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

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    (Picture: EvilCowEater/Reddit)

    Picking out an engagement ring is a tricky business.

    But you’d hope that if the relationship is right, even a less-than-glorious ring will be celebrated. It’s about love not diamonds, right?

    That was not the case for one couple.

    There’s uproar on Reddit in response to a woman who decided to ‘roast’ her engagement ring online, posting a photo in a Facebook group with the caption ‘Ewwwww’.

    ‘Self shame Friday here I come,’ wrote the mystery woman, along with a photo of a sparkly ring. ‘Found this in the BF’s nightstand. Not a fan.

    ‘Please roast and then tell me how to tactfully say no you need to go get something different.’

    (Picture: EvilCowEater/Reddit)
    (Picture: EvilCowEater/Reddit)

    At least she wanted to be tactful.

    That Facebook post was shared on Reddit, where it quickly racked up criticism.

    ‘This is the saddest thing I’ve seen on this sub,’ wrote one Redditor. ‘It’s one thing when it’s a total stranger, but when someone that’s supposed to love you unconditionally acts like a grifter it’s just plain sad.’

    ‘I hope he sees this, and then RUNS,’ wrote another.

    Facebook engagement ring shaming group
    The Facebook group the woman posted a picture of her ring in (Picture: Facebook)

    One wise commenter wrote: ‘If the ring is the problem, the ring isn’t the problem. If she really loves him, she’ll be over the moon with a ring made of tin foil. The fact that she’s upset about the ring and not excited that her partner is about to propose is a massive red flag.’

    True.

    It’s worth noting that according to the woman’s post, she hasn’t actually been proposed to yet and instead found the ring in her boyfriend’s drawer, so it’s possible that this all might be a huge mixup and there’s not really a plan to pop the question with that ring.

    We do hope that the couple have a chat before any engagement happens, mind you. It sounds like they might have different priorities if the woman’s first reaction to finding an engagement ring is to jump into a Facebook group specifically created to criticise rings.

    MORE: Is it ever okay to make people pay for their own food at your wedding?

    MORE: The Sex Resort Diaries: Racing goats, threesome offers, and a swingers’ wedding


    Woman slammed for criticising engagement ringWoman slammed for criticising engagement ringellencscott(Picture: EvilCowEater/Reddit)Facebook engagement ring shaming groupWoman slammed for criticising engagement ringWoman slammed for criticising engagement ringellencscott(Picture: EvilCowEater/Reddit)Facebook engagement ring shaming group

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    A puppy with "Sindoor" vermillion powder on its forehead and a garland is pictured after a boy offered prayers during the dog festival as part of Tihar, celebrations also called Diwali, in Kathmandu, Nepal November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
    A proud dog wearing tika, a sign of respect and honour (Picture: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar)

    Each year in Nepal, a very special tradition takes place.

    It’s called Tihar, and is the Nepalese way of celebrating Diwali. Each day the day the festival is dedicated to honouring different animals and thanking them for all they do.

    Yesterday was the day of the dog, also known as Kukur Puja.

    Yep, that means a festival was held purely for the celebration of dogs.

    Very good pups are presented with floral garlands – a mark of respect – and tika, a mix of red dye, yoghurt, and rice that is applied to the dogs’ foreheads. They’re given delicious food, including specially made desserts, and are encouraged to eat as much food as they like on this day.

    Food and garlands are given to all dogs in the area, including strays, who are treated like kings for the day.

    People flock to thank dogs for all that they have done for humans, from the dogs mentioned in ancient texts (such as the dog said to guard the gates of the afterlife) to street dogs who bring us joy on a tough day.

    It’s a lovely tradition, basically, and one we can all celebrate by giving our dogs a treat, a stroke, and by treating them with the love and respect they deserve.

    Take a look at some proud pups enjoying Kukur Puja below.

    SIPA USA via PA Images A Portrait of trained Nepalese police Dog with full of color after performing puja on Kukur Tihar or Dog Festival as the procession of Tihar celebrations at Maharajgunj, Kathmandu, Nepal on Tuesday, November 06, 2018. Tihar is a hindu festival celebrated in Nepal for 5 days. Nepalese people worship dog, feed delicious food on second day of tihar. Dog is a trustworthy guard of human being. Tihar mark as the festival of lights, as people decorats their resident by using various flower garlands, oil lamps and colourful light bulbs. (Photo by Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)
    A trained Nepalese police dog after performing puja (Picture: Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)
    epa07144273 An Armed Police officer puts a flower garland around the neck of a police dog at the Armed Police Dog Training School during dog worship day, as part of the Diwali festival, also known as Tihar Festival, in Kathmandu, Nepal, 06 November 2018. The Tihar festival is the second major festival for Nepalese Hindus and this year is held for five days, begining on 05 November 2018. During the festival people worship crows, considered to be messengers of human beings; cows, considered as incarnations of lord Laxmi (the god of wealth); and dogs, repaying the love towards man's 'best friend'. A total of 12 dogs of the training school were worshipped, while a dog performance was also a part of the celebrations. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA
    A police dog gets his floral garland (Picture: EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA)
    epa07144269 Armed Police officers work with police dogs at the Armed Police Dog Training School during dog worship day, as part of the Diwali festival, also known as Tihar Festival, in Kathmandu, Nepal, 06 November 2018. The Tihar festival is the second major festival for Nepalese Hindus and this year is held for five days, begining on 05 November 2018. During the festival people worship crows, considered to be messengers of human beings; cows, considered as incarnations of lord Laxmi (the god of wealth); and dogs, repaying the love towards man's 'best friend'. A total of 12 dogs of the training school were worshipped, while a dog performance was also a part of the celebrations. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA
    Trained dogs doing brilliant things, as well as strays without homes, are celebrated on this special day (Picture: EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA)
    TOPSHOT - Nepal Armed Police dog handlers and their dogs with vermillion on their foreheads and marigold garlands placed around their necks pose for a picture during an event to mark the Hindu Tihar festival -- also known as Diwali -- at the Armed Police Dog Training School in Kathmandu on November 6, 2018. - Tihar, as the Hindu festival of Diwali is known locally, sees Nepalese offering blessings to dogs, which according to Hindu tradition are the messengers of Yamraj, the god of death. (Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP)PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
    (Picture: PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
    Nepal's Armed Police Force personnel put vermillion powder on the forehead of a police dog during Tihar festival celebrations at a kennel division in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Dogs are worshipped to acknowledge their role in providing security during the second day of Tihar festival, one of the most important Hindu festivals that is also dedicated to the worship of Hindu goddess of wealth Laxmi. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
    Good boy. (Picture: AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
    A member of the Armed Police Force kisses a puppy after offering prayers during the dog festival as part of Tihar, celebrations also called Diwali, in Kathmandu, Nepal November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
    The puppies are offered prayers and specially prepared treats as part of the worship (Picture: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar)
    An Armed Police Force person offers bread to a dog after worshipping it during Tihar festival celebrations at a kennel division in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Dogs are worshipped to acknowledge their role in providing security during the second day of Tihar festival, one of the most important Hindu festivals that is also dedicated to the worship of Hindu goddess of wealth Laxmi. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
    The dogs are allowed to eat to their heart’s content (Picture: AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
    A puppy is offered a "Sindoor" vermillion powder on his forehead during the dog festival as part of Tihar, celebrations also called Diwali, in Kathmandu, Nepal November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
    (Picture: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar)

    MORE: Gyms offering puppy therapy to help people cope with stress

    MORE: ‘Ugly’ dog Murray finally finds his forever home

    MORE: Couple who fell in love as teens reunite 39 years later and get married


    A puppy with "Sindoor" vermillion powder on its forehead and a garland is pictured after a boy offered prayers during the dog festival as part of Tihar, celebrations in KathmanduA puppy with A puppy with "Sindoor" vermillion powder on its forehead and a garland is pictured after a boy offered prayers during the dog festival as part of Tihar, celebrations in KathmanduA puppy with "Sindoor" vermillion powder on its forehead and a garland is pictured after a boy offered prayers during the dog festival as part of Tihar, celebrations in KathmanduellencscottA puppy with "Sindoor" vermillion powder on its forehead and a garland is pictured after a boy offered prayers during the dog festival as part of Tihar, celebrations also called Diwali, in Kathmandu, Nepal November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Navesh ChitrakarSIPA USA via PA Images A Portrait of trained Nepalese police Dog with full of color after performing puja on Kukur Tihar or Dog Festival as the procession of Tihar celebrations at Maharajgunj, Kathmandu, Nepal on Tuesday, November 06, 2018. Tihar is a hindu festival celebrated in Nepal for 5 days. Nepalese people worship dog, feed delicious food on second day of tihar. Dog is a trustworthy guard of human being. Tihar mark as the festival of lights, as people decorats their resident by using various flower garlands, oil lamps and colourful light bulbs. (Photo by Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)epa07144273 An Armed Police officer puts a flower garland around the neck of a police dog at the Armed Police Dog Training School during dog worship day, as part of the Diwali festival, also known as Tihar Festival, in Kathmandu, Nepal, 06 November 2018. The Tihar festival is the second major festival for Nepalese Hindus and this year is held for five days, begining on 05 November 2018. During the festival people worship crows, considered to be messengers of human beings; cows, considered as incarnations of lord Laxmi (the god of wealth); and dogs, repaying the love towards man's 'best friend'. A total of 12 dogs of the training school were worshipped, while a dog performance was also a part of the celebrations. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHAepa07144269 Armed Police officers work with police dogs at the Armed Police Dog Training School during dog worship day, as part of the Diwali festival, also known as Tihar Festival, in Kathmandu, Nepal, 06 November 2018. The Tihar festival is the second major festival for Nepalese Hindus and this year is held for five days, begining on 05 November 2018. During the festival people worship crows, considered to be messengers of human beings; cows, considered as incarnations of lord Laxmi (the god of wealth); and dogs, repaying the love towards man's 'best friend'. A total of 12 dogs of the training school were worshipped, while a dog performance was also a part of the celebrations. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHATOPSHOT - Nepal Armed Police dog handlers and their dogs with vermillion on their foreheads and marigold garlands placed around their necks pose for a picture during an event to mark the Hindu Tihar festival -- also known as Diwali -- at the Armed Police Dog Training School in Kathmandu on November 6, 2018. - Tihar, as the Hindu festival of Diwali is known locally, sees Nepalese offering blessings to dogs, which according to Hindu tradition are the messengers of Yamraj, the god of death. (Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP)PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty ImagesNepal's Armed Police Force personnel put vermillion powder on the forehead of a police dog during Tihar festival celebrations at a kennel division in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Dogs are worshipped to acknowledge their role in providing security during the second day of Tihar festival, one of the most important Hindu festivals that is also dedicated to the worship of Hindu goddess of wealth Laxmi. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)A member of the Armed Police Force kisses a puppy after offering prayers during the dog festival as part of Tihar, celebrations also called Diwali, in Kathmandu, Nepal November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Navesh ChitrakarAn Armed Police Force person offers bread to a dog after worshipping it during Tihar festival celebrations at a kennel division in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Dogs are worshipped to acknowledge their role in providing security during the second day of Tihar festival, one of the most important Hindu festivals that is also dedicated to the worship of Hindu goddess of wealth Laxmi. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)A puppy is offered a "Sindoor" vermillion powder on his forehead during the dog festival as part of Tihar, celebrations also called Diwali, in Kathmandu, Nepal November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

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    October has truly spoiled us this year but as anyone in the UK will know, the cold and damp days of winter are not far off.

