice made by members of the armed forces both past and present.

The six charities that will receive the money raised by the sale of the poppies include The Royal British Legion and Help For Heroes.

The six charities that will receive the money raised by the sale of the poppies include The Royal British Legion and Help For Heroes.

When I visited the poppies the sheer number of people was truly astounding. Thousands of people were lining the walls and fences above the moat taking pictures taking in the sheer size and scale of the thing. You had to wait for others to move and slowly shuffle your way to the front as otherwise your view would be obstructed by people.

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Thousands of people came out to see the poppies on my visit and surely thousands more will by November the 11th.

The poppies were a truly breathtaking sight. A wonderful idea to remember and respect those who gave their lives on the field of battle and something I will never forget. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

For more information about the installation, visit the website here

Cumberbatch to film in Wells?

From October 19 until October 24, the second series of The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses will be filmed in Wells, at Cathedral Green and Vicar’s close.

Based on the historical plays of Shakespeare, the series won a number of BAFTA’s including awards for Sound, Supporting Actor and Leading Actor.

Although the filming is confirmed, the BBC has given no statement on which actors will be in Wells. The series stars Benedict Cumberbatch as King Richard the Third, and the cast also includes Judi Dench, Hugh Bonneville and Michael Gambon.

Sherlock co-star Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty, has joined the cast and may also be on set.

Jingle hell- Full of festive fear

Making my devoted pilgrimage to Dobbies Garden Centre, I was struck by a horror so great that I almost dropped my potted spider plant. There before me, glistening in their silver foil armour, stood an army of chocolate Santas. I turned around. A novelty reindeer head poked me in the ribs with a festive felt antler. A sprightly young shop assistant asked me if I was ok to which I said that I was not, because he was wearing a santa hat and it’s October.

I ask you- why is it that every year, Christmas is forced upon us earlier and earlier like a second helping of aubergine bake at someone else’s dinner party? Why must we spend a quarter of each year surrounded by magic snow and the faintly repulsive smell of cinnamon? When did October stop being about collecting conkers and watching the leaves turn crisp and colourful (or shrivel and die if you’re a pessimist)?

This year, Christmas has been let off its leash earlier than ever, and it’s gambling merrily through every shop and street, plastering everything in its path with badly drawn snowflakes. And it’s always such a disappointment. There is no ‘winter wonderland’, no robin conforming to the stereotype of perching on a snow-dusted spade handle. It drizzles with cold rain. People feel self-conscious in their oversized festive knitwear, Christmas dinner takes too long to cook and no one can face eating the Christmas cake anyway. It retreats back to the tin in the cupboard and remains there until July, in all its sultana-ry stodge. The Christingle service sees yet another child impaled by a cocktail-stick skewered satsuma.

And so, when Dobbies cranked up their ‘band’ of performing polar bear models and the sound of Slade began its 3 month tirade on my tolerance, I swivelled and walked straight out of the shop. On exit, I walked into a Christmas tree, which promptly vomited a pine needle puddle onto the pavement.

The History of the Middle East

Part 1: Lines in the Sand (1918 – 1956)

After the First World War, the Ottoman Empire collapsed. Areas which had been under Ottoman rule for hundreds of years were suddenly free and this caused many problems. To try and bring stability to the region, and increase their power, the French and British divided the area between themselves.

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Yes Scotland

The Case for Scottish independence

From the outset of the referendum campaign two years ago the case for independence has been based on ideology as much as political matters. People’s heritage has been as influential in their choice as the economic and social policies an independent Scotland would have. In this piece I aim to examine both ideological and political arguments and the influence of individuals in the Scottish independence debate.

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The Scottish Referendum: How it affects us

Recently, there’s been one news story that’s been dominating the news: the Scottish Referendum 2014, and the nation has already been divided into those who say “Yes” and those who say “No”. I admit I didn’t really understand how, as a teenager living in England, the decision would really affect me. However, there are lots of factors that makes the vote just as crucial to me as it is to the “Yes” and “No” protestors and politicians.

Saltire and union flag

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Freshers’ Fear

The first week of college was a chaotic conglomerate of confusion, nerves and awkwardness. On the first day, the buses regurgitated their student stomachs out onto the layby whilst teachers emerged from the burrows of the buildings to meet, greet and look neat. As hundreds of shoes shuffled into Strode, an inexplicable fog of fear descended, and us Freshers found ourselves grimacing at people, having lost the ability to smile normally and make simple introductions. Continue reading

Better Together

Introduction

On Thursday we will take the biggest political decision in Scotland’s history. If we vote to leave the UK there would be no going back.”

This quotation from an e-mail the No campaign sent to me sums up the importance of the Scottish independence referendum. For 300 years, Scotland and England have been working together. The Yes campaign, led by the ever-smug Alex Salmond, wants to tear Great Britain apart whilst the No campaign, led by Alistair Darling the former Chancellor, is fighting to save it.

Why Should Scotland stay?

Many Scottish, and English, have been asking that question, and many of them are still waiting for an answer. In the final rush to secure votes before Thursday, it is hard to determine what the No campaign is actually saying. My aim in this section is to present the arguments of Better Together, and evaluate them.

Oil

The “It’s Scotland’s Oil” campaign of the ’70s formed the basis for modern Scottish nationalism and the foundation of the SNP. The No campaign recognises that there is oil left, but they claim that it cannot be used to fund a state like Scotland. The SNP have based all of their economic plans on the basis that the price of oil will be $113 or more per barrel.

