What to expect – when your dog is expecting

What to expect – when your dog is expecting

I decided to breed my Lhasa Apso dog, Pippa, when advised by a vet that allowing one litter of puppies is usually healthy for a female dog – I also loved puppies and wanted more! From the process I learnt that behind all the cute puppy photos, there is a lot of hard work… But it is worth it!

Below is the stages of what to expect, if your dog is expecting puppies:
1. Finding a mate
First you have to find a suitable partner for your dog. Prepare for the awkwardness of setting up a dog date at the owner’s house, however it is quite funny. You have to pay a fee to the owner for the dogs’ time, usually this is the price you intend to sell one puppy at. In my case the owner wanted to keep a puppy from the litter so she got first pick.
2. The wait
Pregnancy in dogs is much shorter than a human span at only 9 weeks. You can even get a puppy scan at the vets, which determine the number of puppies. Poor Pippa had a very noticeable bump, she was very tired throughout which actually made her needier and almost childlike. (See below when she started stealing dummies from the house.) During this time it is important to ensure your dog receives extra attention, sleep and nutrients.EO13

Witnessing the strain pregnancy put on her, I only think dogs should be allowed to have one litter of puppies in their lifetime. It is unfair to think puppy farms put dogs through this sometimes twice in one year for financial gain.

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3. Be prepared
Preparation is essential. At around six weeks dogs start thinking about where to give birth, so prepare somewhere warm and enclosed with lots of blankets, and encourage your dog to start sleeping there.
4. The arrival
It is important that an owner is aware of their dogs’ due date – just like humans, dogs water breaks and they go into labour. House dogs generally do not have the wild instincts to cope with situations like this alone so it is important they are carefully monitored if anything was to go wrong.
Originally at Pippas puppy scan, the vet predicted she would have four puppies. To my surprise on the night, after the fourth, more just kept coming! It turns out she had six puppies!! I received regular updates from my parents who were on midwifery duty from 1am in the morning right up until 4am!

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5. How to look after six puppies
It is a challenging task. You have to ensure they are all fed regularly, therefore it is essential the mum bonds with them. Within the first two weeks it is advised not to handle the puppies, unless it is absolutely necessary as this may make the mother disown them.

At the start, the mother does the majority of the work as the puppies mostly sleep – this makes it an easy task of just admiring how cute they are!

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As they get older, the process gets more challenging. Once the puppies open their eyes at two weeks, they start running around more and crying earlier in the morning to go to the toilet or play. Be prepared for layering the floor with newspapers to avoid accidents, constantly cleaning up, cornering off areas and having eyes everywhere to prevent them running away!

The mother begins to actually run away from the puppies when she feels they can survive alone and is no longer up to the commitment of feeding them all. (See below Pippas look of despair from feeding and being followed everywhere by six puppies!)

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6. Finding suitable owners
Promoting puppies surprisingly takes a lot of effort – four people to be exact, to sit, pose and distract hyper puppies for the perfect photograph. After many failed attempts we eventually got the best photo and advertised them on Facebook.

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Failed photo attempt number 1 of many. (I don’t think they liked photos) 

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One of the final promotion photos.

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The best photo of all six puppies sitting still. 

Prepare to answer many queries and send additional information. We found genuine owners for all puppies within two days, ensuring all new owners visited their new puppy to make sure they had the right intentions before agreeing to sell.

7. Letting go
Puppies are ready for their new home within 8-12 weeks. Before they go to their new home, they have to be vet checked and wormed, so the expense is something to consider.
It is very sad letting puppies go when you grow attached to them. This can be hard on the mum and vets advise to separate the mother and puppies in advance to make the process easier. However, Pippa had got to the stage of wanting her own independence again and did not notice as she was running away from them.
Of course – I had to keep one! It is only fair for the mum and makes it a lot easier on everyone. I kept the ‘fatty’ of the litter and called her Peanut, who resembles a teddy bear! We still receive regular updates from the new owners and are reassured they all went to good loving homes.

I would advise anyone who is considering dog breeding to do their research and speak to their vet first, it is more challenging than it looks but it is so worth it!

Elizabeth Owens is a final year BSc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @eowens12_ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethowens32/ 

 

“Buy it in bulk” – my mother

 

If you were to ask my mother at 19 what does her future hold? I’m sure her answer would have been that shed hope to become a nurse, have a house by the beach with someone tall dark and handsome and spend her days tending to tomato vines in her green house.

I guess no one knows what the future holds because my mum defiantly didn’t.