    It stands to pass, then, that you might already be dreaming of some winter sun – and you’re not alone. But fear not. You can hop on a plane and embark on an unforgettable trip to somewhere warm like Costa Rica – officially the happiest country on Earth!

    Costa Rica, the ‘rich coast’, is an exotic Central American nation, tiny in size but home to 4.5 million people, 800 miles of coastline, over 121 volcanic formations and 6 per cent of the world’s biodiversity.

    The imperious Arenal Volcano peers over the province of Alajuela

    An emphasis on protecting natural habitats means exotic wildlife thrives in Costa Rica, making for unforgettable tours around the country and over one hundred protected areas to visit.

    With such luscious scenery and rich resources, it has become a hugely popular travel destination, and British Airways offers great value direct and all year-round flights from London Gatwick to Costa Rica. Find out more about flying with British Airways here.

    It hardly matters if you’re a solo adventurer, a nature lover or pining for some luxury R&R, Costa Rica has something for everyone.

    An ocelot sitting on log inside Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

    For Nature Lovers

    Any visit to Costa Rica would be wasted if it did not involve the incredible natural beauty on display in the country. For such a tiny country, the range of flora and fauna available for tourists to take in is incredible, with Costa Rica able to boast that it has the largest percentage of protected area of any nation on Earth.

    A spectacular place to start is Corcovado National Park, the largest of its kind in the country and home to, 150 butterfly species, 500 bird species, 124 kinds of mammal, and more than 5,000 plant types. You might not get to see the wild jaguars that still roam the park, but monkeys, sloths, and anteaters are all very possible to catch a glimpse of.

    If marine life is more your thing, then there is superb diving on offer in Costa Rica where you can see anything from the relaxing, colourful coral to the more concerning array of sharks in the surrounding oceans. Bat Islands, Cocos Island and Caño Island offer the chance to see the likes of dolphins, orcas and both bull and hammerhead sharks.

    And if that still hasn’t satisfied your appetite, consider heading on one of the night time nature walks in somewhere like the Monteverde cloud forest reserve, or overnight jungle stays in an eco-lodge.

    Other options include a trip to La Fortuna where you can view the volcano and swim under the waterfall, horseback riding through the Jaco Jungle or spotting turtles at Tortuguero National Park. The choices are endless.

    A moment of calm rafting along a river in Costa Rica.

    For Adventurers

    If wandering off the beaten track is your idea of the perfect adventure, you’ll be enthralled the moment your plane touches down in Costa Rica. You’ll find more rugged beaches on the Caribbean side, including the most desirable snorkelling locations, such as Cahuita National Park, while the Pacific coast is the best for surfing. 

    With its white water rafting ranked in the top five globally, you’d be foolish to ignore the thrill of a paddle down the rainforest-enveloped Pacuare River, which starts in the Talamanca mountains and meanders through to the Caribbean coast. With 108km of jade waters to negotiate you can be sure of a challenge when you hit the rapids, and picture-perfect photo opportunities of jungle and waterfalls.

    Though it’ll be tough to stay away from the water, Costa Rica has a number of on-land excursions guaranteed to keep every thrill-seeker entertained. There are currently six active volcanoes that can be scaled and explored, from Arenal Volcano to Turrialba Volcano, a three-hour hike where vehicles aren’t permitted. The volcanic regions are also notable for their natural hot springs, ideal if after a day of adrenaline-filled activity your body demands a bit of recuperation. 

    Caving is also a popular activity, while the cloud forest canopy allows for fantastic views from the overhead bridges. In short, if you’re seeking adventure, Costa Rica has it all.

    A Hawksbill Sea Turtle surveys the scene in Playa del Coco, Costa Rica

    For Families

    Zip-lining has become a major industry in Costa Rica and the prospect of suspending yourself above the trees should be something you endeavour to try.

    Though much of the Costa Rican jungle and rainforest is protected, the tourism industry has gone to great lengths to ensure visitors can still see and indulge in it. Zip-lining remains one of the most enjoyable ways to see the best of the country and will undoubtedly keep children entertained as they whizz through the forest canopy.

    Beyond seeing Costa Rica from the air, there are a number of boat tours operating up and down the coastline. From fishing trips to chartered sunset cruises, there really is something for all the family.

    Taking charge of your own chartered boat makes a sunset cruise even more spectacular, with the snorkelling opportunities ensuring children will be fascinated by the mere sight of turtles and stingrays.

    Keep beach activities at the heart of your trip and look into signing up to a surf school or taking a stroll down Punta Uvita Whale Tail with a pair of binoculars. If you’re lucky you’ll spot migrating humpback whales.

    In terms of foodie experiences, fine dining can be found in the capital, San José, but it would be remiss to ignore the ‘sodas’, small traditional Costa Rican restaurants. With heart and soul pouring into every dish, it will be a memorable experience for the family and a chance to introduce everyone to the locals’ love of ‘pura vida’, the ‘pure life’ – an attitude that seeps into everything Costa Ricans do.

    Kids might be drawn to well-known hamburger and fries restaurant but do try to get them to sample these quintessential Costa Rican fast food restaurants.

    For Luxury Seekers

    If you’re looking for the finer side of Costa Rican life then you will likely be heading to the Gulf of Papagayo, which is right in the north-western region of the country, near to Nicaragua.

    There you will find numerous five-star hotels on offer as well as a number of spa retreats to suit your relaxation needs.

    Alternatively, you could head to Santa Teresa, down the western coast, which has not always been on the fancier end of things in Costa Rica, but is certainly becoming that way now. A range of spas and opportunities to relax with yoga or pilates are on offer in the chilled out, surfing spot.

    Looking for a gastronomic delight? Then you will be spoiled for choice in the capital, San José. There are plenty of luxury dining options which have received incredible reviews, not only for the food, but the memorable décor and atmosphere.

    If you feel the desire to go beyond the reaches of your luxury hotel and private beach, you don’t need to stretch too far to get a sample of Costa Rican life. Something like a mangrove tour is at a slow enough pace to ensure you never get too flustered (unless you’re lucky enough to spot a croc or jaguar!), but ultimately you can be at ease knowing if you’re in the right place if rest and relaxation is top of your wish list.

    A little Agalychnis Callidryas Tree-frog dancing in the Costa Rica jungle

    British Airways operates all year round flights directly to San José, Costa Rica. To find out more and book today, visit ba.com/wintersun  

    Win the holiday of a lifetime!

     

    We’ve teamed up with British Airways to help you add a little colour to your winter with an incredible prize.

    One lucky person could win a holiday for two in Costa Rica, with flights, transfers accommodation, tours and a whole host of activities included.

    This seven-day adventure will include a journey of this Caribbean paradise, with visits to Arenal Volcano National Park, Rio Frio Wildlife Refuge and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, just to name a few of the destinations.

    Plus, during your winter sun adventure, you’ll be treated to open boat tours, a stay in a four-star luxury hotel and much, much more.

    Find out more and submit your entry at metro.co.uk/BAwintersun


    Aerial - Beach at Corcovado National Park, Costa RicaAerial - Beach at Corcovado National Park, Costa RicajaffajayAerial - Beach at Corcovado National Park, Costa RicaAerial - Beach at Corcovado National Park, Costa Ricajaffajay

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    Rebecca has been creating cakes for years, but this is her first cake depicting pooing during labour (Picture: MEN)

    Do not stop to question why someone would want a cake that depicts the moment a child is birthed and the poor mother in labour lets out a poo.

    You will get lost in a muddy mess of confusion and horror, trust me.

    Simply accept that someone did indeed request such a thing, and that a cake maker was able to bring that vision to life.

    Rebecca, who’s been running her Cake O Rama business in Lowton, Wigan, for seven years, says she was asked to make a baby shower cake for a customer’s sister.

    The mother-to-be wanted something quite specific: A cake showing a baby’s head emerging from the vagina.

    Cake maker Rebecca Pilkington has designed all sorts of creations over the years. From birthday cakes to Christmas cupcakes, her orders for your typical celebrations come in thick and fast.
    Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t plan to sleep tonight (Picture: Cake O Rama/MEN Media

    ‘They insisted that it had poo and it looked very realistic,’ said Rebecca. ‘I have been making cakes for the past seven years, but I’ve never been asked to make one like that before.’

    Surprising.

    Thankfully Rebecca was able to take on the unusual challenge. She baked a traditional sponge, added butter cream and strawberry jam, and then began to decorate, using jam as blood, chocolate sprinkles as pubic hair, and fondant to make a poo emerging from the cake’s anus.

    A doll’s head was used to represent the baby.

    The client was overjoyed to be able to share the cake at her baby shower.

    ‘I wouldn’t be happy if it was for my baby shower but for some reason loads of people love the idea,’ said Rebecca. ‘They thought it was hilarious.

    ‘The most difficult part of the cake was the poo believe it or not, as it’s so hard make it look real.’

    We can imagine. Although we can’t imagine wanting to eat such a thing.

    MORE: Eat’s Christmas menu includes a roast dinner in a Yorkshire pudding wrap

    MORE: From semi-skimmed Oat milk to free plant-based burgers at GBK: a week in vegan news

    MORE: Granddad says the secret to his 50-year marriage is giving his wife the better piece of toast


    A cake to literally celebrate the birth of a babyA cake to literally celebrate the birth of a babyellencscottCake maker Rebecca Pilkington has designed all sorts of creations over the years. From birthday cakes to Christmas cupcakes, her orders for your typical celebrations come in thick and fast.A cake to literally celebrate the birth of a babyA cake to literally celebrate the birth of a babyellencscottCake maker Rebecca Pilkington has designed all sorts of creations over the years. From birthday cakes to Christmas cupcakes, her orders for your typical celebrations come in thick and fast.

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    It’s never too late to start running – I just ran my first half marathon at 65
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    My daughter is fit.

