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

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    Left to right; Charlotte, Barnaby and Oliver

    Jason held Jessica’s hand as they prepared to see their baby for the first time at their scan, just before 12 weeks.

    Everything was healthy and perfect. They couldn’t wait to meet their third child – a little brother or sister for their sons, Toby and George.

    But just two days later, on 24 August 2014, Jessica, from Preston, Lancashire, was facing life as a single mum to two boys and a baby who hadn’t yet been born.

    Life changed completely for Jessica Haslem-Bantoft, now 29, and her children when Jason, who was just 24, was electrocuted at work.

    Jason and Jessica with Toby and George (Picture: Jessica Haslem-Bantoft/Metro.co.uk)

    So how did Jessica cope with going through pregnancy, while grieving for her husband?

    ‘The moment I was told, the pregnancy was one of the first things I thought about. The police officer who was there to tell me what had happened to Jason was concerned about what the stress was doing to the baby,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘But there is nothing you can do about it. This was one of the worst moments of my life and you can’t avoid that stress.

    ‘Every mother worries that things aren’t ok but this is the one chance I had to have his last baby. It felt like there was added pressure for everything to be ok.’

    Although she had support from her sister and her dad, Jessica spent the rest of her pregnancy struggling to explain why her partner wasn’t by her side.

    Jessica and Jason with their oldest sons Toby and George (Picture: Jessica Haslem-Bantoft/Metro.co.uk)

    She says: ‘At each appointment, it would be a different midwife, who would say something like ‘Is dad not joining us today?’ and I would have to explain he was dead.

    ‘I loved being pregnant but it did bring a sombre mood to a lot of the appointments.

    ‘When it came to the labour, my sister was with me and she was fantastic. I think by that stage I had had six months to come to terms with it and the pain took over so I didn’t think too much of Jason.’

    Baby Barnaby arrived in March weighing 10lbs 4oz, after a straightforward labour.

    ‘I got home that day, within six hours of him being born,’ she explains.

    ‘I was back to doing the school run the day after. With a third baby, I think they just naturally fit into the routine.

    Jason was just 24 when he died (Picture: Jessica Haslem-Bantoft/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘It was a case of Barnaby just fitting in with what we needed to do and he didn’t really have a choice.’

    Without a partner, Jessica’s oldest son Toby, who was four and a half at the time, would do little things to help with the baby and she learnt how to maximise her multitasking skills.

    She explains: ‘Toby was absolutely amazing. He would sit with Barnaby on his knee and sing to him while I had a shower or grabbing me nappies so I didn’t have to get one. Sometimes you just need another pair of hands.

    ‘I wore him in a sling virtually all the time so I could do thing like cooking dinner at the same time.’

    As her boys have grown up, Jessica has made sure to make sure Jason is still a big part of their lives.

    ‘We talk about him all the time. Barnaby looks at photos and takes them to nursery,’ Jessica says.

    Barnaby as a baby (Picture: Jessica Haslem-Bantoft/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘It is not in a traditional sense but he still, in his mind, has his dad with him.

    ‘Toby remembers his dad being there and George has photos with him but they are all able to talk about it together.

    ‘I met my second husband Tom in July 2016 and he also died this year from cancer but the kids formed a really tight relationship with him.

    ‘He was a father figure for them and it was another really big loss. It is important that we talk about both Jason and Tom and they understand.’

    Barnaby, Toby and George now (Picture: Jessica Haslem-Bantoft/Metro.co.uk)

    Although Jessica and her family have been through an incredibly difficult experience, she has been supported by the charity Widowed and Young (WAY), who bring together people who have lost partners at a young age.

    ‘The online support through WAY was amazing. I joined an online group a few months after Jason died,’ she says.

    ‘There was an influx of women who made me feel like I wasn’t alone. They had gone through the same thing.

    ‘Hearing their experiences made me feel less alone but also more positive about what was coming.

    Jessica with her three sons (Picture: Jessica Haslem-Bantoft/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘It’s so lonely being widowed and when you factor in pregnancy as well so if I can offer some support to other women so they don’t feel so isolated then I am happy.

    ‘I blog at To Widowhood And Beyond, Adventures From The Rainbow so I do have women come to me and they just need some reassurance and support.’

    One of the women who Jessica has helped is Kirsty Gravett, who lost her partner Chris on 6 October last year.

    Kirsty and Chris (Picture: Kirsty Gravett/Metro.co.uk)

    Chris Vickey was a fit 38-year-old. He suffered a heart attack completely out of the blue.

    He was rushed to intensive care and lived for a few days but unfortunately the damage was too severe and he died.

    Kirsty, who had been with Chris for 12 years, was nine weeks pregnant at the time.

    The couple had two other children – Charlie, now eight and Harry, now five.

    Kirsty tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It was a completely surreal experience. You just never think you are going to be in that situation and you are thrown into it. I never imagined I would be having a baby by myself.’

    Kirsty, Chris and their oldest boys Charlie and Harry (Picture: Kirsty Gravett/Metro.co.uk)

    Before he died, Chris knew they were having another baby but they had only told close family members.

    After his death, Kirsty had to face the next seven months of her pregnancy alone.

    ‘My whole pregnancy was so different to the other two. My sister and my mum came with me but not going with Chris was really hard,’ she says.

    ‘Most people are so excited for them but I dreaded it as it’s such a couple-y thing to do. I was dreading having those conversations about where the baby’s dad was.

    Charlie and Harry with Kirsty’s bump (Picture: Kirsty Gravett/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I still get it now. People look at him in the pram and say things like ‘Is he like daddy?’ It’s so hard when I say he is because his daddy isn’t here. Those questions are a reminder.’

    With Chris gone and Kirsty’s bump growing, her other two children were there to help out.

    She explains: ‘It was hard to enjoy the pregnancy – you are on your own. If you have backache you don’t have that person coming in and giving you a backrub.

    ‘Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was getting my other boys to rub cream into my feet because I couldn’t touch them and they were so sore.

    ‘It was nice though because we would do it every night and it was nice for them to be involved.’

    Charlie and Harry with baby Oliver (Picture: Kirsty Gravett/Metro.co.uk)

    Baby Oliver was born on 26 April 2018 and Kirsty admits that her difficult labour helped her to take her mind off Chris.

    ‘My labour was absolutely horrendous but in a way, I am quite glad that it wasn’t routine.

    ‘I didn’t have a chance to think about him not being there.

    ‘My midwife also tried to make sure that everyone had a heads up so I didn’t have to explain myself all the time,’ she says.

    For Kirsty, one of the most difficult things was registering Oliver’s birth as she wasn’t allowed to include Chris’ name.

    ‘I had been pre-warned by other widows that I couldn’t have Chris’ details on his birth certificate because he’s not alive.

    ‘It felt really unfair. He was born into this world without his dad and he can’t even have him named on his birth certificate.

    Baby Oliver (Picture: Kirsty Gravett/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I just feel like that should not be the case. Chris is his dad and just because he isn’t here anymore, that shouldn’t be taken away.’

    Now just over a year on from Chris’ death, Kirsty admits she is still struggling with being a single mum to three boys.

    ‘It’s been really difficult to be mum and dad to my three kids. I do spend time thinking ‘how would Chris handle this situation’.

    ‘My routine has changed and I do just want to spend more time with them and make memories.

    ‘I don’t want them to look back and think that mummy was really sad when they were growing up. I want them to remember positive things and for them to be able to talk to me about their dad.

    ‘My youngest son will never be able to meet him so I want to be able to tell him all about him. I want him to have an idea of what his dad was like.’

    Kirsty with Charlie, Harry and Oliver (Picture: Kirsty Gravett/Metro.co.uk)

    Like Jessica, Kirsty has found support through other young widows and Widowed and Young.

    ‘It’s hard doing it on your own. I have support from family and I also get support through WAY and I have been involved in a young widows group in North Devon.

    ‘That has been a release with people who understand.

    ‘When you are talking to close friends, no matter how close you are, it’s hard to explain it to them and how you are feeling without making them worry.

    ‘I feel like I can go to my group and just say “It’s been a totally shit week. I am really struggling.”’

    For Rebecca Butler, 37, from Cumbria, giving birth without her partner there was bittersweet.

    Rebecca with Mark and Dylan (Picture: Rebecca Butler/Metro.co.uk)

    On 18 September 2015, her partner Mark Paterson, 38, went paragliding in the Lakes near their home.

    Rebecca was 17 weeks pregnant with their second child.

    When he didn’t come home to Rebecca and their son Dylan, now five, she raised the alarm.

    Sadly, in the early hours of 20 September, rescue teams found his body on Fleetwith Pike, a remote, steep hillside overlooking Buttermere.

    Rebecca’s partner Mark (Picture: Rebecca Butler/Metro.co.uk)

    Although Rebecca was absolutely heartbroken and distraught by his sudden death, she knew she had to try to stay well for the sake of their baby.

    She says: ‘I had to look after myself for the sake of the baby, you have no choice but to keep going and thankfully everything was fine.

    ‘It was hard. I had my 20 week scan only a few days after the funeral. I felt so sad that he wasn’t there to see things progress. I had my mum and friends who came to some appointments with me.’

    When baby Charlotte arrived in March 2016, Rebecca’s mum was by her side – but she still struggled with the idea of giving birth without Mark.

    Mark and Dylan (Picture: Rebecca Butler/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘My mum was an amazing support, but I was acutely aware an important person was missing.

    ‘A new baby is such a wonderful gift, and I was full of love for her, but it broke my heart to think of everything Mark would miss out on, and how she would never know first-hand the awesome person he was.

    ‘We hadn’t discussed names or anything but I chose Charlotte as that is the name we had chosen if our first baby had been a girl.’

    Like Jessica and Kirsty, it was the support of other widows, alongside help from her family, that helped Rebecca.

    There is very little support for young widows, and particularly those who are pregnant.

    Dylan and Charlotte (Picture: Rebecca Butler/Metro.co.uk)

    Vicky Anning, communications manager for Widowed and Young explains: ‘Women who are pregnant when their partners die face a unique set of circumstances and often feel incredibly isolated and overwhelmed.

    ‘At what should be a joyful time in their lives, they are faced with mourning the loss of the partner they were planning to raise their newborn baby with.

    ‘Tragically, there is very little support specifically for pregnant widows – however, many women do find support through WAY Widowed and Young, which is a peer to peer support network for young widows and widowers.

    ‘They can find other women who were pregnant and share their hopes and fears as their pregnancies progress.

    ‘One member told us: “Joining WAY was a lifeline for me since I was able to talk to other widows who understood just what I was going through.

