Articles on this Page
- 12/03/18--08:27: _100-year-old woman ...
- 12/03/18--08:32: _Restaurants trying ...
- 12/03/18--08:35: _What is a Hanukkah ...
- 12/03/18--08:43: _Wall-E the dog is s...
- 12/03/18--09:31: _The best deals on P...
- 12/03/18--09:46: _Overweight Labrador...
- 12/03/18--09:51: _Single dad depicts ...
- 12/03/18--22:21: _A rare white baby r...
- 12/03/18--23:00: _The craziest things...
- 12/03/18--23:22: _Mum embraces her ma...
- 12/03/18--23:53: _Mum shares lengthy ...
- 12/04/18--00:00: _A photo safari to B...
- 12/04/18--00:47: _Greggs launches Chr...
- 12/04/18--01:00: _Sanitary towel bins...
- 12/04/18--01:48: _What I Rent: Vicky,...
- 12/04/18--02:03: _Sangeli: The newly ...
- 12/04/18--03:07: _In truly shocking n...
- 12/04/18--04:00: _Step away from the ...
- 12/04/18--04:01: _How to hook up resp...
- 12/04/18--04:10: _These are the baby ...
- 12/03/18--08:27: 100-year-old woman says key to long life is never worrying about men
- 12/03/18--08:35: What is a Hanukkah candle called and when do you light them?
- 12/03/18--09:31: The best deals on Pandora jewellery this Christmas
- 12/03/18--09:46: Overweight Labrador loses over a stone using doggy Fitbit
- 12/03/18--09:51: Single dad depicts life as a lone parent in beautiful comics
- 12/03/18--22:21: A rare white baby reindeer was caught on camera in Norway
- 12/03/18--23:00: The craziest things I did in the name of infertility
- 12/03/18--23:22: Mum embraces her mastectomy scars after surviving cancer three times
- 12/04/18--00:47: Greggs launches Christmas gift range
- 12/04/18--04:01: How to hook up responsibly at the office Christmas party
- Be as honest as possible. Agree with your hookup partner that you’ll both just say ‘yup, was fun’ and leave it at that. Without the excitement of a secret, the chat will die down quickly.
- Shut gossip down as soon as you hear it. This is a hard line to take if you work somewhere friendly, but a simple ‘please don’t talk about my personal life, it’s not yours to discuss’ should do the trick if you’re okay with the seriousness of it.
- 12/04/18--04:10: These are the baby name trends that are predicted to be big in 2019
An elderly woman who is celebrating her 100th birthday says her long life is a result of never having to worry about men.
She’s our hero.
Mary Norris was born Mary Norris was born just days after the end of World War One, on 3 December 1918, and never married.
During the Second World War, she dedicated herself to working in munitions factories, thinking of her five brothers serving in the forces to keep herself motivated.
She is the last surviving sibling of ten, and will celebrate her birthday at St Andrews Court in Uphall, Edinburgh, with a glass of sherry.
Mary said: ‘I was born in 1918 during the end of the Great War and I’ve seen a lot of changes.
‘I had eight brothers and one sister, but sadly I am now the only one that’s left.
‘My father worked hard to keep a roof over our heads.
‘He wasn’t a rich man, he earned small wages, but he did his best.
‘He worked in the oil works and it was very difficult, but he did the best he could to keep us all together.’
She added: ‘When the Second World War started in 1940, I was only 22 years old.
‘I worked in the munitions factory in Edinburgh building parts for weapons that were sent to the army.
‘We worked all through the early morning, throughout the day and into the night.
‘Five of my brothers served in the war – three were in the army, one was in the air force and one was in the navy.
‘Thankfully, they all made it home. I’d like to think I helped them.’
Mary, who has never stepped foot outside Scotland, worked as a cleaner at Crawford’s on Edinburgh’s Frederick Street.
But when her mother became ill, Mary looked after her until she died in 1959.
In 2003, Mary moved into St Andrew’s Court where she formed a close bond with other residents.
Housing manager Lynn McCusker said: ‘Mary is always on the go.
‘She is out most days, and goes to church and visits Holmes Gardens day centre.
‘She’ll occasionally treat herself with a trip to the hairdressers, too.
‘I know that she’s very excited for her telegram from the Queen.
‘She’s even been asked to go and switch on the Christmas lights in Uphall.
‘She loves to dance and enjoys a sherry, so maybe that’s the secret.’
Mary NorrisMary NorrishattiegladwellmetroMary Norris who is celebrating her 100th birthday. See SWNS story SWSCbirthday; An elderly Scots woman who has never set foot down south is celebrating her 100th birthday - and attributes her long life to not having to worry about men. Mary Norris was born just days after the end of World War One, on December 3 1918, and never married. During the Second World War, she dedicated herself to working in munitions factories, thinking of her five brothers serving in the forces to keep herself motivated. She is the last surviving sibling of ten, and will celebrate her birthday at St Andrews Court in Uphall, Edinburgh, with a glass of sherry.Mary Norris who is celebrating her 100th birthday she is pictured here aged 21. See SWNS story SWSCbirthday; An elderly Scots woman who has never set foot down south is celebrating her 100th birthday - and attributes her long life to not having to worry about men. Mary Norris was born just days after the end of World War One, on December 3 1918, and never married. During the Second World War, she dedicated herself to working in munitions factories, thinking of her five brothers serving in the forces to keep herself motivated. She is the last surviving sibling of ten, and will celebrate her birthday at St Andrews Court in Uphall, Edinburgh, with a glass of sherry.
