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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

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    Black plastic containers take-away for a healthy snack food with raspberries, blueberries. Ingredients of healthy breakfast: granola, oat flakes, berries, nuts, apples, bananas. Top View; Shutterstock ID 1162363981; Purchase Order: -
    (Picture: Shutterstock / ILEISH ANNA)

    Good news, environmentally conscious pals.

    No longer do you need to seek out your nearest market or health shop to get fruit and veg without all that unnecessary plastic packaging.

    Lidl will be the first major supermarket to scrap all black plastic from fruit and vegetables.

    Black plastic, if you didn’t know, is not recyclable in the UK, making it a pretty terrible packaging option for those who care about the earth.

    Lidl estimates that by scrapping black plastic from their fruit and veg, they’ll save 50 tonnes of plastic from going to landfills each year.

    From now onwards, you won’t find any fruit and veg, including mushrooms, baby sweetcorn, and asparagus, in black plastic in Lidl.

    The supermarket is keen on getting rid of the stuff for fresh meat, fish, and poultry products next.

    Ryan McDonnell, Lidl’s commercial board director, said: ‘This significant move away from black plastic demonstrates our dedication to tackling this important topic.

    ‘We recognise the current challenge that black plastic presents to the recycling industry, which is why we have made it our priority to remove it from our fresh ranges.

    ‘As part of our commitment to achieving our ambitious targets, we are continually exploring opportunities to cut our packaging, and where packaging is necessary to protect food and minimise food waste, we will ensure that it is reusable, refillable or recyclable.’

    It’s the latest move in a long line of efforts from supermarkets to show that they care about the environment and sustainability.

    Stores such as Morrisons and Lidl have been selling wonky fruit, vegetables, and flowers to curb food waste, while Iceland is working on making biodegradable packaging for their frozen foods.

    MORE: Taped up trainers on sale for £399 accused of glamourising poverty

    MORE: Iceland is selling ready-made scrambled eggs in microwaveable pouches

    MORE: Urban Outfitters’ new glass holder lets you sip wine in the shower


    Lidl to be first supermarket to remove black plastic from fruit and vegLidl to be first supermarket to remove black plastic from fruit and vegellencscottBlack plastic containers take-away for a healthy snack food with raspberries, blueberries. Ingredients of healthy breakfast: granola, oat flakes, berries, nuts, apples, bananas. Top View; Shutterstock ID 1162363981; Purchase Order: -Lidl to be first supermarket to remove black plastic from fruit and vegLidl to be first supermarket to remove black plastic from fruit and vegellencscottBlack plastic containers take-away for a healthy snack food with raspberries, blueberries. Ingredients of healthy breakfast: granola, oat flakes, berries, nuts, apples, bananas. Top View; Shutterstock ID 1162363981; Purchase Order: -

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    MERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling her wedding dress after her relationship broke down. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband - unwanted. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ?1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ?150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 - but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPY
    Lyndsey Harrison is selling her wedding dress following separating from her husband (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    A bride is selling her £1,200 wedding dress for just £150 with a glorious rant on Facebook.

    Lyndsey Harrison, 32, separated from her husband back in 2016, and is now selling her old dress as it’s as ‘unwanted’ as her ex.

    She says she had doubts even before they tied the knot, but went through with the wedding to avoid disappointing friends and family. The couple then separated and Lyndsey was left with a wedding dress she didn’t fancy keeping.

    Now she’s hoping to sell the dress for £150 so she can put the money towards celebrating her divorce, which is set to be finalised in the next few months.

    She wrote on Facebook: ‘Selling my wedding dress due to it falling into the same category as the husband – unwanted.

    ‘Size 12 originally bought in 2014 for £1,200. May fit slightly bigger as I seem to remember a fair few months of “what the f*** am I doing?” Stella binges so needed widening.

    MERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrisons wedding dress is on sale after becoming as unwanted as her ex-husband. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband - unwanted. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ?1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ?150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 - but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPY
    The dress originally cost £1,200, but Lyndsey is happy with £150 so she can celebrate the funeral (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    ‘Please don’t ask me any questions about it cos I know nowt about dresses. It’s white and heavy but aren’t we all.’

    It doesn’t look like that posts has received any bids from buyers yet, but it has been flooded with comments from people enjoying Lyndsey’s rant.

    ‘There was nothing remotely exciting about our relationship,’ says Lyndsey. ‘We met in 2009 in a McDonald’s car park.

    ‘We were both into modified cars and we had a big group of car friends who knew each other so it was at one of the meet-ups. That was all a very long time ago.

    ‘Our relationship was quite hostile, even when we had the house warming for our first home together we ended up in a bit of a battle of words.

    MERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrison's Facebook ad selling her wedding dress. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband ??? ???unwanted???. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ??1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ??150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 ??? but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPY
    She’s selling the dress on Facebook with an honest post (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    ‘I never expected him to propose. When he did I thought he was joking and said ‘no’ at first, then I realised he was being serious.

    ‘He didn’t have a ring but it turns out he’d asked me at the exact time that we met – so he could be sweet sometimes.

    ‘I thought “why not?” I think a big part of me only said yes to annoy his family, they’d never liked me, they were always a bit more well-to-do.

    ‘Suddenly my dad had offered to pay for the wedding and everyone was buying dresses and booking the day off. I really felt like I had to go ahead with it for everyone else.

    ‘The wedding planners kept telling me I was the most relaxed bride ever but it’s because I wasn’t really bothered. Even the dress was just the first one I tried on.

    MERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrisons wedding dress is on sale after becoming as unwanted as her ex-husband. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband - unwanted. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ?1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ?150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 - but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPY
    If the dress doesn’t sell, Lyndsey will turn it into a corpse bride costume (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    ‘Walking down the aisle was terrifying. The day definitely wasn’t the fairy tale everyone tells you it is, it was fine.’

    Lyndsey claims that after the honeymoon her ex became a ‘grumpy old man’ and they kept clashing. Eventually she asked for a divorce.

    Her ex-husband declined to comment.

    If the dress doesn’t sell, Lyndsey plans to turn it into a corpse bride costume for Halloween.

    ‘If the dress does sell then I’d probably advise them not to go through with it all, nobody will ever get me down the aisle again,’ she said.

    ‘But if they’re happy and it’s what they want then I’d wish them way better luck than I had.’

    MORE: Naturist couple have naked wedding wearing just a veil and a bow tie

    MORE: People are greatly enjoying a bride’s list of ridiculous demands for her wedding day

    MORE: Mum spends £7,000 on baby’s first birthday for a heartbreaking reason


    Bride selling dressBride selling dressellencscottMERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling her wedding dress after her relationship broke down. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband - unwanted. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ?1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ?150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 - but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrisons wedding dress is on sale after becoming as unwanted as her ex-husband. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband - unwanted. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ?1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ?150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 - but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrison's Facebook ad selling her wedding dress. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband ??? ???unwanted???. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ??1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ??150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 ??? but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrisons wedding dress is on sale after becoming as unwanted as her ex-husband. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband - unwanted. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ?1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ?150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 - but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPYBride selling dressBride selling dressellencscottMERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling her wedding dress after her relationship broke down. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband - unwanted. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ?1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ?150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 - but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrisons wedding dress is on sale after becoming as unwanted as her ex-husband. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband - unwanted. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ?1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ?150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 - but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrison's Facebook ad selling her wedding dress. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband ??? ???unwanted???. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ??1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ??150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 ??? but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 21/09/18. Pictured: Lyndsey Harrisons wedding dress is on sale after becoming as unwanted as her ex-husband. A bride is flogging her wedding dress after she claims it developed the same status as her husband - unwanted. Lyndsey Harrison, 32, is selling the ?1,200 strapless embellished gown with a sweetheart neckline for just ?150 after separating from her husband Ste Warrior, 29, in October 2016. The account handler says she knew her and Ste were in trouble before she even walked down the aisle in June 2014 - but felt pressured to go ahead with the day due to the excitement of friends and family. If the dress sells, Lyndsey, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, will be able to put the reasonable asking price towards celebrating her divorce, which is due to be finalised in the next couple of months. SEE MERCURY COPY

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    National Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    We’d like to pay tribute to the rabbit today.

    Forever immortalised in season one of Sex and the City, when Charlotte York gets so obsessed with her new dildo that the other ladies have to stage an intervention and force her to leave the comfort of her bed, the rabbit quickly rose to sex toy glory.

    But is it really worth the hype?

    At first glance, rabbits can seem fiddly. And since not every rabbit offers the same experience, your orgasms could end up costing you a lot of money, if you’re unhappy with your choice.

    To help you on your way and to celebrate National Rabbit Day, we tasked ourselves with the arduous task of trying out seven different vibrators – from the original style with floppy little ears on a miniature bunny, to new sleek versions in an array of different colours, shapes and sizes.

    The reviews below are from several women and these are the conclusions they (and I) came to.

    Happy Rabbit Thrusting Vibrator, £79.99

    Credit: Lovehoney https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=38897
    (Picture: Lovehoney)

    I have always been skeptical about rabbit vibrators.

    As someone who appreciates simplicity, they often seemed over-complicated and I preferred to just use my hands or, you know, a dick.

    But I stand corrected, because the Happy Rabbit Thrusting Vibrator was so good, I had an orgasm in approximately 30 seconds.

    I have tried other dildos in the past and most of them slide out, so you have to reach down and hold it yourself, which is more faff than I can be bothered with.

    But thanks to the size and the ridges on this one, I put it in and it just stayed there.

    What’s better, the thrusting function is so intense (yes, it really does go in an out on its own) and since the little rabbit was tickling my clitoris at the same time, I didn’t even need to use my hands to make myself orgasm.

    It genuinely feels as if you’re actually getting fucked by someone.

    The only downside? It’s a little difficult to clean, because of the tight ridges.

    Satisfyer Pro G-Spot, £62.95

    Credit: Satisfyer.com https://www.satisfyer.com/uk/satisfyer/31/satisfyer-pro-g-spot-rabbit
    (Picture: Satisfyer.com)

    This vibrator is a must-have for blended orgasms.

    The shorter bit, which has sound waves running through it, gently caresses and sucks the clitoris, which coupled with the vibrator itself can be pretty mind-blowing.

    Unfortunately for me, I don’t get too stimulated by my clitoris, so I didn’t turn this bit on too often. But, the good thing about the Satisfyer is that you can switch between the two functions – using just the ‘sucker’ or skip it and go for just penetration vibrations.

    The controls can be a bit difficult to turn off and on though, as they are a bit stiff (even when you’re not using the toy). There are 11 different settings, though most are pretty similar with a few fast and strong ongoing ones that I really enjoyed.

    It’s also waterproof and there’s also a little white light to give you some guidance if you’re going at it in the dark.

    (Picture: LELO)

    LELO Soraya, £189

    This is by far the most luxurious vibrator I’ve ever used.

    The designers have clearly given it a lot of thought; it has a matte finish with a silvery, metal-like part in the middle, making it look less like a dildo and more like something to display on your coffee table (though guests might be slightly taken aback).

    But as for its orgasm power, I’m torn.

    On one hand, it’s a good size and the handle makes it very easy to manouver into the right spot, but sometimes you just want a rougher session – and the Soraya isn’t ideal in that scenario.

    The rabbit part is also shaped differently to the classic ears, which was intriguing, but didn’t make much difference to me personally.

    Overall a good choice – especially as a gift, and if you have the money to splurge.

    So Divine ‘Kiss Kiss’, £64.99

    Credit: so-divine.com https://so-divine.com/product/kiss-kiss/
    (Picture: so-divine.com)

    The So Divine has clearly been very well-thought-out.

    Its design is eloquent and unassuming, and its shape ensures it reaches all the ‘right’ places.

    With 10 varying vibration settings and the ability to increase and decrease the sensitivity, there is a setting to please anyone (including me).

    It also has a ‘body temperature’ feature on the tip, a function I didn’t know I needed but really liked.

    I did orgasm, it was good but similar to orgasms I’ve had from other sex toys that I’ve used.