Fast forward 23 years later. She’s a Mother of 8 and a Grandmother of 19 and as you guessed it has no time for a green house. My names Jessica and I am 2nd youngest in a family of 10.

Coming from a big family does have its perks, the constant stream of hand me downs over the years and a lot of people to take the focus of you if you wanted to stay out that half hour longer. If anything, it prepared me a lot for the ‘student life’ with its constant noise stream that people are only subjected to in their first shared accommodation and with its bulky buffet style dinners I was able to adjust very quickly.

In fact, whenever I would come home to an empty student house I would miss the echoes of tell-taling and watching my mother take several attempts to remember some of our names.

Coming from a house of so many there are certain things you have to accept, you will never ever have a plate of left overs wrapped in tinfoil waiting in the oven for you waiting. If you want to go on any family activity you to ensure that you’re guaranteed a seat in the car as they gold dust and if you want to talk to your mother you have to schedule her in at least one week in advance.

I should have joined a debate team because I get plenty of practice arguing how just because I went to the kitchen should not mean I lose my seat in the living room, every day. Coming from a big family you have to learn how to fend for your self because your older siblings they can sense weakness.

Being constantly surrounded by nieces and nephews is however refreshing and their innocence’s is something to indulge in. luckily for us Santa and the tooth fairy has never missed a year.  So, it does have its perks, like when it’s your birthday and your flooded with gifts and cards. Unfortunately, it also means that its someone’s birthday every other week and I’ve tasted enough cream and jam sponge cakes to do me a life time.

I do sometimes wonder what the ‘only child’ does with their free time and what it would be like to have full power of the remote control 24/7. All I can hope for is to have half the patience my mother does and half the children.

Yes, if you were to tell her at 19 she wouldn’t become a nurse I’m sure she would be disappointed but only because she wasn’t made to become ‘just a nurse’ but also became a doctor, a teacher, the judge the jury and the driver. Tomato vines are over rated anyway.

 

Jessica Phillips is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.

Money can’t buy happiness – but it can buy food & drink!

Money can’t buy happiness – but it can buy food & drink!

My first two years in university consisted of a very regimented routine. The Hatfield on a Sunday night, the Fly on a Monday night, the Bot on a Wednesday night, with some university squeezed in-between! There was also a lot of counting the pennies and praying there was enough in my bank account, for that next Maggie Mays or that late night pizza from Domino’s… Being a student in Belfast is harder than one would think, especially when you are used to home comforts. Paying rent, paying bills and a bit of partying with a measly student loan, is extremely difficult!

My third year was different. I was on placement year in Belfast, which meant getting paid! I found myself getting away from my usual university routine as I was now in full time work which meant I could not go to the Bot on a Wednesday night… Instead I found myself socialising in different places as I was with different company. It also helped that I was doing my placement within the drinks industry as it became very normal to go for a drink on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thu… only joking, just the occasional Thursday and Friday evening in Belfast. As well as this, working in Belfast City centre let me discover some of the best food places in the city.

So let me tell you about the best places, in my opinion, to eat and drink in Belfast city. (As the majority of my placement wage went towards this!)

 

The BEST cup of Coffee in Belfast city

On a Monday morning I would find myself eyeing up the clock waiting for my ten o’clock tea break which only meant one thing. Straight over to Home Restaurant for “a coffee & treat” for £2. A vanilla latte and blueberry & white chocolate scone on a Monday morning was like going to heaven without having to die!

Lunch in the city – a hidden gem

Being a typical student, I thought there could not be possibly anything that would compare to a Boojum until I tried a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban Sandwich Factory. My mouth is watering thinking about a sloppy joe…chilli mince, chorizo, cheese…. So much goodness. If you have not been here before, you have to go!

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Saturday Brunch

There are so many options in Belfast city centre right now it is really hard to pick one. The Gallery, Harlem and French village are all incredible but General Merchants blows them out of the water. You have not lived until you have tried the “Huevos Rotas”. This consists of crispy potatoes, chorizo, avocado and smashed eggs. Amazing. Their coffee would also give Home restaurant a run for their money!

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Dinner in Belfast..

If someone asked me right now where I would like to go for dinner in Belfast I would have huge difficulty picking, as there are so many great places to eat. But, I would have to say Three Levels! This relatively new restaurant in Belfast has a really cool concept. It has three floors of Asian inspired foods and provides mouth-watering food options. There is a huge entertainment focus here as you sit around and watch your chef spectacularly, interactively cook in front of you.

