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5. Notting Hill Carnival

Last summer I went to Notting Hill Carnival. There was an electric atmosphere, with part of London closed off making way for the crowds of people in the streets, and the dancers in vibrant costumes on procession with blaring Afro-Caribbean tunes.

Vibrant colours and music blaring at Notting Hill Carnival!

4. Magazine work experience

I spent two weeks at Hearst Magazines at the beginning of this summer. It is one of the best things I've done at Uni so far and I will definitely use a lot of what I learnt there next semester!

Valuable work experience - summer is the perfect time to get this

3. Relaxing at home

When you live away from home for most of the year, going back is a real treat. I love going home to the French countryside because it's the only place I can truly relax and there are other perks which I don't have in my Uni house, like a TV, a fridge with food in it and a double bed!

There's no place like home!

2. Festivals

Last June I went to a festival for the first time in Manchester. My oldest school friend went to Uni there so I stayed with her and we had a crazy few days at my first festival and exploring the city.

Festival time!

1. Going travelling in the south of France with my best friend

We went from Bordeaux to Biarritz and spent every single day of our trip on the beach. The waves there were huge so one of my best summer moments was trying not to drown!

Travelling with my best friend

 

This week has definitely been the best of my summer so far! I've spent the week with my band preparing for the biggest free festival in the south east of England! Meeting up with friends from college and uni and releasing my bands first single! We recorded all the songs in the Kingston Hill recording studios. I'm so excited that I can finally share them!

Monday

Getting the week off to a great start when my first year results came out! I've passed first year with better results than I could have imagined! 3 firsts and one 2:1, this is roughly equivalent to 3 A's and 1 B. It's been hard work but I couldn't be happier or more ready for second year in September!

My first year results!

Tuesday

A quiet day today preparing for Basingstoke Live. I've been trying to make the most out of my voice after being quite poorly for the past few days as you can probably tell by wearing a jumper in July!

Wednesday

Visiting my friend Daniela in Windsor today! It's great to go ad visit your uni friends in their home town. I fell in love with Windsor and it was great catching up with Dani after not seeing each other since we broke up for summer last month! This will be the first of many visits I'm sure.

A jumper in July?!Windsor is beautiful and best of all I get to see Dani!

Thursday

After lots of cleaning, tidying and excitement, one of my best friends, Dan arrived to stay at mine in preparation for Basingstoke Live. Dan is another friend I haven't seen since the beginning of June! I think you can tell from our faces we were happy to see each other!

Catching up Dan

Friday

I caught this picture of the boys hanging out in the garden after our 3 hour practice session. Having the band back together was fab and it was nice to have an evening to relax before the big show!

Relaxing before the big show

Saturday

I always feel most at home on stage. This is just one of the many pictures to come out. It felt incredible to perform at a festival and you'll be sure to catch me performing around Kingston and London soon!

Feeling incredible as I perform at the festival. Wow!

Sunday

Smiles all around at the end of the world cup after Germany won! I would have loved to see England in the final but alas maybe in 4 years' time! Here I am with my friend Grace who is starting uni in September!

Me and Grace!

Out in the City

Posted 12 Jul 2014 by Sara Ann

 

Hello, hello, hello! 

When I was thinking for a topic for this month's blog I was feeling a bit stumped, what hadn't I written about before? And then I had an idea - I'll write the Big Gay Guide to London for any students coming to Kingston of the LGBTQ persuasion (or anyone who just wants to join in - we throw the best parties after all. Fact.)

So here we have it, the lowdown of the best gay friendly places to go and things to do in London.

Kingston university has a very active LGBTQ+ Society that holds events and socials throughout the year, as well as having a designated LGBT officer to represent any students who identify as this on campus and help lead campaigns. There is a dedicated LGBT forum in kingston as well and they hold meetings on campus.

But that's just what happens at KU, obviously you're living right next to London and the gay scene there is almost never ending (and it's not just Soho!) 