    PLSRx, £49.99

    National Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys Picture: Amazon METROGRAB ref: https://www.amazon.co.uk/PLSRx-Rabbit-Vibrator-Waterproof-Rechargeable/dp/B07C7795QD
    (Picture: PSLRx)

    I’ve never used a penetrating vibrator before but thankfully, the XX isn’t intimidating for a first time trier.

    When put to use it was highly enjoyable.

    The vibrator itself is pleasurable, as the dildo part is curved to hit the right spot.

    But the rabbit part of the dildo was pretty unsatisfying, because it wasn’t long enough to reach the clit and just dug into me too much.

    On the upside, for those who like to mix it up, it has three intensity settings and four pulsations modes, but I usually just keep it at a steady pace.

    It did make me orgasm though – something that doesn’t always happen when I have sex – and I’ll definitely keep using it.

    Happy Rabbit Triple Curve, £79.99

    National Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys lovehoney https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=38896
    (Picture: Lovehoney)

    At first glance, this vibrator looks terrifying, especially with the anal beads daring you to take your self-loving sessions a step further.

    It’s a lot bigger than you’d expect so definitely lube up. And take your time – this isn’t the kind of toy you can just whack out for the daily morning orgasm before work.

    The penetrating bit meant for your vagina is fairly standard, but the size wasn’t quite right for me. The rabbit ears also slightly missed the mark, clitoris-wise.

    Meanwhile, trying to shove the anal part inside proved very difficult, because I couldn’t reach the right way.

    In the end, I was left a little disappointed and didn’t orgasm, because it felt like too much effort.

    Having said that, I’d definitely try it again with a partner, so he can help me out. Hopefully then I can enjoy the benefits of the toy fully (especially the anal part).

    Bondara Pride Luxury Rainbow, £24.99

    National Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys Bondara Pride Luxury Rainbow Rabbit Vibrator picture: bondara.co.uk METROGRAB https://www.bondara.co.uk/bondara-pride-luxury-rainbow-rabbit-vibrator
    (Picture: Bondara)

    Firstly, it’s just so cute. Yay for the rainbow!

    I love that 10% of the proceeds of the Bondara dildo go to the LGBT Foundation.

    Sadly, although it’s a great size for taking with you when you’re travelling, it came up a bit short. Quite literally, I couldn’t reach my g spot.

    The rabbit part was nice but felt somewhat intense after a while.

    But it gets plus points for the handle – the loop made it very easy to use the vibrator, something I’ve been missing with other toys.

    Top tips when buying a rabbit

    • If you’re popping your vibrator cherry, pick something smaller to begin with. The extra gadgets and triple-action toys can be intimidating if you’ve never played with one before.
    • Invest in a good lubricant, especially if you’re using a larger vibrator.
    • Looking online but can’t decide whether to get a traditional rabbit or the sleeker, less bunny-type models? Visit a sex shop instead, as many of them have vibrators on display so that you can touch the different textures and settings (in your hand, mind you).
    • Cleanliness is important. Keep your rabbit in tip-top condition by cleaning it after every use. Most vibrators come with instructions for this, but if in doubt use warm water and if you want, a bit of non-perfumed soap. Or alternatively, use a damp cloth.
    • Vibrators don’t just have to be for solo play. Want to spice things up with your partner? Then why not ask him or her to join you.
    • Although most rabbits are generally designed for the female anatomy, that doesn’t mean men can’t enjoy them, too.

    MORE: The bouncing spoon is the super intimate sex position you need to try this weekend

    MORE: As it’s National Orgasm Day, here are 12 types of female orgasm you can try

    MORE: What are ‘daddy issues’ and why do some men avoid or look for partners with them?


    National Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toysNational Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toysallieabgarianNational Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toysCredit: Lovehoney https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=38897Credit: Satisfyer.com https://www.satisfyer.com/uk/satisfyer/31/satisfyer-pro-g-spot-rabbitCredit: so-divine.com https://so-divine.com/product/kiss-kiss/National Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys Picture: Amazon METROGRAB ref: https://www.amazon.co.uk/PLSRx-Rabbit-Vibrator-Waterproof-Rechargeable/dp/B07C7795QDNational Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys lovehoney https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=38896National Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys Bondara Pride Luxury Rainbow Rabbit Vibrator picture: bondara.co.uk METROGRAB https://www.bondara.co.uk/bondara-pride-luxury-rainbow-rabbit-vibratorNational Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toysNational Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toysallieabgarianNational Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toysCredit: Lovehoney https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=38897Credit: Satisfyer.com https://www.satisfyer.com/uk/satisfyer/31/satisfyer-pro-g-spot-rabbitCredit: so-divine.com https://so-divine.com/product/kiss-kiss/National Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys Picture: Amazon METROGRAB ref: https://www.amazon.co.uk/PLSRx-Rabbit-Vibrator-Waterproof-Rechargeable/dp/B07C7795QDNational Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys lovehoney https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=38896National Rabbit Day: round-up of best rabbit sex toys Bondara Pride Luxury Rainbow Rabbit Vibrator picture: bondara.co.uk METROGRAB https://www.bondara.co.uk/bondara-pride-luxury-rainbow-rabbit-vibrator

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    (Picture: Erin Aniker/Metro.co.uk)

    We’re all desperate to find some magically easy way to get some extra money in our savings account.

    There’s no one size fits all solution – beyond spend less and save more – but it can still be handy to look at other people’s methods for being a bit savvier with money, just to get some inspiration.

    So let’s all take a look at Michelle Barnes, also known as MuchelleB, who says she managed to pay off $30,000 (£16,500) in debt in the space of one and a half years – and afford a fancy trip around Europe in the process.

    That’s obviously quite a dramatic result, and Michelle’s lifestyle is perhaps not the norm. She’s a blogger and YouTuber so doesn’t have a steady monthly salary or a nine to five job, and is able to work from home.

    Bare that in mind before you rant about how none of these tips work for you.

    That being said, let’s take a look at Michelle’s six easy steps to paying off debt and saving money, as she shared in a recent video.

    How to pay off debt

    1. Declutter

    Read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. It’ll change your approach to everything you own.

    Do a proper declutter, streamline your posessions, and make your home a space that’s filled only with things that bring you true joy.

    You’ll be more inclined to stay home rather than spending out and about, and you’ll consider your purchases more. After all, you won’t want to buy something just to throw it out in three months because it doesn’t actually ‘spark joy’.

    ‘There’s something about resetting your space entirely gets you to a point that you wouldn’t be able to fathom letting things get back to where they were,’ said Michelle.

    ‘It reshapes your cupboards in the most positive ways because you think more mindfully about what you spend your money on.’

    2. Embrace the multi-hyphen method

    Another book recommendation (this time from us, not Michelle): The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon. It’s all about diversifying your income and radically changing how we view ‘work’.

    Michelle has taken a similar approach. In addition to working a full-time job for a good income, she also uses her passions for blogging and YouTube to make more money, meaning she has multiple streams of money coming in.

    For Michelle, restricting your spending can only go so far before you’re bloody miserable. You need to get more money coming in, and that can be achieved by creating your own source of income.

    **ILLUSTRATION AMEND** It might be awkward, but it's vital for couples to discuss money (Abby)
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    In addition to a steady job, have a think of other passion areas and skills you could monetise.

    Maybe you’re great at organising, and could work as a part-time assistant. Perhaps you’re brilliant at baking and could pick up some freelance work for parties and events. You could put your degree to good use as a part-time tutor.

    Any method to give yourself more ways to bring in money will make a huge difference.

    3. Use automatic payments

    This one’s important.

    People tend to be lazy and unwilling to think ahead. That’s just how we are.

    So when money comes into our account we want to spend it on all the things we want right now, rather than thinking about future needs.

    To stop that happening, you need to set up automatic payments that covers all your living costs, so you don’t have money available that you aren’t actually able to spend.

    Set up automatic payments for rent, bills, your phone costs, internet, any debt, and all those other things that need to get paid every month. It’s worth setting up an automatic transfer to your savings account, too, so the money you plan to save is already tucked away.

    This will allow you to see exactly how much money you have to spend on other things – food, travel, and the fun stuff. Seeing that number and being aware that it’s a restricted amount will make you more conscious of where that money goes. You’ll be less likely to spend cash on things you don’t actually need or want, and more willing to invest in stuff you care about.

    4. Stop allowing takeouts to be the norm

    We know, we know. You’re tired and busy and you can’t be bothered to do a weekly shop then make a fresh meal every night.

    That’s where Deliveroo comes in.

    But while an occassional takeaway is no big deal, ordering in as your standard meal adds up.

    Try to make a meal plan and stick to it, setting dates in advance for when you can have a proper takeaway meal as a treat.

    Michelle recommends making that takeaway feel special by adding in an activity at home (like watching a movie), so that you can look forward to it as a one-off rather than an everyday thing.

    5. Avoid opportunities to buy things

    Unsubscribe from newsletters that encourage you to buy things, unfollow brands on Instagram that tempt you, and don’t wander round shops just to ‘have a browse’.

    Limit temptation to make not spending easier.

    6. Work out what matters to you

    Michelle recommends creating a most-important things list, where you write down what’s the most important thing in your life right now.

    How does your spending reflect that thing’s importance?

    If your priority is physical health, it makes sense to spend money on a gym membership, but not to spend so much on McDonald’s. If you want to learn a new skill, why not swap the money you’re spending on new clothes for a course?

    ‘I know pretty automatically what is important to me when it comes to where I put my money and it helps me to think about if I am spending in line with my values,’ says Michelle.

    ‘Thinking about all my purchases recently I feel I can confidently say that my purchases do reflect my values.’

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    Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrationsellencscott**ILLUSTRATION AMEND** It might be awkward, but it's vital for couples to discuss money (Abby)Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrationsellencscott**ILLUSTRATION AMEND** It might be awkward, but it's vital for couples to discuss money (Abby)

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    Nia is no longer using Photoshop to edit out 'imperfections' in her Instagram posts. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)
    Nia is no longer using Photoshop to edit out ‘imperfections’ in her Instagram posts (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)

    Zimbabwean and English model, YouTuber and confidence advocate Nia Pettitt is on a mission to encourage women to love themselves.

    Throughout September, Nia is running a hashtag campaign that empowers her 422,000 followers to show themselves and their lives as they really are.

    For #MyRealSelfSeptember, Nia’s fans are encouraged to eschew Photoshop in favour of sharing unretouched, ‘real’ images. And she’s leading by example.

    Nia told Metro.co.uk that she first started editing her photos a year ago.

    She said: ‘I was getting more followers and with them came added pressure. I started to notice my flaws a lot more.

    ‘I’ve always had acne from when I was young, but I didn’t have access to Photoshop then.

    ‘The more eyes I had on my pictures, the more opinions I was being exposed to and I started to blur out my acne, acne scars and the stretchmarks on my body.

    Nia embracing her skin as it really is. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)
    Nia embracing her skin as it really is. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)

    ‘If I was wearing a bikini, I’d even make my waist smaller, to emulate what was seen as beautiful on Instagram.’

    This all changed when Nia was booked by lingerie brand Aerie for a campaign.

    Aerie doesn’t use any retouched images of models and has been Photoshop-free since 2014.

    Nia said: ‘When we were on set the makeup artist on set kept saying: “oh these aren’t going to be Photoshopped” and I was thinking: “oh my god, my stretch marks and my bum is going to be on Times Square, all across America and all over social media”.

    ‘Then I thought, if I’ve made it all the way to Times Square, which is such a huge achievement, and I’m not Photoshopped, why can’t I do the same on Instagram?

    ‘For a year, I haven’t been Photoshopping myself on Instagram. It’s been so freeing to just be me and love myself and not have to hide behind anything.

    ‘With #MyRealSelfSeptember, I wanted to inspire my followers to do the same because it was such a positive experience for me.

    Nia slaying in a one piece. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)
    Nia slaying in a one piece. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)

    ‘I’m very close to my followers and I think we go through similar things and I hoped this could help kickstart their own journeys.

    ‘Especially for women of colour, because we’ve never been at the forefront of beauty or fashion, being able to have a voice, gain followers and build a community online is so important.’

    Nia is the creator of Fro Day, an Instagram community that celebrates natural hair and runs IRL meet ups, and she has struck modelling deals with haircare brands like L’Oreal.