    ‘When my daughter was born, the messages of congratulations from many of my new WAY friends – some of whom I’d never met – meant more to me than any cards.”‘

    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: How hard is it to get pregnant if you have polycystic ovary syndrome?

    MORE: How to get super sperm like the Danish Vikings

    MORE: What it's like to have an eating disorder while you're pregnant

    MORE: Can you get over not having children when you really wanted to have children?


    Widowed and pregnant - babies who will never meet their dadsWidowed and pregnant - babies who will never meet their dadslauraabernethy6Widowed and pregnant - babies who will never meet their dadsWidowed and pregnant - babies who will never meet their dadslauraabernethy6

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    (Picture: Primark)

    Primark has launched the perfect PJs for Christmas – and they are available for the whole family.

    The Harry Potter themed nightwear comes in sizes for men, women and kids, meaning you can all co-ordinate.

    The burgundy tops are emblazoned with either ‘trained wizard’ or ‘wizard in training’.

    (Picture: Primark)

    The bottoms feature hats, Hogwarts letters, house symbols and Harry Potter glasses.

    And best of all, prices start at just £8.

    Last month, US store Target released a similar range of matching pyjamas but you had to have them shipped to the UK.

    MORE: Widowed and pregnant: How we coped knowing our babies would never meet their dads

    MORE: You can buy edible insects at Sainsbury’s from Monday

    MORE: Going to the gym should never be about guilt


    5 rbonovelty-827e5 rbonovelty-827elauraabernethy65 rbonovelty-827e5 rbonovelty-827elauraabernethy6

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    There’s an annoying myth that surrounds my job – the idea that, when hypnotised, someone is under my spell or control.

    While it might seem this way when you watch that entertaining show on TV or stage, the ability to hypnotise someone all depends on the individual and their ‘suggestibility’. Stage hypnotists and entertainers are just very good at filtering out the right people.

    For instance, they might ask someone to clasp their hands together and tell the participant that their hands are metal and have been welded together. Then if they can’t pull their hands apart, they are highly suggestible.

    Or they might ask someone to close their eyes and imagine holding a heavy bucket in one hand and a bunch of helium balloons in the other. Typically, 80-90% of the room will have one arm lower and the other raised.

    Only those who are highly suggestible are invited on stage, which gives the audience the perception that the hypnotist has huge power and influence over the person being hypnotised.

    While great for entertainment, it’s really unhelpful for clinical hypnotherapists like me as it can hinder treatment.

    I use hypnosis to try to help people by changing their mindsets.

    Hypnosis will fail for those who are seeing a hypnotherapist for a change they don’t want to make (Photo: Susannah Ireland for Metro.co.uk)

    My specialism is weight loss and phobias, and it’s possible because almost anyone can be hypnotised.

    However, those who believe that being under the influence of hypnosis means they will lose control will find it hard to be hynotised, and so the treatment won’t be as effective.

    That’s why a hypnotist’s power is the first myth I need to dispel when I start working with a client.

    Hypnosis will also fail for those who are seeing a hypnotherapist for a change they don’t want to make, so it’s important that people are mentally committed to the treatment.

    In a hypnosis session, I’ll start by making clients comfortable, as they need to be relaxed and have a clear mind for the session to be as effective as possible.

    In terms of my mindset, I try to calm myself and really focus on the client.

    Each session is unique though, and can be quite intense and emotional for both of us.

    I once had one client who spontaneously burst into hysterical laughter during a session. It was the first time she’d laughed in years as she was diagnosed with depression. It was a cathartic experience as she didn’t think she’d ever smile again, let alone laugh.

    To help my own mental wellbeing, I’ll often have a cup of tea and a sit down at the end of the day just to clear my own mind and enjoy the rest of my evening.

    I was my first client after qualifying as a clinical hypnotherapist. Using self-hypnosis, I successfully lost two stone in two months. I’ve now been a practicing clinical hypnotherapist for more than three years.

    I think the thing people are most surprised to hear is that weight loss hypnosis has almost nothing to do with food and much more to do with prior traumatic events or negative reinforcements that manifest themselves in a damaging relationship with food.

    I run hypnosis workshops on other subjects too – like overcoming a fear of spiders.

    These sessions usually result in a few tears but all arachnophobia participants end up holding live tarantulas and house spiders, which is something they’d never believe they were capable of.

    We start with an exercise where they recall a memory of them feeling courageous. I then help them access this feeling later by ‘anchoring’ the courageous state with a physical movement, such as clenching a fist or pinching a finger and thumb together.

    Many fears are rooted in ignorance so knowledge can help erode that fear – as well as physical exercises that are designed to change their mindset.

    I get them to imagine the spider in different contexts, such as giving the spider big Bambi eyes, a smile, colourful clothes, hats, glasses, a voice and even a silly name.

    This creates new associations and activates a different hemisphere of the brain to the one responsible for the fear response.

    I once had someone ask if the session would be like the hypnosis scene in the horror film Get Out (Photo: Susannah Ireland for metro.co.uk)

    They also draw and colour in the spider, which regresses them to a child-like state, again eroding the foundation of the fear.

    Finally, we have the hypnosis session where they imagine being in a cinema and seeing their phobia happen backwards. They often wake up thinking it’s been five or 10 minutes when the hypnosis has been going for about 40 minutes.

    After this, they are ready to capture and release a house spider and even hold a tarantula.

    It’s always amazing to see people change their habits so quickly, especially when they break through a phobia or finally lose weight after years of frustration.

    But progress can be challenging sometimes.

    There are times when I see clients making good progress, but then get talked back into old behaviours by family or friends.

    Therapies can really change people’s behaviour, not just those who are taking part.

    Some people don’t like seeing their friends and family make progress as it makes them feel left behind, and that can be difficult to navigate.

    Needless to say, I have had some unusual moments during my career.

    I once had someone ask if the session would be like the hypnosis scene in the horror film Get Out.

    I had to explain that thankfully, it was in fact nothing like the film.

    How to get involved with My odd job:

    My odd job is a new weekly series from Metro.co.uk, published every Sunday.

    If you have an unusual job and want to get involved, email aimee.meade@metro.co.uk.

    MORE: My odd job: To work at Lego, you have to be good at keeping secrets

    MORE: My odd job: I’m a magician and yes, I can do the rabbit out of the hat trick

    MORE: My odd job: I’m a third generation lion tamer and I’ve been training big cats since I was 15


    Adam Cox - HypnotherapistAdam Cox - HypnotherapistqinxieAdam Cox - HypnotherapistAdam Cox - Hypnotherapistqinxie

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    (Picture: Airtakser)

    We all know pigs in blankets are one of the best things about Christmas.

    And now you could be paid to eat them.

    The Oast House in Manchester are looking for someone to taste test the delicious sausages wrapped in bacon.

    The chosen candidate will be paid £500 and you can even bring a friend along to help you out.

    The advert was listed on Airtasker and all you need to do to apply, is share your best Christmas story.

    Pigs in blankets. Mini sausages wrapped in smoked bacon on a plate; Shutterstock ID 1164429394; Purchase Order: -
    (Picture: Shutterstock / Slawomir Fajer)

    According to the restaurant, ‘The applicant with the story that makes us laugh or cry the most will be given the chance to join us at the tasting session.’

    But you better be quick – you only have until 16 December to apply.

    Mark, Development Chef at The Oast House comments: ‘Pigs in blankets are the talk of the town this Christmas and are undoubtedly the trending food item of the season. That said, the pressure is on to ensure we’re serving up the best pigs in blankets and Christmas nibbles in the city.

    ‘We’re wanting to play around with ingredients and flavours – and in order to pin down the perfect recipes, we need someone to come in and taste test to ensure our guests have the best Christmas nibbles possible! We’re looking for a festive foodie to visit The Oast House and give the team and I some honest feedback, face-to-face.’

    MORE: My odd job: I can cure your fear of spiders through hypnosis

    MORE: You can get matching Harry Potter pyjamas for the whole family at Primark


    oUHJwAHA-dce0oUHJwAHA-dce0lauraabernethy6Pigs in blankets. Mini sausages wrapped in smoked bacon on a plate; Shutterstock ID 1164429394; Purchase Order: -oUHJwAHA-dce0oUHJwAHA-dce0lauraabernethy6Pigs in blankets. Mini sausages wrapped in smoked bacon on a plate; Shutterstock ID 1164429394; Purchase Order: -

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    Paratriathlete Iain Dawson has less than 5% vision due to a genetic condition (Picture: Nigel Farrow)

    I have a rare genetic condition called X-linked juvenile retinoschisis, which means I have less than 5% vision.

    I often felt left behind at school.

    My reading was slow, and I was under pressure to keep up. I used a hand-held magnifier and a monocular telescope in lessons, but I’d often lose my line and end up having to read things all over again.

    I was always into sports though. I liked running and actively took part in school sports days, and I didn’t let my impairment hold me back.

    My classmates in middle school were sometimes put out that I could hold my own when it came to sports. They didn’t understand how I found it hard to see in class, but could run around a football pitch.

    There were those who said I was pretending I couldn’t see, and others who thought I was watching them out of the corner of my eye, because my left eye sits off-centre.

    As a teenager, I once queried a corner in a game of football and was challenged by another kid who said, ‘You can’t have seen that, you’re blind’, before trying to beat me up.

    When it came to it, other people’s attitudes were my only hurdle.

    Iain Dawson was always into sports and didn’t let his visual impairment hold him back (Picture: Nigel Farrow)

    Scope found that the aspirations of the UK’s one million disabled children and their families are at serious risk of hitting a brick wall.

    According to the findings, 75% of adults think that parents of a disabled child shouldn’t have the same aspirations for their child as parents of non-disabled children.

    Furthermore, 42% of parents of disabled children aged 0 to 5 years old still think there is a lot of prejudice against their kids.

    It’s so disheartening.

    When it comes to your ambitions, people’s attitudes can really impact the way you think about yourself.

    A GP once told me to find a sport ‘that was safer for my level of vision’. Fortunately, that only made me want to cycle even more.

    I like to work around a problem, rather than giving in.

    I may not have even gotten into cycling and started competing in triathlons if I was born with perfect vision – cycling was something I tried because a friend asked me to step in and take someone’s place in a tandem race.

    I’d probably have focused more on football if I didn’t have my impairment, so being ‘different’ made me try new things.

    I visited my parents recently after they cleared out their loft and found an old newspaper with an article about a swimming gala I’d competed in as a little boy.