The current price of oil (as of the 15th of September) is $92.27.

Furthermore, industry expert Sir Ian Wood, who wrote a report on North Sea oil for the government earlier this year, has said that the SNP’s prediction for how much oil there is left is wrong. He also predicted that the SNP’s claim of getting £7 billion per year from oil was wrong, and that it would be closer to £4.7 billion.

The No campaign’s oil predictions have yet to face criticism.

The NHS & other public services

One of the biggest nationalist arguments is that staying in the United Kingdom puts the Scottish NHS and other public services at risk. This forms part of the broader nationalist policy of ‘We Hate the Tories’ which is a central part of their campaign. Better Together reject this argument, saying that changes in England and Wales do not affect the Scottish NHS and they have also criticised Alex Salmond over his NHS policy.

So, who has the best argument?

Well, the Scottish NHS is a devolved matter. This means that the Scottish Government has exclusive control over the Scottish NHS, so the English NHS could be privatised and it would have no effect in Scotland. Therefore, we can conclude that Alex Salmond is being economical with the truth or, in rather unparliamentary language, lying.

It also seems that Mr Salmond in a hypocrite. A couple of days ago, the BBC managed to obtain confidential papers suggesting that the SNP are planning to cut the Scottish NHS budget by £400 million, regardless of the result. Either Alex Salmond doesn’t pay attention to his own government, or he is a hypocrite with a fondness for misleading voters.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Currency

The argument over currency has dominated the campaign since the beginning. The Yes campaign want to use the pound whilst the No campaign insist that they will not be able to use the pound if they have independence.

Alex Salmond’s refusal to give an alternative currency option is… worrying to say the least, although his valiant battle against Westminster may well make him more popular amongst Scottish voters.

Nobody can tell for sure what currency an independent Scotland will use. It may turn out that the Prime Minister was bluffing, and they will be able to use the pound. They might even have to use the Euro if they wish to join the European Union (more on that later).

If Scotland were to use sterling, then large parts of their fiscal policy would have to be set by the Bank of England in order for the currency union to actually work. However, having your monetary policy set by a foreign bank really does contradict the point of having independence.

Europe

Scotland is one of the more pro-EU parts of the United Kingdom, and the SNP have said many times that an independent Scotland would automatically be a part of the EU. I can tell you now, that this is a lie. The President of the European Commission himself said that Scotland would have to apply to join.

This raises some interesting, and possibly troublesome, questions.

1. The Euro. Since the Maastricht Treaty in the 1990s, all new EU members must also adopt the Euro. The fact that Salmond want the pound means that he may be refused entry to EU unless some sort of special exception is made.

2. Spain. At the moment, the Spanish are having trouble with separatists in Catalonia and many think that a Yes vote in Scotland would encourage them. Some people have suggested that Spain would veto Scotland’s entry into the EU, so that it doesn’t encourage Catalonian separatists.

Key People

Alistair Darling

When I first learned that Alistair Darling was leading the No campaign, I was quite surprised. Why choose him when there are so many other, more prominent politicians? But then I realised. Alistair Darling’s unremarkability is his greatest asset.

In the minds of the Scottish people, he is not associated with Westminster in the same way that David Cameron or Ed Miliband are. Darling stands on that thin line where people know who he is, but not why they recognise him.

It is this unremarkability, combined with the fact that he is Scottish, which makes him such a good choice to lead Better Together. He can be a capable and passionate spokesman, but he can also fade into the background when necessary.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown’s sudden intervention was met by cheers from some, and incredulous looks from others. What surprises me the most, is how well received he was. His fiery rhetoric seems to have made people forget all about his time as Prime Minister between 2007 and 2010, when he presided over the worst economic crisis since 1929.

His seemingly unilateral promise of extra devolution was equally stunning, more so, I suspect, for David Cameron and Ed Miliband who would have to act on that promise or face great anger. However, this well-timed intervention may well have saved the No campaign which seemed to on the brink of destruction after that infamous YouGov poll which showed Yes at 51%.

My Prediction

On the eve of the referendum, I thought I would make a prediction on what the result will be. With a couple of exceptions, all of the polls are saying that there will be a narrow No victory, although there have been times where they’ve got it very wrong.

I’ll also take into account the fact that the polls may underestimate support for No, because people are too embarrased to admit their support when asked by polling companies. This commonly happens in general elections with the Tories, and is known as the ‘shy Tory factor’.

Taking both of those things into account, I predict that the result of the referendum will be:

51% – No

49% – Yes

But the polls don’t really matter any more. The Scottish will get more power regardless of how they vote, and the West Lothian question (the lack of English Parliament) cannot be ignored for much longer.When we learn the result on Friday morning, Britain will never be the same again.

Who Has The First Word?

Ok I have to admit; I am what most young adults might describe as technically backwards. My tool of communication is a Nokia “brick” mobile, I do not have a Twitter/YouTube account and I rarely update my Facebook. In the eyes of many this severely limits my ability to communicate and technology-pros might even dub me as a social recluse when it comes to the plethora of ways to communicate virtually. Perhaps I am a travesty to the social media revolution, but call me old fashioned I would rather talk to someone in person than be locked behind a screen, unable to physically express emotion.

On the other hand, perhaps there are significant disadvantages of being stuck in my archaic, pre 3G (now even 4G) world? Continue reading