    However, when she felt that she was being defined by her halo of bouncy curls, Nia decided to cut them off.

    She told Vogue: ‘It all sparked from having a really unhealthy relationship with the internet.

    ‘When someone questioned my worth without my hair I didn’t have any answers, so that is when I knew that I had become my hair.’

    Nia is someone who will make a change instead of remaining in her comfort zone.

    Instead of bowing to the pressure to have perfect curls, Nia chose a dramatic haircut.

    Similarly, when the expectation to look flawless all the time in her photos became an issue, Nia made a decision to ditch the safety blanket of Photoshop.

    Nia says that the response to her hashtag has been great.

    ‘I’ve done #NoMakeUpMarch where we didn’t wear any makeup, and #ActiveApril where we did workouts every day,’ she tells us.

    ‘I hadn’t done a month in so long and my followers were really excited.

    ‘Some are doing #MyRealSelfSeptember for their skin, whereas others are sharing parts of their lives unedited. It’s so nice to be able to see people’s realities.’

    Nia credits a great deal of her success and influence on social media to the people who support her.

    ‘My followers are so important to me because all the opportunities that I’ve had have been through them.

    ‘I don’t think they realise that yet, but when you have a community of people who engage with you, it’s so important for all the brands thar you work with and it allows your voice to be heard.’

    The confidence advocate has more plans for positive online campaigns, but they’re currently top secret.

    In the meantime she has a suggestion for social media users.

    ‘If you’re able to, make someone happy by taking 10 mins a day to like some pictures or tell someone they’re beautiful.

    ‘We should all do that.’

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    An empowering hashtag campaign is helping Instagram users ditch PhotoshopAn empowering hashtag campaign is helping Instagram users ditch PhotoshophpwilliamsonNia is no longer using Photoshop to edit out 'imperfections' in her Instagram posts. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)Nia embracing her skin as it really is. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)Nia slaying in a one piece. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)An empowering hashtag campaign is helping Instagram users ditch PhotoshopAn empowering hashtag campaign is helping Instagram users ditch PhotoshophpwilliamsonNia is no longer using Photoshop to edit out 'imperfections' in her Instagram posts. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)Nia embracing her skin as it really is. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)Nia slaying in a one piece. (Picture: niathelight/Instagram)

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    (Picture: SWNS)

    A cancer survivor has welcomed his ‘miracle baby’ into the world after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant just days before chemotherapy left him infertile.

    32-year-old Simon Thompson found out he was going to be a dad one day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

    His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was ‘fate’, as chemotherapy, which left Simon unable to have children, began just weeks later.

    Simon endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy while Maxine’s bump grew – but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan.

    Simon started to feel unwell in June 2017 after suffering from numbness in his face and severe toothache, before a lump the size of a golf ball appeared inside his mouth.

    Maxine Campbell and Simon Thompson, before Simon was ill. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.
    Maxine Campbell and Simon Thompson, before Simon was ill (Picture: Simon Thompson/SWNS)

    He visited the dentist and his GP and was referred to the optician over the swelling – but he was told it was a dental abscess and was given antibiotics.

    He ignored his symptoms, dosing up on painkillers and using numbing gel before Maxine dragged him to hospital.

    ‘The pain became so severe, I just had to get some help,’ he said.

    ‘I assumed it was just a dental abscess and that it would go away naturally, but after months of agony I had no choice but to go to hospital.’

    Doctors in A&E warned it could be serious and a consultant had him admitted straight away, telling the couple it could be cancer, on December 18 last year.

    Maxine had only discovered she was three weeks pregnant the day before – and told him that day.

    Simon Thompson and Maxine Campbell hold baby scan. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.
    Simon Thompson and Maxine Campbell hold baby scan (Picture: Simon Thompson/SWNS)

    ‘Even though I heard the ‘C’ word I didn’t think it would be that,’ he said.

    Simon’s consultant confirmed that he had stage 4 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on January 2. He started a course of chemotherapy just one week later.

    Simon had 11 rounds of chemotherapy and 15 radiotherapy sessions.

    ‘I wanted to look after Maxine and be there for her whilst she was pregnant, but it ended up being the other way around,’ says Simon.

    ‘She had to drive me to all of my hospital appointments and look after me when I was at home.

    Simon Thompson and Maxine Campbell during pregnancy. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery
    (Picture: Simon Thompson/SWNS)

    ‘Luckily her pregnancy was smooth sailing.’

    The couple discovered they were expecting a little boy at a 16-week scan.

    Simon said this moment should have been a happy one – but ‘every milestone was bittersweet’.

    He continued: ‘We’d be on cloud nine one minute and then seconds later remember what we were dealing with and it would bring us back down to earth with a thud.

    ‘I just was desperate to be there. I was determined to see Maxine give birth and watch my little boy grow up.

    Simon Thompson and Maxine Campbell after the birth of Mateo. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.
    Simon Thompson and Maxine Campbell after the birth of Mateo (Picture: Simon Thompson/SWNS)

    ‘The chances of me surviving cancer were 60% which sounds positive, but four in ten people succumb to the disease so I knew I had to throw everything I had at it.

    ‘Maxine and the baby kept me strong.’

    After eight months, Simon was told he was cancer-free – on the same day Maxine turned 37 weeks pregnant.

    He will be monitored for five years before he can officially be considered in remission.

    Maxine and Simon welcomed their son, Mateo Ian, on 17 August at 6.46pm after 40 hours labour and a c-section.

    He was in specialist care for ten days and needed medication for fluid in the lungs and breathing problems.

    Simon Thompson with baby Mateo. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.
    (Picture: Simon Thompson/SWNS)

    Simon and Maxine weren’t able to hold Mateo Ian for the first 48 hours – and looking at him in an incubator hooked up to machines and covered in wires was hard for them, and reminded Simon of his time being ‘pumped with chemo’.

    He said: ‘I told him he was strong like his daddy and that he’d pull through.’

    Mateo was strong – and he is now home enjoying lots of cuddles from his mum and dad.

    Simon said: ‘Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couple’s lives and we feel that was robbed from us.

    ‘While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds.

    ‘We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth.

    Simon Thompson and Maxine Campbell with baby Mateo. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, from Margate, Kent, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.
    (Picture: Simon Thompson/SWNS)

    ‘Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.

    ‘But having her and the baby to focus on while I was battling cancer willed me to beat the disease and get better for their sake.

    ‘We know we’ll probably never be able to have any more children as the chemotherapy has made me infertile.

    ‘But despite it all, we feel incredibly blessed to have our miracle, surprise baby after all we’ve been through.’

    Maxine added: ‘It’s been the toughest but the happiest year of our lives.

    ‘I am so relieved Simon is much better and Mateo being born marks a new chapter for us.’

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    A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just days before chemotherapy left him infertileA cancer survivor has welcomed his A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just days before chemotherapy left him infertileA cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just days before chemotherapy left him infertilehattiegladwellmetroMaxine Campbell and Simon Thompson, before Simon was ill. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.Simon Thompson and Maxine Campbell hold baby scan. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.Simon Thompson and Maxine Campbell during pregnancy. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nurserySimon Thompson and Maxine Campbell after the birth of Mateo. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.Simon Thompson with baby Mateo. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.Simon Thompson and Maxine Campbell with baby Mateo. See SWNS story SWCANCER; A cancer survivor has welcomed his "miracle baby" after his partner found out she was unexpectedly pregnant - just DAYS before chemotherapy left him infertile. Simon Thompson, 32, from Margate, Kent, found out he was going to be a dad the day before he was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be stage 4 Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His girlfriend Maxine Campbell, 22, and Simon believe their surprise baby was 'fate' - after chemotherapy - which left Simon unable to have children - began just weeks later. The sales assistant endured months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy whilst Maxine's bump grew - but despite being unwell he attended every appointment and scan. Maxine was 37 weeks' pregnant when Simon was given the good news that he is cancer-free. Baby Mateo was born two weeks ago and is now home in Margate, Kent, with his adoring parents. Proud Simon said: "Having your first child is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in any couples lives and we feel that was robbed from us. "While most mums and dads to be are excited picking out the nursery theme and buying babygrows, our impending arrival was almost the last thing on our minds. "We were driving back and forth to hospital appointments and I was having chemotherapy and worrying about whether I was going to be around to see Maxine give birth. "Maxine was terrified she was going to lose me and that our son would grow up without a dad.

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    metro illustrations
    (Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler)

    I didn’t seek help for my OCD for a long time, and I regret it.

    I had my first OCD thought when I was nine. I was laying in bed when something in my head said: ‘If you don’t touch the end of your bed four times, your family will die’. It filled me with a horrible sense of anxiety that was eased when I tapped the bed.

    It became more of a problem when I hit my late teens – I was checking doors repeatedly, making sure the plugs were off and the oven hadn’t been left on. But I shrugged it off, thinking I was just being overcautious. Lots of people worry about things like this. It was normal.

    Over time, it got to a point where I was spending large chunks out of my day focusing on these rituals – an hour at night just to walk around my flat (which was small), checking and checking over and over again to make sure there wasn’t a fire, a flood or a break-in, before finally getting into bed.

    A couple of years later, OCD took over my life. The checking had got out of hand. It took me fifteen minutes to walk down a one minute stretch of pavement to make sure I hadn’t dropped anything important, I was washing my hands up to sixty times a day and I was having horrible intrusive thoughts.

    It took me a long time to realise I needed help.

    I didn’t start getting help for my OCD until January of this year – fourteen years after my first ever OCD experience.

    I’d never seen the point in speaking to anyone about it. I didn’t think of it as a problem that could be fixed.

    I saw it as a part of who I was, instead of an illness.

    I just wish I’d have sought help sooner, before it got so out of hand.

    I don’t want anyone else to make the same mistake I did. If you have OCD, it’s not something that you have to put up with – it’s an issue to get help with the moment it affects your life.

    OCD was once ranked as one of the most debilitating illnesses of all time by the World Health Organisation, in terms of quality of life and loss of earnings.

    Dr Carolyne Keenan, an expert in obsessive compulsive disorder and a member of Counselling Directory, says the quicker you seek help for your OCD, the better, she said: ‘The more quickly a person is treated the better the outcome, but don’t be put off getting help if you have been experiencing these difficulties for a long time.

    ‘Many adults who are assessed for and diagnosed with OCD recognise that they have had the problem since childhood but never received any help for it. Outcomes are still very positive with the appropriate treatment plan.’

    OCD symptoms can worsen the longer the condition is left untreated, and can take over a person’s life.

    Carolyne said: ‘OCD becomes more powerful the longer it is left unaddressed. This will negatively impact daily life, routines and relationships.’

    She adds that over time, if left untreated, the disorder can worsen – a view that is backed up by charity OCD Action.

    A spokesperson for the charity told Metro.co.uk that though OCD is a very treatable condition, it’s important to seek help for it.

    They said: ‘Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a treatable anxiety condition, but without quality treatment and support it’s fairly common for OCD to get worse rather than better.

    ‘This appears to be because of the vicious cycle of obsessions and compulsions.

    ‘Compulsions (such as reassurance seeking, checking, avoidance) are carried out by people with OCD to temporarily reduce anxiety cause by Obsessions (intrusive thought, image, feeling) but ultimately in the long run they are feeding the obsession and causing it to become to stronger, thus causing a vicious cycle.’

    The charity recommends cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims to break the ‘vicious cycle’ of OCD using exposure and response prevention techniques.

    ‘Essentially this means changing the way you react to an obsession,’ they said.

    Within CBT for OCD, graded exposure to the obsessions and feared situations is encouraged, followed by a gradual reduction in the compulsive behaviours.

    ‘Over time and with practice it is proven that this will reduce the anxiety and the symptoms of OCD will improve,’ say OCD Acton. ‘Medication is also offered as a recommended treatment for OCD as it can help with the anxiety.

    ‘OCD can be extremely debilitating but it is treatable and everyone affected by the condition deserves access to good quality treatments which are proven to be effective.’

    MORE: What are the signs someone might be suicidal and how you can help save a life?