Frankie and Benny’s will let your child eat for free this Christmas provided that they are under the age of 14, you go before the 6 of December, and you don’t check your phone.
Yes, that’s right. Your children eat free if you have a screen free meal.
You might have thought that procreating rendered you adult enough to make your own choices about phone usage, but apparently the restaurant chain don’t share that sentiment.
They feel that families need a incentive not to sit and stare at their devices while eating competitively priced ‘Italian’ food. Which ironically makes me want to book into F&B’s for the first time in my life, and turn up with a 60 inch plasma.
There is something so deeply patronising about the idea of a wait staff at chain of restaurant (often attached to bowling allies or cinemas and located in car parks) being instructed by the management team to go around policing who is using their phone during dinner.
It’s hard to tell why a restaurant would consider it to be their place to tell customers how to run their social lives.
Commenting on the scheme, Frankie and Benny’s told Metro.co.uk:
‘We always want our customers to have fun and make the most of family time when they come into a Frankie & Benny’s. We looked at various ways we could encourage people to engage more at the dinner table, and off the back of the research we decided to give families the chance to part with their devices for a couple of hours.
‘With the added incentive of the ‘kids eat for free’ offer at such an expensive time of the year. Customers entering Frankie & Benny’s can opt into the initiative, and designated boxes will be provided for them to put their phones in so they can maximise family time over dinner. Staff are actively encouraging customers to take part in the initiative.’
We can all agree that in an ideal world, when we go out for dinner with our family it would be a lovely evening of stimulating conversation and relaxing quality time. But the thing about judging people who are on their phones is this: you’ve got no idea why they’re on their phones. And as a follow up: it’s none of your bloody concern.
Sometimes a phone is the only way to get a screaming child to calm down. Sometimes a phone is a crutch for social anxiety. Sometimes you’d have a really long day, been talking since you woke up twelve hours ago and you just want a quiet half hour to eat and stare at Instagram.
It seems like the second that you have children you become fair game for judgement. If you use an iPad you’re ruining the child’s development. If you don’t let them use an iPad then how are they ever going to develop fine motor skills? Do you let them eat sugar and risk obesity and diabetes, or do you ban sugary food and live in fear that they’ll have an eating disorder.
The last thing you need, when as a parent you’re living in a world of judgement, is to start encountering even more formalised judgemental behaviour, but this time from an establishment where you’re paying for the privilege.
Of course if you don’t want to be told what to do by the manager of a mid-range chain restaurant, you could just pay for your children’s food. Or go to Pizza Express, where they have dough balls and mind their own business.
How much screen time is best?
The American Association of Pediatrics suggests that children under eighteen months should, ideally, have no screen time at all.
Children between 2 and 5 should have no more than one hour of screen time a day, with an adult supervising.
Children over six should have consistent rules about how much screen time they are allowed.
How to look after your mental health on technologyHow to look after your mental health on technologyrebeccacnreidmetro illustrationsMETRO GRAPHICS
Hanukkah, the festival of lights,is a very special festival for the Jewish community,
This year Hanukkah began at sunset on Sunday December 2 – and as per usual the festival will last for eight nights, finishing this year on December 10
Much of the festival revolves around lighting candles, which is done on a special candelabrum of nine branches called a menorah.
One branch of this is raised above the other eight, and this is known as the Shamash, the candle that one uses to light each of the other candles.
Most Jewish people who observe Hanukkah say that lighting the menorah is their favourite part of Hanukkah.
Each night one more candle is lit by the Shamash until the eighth night when all of the candles on the Menorah are lit.
The Menorah should be lit every night when the stars appear and should be done in front of all members of the household, so they all can see the miracle.
For the 30 minutes before the lighting of the menorah you are not supposed to eat a ‘fixed’ meal or partake in anything intoxicating.
Once the nightly stars appear the evening prayers are to be recited, followed immediately by the lighting of the menorah.
The lights need to burn for at least half an hour.
In order for the Shamash to be kosher it must be slightly higher or lower than the rest of the candles or lights.
The Menorah is one of the most recognised traditional symbols of Judaism along with the star of David.
Elected officials will often partake in public lighting of the Menorah at Hanukkah, with many large public Menorahs in big cities with Jewish populations – including one in London’s Trafalgar Square.
Each year Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar which can be anytime from late November to late December.
Hanukkah is also known as the festival of lights, or the feast of dedication.
The words Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew verb ‘to dedicate’.
Hanukkah is the Hebrew word for the festival and is often translated to Chanukah or Hannukah – there is no right or wrong spelling of this as it is translated to corresponding sounds in English rather than to a specific spelling.
If you’re easily emotional, you’ll want to look away. Because the sadness in Wall-E the dog’s eyes will haunt you forever.
The adorable labrador was left at a pet shelter by his adopted family who gave him up after living with him for three years.
The confused and alone six-year-old could only look on as his family left him in the spot they picked him up from all those years ago.
To make matters final, they returned all his toys and even his bed to the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCAAC) in Arizona, U.S.
The upset Lab mix was returned to the Arizona shelter without explanation but it’s reported that the owners shed some tears while saying goodbye.
They were said to return the pet as they could no longer give Wall-E the love and care he deserves.
So they packed up all his belongings and put it into two bin bags, including his bed, leaving Wall-E stressed and heartbroken.
The folks at MCAAC defended Wall-E’s former owners though, saying in a Facebook post: ‘This guy deserves a forever family who won’t give up on him. Please don’t bash his previous owners though. We don’t know the whole story.
‘What we do know is the owner was heartbroken and crying. It was hard to finally help them leave. The staff was crying with the owners. We don’t believe this decision was taken lightly.’