    She must be to go from being a recreational runner covering 5k a couple of times a week to finishing the London Marathon a little over four hours with just a few weeks training and then – incredibly – completing a 100k ultramarathon in 16 hours.

    Unfortunately for me, her bucket list didn’t stop there.

    Her next aim, was to get her mother from couch to half marathon in six weeks.

    ‘You’re fit for your age,’ she said, ‘you’ll have no problem!’

    Little did she know how intimate was my relationship with Ibuprofen and that my running stamina was at rock bottom. Admittedly, I did spend most mornings in the gym but I hated the treadmill, only managing short bursts of speed before gagging for breath and having to walk. After ten minutes I might have a go on the machines but only a fraction of that time was actually spent improving my fitness – most of it was spent shooting the breeze.

    When it comes to running longer distances, women are supposed to be great pacers and apparently, age doesn’t really hamper ability when you’re going for distance over speed.

    Instagram Photo

    In fact, last year Strava released a stack of data which found that women over 60 are actually the most consistent when it comes to speed, with just 9% variance in pacing – so at least that was proof that people my age really were schlepping their aching joints over long distances.

    Anyway, the practical reality set in early one Saturday morning in August when we started out from The Angel, Islington with intention of “having a nice walk along the canal” to Stratford (a five-mile stretch).

    The reality turned out to be very different. Gentle walk it was not.

    Despite having a seriously pulled calf muscle, I was mercilessly chivvied along.

    ‘Let’s just try running to that next bridge,’ my daughter, Miranda, suggested.

    By the time we were nearly there, I was gasping for mercy and garnering sympathetic grimaces from all those enjoying their ‘nice walk’ in the opposite direction.

    ‘No, don’t stop now! KEEP GOING! You can stop at the next one..!’

    And so it went on. It was pointless moaning about the pain. It was all, ‘acknowledge it then put it to the back of your mind’. As if! By the time we had covered the five miles to Stratford I had my hand on my bus pass. But no tube train beckoned.

    She revealed that we were running all the way back home – another five tortuous miles. Half a mile from our road and my mouth was parched and there was nothing left in the tank. I was never ever going to do this again and collapsed in the garden a few minutes later with a lukewarm glass of tap water as a reward.

    Instagram Photo

    But I now knew what ten miles looked like and that all I had to do was to cover another three miles or so – even if I walked it all – for the half marathon distance.

    We started going out every weekend for these long runs, in a bid to get used to simply being on my feet for such long periods of time.

    The next week, my excuse was that a flu jab a couple of days previously had had a serious effect on my stamina.

    But there was no let-up. As soon as Miranda’s back was turned, I’d be taking a couple of ‘recovery’ steps but that girl has eyes in the back of her head and she’d be rounding me up like a stray sheep.

    ‘Come ON! Don’t stop!’ as I virtually cried myself to the top of yet another tortuous incline.

    There were helpful pieces of advice along the way, though: ‘You’d do better if you stopped boozing and cut out all that crap in your diet!’

    Or most memorably: ‘I can hear you BREATHING!’, which apparently…is a bad thing?

    It didn’t seem so at the time but she was right. I was more conscious about what I put into my system and I did try to breathe more through my nose.

    (Picture: Miranda Larbi)

    From then on, I would run/fast walk back home from the gym three or four times a week, taking a variety of routes and actually began, in a curious way, to enjoy the freedom afforded by this new-found ability to cover ever longer distances.

    It’s amazing how resilient the body is – even at my age. You’re a vehicle in your own right.

    Two weeks prior to the big day and I was full of apprehension. We were going to a mountainous area of Northern Portugal for five days. This was going to be make or break as I would be out of the small amount of regime to which I had become accustomed.

    However, unbeknown to me, instructions had been given to my husband about getting me moving. So for four of those days, I ran up and down hills in 30-degree heat – all the time thinking that at least the Royal Parks Half was on the flat and that it should be appreciably cooler.

    The day arrived in the blink of an eye and I was pretty anxious, not ever having done any kind of race before – not even a Parkrun. On the other hand, for me, it was that exam-day feeling that there was nothing more to be done, and that I just had to go out there and do my best.

    (Picture: Miranda Larbi)

    Having been interminably held up by the hoards of runners trying to exit Knightsbridge station, we were forced to run to the starting area, dump our stuff, and join the huge queues for the women’s loos before legging it, just in time, to the starting funnels.

    Although I had intended to sidle into the last section, I was dragged by my super-fit trainer into the green funnel where I was forced to set off faster than I had intended.

    However, having made my way over to the roadside, I eventually got into a more steady pace and – miraculously – managed to keep going despite having been totally drenched from the start.

    They say that you will find some of the nicest people amongst the running fraternity and it is true. Slow down a little and someone will give you an encouraging arm and a word. And that was just the runners. The support from the race officials and the crowds was extraordinary – people you would probably never see again in your life yelling encouragement as though they had a personal stake in your success….

    I had been told that the Albert Memorial marked the start of the home straight and I was able to put into practice that earlier mantra about compartmentalising the searing hip pain which had started to bug me at about mile ten.

    The moment I glimpsed the finishing line through the buckets of rain was truly marvellous.

    At 2hr 45, I crossed the finish and in a dream, I collected my medal and had a goody bag brimming with drinks and snacks thrust at me. The crowds were a blur and I was carried – on a wave of emotion – through the mud to the tent area where my daughter was waiting with a steaming cup of coffee and a load of gooey brownies.

    (Picture: Miranda Larbi)

    I just could not believe that I had actually run any kind of race – let alone a half marathon at 65 years old.

    What have I learned?

    That you have to push your limits where pain and endurance are concerned, and some of that pain is just a mental thing that you can – with the right mantras – overcome.

    It’s also liberating knowing how much easier it often is to run/walk what turn out to be not-so-long distances than to rely on transport.

    Would I do it again?

    It’s like giving birth; at the time it’s a resounding ‘never again!’ but you quickly recover and quickly start to think about improving on your time in the future.

    Who knows, maybe at next year’s Royal Parks, I’ll be going for a PB.

    MORE: Divorce at 25: What’s it like when all your friends are just getting engaged but your marriage is over?

    MORE: Is weight gain inevitable when you’re taking mental health medication?

    MORE: What is plogging and why is it a word of the year?


    It’s never too late to start running – I just ran my first half marathon at 65It’s never too late to start running – I just ran my first half marathon at 65mkylIt’s never too late to start running – I just ran my first half marathon at 65It’s never too late to start running – I just ran my first half marathon at 65It’s never too late to start running – I just ran my first half marathon at 65mkylIt’s never too late to start running – I just ran my first half marathon at 65

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    The Anderson family in Mexico (PA Real Life/Collect)
    The Anderson family in Mexico (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    Just how far would you go to connect to your roots? One family from Florida have sold everything they own to find the connection.

    Ike Anderson and his wife Natalee sold their belongings to go on a global pilgrimage after discovering from DNA tests that they have blood links to 32 different countries.

    The couple have been travelling since December 2016 with their three children, Jasmine, 12, Kaylee, 11, and Layton, seven.

    ‘I wanted to know why I was here and where I am going. If you don’t know where you’re from, you have no idea what’s next,’ Ike explains.

    ‘I see this journey as a quest to find out who we are, and what we can leave behind. I was thinking to myself one day, “What legacy do I have? What will I leave for my children?”’

    The family wearing traditional clothing during a visit to Ghana (PA Real Life/Collect)
    The family in traditional clothing during a visit to Ghana (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    It’s an enormous journey and the cost has been huge – around £80,000 – but Ike says the reason for trip is what it will teach his children.

    ‘It’s great to leave money behind, but I thought travelling and having the opportunity to learn and giving them an open mindset would be a better gift for them,’ Ike says.

    Ike initially discovered that both he and Natalee have roots in Europe, East Asia, and Sub Saharan Africa.

    Now the family of five have travelled to Mexico, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Paris, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Indonesia and are currently in Australia, with plans to go next to Fiji and Hawaii.

    The family taking a photo in the Egyptian sun (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Enjoying the Egyptian sun (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    Ike and Natalee, who run a marketing agency together, are working remotely in order to continue to fund their travels. But the initial costs were covered by the family parting with anything that was unessential – including Natalee’s treasured handbags and shoes.

    When it comes to their childrens’ education, the little ones aren’t being allowed to slack off. Ike and Natalee are vigilant about making sure they take online classes and use educational apps so they don’t fall behind.

    Getting the kids on board with the plan was tough at first, but Natalee is certain it was the best thing they could do for them.

    ‘When we first told our kids what we were planning to do they seemed shocked,’ she explains.

    The family sporting traditional Indian clothing (PA Real Life/Collect)
    They made it as far as India (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    ‘They had loads and loads of questions, so we made sure they were part of the process by putting a huge map on the wall and guiding them through everything.

    ‘Convincing them to come on board has been the best thing we did, though. It’s made our kids better at going outside and exploring.

    ‘If they were at home they would just be on their phones and devices. We put a rule in place that the kids couldn’t bring their phones, so we only have a laptop and iPad with us which we all share.’

    The family posing for a picture with the Eiffel Tower (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Both Ike and Natalee have links to Europe (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    For Natalee, the pilgrimage has provided priceless moments with her children, and she relishes the disconnection from modern technology.

    ‘One of the biggest highlights for me was sailing down the river Nile and seeing children playing by the sides of the water.

    ‘There was literally no connection to the rest of the world, so we were forced to soak up the experience, rather than look at social media.’

    The family don’t plan on stopping until they have hit all 32 destinations and completed their ancestral pilgrimage.

    MORE: Why parents are hiding pickles in their Christmas trees

    MORE: You can get paid to travel about smoking loads of weed

    MORE: Jet lag can worsen anxiety and depression – here’s how to deal with it


    PA Real Life - Anderson family - Traveling the worldPA Real Life - Anderson family - Traveling the worldnataliemorris88The Anderson family in Mexico (PA Real Life/Collect)The family wearing traditional clothing during a visit to Ghana (PA Real Life/Collect)The family taking a photo in the Egyptian sun (PA Real Life/Collect)The family sporting traditional Indian clothing (PA Real Life/Collect)The family posing for a picture with the Eiffel Tower (PA Real Life/Collect)PA Real Life - Anderson family - Traveling the worldPA Real Life - Anderson family - Traveling the worldnataliemorris88The Anderson family in Mexico (PA Real Life/Collect)The family wearing traditional clothing during a visit to Ghana (PA Real Life/Collect)The family taking a photo in the Egyptian sun (PA Real Life/Collect)The family sporting traditional Indian clothing (PA Real Life/Collect)The family posing for a picture with the Eiffel Tower (PA Real Life/Collect)

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    **ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** Working whilst being in a bad place with your mental health - how I am doing it (Liam Baines) - new blogger
    (Picture: Phebe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

    A little bit of stress is normal.