    MORE: I hugged strangers on Oxford Street to let people know they’re not alone


    My friend has OCD – how can I support them? (Melissa B)My friend has OCD – how can I support them? (Melissa B)hattiegladwellmetroMy friend has OCD – how can I support them? (Melissa B)My friend has OCD – how can I support them? (Melissa B)hattiegladwellmetro

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    (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

    Spice, a synthetic substance that mimics cannabis, has been hitting the headlines over the past few years.

    It used to be a legal high until it was classified as a Class B drug in 2016.

    There are calls for it to be upgraded to Class A due to its devastating effects on health, both mental and physical.

    It is used particularly by the vulnerable in prisons, rough sleepers and the homeless, including those with existing mental health conditions who self-medicate.

    The number of violent incidents in prisons have increased and prison officers and police commissioners believe that could be due to synthetic drugs such as spice, which can cause symptoms including aggression and psychosis.

    Prison officers wrote an open letter to Home Office urging the drug to be reclassified, while The Prison Officer Association has said that the spice epidemic in UK jails is ‘beyond crisis point’.

    A group of police and crime commissioners have said it ‘presents the most severe public health issue in Britain’ in decades. They have called for more support and funding to deal with the crisis.

    The negative mental health effects that spice appears to cause, such as self harm, depression, psychosis and a zombie-like state are being seen up and down the country.

    ‘Increased availability of drugs in prisons has contributed to the increase in mental health issues of prisoners,’ says the House of Commons’ Mental Health in Prisons report. ‘There has been a huge switch in drug use in prison towards psychoactive substances, which existing detection and treatment programmes were not designed to deal with.

    metro illustrations
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘Spice is now a substantial problem in prison, with the number of seizures going up from 408 in 2015 to nearly 3,500 in 2016.’

    Brian Morton, writing in the Guardian, has noted that drugs are often taken by those for whom the drugs pose a higher risk: ‘In the ruthless world of prison drug dealing, it’s often the most vulnerable detainees who suffer the most. Dealers looking to test their merchandise may offer a “free” sample to those with learning difficulties or other vulnerabilities.’

    The risks are so high in part because these psychoactive drugs simply didn’t exist ten years ago. There’s been little research into spice.

    Dr Sal Raichbach, Psychiatrist at the Ambrosia Treatment Center explains to Metro.co.uk: ‘Drugs like spice and K2 work on the same brain receptors as traditional marijuana, but their effects are completely different. The side effects of synthetic cannabis include increased heart rate, panic attacks and hypertension.

    ‘As a result, they’re proving to be more much more dangerous in the short term, and more addictive in the long term.

    ‘Like most drugs, the intense euphoria is what draws people in. What makes these drugs so dangerous are the effects like hallucinations and paranoia.

    ‘There isn’t a lot of research about synthetic cannabinoid addiction for treatment experts to lean on. What we do know is that addictive behaviours are treatable.

    ‘Many times, addiction is a symptom of a bigger problem, such as an underlying mental illness. Spice, K2 and other products make these symptoms worse. Individuals with preexisting mental health problems are especially at risk.’

    Many of our homeless population have pre-existing mental health conditions which can be made worse by taking Spice.

    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    St Mungos, a leading homeless charity told Metro.co.uk that in their 2016 report, one in five of their clients surveyed had mental health issues combined with substance abuse and physical health issues.

    Addiction therapist Nicole Miller at the Priory Hayes Grave tells us: ‘Spice contains cannabinoids and as a result influences the brain similarly to marijuana, but with a stronger effect on the brain.

    ‘For example, an individual may experience increased sedation and be more at risk for experiencing disordered and psychotic thinking, anxiety, paranoia, confusion, aggressive behaviour and more serious suicidal ideation.

    ‘Research on the use of spice is relatively new. However, long term use may be similar to long term marijuana use which includes severe psychotic episodes, prolonged experience of anxiety and memory damage.’

    Mary’s* ex partner became addicted to spice when it was a legal high. She told us about the dramatic impact it had on his physical and mental health.

    ‘My ex partner started smoking spice which was legal at the time,’ says Mary. ‘I thought perhaps stupidly that it was better than smoking weed.

    ‘However, as he smoked more spice, he would lose all his colour, he would be as white as a sheet with red eyes and look and act like a zombie.

    ‘You couldn’t talk to him, make him hear sense and he would move slowly as if through mud. It was like talking to someone who has just woken up from anaesthetic.

    ‘I’ve heard people can get violent after using it but I never experienced this with him.

    ‘It was clear he was becoming depressed and withdrawn. Looking back I don’t know what came first – the depression or the spice.

    ‘Months after the breakup he told me that he had been using spice daily and had sought help with his frame of mind and had come off it.  He now regrets using it and would never use it again. He has regained weight, looks healthy and is back to his normal self.

    ‘I am concerned about the long term effects of spice.’

    Due to the limited scope of research, it is hard to know if spice triggers mental illness in those previously without it. Some people with depression take drugs to escape, but anxiety and low mood can be longterm effects of taking spice.

    What we do know is how dangerous spice can be if you have a pre-existing mental health condition.

    In the Mental Health in Prisons report by Parliament, researchers note that Spice use can a trigger for mental illness, not only the effect.

    ‘Drug use in prison is a serious issue and can severely compromise prisoners’ mental health,’ states the report. ‘Prisoners can gain access to drugs in a range of ways.There has been a huge switch in drug use towards new psychoactive substances.

    ‘These have changed the nature of how prisoners behave when under the influence of drugs and are a very real danger to both prisoners and prison staff. Spice is now a substantial problem in prison.’

    Spice use is especially prevalent in Northern cities such as Manchester and Leeds. According to the Guardian, it is believed that 90- 95% of the homeless population are thought to smoke the drug in Manchester.

    Terry* works with the homeless in Leeds.

    ‘Paramedics are constantly on call to users of Spice,’ Terry tells Metro.co.uk. ‘It used to be heroin overdoses. Spice use in Leeds is getting worse by the day and I saw a dealer and user openly talking about it on a bus I was on.

    ‘It was the middle of the day and the dealer was aggressive, openly swearing and talking about it, when children were around.

    ‘As well as this , I work with teams who are in the front line of helping with homelessness and the problems that are experienced by each person, especially mental health. Spice just happens to be the latest substance in play, with its popularity rising.

    Spice’s effects don’t pass unnoticed, like with other drugs.

    ‘There is a visible impact around Leeds. More people are aware of the drug and its effects, ie. the zombie state.

    ‘With the growth of its use in prisons, we’re  seeing the release of convicts who have developed spice addiction.

    ‘The street Support Team  are offering the support directly to users. Social Care wise, there are mental health and substance abuse support streams, but not a specific spice support option.

    ‘I think that will and must change.’

    Laura Peters, Head of Advice and Information at Rethink Mental Illness agrees, ‘there is evidence showing that sustained use of synthetic cannabis like spice can be harmful to your mental health, especially if you are already predisposed to conditions like psychosis and schizophrenia.

    ‘Some people have found that it can prompt anxiety and depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as psychosis.

    ‘We want to see greater public awareness of the potential risks of synthetic cannabis use, as it’s important that people know that there can be dangers and don’t view it as ‘harmless’.

    ‘There is still a lot we don’t know about the long term health effects of spice as it is a newer drug, however, research is being undertaken. Its effects can be felt and seen every day on the streets, in prisons and elsewhere across the UK.

    ‘More support and research into spice and synthetic drugs like Black Mamba are needed to stop people from becoming addicts and in worse cases, dying.’

    *Names have been changed. 

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

    MORE: I left it years before getting help for my OCD. Don’t make the same mistake I did

    MORE: Taped up trainers on sale for £399 accused of glamourising poverty

    MORE: What I Rent: Emmie and Jethro, £1,450 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Dalston


    How does Spice affect your mental state?How does Spice affect your mental state?eleanorsegallwritesmetro illustrationsHow does Spice affect your mental state?How does Spice affect your mental state?eleanorsegallwritesmetro illustrations

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    metro illustrations
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    I was always under the impression that having kids was a simple concept.

    You either want them, or you don’t.

    Of course, there are physical and social barriers that might impede you along the way – such as infertility or finding a partner who you would be happy to rear a child with – but there is one other aspect that I never thought I’d have to consider.

    I had a mental breakdown in 2012 and since then, I’ve been rebuilding my brain and my life one step at a time.

    With the help of medication, respite, therapy and lots of hard work I’m now stable and living a relatively normal life.

    But it’s made me reconsider my future in a way I’d never anticipated.

    I’ve never been particularly broody or yearned for a family, but if I were to have a child I often wonder if they would they inherit my mental illness.

    I’ve never had the urge to be a mother, but recently I’ve become preoccupied with the fear of what it would be like to have a child who might grow up to have the same mental illness as me.

    Thankfully, I found some women who have been having similar thoughts.

    Lindsay is a 31-year-old writer from Liverpool who like me, has depression and anxiety.

    She started showing symptoms as a teenager and was devastated by a four-year-long episode which lost her not one but two steady jobs.

    She explained to Metro.co.uk that she’s fearful about the guilt associated with having a child who may eventually display symptoms similar to her own, and that knowing how painful her own experience has been would make her feel responsible.

    metro illustrations
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I find the unknown quite scary – I have no idea how I would take to motherhood, whether I would suffer from postnatal anxiety or depression, anything like that,’ says Lindsay.

    ‘I would never forgive myself if a child of mine had to deal with some of the things I have. It would break my heart to see that happen, and I think my immediate assumption would be that it was my fault.’

    As well as this fear of watching a child experience a mental illness, many parents I spoke to are concerned that their own condition might hinder their ability to cope as a caregiver.

    Hannah is 28 and has been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder, depression and generalised anxiety disorder.

    She suffers overwhelming bouts of rage, fear, sickening anxiety and disassociation related to everyday events and minor social interactions. As a result, she has decided that she will never have children.

    ‘As a parent, you have to be able to push your own needs to one side and do what’s best for the child,’ Hannah tells us. ‘I’m terrified I wouldn’t be able to do that and that my illness would impact on their emotional and social development.’

    Hannah says that she experienced a ‘toxic and unstable’ environment because her own parent was mentally ill and she wouldn’t want to repeat history by putting her own child in a similar situation.

    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    Although Hannah feels like her parenting skills might not be up to scratch, I spoke to Paula Coles via the Counselling Directory, an experienced psychotherapist who said that this might not necessarily be the case.

    Paula told me that it’s not as simple as just passing on a gene to your child, and that being surrounded by mental illness can actually make parents more aware of red flags if they do appear.

    Not only this, but parents with experience of mental illness can be more empathetic and understanding of their child.

    ‘If you have a parent who is presented with a mental health problem, that’s probably going to impact on the child — but not necessarily in a bad way’, Paula told us.

    ‘It could be that the parent is exceptionally informed about their mental health, they have enough support and what the child gets is a parent who gives them a rich environment aware of stress, problems and all those kinds of things that a parent without (a mental illness) doesn’t’

    Simplifying mental illness to passed down genetics is complicated.

    A 2016 report from the BBC pulls on research by King’s College London and explains that mental health disorders are not about a single gene (in the way that some physical conditions are) but about a collection of genes.

    Prof Cathryn Lewis, a researcher from the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre explains: ‘We need to start thinking about this as a cumulative loading of genetics.’

    Paula says that the complicated nature of genetics, mental illness and all the variables at play means that there’s no obvious way to predict the outcome.

    The pressures of modern parenting are so rife that worrying about the hereditary risk of mental illness is almost pointless if you’re not also willing to acknowledge the environmental and social factors at play too.

    Parents are faced with issues such as guilt, work stress, student debt and expensive utility bills so the combination of all these problems can create a breeding ground for mental illness just as much as some unknown genetic combination.

    Luckily, Paula says that a parent with a good knowledge of how to manage their mental health can have a positive impact on these issues: ‘When you bring all that stress together to a family who has a potentially hereditary mental illness, but that person also has lots of support and resources, that’s an even better environment than someone in a stressful environment without the mental illness genes’

    I spoke to Ali, a 33-year-old author from Stoke-on-Trent who is plagued by thoughts about her son developing a mental illness even though professionals have told her otherwise.

