Monday, 30 September 2013

I’ll Take My Chances.... Or should I?

by Tom Harper


"Good luck”, “That was lucky”, “It’s bad luck”. For an abstract concept which occurs beyond one’s control, without regard to one’s will, intention or desired result, luck appears to have had a remarkable effect on the way we as human beings have functioned and still do today. Ranging from the rolling of dice in a casino to the fear of someone ‘jinxing’ a performance, or indeed from buying a lottery ticket to hoping that the train arrives on time, luck permeates every aspect of modern society.  As a result, a wide variety of global cultures have their own take on the ‘luck’ factor: with Irish people wandering the countryside searching for four-leaf clovers and native Americans stringing up ‘dream-catchers’ above their beds.

However this poses the question as to what exactly is luck, if anything at all, and should we as a developed society really be putting so much faith into something that happens regardless of one’s wishes? Should we really ‘take our chances’ when it comes to a principle of uncertainty, or should we ignore them? To find out, it is necessary to explore the different variations of luck that we as human beings subconsciously employ every day, and whether or not there is such a thing as being ‘lucky’.

The first way in which one can interpret luck is as an essence. Over the past few thousand years there has existed a series of spiritual or supernatural beliefs regarding fortune, and although these beliefs vary widely from one to another, there is general agreement that luck can be influenced through spiritual means by performing certain rituals, avoiding certain circumstances or obtaining certain objects.

Nowadays this most commonly takes the form of superstition, with picking up pennies being considered as ‘good’ (both in the lucky and financial sense) and opening an umbrella indoors being seen as ‘bad’ (as well as impractical). Mesoamerican religions, such as the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, had particularly strong beliefs regarding the relationship between rituals and the gods, which could in a similar sense to Abrahamic religions be called luck or providence. In these cultures, human sacrifice (both of willing volunteers and captured enemies), as well as self-sacrifice by means of bloodletting, could possibly be seen as a way to propitiate the gods and earn favor for the city offering the sacrifice. Christianity, in its early development, accommodated many traditional practices including the acceptance of omens and carrying out of ritual sacrifice in order to divine the will of their ‘supreme being’ or to influence divine favoritism.

Echoes of the more archaic take on fortune can still be felt today, as although we may not pray to the household gods for luck as the Romans did we still arguably devote ourselves to it through mottos and ‘paraphernalia’. For example, during the middle ages Blacksmithing was considered as a ‘lucky’ profession, so is it any wonder that the horseshoe is perceived as an embodiment of fortune? Furthermore ever since humans started to count numerology has been applied by various cultures to fortune telling and psychic reading, with the number 7 being considered as ‘lucky’ (due to the Japanese ‘Seven Gods of Fortune’) and the number 13 being considered as ‘unlucky’ (due to its association with the Last Supper). Thus in one sense luck is not a determining factor but a form of tradition, in which the faith of our ancestors has inspired us to believe in similar, if developed, principles of fortune.

Portsmouth Point Poetry: 'As The Team's Head-Brass' and 'That Silent Evening'

by Ben Schofield
 
 
These poems are paired for me primarily by the lovers, however a closer reading will find more

than just this tying them together. Kinnell's irregular phrasing is beautifully similar to Thomas's,

deflecting the message until the reader digests the line. The similarities struck me through the

lines "Now if / He had stayed here we should have moved the tree." and "Not until what hastens

went slower did we sleep." It is hard to explain what similarity these lines bear, they seem the

hearts of each poem, about which they rotate and could not do without. The first is seemingly

inocuous in vitro but within the poem it becomes a peg for the speaker and the ploughman to

hang their hopes on; Kinnell's is darker, more oblique, yet fulfilled at the same time. They did

sleep but the stump remains.

 
Despite maintaining the same metre the sounds of the poems are entirely distinct. Thomas's

poem's are meditative, often debating and always colloquial, Kinnell contrasts this with the

individual, and constructed voice in his poem. Phrases stand alone in 'That Silent Evening', cut

off from each other as the couple are from the world; however in 'As the Team's Head Brass',

there is a connectivity of phrase, the enjambement draws the poem along with easy transfer

from narration to dialogue. Ploughman, lovers, speaker, and stumbling team mesh to form an

inseparable scene; even the war enacted hundreds of miles away touches the scene, like an

outlying strand of a spider web quivering the centre.