    We need a touch of pressure to make us make moves and take action, after all. If we were entirely free of stress about earning money and staying alive, we’d just stay in a pile of bedding on the floor all day, every day.

    But there’s a point when healthy stress tips into something damaging.

    When stress builds up and tips into burnout, the results can be dangerous. Mental health issues can be triggered, physical health can suffer, and people can be so overworked and overstressed that they have to pause everything they’re doing just to get some balance.

    We’re chronic overworkers, though, and tend to keep battling through even when the stress has passed tipping point. It’s vital to be aware of when stress becomes burnout so we know when we need to get urgent help.

    Dr Luke Powles, associate clinical director at Bupa UK, tells Metro.co.uk that burnout is when ‘the pressure you’re under exceeds your ability to cope […] causing both mental and physical problems.’

    Ecoanxiety Electricity power save eco money anxiety disorder mental health body mind Ph?be Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk Phebe
    (Picture: Phébe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

    He explains that different people will have different symptoms of burnout – some will respond more physically, while others will experience more of a dip in their mental wellbeing.

    But the common signs of burnout he notices are low mood, tiredness, a change in sleeping patterns, getting sick more often (stress weakens the immune system), and gum disease.

    Other signs of burnout include a lack of motivation, a feeling of hopelessness, making more mistakes at work and at home, finding yourself unable to stop thinking about work, nausea, and impaired memory.

    Signs of burnout:

    • Exhaustion
    • Insomnia
    • Interrupted sleep
    • Getting sick more often
    • Gum disease
    • Nausea
    • Headaches
    • Lack of motivation
    • Low mood
    • Being unable to stop thinking about work
    • Impaired memory
    • Struggling to make decisions
    • Feeling irritable or snapping at people

    When stress gets to this point, you need to make changes, sharpish.

    The best way to manage stress is prevention, daily self-care, and a healthy working environment, but you’re not alone if stress has built drastically and you can no longer cope. Burnout happens, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

    The first step in treating burnout is to analyse why it’s happened. Is your work fundamentally stressful and unsatisfying? Is working unpaid overtime pushing you to the brink? Are you taking on too many responsibilities?

    It’s tempting to do the equivalent of running away and hiding, quitting your job and refusing to ever go back, but if it’s not the work itself that’s stressful, but certain factors, it’s worth talking to your managers about adjustments they could make.

    If you’re experiencing signs of burnout, talk to your GP for mental health support. They should be able to recommend counselling or medication to help you get out of the hole and bring your mood up enough to make changes.

    Prioritise self-care, and remember that doesn’t have to mean fancy candles and bubble bath.

    Dr Luke Powle's tips for preventing burnout:

    Manage your expectations

    It’s important to remember that you’re not invincible and there’ll be times when you can’t do everything you’re asked. By trying to do too many things, you’ll increase your stress levels and your risk of burning out.

    Ask for help

    If you’re stressed it can help to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. It’s also a good idea to talk to your boss about your workload if you’re struggling. There are self-referral counselling services that are free to access. You can find more information about these at your GP practice.

    Exercise and meditate

    If done on a regular basis, meditative approaches like practicing mindfulness or yoga can really help. While you may not feel like exercising, it can really help boost your mood. Exercise boosts your endorphins, which are your ‘feel good’ hormones. It also helps to bring cortisol levels (stress hormones) down which can impact your mood and energy levels.

    Healthy lifestyle

    It’s important to also maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and enough sleep. While it might be a struggle to fit this in, it can have a big impact if you’re able to get it right.

    Self-care is simply looking after yourself. That means feeding yourself well (no skipping your lunch break or working through dinner), getting proper rest, and checking in with your emotions.

    ‘If left untreated, burnout can lead to mental illnesses like depression and may aggravate some physical conditions such as asthma and eczema,’ says Dr Powles. ‘It’s important to get help early if you’re struggling with your mental health.’

    Don’t try to be a hero, don’t push yourself too hard, and don’t dismiss your mental wellbeing for the sake of your work. If you need to take time off, do so without guilt. If you need to make some adjustments to look after your mental health, talk to your manager without feeling shame.

    Stress is natural, but it can be incredibly unhealthy. No one should have to shoulder that burden without support.

    MORE: Gyms offering puppy therapy to help people cope with stress

    MORE: I was a gambling addict at 12. Without a change in the law, more lives will be ruined

    MORE: In unsurprising news, a poor night’s sleep increases anxiety the next day


    **ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** Working whilst being in a bad place with your mental health - how I am doing it (Liam Baines) - new blogger**ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** Working whilst being in a bad place with your mental health - how I am doing it (Liam Baines) - new bloggerellencscottEcoanxiety Electricity power save eco money anxiety disorder mental health body mind Ph?be Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk Phebe**ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** Working whilst being in a bad place with your mental health - how I am doing it (Liam Baines) - new blogger**ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** Working whilst being in a bad place with your mental health - how I am doing it (Liam Baines) - new bloggerellencscottEcoanxiety Electricity power save eco money anxiety disorder mental health body mind Ph?be Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk Phebe

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    ‘Women, like myself, opting to freeze their eggs as a means of amplifying our options.’ (Photo: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images)

    Last month I found myself in the House of Commons supporting two women I admire greatly, Siobhain McDonagh MP and Dr Geeta Nargund, in their campaign to change the law to protect the welfare of women undergoing IVF.

    IVF celebrates its 40th birthday this year and I was fortunate enough to meet Louise Brown, Britain’s first-ever test tube baby. The technological breakthroughs of the 70s meant that her parents Lesley and John Brown’s fertility issues could be helped, resulting in the live birth of a daughter that would forever change the possibilities of the reproduction in the UK.

    Some 40 years and hundreds of thousands IVF treatments later, more than 20,000 babies are born every year using this remarkable technology. IVF has the potential to change the lives of people from all walks of life: single women, same-sex couples and heterosexual couples have all achieved their dream of parenthood thanks to IVF. Yet, this can come at a cost.

    While the current law takes into account the welfare of children born to IVF, it makes absolutely no provision for the welfare of women. Yet a number of women undergoing IVF are vulnerable to developing a range of uncomfortable and unpleasant health side effects and future health risks.

    This includes potentially developing something called Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which can cause very nasty symptoms and, while rare, in its most severe form can be life-threatening.

    At the end of the day, whether a fertility issue is down to the man or the woman, it is the woman who must undergo the IVF treatment; the woman who will be given stimulation hormones which can put her health at risk, for the benefit of her partner and future family.

    Yet the law governing the IVF industry makes no provision for regulating the amount of drugs they are given or the prescription of ‘off label’ drugs or ‘add-ons’, which may have no proven benefit whatsoever.

    Around one in seven UK couples are likely to experience fertility problems and a rapidly growing number of women, like myself, are opting to freeze their eggs as a means of amplifying our options. It is unthinkable that women’s health should bear the burden.

    This is also about bringing the UK into line with the IVF legislation around the world, and it is essential that the UK IVF registry is linked to hospital, cancer and death registries, so that links between the treatment and other long-term health implications can be determined, and the number of hospital admissions as a result of severe OHSS can be properly tracked.

    The more connections between IVF treatment and health issues can be mapped, the more that can be done to monitor future health risks and prevent unnecessary harm to women.

    Families are changing in the UK, and I think our laws need to reflect this.

    2018 has been a year in which a woman’s right to safety – in her place of work, at a bar, or even walking down the street – has become a topic of national importance. Women all over the world are demanding that their bodies are respected and it is surely vital that a woman’s right to medical safety is also priority in our public policy.

    Just as legislation like the Abortion Act has successfully stopped the suffering of women forced to undergo horrific illegal abortions, it’s time for the law to prioritise women’s health during IVF.

    Dr Nargud and Siobhain McDonagh’s will be arguing for essential change in law on November 23rd and Parliament will be voting on a Bill to make these urgent changes to the law.

    Your voice can make all the difference, and you can write to your local MP to encourage their support. I am calling on you to support this vital campaign.

    Fertility Month

    This story is part of Fertility Month, a month-long series covering all aspects of fertility.

    For the next four weeks, we will be speaking to people at all stages of the fertility journey as well as doctors, lawyers and fertility experts who can shed light on the most important issues.

    If you have a story to tell or a question to ask, please do get in touch at fertilitystories@metro.co.uk.

    Here is a selection of the stories from Fertility Month so far - and you can find all Fertility Month content here.

    MORE: Fertility Month: Why we are talking about fertility this month

    MORE: I found the perfect sperm donor - but I never got my happy ending

    MORE: Plastic could be affecting your fertility – here’s how and why

     

    MORE: Fertility Month: Why we are talking about fertility this month

    MORE: Mums writes poignantly about the heartache of waiting for a positive pregnancy test

    MORE: Women freezing eggs to avoid ‘panic parenting’ risk being misled by ‘greedy’ clinics


    Edinburgh International Book FestivalEdinburgh International Book Festivalrmve86Edinburgh International Book FestivalEdinburgh International Book Festivalrmve86

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

    You’ve probably been told that if you’re feeling stressed, the best thing for it is to sweat it out.

    The logic behind it is sound – exercise can clear your head and release mood-boosting endorphins that will energise you and help you feel less stressed. But in reality, the relationship between stress and exercise is far more complex.

    When stress becomes overwhelming and debilitating, even the toughest HIIT class in the world might not do you any good.

    And actually, the best thing to do in these situations might be to step away from the gym entirely and allow your mind to recover, just like you would with a physical injury.

    Being stressed can have a significantly negative impact on your physical performance. Your mind and body are inextricably linked, so if one is tired, burnt-out and over-worked, the other will feel the effects.

    The first thing to go can be your commitment.

    When you’re stressed about work, relationships, family or money, you may find that you don’t have the motivation to keep active. This could be because your brain needs every ounce of excess energy to focus on the problem that is causing the stress.

    A study by Yale University found that people who were under pressure tended to sack off the gym and spend more time sedentary.

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

    In one of the studies, participants were 21% less likely to work out regularly during times of stress — and 32% less likely to stick to their sweat schedule over the following four years.

    Fitness expert Dan Tiley says the body’s complex response to stress can be broken down into simple parts.

    ‘There are two responses to stress, catabolic and anabolic,’ Dan tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Catabolic means “breaking down”, and anabolic means “building”.

    ‘Working out is a catabolic, you’re literally overloading and breaking down your body, your body then responds and adapts to the stress by releasing hormones which make you fitter (anabolic).

    ‘Visualise your body like a big tank with all different types of stress funneling in to it. The more stress (catabolic) going into the tank, the more rest (anabolic) we need to respond.