    ‘I worry that, even if my son doesn’t develop a hereditary tendency towards mental ill-health, such a tendency could still develop due to seeing his mum ill and knowing about my past and present issues,’ says Ali. ‘I think I will worry particularly when he is going through times of stress, such as exam periods and going out into the world as a young adult.’

    The truth is that children are destined to face difficult times, whether they are passed on genetically or not.

    If you have a child and you recognise symptoms that you think are related to a mental illness, then it’s worth chatting with a doctor or a counsellor to find out more.

    Paula says just acknowledging that you’re concerned is a step in the right direction: ‘If you’re spending time sitting, considering and thinking about your parenting and how well you are doing then you’re doing a good job already.

    ‘I think that matters when it comes to every aspect of parenting.’

    MORE: The shame of admitting you regret having children

    MORE: The risks of the spice epidemic on mental health

    MORE: Why I showed my self-harm scars on national TV


    ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Why we need to talking about the challenges of starting a family when you have a severe mental health problem (Alice Evans)ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Why we need to talking about the challenges of starting a family when you have a severe mental health problem (Alice Evans)fr040780metro illustrationsILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Why we need to talking about the challenges of starting a family when you have a severe mental health problem (Alice Evans)ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Why we need to talking about the challenges of starting a family when you have a severe mental health problem (Alice Evans)fr040780metro illustrations

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    ILLO REQUEST: Is it inappropriate to gift a sex toy to a newly married couple?Picture: Dave Anderson / Metro.co.uk Metro Illustration / Illustrations
    (Picture: Dave Anderson / Metro.co.uk)

    It might seem a little risqué but sex toys can make good gifts. People often aren’t always willing to traipse around a shop or have the goods delivered to their door for fear of being caught out. They want to try them, without the potential embarrassment of buying them.

    That’s why sex toys can be kind presents for birthdays or at hen parties.

    But are there certain scenarios in which a sex toy becomes an inappropriate gift? Would a sex toy be an appropriate present for a newly married couple?

    Sex, after all, is still a private matter, and while a sex toy given to an individual is done so with the implication that they can enjoy some self-pleasure on their own, a couples’ toy makes a fairly bold recommendation for two people’s love lives.

    Would giving a sex toy to a married couple play into dated ideas about waiting until married, implying that post-wedding would be the first time they had sex?

    Would it send a message that you think their sex life is too vanilla and needs livening up?

    Or does it cheapen marriage, acting as though a couple’s bond can be summed up with a glow-in-the-dark vibrator?

    Where’s the line?

    We spoke to a sexpert from toy brand Lovehoney, Cecile Sharpe, who told Metro.co.uk it’s all about your friendship with the couple.

    ‘You can probably gauge whether giving a sex toy is a good idea by how comfortable your friend is with talking about sex,’ Cecile explains. ‘If it’s something you regularly chat about together, and you know they already own a sex toy or two, you’re probably okay to go for something like a couple’s vibrator or love ring.

    ‘The most important thing to remember is that everyone is different – just because you swear by your favourite toy, doesn’t mean your friend will be as thrilled to unwrap a set of anal beads or wand vibrator.

    ‘If they tend to be quite private about their sex life, or you’re not sure what their reaction will be, stick to their gift list or go for something non-intimidating but sensual, like a luxurious massage candle or oil.’

    Whatever you choose, be discreet, she added. While your coupled-up friends may approve of a nice set of bondage gear, they might not want to open that particular gift in front of their parents and elderly relatives – give them a head’s up.


    SEI_29284323-1023SEI_29284323-1023faimabakar1ILLO REQUEST: Is it inappropriate to gift a sex toy to a newly married couple?Picture: Dave Anderson / Metro.co.uk Metro Illustration / IllustrationsWhy does your sex drive increase in the summer?SEI_29284323-1023SEI_29284323-1023faimabakar1ILLO REQUEST: Is it inappropriate to gift a sex toy to a newly married couple?Picture: Dave Anderson / Metro.co.uk Metro Illustration / IllustrationsWhy does your sex drive increase in the summer?

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    Emily Stevenson crisp dress
    Emily in her Walkers crisp packet dress with her parents at her graduation (Photo: Emily Stevenson)

    I have been incredibly lucky to have spent the majority of my childhood growing up in North Cornwall, a county well known for its clotted cream, pasties and of course, beaches.

    My family and I spent the long, summer evenings on the beach, surfing beneath the glorious, glowing sunsets and enjoying the freedom of the ocean that we were blessed to have on our doorstep.

    I am one of many in Cornwall that feels an incredibly deep connection to the marine realm. Perhaps it was this connection that made me feel such a great duty of stewardship for the world’s oceans and that gave me the desire to protect it from a young age.

    When I was just 11, I was given a school project to create some art inspired by the beach. Instead of looking at the natural items on the beach as many of my classmates did, I focused on the unnatural – the plastics.

    Since then I have watched the plastic problem change and multiply into the severe issue that we know it as today. I have seen the consequences of convenience and consumerism.

    I can remember a time when we would walk along the beach and struggle to find a small handful of plastics. Now we are filling buckets and buckets at a time.

    I have also noticed a real increase in the amount of microplastics or ‘nurdles’ we are finding. These are particularly damaging, due to the tendency of marine life to confuse them with food sources, actually ingesting the plastics, which majorly disrupts bodily functions and often leads to fatality.

    It was this that led me to study marine biology, so that I could gain a better understanding of the marine environment and how the plastics were effecting even the smallest of organisms.

    Around January 2018, I found an empty packet of Walkers Ready Salted crisps which dated back to 1997 –  the year I was born.

    I couldn’t believe my eyes. This plastic packet had been in the sand dunes for 21 years, my entire lifetime, and it still looked as if it had been bought that day (forgetting the retro design of course). We had been finding vast amounts of crisp packets for the last 10 years on our beach cleans, but we had never found one this old.

    It really, honestly hurt me. I was appalled at the ‘head in the sand’ attitude of the world’s consumers and producers. I couldn’t understand how, for so long, we have all been so oblivious to our own destruction.

    Big businesses didn’t seem to care. 70% of the world’s population rely on the ocean for income or food and every other breath that we take comes from the ocean. Yet we still dump an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic into it every year, 50% of which is single use – like crisp packets.

    Why can’t these companies accept the conspicuous connection between the marine environment and human populations?

    This is why I decided to make a dress out of Walkers crisp packets and wear it to my graduation. I am no fashion expert and hadn’t picked up a needle and thread since secondary school, but I was determined and on a mission to send Walkers a message.

    (Photo: Emily Stevenson)

    The majority of the packets were recycled from family and friends who saved the ones they ate over the summer. The original plan was to use the ones I had found on the beach, but I really didn’t want to risk them getting damaged as they are such excellent education props.

    The dress took me just over 20 hours to make and, admittedly, needed a few emergency repairs throughout the day, but it achieved exactly what I wanted. People were talking.

    Walkers were pushed to make changes after Geraint Ashcroft and 38 Degrees started a very successful petition, calling for them to ‘ditch plastic packaging’. They issued a pledge that by 2025 they would make all packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable.

    However, a study from 38 Degrees found that by then, Walkers will have produced 28 billion more non-recyclable crisp packets, many of which will end up littering the terrestrial and/or marine environment.

    The world is changing, with more extreme weather events; sand dunes and beach topography are being altered. This year, we are finding more and more of these ‘ancient crisp packets’, our oldest being 40 years old. It’s time for us to face the tragedy that is the plastic age.

    This is what inspired me set up Beach Guardian. My dad and I started it together as a platform to organise community beach cleans, engage with businesses and MPs and educate and raise awareness of plastic pollution.

    Walkers, along with other companies using unnecessary, single-use, non-recyclable plastic packaging, need to be implementing changes much sooner.

    The simple fact of the matter is, if changes aren’t made urgently, it will be too late.

    To sign the petition, visit 38degrees.org.uk and more information about Beach Guardian can be found at facebook.com/BeachGuardian.

    MORE: Giant barrier in attempt to clear up ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’

    MORE: While Brits are hyping up plastic bans they have no clue how to recycle at home

    MORE: Waitrose to remove all plastic bags by March 2019


    Emily Stevenson crisp dress 1Emily Stevenson crisp dress 1rmve86Emily Stevenson crisp dressEmily Stevenson crisp dress 1Emily Stevenson crisp dress 1rmve86Emily Stevenson crisp dress

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    (Picture: Bairstow Eves) 1 Bedroom Flat, Roneo Corner, Hornchurch, RM12 4TN Property Description Investment opportunity. A studio apartment in a central location. This property is currently subject to an assured short hold tenancy. For more information please contact the Hornchurch branch.
    This is the one property in London on sale for £100,000 (Picture: Bairstow Eves)

    We already know that ever being able to afford a house without the appearance of a mysterious wealthy relative is a distant dream.

    But sometimes it’s nice to wallow in that shared misery and remember we’re not alone.

    So let’s behold another depressing stat about the London housing market: There’s currently only one home in London that’s for sale for less than £100,000.

    Yep, just the one. That’s your only option if you’ve managed to save up 100k.

    What would you be getting if you splashed out on this unique buying opportunity? Glad you asked.

    The one property in London available to buy for £100,000 or under is a studio flat on Roneo Corner in Hornchurch.

    The closest station is Romford, a 15 minute walk away, where you can get an overground to Liverpool Street. Alternatively, you could get an 11 minute bus to Elm Park station, which is on the District line.

    We don’t know much about the flat beyond its location, as the real estate agents haven’t released any interior photos, but from the floorplan we can see there’s a bathroom, a bedroom, a lobby area, and a reception room/kitchen.

    Measurements of each room if you’re interested: The bedroom is 8’3″ by 9’5″, the reception room/kitchen is 7’9″ by 15’7″, and the lobby is 4’0″ by 5’10”.

    The flat is on the market for offers in excess of £100,000, but if you bought it you’d be kicking out the current tenants, who pay £600 a month for the flat.

    The offered price is actually a discount, as previously the flat was on sale for £130,000.

    If you’ve got a little extra money to spend, rejoice, for there are more options between the £100,000 and £125,000 mark. Four, to be exact.

    The Guardian reports on data from HouseSimple, who found just four properties on sale for or below £125,000, all of which are studio flats on the edges of London.

    But hey, London’s not that bad.

    It’s not like you could get a better place in another city in the UK for that kind of price.

    Oh, wait.

    In Manchester you could buy a lovely three-bedroom terraced house for £100,000. In Leeds, that same price could get you a rather snazzy two-bedroom flat. In Brighton you could get a houseboat or a one-bedroom flat near the sea.

    Cool.

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    London only has one home on sale for under ?100,000London only has one home on sale for under ?100,000ellencscott(Picture: Bairstow Eves) 1 Bedroom Flat, Roneo Corner, Hornchurch, RM12 4TN Property Description Investment opportunity. A studio apartment in a central location. This property is currently subject to an assured short hold tenancy. For more information please contact the Hornchurch branch.London only has one home on sale for under ?100,000London only has one home on sale for under ?100,000ellencscott(Picture: Bairstow Eves) 1 Bedroom Flat, Roneo Corner, Hornchurch, RM12 4TN Property Description Investment opportunity. A studio apartment in a central location. This property is currently subject to an assured short hold tenancy. For more information please contact the Hornchurch branch.

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    The view from my room at the Andermatt Chedi looking up the valley (Picture: Richard HP)

    Now that summer is out of the way and autumn is swiftly blustering through, it’s time to start thinking about where you want to go for your next skiing holiday.

    You could go for somewhere conventional like Val d’Isere or Val Thorens, but why not consider somewhere a little more off the beaten track like Andermatt in the Swiss Alps?

    It’s a resort that some people have written off as a resort and there were rumblings that it might actually close down, but there’s been a huge amount of investment and it’s fair to say it’s an up and coming destination.

    There might not be the same bars and apres ski atmosphere you’re going to get at a mainstream resort, but for a ski area of its size it packs a punch.

    Besides, the brains behind it all wants Andermatt to be more upmarket and if you’re not into all that rowdiness, then it’s definitely worth a visit.

