The worst of its kind

As Zika virus continues to spread on a global scale, more is revealed about the insect responsible.
Meet Aedus.
It is the mosquito responsible for spreading the latest outbreak, known as Zika virus. It was named by German entomologist Johann Wilhelm Meigen after the Greek word meaning ‘odius’ or ‘unpleasant,’ a fitting name given to the breed of mosquito known for its spreading of disease. They used to only be found in hot climate continents such as Africa and Asia but they are now found in all continents around the world apart from the Antarctica, due to its freezing conditions.
It has been said that the mosquito was originally a forest specimen that had over time, adapted itself to rural and suburban, human environments.

They have recently come to attention since the outbreak of Zika virus in 2015. The virus was first discovered in Africa in 1947 and has since spread on a global scale because of Aedus mosquitoes. It was thought that the increase of the species in different parts of the world was aided through the fault of human activity in the international trade of used tyres. The mosquitoes lay their eggs on objects such as these and the eggs are then able to withstand very dry conditions, without water. Aedus can also undergo a period of delayed development known as diapause during the winter time ensuring their chances of survival.

They are distinguishable from other breeds of mosquito on sight due to their black and white markings which cover their body and legs. Another difference between them and other strands of the insect is that they are only active during the day time, unlike other mosquitoes which are mainly found at night. They are thought to be most active during the morning and evening just before it starts to get dark.
This genus of mosquito does not just consist of only one kind however; there are over 700 hundred different types of Aedus that carry a variety of diseases. Two of the most well known species of this kind are Aedus Aegypti and Aeudus Albopictus. They are responsible for carrying viruses that can cause dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile fever, chikungunya, eastern equine encephalitis, Zika virus and various others which are less notable.

These types of mosquitoes can be monitored through the use of ovitraps which is a device that was originally invented to monitor the Aedus, in order to get an insight into their breeding patterns and to study their eggs. They are now also used to detect early signs of diseases, in hope of preventing further outbreaks. They also give an insight into the hotspots of the Aedus breeding locations allowing people to know where they are in danger of high infestation of the species. Since the creation of the invention there are now lethal ovitraps which are used to kill the larvae and adult mosquitoes that enter.

To prevent catching any diseases which are spread by the Aedus mosquito, people are being advised to use insect repellent containing DEET, to wear loose fitted clothing that covers the arms and legs and to sleep under a mosquito net when travelling to high risk areas.


Travelling on a budget


Photograph by: Mehrnaz Karimi

Travelling on a budget can be a tricky thing, but assuming you already have some money saved up for your big adventure, you may be worried that what you are taking isn’t going to be enough. However, there are surprisingly many ways of managing your money sensibly whilst travelling.

Depending on where it is that you plan on travelling, determines how much money you will need to take with you. If you were thinking about heading off to Australia, you’re looking at taking around four figures, but there are many other destinations that you can travel to on a three figure budget. If you’re looking at travelling to destinations from the United Kingdom to Europe, you can fly to your first destination from some of the smaller airports in the country at a very reasonable price, with costs varying, depending on which destination you decide to start your adventure off in. Don’t think that you will have to fly from destination to destination though, because once the first flight is over, you can travel to all of the other destinations in many other ways if flying isn’t your preferred way of travelling. Take Europe for instance, if you prefer a journey more grounded, then you can travel all over Europe on the train.

Now that we’ve tackled the transport side of things, the next concerns are accommodation, food and generally surviving off of your budget.
When it comes to accommodation, try not to be too picky, although the sound of a hostel doesn’t really sound appealing, many people find themselves pleasantly surprised, because if you’re lucky enough to get a room in a decent hostel, you may find that it is actually nicer than some hotel rooms. There are even some perks if you choose to stay in a hostel, as accommodation and food can come hand in hand. This is the case for certain parts of Australia, where some of the hostels provide jobs in cleaning and reception work in return for your stay, so you wouldn’t actually be paying anything for your keep.
This is why it is good to go travelling on a budget with an open mind and a willingness to actually do a bit of labour, even if it doesn’t sound appealing to work whilst travelling. Another perk of staying in a hostel is the fact that there are going to be tons of other explorers just like yourself that will be staying there, so you may find that if you have gone alone you may leave wherever you are with a phone book full of new friends or you may even meet people to continue your journey with.
Some hostels also include food by providing a continental breakfast, so that’s one meal out of three that will save you a bit of cash.