After work drinks

My favourite thing on a Friday evening after a long week of work was a half pint of Hop House 13 listening to the amazing live music in Sweet Afton. Their cocktails are absolutely amazing as well! Also on a nice summers evening it is only a stone’s throw to the Perch, the most amazing rooftop bar in Belfast.

The best Tuesday night out

The Comedy club in the Empire is absolutely hilarious. It takes place every Tuesday night from about 8-11. Its only £8 in to watch three seriously funny comedians perform all night. NOT that I would have promoted drinking a full bottle of wine on a Tuesday night with work the next morning…. But a bottle is only £12! £20 for a great night out. However, it is not for everyone. Especially if you take offence easily.

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A taste of home

Kelly’s Cellars is one of my favourite bars in Belfast. It’s warm, cosy atmosphere with the most amazing live traditional Irish music reminds me of the traditional pub I used to work in at home. Apparently it’s the best pub in Belfast for a pint of the black stuff!

The best place for a G&T?

Muriels. Hands down!

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So there you have it – my run down on the best places to eat and drink in Belfast, that had I not stayed in Belfast for my placement year, perhaps I would not have discovered. Now back to final year, with no disposable income and a scary overdraft, I find myself counting my pennies again wondering – will I have enough to go out tonight?

Helen McAleer is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on linkedin.com/in/helen-mcaleer-6b1221b4 and on Twitter: @Helen_McAleer30

Help yourself by helping others

I’ve always been interested in volunteering and helping out people in my community who are in need of support, but I never thought that helping others could ever help me. For two years I volunteered with Special Olympics Ireland who are a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability.

When I was 16 I got involved through my brother who was already a volunteer at the time, who asked me to help out because they were short on volunteers. Initially I was reluctant when I found out id have to get up early on a Saturday morning and leave my bed, which for most 16 years old is damn near impossible. However, I was persuaded nonetheless as I knew it was the right thing to do as I was really at nothing any way. I at first, I only thought the benefits for me is that it would look good in my CV, but I soon found out was that was completely wrong.

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I’m not going to lie, it was a struggle getting up some mornings after being out that Friday night reeking of tan and hair so sticky from god knows what being spilt on it, where you’d do anything to just roll over and go back to sleep. But, for some reason no matter how grumpy I was or how much of a bad mood I was in coming to volunteer, I always left in a good mood and with a smile on my face. For the first time I think ever, it made me really proud of myself.

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My role volunteering with Special Olympics Ireland was to help train the athletes for upcoming competitions. So, every week we would record their running times and practise with athletes competing in their chosen event i.e. throwing a soft ball or javelin. So, when the competitions finally came around and the medals would be pouring in from the athletes on our team its really rewarding knowing your efforts helped a little in achieving that. All those early Saturday morning spent outside on a mucky field in the rain, would all be worthwhile. As witnessing the pure joy in the athletes faces when they won a medal really melted my heart.

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides a chance to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. Here are just some of the benefits that I gained from my time volunteering:

Building bonds and Friendships

Due to your shared interested you make friends with people in your community you wouldn’t normally socialise with.

 

Improves Self-Esteem

Volunteering can help improve your self-esteem and motivate you to lead a healthier and happier life.

 

Developing skills

Volunteering can open the door to new learning opportunities that you may have not previously considered or thought you were capable of doing

 

Experience Improved Health and Well-being:

Many people who volunteer say that helping others gives them a good feeling inside, something that researchers call a “helpers high”

 

Volunteering increases self-confidence. 

You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment and the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.

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Niamh McNally is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter at @Niamh_McNally or LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-mcnally-7a7079120/

Hush From Scratch

There’s something very satisfying about launching a new nightclub event. Especially in a small city like Belfast where the competitors witness your every move and try their best to trip you up at every hurdle. It’s a thrilling and hands-on process that brings great success, but it requires more work than you can imagine. However, the proud moment when you succeed makes the stress all that more rewarding.

Here is a little insight to how we developed HUSH, a successful Saturday night brand that was located in the city centre. HUSH was introduced to the renowned Belfast nightlife scene following a strategic 6-week launch campaign similar to any PR campaign you would see from our beloved duo, Grunig and Hunt.

First was the long and draining planning stage. It was crucial for the basis of the brand. We brainstormed the initial fundamentals of any club night; gaps in the market, where we wanted to position, the target demographic, brand names, artwork design for online and print, the music policy and things of that nature.