But to make matters worse, the MCAAC shelter has been inundated with animals and can’t physically accommodate all the pets that come through.
Though they are obliged to take in every animal dropped off, they have to euthanise when their capacity is breached.
‘We have over 800 animals in our shelter right now,’ they explained. ‘Maricopa County Animal Care And Control (MCACC) is the second largest intake shelter in the United States.
‘We have to euthanise when we run out of space because legally we have to take every dog that comes to our doors. We are at that point now despite exhausting ALL resources including rescues, transports in state and out of state.’
Thankfully, Wall-E was able to escape such a fate.
To help him find a forever home, the team decided to post his story on their Facebook page which warranted attention from thousands of people.
Eventually, a woman who already owns another dog came down to the shelter to take Wall-E home with her.
If you’re in Arizona, you can keep up to date on the MCAAC website to see which animals you can foster or adopt.
Here is Wall-E when he was getting surrendered by his owner 😞Here is Wall-E when he was getting surrendered by his owner 😞faimabakar1Here is Wall-E when he was getting surrendered by his owner ???? They brought all his stuff.. like it was gonna be there with him 2 months later in his kenne
If you’re looking for a gift from Pandora this Christmas, you might be looking
It means you can upgrade the gift for your budget of course.
Although it’s difficult to find discounts on genuine Pandora products, there are a few to look out for.
If you buy from the official Pandora website, check out the outlet store.
You can pick up some of the jewellery store’s Disney charms at a discounted rate.
If you’d prefer something from the main range, there aren’t many discounts to be found but you do get this free Christmas ornament gift if you spend over £99.
And if you want your first bracelet, there’s some offers on ones that already come with some charms.
This Minnie Mouse set has £20 off, reduced from £140 to £120.
You can find Pandora products elsewhere, where there are other discounts. For example, The Jewel Hut are offering discounts when you build your own bracelet. If you keep an eye on other official outlets, there might be more discounts in the build-up to Christmas.
Pandora Christmas offersPandora Christmas offerslauraabernethy6
An animal lover says she helped an overweight black Labrador lose weight, using the doggy equivalent of a Fitbit.
22-year-old Beth Walker slimmed her pup Harvey down after she found him at a shelter, when he weighed 5st 9lb.
She first laid eyes on him when he was very overweight, and barely able to squeeze his huge 38kg frame into his kennel at Gables Farm Dogs and Cats Home in Plymouth, Devon.
While some people thought she was mad take on such a massive challenge, Harvey’s personality won the veterinary nurse’s heart and she adopted him – taking him home to Ivybridge, Devon, where she set about trying to shift the excess weight that was causing him terrible joint problems.
Teaming a low-calorie diet with a PitPat – an activity tracker for dogs – Harvey has now shed 10kg (1st 5lb) and weighs in 28kg (4st 4lb), which Beth says is the ideal size for his height, adding: ‘He’s doing so much better now.
‘Before, he would take up so much space that he could barely fit in his kennel, but now he’s far more comfortable, and can move around properly.’
After her doggy dieting success, Beth is now keen to pass on her experience to other people with overweight pets.
She continued: ‘It’s easy to worry about feeling judged for having a big dog, or be embarrassed to walk them in case people look at you and think you’re a bad owner – but that’s part of the problem.
‘Just like with people, weight can creep up on dogs, so don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t necessarily notice right away.
‘It’s so important to ask for help. Nobody will shout at or blame you – everyone just wants the dog to have a better life and losing weight is hard work.’
Beth, who also has a rescue cat named Stompy, told how she first came across Harvey through a local rescue centre, who she worked with a lot in her job.
As staff there knew she was on the lookout for a dog of her own to adopt, they phoned to say he had been brought in.
Recalling the moment when she first saw him, she continued: ‘He looked more like a big bear than a dog. He was this lovely big lump.
‘He wasn’t very well at first, with joint problems and kennel cough, a type of respiratory infection.
‘But we went outside to play together and I knew there was no way I could say no to him.’
While Harvey recovered from his infection, Beth organised adoption papers and, in May 2017, he came to live with her.
Rescue centre staff had helped him to lose a few pounds, but he was still an overweight pup, meaning he tired easily.
‘I initially thought helping Harvey lose weight would be pretty straightforward,’ said Beth.
‘I put him on a reduced calorie diet, but I soon realised that, being so big for so long, he’d been left with joint pain.
‘He didn’t seem to want to put much weight on his legs, so would just lie down with his toys.’
Keen to keep a close eye on Harvey, Beth got a PitPat activity monitor, which she attached to his collar.
She continued: ‘It was really helpful, as I could work out what was too much for him and at what point he got tired, so we could build up his exercise regime slowly.
‘It linked through to an app on my phone, where I could track exactly where he’d been and what he’d been doing.
‘It was useful with other people looking after him too, so I could make sure he was being properly walked.’
In time, Harvey built up his stamina, and the weight began to fall away, until, in early 2018, he hit his target size.
Like many human dieters, he has been left with some excess skin – particularly around his stomach – but the handsome hound is far healthier and happier.
Beth added: ‘While he’d lie around before, taking up most of the space in my bed, he now bombs around the park and plays happily with other dogs.
‘He still needs to take anti-inflammatory medication for his joints and possibly always will, but he’s still fantastic.’