    The village Andermatt in winter, Uri, Switzerland (Picture: Rex)
    The town is very pretty in the snow (Picture: Richard HP)

    Jumping back in time for a (brief) history, the resort suffered as a result of a railway tunnel being built in 1882 and later a road tunnel, essentially cutting the place off for a long time. It’s practically a dead end.

    It was also a garrison town until recently, making it unattractive to people wanting to holiday there.

    But then came along Samih Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire.

    Earlier this year he was present for the opening of a new lift which will eventually form part of a network that will practically double the amount of pisted skiing.

    The plan is for all the lifts to be replaced and for new ones to be built, giving greater access across the resort.

    (Picture: Richard HP)
    (Picture: Richard HP)

    Most important is the connection with Oberalp, which has the largest of the ski areas with 13 pistes and a terrain park as well as a half pipe and ski-cross course.

    We stayed at the Andermatt Chedi – the town’s first five star hotel with suites big enough to swing several cats and an in-hotel ski butler service.

    It’s also very close to the lift that takes you up to the slopes, so it’s very convenient indeed. Then there’s the pool and hydrotherapy centre that will soak away all the aches and pains you might have after a tough day’s skiing.

    As for the skiing, well there’s a decent selection to keep you entertained for a few days but, as mentioned above, there are more slopes on their way.

    It’s not the best place for beginners, but if you’re more experienced and confident enough to do a bit of off-pisting, there’s no reason why you can’t have a fantastic time there.

    Hopefully you’ll get better conditions than we had (Picture: Richard HP)
    The resort is expanding significantly (Picture: Richard HP)

    Plus, the Gemsstock – the jewel in the crown of the region – is 2,961 metres tall so there’s a decent chance you’ll get good snow. There’s a black run (the B Russi Run, named after Andermatt’s most famous son Olympic skier Bernhard Russi) and the red run – the Sun Track.

    With the promise of more ski areas being opened up, there’s going to be plenty to keep you occupied.

    Unfortunately the weather wasn’t brilliant while we were there with quite a bit of the skiing being done in white-outs, but once we got lower down it cleared.

    When it comes to eating, Andermatt has got a decent selection of food that you’d expect to find up a mountain.

    The on-piste restaurants are a bit basic and felt very much like a canteen, which jarred a little with the ‘upmarket’ feeling that the resort is looking for.

    Rooms at the Chedi are big enough to swing several cats (Picture: Richard HP)
    The village by night (Picture: thechediandermatt.com)

     

    But when it comes to evening dining, it’s a little different. The Chedi has some excellent food to match its five-star status and if you can get onto the chef’s table you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of it all with all the smells wafting round.

    If you’re a lover of cheese, there’s a room in the centre of the main restaurant that is piled high with the stuff – something to behold!

    However if you want to sample the local delights there’s a decent selection in the town. It’s worth going to one of them even if it’s only to walk through the beautiful narrow streets that remind you it’s a town that’s grown up organically and isn’t a purpose-built resort that closes down for half the year.

    You’ll find plenty of sausage, cheese and bread with a decent selection of wines, as you would expect in the Alps.

    andermatt slopes
    Sun and snow, a blinding combination (Picture: Qin Xie)
    The stunning Chedi Hotel (Picture: thechediandermatt.com)

    We had dinner at Gasthaus Ochsen, an intimate restaurant where it’s impossible not to make friends with fellow diners. They appeared to specialise in raclette and fondue, and very good it was too.

    As for the nightlife, as I mentioned earlier it’s not a place for people wanting to enjoy apres ski parties every night.

    There is still a long way for the town to go before it’s up there with the best resorts in the world, but with venues like the Chedi, you know they mean business and aren’t going to let Andermatt die.

    Andermatt skiing facts

    Vertical rise: 1,520m

    Runs: 85

    Longest run 4.5km

    Terrain: 21% advanced, 59% intermediate, 20% beginners

    Average snow depth between December and April is 140cm at base and 300cm at top of Gemmstock

    The cosy day beds by the pool
    The cosy day beds by the pool (Picture: The Chedi Andermatt)

    How to get there and where to stay:

    Andermatt
    Andermatt village (Picture: Qin Xie)

    The nearest airport to Andermatt is Zurich. SWISS operates regular flights from London Heathrow, London City, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh (seasonal during summer) and Dublin from £55 one-way.

    From there, you can either drive (1 hour 40 minutes) or get the train (around three hours).

    The Swiss Transfer Ticket covers a round-trip between Zurich and Andermatt. Prices are £116 in second class and £188 in first class.

    The Grand Deluxe room, which sleeps four people, starts from CHF 500 per night, including breakfast, use of the spa, non-alcoholic drinks from the minibar and taxes. The Deluxe Suite, where I stayed, starts from CHF 800.

    You can hire skis, boots and helmets from The Chedi. Seven-day rental costs CHF 329.

    A ski pass for the Andermatt-Sedrun area ranges from CHF 37 to CHF 65 per person, per day, depending on conditions and how early you book.

    If you’re planning to stay for a few days, The Chedi is also currently offering a winter package that includes room rates with breakfast, ski pass, and four-course dinners each night, with a minimum of three night stay.


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    Ever dreamed of living that millionaire lifestyle? Well, Dubai is the place to do it. 

    With its countless supercars, mind-blowing architecture, designer handbags and incredible views, it truly is a rich kid’s playground.

    From lounging by an infinity pool at a seven-star hotel to diving in a giant aquariam, there’s always something to do.

    But if you’re stuck for ideas, here’s our top picks on how to spend a week living the luxury life:

    Spend the day lounging on a cabana at Burj al Arab’s luxurious Terrace

    Dubai feature Picture: The Terrace at the Burj al Arab Credit: Burj al Arab
    The hotel is so exclusive you can’t even visit unless you’re staying there or have made a reservation (Picture: Burj al Arab)

    Dubbed ‘the world’s only 7-star hotel’, the Burj al Arab is a feast of luxury wherever you look.

    You can just smell the money as you walk into the exclusive hotel, which sits on its very own private artificial island, has its own helipad and a bridge that shoots jet flames to acknowledge the arrival of VIPs.

    The hotel is so exclusive, you can’t even visit unless you’re staying there or have a reservation at one of their restaurants.

    The Terrace is the same – stretching nearly 330ft into the Persian Gulf, the exclusive area is reservation-only.

    If you’ve managed to make it inside, you’ll get to experience two incredible infinity pools, which are lined with 10 million mosaic tiles in shades of azure and gold, as well as lounge on one of the many butler-serviced cabanas.

    Bar snacks are – as you can imagine – incredible, and the panoramic views from the pool are breath-taking.

    Afternoon Tea in the clouds in the Burj Khalifa

    Instagram Photo

    Standing at 830 metres to the tip, the Burj Khalifa is one of the most iconic destinations in the world.

    So what better way to experience the incredible heights than to have luxurious high tea in the clouds – literally.

    The tea is hosted in the Atmosphere Lounge, which is located on the 122nd floor.

    Though extremely pricey, the tea is definitely worth it. You get four courses and an unlimited selection of hot and refreshing beverages – so make sure you come hungry and thirsty.

    Afternoon tea at Atmosphere costs £123 per person for a window table, and £112 per person for a non-window table.

    Dine next to a giant aquarium at Al Mahara

    Dubai feature Picture: Al Mahara by Nathan Outlaw restaurant at Burj al Arab Credit: Burj al Arab
    Dine next to a floor to ceiling aquarium at Al Mahara restaurant in the Burj al Arab (Picture: Burj al Arab)

    Incredible setting – check; great food – check.

    Al Mahara at the Burj al Arab is the perfect date night setting.

    The seafood restaurant from the 2 Michelin-starred Nathan Outlaw is located on the ground floor of the hotel, and features a giant aquarium in the centre, complete with hundreds of coral and shoals of tropical fish.

    Food is incredible – I had chef Outlaw’s signature lobster risotto, which looked as good as it tasted.

    Be warned though: this restaurant is not your average fish and chips joint – a three-course meal can cost anywhere from £200pp – and that’s without wine.

    Spend the day in the mystical world of Atlantis

    It’s worth getting up for the sunrise yoga (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

    Themed around the fabled lost city of Atlantis, you definitely feel like you’ve stepped into another world when you enter the hotel’s incredible lobby.

    The hotel has its own Aquaventure Waterpark, two pools, nearly a mile of man-made beach and the Lost Chambers aquarium, which is home to 65,000 marine animals.

    And the great thing about it is that, unlike the Burj al Arab, you can actually do a day trip here without being a hotel guest.

    We kicked off our day here by doing some early morning yoga in the Lost Chambers before enjoying a breakfast feast at Atlantis’s Saffron Lounge. Think all you can eat buffet on steroids.

    We then did an aqua trek experience, where you get to walk underwater with rays, sharks and colourful fish without having to get your face wet at all.

    Yoga classes are free for hotel guests, while the aqua trek experience costs £119 per person.

    Splash the cash at the Dubai souks

    The 21 carat gold ring is mounted with 5.17kg of precious stones and weighs a staggering 63.856kg in total (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

    Where else in the world would you be able to casually stumble across the world’s heaviest gold ring in a shop window, with no obvious security around it?

    Dubai’s Gold Souks are home to the Najmat Taiba (Star of Taiba) ring, which holds the Guinness World record for being the heaviest in the world.

    The 21 carat gold piece is mounted with 5.17kg of precious stones and weighs a staggering 63.856kg in total. Defo worth a visit.

    Enjoy a delicious Emirati lunch while you learn about Middle Eastern culture

    Visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

    Nearby the al Fahidi district is the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

    The centre offers a great insight into Middle Eastern culture in historic surroundings and puts a lot of preconceived notions about the region to rest.

    We joined an open discussion about UAE culture, customs and religion with a lovely Emirati woman over a traditional Emirates lunch, which was a lot of fun.

    Lose yourself in the never-ending Dubai Mall

    Dubai Mall is pretty epic simply because of its size (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

    Dubai Mall is pretty epic simply because of its size. Think Westfield times 50.

    With hundreds of shops, it has everything under the sun, including its very own gold souks.

    As well as this, it’s filled with mesmerising art displays that’ll leave you speechless, such as the Human Waterfalls.

    Speed through the desert in a 4×4

    DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - AUGUST 14 2009: Desert safari on August 14, 2009 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Athanasios Gioumpasis/Getty Images)
    Speed through the sand dunes in a 4×4 (Picture: Getty)

    Desert safari is one of those things you have to do when visiting Dubai – just make sure you don’t eat before hand.

    Speed through the sand dunes then enjoy an authentic middle eastern meal at a traditional Bedouin style camp in the middle of the dessert.

    After that, get henna tattoos, try on the local costume and watch belly dancers put on an awesome show.

    Watch a spectacular show at Bollywood Parks

    Dubai Feature Picture: Bollywood Parks Dubai Credit: Bollywood Parks Dubai
    Bollypark, Motiongate and Legoland can easily be access by public transport (Picture: Bollywood Parks Dubai)

    Another great day out in Dubai is experiencing the city’s wonderful theme parks.

    Bollypark, Motiongate and Legoland are all situated on Sheikh Zayed Road and can easily be accessed by public transport.

    We visited Bollywood Parks in the evening, which I’d highly recommend as you get to see all the Bollywood-themed buildings light up.

    A must-see is the incredible Bollywood musical Jaan-e-Jigar extravagaza at the Rajmahal Theatre (a quirky take on the Taj Mahal).

    Do Friday properly with a bottomless brunch

    Friday brunches are a thing in Dubai (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

    The weekend falls on Fridays and Saturdays in the Middle East, which means Friday is the big day for all things fun.

    Like Friday brunches, which have become the it thing to do.

    Across the city, restaurants put on great brunches, one of the most popular being Gordon Ramsay’s brunch at the Atlantis.

    Brunch costs £47pp and includes unlimited cocktails from a select menu, choice of cured meats, cheeses, tartines and hot starters, and a choice of three main meals and dessert.

    Party like there’s no tomorrow

    Despite its strict alcohol laws, Dubai has an epic party scene (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

    Despite its strict alcohol laws, Dubai has an epic party scene. You just need to know the right people and the right places to go.

