Easter traditions and why we have them

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Easter weekend is almost here, and every year around Easter you’ll see supermarkets, shops, websites and events all using the same things to symbolise the occasion; Easter eggs, Easter Bunny and Hot Cross Buns. But why are these used to represent Easter? To find out this, were going to have to go back in time…

The Easter egg

Easter eggs go back a long time, even before Jesus! It’s believed eggs represent the meaning of a new life, which is often used as a symbol during the spring season. Also from a Christian’s point of view, the egg is believed to symbolise the new life of when Jesus was resurrected from the tomb on Easter Sunday.

Ever wondered why people decorate the eggs? This tradition goes way back to the 13th century. People were not allowed to eat the eggs during the time of Lent, so they would decorate them instead. And then when Easter finally arrived, they ate the eggs as a form of Celebration.

The first chocolate Easter eggs were made in France and Germany in the 19th century, but were very bitter and hard. As chocolate making techniques improved overtime hollow eggs were then developed. These are the ones we have all become accustom to, with many brand such as Cadbury, Nestle, Mars and Lindt bringing out new and exciting chocolate variations of the egg each year.

The Easter Bunny

The Easter bunny also goes way back – right to the 13th Century in fact. Back then, people would worship gods and goddesses and one Goddess was called “Eostra”; known as the goddess of spring and fertility. Her symbol was the rabbit, as she believed rabbits had a high reproduction rate. So, with spring symbolising new life, the bunny and the egg eventually become connected.

And if you believe in the Easter bunny, you’ll know that he or she brings baskets filled with chocolate eggs on the night before Easter. The Easter bunny will either put the eggs in a certain spot, or the bunny will hide the eggs in the house or garden for people to find in the morning of Easter, commonly known as an Easter egg hunt.

Hot Cross Buns

On Good Friday, it’s become traditional in the Christian religion to eat warm hot cross buns. The reason these sweet, spicy and fruity buns are eaten, is because the cross on top of the buns symbolises the cross that Jesus was killed on.

So, now you know why we have these things, you can get ready to indulge in your favourite Easter treats this weekend.

Easter hot cross bun recipe

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Whether you’ve already finished university or you’re finishing up this week, the Easter holidays are upon us and Easter weekend starts this Friday – which is Good Friday. And on Good Friday, it’s become traditional in the Christian religion to eat warm hot cross buns. The reason for this is because the cross on top of the buns symbolises the cross that Jesus was killed on.

If you’d like to try the spicy, sweet and fruity buns for yourself, you can easily make them in no time at all. Follow the simple recipe below from BBC Good Food and enjoy some traditional, home-made hot cross buns.

Ingredients

For the buns:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 heaped tsp mixed spice
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 200g mixed dried fruit
  • 7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 eggs

For the crosses & glaze:

  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • Honey or golden syrup for brushing.

The Method

  • Put the flour into a bowl and stir in the salt, mixed spice and sugar.
  • Rub in the butter with your fingertips. Stir in the dried fruit, then sprinkle over the yeast and stir in. Gently warm the milk so it is hot, but still cool enough to put your finger in for a couple of seconds. Beat with the eggs, then pour into the dried ingredients.
  • Using a blunt knife, mix the ingredients to a moist dough, then leave to soak for 5 mins. Take out of the bowl and cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.
  • Shape the dough into buns on a floured surface. Space apart on a baking sheet, cover loosely with cling film, then leave in a warm place until half again in size. This will take 45 mins-1 hr 15 mins, depending on how warm the room is.
  • When the buns are risen, heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Mix the flour with 2 tbsp water to make a paste. Pour into a plastic food bag and make a nick in one of the corners. Pipe crosses on top of each bun.
  • Bake for 12-15 mins until risen and golden. Trim the excess cross mixture from the buns, then brush all over with honey or golden syrup. The buns will keep fresh for a day. After that they are best toasted and served with butter.

Fancy a twist on the classic hot cross bun? Take a look at the BBC Good Food website for this recipe as well as different flavoured buns and savoury versions.