Harvey has been left with a little excess skin following his weight loss (PA Real Life/Collect)Harvey has been left with a little excess skin following his weight loss (PA Real Life/Collect)hattiegladwellmetroHarvey, pictured here before his weight loss, has managed to shift 10kg (PA Real Life/Collect)Harvey before his weight loss (PA Real Life/Collect)Harvey playing after losing weight (PA Real Life/Collect)
Being a parent isn’t easy and doing it on your own can be even more difficult.
No matter the circumstances, there are many struggles that every parent can identify with.
One man has created these comics that show those moments beautifully.
Single dad Lan Sen-Jie, known as Blue, from Tapei, Taiwan, draws everything from disciplining his son to being peed on during a nappy change.
He became his son Yun-Li’s sole carer in 2015 when he was a year old.
Blue is a full-time comic book artist but usually, his other work is very different.
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘My previous comic works were totally different style from this.
‘At the beginning, all I want is to record little things that are meaningful to me, and leave my son a precious gift like no other kids have. But I think it’s my son who have changed my life.’
You can keep up with the rest of Blue’s work on his Facebook page.
Single Dads ComicSingle Dads Comiclauraabernethy6
An extremely rare white baby reindeer has been pictured in the mountains of Northern Norway.
Photographer Mads Nordsveen, from Oslo in Norway, was on a hiking trip with friends when he spotted the reindeer.
He was walking through the mountains looking for nice landscapes for his travel photography when he saw the little guy.
Mads said: ‘He came very close to me and we looked at each other straight in the eyes.
‘He was quite relaxed when he saw that I was calm and friendly. It was almost as if he posed for the camera.
‘He was very curious and fun. Like a little explorer.
‘After some minutes the mother of the baby reindeer came out of trees just behind.
‘It walked around for some minutes before running back to its mother.
‘It was very magical and a fairy tale moment.
‘Maybe one day we’ll meet again.’
White reindeer have an uncommon genetic mutation that strips their fur of pigment to allow them to blend into their snowy surroundings.
They’re not albino because their eyes and sometimes their antlers still have dark pigmentation.
A magical encounter with an adorable and rare baby reindeer who is pure whiteA magical encounter with an adorable and rare baby reindeer who is pure whitehattiegladwellmetroA magical encounter with an adorable and rare baby reindeer who is pure whitePic by Mads Nordsveen/Caters News - (Pictured: A magical encounter with an adorable and rare baby reindeer who is pure white.) - This extremely rare white baby reindeer almost disappears into the snowy background of these magical wintry snaps. Despite its apparent camouflage the adorable pure white deer wasnt shy, as it posed for pictures in the mountains of Northern Norway. Photographer Mads Nordsveen, from Oslo in Norway, was on a hiking trip with friends when he spotted the almost mythical creature. The 24-year-old said: I was walking in the mountains looking for nice landscapes for my travel photography when out of nowhere I saw this wonderful little creature. SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Mads Nordsveen/Caters News - (Pictured: A magical encounter with an adorable and rare baby reindeer who is pure white.) - This extremely rare white baby reindeer almost disappears into the snowy background of these magical wintry snaps. Despite its apparent camouflage the adorable pure white deer wasnt shy, as it posed for pictures in the mountains of Northern Norway. Photographer Mads Nordsveen, from Oslo in Norway, was on a hiking trip with friends when he spotted the almost mythical creature. The 24-year-old said: I was walking in the mountains looking for nice landscapes for my travel photography when out of nowhere I saw this wonderful little creature. SEE CATERS COPY.
There is growing concern that desperate couples are being misled by IVF clinics who are selling them expensive ‘add-ons’— experimental procedures that have not been tested in clinical trials or have been shown to make no difference to results.
One couple is now suing their clinic for selling them £7,000 of extras that they were told would increase their chances of a successful pregnancy.
They said: ‘We were desperate. If they had said they could sprinkle fairy dust and it will make you pregnant we would have bought it.’
In order to regulate the industry, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have created a new easy-to-understand traffic light rating system, to educate patients about emerging and new techniques and how effective they are .
Furthermore, under a new code of practice, fertility clinics will soon have to explain the clinical evidence behind treatment add-ons — helping patients make better decisions about what’s right for them.
I wholeheartedly support all measures to ensure patients are able to make informed decisions about their treatment, and acknowledge that desperate, vulnerable patients are easy targets.
I should know, I’m one of them.
The crucial element to note is that despite the fact these add-ons aren’t proven doesn’t affect whether we buy into them or not – because we’re desperate and will try anything.
It is not only IVF clinics who are selling treatment under the impression that there’s evidence that it will increase chances — something I hope the new code of practice will help to combat.
The fact is that many, many infertility patients will be doing — and spending vast sums of money on — a whole range of weird and wonderful shit: not because we genuinely believe it will be the magic cure, but because we’re desperate to try anything and everything, just in case.
One of the hardest things about infertility is the lack of control — the feeling that you are utterly powerless to change the outcome. The ‘trying’ in ‘trying to conceive’ is pretty apt — the process feels immensely trying, because personally, never have I tried so bloody hard to get precisely nowhere.
So we seize upon anything that gives us a sense of agency —and to assuage our guilt that when another cycle fails, or we miscarry again, we won’t look back and think ‘I could have tried harder’.
I’m a massive cynic. I consider myself a (broadly) rational person. I don’t give much credence to ‘alternative’ medicine. I’m the sort of person who rails against homeopathy, and urges people to read books like Bad Science to understand the importance of evidence-based medicine. I think therapies like reflexology are nothing more than an expensive foot rub.
But despite all of this, against my better nature, I did ALL THIS FERTILITY WOO ANYWAY.