    If you’re after a more chilled out vibe with a view, 40 Kong at the H Hotel near the Dubai Marina is the perfect place.

    There are also countless day to night beach clubs such as Zero Gravity beach club.

    Where to stay in Dubai and how to get there:

    I stayed at three very different hotels – first at the relaxing Melia Desert Palm Hotel, then the lavish and luxurious Palazzo Versace and finally the cool, fun and affordable family friendly Lapita Hotel.

    Desert Palm Hotel

    Dubai feature Picture: Desert Palm Polo resort & Hotel Credit: Desert Palm Polo resort & Hotel
    The hotel sits on one of four palm-fringed polo fields (Picture: Desert Palm Polo resort & Hotel)

    If relaxation is what you’re after, Melia Desert Palm is the place to be.

    The hotel sits on one of four palm-fringed polo fields where you can sit and watch games from the terrace-lounge.

    Or you can spend your evening strolling through the 160-acre grounds, where you’ll come across plenty of Instagrammable spots.

    I stumbled across a beautiful promenade covered in baby pink flowers which was literally g o r g e o u s.

    Rooms at the Desert Palm Hotel cost from £244/night.

    Palazzo Versace

    Palazzo Versace is about subtle sophistication (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

    Palazzo Versace, on the other hand, is as glamorous as you’d expect a Versace hotel to be.

    But the great thing about it is that though it oozes glamour, it’s not garishly in your face.

    It’s all about subtle sophistication, and caters to both business guests and those seeking pleasure.

    Saying that, its lobby features a 1.5 million piece mosaic of an original Gianni Versace design, as well as a 3,000kg Bohemia crysal chandelier from Czech Republic.

    Dubai feature Picture: Palazzo Versace Hotel Credit: Palazzo Versace Hotel
    The lobby features a 1.5 million piece mosaic of an original Gianni Versace design (Picture: Palazzo Versace Hotel)

    The rooms are equally lavish, making you feel like you’re sleeping in a mini palace rather than just a bedroom.

    Great restaurants are aplenty, such as Vanitas or Giardino, as well as the lush V-spa, which offers up a gold champagne couples’ treatment for £800. Yes, £800.

    Lapita Hotel

    Dubai Feature Picture: Lapita Hotel Credit: Lapita Hotel
    The family-orientated resort is Polynesian themed (Picture: Lapita Hotel)

    Our final stay was at the Lapital Hotel, which is a stark contrast to both Desert Palm and Versace.

    In fact, it felt like I’ve been transported to Hawaii as staff greeted me in Hawaiian shirts with a big smile and an ‘aloha’.

    The family-orientated resort is Polynesian themed and is located within walking distance of Dubai’s theme park complex.

    I flew with Virgin Atlantic direct from London Heathrow to Dubai for less than £400, kicking off my journey in Virgin’s swanky lounge.

    Even though the flight is only six hours, chilling out in the lounge really sets you up for a fantastic holiday.

    Once you arrive, the best way to get around the city is by Uber – it’s quick and cheaper than regular taxis, and takes around 20 minutes to get to the centre.

    (Top picture: Getty)

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    Dubai featureDubai featuretanveermann1Dubai feature Picture: The Terrace at the Burj al Arab Credit: Burj al ArabDubai feature Picture: Al Mahara by Nathan Outlaw restaurant at Burj al Arab Credit: Burj al ArabDUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - AUGUST 14 2009: Desert safari on August 14, 2009 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Athanasios Gioumpasis/Getty Images)Dubai Feature Picture: Bollywood Parks Dubai Credit: Bollywood Parks DubaiDubai feature Picture: Desert Palm Polo resort & Hotel Credit: Desert Palm Polo resort & HotelDubai feature Picture: Palazzo Versace Hotel Credit: Palazzo Versace HotelDubai Feature Picture: Lapita Hotel Credit: Lapita HotelDubai featureDubai featuretanveermann1Dubai feature Picture: The Terrace at the Burj al Arab Credit: Burj al ArabDubai feature Picture: Al Mahara by Nathan Outlaw restaurant at Burj al Arab Credit: Burj al ArabDUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - AUGUST 14 2009: Desert safari on August 14, 2009 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Athanasios Gioumpasis/Getty Images)Dubai Feature Picture: Bollywood Parks Dubai Credit: Bollywood Parks DubaiDubai feature Picture: Desert Palm Polo resort & Hotel Credit: Desert Palm Polo resort & HotelDubai feature Picture: Palazzo Versace Hotel Credit: Palazzo Versace HotelDubai Feature Picture: Lapita Hotel Credit: Lapita Hotel

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    Lucy with the bi-pride flag at London Pride (Photo: Lucy Middleton)

    When I first realised I was attracted to girls, I did the only thing I could think of: I Googled it. I asked the internet what the hell was going on.

    I knew I still liked boys — I’d been sending out about four Valentine’s Day cards a year since I was 10 — but I’d known for some time that I looked at girls in a different way to most of my friends.

    The internet told me two things that would later come to rule my life: I was either a lesbian, or going through a phase that all teenagers experienced. I decided it must be the latter.

    When the phase showed no sign of passing I repressed my feelings and it became my deepest, darkest secret.

    Of course what I was really describing was bisexuality, a sexual orientation that accounts for 500,000 people in the UK, according to the National Office for Statistics. The number is on the rise, having increased by more than 45% over the last four years.

    The evidence is undoubtedly overwhelming; we exist. But unfortunately the support that I so craved as a schoolgirl is still woefully lagging behind.

    The most recent YouGov poll found that more young people between the ages of 16 and 24 identified as bisexual over gay or lesbian – but that hasn’t stopped less than 1% of LGBT funding going into bi projects worldwide.

    It’s understandable that safe spaces for other LGBT groups might be a priority. But it can leave bisexuals with nowhere to call home.

    After university, I hunted for a place where I could meet people like me. The only event for queer women I could find was ‘Ruby Tuesdays’, possibly the least exciting of all weekdays, at an otherwise male-only gay bar. It’s billed as a lesbian night out.

    Bisexual support is still woefully lacking (Photo: Lucy Middleton)

    But searches for bisexual nightlife would inevitably bring results of hyper-sexualised swinger parties that reinforced negative stereotypes and fetishised my sexuality. I soon gave up.

    So it comes as no surprise to me that bisexual men and women are up to 6.3 times more likely to suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or self-harming than both their heterosexual and gay or lesbian peers.

    I can personally vouch for what it feels like to be caught between a gay and a straight place; both of which can be equally full of biphobia, ignorance or bi-erasure.

    I have been out with lesbians who have told me that they didn’t date bisexuals as they were ‘drama’ and ‘more likely to cheat’ – without knowing they were sitting across from one at the table.

    While at a club in the heart of Berlin’s LGBT scene, a gay man told me my sexuality didn’t exist as all his bisexual friends had ‘ended up with one or the other in the end’.

    I said I was sorry to hear his mates had found life partners and settled down – what a ludicrous idea.

    When I first told my best friends, they jokingly nicknamed me ‘lesbian Lucy’, something they would introduce me as on nights out. It got tiring chasing it up with ‘I’M BISEXUAL’ to every stranger we met on the dance floor.

    Ironically, I recently discovered one of them still believed my year long relationship with my ex-girlfriend had just been an experimental ‘phase’ that I had now left behind.

    Still, I am one of the lucky ones. I was fortunate enough to come out with a girlfriend and I am blessed with a supportive network who cheer me on every time I complain about having to do it all over again in every new relationship, job or hobby I embark on.

    But sometimes I can still feel the impact of keeping my sexuality locked inside of myself for years.

    Occasionally I have to remind myself that talking about female crushes with straight friends does not make me disgusting or weird. It’s taken five years for me to attend a gay pride and truly feel like I belong.

    These internalised monologues are the most dangerous aspect of bisexuality and only illustrate why supportive and open dialogues are absolutely crucial.

    If you’ve ever wanted to understand what it’s like to be bisexual, you just need to imagine a sofa bed.

    Sometimes it can look like a sofa. Sometimes it can look like bed.

    But despite its outward appearance, it is, and always will be, both.

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    Hair clips are the must-have accessory for autumn/winter 2018.
    Hair clips are the must-have accessory for autumn/winter 2018 (Picture: Saint Luke / ASOS / Claire’s)

    Do you remember getting your hair done for school when you were little?

    The classic, slightly wonky ponytail or a set of plaits, followed by the hard snap of hair slides to keep all the wispy bits under control. Your hair clips were generously decorated with glitter, diamante, plastic animal heads or stiff little bows.

    If you had thick hair, they broke a lot.

    If you had fine hair, there wasn’t loads for the clip to grip onto and it pulled.

    Whether you love or loathe it, the 90s hair clip has returned to the catwalk.

    Stradivarius set of 2 circle & triangle iridescent hair clips. (Picture: Asos)
    Stradivarius set of two circle & triangle iridescent hair clips (Picture: Asos)

    The claw clip, butterfly clip and comb slide have all been features on the catwalk for AW18, with Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung and Faustine Steinmetz all embellishing their models’ hair with variations of these accessories.

    Like chokers, tiny sunglasses, crop tops and having two over-gelled strands of hair hanging down in front of your face, the hair clip is very much a part of the 90s aesthetic.

    Think Sarah Michelle Gellar in cute butterfly clips, or Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s hairstyles in the ‘Passport to Paris’ era.

    Hair clips have also recently made an appearance on celebrities like Bella Hadid, who wore contrasting straight bobby pins and Selena Gomez, who rocked an oversized crystal barrette that spelled out the word ‘ugly’.

    The 'deconstructed French girl' look from Roku Roppongi and Faustine Steinmetz. (Picture: Saint Luke)
    The ‘deconstructed French girl’ look from Roku Roppongi and Faustine Steinmetz (Picture: Saint Luke)

    You don’t need to go and spend lots of money on a designer accessory (unless you want to, of course) because affordable brands like Accessorize, ASOS and the spiritual home of your young self – Claire’s Accessories – have you covered.

    The return of hair clips is also excellent news for lazy fashion lovers.

    You can instantly update your look by clipping in a statement slide and forgetting about your hair for the rest of the day.

    Whether you go for thick tortoiseshell claws, gleaming barrettes, kawaii-inspired girly slides or a sleek, geometric clip that really pulls your look together, you can work this season’s retro hair trend any way you want to.

    A good rule of thumb: if Mary Kate and Ashley would have worn it in the 1998 classic ‘Two of a Kind’, then you can’t go wrong.

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    Hair ClipsHair ClipshpwilliamsonHair clips are the must-have accessory for autumn/winter 2018.Stradivarius set of 2 circle & triangle iridescent hair clips. (Picture: Asos)The 'deconstructed French girl' look from Roku Roppongi and Faustine Steinmetz. (Picture: Saint Luke)Hair ClipsHair ClipshpwilliamsonHair clips are the must-have accessory for autumn/winter 2018.Stradivarius set of 2 circle & triangle iridescent hair clips. (Picture: Asos)The 'deconstructed French girl' look from Roku Roppongi and Faustine Steinmetz. (Picture: Saint Luke)

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    (Picture: Hansons / SWNS.com)

    Retired florist, Ann Eaton, wasn’t expecting to find anything when she opened a Georgian puzzle purse given to her by her late mother.

    The puzzle purse – a delicate box made of paper – had been left unopened since its creation in 1782, in case someone accidentally ripped the delicate material.

    So when the 73-year-old pensioner opened it, she was surprised to see a note hidden on the back of the paper.

    It was a letter in eloquent prose, penned by a lovesick man who wrote it as a marriage proposal to a woman he was pining for 236 years ago.

    The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.
    (Picture: Hansons / SWNS.com)

    Ann, from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, has now decided to sell the love token – which was accompanied by sketches of doves and hearts – at an auction.

    ‘I kept it in my jewellery box and looked at it from time to time, but never dared open it. It’s so fragile,’ she said.

    ‘I’m not sure if it’s a family heirloom but I think it was given to my mum by her eldest brother many years ago.

    ‘Mum was one of seven children and grew up in the north east so it may originate from there.’