    I was about 10 years old at the time, and a local journalist had written how ‘little Iain Dawson’s school had asked permission for him to race with the other children’.

    My teachers had to ask if it was OK for me to swim with my non-disabled classmates, yet, ironically, I ended up taking second place in my race. It made me laugh to see how different attitudes to disability were back then compared to today.

    We need to do more to close the gap between the way people see the aspirations of disabled people, to those who are able-bodied.

    Scope has launched a campaign called ‘Now Is The Time’, which aims to encourage the government to become a ‘disability game-changer’ and demonstrate that disabled families are not alone.

    This is such an important first step to improving opportunities for so many disabled children.

    People’s attitudes can play such a big part in all our lives, but nobody should be made to feel they can’t strive towards their own goals.

    Want to find out more about the Now is the Time campaign?

    To find out more about Scope’s initiative to let the families of disabled children know they are not alone, visit the campaign website.

    For anyone inspired by Iain’s sporting achievements, Scope also offers a wide range of challenge events from marathons and triathlons to cycle races – see here for more information.

    MORE: We need a Minister for Disabled Children because the Government must support families like mine

    MORE: Since retiring as a Paralympian, I’ve learnt how hard it is to be disabled in our society

    MORE: Deaf people face barriers all the time. I’m determined to make sure we can enjoy music too


    Iain Dawson-bf2fIain Dawson-bf2fallieabgarianIain Dawson-bf2fIain Dawson-bf2fallieabgarian

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    (Picture: IKEA, Getty)

    There’s just over five weeks left until Christmas – and it’s time to start thinking about the tree.

    You might prefer the convenience of a fake one but there’s nothing quite like the smell of a real Christmas tree.

    And if you are worried about the cost, Ikea’s offer of a real one for just £5 starts again this week.

    A large Ikea store in Coventry, West Midlands, England. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
    (Picture: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

    The tree itself costs £25 but it comes with a £20 voucher for you to spend in store, effectively making it £5 for the tree.

    You can get a Nordman fir, Nobel fir or Norway spruce tree from the flatpack furniture store starting on 22 November.

    MORE: You can get matching Harry Potter pyjamas for the whole family at Primark

    MORE: You could be paid £500 to taste test pigs in blankets

    MORE: You can get matching Harry Potter pyjamas for the whole family at Primark


    Ikea Christmas tree dealIkea Christmas tree deallauraabernethy6A large Ikea store in Coventry, West Midlands, England. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)Ikea Christmas tree dealIkea Christmas tree deallauraabernethy6A large Ikea store in Coventry, West Midlands, England. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

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    (Picture: Sipsmith)

    Gin has gone through a bit of a revolution in the last few years.

    It’s gone from a drink your granny loved to the go-to spirit.

    But surprisingly, there hasn’t been a shop dedicated to nothing but gin in London for over 200 years.

    (Picture: Sipsmith)

    Now craft gin brand Sipsmith has opened a shop in Piccadilly for all your gin-based presents, including gin and tonic truffles and Sipsmith themed socks.

    They also stock the full range of Christmas gins including mince pie, Christmas tree, advent, chocolate and orange, and gingerbread.

    You can pick up everything from a personalised stocking filled with gin gifts to miniature bottle baubles for your Christmas tree.

    (Picture: Sipsmith)

    And while you wait for your presents to be wrapped, you can try out one of their in-store cocktails including a hot gin and tonic.

    There’s even a gin personal stopper to help you choose the perfect gift.

    (Picture: Sipsmith)

    And if that doesn’t make you feel Christmasy, you can try out one of the masterclasses, including botanical wreathmaking and festive Sipsmith gin cocktails or a festive gin tasting.

    The Sipsmith Gin Shop is located at Princes Arcade, 192 Piccadilly, and will be open until 24 December.

    MORE: My odd job: I can cure your fear of spiders through hypnosis

    MORE: Ikea’s £5 real Christmas tree deal starts again this week

    MORE: You could be paid £500 to taste test pigs in blankets


    Sipsmith Gin Shop Entrance-bf6fSipsmith Gin Shop Entrance-bf6flauraabernethy6Sipsmith Gin Shop Entrance-bf6fSipsmith Gin Shop Entrance-bf6flauraabernethy6

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    Caption: A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper
    Credit: SWNS

    A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung four times a week.

    Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck.

    She received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild.

    Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives – but she still gets a venom shot once a month.

    She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ‘daughters’, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay.

    Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn’t suffered a severe reaction since 2011.

    Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ‘I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction.

    ‘I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.

    ‘I actually go gloveless in my hives. I try to get stung. I want four stings a week. I need 200 stings a year.

    Robin Jones Bee venom shots. See SWNS story SWNYbee; A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung FOUR TIMES a week. Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck. The nature lover received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild. Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives and still gets a venom shot once a month. She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ?daughters?, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay. Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn?t suffered a severe reaction since 2011. Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ?I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction. ?I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.
    Bee venom shots. (Picture: Robin Jones / SWNS.com)

    ‘Everyone says: ‘You are nuts, why don’t you just give up bee keeping?’

    ‘But bees add so much to my life, I can’t imagine a day when I don’t have a hive.’

    Robin first realised she was extremely allergic to bee stings when she took a beekeeping course in 2011.

    She said: ‘My great granny was a farmer and kept bees and I thought it would be a great way to connect with my farming past.

    ‘With my first two hives I got stung a couple of times but each sting was worse.

    ‘My hands swelled up and were hot and itchy and the pain lasted for four days.

    ‘The swelling was heavy with liquid and I could feel it moving and rotating underneath my skin.’

    The third sting made Robin’s hand swell to the size of a baseball glove and she was taken to the emergency room.

    Robin Jones last serious allergic reaction in 2011. See SWNS story SWNYbee; A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung FOUR TIMES a week. Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck. The nature lover received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild. Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives and still gets a venom shot once a month. She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ?daughters?, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay. Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn?t suffered a severe reaction since 2011. Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ?I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction. ?I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.
    Robin Jones last serious allergic reaction in 2011 (picture: Robin Jones / SWNS.com)

    She said: ‘My hand was as big as a baseball glove and I was worried that my skin would split.

    ‘I went to the ER and medics told me that my skin could actually split. They gave me a high steroid dosage to take down the swelling.

    ‘My doctor said that I was so allergic that if I was stung while I was hiking and far away from a hospital, I wouldn’t be saved by my epi pen.

    ‘I could die if I was stung in the nose, the mouth or the throat as the swelling would mean I would suffocate to death.’

    Instead of give up her beekeeping dreams, Robin turned to venom therapy to cure her allergy.

    A Santa Monica specialist injected her with bee venom in her bicep once a week so that over time her body adapted to the substance and reactions become less severe.

    She said: ‘Giving up beekeeping would have been the easiest thing to do but I loved the outdoors and I was already designing edible gardens for chefs with lots of plants that attracted the insects.

    ‘They start you with a very low dose and the injection doesn’t hurt. They increase the dose in increments, very slowly, over a year.

    ‘After one year, I was still getting a bigger reaction from stings than I would have liked so my allergist allowed me more venom, the highest dose of all the clients.’

    Robin Jones in a beekeeping suit. See SWNS story SWNYbee; A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung FOUR TIMES a week. Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck. The nature lover received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild. Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives and still gets a venom shot once a month. She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ?daughters?, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay. Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn?t suffered a severe reaction since 2011. Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ?I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction. ?I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.
    Robin Jones in a beekeeping suit (Picture: Robin Jones / SWNS.com)

    Robin continued to nurture her hives and soon fell in love with beekeeping.

    Today she is a professional and has 15 hives of her own while also managing hives for clients from San Diego to Malibu and mentoring beekeepers all over the country through phone and text.

    She said: ‘I’m absolutely obsessed with bees. They are fascinating creatures. The more you learn about beekeeping, the more you want to learn.

    ‘Beekeeping means you are more attuned to nature and centred to yourself.

    ‘You have to get quiet and listen. You have to pay attention. Are they starving? Is it going to be windy? Is it going to finally rain?

    ‘You have to be able to look at the honeycomb and read it – it will tell you the health of the hive, whether it’s growing or decreasing and if it needs help.’

    ‘I can’t imagine my life without bees,’ she said.

    ‘I always call them my daughters, I have hundreds of thousands of daughters.’

    MORE: Gingerbread, chocolate and orange and Christmas tree flavoured Sipsmith gins for sale at first shop dedicated to the drink in over 200 years

    MORE: Ikea’s £5 real Christmas tree deal starts again this week

    MORE: You could be paid £500 to taste test pigs in blankets


    A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeperA landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeperlauraabernethy6Robin Jones Bee venom shots. See SWNS story SWNYbee; A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung FOUR TIMES a week. Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck. The nature lover received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild. Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives and still gets a venom shot once a month. She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ?daughters?, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay. Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn?t suffered a severe reaction since 2011. Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ?I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction. ?I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.Robin Jones last serious allergic reaction in 2011. See SWNS story SWNYbee; A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung FOUR TIMES a week. Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck. The nature lover received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild. Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives and still gets a venom shot once a month. She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ?daughters?, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay. Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn?t suffered a severe reaction since 2011. Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ?I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction. ?I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.Robin Jones in a beekeeping suit. See SWNS story SWNYbee; A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung FOUR TIMES a week. Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck. The nature lover received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild. Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives and still gets a venom shot once a month. She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ?daughters?, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay. Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn?t suffered a severe reaction since 2011. Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ?I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction. ?I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeperA landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeperlauraabernethy6Robin Jones Bee venom shots. See SWNS story SWNYbee; A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung FOUR TIMES a week. Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck. The nature lover received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild. Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives and still gets a venom shot once a month. She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ?daughters?, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay. Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn?t suffered a severe reaction since 2011. Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ?I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction. ?I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.Robin Jones last serious allergic reaction in 2011. See SWNS story SWNYbee; A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung FOUR TIMES a week. Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck. The nature lover received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild. Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives and still gets a venom shot once a month. She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ?daughters?, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay. Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn?t suffered a severe reaction since 2011. Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ?I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction. ?I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.Robin Jones in a beekeeping suit. See SWNS story SWNYbee; A landscape designer who cured her deadly bee sting allergy by having venom injections is now a beekeeper who tries to get stung FOUR TIMES a week. Robin Jones, 44, was once so allergic to stings that her doctor told her she could suffocate to death if she was stung on her nose, her mouth or her neck. The nature lover received an injection of bee venom once a week for a year until she could safely be stung by bees in the wild. Seven years on, Robin is now a professional beekeeper with 15 hives and still gets a venom shot once a month. She even tends to her bees, who she calls her ?daughters?, without gloves and tries to get stung four times a week to keep her allergy at bay. Exposure to small doses of the venom allowed her to gradually build up her resistance and she hasn?t suffered a severe reaction since 2011. Robin, of Santa Monica, California, US, said: ?I have been cured. I was allergic before and now I can take all kinds of stings and have very little or no reaction. ?I get the stinger out really quickly, I might have a sharp pain, a little bit of burning, it might be a bit red and and itchy but it goes away within an hour.