    ‘When our stress tank is full and we still decide to hit the gym, our ability to adapt to the workout reduces. In reality, if you cannot improve on your last workout by 1% it could be that you’re overdoing it.’

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

    And if you do actually make it to the gym, you’re really going to feel it.

    Being stressed impairs your body’s ability to recover – so after exercising you’ll feel sorer for longer.

    Studies have shown that stress increases the time it takes for your muscles to recover and also worsens the feelings of fatigue and soreness. It can even significantly reduce muscle force production – so you’ll actually be weaker.

    Researchers suspect that the mental demands of stress rob your body of valuable resources, and when you combine that with a tough workout, you’ll have nothing left in the tank.

    How to work out when you're stressed

    When we’re stressed, our cortisol hormone spikes. The higher our cortisol, the less efficient we are at burning body fat.

    If you have a stressful life and your goals are to reduce body fat, then adding a stressful workout to your routine is counter-productive.

    Therefore, the best thing to do when you’re stressed is to choose exercises that complement your stress levels.

    Your exercise should be more mindful, like an active form of meditation – you could try a fast walk, a jog along the river, or try a yoga class.

    All can help in trying to centre yourself again. If you’re working with a trainer, you should let them know how you’re feeling so they can adapt your session, depending where your energy is at.

    Tim Hayes, Founder of Peach

    As well as limiting your performance on the day, stress can limit your fitness progress – your gains.

    Training hard over time helps the body become fitter – your muscles become more efficient at using oxygen, which makes you faster, stronger and helps you keep going for longer.

    When you’re stressed, your performance doesn’t advance like it’s supposed to, and you might find that any progress in the gym comes to a spluttering halt.

    Polly Hale, director at The Fit Mum Formula says the body’s physical response to stress shouldn’t be underplayed.

    ‘Chronic, ongoing stress will mean your body is taxed, tired, will tire more quickly, and recover more slowly,’ Polly tells Metro.co.uk

    ‘It doesn’t have to be mental stress like a bad day at work; not enough sleep, catching a cold, and alcohol are all “stressors” on the body, and performance will suffer.’

    the importance of good shoes for fitness training
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    As well as strength, recovery and gains – stress can also affect your sporting skills. Stress has been found to impair motor coordination and visual perception – both are pretty crucial for any sports performance.

    High stress has been linked with all sorts of visual issues from eye twitches to temporary blindness. Your eyes work incredibly closely with your brain, which means that elevated cortisol (caused by stress) can have negative effects on the way you see things and process visual cues.

    All these effects of stress sound pretty bad – so what should you do if you’re stressed out but want to work out? Do you really have to avoid exercise?

    Polly doesn’t think so, and she’s highlighted some of the benefits of working out when you’re stressed.

    ‘Acute stress may actually help exercise performance,’ says Polly.

    ‘The adrenaline of “fight or flight” gives you energy by instructing your liver to release stored sugar into your bloodstream for energy.

    ‘Also, cortisol is naturally high in the morning to wake us up, making first thing a great time to exercise.’

    Anecdotally, lots of people find exercise to be a good strategy when they’re feeling stressed out. So maybe there are benefits of stressed-out workouts, but you might just have to contend with not performing at your best.

    Signs that stress is affecting your workout

    • Training plateaus or drops in performance
    • Niggles, injuries that won’t disappear
    • Feeling tired and fatigued
    • Distraction and inability to focus

    Dan Tiley, HealthTribe

    Lisa Brockwell, a fitness presenter who runs VizBeats, says her clients have mixed results when they tell her they’re stressed.

    ‘I always find stress can make a workout go either way,’ Lisa tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘I have some clients who turn up to classes pumped and ready to fight the stress away, but stress can be a big de-motivator and can leave you feeling flat. I see many people finding it difficult to stay focused during a workout because their mind is wandering to whatever they’re stressed about.

    ‘Workouts are mind-over-matter, so you need a strong head to feel strong in your body. Unfortunately, when you’re feeling stressed, your willpower is used elsewhere and this can have a really negative impact on your performance.

    ‘The best way to combat this is by focusing the mind before you start. I start classes off with a type of mantra or motivational speech saying, “we’re here now, we’re going to be great”, and encourage everyone to breathe out the stress. This helps relax the body and mind for the workout ahead.

    ‘Whenever my clients come to me feeling stressed, I always suggest the best mood-buster is a high-energy routine followed by some yoga.’

    The most worrying element of working out when you’re stressed is the increased risk of injury. If you’re really feeling the effects of stress then you’re more likely to hurt yourself. This is thought to be because of a deficit of attention and increased muscle tension.

    During stressful times you need to take even more care of your body. It’s important not to push yourself and take rests when you need to. The last thing you need when you’re mega-stressed is an injury on top of everything else.

    The best workouts when you're stressed

    If we feel highly stressed and anxious, performing a HIIT workout is not the best way to deal with it, it can actually add to the stress you are feeling as all exercise is a form of stress. It is the body’s ability to handle with the type of stress you are feeling that counts.

    If you feel no motivation to go to the gym after a stressful day, your body is more likely to benefit from a walk in nature, some stretching and foam rolling. Less is more and gentle exercise could be just what is needed to unwind.

    If you feel overwhelmed by your day but not debilitated by stress then a short form of HIIT training utilising the variety of human primal movements such as push ups, rows, squats, lunges etc performed for 10 minutes can help lower cortisol and adrenaline.

    Don’t force the issue, lean into how you feel, would you benefit from a boxing session or a weights session? Or some yoga and stretching? Remove your ego and what you ‘should’ do, and lean in to your feeling and listen to your intuition. Your body always knows.

    Here are a few examples of exercise you can do depending on your level of stress:

    • Running gets you outside in nature is a must for everyone. Running is great for removing you from your normal environment for an endorphin hit.
    • HIIT – high intensity interval training can help with stress because of its short duration and allows you to get rid of all the nervous energy that you have stored up through excess adrenaline.
    • Boxing – Sometimes its good to channel frustration by hitting the pads or heavy bag. The transference of energy can have a calming effect as it leaves the body.
    • Yoga is great for stress as it engages the mind and body. By focusing on the physical poses it allows that inner chatter of your mind to fade as you concentrate on controlling your movement.
    • Lifting weights allows you to focus on the moment and forget any worries or stress you may have and will allow your feel good hormones out.

    Dean Coulson, mind and body coach

    MORE: When does stress become burnout?

    MORE: Gyms offering puppy therapy to help people cope with stress

    MORE: Lesbian and bisexual women are at higher risk of heart disease, study finds


    marathonmarathonnataliemorris88the importance of good shoes for fitness trainingmarathonmarathonnataliemorris88the importance of good shoes for fitness training

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    **Illustration request** Cervical health: This is what to expect if you're having a Lletz procedure (Rosy Edwards)
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Trying to have a baby can be incredibly stressful.

    And, annoyingly, that stress can make it harder to have a baby. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Dr Hana Visnova, a reproductive specialist and the clinical director of a leading European IVF clinic, explains that this is all down to the hormones produced as a result of stress, and how these tell the body that it’s too dangerous to fall pregnant.

    Think of it like this: If your body reckons it’s in an extremely risky situation and goes into stress-induced fight or flight mode, it’s not going to maximise your chances of reproducing – its priority is keeping you safe, not piling on another thing to worry about.

    ‘When your body is stressed, it essentially goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode Dr Visnova tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Hormones including adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine flood the bloodstream.

    ‘And they tell the body that because there’s a perceived threat, now is absolutely not a good time to fall pregnant.

    ‘It’s an ancient, evolutionary reaction. And it’s a very real barrier.’

    Dr Visnova says she often treats couples who are struggling to escape the cycle of stress and difficult conceiving, and warns that it’s crucial that those hoping to become parents work to reduce their stress while they’re trying to have a baby.

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

    It’s easy to fall into the trap of obsessing over fertility and having sex at the peak of your reproductive cycle, but it’s important that trying for a baby stays relaxed and fun.

    ‘Whether you’re trying to falling pregnant naturally, or you’re going through an assisted reproduction process, it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t become burned out,’ Dr Visnova says.

    ‘We’ve all heard stories where a mum-to-be will say, “We tried to conceive for two years, got increasingly desperate, but then then the minute we stopped trying, I fell pregnant within a week”.

    ‘Infertility issues can put an enormous amount of pressure on a couple.

    ‘And it often becomes a vicious circle where the more stressed you become, the harder it is to actually get pregnant.

    ‘Clearly, finding methods of relaxation is easier said than done, but there are things you can do which might help.’

    Meditation, rest, and gentle exercise can help, as well as making sure not to over-work or get too immersed in worrying about fertility.

    Dr Visnova is a proponent of acupuncture to reduce stress, particularly during IVF treatment. She says she’s seen a 6% increase in ‘pregnancy rate’ for those who underwent acupuncture before and after implantation of an embryo, compared to those who didn’t.

    She also advises that couples make time for their relationship outside of trying for a baby, making sure to keep communication open and intimacy alive.

    ‘It seems strange talking about lack of sexual intimacy among couples trying to fall pregnant,’ she tells us.

    ‘But what we see is a lack of natural sexual activity during IVF treatment, mainly during repetitious IVF cycles, and largely because of wrongly-held fears it will impact the treatment.

    ‘Couples trying naturally to conceive might also fall into a strict patterns and routines when it comes to lovemaking, often detracting from the joy of the experience.

    ‘This can lead to emotional instability, relationship problems, sadness, anxiety, and even sexual estrangement.

    ‘And I think couples need to be educated about how vital it is to maintain true intimacy, particularly when it comes to reducing stress levels.

    ‘Ditch the perfunctory, sex-for-a-purpose, and always make it enjoyable.’

    Fertility Month

    This story is part of Fertility Month, a month-long series covering all aspects of fertility.

    For the next four weeks, we will be speaking to people at all stages of the fertility journey as well as doctors, lawyers and fertility experts who can shed light on the most important issues.

    If you have a story to tell or a question to ask, please do get in touch at fertilitystories@metro.co.uk.

    Here is a selection of the stories from Fertility Month so far - and you can find all Fertility Month content here.

    MORE: Fertility Month: Why we are talking about fertility this month

    MORE: I found the perfect sperm donor - but I never got my happy ending

    MORE: Plastic could be affecting your fertility – here’s how and why

     


    **Illustration request** Cervical health: This is what to expect if you're having a Lletz procedure (Rosy Edwards)**Illustration request** Cervical health: This is what to expect if you're having a Lletz procedure (Rosy Edwards)ellencscottFertility Series**Illustration request** Cervical health: This is what to expect if you're having a Lletz procedure (Rosy Edwards)**Illustration request** Cervical health: This is what to expect if you're having a Lletz procedure (Rosy Edwards)ellencscottFertility Series

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    Newborn drinking milk at feeding bottle, Madrid
    (Picture: Getty)

    Women who breastfeed are apparently having twice as many nappies to change than mothers who bottle feed, according to scientists.