    The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.
    (Picture: Hansons / SWNS.com)
    The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.
    (Picture: Hansons / SWNS.com)

    In the sweet note, the gentleman has written: ‘Dear Love, this heart which you behold will break when you this leaf unfold even so my heart with lovesick pain, sore wounded is and broke in twain.

    ‘On the inside sweet turtle dove, I’ve writ a moral of my love. The powers of envy can’t pretend, to say false stories I have penned. Do not mistake and me reprove.

    ‘You’ll find me constant to you my love. It’s to you my dear and only joy. Requite me now and be not too coy. Banish any rivals from your sight. And with your love now me requite.

    ‘Cupid’s my guide and doth my hand direct. To write to you whom I so much respect.

    ‘My dear, these my meaning is in matrimonial joys. For never will my heart find any ease.

    ‘Til our two hearts be linked as found like these.

    ‘So, if you deny my loving bride to be, you will bereave me of my felicity.’

    The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.
    (Picture: Hansons / SWNS.com)
    Charles Hanson, owner of Derbyshire auctions house Hansons Auctioneers, with the ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.
    Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house Hansons Auctioneers, with the puzzle purse (Picture: Hansons / SWNS.com)

    Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular in the 1700s.

    They represented the metaphor to ‘open your heart to love’ and with origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper.

    By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.

    Auctioneer Charles Hanson, who is handling the sale, said: ‘In the 1700s, romance was admired as a formal art. There was great ritual surrounding courting.

    ‘A couple would dance together, take leisurely walks and get to know one another.

    ‘The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era.’

    The puzzle purse will be available on auction from 15th October and is expected to sell for £200 to £300.

    MORE: 105-year-old woman says the secret to a long life is being single

    MORE: 112-year-old woman credits her long life to whisky

    MORE: Woman sells her wedding dress with glorious rant on Facebook about it being as ‘unwanted’


    TO HAVE AND TO FOLD - A retired florist discovered a romantic marriage proposal hidden inside a folded-up Georgian puzzle purseTO HAVE AND TO FOLD - A retired florist discovered a romantic marriage proposal hidden inside a folded-up Georgian puzzle pursefaimabakar1The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.Charles Hanson, owner of Derbyshire auctions house Hansons Auctioneers, with the ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.TO HAVE AND TO FOLD - A retired florist discovered a romantic marriage proposal hidden inside a folded-up Georgian puzzle purseTO HAVE AND TO FOLD - A retired florist discovered a romantic marriage proposal hidden inside a folded-up Georgian puzzle pursefaimabakar1The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.The ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782- opened for the first time in 230 YEARS. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.Charles Hanson, owner of Derbyshire auctions house Hansons Auctioneers, with the ?puzzle purse? love letter from 1782. It will be sold at Hansons? Gentleman?s Library Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, on October 15 2018. September 21 2018. See NTI story NTIPURSE. An ?ultimate declaration of love? ? created in the form of a puzzle purse - has been opened for the first time in more than 230 years. And its eloquent prose, penned by a man nursing ?a lovesick heart? in 1782, delivers a lesson in romance, according to Hansons Auctioneers, which uncovered the find. Charles Hanson, owner of the Derbyshire auction house, said: ?The sentiment, the beauty, the gentle words and accompanying sketches of hearts, flowers and turtle doves, sweep us back to another time, a more romantic era. Puzzle purses were once regarded as the ultimate declaration of love and were popular from the 1700s. They represent the metaphor, ?open your heart to love? and have their origins in origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. By folding back the panels, one at a time in sequential order, a romantic message is conveyed through verses and sketches.

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    (Photo: Getty Images)

    Content warning: This article discusses eating disorders

    Last week, the government launched its public consultation on the merits of calorie-labelling food and drink served outside the home.

    For anyone suffering with an eating disorder, dining out can prove to be an overwhelming experience. As someone who is painstakingly piecing her life back together after an existence defined by anorexia, I appreciate this more than most.

    But what difference and what impact could listing calories on restaurant menus really have on people like me?

    Ironic as it might seem, I do genuinely love going out for food and spending time with people over a good meal. However, it comes with a caveat, and that is that I can only go somewhere that lists the calorie content.

    Over time, counting calories has become an obsession, which at its worst saw me weighing as much as a cucumber.

    Not having the control over what is going into my body simply terrifies me – I have to know, I have to be in control. The effect of this need has proved to be debilitating, meaning that my life is in a state of quasi-recovery.

    I eat, sure – but not with freedom.

    As a consequence, my choice in restaurant venues has become monotonous and rather predictable as of late, and at no point do these meals challenge my eating disorder thoughts.

    Rather, it is collusion in disguise.

    I know without a doubt that listing calories on menus has brought no comfort to me or others I have spoken to who are in similar situations.

    Put frankly, it can do no good.

    There are only two possible outcomes: either I deny my body what it really wants due to the number of calories, or I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for eating ‘too much’.

    Dining out is as much a social activity as it is about the food. Enjoyment and indulgence should really be at its core, not calculation and inevitable guilt.

    A fundamental part of recovering from an eating disorder is the movement away from regimented control.

    Letting go is by far the biggest hurdle in finding the freedom from counting, weighing and obsession over food intake.

    I have to learn to open my ears to my own intuition, observe and listen to my hunger cues, eat with my eyes and soul rather than through mental calculation of calorie allowance.

    But we should pause here and acknowledge that actually the vast majority don’t suffer from eating disorders and so may benefit from these implementations.

    The study that prompted this discussion, as carried out by Cornell University found that diners, when faced with the calorie information reduced their intake by on average 45 calories – about the same as 15 grapes.

    So what benefit would this proposed piece of legislation have on society?

    The argument lies in that we have the right to know what is in our food, and in addressing our obesity crisis we do have to think slightly more outside the pizza box to encourage healthy eating.

    But aren’t meals out supposed to be a treat? An indulgence? An opportunity to relax; to let someone else take the onus of cooking?

    When we go to Grandma’s for her special sausage casserole do we quantify the meal with calories, or simply enjoy it, rolling our eyes at vegetables glistening in butter?

    However, there is most definitely a case for restaurants to be more mindful of their diners. Perhaps it is time for them to start offering meals that are nutritionally richer than a burger, with an obviously higher nutritional benefit.

    But what is so important is that we are given the privilege of having that option.

    Give us the autonomy to make those decisions based on our own rather than pushing a calorie figure that can only serve to cause harm.

    Dining out is as much a social activity as it is about the food. Enjoyment and indulgence should really be at its core, not calculation and inevitable guilt.

    Common sense is all the education we need in terms of tackling the obesity crisis.

    Anorexia taught me to count and to value my worth based on a figure, whether that be kg or kcal.

    Government time and resources are paramount but let’s concentrate on prevention and education around healthy living, not restriction and enforced feelings of guilt.

    MORE: Sleep and eating disorders: how anorexia haunted my dreams

    MORE: How my bulimia turned into binge eating disorder

    MORE: Having bipolar doesn’t mean I’ll go home with you


    Close up of mixed race man reading menu in restaurantClose up of mixed race man reading menu in restaurantallieabgarianClose up of mixed race man reading menu in restaurantClose up of mixed race man reading menu in restaurantallieabgarian

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    (Picture: Getty)

    If the idea of divorce deters you from wanting to get married, then we’ve got good news – the rate of divorce is on the decline.

    Figures show that couples who file for divorce after three years of marriage have dropped by a half over the last 25 years.

    The number of couples divorcing after five years of marriage has also decreased, according to new research conducted by the Marriage Foundation and The Times.

    For husbands and wives of five years, the rate has climbed down by 39%, whereas it’s down by a fifth in couples who have been together for a decade.

    (Picture: Getty)

    These new findings are positive, especially considering the separation of married couples has been on the rise since the 60s, before hitting an all-time high in 1993.

    While there could be a number of reasons for the decline, analysts speculate that a likely reason is a change in relationship dynamics.

    Couples taking on shared responsibilities, for example, is one of the contributing factors – with fewer women have been filing for divorce.

    Though, the question remains whether decreased divorce rates are connected to the number of people getting married, with cohabitation potentially becoming a popular alternative to putting a ring on it.

    According to data from the Office for National Statistics, marriage rates for opposite-sex couples in 2015 were the lowest on record, with 21.7 marriages per thousand unmarried men and 19.8 marriages per thousand unmarried women (recent data has yet to be compiled).

    There were 239,020 marriages between opposite-sex couples in 2015, a decrease of 3.4% from 2014 when there 247,372 marriages, and 0.8% lower than in 2013.

    The research also said that there are less ‘societal obligations’ for individuals to marry nowadays.

    In this way, if people marry for love and not for other social reasons, it is less likely to end in divorce, claimed the analysts.

    They also found that, unfortunately, separation levels among non-married couples were three times higher than those of their married counterparts.

    These numbers were even more dire among less ‘well-off’ couples, showcasing that socioeconomic factors may have a correlation with the chances of a successful relationship.

    So it’s good news and bad news – just remember to share responsibilities with one another for a happy marriage.

    MORE: Retired florist finds marriage proposal note from 1780, hidden in a puzzle purse

    MORE: Is a sex toy an appropriate gift for a newly married couple?

    MORE: Teenager marries boyfriend 16 years older than her after five months of dating


    Divorce wedding cake with knifeDivorce wedding cake with knifefaimabakar1Divorce wedding cake with knifeDivorce wedding cake with knifefaimabakar1

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    ?1.75million London flat which is the prize in a ?25 a ticket competition?1.75million London flat which is the prize in a ?25 a ticket competitionallieabgarianOllie Ross who has Down?s syndrome. See SWNS story SWRAFFLE; The parents of a boy with severe Down?s syndrome are raffling off their luxury ?1.75m London flat because he can no longer get down the stairs. Cliodhna Ross, 46, and husband Stuart are hoping to sell their four-bedroom Maida Vale property by asking potential new owners to pay ?25-a-ticket to win it, mortgage free. The family have no need to leave their dream home, but for the fact they are beginning to struggle carrying seven-year-old Ollie up and down the stairs. Financial services project manager Cliodhna, 46, said: ?We knew almost as soon as he was born that Ollie had Down?s syndrome.Ollie Ross who has Down?s syndrome. See SWNS story SWRAFFLE; The parents of a boy with severe Down?s syndrome are raffling off their luxury ?1.75m London flat because he can no longer get down the stairs. Cliodhna Ross, 46, and husband Stuart are hoping to sell their four-bedroom Maida Vale property by asking potential new owners to pay ?25-a-ticket to win it, mortgage free. The family have no need to leave their dream home, but for the fact they are beginning to struggle carrying seven-year-old Ollie up and down the stairs. Financial services project manager Cliodhna, 46, said: ?We knew almost as soon as he was born that Ollie had Down?s syndrome.?1.75million London flat which is the prize in a ?25 a ticket competition?1.75million London flat which is the prize in a ?25 a ticket competitionallieabgarianOllie Ross who has Down?s syndrome. See SWNS story SWRAFFLE; The parents of a boy with severe Down?s syndrome are raffling off their luxury ?1.75m London flat because he can no longer get down the stairs. Cliodhna Ross, 46, and husband Stuart are hoping to sell their four-bedroom Maida Vale property by asking potential new owners to pay ?25-a-ticket to win it, mortgage free. The family have no need to leave their dream home, but for the fact they are beginning to struggle carrying seven-year-old Ollie up and down the stairs. Financial services project manager Cliodhna, 46, said: ?We knew almost as soon as he was born that Ollie had Down?s syndrome.Ollie Ross who has Down?s syndrome. See SWNS story SWRAFFLE; The parents of a boy with severe Down?s syndrome are raffling off their luxury ?1.75m London flat because he can no longer get down the stairs. Cliodhna Ross, 46, and husband Stuart are hoping to sell their four-bedroom Maida Vale property by asking potential new owners to pay ?25-a-ticket to win it, mortgage free. The family have no need to leave their dream home, but for the fact they are beginning to struggle carrying seven-year-old Ollie up and down the stairs. Financial services project manager Cliodhna, 46, said: ?We knew almost as soon as he was born that Ollie had Down?s syndrome.

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