Why become a student volunteer?

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Being a student isn’t just about attending lectures and partying all night. There are lots of other activities you can do and get involved with that will widen your experiences and set you up for the ‘real world’ after you graduate. One of those things is carrying out voluntary work and helping others in the community. And as this week is Student Volunteering Week 2018 (19th – 25th February), we thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the benefits of becoming a student volunteer.

Help others
The reason for you volunteering in the first place is because something needs improving or some people require additional support. So, whether it’s litter picking in the community, putting in a few shifts at the charity shop, spending time with the elderly or providing support at the city’s charity sport event, your help and support can make a huge difference to your community and those around you.

Widen your connections
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and widen your social circle in the process. The people you meet will also have a passion for the cause you’re volunteering for and so it’s likely they’ll share some of the same interests as you. But if they don’t, it’s not a bad thing. Meeting a diverse range of people means there’s a chance for you to learn from them. They may open your eyes to new skills, new ways of thinking and share their own experiences and knowledge with you. And who knows, someone you connect with while volunteering may have a job opportunity for you later down the line!

Enhance your CV
Not only can you expand upon your own knowledge by learning from the people you meet, but the activities and work you do while volunteering will also help widen your skill set and give that CV a boost. Specific skills will vary depending on the extent of the work you’re doing but there are many transferrable skills such as time management, organisation and communication/social skills which will set you up for work in the ‘real world’ as they can be applied to most workplaces.

You’ll feel great
Volunteering is not only good for those you’re helping, but it’s also great for your own well-being. Knowing that you’re doing something valuable for the community or lifting the burden of others, shows that you care and should make you feel pretty good about yourself.

You can find out more about Student Volunteering Week 2018 here.

Classic British dishes to warm you up

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It might still be cold, dark and miserable out, but it’s not all bad. One of the best things about this time of year, is the warming home-cooked food you can enjoy; the perfect comfort after a busy day at uni. Here are some of our favourite classic British winter warmers…

Roast dinner

classic_winter_warmer_roast_dinner_

Image: BBC

A Sunday roast is the main event of the week, and knowing you have one to look forward to will certainly help you through a long week in winter. A plate piled high with your favourite meat, veggies and all the trimmings (after all, a roast dinner wouldn’t be complete without roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings); it’s what Sundays were made for. Recipes here.

Pie

steak_and_ale_pie

Image: Jamie Oliver

A sure winner to fill you up and warm you up in winter, is the humble pie. Whether it’s beef, chicken or a vegetarian pie, there’s nothing more satisfying than breaking into the crust of the flaky pastry lid. And depending how hungry you are, you can serve with your choice of sides – keep it simple with chips or go the whole hog with mash potato and a variety of vegetables. Our top choice pie recipe would be a classic steak and ale pie.

Toad in the hole

Toad-in-the-hole-with-onion-gravy-

Image: Tesco Real Food

A real British classic, but don’t threat, it’s not actually toads in a hole – instead, it’s sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter (mmm much tastier). It’s not really clear where the name came from for this hearty dish, but does it really matter when it tastes this good. Recipe here.

Beef stew

beefstewwithdumpling_

Image: BBC

For those cold days and nights, you can’t go wrong with this one-pot meal that’s easy to make and guaranteed to warm you through to the core. It’s also a great way to hit your five a day intake by using up any leftover vegetables – chop them up and chuck them in. And for that extra indulgence, top your stew with some fluffy dumplings. Recipe here.

Hopefully these dishes will help keep you warm for the remainder of winter, and before you know it the days will be warmer, the nights longer and Spring will be here!

If you’re looking for student accommodation in London in 2018 we have short-term and long-term contracts available. To find out more about living with us here in Kingston, please contact us on +44(0)20 3770 9119 or at kingston@host-students.com.

 

New Year, New You?

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Ah January; a New Year, a new start and well, another opportunity to break those New Year’s resolutions. While we all have great intentions on becoming a better person and changing our ways for the year ahead, unfortunately 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail by February.