The traffic light system wouldn’t have made any difference at all, because I’d have done it anyway — I certainly spent thousands and thousands on other stuff with bugger all evidence, out of desperation to feel like I had left no stone unturned. I’d have hung upside down like a bat in a tree for a week, shaved my head and gone Morris dancing if I heard someone else tried it and their 49th cycle of IVF finally worked.
I did some utterly insane things in the name of infertility — and I’m not alone.
Yes, these are batshit. Yes, we sound unhinged. Yes, we are otherwise sensible, professional people. But we are desperate and feel utterly impotent, and at least these help us to feel like we’re doing something.
Some of my own adventures in infertility madness
Pretending to be a man with erectile dysfunction to get a Viagra prescription
Viagra is sometimes used to treat thin womb lining during IVF — so in my eminent wisdom, I thought I’d try a spot of self-medication to try and rescue yet another cancelled FET (frozen embryo transfer) cycle, because my lining wasn’t thickening up.
Viagra wasn’t yet available over the counter at this point — but you could get a private prescription from your local chemist via their online doctor service.
I set up a new gmail address for my middle-aged alter ego (let’s call him Graham. It wasn’t Graham) because I’m nothing if not thorough.
‘Graham’ completed the form, explaining that he had boner problems (but was otherwise in good health), paid some cash — and a few hours later Graham’s prescription was ready for me to collect on his behalf. The eagle had landed.
Review: It did sod all. Apparently while oral Viagra works brilliantly for flaccid dicks, to have any effect on uterine blood flow it has to be administered locally (in the form of a pessary up the vag). Disappointingly it didn’t have any recreational side effects either — just a stonking headache.
0/10, would not try again. Sorry Graham.
Commissioning bespoke medication direct from the manufacturer
So, knowing that the little blue pills were pointless, I had to get the good stuff.
Many, many enquiries and the verdict was that:
1. It wasn’t possible to get the Viagra pessaries made up in the UK
2. US pharmacies wouldn’t accept a prescription from my consultant — it had to be from a state licensed physician. Undeterred, I set about Operation Vaginal Viagra (VV to the cool kids).
So I arranged a free Skype consultation with the US doctor who pioneered this therapy, intending to employ subterfuge to ask if he would prescribe me the mythical Viagra pessaries — so I could get them made up and shipped to the UK.
My adventures as an international drug trafficker were cut short by a stroke of luck. I discovered that a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Cardiff had a special licence from the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to make up bespoke prescription products — including sildenafil (generic Viagra).
This was a first for them, so they seemed in equal parts utterly baffled and rather intrigued by a new request — and agreed to make them up, if my consultant would issue a prescription.
Now, I knew from people in the US that their VV had cost an obscene amount. I was inwardly hoping that scoring VV from the lovely NHS St Mary’s Pharmaceutical Unit would be much more reasonably priced than US big pharma.
This was very much not the case.
The cost for 7 days worth of pessaries? That would be over one thousand of your British pounds.
I know. And I didn’t even think this would be a miracle cure! But I needed to know we’d left no stone unturned, and tried every possible option.
TL;DR, they didn’t work. And to add insult to injury, again there were no recreational side effects. (For over a grand I thought they should at least have been delivered by Ryan Gosling on a silver platter — but hey, life is full of disappointments)
Blessings in the Valley of the Phallus
The thing about infertility madness is that those around you can end up getting sucked in too. Feeling powerless to help, they too can end up doing some crazy stuff — not because they think it’ll make any difference, but because they want to feel like they’re in some way doing something too.
My lovely dad went on holiday to Bhutan, and ended up visiting the Temple of Fertility in the Valley of the Phallus. A 15th century Buddhist monk known as the Divine Mad Man was renowned for his unorthodox methods of enlightening people — leading to him being known as ‘The Saint of 5,000 Women’. Yeah, you can guess what his ‘unorthodox methods’ involved.
His penis was referred to as the ‘Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom’ and he himself became known as the ‘fertility saint’. He was one busy boy, by all accounts.
His temple is nowadays visited by childless couples from around the world, seeking blessings with a carved wooden holy phallus, which is considered to bring good luck to those having trouble conceiving (and the obligatory photo album of all the babies born after their parents received the holy blessing). As my Dad was already on a tour visiting the temple, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind putting in a good word for us, and he very kindly ‘got blessed by a monk with a wooden penis’ on our behalf.
Spoiler alert: didn’t work, but nice try Dad.
Here are some examples from some other women
Shagging. Strangely didn’t work…
A million supplements (incl. Royal Jelly and bee propolis, Maca, Dhea, l’arginine, Inositol, Ubiquinol, Vitamin D, Melatonin, Wheatgrass and Spirulina algae shots)
Castor oil tummy pack (at the right time of the month)
High protein (incl. putting pea protein in my porridge….yum)
Sex every day
Sex every other day
Sex ‘exactly’ 2–3 times per week as per most chance of success statistically
Bum on a pillow and legs in the air after sex
Conceive Plus fertility lubricant
Daily 5am exercise (to get blood flowing to my ovaries and ‘lower’ my FSH. ha ha ha)
Too much booze (for the ironic ‘we relaxed and it happened’ pregnancy)
‘Hiding’ my ovaries from the microwave when it’s on, looking at my Tupperware suspiciously and being frightened of nail polish and perfume (thanks ‘It Starts With The Egg’ and the internet).
HSG (no surprise pregnancy following flushing out of the tubes…shocker)
Laparoscopy (the women in the bed to me was in for sterilisation as she got pregnant AFTER her husband’s vasectomy. I have never felt so barren).