Pride in London 2014Let's start with the obvious - Pride in London. Loads of areas have annual pride parades, but London is one of the biggest and the best. I went to this year's and it was amazing! The streets were filled with colour, there was a rainbow zebra crossing, an open air concert in Trafalgar Square and winner of this years Eurovision, Conchita Wurst. There's a reason I like to refer to London Pride as 'Gay Christmas.' 

The weather could have been better I'll admit... But to be honest the drizzle just gave us an excuse to pull out the Rainbow umbrellas. And it didn't seem to deter the great Sir Ian Mckellan who walked along with Stonewall.

Sadly Pride happens but once a year, but somewhere that is open all year round is the infamous nightclub, HEAVEN. It holds regular club nights and gigs by bands (Mcfly once played there completely naked for reasons best known to themselves.) and what's probably the most interesting part for you guys is they do cheap student nights. HEAVEN can be found on Villiers street.

One for the ladies is Ruby Tuesdays at KuClub near Chinatown. It has a chocolate fountain and drinks from £1.50. Enough said.

The final nightclub venue on my list is Madame Jojo's in Soho- whilst not strictly a gay venue, this burlesque/jazz club is a favourite of mine and I really would have out it higher on my list if it hadn't been for notoriety and chocolate. It hosts a lot of different nights with tickets from as low as £10 standing or £15 seated. Drinks are slightly on the expensive side but you can't fault it for the atmosphere. Especially after the main show when tables and chairs are shoved aside and the dance floor is open for everyone to get down to good vintage music.Madame Jojo's

One of my favourite nights there is the monthly 'Burlesque Idol' competition - open to novices and more experienced burlesque dancers it is the X Factor of the burlesque world and it takes place on the last Friday of every month. Okay, I mostly go because I have a massive crush on the MC, but regular judge Tempest Rose is also a reason to go - I was lucky enough to take some burlesque classes from Tempest at the beginning of the year and she is brilliant as a performer and as a teacher. (I also came second in a best dressed contest last time I was here, but I don't like to brag about it...) dress code is burlesque/vintage/dress to impress.

Right - enough of the night life. Now I'd like to direct your attention to 'Gay's the Word', a charming little bookshop in Marchmont Street, not far from. King's Cross station. It's pioneering in that it was the UK's first and now only LGBT centred bookshop - vital in a world where a lot of bookstores don't have a dedicated LGBT section so you could end up meandering for hours trying to find what you want (not always a bad thing but still... Nice if you're in a hurry.) I love GTW for quite a few reasons - the layout of the shop is so easy to browse, the staff are all lovely, and you always meet some interesting people in there - last time I visited I came away with a book by David Levithan and some valuable advice for my dissertation from a lovely ex-English Literature professor who was in there puttering about by the Gay Times.

So there we have it - your potted guide to gay London. These are just four small glimpses into what's on offer in the capital for LGBT folk because I don't pretend that I'm your gay guru, there's no way I've done everything yet ;)

Below you'll find some useful people to follow on Twitter and some website links to help you further.
Have a gay day! :D 

Pride 2014 (Photo by Lauren Anderson)

Useful Links - 

On Twitter, Follow:

@LondonLGBTPride (For the latest Pride In London info)                             

@pinksingers (London's longest-running LGBT community choir)                             

@BuzzFeedLGBT (the gay section of student favourite Buzzfeed.)

@SaraFarizan (YA Writer who writes gay themed novels that aren't overtly gay, but are overtly awesome. Also she has the same name as me - triple points :D)

@rubbishles (AKA Sarah Westwood, another awesome Sarah, and my favourite columnist for DIVA magazine.)

@gaystheword (The twitter account for the bookshop mentioned above.)

Websites:

www.prideinlondon.org

www.stonewall.org.uk

www.madamejojos.com

www.heavennightclub-London.com

Obligatory "after school special" moment - if you or anyone you know is struggling with their sexuality, there are people out there to help you. Don't face it alone and don't be afraid to tell someone. The only things that should be kept in the closet are clothes and mothballs.

Xx 

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