    Babies produce much more poo when they are fed on mother’s milk, says new research.

    Their average daily poo frequency rises to 4.9 poos and 3.2 poos in the first and second month of life.

    This compares to the 2.3 and 1.5 among babies given formula milk, according to the journal Acta Paediatrica.

    On the other hand, infrequent stools are three and a half times more likely in breast than formula fed infants – 28% opposed to 8%.

    They also tend to be runnier.

    (Picture: Getty)

    Within the study, exclusively breastfed infants produced more stools than exclusively formula fed infants during the first two months and more liquid stools during the first three.

    The study participants were all born at the Lille University Jeanne de Flandre Hospital, France.

    They were followed for three months, with parents recording the number and consistency of stools once a week, and the number of consecutive days with no poos at all.

    Corresponding author Dr Emilie Moretti, a paediatrician at Arras Hospital Centre, northern France, said: ‘The bowel habit of young infants is strongly influenced by their feeding mode.

    (Picture: Getty)

    ‘Breastfed infants pass more stools and more liquid stools than formula fed infants, and breastfeeding is considered to prevent constipation.’

    She said breast milk helps fuel healthy weight gain and regular urine and faeces evacuations.

    Parents are advised infants should have at least three soft stools daily during the first four to six weeks of life.

    But some may have no bowel movements for several days or even weeks.

    Dr Moretti said: ‘Healthcare providers usually refer to this situation as infrequent stools or infrequent bowel movements in breastfed infants, despite the absence of discomfort, such as no hard stools and no crying or distress during defecation.’

    However, there has been surprisingly little research on babies’ stool patterns over the first months of life.

    (Picture: Getty)

    So her team compared the faeces of 53 infants, 40 of whom were breastfed and the others only given formula.

    Dr Moretti said: ‘Stool frequency was significantly higher in exclusively breastfed infants than exclusively formula fed infants during the first and the second months of life, but not the third month of life.

    ‘The weekly analysis showed that the difference in stool frequency between the two exclusive feeding groups decreased during the follow-up period and was not significant from the eighth week of life onwards.’

    The underlying mechanisms of the infrequent stools syndrome are unknown. Theories include better digestion of the fat in mother’s milk or a greater number of bacteria in the babies’ guts that break down sugars.

    Dr Moretti said: ‘Infrequent stools should be brought to the attention of healthcare providers in order to avoid unnecessary medical investigations that may be harmful and expensive.

    A bay boy is wearing a diaper in a couch while in prone position
    (Picture: Getty)

    ‘However, careful history taking and clinical examination of the infant are of paramount importance, so clinicians can rule out any underlying organic diseases, such as Hirschsprung’s disease.’

    This is a rare and serious congenital bowel disorder that makes it difficult for babies to pass stools. It affects one in 5,000 babies, mainly boys.

    Dr Moretti said: ‘Adequate mother’s milk transfer should also be confirmed by checking reviewing breastfeeding patterns.

    ‘Clinicians should also check that the infants are urinating well and producing at least three to four wet diapers a day and that they are following a normal growth trajectory for their age.’

    MORE: Woman says she earns more than £20,000 a year spooning strangers for a living

    MORE: Divorce at 25: What’s it like when all your friends are just getting engaged but your marriage is over?


    Women who breastfeed having twice as many nappies to change than mothers who bottle feedWomen who breastfeed having twice as many nappies to change than mothers who bottle feedhattiegladwellmetroNewborn drinking milk at feeding bottle, MadridA bay boy is wearing a diaper in a couch while in prone positionWomen who breastfeed having twice as many nappies to change than mothers who bottle feedWomen who breastfeed having twice as many nappies to change than mothers who bottle feedhattiegladwellmetroNewborn drinking milk at feeding bottle, MadridA bay boy is wearing a diaper in a couch while in prone position

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    Aldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This ChristmasAldi
    (Picture: Aldi)

    Remember when we got all excited over the fact Aldi was launching foot-long pigs in blankets?

    Well, now they’re launching triple pigs in blankets and they look amazing.

    A triple pigs in blanket is basically three cocktail sausages all wrapped together in one massive bit of streaky bacon. It looks amazing.

    Aldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This Christmas Aldi
    (Picture: Aldi)

    However, unfortunately they won’t be available until 16 December, so you’ll have to wait to get your hands on them.

    But you’ll be able to get the giant pigs in blankets earlier than that, on 6 December.

    The foot-long sausages come wrapped in streaky bacon, and in true Aldi fashion are super cheap at £2.99. Amazing.

    Aldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This Christmas Aldi
    (Picture: Aldi)

    If you fancy going a little extra, Tesco is selling pigs in duvets. Because apparently sausage and bacon just aren’t enough.

    Pigs in duvets still feature the original recipe – sausages wrapped in crispy bacon – but, unlike pigs in blankets, these sausages come wrapped in a layer of puff pastry.

    They’re essentially mini sausage rolls, but with bacon. And we’re all for it.

    These bad boys are out on 12 November, come with cranberry sauce and cost just £5.

    MORE: Why parents are hiding pickles in their Christmas trees

    MORE: New Look releases Friends themed Christmas t-shirts


    Aldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This ChristmasAldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This ChristmashattiegladwellmetroAldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This ChristmasAldiAldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This Christmas AldiAldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This Christmas AldiAldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This ChristmasAldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This ChristmashattiegladwellmetroAldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This ChristmasAldiAldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This Christmas AldiAldi Will Be Selling Triple Pigs In Blankets This Christmas Aldi

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    Costa Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella FansCosta
    (Picture: Costa)

    Costa has launched a Cup Croissant with Nutella to its festive menu.

    It’s basically a croissant in a cupcake case, packed full with hazelnut chocolate. Yum.

    The Cup Croissant is served warm and is selling for £1.85.

    The sweet treats have been launched as part of Costa’s new festive menu, which features a whole range of Christmas-y stuff.

    Costa Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella Fans Costa
    (Picture: Costa)

    This includes the new hazelnut praline and cream latte, which features a chocolate truffle crumb, and the caramelised orange and cream hot chocolate, which comes topped with an orange syrup, cream and a caramelised orange slice.

    There’ll also be the Black Forest hot chocolate, gingerbread and cream latte and gingerbread and cream hot chocolate, which comes with a miniature gingerbread man.

    Foodwise, think stuff you’d want to eat snuggled up in an oversized jumper by the fireplace.

    Costa Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella Fans Costa
    (Picture: Costa)

    There’s pigs in blankets mac & cheese (we know, it sounds amazing), and a range of sandwiches such as the turkey and Emmental shimmer brioche.

    There’s also a double chocolate Yule log, gingerbread muffins and a clementine drizzle loaf cake for pudding.

    So basically, if you have five minutes to nip anywhere before work in the morning for something that’s going to put you in the Christmas spirit, Costa is your go-to.

    MORE: Eat’s Christmas menu includes a roast dinner in a Yorkshire pudding wrap

    MORE: Chocolate lovers demand refund after ‘rip-off’ festival leaves bitter taste


    Costa Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella FansCosta Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella FanshattiegladwellmetroCosta Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella FansCostaCosta Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella Fans CostaCosta Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella Fans CostaCosta Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella FansCosta Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella FanshattiegladwellmetroCosta Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella FansCostaCosta Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella Fans CostaCosta Just Launched The Most Delicious Treat For Nutella Fans Costa

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    (Picture: Getty)

    Attention, takeaway lovers: Asda is now doing pizza delivery.

    Asda is collaborating with JustEat to offer customers in Killingbeck, Bestow, Livingston, and Wakefield the chance to try the new service.

    All of the pizzas are made in store at Asda’s Diner Kitchen and you can have absolutely anything you want on yours – and there’s no price change in toppings, as each 16 inch pizza will cost just £6.

    James Ainger, Asda’s Senior Buying Manager, said: ‘We are really excited to be trialling this new service in our store in Killingbeck, along with plans to roll out to three more stores later this month.

    ‘We know our customers love Asda pizzas and now they can have them delivered to their doorstep.’

    (Picture: Asda)

    Yesterday, we announced that Asda will also be launching giant mince pies just in time for Christmas.

    They’re three times the size of a normal mince pie, being seven inches in diameter, three and a half centimetres deep and they weigh 435g.

    They’re available for just £1.50.

    MORE: Eat’s Christmas menu includes a roast dinner in a Yorkshire pudding wrap

    MORE: Dr Pepper flavoured baked beans exist and no, we’re not sure why either


    Iceland pizza dealIceland pizza dealhattiegladwellmetroIceland pizza dealIceland pizza dealhattiegladwellmetro

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    (Picture: Morrisons)

    Morrisons has launched a giant breakfast sandwich – and it’s completely impractical.

    The Builders Big Breakfast Butty weighs three quarters of a kilo and is four inches deep.

    It’s packed with everything you can expect in a Full English, including bacon, hash browns, sausages, baked beans, mushrooms, egg and tomato.

    So yes, you should probably wear old clothes to eat it, otherwise expect it to fall all down your nice new top.

    (Picture: Morrisons)

    The new breakfast sandwich is basically the sandwich form of Morrisons cafe’s Big Daddy Breakfast, and it costs £5.

    It also comes in Scottish and vegetarian forms so that nobody has to miss out.

    According to Morrisons, they ‘searched far and wide’ to find a big enough bap to hold the 10-item breakfast, packing it all into an extra large seven inch bap.

    The Builders Big Breakfast Butty has been created by Morrisons foodmakers after cafe regulars reported not always having the time to sit down and enjoy their beloved Big Breakfast in the cafe. In response, the cafe team made the breakfast sandwich to go with a foil wrapping to keep it warm.

    Danny Clee, Cafés Manager at Morrisons, said: ‘Customers were telling us that they didn’t always have the time to have breakfast in the café so we set about creating an on-the-go version.

    ‘It’s the biggest butty we’ve ever made and not for the faint-hearted.’

    MORE: Eat’s Christmas menu includes a roast dinner in a Yorkshire pudding wrap

    MORE: Chocolate lovers demand refund after ‘rip-off’ festival leaves bitter taste


    Morrisons unveils giant breakfast buttyMorrisons unveils giant breakfast buttyhattiegladwellmetroMorrisons unveils giant breakfast buttyMorrisons unveils giant breakfast buttyhattiegladwellmetro

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    Jimmy Choo launches heated boots for winter
    (Picture: Jimmy Choo)

    If you suffer from chilly toes when the temperature plummets, these could be just what you need.