Clomid (6 months)
IUI (once, converted from poor response to IVF drugs)
IVF with ICSI and AOA (3 times)
Flying to multiple foreign lands to have more doctors look at my foof and shake their heads sadly.
Injecting myself in the tummy in airport loos feeling like a character in Trainspotting.
Sending my period to Greece.
Using a Persona natural contraception kit as an alternative to ovulation pee sticks (for a bit of variety, who doesn’t love peeing on sticks??) – quite enjoyed being a rebel and having sex on the ‘danger’ days.
I asked my husband what he considered the craziest thing we’d done in our efforts to have a baby. A short pause as he looked me in the eye and raised an eyebrow, ‘Tens of thousands of pounds?’ Oh yeah, forgot that bit.
I also read that bloody ‘It starts with the egg’ book — didn’t improve my eggs, just gave me a long list of things to feel guilty about:
Sex every other day for a very very long time
££££ on vitamins
Acupuncture for months
No caffeine, alcohol, dairy or gluten
Getting drunk (for everyone’s favourite ‘we relaxed and it happened’. It didn’t)
Going on holiday x 5 (as above. oddly enough, trips overseas didn’t fix my husband’s sperm)
Avoiding the microwave / nail varnish / till receipts (receipts have tested positive for BPA) etc
Being suspicious of plastic
Drinking bottled water but worrying about the plastic bottles
Repeatedly looking at glass Brita water filter jug on Amazon but not buying as will take up too much room in fridge and am aware I am losing the plot
Long courses of antibiotics
Quitting my job
Exercise and weight loss
No exercise above gentle walk and weight gain
Worrying that spooning will cause too high testicular temperature overnight. My husband said no cuddling was a step too far
Loads of IVF
Lighting candles in churches for years despite being a complete atheist
Despite being an atheist I also prayed nightly for a while, on my knees by my bed. Until I got a grip (hey, it worked for a 47-year-old after years of infertility. The internet said so).
Making my husband jizz into a pot and then hoovering it up with a sterile syringe and injecting it into my foof (legs in the air etc), when it’s peak sex time and we’re too tired / depressed for a shag.
Those were beautiful times in our marriage.
We got a USB microscope from Maplins to monitor my husband’s sperm over the course of several months to see if it was getting any better. Sometimes there were lots of lively sperm; sometimes all the sperm were dead; sometimes they were all clumped together; sometimes they were swimming in circles. Absolutely no rhyme or reason behind the variation.
We recorded videos, and I have a little archive in a folder on my laptop. There’s one video of a really good batch, from Feb 2015, that I re-watch now and again to self-soothe.
I’m an absolute militant when it comes to baths and laptops and phones anywhere near my husband’s testicles. He absolutely loves baths and wouldn’t stop having them — for a while I made him use a kids’ bath temperature monitor. Now he has a shallow bath, and if I pop my head round the door he proudly eye points to his nethers sitting above water level.
My husband did a bit of internet research, and now gives his nuts a blast under the cold shower every morning. I suspect it is entirely unnecessary, but he seemed proud of his contribution, and the mean part of me thinks it doesn’t hurt for him to suffer a little bit when I’m being prodded and poked all the time!
Particular highlights include feng shui for fertility, and taking out my navel piercing, because it’s supposed to have a negative effect on fertility (hmm). I now have a hole in my belly button, a very awkwardly arranged bedroom, and I’m still not bloody pregnant.
Hugging any pregnant woman or newborn as apparently that makes you more fertile. Something about the hormones. Apparently this worked for Iman after years of infertility (really scraping the barrel for ‘ridiculous fertility cures’ now).
There was the time we tried injecting actual raw egg whites up my vag, having heard that it’s supposed to replicate egg white cervical fluid to help sperm transport. I remember one desolate weekend away when we drove all around rural Yorkshire at midnight looking for a supermarket that was still open, so we could buy an egg because I’d had a positive ovulation test.
(By the way, for anyone collecting new tips, I did conceive the month we tried egg white. But miscarried again, obviously).
For a while I got really hung up on the idea that you’re more supposedly more likely to conceive if you have simultaneous orgasms? I’m sure some barren-hating sadist put this on the internet for kicks, to ruin whatever is left of the spontaneity in our sex lives after years of trying to conceive.
None of us ever would have thought we’d have tried any of these ridiculous things — women in conflict zones and refugee camps have babies and they’re certainly not having acupuncture and eating high protein diets and being serene and mindful all day long.
But when what’s seemingly so easy and natural for everyone else isn’t happening for you, it’s easy to feel so ashamed that you’re not trying everything. Because everyone wants to tell you about their cousin’s sister’s aunt’s hairdresser who’d been trying for 26 years and snorted some oregano and licked a tortoise and now they have miracle quadruplets.
Do I regret doing any of these things? (spoiler alert: no baby). In retrospect I wish I’d spent the money on things that also didn’t get me pregnant, but which I actually enjoyed — e.g. getting my nails done (instead of thousands of pounds on pointless acupuncture).
But that’s with the benefit of hindsight. At the time I wouldn’t have dared step out of the fog of infertility madness, because of guilt, guilt and more guilt that I could have been ‘trying harder’.
The best advice I have to anyone who may be in the grips of infertility madness is to be kind to yourself. This journey is hard enough without self-flagellation. You’re doing your best. As hard as it is, it’s either going to work or it’s not – regardless of whatever we do or don’t do. But looking after yourselves, and each other — that’s genuinely the most important thing.