We sent off different brand ideas to our graphic designer who came up variations of logos in terms of font, style and colour. It was exciting seeing all our ideas slowly but surely coming to life. These variations were pitched to focus groups consisting of staff and our target market. The final call was then made. We now had a brand and a logo, it was time to get this show on the road!

Next was the implementation stage. This involved increasing brand awareness by getting as many ‘eyes’ as possible on our new brand, creating a buzz amongst our customers and giving them a taste of what’s to come. This was completed using both traditional methods and more contemporary digitalised methods.

The process involved a lot of questions and answers. “What are the best channels to reach our target audience?” It’s apparent that social media is leaps and bounds above other platforms. We discovered Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are a club promoter’s dream. You can interact instantly with your consumers 24/7 for relatively no costs. Cheap, cheerful and easy, just the way it should be.

According to McGaritty, P. (2017), “Facebook is dominant social media platform with over 65% of adults using it in Northern Ireland.” Building the HUSH Facebook ‘business page’ was our main focus, as this was by far our most important asset. This page was our customers first point of contact where they could message us with any questions or booking requests. This is where we created events for every Saturday, uploaded photo albums, constructed a ‘guest list’ and booked in tables.

Content on the page varied, however it was designed to be interactive, relatable and relevant. This increased the likelihood of customers sharing the content from their own personal profiles and ‘tagging’ other friends. They would soon become brand evangelists and advocates! Content could be anything at all; drinks deals, funny videos or ‘memes’, DJ graphics, entry prices or generic promotional posts.

It was important to build the likes, reach and interaction amongst customers and ultimately drive all traffic through this platform. We used many tricks of the trade such as competition give-aways and a few promoter wizardry skills that need to be kept HUSH HUSH…The first video we posted was an interactive competition for the launch night to win free entry, a reserved table and drinks. To enter this, we asked customers to ‘like’ the Facebook page, share the video to their own profile and tag 5 friends. This technique caused the video to spread like wildfire and it reached 37,978 people, 16.2k views, 349 likes and 306 comments.

We did not forget about the traditional methods for our PR campaign. We smartly used our contacts to our advantage to save on major costs. The club GM was personal friends with an executive from The Belfast Telegraph and we luckily secured a press release about the launch into the paper. This was also published by ‘The Tab’ – an online newsletter for students and on Belfast Live’s website and Facebook page. One of our DJs was also a radio DJ for Blast 106. He hooked us up with a 30 second radio ad for a fraction of the price and promoted the brand every day between 6-9pm. These were great additions to our campaign and increased the awareness dramatically.

The last stage was the launch. This was Judgment Day for us. Would the long hours of tedious work be worth it? It was the most exciting day, adrenaline was flowing around the air and there was a special buzz which cannot be easily replicated. It was the time to ensure that everything was in place and making sure staff knew their roles. Knowing all the tables were sold out and seeing the guest-list numbers get higher and higher was a sign that success was on the horizon. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous counting down the hours before we opened our doors for the first time.

There is no better feeling than coming up with something from scratch, building it up, utilising all methods, pulling it off and becoming a success. You know it has all been worth it after witnessing the happy customers having a great time and wanting to come back. We were a full house on our launch night and the event has continued to attract steady numbers ever since. Success for the not so HUSH!
If you want to know more about the experience, please feel free to contact me.

 

Cal McIlwaine is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook – Facebook Account / Twitter – Twitter Account / LinkedIn – Linkedin Account

Video Link:

 

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References:

McGaritty, P.  (2017). Social Media Use in Northern Ireland.

Children aspiring to be like their favourite Disney character or insensitive mockery of culture?

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For anyone who hasn’t yet heard of the movie ‘Moana’, it is a popular Disney movie which was released in in 2016. The story follows a young Polynesian girl who befriends Maui, a rather large, tattooed demigod whose voice is played by Dwayne Johnston. They then go on to return the heart of the ocean etc etc. (I have a three-year-old so I have only seen it 64,296 times.) ‘Moana’ was a massive hit with children everywhere. And therefore, without any hesitation the Disney store, designed costumes to replicate the characters from the movie. (I will be honest I may have purchased the over-price tiny piece of material for my daughter.)

All was well until Halloween last year, when it emerged in the newspapers that parents should not dress their children as a different race from their own as it could be deemed racist. This statement was specifically aimed at The Moana, Maui and the movie Frozens’ character Elsa’s costumes.

 

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It was suggested that Disney’s Moana who is seen as a Polynesian warrior should not be replicated unless the person dressing up is actually Polynesian. The same was suggested for Elsa from the Disney movie frozen, as dressing like her was seen to be promoting ‘white beauty’. So, do we now have to be dead to dress as a ghost? Or from Egypt to be a mummy at Halloween?