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    (Picture: Marks and Spencer)

    Everyone loves a bit of sparkle at Christmas time – and this M&S dress might be the perfect way to add some of it to your wardrobe.

    Although the dress isn’t part of Holly Willoughby’s collection, a picture of her wearing it was posted on the store’s Instagram page – and everyone is loving it.

    The dress, which costs £55, is described as a ‘gorgeous sparkly dress, with long sleeves for an extra sophisticated look’.

    One shopper said: ‘This is gorgeous and such a good price.’

    (Picture: Marks and Spencer)

    Another added: ‘It’s so pretty’.

    It’s already sold out in sizes 6-14 and Marks and Spencer told shoppers that they wouldn’t be getting any more in stock so it’s best to check your local store.

    Holly launched her collection with M&S earlier this year with an Autumn edit.

    Her winter edit a month later featured a brown tiger print midi dress that was one of the fastest selling items ever.

    MORE: Woman who injected venom to cure her bee sting allergy now works as a beekeeper

    MORE: Gingerbread, chocolate and orange and Christmas tree flavoured Sipsmith gins for sale at first shop dedicated to the drink in over 200 years

    MORE: Couple have stunning Harry Potter themed wedding


    45344298_1727336754037032_5540653639974103103_n-c73645344298_1727336754037032_5540653639974103103_n-c736lauraabernethy645344298_1727336754037032_5540653639974103103_n-c73645344298_1727336754037032_5540653639974103103_n-c736lauraabernethy6

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    Caption: The EPSON International Pano Awards

    These beautiful images are some of the best of 2018.

    The panoramic pictures are the winners in the EPSON International Pano Awards.

    This year the competition received 4937 entries from 1251 photographers in 74 countries.

    The 9th Epson International Pano Awards showcases the work of panoramic photographers worldwide and is the largest competition for panoramic photography.

    Let’s take a look at the winning shots and find out how the photographers captured them.

    Open Photographer of the Year

    OPEN WINNER Title: Combing The Sunlight Location: Tuscany, Italy
    Combing The Sunlight, taken in Tuscany, Italy (Picture: Veselin Atanasov)

    Overall winner of the 2018 Open competition is Veselin Atanasov from Bulgaria.

    He explained: ”I shot this picture during one spring morning in 2017 in Tuscany.

    ‘I remember that I had a 70-200mm lens attached to my camera, and the scene in front of me required a wide-angle lens.

    ‘The sun was quickly rising upward and I decided not to miss this moment while replacing a lens, so I shot the scene through the panorama of several frames from my hand without tripod.’

    Open runner-up

    OPEN RUNNER-UP Title: Life In Complex Location: Gifu Japan
    Life In Complex, Gifu, Japan (Picture: Daniel Eisele)

    2018 Major Amateur Winner

    OPEN RUNNER-UP Title: Royal Ceremony Location: Daedunsan, South Korea
    Royal Ceremony, taken in Daedunsan, South Korea (Picture: Nathaniel Merz)

    Nathaniel Merz explained: ‘Ever since first exploring the mountains here in Korea I have fallen in love with the bonsai-like pine trees clinging to the rocky peaks.

    ‘This particular tree was always one of my favorites for its tall, regal shape and the fact that it stood alone right on the edge of a cliff.

    ‘While it is beautiful year round, it looks particularly beautiful covered in just the right amount of frost and snow like I was luckily able to capture on this morning.

    ‘At first, I was greeted by almost total white out conditions, but as I waited near this tree the fog began to move in and out just enough that the light was able to pour in and illuminate the tree and the surrounding fog in beautiful warm light.

    ‘It was one of those moments where, thankfully, everything came together.’

    Amateur runner-up

    AMATEUR RUNNER-UP and Highest Scoring Vertical Image Title: The Blue Whale Location: Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom
    The Blue Whale, taken at the Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom (Picture: Peter Li)

    Winner in Carole Mitchum Award

    MITCHUM 1st Title: Wedded Rocks Location: Japan
    Wedded Rocks, taken in Japan (Picture: Anastasia Woolmington)

    Photographer Anastasia Woolmington said: ‘Meoto Iwa or Wedded Rocks is a pair of sacred rocks in the sea off Futami in Japan.

    ‘The two rocks are joined together in matrimony by a sacred Shinto straw rope called a shimenawa. The larger of the two rocks represents a husband, while the smaller rock represents the wife.

    ‘Many couples from Japan travel there to ask for blessing for their marriage.

    ‘Earlier this year my husband and I went on a trip to Japan.

    ‘And I had a vision of photographing Meoto Iwa at sunset (unusual time tobphotograph at this location), when last rays of sun lit up the rocks and the rope with golden glow. Using long exposure technique, I wanted the roughness of rocks to contrast with smoothness and softness of water.

    ‘My image represents strength and union of two people thrown into life together: they have to make it through stormy days, calm days, rain, sun, changing seasons, years.

    ‘Bigger rock shelters smaller rock from winds of open sea and small rock gets fully exposed at low tide, showing her “husband” a stable ground beneath them.

    ‘They are beautiful on their own but together they create a perfect harmony. Just like in marriage two people complimenting each other, become one without losing their own identity.

    ‘On a personal level this image represents my relationship with my husband.

    ‘He is my rock and my strength, he will drive for countless hours, help carry my gear and patiently wait with me, so I can take my photographs and make my dreams come true.

    ‘He knows how much photography means to me, I live and breathe it since a very young age.

    ‘I believe in real and raw photography that shows beauty of our world as it is, because I believe it doesn’t need photo manipulation.

    ‘I often find myself in tears just by looking at the raw beauty of our imperfectly perfect world. And as a photographer I want to inspire people to open their eyes, to see, to listen, to feel.

    ‘See every detail of our world, nature, wildlife.

    ‘Today a lot of people focus on material goods, money, things that don’t matter. With my work, I hope I can open someone’s heart and inspire them to make protection of the world a priority.’

    Runner-up Carole Mitchum award

    MITCHUM 2nd Title: River Of Fire Location: Iceland
    River Of Fire, taken in Iceland (Picture:Tom Putt)

    Third place in Carole Mitchum Award

    MITCHUM 3rd Title: Misty Bayou, Lake Martin Location: Louisiana, United States
    Misty Bayou, Lake Martin, taken in Louisiana, United States (Picture: ROBERTO MARCHEGIANI)

    First place in Epson Digital Art Prize

    EPSON 1st Title: Spark Location: Grand Canyon
    Spark, taken at the Grand Canyon (Picture: Colin Sillerud)

    Colin Sillerud explained: ‘‘This image was the result of tenacious scouting, fanatic preparation, and luck when my plans and knowledge went out the window.

    ‘Monsoon season is my favorite. The air breathes with energy and uncertainty. Blistering heat can turn to a freezing deluge in minutes.

    ‘Preparing for this year’s downpours I spent months scouting. As summer turned to monsoons, my trip was set.

    ‘Then, an emergency delayed my leaving and I began to worry about missing my window. Two weeks of storms followed and two weeks of emergencies kept me home.

    ‘The worry turned to panic as I imagined a season wasted.

    ‘When I finally departed, my weather app predicted eighty percent chance for storms.

    ‘After an hour on the road, the prediction dropped to sixty percent. Another hour and sixty percent dropped to forty. Four hours later a week of storms became a week of blue skies.

    ‘The only moisture left was a tear welling in my eye.

    ‘Out of anger and frustration, I changed my destination to the only area that seemed to have any clouds left.

    ‘When I arrived, the sky was clear and I was defeated.

    ‘Cooking dinner in a stupor, a flash would occasionally light the corner of my eye, but I dismissed it as wishful thinking.

    ‘Then came another flash, and another. Slowly turning, my eyes traced the horizon. Fifty miles off, a lightning bolt reached out and down from a barely perceptible cloud.

    ‘My breath caught. By one am, three storms surrounded me, each unleashing a bolt every 5-10 seconds.

    ‘I shot on automatic and after hours of ecstasy I collapsed like a giddy toddler.

    ‘In the end, I produced two of my favorite images from this incredible event.’

    Second place, Epson Digital Art Prize

    EPSON 2nd Title: Swirl Location: Hamn?y, Lofoten, Norway
    Swirl, taken in Lofoten, Norway (Picture: Mads Peter Iversen)

    Third place, Epson Digital Art Prize

    EPSON 3rd Title: Intimate Tulips Location: Flevoland, The Netherlands
    Intimate Tulips, taken in Flevoland, The Netherlands (Picture: Albert Dros)

    Curators Award

    CURATORS Title: Stefan Thaler Location: Maloyapass/Switzerland
    Maloyapass/Switzerland (Picture: Stefan Thaler)

    Highest scoring IAPP member

    Highest Scoring IAPP Member Title: Cave Diver Location: Anhumas Abyss, Bonito - Brazil
    Cave Diver, taken at Anhumas Abyss, Bonito – Brazil (Picture:Marcio Cabral)#

    Highest Scoring IVRPA Member

    Highest Scoring IVRPA Member Title: Light Location: Tokyo, Japan
    Light, taken in Tokyo, Japan (Picture: Naoki Fujihara)

    Highest Scoring Aerial Image

    Highest Scoring Aerial Image Title: Red Salt Location: West Australia
    Red Salt, taken in West Australia (Picture: Kevin Krautgartner)

    Some of the other entries

    Title: Station Location: Reggio Emilia, Italy
    Station in Reggio Emilia, Italy (Picture: Rachael Smith)
    Title: Dutch House At A River Location: Zaanse Netherlands
    Dutch House At A River, taken in Zaanse, The Netherlands (Picture: Hans Altenkirch)
    Title: Babaji Location: Varanasi, India
    Babaji, taken in Varanasi, India (Picture: Jason Denning)
    Title: Aquarium Location: Okinawa Japan
    Aquarium, taken in Okinawa, Japan (Picture: Daniel Eisele)
    Title: Seven Color Mountain Location: Bolivia
    Seven Color Mountain, taken in Bolivia (Picture: Ignacio Palacios)
    GIGAPIXEL Title: The final destination Location: Monte Rosa Hut, Zermatt, Switzerland
    The final destination, taken at Monte Rosa Hut, Zermatt, Switzerland (Picture: Isabella Tabacchi)
    Title: Sand Hills Location: Indonesia
    Sand Hills, taken in Indonesia (Picture: Ongko Sumarno)