Things I have tried during our infertility journey*
*(I’m not including ‘amateur’ stuff like ovulation sticks, temperature charting, legs up the wall after sex, fertility lubes, prenatal vitamins — this is about semi-pro and professional infertile status)
coq10 as ubiquinol (egg quality)
melatonin (egg quality)
resveratrol (egg quality)
n-acetyl cysteine (egg quality)
high dose vit D3 (egg quality)
high dose omega 3 (egg quality)
high dose vit E (womb lining)
high dose l-arginine (womb lining)
wheatgrass shots (reduce FSH)
guaifenesin cough mixture (cervical fluid)
grapefruit juice (cervical fluid)
‘Fertility friendly’ foods
Like red raspberry leaf tea, beetroot juice, pomegranate juice, pineapple core and other crap that some randoms on the internet swear got them up the duff
clomid pills (ovarian stimulation)
tamoxifen pills (ovarian stimulation)
FSH injections (ovarian stimulation)
buserelin injections (ovarian suppression)
cetrotide injections (ovarian suppression)
birth control pills (ovarian suppression)
hCG injections (ovulation induction)
provera pills (menstrual induction)
oestrogen pills (womb lining)
oestrogen patches (womb lining)
progesterone pessaries (womb lining)
progesterone injections (womb lining)
viagra pills (womb lining)
viagra pessaries (womb lining)
neupogen intra-uterine infusion (womb lining)
pentoxifylline (womb lining)
aspirin (blood flow)
clexane injections (blood flow)
prednisolone pills (immunes)
intravenous intralipid infusion (immunes)
metformin pills (PCOS)
thyroxine pills (thyroid)
copper IUD (intrauterine adhesions)
HyCoSy (tubal patency test & saline sonogram)
Endometrial biopsies (histology, endometrial receptivity array, uterine nk cells, uterine stem cells, endometrium fibroblast activation assay, DPP4 enzyme, CD138)
Uterine hidden infection tests (chlamydia, ureaplasma, mycoplasma, CMV, HSV1 DNA & HSV2 DNA, HHV6)
Cytogenetic testing on products of conception (miscarriage testing of fetal tissue)
Pre-implantation genetic screening (embryo aneuploidy screening)
Many, many blood tests — including hormones, level 1 immunes (anticardiolipin antibodies (IgG and IgM), antithrombin 111, factor V Leiden, factor II prothrombin gene, PAIP polymorphism, activated protein C resistance, Protein C/Protein S, lupus anticoagulant, MTHFR, anti-nuclear antibodies, thyroid peroxidase and anti-mitochondrial antibodies), level 2 immunes (immunophenotyping, nk cell cytoxicity assay,TH1:TH2 intracellular cytokine ratio)
A bazillion dates with dildocam (pelvic ultrasound)
Egg collections x 4
Embryo transfers x 2
ERPC x 1
Hysteroscopies x 2
Mayan abdominal massage & castor oil packs
Positive affirmations & visualisation
Mindfulness colouring books
This story is part of Fertility Diaries, an ongoing series covering all aspects of fertility.
We launched it thanks to an overwhelming response to Metro.co.uk's Fertility Month, a month-long series of content that we published across November.
Across four weeks, we spoke to people at all stages of the fertility journey as well as doctors, lawyers and fertility experts who shed light on the most important issues.
The feedback we received has been uniformly positive.
We talked to so many women and men who had the courage to share their stories with us and who told us how much it helped them to hear stories from others.
We had dozens of stories flooding our inbox every day throughout the month. As a result, we simply did not have time to tell all of the stories.
For that reason, we have decided to continue our fertility month as Fertility Diaries and we will continue to publish articles - and to tell your stories - under this tag.
If you have any feedback on the content or your own story to tell, please do get in touch at email@example.com.
You can find all Fertility Diaries content here and a selection below.
Headline: The craziest things I did in the name of infertilityHeadline: The craziest things I did in the name of infertilityakismet-2fcb28243f975bb512a587b829a23dfdHeadline: The craziest things I did in the name of infertility Metro illustrations (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) https://twitter.com/katylindemann THIS IS HER. https://uberbarrens.club/ her website. There is growing concern that desperate couples are being misled by IVF clinics who are selling them expensive ???add-ons?????? experimental procedures that have not been tested in clinical trials or have been shown to make no difference to results. One couple is now suing their clinic for selling them ??7,000 of extras that they were told would increase their chances of a successful pregnancy. They said: 'We were desperate. If they had said they could sprinkle fairy dust and it will make you pregnant we would have bought it.' In order to regulate the industry, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have created a new easy-to-understand traffic light rating system, to educate patients about emerging and new techniques and how effective they are???. Furthermore, under a new code of practice, fertility clinics will soon have to explain the clinical evidence behind treatment add-ons?????????helping patients make better decisions about what???s right for them. I wholeheartedly support all measures to ensure patients are able to make informed decisions about their treatment, and acknowledge that desperate, vulnerable patients are easy targets. I should know, I???m one of them. The crucial element to note is that despite the fact these add-ons aren???t proven doesn???t affect whether we buy into them or not - because we???re desperate and will try anything.Fertility Series
A mum-of-three has bared her mastectomy scars for a photoshoot to celebrate surviving cancer three times.
Gemma Cockrell, 49, has decided not to have a breast reconstruction to show other women with cancer that they are beautiful without their boobs.
Her three-time battle with cancer has left her with a flat chest and scars, but she’s embraced her appearance.
Gemma was first diagnosed with breast cancer back in April 2013. She had three lumpectomy surgeries followed by a month of radiotherapy. The treatment left her exhausted, but Gemma managed to continue working throughout her treatment – and she survived.
