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An image of the words International Women's Day

I am still learning about weather in Durham, so what follows may provoke raucous laughter among those who know the city better. It suddenly feels like spring. There are rabbits in my garden again. The first frills of green are appearing on trees and bushes. Most delightfully, as I walked into the Pitcairn Building this morning, I could feel the very gentle warmth of the sun on my face. Granted, the wind soon made me regret that I had left my overcoat at home, but it was a lovely moment.

Other Southies appear to share my sense of excitement. Earlier this week, Richard and Elysia acquired a substantial supply of birdseed. Then, with a combination of guile and chutzpa they set off to persuade additional ducks to abandon Van Mildert and make their homes on South College's luxury pond. Plainly, a pioneer flock of ducks have already made this choice. Other ducks, presumably with less instinctive affection for fine modern architecture, have yet to join the exodus. Richard and Elysia's ambition is laudable. If their efforts succeed, I hope to see fluffy armadas of ducklings paddling on the pond before long.

Oswald is excited at the prospect of avian company too. I suspect he may discover that ducks do not recognise wooden representations of Owls as birds. Of course, this may be a good thing. Mother ducks would worry that a large owl might regard their offspring as bitesize snacks. I understand that a comparably large predator scoffed rather a lot of Van Mildert's ducklings last year. While I cannot condone such brutality, I note that the Principal's Balcony at South has a commanding view of the Pond. In the event of trouble, I shall look out my old air rifle and fit the telescopic sight. Oswald would make quite good rifle rest...

The first annual South College International Women's Day Essay Competition attracted a wonderful selection of essays celebrating the lives and work of Amelia Earhart, Audre Lorde and Julia Gillard. Indeed, the entries were of such high quality that we felt it only fair to reward a winner and a runner up.

Holly Downes won the competition with her excellent essay on Amelia Earhart:'The Airborne Activist'. Holly will receive £250. Our impressive runner up is Emily Mitchell for her stylish and passionate appreciation of Audre Lorde. Emily will receive £100. With prize winners' consent we hope to display framed versions of their essays in the College Library. They are part of South College history.