Note: [The war referenced in 'As the Team Head's Brass' is almost certainly WWI]


'As the Team's HeadBrass'

by Edward Thomas


As the team's headbrass

flashed out on the turn

The lovers disappeared into the wood.

I sat among the boughs of the fallen elm

That strewed the angle of the fallow, and

Watched the plough narrowing a yellow square

Of charlock. Every time the horses turned

Instead of treading me down, the ploughman leaned

Upon the handles to say or ask a word,

About the weather, next about the war.

Scraping the share he faced towards the wood,

And screwed along the furrow till the brass flashed

Once more.

The blizzard felled the elm whose crest

I sat in, by a woodpecker's round hole,

The ploughman said. 'When will they take it away? '

'When the war's over.' So the talk began One

minute and an interval of ten,

A minute more and the same interval.

'Have you been out? ' 'No.' 'And don't want to, perhaps? '

'If I could only come back again, I should.

I could spare an arm, I shouldn't want to lose

A leg. If I should lose my head, why, so,

I should want nothing more...Have many gone

From here? ' 'Yes.' 'Many lost? ' 'Yes, a good few.

Only two teams work on the farm this year.

One of my mates is dead. The second day

In France they killed him. It was back in March,

The very night of the blizzard, too. Now if

He had stayed here we should have moved the tree.'

'And I should not have sat here. Everything

Would have been different. For it would have been

Another world.' 'Ay, and a better, though

If we could see all all might seem good.' Then

The lovers came out of the wood again:

The horses started and for the last time

I watched the clods crumble and topple over

After the ploughshare and the stumbling team.


'That Silent Evening' by Galway Kinnell


I will go back to that silent evening

when we lay together and talked in low, silent voices,

while outside slow lumps of soft snow

fell, hushing as they got near the ground,

with a fire in the room, in which centuries

of tree went up in continuous ghostgivingup,

without a crackle, into morning light.

Not until what hastens went slower did we sleep.

When we got home we turned and looked back

at our tracks twining out of the woods,

where the branches we brushed against let fall

puffs of sparkling snow, quickly, in silence,

like stolen kisses, and where the scritch scritch scritch

among the trees, which is the sound that dies

inside the sparks from the wedge when the sledge

hits it off center telling everything inside

it is fire, jumped to a black branch, puffed up

but without arms and so to our eyes lonesome,

and yet also how

could we know this? happy!

in shape of chickadee. Lying still in snow,

not ironwilled,

like railroad tracks, willing

not to meet until heaven, but here and there

making slubby kissing stops in the field,

our tracks wobble across the snow their long scratch.

Everything that happens here is really little more,

if even that, than a scratch, too. Words, in our mouths,

are almost ready, already, to bandage the one

whom the scritch scritch scritch, meaning if how when

we might lose each other, scratches scratches scratches

from this moment to that. Then I will go back

to that silent evening, when the past just managed

to overlap the future, if only by a trace,

and the light doubles and shines

through the dark the sparkling that heavens the earth.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Hackers: Inverted Haikus

by Lottie Kent



Existentialism

Does our freedom

Create our human nature?

 

Is our fate determined

Are we in control

Does liberty limit?

 

Though, indeed, what is the point

Of this poem at all?

Naught, but its own essence

 

 

 

 

Image Management

by Daniel Rollins

Today we are surrounded by photographs, in magazines, on hoardings and through social media we are surrounded by captured light. In the age of the camera phone we are taking more and more pictures to share with friends and family, to record significant events or as a form of artistic expression. Many of these photos are shared on social media for the immediate pleasure of friends, family or acquaintances and are quickly (and in the case of some images gratefully) forgotten. Others however are used to archive scenes, people and events yet despite photograph's apparent stability, like any medium, photography is not permanent. Files corrupt, hard drives fail, social media sites shut down and the delete button is sometimes accidentally pressed. Older physical medium are equally at risk of damage or destruction, old prints fade or tear and negatives decay and degrade. The final scenario was the subject of my PGS Extend research project.