So, whether it’s to drink less, save more, get fit or attend all of your lectures (yes, even the 9am ones), what can you do to improve your chances of seeing your resolutions through and not giving up before the year’s barely begun?

Firstly, you should only make one resolution. Because, let’s face it, making one change to your current lifestyle is probably going to be challenging enough, so why set yourself up for a fall by setting yourself 10 different ones? By selecting just one resolution, you can focus your time and effort solely on sticking to, and succeeding with the one thing.

When setting your resolution, you should make it personal and not follow suit with what others are doing – it’s got to be realistic and attainable for you. For example, if one of your friends who runs several miles weekly and competes in races regularly, is setting themselves the task of running a marathon this year, but you’ve never run before – it’s probably not the best idea to throw yourself in at the deep end and join them. Instead, why not aim for a shorter 3k or 5k run first? Then, once you’ve ran that far, you can aim for even further distances such as a 10km or a half marathon. Breaking your goal into a series of smaller, more manageable and time-based steps will make that end goal much more achievable and a lot less scary. As the saying goes, we must learn to walk before we can run.

And when times get tough and you start to question why you’re changing your ways, it’s important to remind yourself of the benefits of what you’re doing. If you’ve decided you’re going to attend all of your lectures, remember why you’re doing it when it’s 5pm on a Friday evening and all your friends are off to the pub, but you’ve got an hour lecture to attend instead. It might not seem like the better option at the time, but missing that one lecture could mean missing important information that will help you answer a key question in the end of year exams.

No matter your resolution and goal, remember to stay strong, be committed, and don’t give up at the first hurdle (yes there will be set-backs and struggles along the way, but the satisfaction you’ll feel for sticking at it will definitely outweigh them). Here’s to a happy, healthy and productive 2018!

If you’re looking for student accommodation in London in 2018 we have short-term and long-term contracts available. To find out more about living with us here in Kingston, please contact us on +44(0)20 3770 9119 or at kingston@host-students.com.

Celebrating Christmas in Halls

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Christmas is just around the corner. Which can only mean one thing; the first semester of term is finished. And how quick has this year gone!? It’s been a busy couple of months and now it’s time to relax and enjoy the well-deserved break. But where will you be spending this Christmas? While a lot of students are getting ready to head back home to celebrate and enjoy the day, some of you will be staying put. If you’re spending Christmas in halls, then we have some advice for you to make it as festive and merry as possible!

Celebrate with friends
Why not kick start this festive season by throwing a Christmas themed party with your friends and flat mates. Dress-up (do a competition for silliest and funniest Christmas jumper), meet new people, share your story about staying in halls and you’ll see that you’re not alone. You can even club together with others who are staying and buy everything you need to cook a Christmas Day feast. Then when you’re done, head to the common room and catch up on the best of the Christmas Day TV and movies.

Explore
Now is the perfect time to get out and appreciate what your city has to offer this Christmas. It doesn’t matter where you are, there are so many great things to see and do at this time of year. Experience the beauty of a city draped with sparkly lights that brighten the mood and spread festive warmth. Wonder the local towns and enjoy food and drink fresh from the street; after all there’s nothing better to lift your winter spirits than the aroma of mulled wine or hot chocolate and the glow of Christmas market stalls. And as a student living in London, a visit to Winter Wonderland (in Hyde Park) is a must! From ice-skating and fun fair rides to an ice kingdom and circus, there’s so much to see and keep you entertained. So, wrap up, put your cosy clothes on and start exploring the city!

Be productive
With several weeks off university, you may find you have a couple of days free with nothing to do. So, if you’ve got any assignments due or exams coming up in January, why not make the most of your time by doing some work or revision now while it’s quieter and you’re not as busy as in term time? We’re not saying spend the whole of the holidays with your head in a book, but making a start sooner will definitely ease some of the pressure in January.

And don’t forget to look out for the Christmas events we have planned here at One Penrhyn Road over the festive period!

Are you looking for student accommodation in London? Rooms available for Semester 2 (January 2018) and for September 2018. To find out more about our accommodation in Kingston, please contact our onsite management team today on +44(0)203 770 9119 or kingston@host-students.com.