    MORE: Holly Willoughby’s £55 sequin M&S mini dress is selling out everywhere

    MORE: Gingerbread, chocolate and orange and Christmas tree flavoured Sipsmith gins for sale at first shop dedicated to the drink in over 200 years


    Winning entries in the Epson Pano AwardsWinning entries in the Epson Pano Awardslauraabernethy6OPEN WINNER Title: Combing The Sunlight Location: Tuscany, ItalyOPEN RUNNER-UP Title: Life In Complex Location: Gifu JapanOPEN RUNNER-UP Title: Royal Ceremony Location: Daedunsan, South KoreaAMATEUR RUNNER-UP and Highest Scoring Vertical Image Title: The Blue Whale Location: Natural History Museum, London, United KingdomMITCHUM 1st Title: Wedded Rocks Location: JapanMITCHUM 2nd Title: River Of Fire Location: IcelandMITCHUM 3rd Title: Misty Bayou, Lake Martin Location: Louisiana, United StatesEPSON 1st Title: Spark Location: Grand CanyonEPSON 2nd Title: Swirl Location: Hamn?y, Lofoten, NorwayEPSON 3rd Title: Intimate Tulips Location: Flevoland, The NetherlandsCURATORS Title: Stefan Thaler Location: Maloyapass/SwitzerlandHighest Scoring IAPP Member Title: Cave Diver Location: Anhumas Abyss, Bonito - BrazilHighest Scoring IVRPA Member Title: Light Location: Tokyo, JapanHighest Scoring Aerial Image Title: Red Salt Location: West AustraliaTitle: Station Location: Reggio Emilia, ItalyTitle: Dutch House At A River Location: Zaanse NetherlandsTitle: Babaji Location: Varanasi, IndiaTitle: Aquarium Location: Okinawa JapanTitle: Seven Color Mountain Location: BoliviaGIGAPIXEL Title: The final destination Location: Monte Rosa Hut, Zermatt, SwitzerlandTitle: Sand Hills Location: IndonesiaWinning entries in the Epson Pano AwardsWinning entries in the Epson Pano Awardslauraabernethy6OPEN WINNER Title: Combing The Sunlight Location: Tuscany, ItalyOPEN RUNNER-UP Title: Life In Complex Location: Gifu JapanOPEN RUNNER-UP Title: Royal Ceremony Location: Daedunsan, South KoreaAMATEUR RUNNER-UP and Highest Scoring Vertical Image Title: The Blue Whale Location: Natural History Museum, London, United KingdomMITCHUM 1st Title: Wedded Rocks Location: JapanMITCHUM 2nd Title: River Of Fire Location: IcelandMITCHUM 3rd Title: Misty Bayou, Lake Martin Location: Louisiana, United StatesEPSON 1st Title: Spark Location: Grand CanyonEPSON 2nd Title: Swirl Location: Hamn?y, Lofoten, NorwayEPSON 3rd Title: Intimate Tulips Location: Flevoland, The NetherlandsCURATORS Title: Stefan Thaler Location: Maloyapass/SwitzerlandHighest Scoring IAPP Member Title: Cave Diver Location: Anhumas Abyss, Bonito - BrazilHighest Scoring IVRPA Member Title: Light Location: Tokyo, JapanHighest Scoring Aerial Image Title: Red Salt Location: West AustraliaTitle: Station Location: Reggio Emilia, ItalyTitle: Dutch House At A River Location: Zaanse NetherlandsTitle: Babaji Location: Varanasi, IndiaTitle: Aquarium Location: Okinawa JapanTitle: Seven Color Mountain Location: BoliviaGIGAPIXEL Title: The final destination Location: Monte Rosa Hut, Zermatt, SwitzerlandTitle: Sand Hills Location: Indonesia

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    (Picture: Boohoo)

    First there were the nipple wreaths and now Boohoo have released another interesting festive-themed cover up.

    The online fashion store is selling a giant bow – a boob tube with a thong attached, all tied together like a Christmas gift.

    The piece is described as nightwear but it’s a far cry from your traditional cosy festive PJs.

    Wrap me up bow METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.boohoo.com/wrap-me-up-velvet-bow/DZZ64045.html Credit: Boohoo
    (Picture: Boohoo https://www.boohoo.com/wrap-me-up-velvet-bow/DZZ64045.html)

    The Wrap Me Up bow comes in black and red (though the red is currently sold out).

    It normally costs £14 but with 20% off at the minute, you can snap it up for £11.20.

    Maybe not one to wear with your parents on Christmas morning though.

    MORE: Holly Willoughby’s £55 sequin M&S mini dress is selling out everywhere

    MORE: Woman who injected venom to cure her bee sting allergy now works as a beekeeper


    Wrap me up bowWrap me up bowlauraabernethy6Wrap me up bow METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.boohoo.com/wrap-me-up-velvet-bow/DZZ64045.html Credit: BoohooWrap me up bowWrap me up bowlauraabernethy6Wrap me up bow METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.boohoo.com/wrap-me-up-velvet-bow/DZZ64045.html Credit: Boohoo

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    Coping with infertility at work
    (Illustration: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    It’s a Wednesday afternoon and I’m sitting in a meeting with a colleague.

    He’s telling me about the complex technology used by one of our new clients. Something about data stacks.

    I’m nodding along but there are tears running down my cheeks, dropping silently on to my notebook.

    ‘I’m fine honestly,’ I say when he looks at me startled, thinking he has bored me to tears. ‘Please keep going.’

    I’d got my period that morning. And that time, I’d fallen hook, line, and sinker for the dream. At a week late, I had thought I was finally pregnant. I’d even noticed some of the early symptoms everyone talks about.

    But earlier that day, as I reached for the Tampax, my dream had crumbled.

    No one wants to be in this situation in a workplace. I’m a professional, I’m good at my job. But try as I might, it’s near impossible to leave fertility struggles at the door.

    Baby showers, once a great excuse to spend an hour eating pastel-coloured cupcakes and talking about celebrity baby names, have become unbearable.

    The weight of infertility means there are days when I just don’t want to get out of bed, let alone drag myself to work and act like everything is fine.

    The emotional side isn’t even the most difficult bit.

    When infertility leads to treatment, often IVF, balancing work and appointments becomes tricky.

    Inevitably women in this position have to make a difficult choice. They can either talk to management about their situation, or make a string of increasingly imaginative excuses.

    After all, it seems to go against perceived wisdom to tell a boss you’re trying for a baby – you might kiss goodbye to those promotions for a start. But you’re also revealing something deeply personal to a colleague.

    Gabriella Griffith from the Big Fat Negative podcast (Picture: Gabriella Griffith)
    Gabriella Griffith from the Big Fat Negative podcast (Picture: Gabriella Griffith)

    According to Anya Sizer of Fertility Network London, this is a common issue. ‘Work is one of the things that comes up most in our support groups,’ she explains. ‘Not only are people dealing with all of the trauma of infertility and often IVF, but uncertainty with how to manage the workplace adds an extra layer of stress and strain.’

    One of the things that makes it so difficult to deal with is the lack of formal procedures when it comes to infertility treatment.

    Women going through IVF treatment generally need around six to eight flexible days, including days off for egg collection and transfer and time to go for numerous scans and consultations.

    Some may need to inject during the day or to insert progesterone pessaries up to three times a day, for instance, that come with the instructions to lie down for 30 minutes after insertion.

    Not that easy if no one at work knows you are having treatment.

    Sizer says despite this, roughly 75% of workplaces don’t have a policy that covers women who are trying to get pregnant. Employment law is only in place to protect women who are already pregnant.

    That means that any appointments necessary for IVF are classed as regular medical appointments and can be handled by the employer accordingly.

    ‘As a result, the outcomes when people approach their employers have become very ad hoc,’ she says. ‘It is subjective, depending on what individual HR or line managers are like. Not having the safety net of a policy in place makes it very difficult to navigate.’

    I’m fortunate to have a very understanding and supportive manager, but I spoke to one woman who is struggling to keep the plates spinning and doesn’t feel comfortable talking to work about her situation.

    ‘Recently I had four appointments to fit in within a space of a month and it took some creativity to get out of the meetings that were already in the diary,’ she tells me.

    ‘I cannot picture a scenario in which my male boss would be understanding about my fertility treatment and I’ve chosen not to tell him, which is proving incredibly difficult.’

    This additional anxiety, along with the day-to-day stresses of jobs, often encourage women to quit during the course of infertility treatment.

    IVF patient Ally tells me of the conversation she had when she quit her job as a PE teacher. ‘I cried in front of my boss because I was so emotional,’ she says. ‘I told him I’d given him my very best for 10 years and now I needed to put me first.’

    Of course, this isn’t the experience of all women in this situation. For some, work is a welcome distraction. ‘I’m in a lucky position and manage my own diary so I worked right the way through two rounds,’ says another IVF mum. ‘My way of coping was to stay busy.’

    While everyone’s experience is different, one thing is for sure, we need to see more employers putting policies in place.

    Managers can’t take away the pain of baby showers or stop those occasional tears at the desk, but they can make it easier for women to be honest about their treatment. which is a huge weight off anyone’s shoulders.

    ‘One in six couples will experience infertility so this is going to become an increasingly common problem – and it is a medical issue, not a lifestyle one,’ says Sizer.

    ‘We need standardisation and we need to see workplaces being more proactive.’

    Gabriella Griffith is a business journalist and co-host of the Big Fat Negative podcast. She is preparing for her first round of IVF in January 2019.

     

    WHAT ARE MY EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS AROUND IVF?

    Can you take time off work for IVF? 

    Although there is no statutory right for employees to take time off work for IVF treatment, employers should treat medical appointments related to IVF the same as any other medical appointment under the terms and conditions of the contract of employment.

    What are my employment rights when I am going through IVF?

    In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is the process of fertilisation which happens outside the women’s body. This process can typically take between 4 and 7 weeks for one cycle. IVF does not always result in a pregnancy.

    • There is no statutory right for employees to take time off work to undergo investigations or treatment.
    • Following implantation the women is regarded as being pregnant.
    • If the IVF is unsuccessful, the protected period ends 2 weeks after the end of the pregnancy – 2 weeks after the date the women was informed that implantation was not successful.