There are also many people who provide work for accommodation at their own properties if you decide that a hostel is not for you. If you choose to go down this route, food may also come provided just as they would in some hostels in return for work and you may find that you are provided with more than just one meal unlike a hostel depending on how much work you are willing to do.

So go with an open mind, be prepared to work, and above all, follow these tips and you may find yourself coming home after your travels with a bit of extra money in your pocket.

Why you’ll never be able to relate to a backpacker until you’ve travelled

Vietnam, Halong Bay                                                                   Photograph by: Mehrnaz Karimi

Ever noticed the understanding that backpackers share and wondered why you can’t relate? Here’s why….

The reason behind why those that have travelled can only relate to one and other is because when a person has been exploring they see and experience some of the amazing and awful sights of the world.

It is through these experiences that they learn and develop in a way that is unrelatable to someone who has not been out there. This isn’t to say that everyone who’s been backpacking can relate to each other on the same level of course (there isn’t a secret club don’t worry) but there certainly is a hidden understanding amongst those that have. It takes certain traits to want to go backpacking in the first place. Traits that not everyone shares in the same respect. You have to either be fearless or have a certain sense of bravery about you to want to go on such a voyage.

It isn’t an easy step to take even for those who’ve longed to go their entire lives, it is a matter of going out into the unknown after all. Travellers learn to be more open minded to all kinds of different things from food to people, the list is endless. They learn things about themselves that they’d have never have discovered if they hadn’t gone. Some will see poverty in unimaginable forms (depending on where they go) and that can be life changing in itself.

This can be for many reasons and some of the time it is because it makes them appreciate their own lives more. So if you know someone who’s been travelling and they’ve gone and come back a completely different person, don’t take it to heart. Another distinct characteristic of the backpacker is once they have been, for some that will be it and they will forever want to be back on the road.

That in itself can only be understood by those who share the same longing. There are of course those that will never want to do it again, and sometimes this is simply because they just haven’t been to the right countries. To those I say, don’t let one adventure stop you from going on another!

Travelling can be one of the most eye opening and life changing experiences that should be tried at least once in a lifetime. The understanding amongst them is one that everyone should get the chance to know.

The beauty of learning another language

Learning another language is a difficult yet enjoyable challenge. It has its many benefits, and from my own experiences I can safely say that it can be very self rewarding.
Here are just some of the beauties of learning another language.

1. You increase your knowledge
They say we learn something new everyday, and although sometimes these lessons are not always intellectually stimulating your still expanding your knowledge because you know something now which you did not know before. Therefor, if you are learning another language then you are expanding your intelligence in that respect.

2. Opportunities to widen your community
If you are learning to converse in another language, you are broadening your chances of mixing in new circles of people. People who you may not have mixed with before due to a language barrier. Therefor you are widening your social circle.

3. For the sake of travel
Most people will learn a foreign language with the intention of one day travelling to a specific country that speaks that language. That’s not to say that you have to learn another language just to travel to a certain place, but knowing how to communicate can definitely come in handy. The natives will view you in a different way, if they see that a foreigner has taken the time to learn to communicate in their mother tongue and you’ll be able to get yourself around with more ease.

4. To boost your CV
Many employers ask for candidates who are multi lingual. Even if they do not ask for this specifically, it never hurts to have something extra on your CV, which may set you aside from other candidates.

5. It can be fun
This can be for many reasons depending on your preferred method of learning. If you are in a classroom environment then you will get to meet new people who have their own reasons for wanting to learn. No matter how you choose to learn however, whether that be in a classroom environment or just one to one with a tutor, learning expressions and phrases of other languages can be both enjoyable and humorous.

Whatever your reason may be for learning another language, delay it no longer, and take the first steps to start reaping the benefits of it today.