Christmas in Kingston

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The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are dropping and the John Lewis television advert has officially been released – which can only mean one thing; Christmas is coming. And for those of you living in or visiting Kingston over the coming weeks, there are lots of things going on to get you in the festive spirit.

Kingston Christmas Market
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to a Christmas Market. And the good news is, you haven’t got to travel across Europe to find one. From 16th November – 31st December, the streets of Kingston will be transformed into an Alpine Village packed with traditional wooden cabins spreading throughout Ancient Market Place in the town centre. Warm up with a cup of mulled wine from the bar, dig into some classic street food, enjoy the live entertainment and soak up the festive atmosphere. And if you’re looking to give something more than just socks this year, there are lots of handmade gifts and stocking fillers to be discovered.

Alice in Winterland
For many, going to see a show or pantomime in December is all part of the parcel of Christmas time. If that’s you, then you’re in luck. The Rose Theatre in Kingston have taken Lewis Caroll’s timeless classic, Alice in Wonderland and adapted it for an amazing new festive stage production, Alice in Winterland. Follow Alice through a world of ice and imagination on her quest to save Winterland. The production will be live on stage from 7th December until 7th January, so there’s plenty of time for you to go on a magical adventure.

Christmas shopping
Not sure what to buy your family and friends this year? Looking for some inspiration? If you’ve got shopping to do, head to Kingston and you’re sure to find the perfect gift – no matter who you’re buying for. As the third biggest shopping destination in London, Kingston has everything from arcades packed with independent and specialist boutiques, to shopping malls with big brands such as Apple, Zara and Hollister. And not forgetting high street heroes such as John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Boots. Kingston has Christmas wrapped up!

Festive food
There’s no better excuse to get together with your friends, feast upon food and enjoy a drink or two, than Christmas. And in Kingston, you won’t be short of somewhere to wine and dine. Whether it’s cocktails or mulled wine, fine dining or pub grub, there’s a place to suit every taste and mood. So, before you and your friends all head home for the holidays, plan an afternoon or evening out to catch up and enjoy some festive fun together.

Looking for student accommodation in London? Rooms available for Semester 2, January 2018. To find out more about our accommodation in Kingston, please contact our onsite management team today on +44(0)203 770 9119 or kingston@host-students.com.

Student sport in Kingston

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Sport is often a big part of student life – whether it’s rugby, netball, swimming or simply going to the gym. But one of the most popular sports in the UK is football.

So, how many of you are big football fans? Do you enjoy watching a match on the big screen down the local pub with your friends? Maybe you prefer watching from the comfort of your own home or in the communal areas at One Penrhyn Road? Or, perhaps you’re someone who braves the chills of winter to experience the game first hand and support your local team from the side lines! Regardless of where you watch the match, it’s always great to be part of the action and atmosphere of a good game of football.

And as a student living in Kingston, there are so many opportunities for you to get involved with the popular sport yourself. You can join the local university team or the local Sunday league, have a knock around in the park with your friends or head down to the local pub to watch a game. You can even watch a match live in London. Why not head over to see Wimbledon AFC v Lincoln City play in the FA cup this weekend (Saturday 4th November)?

Now you know how to get involved in the sport, one of the toughest decisions you might have is deciding who you’re going to support for the season. Here at one Penrhyn Road, we know who we’re supporting…

This year Host have teamed up with Kingston Uni Football Club (KUFC) and we’re proud to be sponsors of the team’s kit. I think you’ll agree with us that they look great! We look forward to seeing them in action and following the team through the football season. We’d like to wish KUFC the best of luck from all of us at Host!

KUFC Mens Football Kit

Staying safe in London

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As we all know, London is a big city. But even though it is big, it is also a very safe city – just as safe as anywhere else in the world. International students and their parents often wonder how safe it really is to study in another country, that they’ve never visited or spent much time in before. So, here are a few tips to help keep you safe while studying in London.