The initial blog actually suggested that dressing your children as though from a culture other than your own was ‘cultural appropriation’. In more understandable terms, this suggests that you are taking something from a culture which you don’t belong to and using it for a purpose it wasn’t meant for. Surely dressing as a fictional movie character cannot fall into this category, and is being blown way out of proportion?

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I believed that dressing children up as a character from their favourite movie, whether they are of a different race or not can cause no harm? WRONG, according to activists it is insensitive and can be seen as ‘making fun’ of someone else’s culture. I know I found this incredibly shocking as harming anyone’s feelings while watching my daughter prance around the living room singing ‘see the line where the sky meets the sea’ did not even cross my mind.

Surely, we should let children be children and if they like a movie they should be able to rein act it by dressing in a costume without being deemed as racist? I can definitely understand how we should be respectful of other people’s cultures and ethnicity but I’m pretty sure my three-year-old daughter does not care about race. All she cares about is looking like a strong-willed Polynesian princess or queen Elsa from Frozen and I most definitely am not going to stand in her way.

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On Halloween night, there were plenty of small children in masks at my door. Who knows whether under the masks if they were Black, White, Asian, Indian or any other race. It was Halloween and that is not what we should be thinking about. As long as the children get into a fun costume and go out and have a good time is what’s important. So, we should embrace our children’s innocence, let them wear the costumes, let them watch the movies, let them sing the songs. There is plenty of time to discuss race, power and privilege with them in the future.

Georgia McCalmont is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be contacted on Twitter @04Georgia or Instagram @Georgiamac26

 

Student Life: Expectation V. Reality

As a nostalgic final year, I have reminisced on my brilliant university experience over the past 4 years. It has led me to remember what expectations I, and many others presumably had, as a first year beginning University.

 

Expectation: I’m rich!

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The student loan is a source of excitement particularly for prospective young fresher’s who imagine all the endless possibilities of their newly acquired ‘wealth’.  But whilst the loan may be the most money you’ve had enter your current account, it certainly doesn’t stay there very long. Once you factor in rent, food, clothes and alcohol, you really don’t have much left for those not quite as essential items such as electric, gas, and toilet roll…

Expectation: Hey MTV, welcome to my crib!

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Whilst you may expect to live in a nice house, the chances of that happening (especially in the Holylands) are pretty narrow. The slick pad you envisioned sharing with your friends will probably include mismatched furniture from the 80s, a shower with the force of a leaking tap, and a bedroom considerably disproportionate in size to the rest of the bedrooms – AKA “the box room”.

Suddenly, your home house feels like a palace in comparison, filled with luxuries such as in-date food, television, heat, and clean clothes! Which leads to the next expectation…

Expectation: I’m a strong independent university student.

Expecting to live self-sufficiently in your student house without regular visits home is a commonly misplaced expectation of university life. The reality is so, so different. Friday’s are typically when you go ‘home home’ to your family house, as opposed to ‘home’ which is your student house – get it? And if you’re lucky and have no classes on Fridays there is no doubt that you will be straight up the motorway on a Thursday evening. This is probably when you will beg kindly ask for money to get you through the following week when the loan has officially run its course… Whilst simultaneously raiding the cupboards for food to bring back to Belfast with you.

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Expectation: Party every night woo!

The hopes of going out every single night are usually short-lived and by Thursday you’re more than ready to head home for a weekend of comforts.

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Expectation: I’m going to cook all the time!

All the simple student cookbooks in the world will not encourage you to cook more than a maximum of 10 home-made meals in the duration of your first year. Instead you will have a vested interest in trying every takeaway available to you (provided they deliver – obviously). If you do decide to venture into the unknown that is cooking then you will probably whip up something like pasta, after sufficiently googling how to make it, of course.

 

E5Expectation: I will never miss a class.

Most of us probably told ourselves this at the beginning of University life, but in reality, it rarely happens. There will almost certainly be a day where you chose Netflix or drinks with your friends over class, and as a first year, no one can blame you for it!

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Whilst university may not be entirely as you first expected, most would agree that it’s a brilliant, unforgettable experience that goes by in the blink of an eye. So embrace student life and enjoy it whilst you can, because the real world *shudders* is just around the corner!

 

Emma McVeigh is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. You can contact her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/emma-mcveigh-611462a4/ or on Twitter @emmamcveigh_