    Time off for investigation or treatment

    Although there is no statutory right for employees to take time off work for IVF treatment, employers should treat medical appointments related to IVF the same as any other medical appointment under the terms and conditions of the contract of employment. Employers may agree to flexible working arrangements or a combination of paid, unpaid, or annual leave during the treatment.

    In some cases the employee may be unable to work due to the effects of the treatment and signed off sick by the GP. Employers should treat this sickness absence in the same way as sickness for other reasons in accordance with the normal organisation rules. However, a women on sick leave during an advanced stage of IVF treatment may claim direct sex discrimination if dismissed, because they are given special protection during the protected period. An advanced stage of IVF Treatment is between the retrieval of the ova followed by the immediate transfer of the fertilised ova.

    Protection against dismissal and detriment

    Following implantation a pregnancy may or may not occur, but the women is regarded as being pregnant from the point of the implantation, and is protected from dismissal or adverse treatment under the Equality Act 2010 pregnancy legislation. Employees should notify their employer once they have reached this stage. The pregnancy test is usually taken 2 weeks after implantation.

    If the treatment is successful and the woman remains pregnant she will be protected against discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy until the end of her maternity leave.

    If the treatment is unsuccessful, the protection will end two weeks after the end of the pregnancy. A pregnancy test is taken 2 weeks after implantation and, if the test is negative, the protected period extends for a further 2 weeks.

    Source: acas.org.uk

     

    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: How hard is it to get pregnant if you have polycystic ovary syndrome?

    MORE: How to get super sperm like the Danish Vikings

    MORE: What it's like to have an eating disorder while you're pregnant

    MORE: Can you get over not having children when you really wanted to have children?

     


    Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrationsakismet-2fcb28243f975bb512a587b829a23dfdCoping with infertility at workGabriella Griffith from the Big Fat Negative podcast (Picture: Gabriella Griffith)Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrationsakismet-2fcb28243f975bb512a587b829a23dfdCoping with infertility at workGabriella Griffith from the Big Fat Negative podcast (Picture: Gabriella Griffith)

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

    I’ve always struggled with my mental health.

    Until a year ago, I was always one negative thought away from going into a tailspin.

    It wasn’t until I started therapy that I finally learnt to deal with my emotions – and it’s something I want to encourage other men to do too.

    As a guy, knowing how to deal with emotions was always a confusing one for me.

    Any spikes in emotion, you were either taught to ‘put up or shut up’, get shitfaced, or play sport to get it out your system.

    So, either I went quiet, got hammered, or got overly aggressive during a friendly game of football at people I’d never met.

    Didn’t feel too healthy.

    I remember one instance where I’d asked my work mentor for advice and he said, ‘man up and stop being a c***’

    Despite it being a joke, the sentiment resonated with me.

    We tell each other to ‘man up’ because none of us have the faintest idea about how to deal with our emotions. All we’ve got is the one size fits all approach, developed from the Victorian days where silence was perceived as strength.

    So we’re resigned to suffer in silence, or face the humiliation at saying we’re not ok.

    Why is it we learn when Henry VII died and the difference between sedimentary and metamorphic rock, but not how to handle heartbreak, stress and negative thoughts?

    I think it’s hugely important to get kids from a young age, especially boys, talking about their thoughts and feelings and not seeing them as a faux pas.

    It’s not just having a school councillor. There needs to be classes where kids are taught about how to be in touch with themselves, and taught tools to deal with things like stress and grief.

    That way, whole generations of men and women will become more aware of their emotions, and not have to Google ‘how to stop negative thinking’ on the 5:30 train to London Bridge at the age of 31.

    how can we get more in touch with our senses? and why should we?
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    And for those out of school, I think companies and businesses can do more, with therapist sessions as mandatory as appraisals, especially in jobs with long hours or intensive periods of stress.

    Grief councillors often work with family of terminal relatives before that person has died to help prepare them as much as they can for what’s ahead.

    Given how unpredictable life is, would it not be sensible therefore to put a similar framework in place, so everyone is more prepared to deal with extreme stress before it happens, rather than simply a reactive measure when the damage is already done?

    And with stressed workers taking 12.5 million days off last year, it’s clear something needs to change, with prevention feeling better than the cure.

    My tactic, like many of my friends, was the alcohol route.

    I’d successfully, or so I thought, dealt with my feelings by going and getting leathered.

    However, after I stopped drinking 14 months ago I realised I hadn’t dealt with them at all, I’d just suppressed them. Worse still, they were coming thick and fast in full 1080p HD.

    No longer having my anesthetic, I realised I had to get over my stigma and ‘man up’ and see a therapist.

    Therapy is all about dealing with your emotions, looking them in the eye and bravely unpacking why you feel like that and what caused it.

    And when you air the break-up, the thing your teacher once said to you, the time your friend stabbed you in the back, something pretty amazing happens.

    You let it go. You stop carrying around this deadweight, this feeling that somehow it was all your fault. That you could’ve done something.

    I felt after therapy like I’d pushed a reset button. I honestly felt a stone lighter.

    It’s the best investment I’ve ever made. More than the gym (which for the sake of this article I go to), the new jacket I bought, and the haircut I get every month.

    Therapy means you have a chance to really get to know who you are, and God forbid, actually like yourself. That’s a new one for me.

    And that’s why I’m writing this article. To show that there’s nothing wrong with talking about this stuff.

    We all have a duty to start this conversation so our dads, brothers, mates, boyfriends, feel like they can talk openly and without judgment about how they’re actually feeling, bravado aside.

    Even if you don’t think you have any issues, therapy is 100% worth it.

    When life does come at you, which it will, you’ll be in the best possible shape to deal with it, becoming the master of your own thoughts, not the other way round.

    I’ve gone through a break-up and two close family deaths this year and thank God I had someone to talk to.

    It’s meant that I can go through emotions in the right way, and best of all I can be there for my family, rather than leaving the room, going silent, and saying I’m fine.

    A quote that’s always resonated with me is, ‘A smooth sea makes for an unskilled sailor’ and by dealing with your problems with a pro, the stronger and more skilled you’ll be.

    So speak up and be brave my friend. There is nothing strong about being silent.

    It’s ok to not be ok.

    Need support? Contact The Samaritans

    If you, or anyone you know, is struggling, <a href=”https://www.samaritans.org/”>Samaritans</a&gt; are here to help.

    They’re available 24 hours a day and offer a safe place to talk, about anything that is getting to you. Call 116 123.

    MORE: I lied when friends asked me how I was. Their persistence stopped me from killing myself

    MORE: I’m 32 and an alcoholic, and accepting that has made me happier than I’ve ever been

    MORE: I treated my depression by having magnetic pulses sent to my brain


    mental-health-education1mental-health-education1jessrubyaustinhow can we get more in touch with our senses? and why should we?mental-health-education1mental-health-education1jessrubyaustinhow can we get more in touch with our senses? and why should we?

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    Modern etiquette Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk drinking social woman health body party friends mind mental fun
    (Picture: M Muffin)

    Welcome to Modern Etiquette, a brand new series where we ask the pressing questions of 2018.

    Let’s talk about a familiar situation.

    It’s a Saturday night and you’re having drinks. Maybe it’s at someone’s house, or a pub, or in the park (remember when being outside didn’t literally hurt?) either way, you’re sharing a few bottles of wine and having a nice time.

    You probably drink more than the recommended guidance, because that’s a couple of glasses and let’s face it, we’re a nation of boozers. But in your group, there’s someone drinking more than their fair share.

    It’s the friend who always get blitzed. The one who is at the centre of all of the best stories. The one who has shaved off eyebrows, climbed scaffolding or been sick in a shoe.

    Now there’s no question that this friend is fun, and when they’re revving up the engines they’re great to be around. But if the wheels come off every single time they start drinking, and nights out turn into nights of taking that friend home, it’s okay to start feeling a bit resentful. And then once that resentment passes, it’s ok to be worried.

    We live in a society where heavy drinking and being a young person are perceived as mutually inclusive. For lots of people, that’s not a problem (well, it’s not exactly good for you, but living off mineral water and green veg isn’t much fun), but for those who have a drinking problem, party culture and youth drinking can cover up a deeper problem.

    So, if you’ve got a friend who is ruining every night out by vomming down their front before you’ve even called a taxi to go out, what are you supposed to do?

    Modern etiquette period girls balance pillow sex education school Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk
    (Picture: M Muffin)

    According to Julie Symes from Alcohol Research, the first step is to have a chat. And however nervous you might be about that chat, it needs to happen sober.

    ‘If you do want to talk to a friend or loved one about their drinking, never do it when they are drunk. Wait until they are sober and explain how their behaviour changes when they are drinking and the effect that’s having on your friendship/relationship. Never get angry or vent your frustration as that may drive them away,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Don’t assume you can stop someone drinking. Instead just try and engage with them, letting them know every now and then that you are there if they need you.

    ‘You could also encourage them to take our drinking quiz to find out if their drinking is likely to be impacting on their health and wellbeing.’

    Remember, you can’t quit drinking for someone else. They’ve got to decide that they want to quit and make that change for themself, not for you. But, if they do want to quit drinking then there are steps you can take to support them.

    Julie suggests: ‘If they are ready to cut down or stop drinking, you can help them find support either through their GP or local alcohol service. You could also support them by finding different ways to socialise that don’t involve alcohol. Some other practical ways you could support them in cutting down are to encourage them to keep a drinks diary, have some alcohol-free days each week, choose smaller glass size and to recommend low or no-alcohol drinks.

    To try and avoid seeming judgemental, you might consider framing your approach as a more general one. For instance ‘We all think you’re drinking too much, you’re a mess on nights out’ sounds critical. Perhaps try ‘We’ve all had some pretty heavy weekends lately, shall we try and have a quiet one?’

    A nice place to start might be finding an activity to do en masse which doesn’t involve drinking. A new gym class, trip to something touristy, shopping trip or the cinemas are all good things to try.

    The most important thing to remember is that you are not responsible for anyone’s drinking other than your own, and while you can try to be a supportive friend, changes to the way a person drinks can ultimately only come from them. By gently saying something about their drinking habits you might prompt a change, but alternatively you might not. An angry, defensive reaction can be normal when a person feels attacked or judged, so prepare yourself for some fall out.