The ONLY annoying thing about being multi-raced

Now the headline is a bit misleading because there isn’t actually anything annoying about being multi-raced, it’s great. I love being half Iranian, half English/Irish, because it makes me feel unique. I can identify as either one of my races if I wish to, I am not restricted and I don’t come across many people with the exact same mix as mine so when I do it is exciting. This blog post is not intended just for those of a similar race to mine however, it is for anyone who has a mix in them, of all backgrounds. It is also for those that don’t have mixes in them at all but perhaps they have a child who is, or a friend, or relative. Whether you are mixed or not you could possibly benefit from reading this post or even relate to it.
Now this annoying thing that I speak of is an issue I have somewhat experienced myself and one that I have heard other mixed people speak of. It is a common problem that only some not all mixed/multi raced individuals will relate to. I say this because everyone has their own experiences, and their are some that won’t ever experience this and some that already have or might do one day.
It is the matter of when others try to tell you what race you are out of your mixes. Most of the time it is said through unintentional words or action with no harm done but for the person on the receiving end it can be quite annoying to have someone else try to identify you.
Not everyone who experiences this cares but some do and that’s because other people have no idea how they have been brought up. They could have had a stronger influence of one of their mixes growing up than the other but they might just look more like the other part of their race for instance, so therefore people try to identify them as that. It could be though, that in actual fact they’ve been raised eating the traditional food of the other race, can speak the language, listen to the music and just do things differently to the race that their being viewed as.
This experience for some isn’t a problem but for others it can be. It can feel like in a way they are being told to be something that they don’t personally identify as. That their beautiful mixes which make them so unique are being stripped from them as they are just being seen as the one.
It is nobody’s place to tell you what you are. Embrace your races and identify with whichever one you feel more connected to, not what anyone else tells you, you are. Try to embrace all of your races, but if you don’t want to then you don’t have to. That is one of the many beauties of being mixed, you can identify as which ever one you choose to or all if you wish.
If you do find yourself experiencing this one day don’t be offended either, it isn’t usually said or done with any malice intended most of the time, so just try to bare that in mind. They are simply just unaware.
People should embrace others for who they truly are, not just what they see.


Five things ‘A Bronx Tale’ taught me from a young age

I watched this movie when I was eight years old and even now at the age of twenty two it is still my favourite film. There are certain lessons in this film that I not only learned from watching it but through experiencing some of them in real life. Eight might seem like a bit of a young age for someone to be watching this movie considering the violence, language and racist terms used, but the heart behind it is what counts.
Here is just some of the lesson’s you can learn from watching this all time classic:

1. Don’t follow the crowd.
It seems like an obvious thing to say but many people still do this. It teaches you that just because your friends hold a certain opinion or live a particular lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that you have to. Always stay true to what you think is the right thing to do.

2. Love who you want to love.
This goes without saying, if someone disapproves of your relationship for any reason whatsoever, then that’s their problem. You love whoever you want to.

3. Education is important.
Knowledge is power, it’s good to be wise from experiences in life and it’s great to be educated from books, but it’s best to be both. “That way I’d be twice as smart as everybody.”sonny

4. Morals over money.
Never think money is so important that you have to go against your own morals to get it and don’t be idle.

5. Nobody Cares.
Most people don’t care about something unless it affects or involves them. It’s important to care for others, but in the end you have to look out for yourself and the people who matter most to you. Don’t waste your time on selfish people.

There are too many lessons to list that this movie teaches, so I recommend that you watch it in your own time and learn.

How To Improve Your Running

If you’re just getting into fitness and working out, running is one of the hardest exercises to get ‘good’ at. It’s also one of the best one’s for weight loss and for giving you that euphoric rush that working out can bring.
Here’s some tips to improve the amount of time you can run for without stopping.

1. Start on the treadmill.
It’s boring and is actually harder than running outdoors for some, but if you set the timer on the machine for five or ten minuets to start with, you can use this to help motivate you to keep going until the timer runs out. Do this a few times until your confident enough that you can run the full time without stopping.

2. Take it outside.
I personally think that running outside is better for you for many reasons. You can run for longer, there’s more to look at and you can set yourself distance goals. Come up with a route and try and run it until you can complete it without stopping.