Damaged negative affected by vinegar syndrome.
Photographic film is made up of two main layers, the emulsion, which contains the photosensitive chemicals and holds the image, and the base which supports the thin layer of emulsion. Since the late 1940’s most photographic film has used a plastic called cellulose acetate, a safe, flexible transparent plastic, as a base. However after several decades of storage cellulose acetate breaks down, releasing ethanoic acid (the chemical that gives vinegar its taste and smell) and causes the film to become brittle and shrink, damaging or destroying the image. This degradation is called “vinegar syndrome” and is what Dr Rob Symmons, curator at Fishbourne Roman Place faced with his large collection of photographic negatives containing images from
the excavations at the place during the 1960’s and ‘70’s when he began smelt vinegar in the boxes they were stored in. The most severely affected images were already destroyed when Guy Cripps and I visited him to see how we could help. As there is no way of reversing or stopping vinegar syndrome our task was to develop a way of detecting it before it reaches a critical level, giving him time to copy or digitalise the images.

The most obvious symptom of vinegar syndrome is the distinctive smell of vinegar given off by the ethanoic acid however at low levels this is undetectable to the human nose. Therefore we looked to find a simple chemical method of detecting the acid before you could smell it.  To do this we used a solution of the acid-base indicator bromothymol blue and sodium hydroxide which is usually blue but turns yellow when acid is added. To make this indicator more practical we soaked strips of filter paper in the solution and left them to dry producing strips of blue paper which when we tested them in the box already smelling of vinegar turned quickly yellow. We then left some of our indicator strips with Dr Symmons and were emailed a few days later with the news that they had detected acid in another box not yet smelling of vinegar; thankfully that box has already been digitalised.


Vinegar syndrome is a problem in museums and film archives around the world yet many archivists and curators are unable to detect it before it is too late due to the sheer size of collections or the insensitivity of their noses. Yet simple chemistry can provide a simple and easy to use way to detect the breakdown of cellulose acetate and even provide an early warning to prevent damage to valuable or significant collections.

An original negative
and its digital scan.
Which will last the longest?

Photos by Daniel Rollins

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Worlds Apart

by Hugh Summers



In this image (created through Photoshop), I have tried to represent the insanity of the Syrian conflict and to portray how it has affected the country's children, by contrasting an image of a Syrian child with one of Western children of the same age seen in a calm, safe, secure classroom. 

Hackers: The Shattered Life of a Child

by Henry Ling
 

A boy sits staring into the ominous void ahead,

A rapping noise on the window,

His mother's face pressed against the glass.

A murmur in his imagination,

A zombie, features distorted with pain and suffering,

His arm extends as a frog's tongue,

A cerulean wound opened up under his eye,

An azure road slowly snaked down his cheek.
 

Beyond the window of dreams, a plea for help.

Eyes like marbles fixated on mother,

An insect on her back,

A knife erected from a gloved hand,

Slicing her soft flesh as if it were paper.

Watching as a vermillion pool appeared on her slender neck.

Watching as a hyena cackles over her limp corpse.
 

He blinked and it was gone the dark image had gone,

A rat scuttled across the ghost town,

A crow swooped over the rooftop,

His eyes as a tube of toothpaste,

Squeezing ultra marine drops.

His cold fingers clenched round the black hilt of

A razor.

Its jagged teeth ran down his dark forearm,

As tears swam across his ebony cheeks.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Hackers: Rigor Amoris

by Gregory Walton-Green

 

He waits for her in the garden

Of ageless cold grey stone-

Sunken down in the middle,

At either end a throne.
 

The walls stretch up nearly eight foot-

Four walls of sodden clay.

They loom high up above him

As he waits for the end of the day.
 

He stands in wait as the sun sets

And the crows claw in through the mist.

As the world’s shadow hits the garden

He spies his wronged mistress:
 

Desired for the power she now holds,

Admired for all she’s been through-

Yet he still sees her as she was

When fair and good and true.
 