    Signs your friend might have a drinking problem

    • they drink every day
    • they are unable to control the amount they drink
    • they are always looking for an excuse to drink
    • their relationships are affected by their drinking
    • if those around them are concerned about their drinking

    Modern Etiquette is a weekly series. Rather than telling you what to do with a salad crescent or which shoes are most appropriate for Ascot, we’ll be working out how to navigate shared houses, drugs, ex-boyfriends and that moment when you send the screenshot of the person you’re bitching about to them. 

    Next week, we’ll be asking how you deal with moving out of a shared house without destroying your relationship with your housemates. 

    MORE: Modern Etiquette: I liked an Instagram photo from 2014 – what do I do?

    MORE: Modern Etiquette: I got period blood on someone else’s sofa, what do I do?


    Metro IllustrationsMetro IllustrationsrebeccacnreidModern etiquette Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk drinking social woman health body party friends mind mental funModern etiquette period girls balance pillow sex education school Mmuffin for Metro.co.ukMetro IllustrationsMetro IllustrationsrebeccacnreidModern etiquette Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk drinking social woman health body party friends mind mental funModern etiquette period girls balance pillow sex education school Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk

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    Pearl Derriere on a Burlesque night out (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Pearl Derriere on a Burlesque night out (PA Real Life/Collect)

    A polyamorous events planner who is helping to organise the world’s largest orgy, has told how she aims to smash the Japanese record of 500 revellers, by having 1,000 people at the marathon sex party.

    This will be the most ambitious occasion yet for Pearl Derriere, 29 – who stopped counting her sexual partners when she hit 100, aged 21 – since starting her first events company, Menage Life, in 2016, with a DJ pal, inspired by attending numerous private sex parties.

    An advocate of the ‘sex positive’ movement, which embraces safe and consensual sexual experimentation, Pearl, of Denver, USA, said: ‘People may think my lifestyle makes me greedy for sex, but that isn’t the case.

    ‘But I stopped counting how many people I’d slept with once it hit over 100.

    ‘People assume sex parties are something which have surfaced very recently – the truth is they have always existed, they’ve just been underground and under our noses the whole time.’

    Pearl, who will attend the mass orgy – the date and location of which remain a closely guarded secret within the sex positive community – worked in an insurance company before moving into the sex industry in 2012.

    Still openly polyamorous – enjoying a relationship with more than one partner – she currently lives with her boyfriend Dan Patrick, 35, who works in hospitality, and visits her girlfriend Tomi Tailey, 30, in Dallas.

    Her partners, who have shared a bed with her, but have not had sex together, are also happy for her to have casual liaisons with other people at orgies.

    Explaining her open relationship, Pearl, who lost her virginity to a boy at 16 and had her first group sex the following year, said: ‘For me, I could never imagine one person fulfilling my every physical and emotional need for the rest of my life, which is why being a poly swinger suits me.

    ‘I may go to a sex party with Dan and sleep with someone else, sometimes even a friend I know, but it doesn’t bother him, that’s just how our relationship works.

    ‘We don’t need to feel insecure, because we know our value to each other.

    Dan Patrick, Pearl's supportive boyfriend, posing for a selfie (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Dan Patrick and Pearl (PA Real Life/Collect)

    ‘My boyfriend is human and understands me and my needs. As long as I’m safe, sane and everything is consensual there’s no problem.

    ‘We both get immense satisfaction knowing each other’s sexual, physical and mental needs are being met.’

    Pearl first discovered her love for orgies and non-monogamous relationships when she was working as a burlesque dancer in 2012.

    Hired to perform at a private sex party – the first one she properly attended – that spring, although she had engaged in group intimacy before, she had never seen what a real orgy looked like.

    She said: ‘The moment I walked in, I saw someone involved in an intimate act and was caught off guard a bit, but I soon realised it was just like any other party, with people chatting and dancing, too.

    ‘People could have sex and be intimate, or just watch if they wanted to.

    ‘I made plenty of friends that night and have been enthralled by it all ever since.’

    But, despite her liberated approach to intimacy, Pearl has stringent rules when it comes to orgies – always providing condoms for guests and making safety her priority.

    ‘I get tested for sexually transmitted infections every 6 months and the results are always clear,’ she said.

    ‘To make sure that people are accounted for and not too drunk and messy, we only let people in to parties if they come with a friend or partner. That way, if someone passes out or makes other people uncomfortable, we can alert whoever they came with.

    ‘Being filmed is also a worry at orgies – so no one is allowed in with recording devices or mobile phones. We need a trusting environment for everyone to have fun.’

    Luckily, Pearl’s mum is non-judgemental about her daughter’s choice of career and is very close to her. She has been less open with her dad, who thinks she is an ordinary events planner.

    Pearl during a racy burlesque performance (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Pearl during a burlesque performance (PA Real Life/Collect)

    And while Pearl’s life revolves around the sex industry, she admits that she usually only makes love to her boyfriend and girlfriend once a week.

    She said: ‘Jobs and projects going on get in the way of my sex life sometimes.

    ‘By the time I’m done with work I just want to sit down and read or watch TV.’

    Pearl, who goes to orgies once a month, is now hoping that the sexual extravagansa she is planning may lead to a ‘sex positive revolution.’

    She said: ‘I’m not sure what will happen, but I just know I want to be part of something I consider historically monumental to the sex positive community.

    ‘For the most part, our community is hidden, no one wants to be ‘outed’ to other people as someone who attends these events, so it can be very isolating.

    ‘I hope our huge event can change that and we can lead a sex positive revolution.’

    MORE: Modern Etiquette: I think my mate has a drinking problem

    MORE: Boohoo are selling thonged bows so you can wrap yourself up like a Christmas present


    PA Real Life - Pearl Derriere - World's largest orgyPA Real Life - Pearl Derriere - World's largest orgylauraabernethy6Pearl Derriere on a Burlesque night out (PA Real Life/Collect)Dan Patrick, Pearl's supportive boyfriend, posing for a selfie (PA Real Life/Collect)Pearl during a racy burlesque performance (PA Real Life/Collect)PA Real Life - Pearl Derriere - World's largest orgyPA Real Life - Pearl Derriere - World's largest orgylauraabernethy6Pearl Derriere on a Burlesque night out (PA Real Life/Collect)Dan Patrick, Pearl's supportive boyfriend, posing for a selfie (PA Real Life/Collect)Pearl during a racy burlesque performance (PA Real Life/Collect)

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  • 11/19/18--03:24: What do men worry about?
  • Why we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration Illustrations
    (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)

    It’s International Men’s Day today, a day dedicated to talking about the specific challenges faced by men.

    The two biggest areas of concern are men’s mental and physical health. As you probably know, suicide is the biggest killer of men in the UK under the age of 45, something which charities like Calm and the Samaritans are working to combat.

    Men are all too often told to be stoic, to keep their feelings to themselves and to focus on providing. As part of a mission to combat that, the men’s grooming company Harry’s have done some research into what it is that men are worrying about, using their mental health AI, Harr-e.

    From a study of over 2,000 men aged 18-88, Harry’s found that the list of things that men worry about was as varied as Brexit to loneliness.

    Work and money were the two biggest factors, with 17% of men worrying about their job and 16% worrying about money. After money and work the biggest areas of concern were health (12%) and their children, (11%).

    Men weren’t just worrying about themselves, either, with 10% losing sleep over politics and 8% stressing about the environment.

    Men's worries, in their own words

    ‘I’m currently on a relationship break as I feel I need to go to the gym and put on weight to be attractive to women.’ 22, Bucks.

    ‘My trouble is, I fantasise about other women too much. I blame the porn.’ Designer, 19, Brighton.

    ‘I’d love it if my wife could stay home more often. She is a doctor who gets overly stressed in work which she often brings home. I sometimes wonder if equality has made women more miserable. I’d like to have a family and for her to work less, like our parents did. Is that so bad?’ 29, Essex.

    ‘Id like to lose my gut, have a nicer and more symmetrical face, get some new teeth, have nicer hair and bigger arms. Actually, there’s not much about me that I do like.’ 25, Coventry.

    ‘I just want to feel wanted, or cared about. sometimes it feels like she ignores my messages. I just want her to open up and tell me what she’s actually thinking or feeling.’ 25, Devon.

    ‘Every time I feel weak, I feel like I burden my friends with my problems. No matter how complex, simple, rare or common, I feel like I should be able to solve my problems myself. Relying on friends or family makes me feel weak.’ 25, Devon.

    ‘I dread the future because I just don’t earn enough to financially plan for my retirement.’ 39, Nottingham.

    ‘I just want a job I can do from my wheelchair.’ 50, Southend.

    ‘Since boarding school, I always knew I was gay. But I got married, had a kid and one morning literally ran away. Now I’m waiting for my dad to die so I can come out.’ 38, London.

    ‘Im estranged form my family and I’ve no friends. I don’t get to see my child and just feel like a failure. I’m having anger issues and want to know how to cope.’ 59, Wales.

    ‘I’d like to get a new body, specifically knees and feet. Other than that all I worry about is death and Brexit.’ 78, York.

    ‘There was one woman who I troubled to have loved me, but she’s gone now. I gave up on purpose a long time ago. Purpose is tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. I’ve resigned myself to the emptiness of today.’ 84, Yorkshire.

    ‘In relationships, I’d like more understanding, connection and vulnerability. Other people’s lives always look better. I’m only 19 but I already dread dying without ever truly feeling loved.’ 19, Belfast.

    If you’re struggling with anxiety, you should talk to your GP, who will be able to prescribe therapy and/or medication. You can also contact The Samaritans or CALM.

    MORE: Lecturers banned from using capital letters to avoid upsetting students

    MORE: Ikea’s £5 real Christmas tree deal starts again this week

     


    Why we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to helpWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to helprebeccacnreidWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration IllustrationsWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to helpWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to helprebeccacnreidWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration Illustrations

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    Picture: @livityplantbasedcuisine VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON???S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFE
    (Picture: @livityplantbasedcuisine)

    Vegan twin sisters, Kareema and Kaleema Shakur-Muhammad, are set to open Croydon’s first plant-based Caribbean cafe.

    The sisters own a vegan and soy-free catering company. Offering plant-based twists on traditional Jamaican dishes, their signature dish is Curried Jackfruit, a plant-based alternative for Curried Goat.

    Now they’re expanding beyond the catering business to create a permanent fixture in south London, providing vegan sustenance for people who love their Caribbean food.

    The pair have been plying their trade at the Surrey Street Market, serving hundreds of Croydon residents every week, and between them they have 10 years experience of working in some of London’s top restaurants.

    Picture: @livityplantbasedcuisine VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON???S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFE
    (Picture: @livityplantbasedcuisine)

    On their Go Fund Me page, the sisters explain that they have been following their dream of being chefs since they left school, and now they’re looking for financial support for their latest venture.