Student Accommodation
A lot of international students will stay in university halls of residence or private student accommodation when they come to London. These types of accommodation are safe options for students as they have secured entrances and exits which can only be accessed with a key card. You will also find there are manned receptions and staff on-site 24/7. Office staff are on-site throughout the day to answer any questions and assist students when needed. And then security staff takeover and are on-site throughout the night.

Your personal belongings
As a student living with us here at One Penrhyn Road, we provide you with free contents insurance from Endsleigh at no extra cost. This means all of your valuable items, such as laptops and mobile phones, are insured against theft or damage. You can find out more about what is and isn’t covered at https://www.endsleigh.co.uk/.

When out and about in London, you should avoid carrying a lot of cash around with you. The best advice would be to set up a UK student bank account and get yourself a debit card so you can easily pay for things and withdraw cash as and when you need to. Most shops and restaurants accept card payments in London.

Personal safety in London
London is a safe city, despite its size. During the day, you can walk around with friends or on your own and feel safe in London. Public transport including the underground and bus services operate throughout the day and night, but not all night.

However, it is very important to be aware of your surroundings at all times and you should avoid walking alone in the night time. We would always recommend to go home with a group of friends or even get in a pre-booked cab. Taxi companies also operate in all parts of the city throughout the day and night.

Are you still looking for student accommodation in London? We have short-term and long-term contracts available. To find out more about living with us here in Kingston, please contact us on +44(0)20 3770 9119 or at kingston@host-students.com.

Your moving-in checklist

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No matter what year you’re in – whether it’s your first, second or third year at University, moving house is always stressful. Trying to pack the entire contents of your room and all the essential student items into a suitcase and a few boxes can be a nightmare. And although you probably think you have everything covered, there’s always a forgotten item off the list! So, to help you out and ensure no essential items are forgotten, we’ve put together a quick checklist of what to bring with you for each room.

Kitchen

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cutlery
  • Mugs
  • Glasses
  • Shot or wine glasses (depending on how many friends you’re planning on inviting over)

Depending on your culinary skills and how much you intend on cooking throughout your stay, you may also be interested in investing in some good cooking equipment such as:

  • Saucepans
  • Frying pans
  • Baking trays
  • A spatula
  • A knife
  • Chopping board
  • Mixing bowl
  • A can/bottle opener

Bathroom

  • A bin
  • Towels
  • A bath mat
  • Shower mat
  • Laundry Basket

You may want to consider getting a clothes airer so you can hang your clothes up to dry instead of having to wait until the driers are free. It will save you some money too in the long run by not having to pay for the driers! Of course, you will need to remember the essential toiletries such as shower gel, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo and conditioner.

Bedroom

Your bedroom is the place you’ll spend a lot of your time during your stay at One Penrhyn Road so it’s important to make it feel as homely and as comfortable as possible.

We recommend buying two sets of bed sheets so you have a spare one to put on when another is washing and drying. Going for a design and pattern that is quite light will make your room feel more spacious. You will also need to bring:

  • A new duvet
  • Pillows
  • Blanket
  • Cushions (great for cuddling up to on a movie night)
  • Clothes hangers
  • Storage boxes
  • If you purchase a TV, you’ll need to have a license for it

Don’t forget to bring photographs of you with your family and friends so you can pin them up in your room. You’ll be reminded of the good times when you see them and they’ll help add that personal touch to your room.

Clothes

When it comes to fashion, you have nothing to worry about. Nowadays you can look cool in pretty much anything. Pack your casual clothes (t-shirts, jeans, skirts), a few party dresses or smart shirts, trainers and flat shoes (trust us you’ll need them with all the walking you’ll do as a student). And if there’s one item of clothing to remember, it’s a fancy-dress costume as you’ll probably need one for Fresher’s week!

So, that’s the essential items, check these off your list and you’ll have everything you need to get you through the year and survive living away from home.

If you’re still looking for student accommodation in London we have short-term and long-term contracts available. To find out more about living with us here in Kingston, please contact us on +44(0)20 3770 9119 or at kingston@host-students.com.