The crows call out for his judgement,

The crows call out for his doom,

The crows call his mistress towards him

Come to take him, through the gloom.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Greatest Show on Water

by Henry Cunnison

Oracle Team USA
(photo: Jonathan Weber, thestar.com.my)
There was much scepticism before the start of the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco began earlier this month. Most analysts felt that the choice of huge double-hulled boats, the AC 72s, meant that races were bound to be one sided. It is true that before the start of the cup I too was sceptical. The qualification regatta, the Louis Viton cup, was a monotonous event, as Luna Rosa first dominated Team Artemis and then were themselves obliterated by Emirates Team New Zealand, who thus won the right to challenge the defenders, Oracle Team USA, in the Americas Cup final. Indeed, as Emirates surged to an 8-1 lead in the first to 9 series it appeared that these fears had been justified. Events since then have not only made this in fact probably the most exciting edition of the oldest competition in international sport but also one of the greatest sporting events in recent times.

Emirates Team New Zealand appeared to be unbeatable in the opening week of the event. They were faster both upwind and downwind then Oracle. They were also better at manoeuvring their boat. After only 5 races Oracle judged the situation to be so grave that they made a personal change, bringing in 4 time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie as tactician in place of local John Kostecki. But still Oracle slumped.
Yet at the same time Oracle made other key developments. They optimised the boat for the prevailing heavy wind conditions. They gained experience, learnt from what the challenger was doing better than them. Whereas Emirates Tem New Zealand was at one point several knots[1]  faster, their advantage gradually became slimmer.
Nevertheless few took Oracle helmsman[2] Jimmy Spithill seriously when he suggested they could still win, with Emirates needing just one point having taken an 8-1 lead. Suddenly Oracle started sailing faster, and Spithill grew dominant on the start line. Most notably oracle gained a huge amount of speed upwind. They were able to foil[3] against the wind at 30 knots, meaning they could not only match Emirates Team New Zealand but go faster than them. They managed to improve their manoeuvres so that they no longer lost ground every time they tried to change direction. 


The challenger: Emirates Team New Zealand
(photo: Noel Randewich, thestar.com.my)
Again and Again they sailed away from Team New Zealand, and out of nowhere the pulled it back to 8 all, setting up a winner takes all finale on Wednesday. For the first time in several races, Dean Barker, helmsman of Emirates Team New Zealand managed to win the start and gain a narrow lead at the first mark. A nail bighting downwind leg followed, with Oracle just a boat length behind for the whole leg. But Emirates Held on until mark 3. However at this point Oracle passed and just sailed away on the upwind leg, which had early in the regatta, been their weakest link. The greatest comeback in sailing, maybe sporting, history was achieved.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

"This Statement Is A Lie": Interview with Jim Al-Khalili

written by Fergus Houghton-Connell, with interview by Sampad Sengupta



Jim Al-Khalili reads out the sentence “This statement is a lie” from the screen. A mixed reaction from the crowd ensued. Some looked baffled, others looked intrigued, a few laughed and I saw someone with an expression on their face as if to say “So?”. The problem is that if the statement is a lie, then it is in itself telling the truth, so it can’t be a lie. But the statement can’t be the truth because the context of the sentence directly contradicts that conclusion, so we have a paradox. A paradox is simply something that is self contradictory, despite logical reasoning.  

Mr Al-Khalili started the night off in a packed DRT with one of the simpler paradoxes. Imagine a box in which you put a cat and a bottle of poison. This poison is part of a mechanism such that it could break at any random time, thus killing the poor innocent cat; a sad end it seems. However, assuming we can’t see inside of the box and that the lid is firmly shut, until we open the lid, we don’t know whether the cat is dead or alive. Due to the random nature of the poison mechanism the cat can therefore be seen as both dead and alive. How can something be dead and alive, I hear you cry? Well, this is an example of one of the fascinating paradoxes that was introduced during the night.