    ‘We have always wanted to be chefs and after having worked for others for so long, we have decided to branch off on our own and create something that reflects our values,’ they explains.

    ‘Our ultimate aim is to raise enough funds to open our own vegan cafe, employing local people.’

    Picture: @livityplantbasedcuisine VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON???S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFE
    (Picture: @livityplantbasedcuisine)

    Currently their total stands at just over £1,000, of a £10,000 goal, so they still have a way to go to hit their target.

    The pair weren’t always vegan. Kareema decided to adopt a plant-based diet after struggling with health problems, and her twin decided to make the switch as well.

    The sisters are keen to emphasise the idea that vegan lifestyles are inclusive – and not just for middle-class white people.

    On Instagram the pair wrote, ‘Please remember that before the term “vegan” was coined in the 40s, Rastafarians had an ethical plant-based movement well before then. Ethical plant-based living is in our DNA.’

    Their Instagram page shows off some of the food likely to be on offer when the permanent cafe opens. That includes, ackee, calaloo, fried dumpling, plantain and mixed bean and coconut curry.

    MORE: You can buy edible insects at Sainsbury’s from Monday

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    VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON’S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFEVEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON’S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFEnataliemorris88Picture: @livityplantbasedcuisine VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON???S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFEPicture: @livityplantbasedcuisine VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON???S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFEPicture: @livityplantbasedcuisine VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON???S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFEVEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON’S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFEVEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON’S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFEnataliemorris88Picture: @livityplantbasedcuisine VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON???S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFEPicture: @livityplantbasedcuisine VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON???S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFEPicture: @livityplantbasedcuisine VEGAN TWIN SISTERS OPENING CROYDON???S FIRST PLANT-BASED CARIBBEAN CAFE

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    Picture: Dominos Cheeseburger pizza
    (Picture: Dominos)

    Cheeseburger or pizza? Cheeseburger or pizza? Now we don’t have to choose.

    Dominos have answered our prayers and given us the takeaway food we didn’t know we needed – a pizza that’s also a cheeseburger.

    You might try and tell yourself that it’s disgusting, wrong, or downright filth, but the lure of this magical combination can’t be denied.

    And it could be just what you need when the party season mid-week hangovers are hitting you hard.

    Picture: Dominos Cheeseburger pizza
    (Picture: Dominos)

    The thin-crust pizza is loaded with everything you would expect to find in a cheeseburger.

    A top the classic tomato and mozzarella base sits ground beef, sliced gherkins, chopped onions and a healthy drizzle of tangy burger sauce.

    It’s a fast-food fanatic’s dream.

    Each large slice contains 211 calories – which adds up to 1,688 in a whole large pizza – so you might want to consider sharing it with a friend.

    The pizza, which costs £13.99 for a small, £15.99 for a medium and £17.99 for a large, is now available from all 1,042 Dominos stores.

    The hybrid is a novel blend of Italian and American classics, but some pizza purists won’t be too happy about the release.

    One Twitter user said, ‘Are we really still concerned with pineapple on pizza while people are over here thinking it’s okay to put some damn pickles on cheeseburger pizza?’

    But another was absolutely here for it: ‘Cheeseburger pizza has pickles on it. Game changer. It’s delicious.’

    Is it a match-made in heaven? Or the pizza from hell? Your answer might depend on just how hungover you are.

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    Cheeseburger pizzaCheeseburger pizzanataliemorris88Picture: Dominos Cheeseburger pizzaPicture: Dominos Cheeseburger pizzaCheeseburger pizzaCheeseburger pizzanataliemorris88Picture: Dominos Cheeseburger pizzaPicture: Dominos Cheeseburger pizza

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    Eyes wide with wonder, a little girl’s heart-melting expression captures the exact moment when, born profoundly deaf, she hears her mother’s voice for the first time.

    Captured in a touching video clip, Sienna Ashton is amazed as she listens to her mum, Melanie Ashton, 28, speak after being fitted with a hearing aid almost two months after she was born.

    With their daughter profoundly deaf in one ear and having moderately to severely impaired hearing in the other since birth, travel agent Melanie and her personal trainer husband Latham, 31, of Melbourne, Australia, feared she may never hear, let alone talk.

    So, Melanie will forever treasure the moment when, after having a cochlear implant fitted around eight weeks ago, Sienna uttered her first word, ‘Mum,’ just before her first birthday on 2 November.

    Explaining how she caught the poignant moment on camera, her mum said: ‘It was very emotional. I burst into tears.

    ‘We’d been afraid she would never speak, and I’d see other mums’ little ones hitting those milestones and wonder if that’d ever happen for Sienna.

    ‘Now we know she’s going to grow up just fine, and have a fulfilled life, with so much support around her.’

    Melanie and Sienna (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Melanie and Sienna (PA Real Life/Collect)

    Melanie recalled how when Sienna – she and Latham’s first child – was born in November 2017, she was given a routine hearing test at around 12 hours old.

    After she failed it, doctors said it could be the result of simple fluid build-up in the ear canal.

    But when, a week later, she failed a second test, alarm bells began to ring.

    ‘The hospital took it really seriously,’ said Melanie. ‘They gave us all this information about what to do if your child has hearing loss, then we were referred for further tests.’

    Next came a tortuous wait as doctors investigated further, until Sienna was diagnosed at four-weeks-old with sensorineural hearing loss – a permanent condition resulting from inner ear or nerve damage.

    An MRI scan also showed she has enlarged vestibular aqueducts – narrow, bony canals that travel from the inner ear to the skull – which is thought to be linked to her hearing loss.

    ‘She is profoundly deaf in her left ear, and moderately to severely impaired in her right,’ explained Melanie.

    ‘It was heartbreaking to hear. We had no idea if she’d ever even heard our voices, and couldn’t help but think of what life would be like and all the challenges she’d face growing up.

    ‘I’d been really sick throughout the pregnancy, so couldn’t help worrying that this was all down to something I had done wrong.’

    Fortunately, just before Sienna turned two months old, she was fitted with hearing aids in both ears.

    Sienna at two months old, just after having her hearing aids fitted (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Sienna at two months old, just after having her hearing aids fitted (PA Real Life/Collect)

    After switching them on, Melanie grabbed her camera, recording the very moment her baby heard the world around her for the first time.

    ‘It’s a subtle reaction, but you can see something has changed. She’s just taking it all in,’ she said. ‘At one point, she started to get a little upset, so I soothed her and that’s when I knew, without a doubt, she could hear me.

    ‘I was just reacting to her, telling her, ‘Hi bubba,’ over and over, so she could get used to me.’

    Since then, Sienna has used her hearing aids every day.

    Still profoundly deaf in her left ear, her parents began to teach her sign language to help her communicate, in case she never learned to talk.

    How does a cochlear implant work?

    1. A sound processor worn behind the ear or on the body, captures sound and turns it into digital code. The sound processor has a battery that powers the entire system.
    2. The sound processor transmits the digitally-coded sound through the coil on the outside of your head to the implant.
    3. The implant converts the digitally-coded sound into electrical impulses and sends them along the electrode array placed in the cochlea (the inner ear).
    4. The implant’s electrodes stimulate the cochlea’s hearing nerve, which then sends the impulses to the brain where they are interpreted as sound.
      Cochlear.com

    Meanwhile, in August 2017, they received test results confirming that Sienna’s condition was genetic.

    Melanie said: ‘Latham and I both unknowingly carried a gene that we passed on to her.

    ‘It was a very bittersweet moment. We know now this was nobody’s fault, but it was difficult hearing about this gene we’d had no idea we had.

    ‘If we have any more children, there is a chance we will pass it to them also, but seeing Sienna and what an amazing character she has makes us less afraid of this.

    ‘There are discussions to be had, but we know the steps to take now, and how much support is out there.’

    Eight weeks ago, Sienna’s world opened up even more, when she had a cochlear implant – an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear.

    And, in November 2018, she said her first word out loud – ‘Mum.’

    Now, Melanie is sharing her story to give other parents hope and show them that they are not alone.

    ‘After diagnosis, it’s very normal to have a period of grieving, but I want other parents to know that help is out there,’ she said.

    ‘It can be very isolating, and you feel as if other people don’t understand – but they really do.

    ‘I share a lot of Sienna’s journey online because it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and through that, I’ve received messages from all over the world from total strangers.

    ‘It’s comforting to know there are people who know how this feels.’

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    (Picture: Getty)

    Thanksgiving is a primarily American holiday, although – like the connecting Black Friday – it seems to make its way across the pond more each year.

    In images and on television, the day is typefied by a big turkey and plenty of pumpkin pie, but there is a rich history to the day that goes past platefuls of food.

    It’s a day for Americans to think about the melting pot that is their country, and this year it falls on Thursday 22 November.

    (Picture: John Moore/Getty Images)

    The day occurs every year on the fourth Thursday of November as the holiday is revered over the US.

    It is a national holiday in the US and began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest, although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday.

    The history of the holiday of Thanksgiving is rooted in English traditions and the Protestant Reformation and ties in with the aspects of a harvest festival.

    In the US the modern Thanksgiving traditions are traced to the 1621 celebration at Plymouth in Massachusetts when the pilgrims came from England.

    The day of Thanksgiving was brought into federal legislation in 1941 but has been a tradition in the US since 1863.

    The beginning of the holiday season is marked by the arrival of Thanksgiving.

    (Picture: Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images)

    It also signals the holiday phenomenon of Black Friday and US tradition has made the day after Thanksgiving the day when stores slash their prices in a one-day bargain bonanza.

    People use the day off after Thanksgiving to wait out for Black Friday sales, where some people may get all their Christmas shopping done in one day of glorious discounted prices.

    A classic Thanksgiving feast will consist of Turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, cornbread, and pumpkin or pecan pie.

    The Thanksgiving dinner that was served to the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 included pickles, green olives, celery, roast turkey, oyster stew, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, dressing, creamed asparagus, snowflake potatoes, baked carrots, hot rolls, fruit salad, mincemeat pie, and fruitcake.

    The US isn’t the only place that has Thanksgiving, the holiday is celebrated in Canada on the second Monday of October.

    Thanksgiving is also celebrated in some of the Caribbean Islands and Liberia.

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    Happy mother and daughter preparing roasted turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.Happy mother and daughter preparing roasted turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.jessicacvlHappy mother and daughter preparing roasted turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.Happy mother and daughter preparing roasted turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.jessicacvl

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