Sunday, 20 February 2011
Sunday, 6 February 2011
Sunday, 28 November 2010
On 24th November, I took part in the Leeds students’ contribution to the nationwide walkout and marches against increased tuition fees and cuts to education spending by the Lib Dem/Conservative government here in the U.K. The police stated the nimber of participants was aound 2,000, while the student organisers estimated around 3,000. The march itself was wonderful, and completely peaceful and non-violent, with funny chants, great slogans on banners and a group of people with a huge soundsystem who chose an inspired playlist of dubstep, jungle, and classic student-friendly songs, like the Beastie Boys’ ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)’. After a short rally outside the Art Gallery in Leeds city centre, everyone headed back up to their respective Uni’s or wandered off about their business. However, a group of students went on to the next stage of the protests and occupied two buildings on the University of Leeds campus, which are currently still ongoing with the broad support of students and lots of help from local cafes who are providing food and drinks for the occupiers.
Personally, I am hugely against the proposed changes to the way in which we pay for our education. My family and I can barely afford for me to be at university as it is, and if fees were raised to the proposed rate of between £6-9,000, then I would have had to get a job after attending sixth form, even though my personal strengths lie in academics. To decrease spending on education is a case of panic, cutting off the country’s nose to spite it’s face, as the government forces through Tory policies that have, and will always, seek to improve the position of the rich and reduce the chances of the poor. In pandering to the fear-mongers of the Daily Mail and other right-wing news outlets, one of the most important aspects of our society is going to be drastically stymied. I believe that academic pursuit is essential, and needs consistant funding. Specifically, subjects such as the Arts and Languages are in even more trouble than Maths and the Sciences, as the funding for postgraduate qualifications will be virtually nonexistant by next year.
As an Arts student, I find this to be completely deplorable. The point of higher education is not purely to provide us with scientists and mechanics to build material things and feed into the greed of the government. We need linguists more than ever, and we need historians and writers. The transferrable skills gained from Arts subjects are unattainable in other subjects and vice versa. There cannot be favouritism for the subjects that have an immediate and mappable economic value, as we risk neglecting the subjects that provide universities with their core of students, as well as subjects that feed the mind as well as the wallet.
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Last night, while wallowing in the misery of the terrible cold I am currently suffering with, I received a call from my boyfriend, asking me if I wanted to go to a Japanese restaurant in Leeds city centre called Little Tokyo. Initially, I wasn't too keen because of the aforementioned cold, but I dragged myself in to town, and oh my...am I glad I did! The restaurant itself is decorated lavishly, in a reconstruction of a Japanese garden. Yes, perhaps it's a little overdone and verging on tacky, but with the low lighting and candles it feels warm and inviting. They even have a tank under the little bridge in the picture above which is full of lovely fish. One attempted to leap for freedom halfway through our meal, which was fun to see!
The food itself was absolutely delicious and really very authentic. We chose a selection of food and had something of a banquet. I had the Yaki Soba, a dish of thin brown noodles with leek, shredded chicken and shitake mushrooms, as well as an assortment of other vegetables. This was extremely well cooked and seasoned, with the several varieties of mushroom adding a nice variety of texture and subtle flavour. My boyfriend, Mark, chose the Seafood Ramen, which is more of a liquid based 'soup noodle' dish. There were excellently cooked mussels, king prawns, octopus and fish balls. The fish balls were slightly less tasty than the other fishy delights in the dish, but judging by the cleanliness of the bowl at the end of the meal, everything was more than satisfactory.
In addition to the main courses, we also chose a side of tempura vegetables, which was a mix of carrots, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms and sweet potato fried in tempura batter. This was unexpectedly fantastic. Each piece was perfectly cooked and full of interesting flavours, as the tempura added an extra interest to simple vegetables. My personal favourite was the sweet potato, while Mark preferred the broccoli. Along with the vegetables, we also chose the half nigiri sushi set. This was a plate of six sushi pieces; two maki (one crab, the other avocado) and four pieces with salmon, tuna and a white fish which I didn't recognise, but was nonetheless tasty. The sushi was absolutely beautiful. Forget the boxes you pick up in the supermarket, this was as fresh as it gets, with rice that tastes fantastic, isn't crispy from being left in a fridge, and doesn't clump together, topped with fish that just melts in the mouth and is full of delicate flavours. We were so full from our banquet that we didn't order a dessert, but the list has lots of choice, including green tea ice cream, ginger cheesecake and grapefruit and Bombay sapphire sorbet. There was a great mix of light and heavy, fruity, creamy or chocolatey desserts to suit every palate.
In terms of price, Little Tokyo is not the cheapest restaurant that you will ever find, but I feel that everything is priced fairly, as the portions are extremely generous. Main meals cost between around £7 and £10, with side orders and starters anywhere from £4 to £9 (for sharing starters). The priciest items on the menu for the size of the portions are the sushi options. However, this is the usual way with Japanese restaurants, as only the finest and freshest fish and vegetables are used to make sushi, and some of the items are really very fiddly to prepare. The sushi prices are about average, and I would highly recommend Little Tokyo to anyone who likes authentic and delicious Japanese food.
Little Tokyo is at 24 Central Rd, Leeds LS1 6DE
Half Nigiri Set
Little Octopus (In Seafood Ramen)
Monday, 18 October 2010
You have to love the French. They take the running of their government seriously, and seem to be protesting about one thing or another almost constantly. This time around, it’s pensions. The lower house of the French government has voted to change the age of retirement from 60 to 62 and the age at which you can claim a full state pension from 65 to 67. To those of us in the UK, who can now work until we are no longer physically able to, this seems like an unheard of luxury. Retiring at 62?? Getting anything even remotely livable from a state pension?? Crazy stuff to be protesting over, surely?!
However, I love the French spirit of resisting these changes and making your voice heard. The protesters flooded the streets of all the major French cities, with those in Paris even occupying the Opera House at the Bastille for a short time! Vive la Resistance indeed. Although I think that the turning of the protests to ransacking cafes and setting bins on fire undermined the aim of the actions, and will only serve to increase the chances of the legislation being passed in the upper house.
I can’t comment on the repercussions for the French population if the retirement/pension age is raised, but I hope that the protesting spirit doesn’t die out, as it sadly seems to be withering away in the UK.