3. Listen to music.
Music can help motivate you whilst you’re running. If you’re doing it without music on you might find that your thinking about stopping rather than going.

4. Record your runs.
You can download apps on your phone to record your runs and see how many miles you’ve done. This is also a motivator because a lot of these apps like ‘Runtastic’ have statistics to show you whether or not your running has improved. Once you see how many miles you run, you will also want to keep outdoing yourself.

5. Think about the sense of achievement after.
With all this distance and time setting, the sense of completion alone once you have reached your targets will make you want to keep feeling that sense achievement.

Get started today and put these tips to practise! Happy running.

The therapeutic side of cooking

Being a chef is said to be one of the most stressful jobs out there and in a working environment it undoubtedly is, but what about when you’re just cooking at home?

Strictly speaking in a non professional sense, some people love it and some hate it but when you’re not in a rush, cooking can actually be quite therapeutic.

Say your feeling quite angry for instance, cooking can help, because it will take you’re mind off of whatever has upset you and release it through the physical activity of cooking itself.
The physical side of it is therapeutic itself because it is a strenuous activity, so you’ll probably feel too tired afterwards anyway (depending on what you’re cooking) to even think about any other stresses of the day.
For those who strive for the feeling of accomplishment, cooking is for you. It is very satisfying to know you have created something that you and others can enjoy. Whip up something exceptional and it can have people talking for weeks even months. In fact I remember eating a particular person’s cooking as a child and years later I still remember it well.

It is an activity you can never totally master, meaning you can continuously keep learning and progressing because there are so many recipes all over the world, to learn and attempt, the list is endless, you’d never get bored.
So next time your feeling negative, give cooking a go, you may walk away feeling a sense of achievement.

A Very Marley Christmas

No matter what time of the year it is, nobody can resist a bit of Bob Marley.


Reggae music is not generally associated with Christmas, but that didn’t stop ardent reggae fans from attending the Bob Marley tribute band at the Brook in Portswood just five days before the Big Day.
The lead singer of the band, Michael Anton Phillips, gives a vocally uncanny resemblance to the king of reggae himself (an unusually cool talent to have.) His energy and charisma on the stage gave a sense of what the real experience of seeing Bob Marley would have been like. The other members of the band also gave an impressionable performance, with as much likeliness, to lively-up yourself, as the Wailers. With a strong performance delivered by all of the members, the backup singers deserve their own appraisal. Stood at the front of the stage, the only two female members of the group, Elaine and Leonie Smith added that sparkle that brought Bob Marley’s music back to life for the night. 
The venue itself is reasonably sized, with an upstairs seating area and bar, giving an overhead balcony view of the stage. The best view however is downstairs, as you get an eye-level sight of the band, although there are fewer places to sit, due to the dance space, which was definitely full at the Legend tribute.       
The Brook does not only host reggae bands but it offers people the opportunity to see tribute bands from a variety of genres, such as rock music with bands such as ‘Fleetwood Bac’ and ‘Perfect alibi’ (a Pink Floyd tribute band.) Performing throughout the year, for dedicated fans who have not and perhaps will not get the chance to see their favourite bands in concert, (not that there’s much of a difference, with the tribute acts delivering spooky likeness performances to the real acts.)                                                      
The Legend tribute offers fans a chance to enjoy a night of strictly reggae music, for an audience of all ages to enjoy. Legend also performs at other venues across the UK, from as far as London and Devon, and in other parts of Hampshire throughout the year. They will be in Hampshire in the upcoming year in October performing in Hayling Island.       

The Pressure’s On

“A lot of it is down to who you know, than your actual talent. Lots of real talent gets wasted but that’s just the way it is.”

With chart-topping music becoming increasingly dance and club influenced, it raises the question of how much pressure there is on young and upcoming DJs to reach that star-status.
Club and dance music has always been popular, and artists such as Fatboy Slim have been household names since before some of the more recent well-known DJs were even born. However over the recent years there has been an increase of DJs who are now household names such as Calvin Harris and Avicii who have both established ‘star-status,’ producing a number of songs that have had number one hits.
With the pressure of other types of musicians being well known through talent shows such as X-factor and Britain’s Got Talent, not many people are aware of how equally pressurising it is for DJs to establish a ‘name’ in the music industry.