Al-Khalili once said, “Public scientists were regarded as lower calibre, but that attitude is gradually changing”. ‘It was a problem among scientists then that if you were a good scientist then you should spend your time doing research, maybe a bit of teaching, but doing what academics should do’, he explains. ‘ If you went out into the public and started selling books, somehow you were selling out, you had to make the science much simpler. You were betraying your colleagues by simplifying too much.’

Al-Khalili is a huge advocate of communicating science and for the past two years has been hosting BBC Radio 4’s Life Scientific. ‘That (attitude) has completely changed now. Even when I started doing popular science 20 years ago a lot of my colleagues were saying you shouldn’t be doing that, you should be getting research grants and doing papers. Now, because there is so much science on TV on the radio and the web, that its become a respectable thing for scientists to do. People like Brian Cox do it on a vast scale; he’s reaching people who would never be that interested in science. We’re now regarded as proper scientists, its something that scientists aren’t ashamed of doing anymore.’ 

Al-Khalili seemed delighted that someone under the age of 60 listened to Life Scientific when we said we listened to it. On the program he has interviewed Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the discoverer of Pulsars, Richard Dawkins and many more. ‘I can talk about inspiring next generation and all, but because I work as the admissions tutor in the Physics department at Surrey University I get to see all the Ucas personal statements and I would say roughly half of the 500 applicants that came through last year mentioned Brian Cox. Some people will say he’s a pretty boy and not a real physicist but here are students doing A-Levels who are originally inspired to do Physics because they saw Brian Cox on TV. Some people prefer watching BBC 2 or listening to radio 4, but as long as there are different ways of explaining science then it is our job to tell people what we’re up to.’  

What History Teachers Think About History.

by Henry Ling and Kelvin Shiu
 
History is an amazing subject which looks into what we have left behind, the struggles and gains of our lives from the dawn of time. History teachers are always trying their best to keep us informed about what has happened. We asked some of them about certain aspects of the past and they have given us a range of answers.

 Here is what Mr Lemieux thinks;

1) Who is your favourite American president? Why?

This is tricky, I'll go for Reagan, the 'Great Communicator' 1980-88. You have to admire any President who could sweep the country as he did in 1984 winning all bar one state. Plus he oversaw the end of the Cold War and made America feel good about itself again. Also, I think he epitomises the acting element of US politics with his easy-going charm and witticisms. Just a shame about the budget deficit.....

2) Which war of all time has been the most significant?

I'll ignore the obvious ones  (world wars etc) and say the Falklands War which is very significant for us in the UK at any rate. Firstly it saved Mrs Thatcher's premiership, it showed we could still pack a punch and it is the only war in my lifetime where I have felt unequivocally proud of what we as a nation were doing. More historically, it was probably the last ever war fought without the 24/7 media coverage, and when news could be (and was) controlled by the authorities. It is also probably the last ever war we shall ever fight on our own, the final flutter of the British Empire as it were (unless the Spanish seize Gibraltar that is!)

3) Which prime minister of Britain was most interesting?

Spencer Percival: the only one to be assassinated (1812) and now mostly forgotten. A church was built in his memory in Ealing.....

4) Who would you call the best Briton?

Best is a very tricky phrase, but I rather like Scott of the Antarctic - brave, courageous, a bit amateur and ultimately he lost out (both his life and the race to the South Pole). Sums up some of the most endearing qualities of the British I think  - noble, understated and realising that winning isn't everything. Maybe this is why I've always been bemused by fierce sporting competitiveness!

5) Who would you say to be the best non-Briton?

Tricky again! Let's go for one of my favourite 'heroes', Martin Luther. He has certain objectionable qualities for sure (anti-Semitism and being unnecessarily argumentative are just two) but the bottom line was that he acted on what he felt was right, was something of a 16th whistle-blower on the corruption of the 16th century church and believed that people should worship in their own language and read the Bible for themselves. A little bit of an ecclesiastical democrat in some ways!

6) Which historical event do you believe people can learn the most from?

Well, we can learn from pretty much every event in history if we take the time but in the end perhaps I'd go for the elections in Germany between 1929 and 1932 as it shows what happens when an electorate is hoodwinked, and the mainstream political parties lose touch and fail to deliver what the people want

7) What is the most significant standing historical monument?

