50 things only University of Chester students understand ……

I don’t go to Chester uni but living all my life in Chester where my street is mainly student houses I understand nearly every point.


There is a perception that University is the ‘thing to do’ after college (particularly if you are not entirely sure what it is you want to do). You spend months filling out a UCAS form, weeks on the phone to student finance and days packing up your room, already you have invested blood, sweat and tears into the process before even arriving in Chester, so you may as well make the most of it whilst you are here!!

Here is a whistle stop tour of some of the localities, traditions and Chester ‘comforts’ which will soon be your lasting memories of being a student at the University of Chester, brought to you by students and graduates:

(This blog is written in my personal opinion and those of current and past students, not that of the University).

(Apologies to Warrington students, It would be unfair for me to talk about…

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Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar – The Call

Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar - thecall

In 2011 multi-instrumentalist Ciaran Algar (Fiddle, Bouzouki, Guitar, Vocals) and Greg Russell (Vocals, Guitar, Bouzouki, English Concertina) formed a duo. Northwich Folk Club saw the pair’s first live performance and since then they haven’t looked back. The young duo have risen on a constant stream of critical acclaim for their live performances and their 2012 debut album ‘The Queen’s Lover‘ which led to them winning  the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician award, followed up by the Best Newcomers award in 2014 . Russell and Algar have been touring and juggling school and university exams with great success since.


There is a great poetic sense of attraction and timelessness to folk music, but it takes a deep skill of understanding both technically and contextually to pull it off. Russell & Algar’s new record The Call offers all of the aspects of a great folk record and yet it sounds so simple and eloquent as it flows from one track to the next. A keynote to the success of this record has to be the blend and transition from contemporary cover to original writing…without prior knowledge it is hard to categorise which is which. For many an artist the cover is a miserable reciprocation; to pull off a cover of a traditional and well respected folk song shows raw talent. Their music feels deeply ingrained in and respectful of the folk tradition but has a sense of the ‘contemporary’ with an ability to draw a much larger audience with songs that are full of the key element of raw folk music: the ability to tell a story, to create a narrative. Too often that ability to really tell a story can be lost in the search for originality. Russell and Algar have an appeal that should not be confined to the adherents of a single ‘genre’ and which has an appeal that allow different people to be able to relate in diverse ways.


There is a beautiful balance between ballad and poem, and between both the enigmatic and  sombre narratives, from the foolish tale of Roses Three and the feel good tone of The Silent Jigs, to the stunning ballad of  The Rose In June and captivating harmonies throughout  The Call and Answer to the beautiful sadness which is laced throughout Absent Friends, Cold Missouri Waters and The Workhouse. The latter – taken from the folk opera ‘A Paupers Path‘ could easily be an opening chapter in a Dickens novel, (as could A Season in Your Arms), this song oozes poetic imagery, you can’t help but be transported  to ‘the workhouse’ it’s a beautiful song with an eerie and harrowing tone, much like a Thomas Hardy poem. The Cockfight is a song ironic (a notion not to be taken as a negative in this instance) in its catchiness. The idea of cockfighting is rather sinister and is perhaps an uncomfortable topic to sing about. It is something many would find unethical, so the idea that you become enchanted and are able to join in and start singing about such ‘sport’ is quite unnerving. That is in large part the beauty and skill of their talent. As the cover notes suggest it is a significant part of our history and heritage and the song therefore the song provides a memoir to a historic practice. Again it is a song which places you right in the middle of the scene, in this case a contentious cockfight. A particular favourite, maybe this is just due to personal experience, is ‘Away From The Pits‘; as described by Algar – ‘Stoke-on-Trent is used as a metaphor for a lass’. Ironically it does actually remind me of someone from Stoke, an unfortunate coincidence?. I particularly liked Algar’s comment on this: ‘I’ll let you make your own jokes about that one’.

Overall this album is a stunning and brilliant sequel to their debut album ‘The Queen’s Lover‘ which if you’ve not heard it is a similarly brilliant record. Book tickets to see them enthral a large crowd at a folk festival or catch one of their more intimate club gigs, the pair are simply great live.


The Call is released on the 7th July 2014 with a sold out album launch in Chester on the 28th June.

Russell & Algar are currently touring the country and tickets and more information can be found here





Guardian launches citizen journalism site – GuardianWitness

In 2013 The Guardian launched a citizen journalism platform where readers can submit stories, videos and pictures to be published on Guardian Witness. 

It has been created in partnership with EE and is designed to be the ‘home of user-generated content on The Guardian and highlights how UGC is a vital part of reporting the news.

The most recent example was the fatal London helicoptor crash in January – news broke first on Twitter and beat traditional news outlets to the story. Passers by tweeted eye witness accounts, took pictures and shot videos – much was used by the media.

London Evening Standard used a picture taken by Craig Jenner – captured blazing debris, the paper used it as their front page picture.



This project echoes what CNN has been doing with it’s IReport site.