Pictured above: DJ Ange.P with DJ EZ

In order to investigate this further we sought the opinions of young and upcoming artists to get a direct insight into the pressures they face. DJ Ange.P, 28 from Paris, has gone from a self taught bedroom DJ to headlining acts and performing alongside established artists such as DJ EZ and the Heartless Crew. “DJs nowadays are more business minded, building a life-style image and reputation on top of their DJ skills. They are producers, social platforms, marketing experts, promoters, brand faces and more. The level of activity and money required is huge.” What is meant by a ‘lifestyle’ image? When artists establish themselves and build a fan base, they portray an image of themselves through things such their choice of clothing, but is this a contributing factor to the pressure? “I personally try to perform to the best of my ability, whether at a house party or performing in front of 1000 people and I always make sure I am aware of the image I am portraying.” The image you portray is vital to your fan base as they expect you to act and dress in a particular way that perhaps coincides with the music you make.
Although your fan base may expect you to perhaps dress and act a certain way, you must not apply this to the music you play at your sets. It’s important to master and settle on a particular genre of music, but you should not play the same type of music for however long you have been given behind the decks. Mix it up; nobody wants to dance to the same repetitive dance beat for more than an hour.
Another important factor to take into consideration is interaction with the crowd. Everybody loves the standard “Ayia Napa” DJ chant on a Garage set, but nobody likes a DJ that talks over the whole song.
Most musicians are well aware that it takes more than making decent music to stand out. Marketing yourself for instance is vital if you want to be somebody in the business. Another obvious pressure that faces many people in life to reach their goals is money.
‘‘DJ Battre Diminuee’ who started out playing sets at weddings and has worked abroad but mainly performs in local clubs gives us an insight into this. “There is an absolute pressure amongst the DJ community to have the latest kit, tracks and to be the life of the party. There is nothing better than mixing a track and dropping it in a way that nobody else has. The reaction from the crowd is insane; for me that’s enough to push me to the top.”
Although this relates to the pressures of money, it also relates to the pressure of image as he mentioned the importance of performing in a unique way by doing something that has not been done by other artists before.
The fact that both of these DJs mentioned the surrounding pressures more than the possible pressure of the types of music they are creating made me question whether having talent itself was an issue at all when it comes to achieving that ‘star-status.’  With the opinions of aspiring artists being given, it is always interesting to hear the views of an ‘outsider’. With an obvious knowledge on the matter needed, who better to ask than an MC, as they work alongside DJs in their line of work.

Pictured above:  Aran Taylor  (T Dot)

Southampton’s own ‘MC T Dot,’ who has performed alongside some of the biggest names in the drum & bass scene, such as Mampi Swift, Decimal Bass, and Nicky Blackmarket to name a few, certainly had an opinion on the matter. “There are many people who are talented, but only a small few get chosen to move up in the music industry, a lot of it is down to who you know, than your actual talent. Lots of real talent gets wasted but that’s just the way it is.”
If your reading this and you think you are already doing all of the things you possibly can to make a name for yourself in the music industry as a DJ, then you could probably use this small piece of advice. Be prepared for criticism; take it with a pinch of salt, if there are negative comments on a forum or YouTube video of your music take the comments on board. After all if it’s a forum, the chances are the keyboard warrior who wrote the negative comment, has most likely been to one of your sets. Don’t respond to the comments because it will only hurt the image you have built for yourself as an artist. There is no doubt that the younger generation of DJs are facing far more pressure than DJs of the past. Although there are undoubtedly more ways for DJs to have their sounds heard and to promote themselves through websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, this only creates more competition.
The trick is to not get too caught up in the pressure that is created online through competition of trying to get more hits on your self-created YouTube videos or more likes on your Facebook fan pages than the next upcoming artist.
Instead of entirely focusing your time on promoting yourselves online, get yourselves out there. Play as many sets as you can in as many places as you can.