The Great Wall of China. It is pretty impressive and pretty long. What do we have by way of comparison, a few earthworks called Offa's Dyke and the remains of what was once a similar but far smaller equivalent namely Hadrian's Wall.

8) Which historical monument touches you most?

I'll play safe here, and go for the war cemeteries from the Great War. One of the most touching was one in Gallipoli overlooking the Bosporus where some OPs are buried. With its big memorial overlooking a busy shipping channel it reminded be a bit of Southsea Common and the naval monument there. Calm and peaceful nowadays, but once a bloody killing field.

9) Who is your favourite historical "villain"?

Interesting one - I'll plump for General Franco the fascist Spanish dictator from 1939-75.  A typical dictator in many ways yet he also refused to ally with Hitler and died peacefully. Not many modern dictators can say that. Also he was actually quite principled in his rule and wasn't really interested in creating a family ruling elite unlike many. He (probably inadvertently) enabled a peaceful transition to democracy in Spain by nominating King Juan Carlos. I've also seen his bathroom suite (1970s tasteless) and his mausoleum (vast and slowly decaying) and read in Preston's excellent biography that he enjoyed doing the football pools with Mrs Franco.

10)  Who is the greatest historical figure?

Well, what is great...... I'll go religious and say Jesus. 1 billion plus believers can't be wrong, and if nothing else the Western World bases its whole system of dating years on his life, BC and AD, (not please note BCE and CE). So even without the Bible, the Church, his moral teaching and much more, he is significant for that alone. Where would history be without an agreed system (well for much of the world at least) for numbering years.....
 

Mrs Casillas-Cross replied to the same questions as follows;

1) Who is your favourite American president? Why?

Lincoln- A man who was able to establish and work with a team of rivals in extraordinary circumstances and passed one of the most important amendments to the constitution 13th Amendment the emancipation of slavery.

2) Which war of all time has been the most significant?

First World War

 3) Which prime minister of Britain was most interesting?

Peel/ Gladstone

 4) Who would you call the best Briton?

Boudicca

5) Who would you say to be the best non-Briton?

Nelson Mandela

6) Which historical event do you believe people can learn the most from?

The Cold War

 7) What is the most significant standing historical monument?

The Pyramids

8) Which historical monument touches you most?

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (of those visited)

9) Who is your favourite historical "villain"?

Mao

10)  Who is the greatest historical figure?

Jesus Christ


Finally Dr Galliver gave us the following answers:

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Which Show Reigns Supreme?

by Alex Quarrie-Jones
 

One thing we can be sure of in our ever-changing world is that contemporary television covers almost everything within the spectrum of human interest. Ranging from gaudy entertainment to thoughtful documentary to thrilling drama, TV provides a source of entertainment that remains as a constant for everyone. In recent years, certain shows have emerged that have garnered a supreme amount of acclaim, praise and popularity. However, which show reigns supreme? Here are some of the contenders;

 1.       Homeland. The show that keeps you guessing about the allegiance of Nicholas Brody (exceptionally acted by Damian Lewis), an ex-marine who spent 8 years in the captivity of terrorists and returns to the US as a war hero. After a captivating first season and nail-biting second, the latter ending with a significant turn, the three main characters Brody, Carrie (Claire Danes) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) are left to pick up the pieces and forge new pathways in their shifting circumstances. Anyone who loves intelligent thrillers and drama needs to watch this, but I would definitely recommend watching from the start to understand the motivations of each individual character.
 
2.       Sherlock. The modern re-interpretation from the writers and producers of Doctor Who. This original and simply fantastic offering from the pinnacle of BBC production has already spawned a fandom on par with that of Doctor Who as well as skyrocketing Benedict Cumberbatch to the highest echelons of stardom for his spectacular portrayal of the greatest fictional detective. Furthermore, the writers have cracked TV’s equivalent of the supply/demand graph as they only release 3 episodes a series yet have huge ratings; the audience are addicted to the drug that is Sherlock. Speaking of drugs…
 
3.       Breaking Bad. One of the best US shows for ages, it tells the story of Walter White (played expertly by a collected yet unsettling Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher whose lung cancer diagnosis causes him to start up his own crystal meth with ex-pupil Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and finally adopt the alias ‘Heisenberg’. The concept of the show is one of the most authentic and original in years yet it became instantaneously popular. Much like the first choice, make sure you have a blank couple of days and bench-watch right from the start.   