    Jimmy Choo have launched a range of boots that heat up and stay warm all day – all you have to do is charge them.

    The ingenious idea could be the saviour of the frozen-footed. The heated soles and shearling trim will keep you cosy even in the bleakest of conditions.

    And, being Jimmy Choo, they don’t look half bad either.

    Jimmy Choo launches heated boots for winter
    (Picture: Jimmy Choo)

    The concept is simple. The boots are charged by a USB cable, carefully concealed under the collar. Temperatures can be set from 25° to 45° C, and you activate the heat setting from a bespoke mobile app.

    The heated soles last up to eight hours before they need to be charged again – so that’s a full day of frolicking in the snow, frostbite-free.

    Jimmy Choo launches heated boots for winter
    (Picture: Jimmy Choo)

    The designer’s foray into wearable technology could be a game-changer. That is if you can afford the £1,250 price tag.

    The shoes are made out of water-resistant leather and lux shearling, for maximum comfort and protection from the elements.

    ‘The Jimmy Choo Voyager represents the first step into an exciting new territory,’ creative director Sandra Choi told Harpers Bazaar.

    ‘Wearable technology is still in its infancy and our first consideration when developing the Jimmy Choo Voyager was functionality. We asked ourselves the question: What tasks would you have your shoes fulfil?

    Jimmy Choo launches heated boots for winter
    (Picture: Jimmy Choo)

    ‘A boot that warms the feet seemed like the ultimate luxury, but a fundamentally practical one — after all, what could be more luxurious on a freezing day than using your phone to remotely keep your feet beautifully snug? The Jimmy Choo Voyager is a boot like no other.’

    The boots even have an accurate pedometer, so you can track your steps while you battle the elements. They’re available to buy now in the UK, and there are styles for both men and women.

    Suddenly, winter weather seems a whole lot more appealing.

    MORE: New Look releases Friends themed Christmas t-shirts

    MORE: The best winter skincare for men

    MORE: Uber creates £695 designer shoes – but they come with £500 credit so you don’t have to worry about sore feet


    Jimmy Choo launches heated boots for winterJimmy Choo launches heated boots for winternataliemorris88Jimmy Choo launches heated boots for winterJimmy Choo launches heated boots for winterJimmy Choo launches heated boots for winterJimmy Choo launches heated boots for winterJimmy Choo launches heated boots for winterJimmy Choo launches heated boots for winternataliemorris88Jimmy Choo launches heated boots for winterJimmy Choo launches heated boots for winterJimmy Choo launches heated boots for winterJimmy Choo launches heated boots for winter

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    MERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie and Sean Laidlaw, 30, were inseparable after he rescued her from rubble in Syria. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPY
    Sean found Barrie while he was working as to dispose of bombs (Picture: Mercury Press & Media(

    Sean and Barrie have a pretty special bond.

    Sean Laidlaw, 30, met Barrie when he was stationed in Syria as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team.

    He found Barrie – have we mentioned Barrie is a dog? – whimpering and surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her.

    Sean brought Barrie food and water, and sectioned off the area so it would be safe from further bombs. At first the puppy rejected any strokes and contact, but after three days she warmed to the soldier. They quickly became inseparable.

    Over the three months Sean spent in Syria, Barrie became a source of support and comfort.

    He made the dog a harness from a bullet-proof vest so she could join him on jobs in Raqqa, and gave her a teddy bear made out of old jeans.

    ‘I think as soon as Barrie and I bonded, where I could pick her up, for me she’d already become my dog,’ says Sean.

    MERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie hiding in Raqqa in February after being found by Sean Laidlaw, 30, in February. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPY
    The dog was found surrounded by rubble (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    ‘When we got back to camp, she lived in my room, I looked after her, I was responsible for her. She slept in my room, I was training her, I was feeding her.

    ‘She stayed with me every day all day. She did jobs with me, I’d wake up, she’d come eat with me, she’d then sit in the passenger seat of my car when we drove to Raqqa.’

    After four months in Syria, Sean had his contract cancelled. He was told he wouldn’t be returning to the area.

    MERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie hiding in Raqqa in February after being found by Sean Laidlaw, 30, in February. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPY
    Slowly Sean earned Barrie’s trust and soon they became best friends (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    He was happy to be home, of course, but devastated to be separated from his furry pal.

    Sean got on the phone to War Paws, a charity based in Iraq who specialise in bringing dogs home from war-torn areas, and set up a gofundme to raise the money needed to bring Barrie back to the UK.

    He managed to raise £4,500, but the challenge wasn’t simple.

    In April Barrie was brought to Iraq, where she was vaccinated and checked over by War Paws. Then she was flown to Jordan in August, where she had to be quarantined for two months.

    MERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie and Sean Laidlaw, 30, were inseparable after he rescued her from rubble in Syria. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPY
    When Sean had to leave Syria, he knew he’d do anything to bring Barrie back home with him (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    It had been seven months since Barrie and Sean had seen each other, and Sean was worried. What if the puppy he knew had grown into a very different dog? What if she was too scared to settle in to a new home?

    Sean was prepared to fly to Jordan to pick Barrie up the moment she was ready to travel, but luckily the owner of War Paws, Louise Hastie, happened to already be flying two dogs fro Jordan to Paris – so Barrie was able to hop along.

    On Saturday 3 November Sean made the 12 hour journey from Essex to Paris so he could meet Barrie at the airport and bring her home.

    The friends have gone through five countries, two war zones, 3,000 miles, and a 12-hour drive just to be reunited.

    Sean describes seeing Barrie again as the ‘happiest moment ever’.

    MERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Sean Laidlaw, 30, meeting Barrie in Paris. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPY
    Sean trekked to Paris to meet Barrie at the airport (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    ‘I feel like it may come across that I saved Barrie’s life, but I feel like she saved mine,’ says Sean.

    ‘Working in a war zone, coming back to camp you sit in your room on your own. To have a companion you can play with and train, it kept my mind away from all the things I was seeing and doing out there.

    ‘You can only imagine how bad Syria is, and to be able to come back to the camp and train her for three hours, take her for a walk, things like that really took my mind away from where I was.

    ‘It gave me a bit of normality, she definitely kept me sane.

    ‘Having a companion, is one of the best things to help with PTSD. A dog always makes you happy, always wants to be with you.

    ‘Going to Paris was both exciting and nerve-wracking, but I left the house at 6am and just sped there.

    MERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Sean Laidlaw, 30, meeting Barrie in Paris. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPY
    He describes meeting Barrie after months apart as one of the happiest moments of his life (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    ‘Meeting her at the airport, seeing her in the flesh, was one of the best moments of my life. I’ve never been so happy.

    ‘Everyone’s got their lives, my parents and girlfriend are at work, and so when I get back I at least know I’ve got my dog, and she’ll always be there.

    ‘All the help we’ve received to bring us together has been amazing, just to bring one dog to Essex, it’s been incredible.

    ‘Thinking about having Barrie with me now, the life we can have together – it’s surreal.

    ‘One of my biggest fears was that she wouldn’t recognise who I was, or that she would be a different dog to the girl I left.

    ‘It was pure joy when she realised who I was. She’s exactly as she was back in Syria, it was just great to have my dog again.

    ‘I’d be willing to travel across the whole world to have Barrie with me.’

    MORE: Let’s take a moment to celebrate these excellent pups at the Day of the Dog festival in Nepal

    MORE: Disabled survivor of abuse is cycling around the world to give hope to others struggling

    MORE: Jet lag can worsen anxiety and depression – here’s how to deal with it


    A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria haveA soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria haveellencscottMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie and Sean Laidlaw, 30, were inseparable after he rescued her from rubble in Syria. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie hiding in Raqqa in February after being found by Sean Laidlaw, 30, in February. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie hiding in Raqqa in February after being found by Sean Laidlaw, 30, in February. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie and Sean Laidlaw, 30, were inseparable after he rescued her from rubble in Syria. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Sean Laidlaw, 30, meeting Barrie in Paris. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Sean Laidlaw, 30, meeting Barrie in Paris. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYA soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria haveA soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria haveellencscottMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie and Sean Laidlaw, 30, were inseparable after he rescued her from rubble in Syria. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie hiding in Raqqa in February after being found by Sean Laidlaw, 30, in February. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie hiding in Raqqa in February after being found by Sean Laidlaw, 30, in February. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Barrie and Sean Laidlaw, 30, were inseparable after he rescued her from rubble in Syria. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Sean Laidlaw, 30, meeting Barrie in Paris. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. 07/11/18. Pictured: Sean Laidlaw, 30, meeting Barrie in Paris. A soldier and a pup he saved from rubble in war-torn Syria have finally been reunited after seven months apart - but he says it was his furry companion that saved his life. The heart-melting journey that brought a soldier from Essex and an abandoned dog from Syria together finally came to its culmination on Saturday, November 3, when they reunited at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Sean Laidlaw, 30, was stationed in Syria in February 2018 as a private contractor leading a bomb disposal team when he found whimpering Barrie surrounded by rubble after a building had exploded around her. SEE MERCURY COPY

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    (Picture: Sipsmith)

    Christmas is getting closer and closer, and supermarkets are already going all out with their festive goodies, such as these giant mince pies and pigs in blankets.

    And now, Sipsmith is here for those who love gin, as they’ve started selling a gin stocking.

    The stocking will be totally customisable, and you can fill it with a range of gin gifts for the ultimate gin lover.

    The stockings start at £27 and already include a 20cl bottle of Sipsmith London Dry Gin, a Sipsmith G&T glass and a special copper Swan-shaped drinks stirrer.

    You can then  hand-pick up to six individually priced gin gifts to create a truly unique Christmas present.

    Sipsmith has launched its first ever gin stocking
    (Picture: Sipsmith)

    You can also choose to add flavoured gins to the mix, as well as cocktail tools for anyone wanting to go all out on Christmas day.

    As well as drinks, you can also add in some gin truffles, and a gin mug.

    Basically, this stocking is for anyone who prefers a bottle of their favourite tipple over oranges and a selection box.

    And, if you really love gin, you could enjoy it along the build up to Christmas, too, thanks to B&M’s gin advent calendar.

    The Twelve Gins of Christmas advent calendar, which has just been launched, features twelve specially selected mini bottles of gin, hidden behind twelve calendar doors counting down to Christmas.

    The calendar contains various gin brands, such as Bombay Sapphire, Gordon’s Pink gin and JJ WHitely Elderflower gin for those wanting something a bit sweeter.

    At £29.99, it’s an affordable calendar considering it contains twelve small bottles of alcohol – especially considering similar calendars can cost around £100.