Another side of Guardian Witness will be journalists flag live blogs if they are suitable – enabling readers to be part of the breaking story

The Guardian Witness site described it as ‘It might be a simple but beautiful idea such as asking everyone to take a picture at a certain time of day or a way of investigating an issue in more detail’.

It picks up on a trend where Guardian readers have been involved in some of the biggest news stories such as helping review MP’s expense claims, eyewitness accounts of the Arab Spring & understanding the U.K riots.

Some high profile examples include:

The police said the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson was not suspicious, a reader sent the paper a video clearly showing a police officer knocking him to the ground.

STROUD, ENGLAND: Nicaragua is not a country in Africa

In Lak'ech: World Perspective

“So, is that like, uh, a poor country in Africa?” Sadly enough, when it emerged that I was going to be embarking on a ten week sustainable development project in Nicaragua, this was the most common question I encountered. It’s not that I wish to mock people for their previous ignorance, and to be perfectly honest I had a blurry outline of a place located somewhere in the depths of Central America too, it is just that an overriding cliché of volunteering lingers stubbornly among our “gap-yah” generation. I am sure most people will be familiar with the concept that prior to or post university, it is common practice for young people to be shipped abroad to get stuck into charity projects, leaving only with considerably lighter wallets and a sense of self-achievement. Now, I also don’t want to judge these endeavours in a too-harsh light and I certainly don’t…

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The Magnificent Fourteen: A Tale of Ink on Paper’s Resilience

Mr. Magazine

Before there was a web, there were magazines; and today, at the height of the web era there are magazines, and after the new innovations in the web era are discovered, there will be magazines…and by magazines I mean the ink on paper publications as they were first called in 1731.

The period of tremendous growth for the internet happened in the latter half of the 1990s. It went from a scientific and governmental research network to a commercial and consumer marketplace. It revolutionized the way we communicate, socialize, and conduct business. In 2000, after the dot.com of the 90s crashed in what has become known as dot.gone, Web 2.0 was born, and so were a host of new ink on paper magazines.

With the web explosion, magazines have always been and continue to be a breed apart from other media. There is a tactile expression of ownership and showmanship…

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Photojournalism Vs. Documentary

Antonin Kratochvil with Michael Persson: Provides an interesting commentary about the different role of photojournalism and documentary photography.

“Today, photojournalism is different from what it once was. Speed is what counts. Instantaneous reports about world events, stock markets, even sports have become the norm. And news photography keeps pace. Whereas Documentary photographers reveal the infinite number of situations, actions and results over a period of time. In short, they reveal life. Life isn’t a moment. It isn’t a single situation, (like photojournalism suggests) since one situation is followed by another and another.”

But has the importance of speed resulted in a lack of image quality and respect for the photographic image?

“Photojournalism—in its instant shot and transmission—doesn’t show “life.” It neither has the time to understand it nor the space to display its complexity. The pictures we see in our newspapers show frozen instants taken out of context and put on a stage of the media’s making, then sold as truth.” The problem of this reportage is that: “Viewers can be left with a biased view, abandoned to make up their minds based on incomplete evidence.”

“Through documentary work, the photographer has a chance to show the interwoven layers of life, the facets of daily existence, and the unfettered emotions of the people who come under the camera’s gaze. When finally presented, viewers are encouraged to use their intelligence and personal experiences, even their skepticism, to judge. By eliciting associations and metaphors in the viewer, an image has the potential to stimulate all senses.”

“There are photographers who create exhibitions and books from their photojournalistic images, but what is achieved is only sensationalism. One extreme moment after another is cobbled together and made to look as though it captures “life.”

There are many photography books in the library for example such as ‘the times in pictures’ or ‘a year in photographs’ or ‘most important images of all time’. Depicting big news events but they only represent a snapshot and fail to consider the meaning, context, or consequence surrounding them.

Having traveled to many of the world’s disaster areas and having seen extreme tragedy, I can attest that these moments do happen. But around them there is more to see and more that must be understood. There is more than the angry mob: There is the “why” and the “how” behind their actions. There is more than the flood of refugees: There is what they leave behind. There is more than the funeral of a martyr: There is the space they leave empty in their family’s life.”

“Because of time constraints the photojournalist doesn’t often capture these more subtle but essential images. The documentary photographer does. Photojournalists look to add meaning or message to their pictures by employing contrasts and juxtaposition. In actuality, these are time and space savers. Juxtaposition implies an intersection where extremes or opposites meet. Contrast conjures up black and white. But what sits in the between—the gray, the similar, the normal? Documentary photography offers witness to these less obvious aspects of life.”

“The journalist takes what the camera lens captures, while the documentary photographer makes the images as a form of storytelling, seeking to elevate understanding about what the camera’s eye is recording.Documentary photographers walk in the wake of this instantaneous parade of visual information. They gather and create images that can look soft, speak loud, and transform the split second into an everlasting glimpse at the truth.”


Accessed on March 20th 2014.