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Top 10… Holiday Destinations for Summer 2013

by Sophie Whitehead


OK, so September’s that funny month where the summer ends, the weather changes, it's ‘back to school’ (the often mixed oxymoron of expressions – you love it or you hate it) but, worst of all, it's when you remember quite how much, deep down, you love the summer. And, quite how much easier the summer is to normal life.
For now is when the wellies come out of the closet, the jackets go back on the hooks, the woolly socks come out and the jeans go back on. The thermostat is turned right up as people's moods go right down, for, as much as everyone tries to stay positive, waking up to pitch black every morning really is not quite as much fun as it seems. In fact, it really does seem that the summer just came out for a day.

So, on this low, sombre note, I thought: what better than to write an article which will pick people's spirits up and leave them dreaming and aspiring for next summer, or sooner, holidays. Reading this article will be a time for recollection: maybe of your own summer holiday or one you have planned, or simply as just a small insight into those holidays you wish you had. I present to you: the top Ten holiday destinations for 2013 (my source: the great World Wide Web).
I serve not as a holiday brochure, more just as an insight to where those of you who are lucky enough to be able to fly away, do, or (to the other half of us who get to spend year after year in good old England (we love it really ?)) where we dream of going someday. What's more, for all the ‘holiday-goers’ out there, my little article might even provide some inspiration for your next jet-set paradise location. No need to thank me, honestly.
So here we go:

10: Madagascar

Best for: unusual activities mixed with quiet, tranquil environments

At number 10, the surprising Madagascar. It would seem, after enduring many years of political unrest and uncertainty within the country, Madagascar has finally "seen the light at the end of the tunnel" and this year many people took off to the country in the middle of the Indian Ocean to enjoy the untouched serenity of the world's fourth-largest island. With a radius of roughly 587 km sq and a population of roughly 22,005,222, it is truly a place to be overwhelmed in, as both its fauna and beautiful landscapes will have you mesmerised from the minute you land. Tip for those thinking of going next year? Book now before this hotspot reappears in travel agents' windows, because, let me assure you, based on last year's stats, it will.  

9: Dominican republic

Best for: a taste of the Carribean islands for the lowest prices

Imagine waking up to the sound of the ocean and the sight of miles of white sands stretched out from your hotel room. Being presented with the choice to do as much as you could want or as little, without feeling remotely guilty for ‘lazing’ around. A dream? No. The answer: the Dominican Republic. In the first part of 2012 alone, this dream utopia, which forms with other islands to make the Greater Antilles in the Carribean region, witnessed a great 8.4% rise in tourism, possibly due to the fact that it has to be the world's easiest island to access, with more and more airlines offering stops to the island's eight international airports every year, as well as many cruise ships stopping by to allow holiday goers a chance to see a truly magical way of life, or just the fact that it really is so perfect for whatever you want it to be. Voted as the second best honeymoon destination in the world, it is the perfect place to whisk away the newly-wed or to bring a family. Whatever you choose, you can ensure it will be filled with sand, sea and impeccably guaranteed sunshine.

8: Turkey

Best for: getting away to a special place, off the beaten track

A quick word of advice to any food lovers out there: this is THE place to go. With some of the best cuisine from around the world, mixed in with a kaleidoscope of sights --- from the tallest mountains to the whitest beaches to the most ancient of artefacts and a country rich in diverse cultural heritage, Turkey is at number eight for summer locations. With occasional temperatures exceeding 45 degrees centigrade in the summer months (July-August) and with some of the most interesting sights to see: Istanbul and tours of the Black Sea especially, you can see why Turkey came to be so popular. My recommendation to any holiday goer out there: Turkey’s worth a shot. But make sure you pack your sun screen.