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    Sipsmith has launched its first ever gin stockingSipsmith has launched its first ever gin stockinghattiegladwellmetroSipsmith has launched its first ever gin stockingSipsmith has launched its first ever gin stockingSipsmith has launched its first ever gin stockinghattiegladwellmetroSipsmith has launched its first ever gin stocking

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    Feeding a baby for the first time with solid food at home
    (Picture: Getty)

    It turns out babies are more millennial than we thought, as they like avocados, sweet potato and quinoa, according to new research.

    Researchers polled 1,500 mums and dads who have weaned their baby within the last five years, and found today’s youngsters are getting their first taste of more exotic foods at just months old – and are enjoying it.

    Around one in seven babies also love the taste of houmous, while one in 20 like to tuck into quinoa.

    Others enjoyed couscous, aubergine and even lemon on the first try.

    20 foods babies like on the first taste

    1. Yoghurt
    2. Mashed banana
    3. Pasta
    4. Mashed sweet potato
    5. Steamed veggies
    6. Stewed apple
    7. Rusks
    8. Soft cheese
    9. Meatballs
    10. Mangos
    11. Mashed Butternut squash
    12. Mashed fish
    13. Tomatoes
    14. Peanut butter
    15. Avocados
    16. Salmon
    17. Houmous
    18. CousCous
    19. Pumpkin Soup
    20. Lentils

    Of course, babies aren’t just wanting foods the typical hipster would order in a London cafe. 41% of babies also love toad in the hole, and 46% like a chicken korma.

    But the foods babies hate the most? Brussels sprouts. Not surprising.

    It also emerged 73% of parents felt confused about what foods they should be feeding their baby in the early months, with 67% overwhelmed by conflicting advice about when they should begin weaning.

    Motivbeschreibung: Avocado, Halbe Avocado, Avocado-Kern, Kern, Gr?n, Green, half avacado Ort: Studio Thema: Avocado
    (Picture: Getty)

    David Lawlor, from WaterWipes, who commissioned the research, said: ‘Far from being fussy, millennial babies love tucking into a variety of unusual dishes and exciting flavours.

    ‘With the variation in our diets now, and exotic food more readily available than ever before, a baby’s first foods are changing.

    ‘But as any parent will tell you, a baby enjoying a meal can be a messy experience. No matter how much they are loving the taste, most of it will still end up anywhere but in their mouth.’

    Top ten most disliked foods

    1. Brussels Sprouts
    2. Lemon
    3. Mushrooms
    4. Eggs
    5. Broccoli
    6. Grapefruit
    7. Fish
    8. Meat
    9. Pesto
    10. Soft cheese

    Researchers who polled parents from the UK and Irish parents also found that on average, parents begin to wean their children at around six months old.

    But convenience is key – while 55% of parents served their babies home-cooked meals from scratch when weaning, 30% simply mashed or pureed whatever food they had for their own meal.

    And after feeding their youngsters, parents have found food in some unexpected places.

    A third found food on the kitchen wall (33%), a fifth found some in their bra or under their top (20%) and some even found that food had made its way to the hallway after mealtime had ended (12%).

    46% of babies also ended up with food under their bottom, 38% had some behind their ears and 33% were left with food under their feet.

    Home made freshness roasted sweet potatoes wedges with garlic herbs
    (Picture: Getty)

    As a result, almost six in 10 parents admitted there were times when they chose what to feed their child based on the amount of mess it would make, opting for the least-messiest meal.

    One in 20 even said the mess that comes with feeding babies is one of the biggest challenges about weaning.

    Pre-planning what to cook, preparing the meal and getting the baby to eat what you make are also among the challenges that parents face when it comes to feeding their babies.

    MORE: Costa launches Nutella croissant in a cup

    MORE: Morrisons launches giant English Breakfast sandwich that comes with 10 fillings


    FUNNY FOODS - Modern babies love tucking into avocados, sweet potato ? and quinoa, a study has foundFUNNY FOODS - Modern babies love tucking into avocados, sweet potato ? and quinoa, a study has foundhattiegladwellmetroFeeding a baby for the first time with solid food at homeMotivbeschreibung: Avocado, Halbe Avocado, Avocado-Kern, Kern, Gr?n, Green, half avacado Ort: Studio Thema: AvocadoHome made freshness roasted sweet potatoes wedges with garlic herbsFUNNY FOODS - Modern babies love tucking into avocados, sweet potato ? and quinoa, a study has foundFUNNY FOODS - Modern babies love tucking into avocados, sweet potato ? and quinoa, a study has foundhattiegladwellmetroFeeding a baby for the first time with solid food at homeMotivbeschreibung: Avocado, Halbe Avocado, Avocado-Kern, Kern, Gr?n, Green, half avacado Ort: Studio Thema: AvocadoHome made freshness roasted sweet potatoes wedges with garlic herbs

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    This is the inspiring moment a teenager with cancer dances on the stage for the last time ahead of a life-changing leg amputation.

    Austin Hewitt, 18, was diagnosed with ewing sarcoma in July 2016, an aggressive bone cancer which was growing in his big toe.

    The teenager, who has a passion for dance, was forced to have the toe amputated and underwent 26 rounds of chemotherapy to treat the tumour.

    Austin, of Greentown, Indiana, was happy when doctors told him he was in remission in June 2017, but sadly another tumour was detected in his ankle just a year later.

    Austin has been a member of Eastern Howard School Corporation’s show choir ever since his freshman year and was devastated when he heard that he’d have to become an amputee.

    On 31 October, the 18-year-old underwent surgery to remove his left leg below the knee at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. This will give him the best chance at beating his cancer.

    Collect of Austin Hewitt,18, after the amputation to remove the bottom half of his left leg at Riley Children?s Hospital in Indianapolis. October 31 2018. See SWNS story SWNYdance.This is the inspiring moment a cancer-stricken senior danced on stage for the last time ahead of a life-changing leg amputation.Austin Hewitt, 18, was diagnosed with ewing sarcoma in July 2016, an aggressive bone cancer which was growing in his big toe.The teenager, who has a passion for dance, was forced to have the toe amputated and undergo 26 rounds of chemotherapy to treat the tumor.Austin, of Greentown, Indiana, was joyous when doctors told him he was in remission in June 2017 but sadly another tumor was detected in his ankle just a year later.
    (Picture: Austin Hewitt/SWNS.COM)

    The teen took to the stage with his show choir for the last time on 26 September.

    Austin said: ‘It was bittersweet because I knew it would be a while until I was back on stage again. It was one last time before this huge change.

    ‘Going on stage and waiting for the curtains to open was thrilling and I just focused on soaking everything in.

    ‘It wasn’t until the final number that I felt sad about the whole thing. That was because I knew it would be a while until I can do what I love again.

    ‘I’ve been performing since I was a fourth grader.

    ‘It wasn’t until middle school that I became involved in choreography. I love dancing and it is my true passion in life.

    ‘When I first got my diagnosis I was worried about my performing career.

    Collect of Austin Hewitt, 18, with his parents just before the surgery to remove his left leg below the knee at Riley Children?s Hospital in Indianapolis. October 31 2018. See SWNS story SWNYdance.This is the inspiring moment a cancer-stricken senior danced on stage for the last time ahead of a life-changing leg amputation.Austin Hewitt, 18, was diagnosed with ewing sarcoma in July 2016, an aggressive bone cancer which was growing in his big toe.The teenager, who has a passion for dance, was forced to have the toe amputated and undergo 26 rounds of chemotherapy to treat the tumor.Austin, of Greentown, Indiana, was joyous when doctors told him he was in remission in June 2017 but sadly another tumor was detected in his ankle just a year later.
    (Picture: Austin Hewitt/SWNS.COM)

    ‘I didn’t take any time off I school and I tried to make every practice I could.

    ‘Even though I was sick, I didn’t want to stop and I only missed two performances the whole year.

    ‘I was determined to keep dancing.

    ‘I was determined not to let it affect my life.’

    Austin says that it was just five days before the celebration of his remission anniversary when he was re-diagnosed with the cancer in his ankle.

    He said: ‘I was so angry because I just didn’t want to do this all over again. It was so frustrating.

    ‘This prognosis wasn’t as good as before.

    ‘Basically my body seems to have the ingredients to keep producing this cancer. It’s scarier.

    Collect of Austin Hewitt, then 17, celebrating the remission of his cancer in June 2017. See SWNS story SWNYdance.This is the inspiring moment a cancer-stricken senior danced on stage for the last time ahead of a life-changing leg amputation.Austin Hewitt, 18, was diagnosed with ewing sarcoma in July 2016, an aggressive bone cancer which was growing in his big toe.The teenager, who has a passion for dance, was forced to have the toe amputated and undergo 26 rounds of chemotherapy to treat the tumor.Austin, of Greentown, Indiana, was joyous when doctors told him he was in remission in June 2017 but sadly another tumor was detected in his ankle just a year later.
    (Picture: Austin Hewitt/SWNS.COM)

    ‘Amputation came up instantly this time. They spoke about amputating my foot.

    ‘I did six weeks of chemo therapy and the scans came back and they were disheartening.

    ‘I was given four or five options, which included amputating my foot at various points.

    ‘I chose to have a below the knee amputation because it gives me the best chance.

    ‘My leg was removed mid-shin, which is several inches away from the cancer site which makes it less likely to reoccur. It went really well.’

    The teen is optimistic that he will be back dancing by January and will have his first fitting for prosthetics in two weeks.

    Collect of Austin Hewiitt,18, during his last performance with the Eastern Howard School Corporation?s show choir ebfore the operation to amputate his lower left leg. See SWNS story SWNYdance.This is the inspiring moment a cancer-stricken senior danced on stage for the last time ahead of a life-changing leg amputation.Austin Hewitt, 18, was diagnosed with ewing sarcoma in July 2016, an aggressive bone cancer which was growing in his big toe.The teenager, who has a passion for dance, was forced to have the toe amputated and undergo 26 rounds of chemotherapy to treat the tumor.Austin, of Greentown, Indiana, was joyous when doctors told him he was in remission in June 2017 but sadly another tumor was detected in his ankle just a year later.
    (Picture: Austin Hewitt/SWNS.COM)

    Austin will also continue weekly chemotherapy sessions for the next few months in the hopes of killing the disease.

    Austin said: ‘There’s been so much advancement in terms of prosthetics and I know I can still pursue my passion.

    ‘There’s so much evidence that you can still have an active life after an amputation.

    ‘I think an amputee even won Dancing with the Stars.

    ‘I am confident this is the best decision for me but it hasn’t been an easy one.

    ‘Of course it’s scary and I wish this was a decision I didn’t have to face at 18, but it is.

    ‘I am a positive person and I’m very determined that this will be just a chapter of my life.’

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