Two years later, in 2015, the cancer returned in the same breast. This time scans revealed it had spread into her lymph nodes. Gemma had a mastectomy followed by emergency surgery in December 2015.
Then in 2017, Gemma had a sense that something wasn’t right.
She opted to have her remaining breast removed, at which point doctors discovered there was cancer present.
Following a full mastectomy Gemma has been declared cancer-free, having survived the illness three times.
Now she wants to celebrate her body and show the reality of surviving breast cancer.
‘I resolved just to live my life and do what I could to inform and empower others like me,’ says Gemma.
‘The only problem with having treatment was really the physical effects and having to rely on others to do things for you. Juggling a family and working is always difficult, even when you’re not fighting an illness! My boys ate a lot of pasta.
‘Telling my children, absolutely definitely was the worst thing in all of this. My youngest boy had six months of therapy after the second diagnosis as he was convinced I was going to die. We still have a ritual we go through every night that makes him feel I will be ok.
‘I was telling my children that I couldn’t promise them I was going to be ok, only that I am ok right now.’
Gemma set up a skincare company, Ways Gone By, which gave her something to focus on while she recovered.
The company offers cancer care packages, with half the profits dedicated to cancer charities.
‘The business was a god send really as it allowed me to focus on something else,’ says Gemma. ‘I couldn’t think of anything worse than not being busy as I would then sit and think too much.’
It was after Gemma was encouraged to have a reconstruction of her breasts that she decided to do a photoshoot baring her scars.
‘It’s important to me that other women in my situation feel empowered to make their own decisions and that you are still the same person inside, you can still love and be loved,’ she explains.
‘I also felt there weren’t enough ‘real’ photos out there. I was given a booklet with a black and white drawing.
‘I actually feel normal. I rarely think about it, other than if I’m in a situation where I have to get dressed/undressed with other people, like at the gym.
‘I know I’m fine with how I look I’m just aware that others might not be. I’m very lucky that my husband is just super happy I’m still on the planet and isn’t bothered by how I look.’
She hopes her story sends a message: Your body is yours alone and it’s incredibly rewarding to embrace it.
‘Make your own decisions about your health and your body and don’t be bullied into an immediate decision,’ she says. ‘Feel happy in your own skin.
‘I don’t really think of deliberately wanting to be inspirational, I just want others to know that life can go on as normal even if you don’t quite look the same.’
Flat Chest Mastectomy PrideFlat Chest Mastectomy PrideellencscottKINGSTON-UPON-THAMES, UNITED KINGDOM: Gemma with her husband, James. THIS BRAVE British mum-of-three is embracing her mastectomy scars and flat chest by posing topless after beating cancer THREE TIMES and has decided NOT to have a breast reconstruction to show other women with cancer that they are lovable regardless of their appearance. Business woman and mum-of-three, Gemma Cockrell (49) from Kingston-upon-Thames, United Kingdom, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013, and she had three lumpectomy surgeries to remove it followed by a month of radiotherapy, although treatment left her feeling exhausted, incredibly, Gemma worked throughout her treatment. Then two years later, Gemma???s cancer returned in the same breast and scans revealed that it had spread into her lymph nodes. She then had a mastectomy followed by emergency surgery in December 2015. This time round, it took Gemma longer to bounce back but she was well looked after by hospital staff, her husband, James, and three children, Reid (25), Torrin (20) and Jove (14). In February 2017, Gemma felt as though something wasn???t right in her remaining breast so opted to have it removed and doctors discovered that there was cancer present. Gemma has been cancer free since her second mastectomy and recently posed in a sensational photoshoot celebrating her flat chest and scars after deciding not to have a breast reconstruction. She now hopes to empower other women through her decision to show them the ???real??? side of surviving breast cancer, after only being confronted with diagrams in information leaflets. MDWfeatures / Abi MooreKINGSTON-UPON-THAMES, UNITED KINGDOM: Gemma before her cancer diagnosis in 2007 with her husband James and their children. THIS BRAVE British mum-of-three is embracing her mastectomy scars and flat chest by posing topless after beating cancer THREE TIMES and has decided NOT to have a breast reconstruction to show other women with cancer that they are lovable regardless of their appearance. Business woman and mum-of-three, Gemma Cockrell (49) from Kingston-upon-Thames, United Kingdom, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013, and she had three lumpectomy surgeries to remove it followed by a month of radiotherapy, although treatment left her feeling exhausted, incredibly, Gemma worked throughout her treatment. Then two years later, Gemma???s cancer returned in the same breast and scans revealed that it had spread into her lymph nodes. She then had a mastectomy followed by emergency surgery in December 2015. This time round, it took Gemma longer to bounce back but she was well looked after by hospital staff, her husband, James, and three children, Reid (25), Torrin (20) and Jove (14). In February 2017, Gemma felt as though something wasn???t right in her remaining breast so opted to have it removed and doctors discovered that there was cancer present. Gemma has been cancer free since her second mastectomy and recently posed in a sensational photoshoot celebrating her flat chest and scars after deciding not to have a breast reconstruction. She now hopes to empower other women through her decision to show them the ???real??? side of surviving breast cancer, after only being confronted with diagrams in information leaflets. MDWfeatures / Gemma CockrellKINGSTON-UPON-THAMES, UNITED KINGDOM: Gemma wants to show women living with cancer that they are still worthy of love despite any scars that might be left behind on their bodies. THIS BRAVE British mum-of-three is embracing her mastectomy scars and flat chest by posing topless after beating cancer THREE TIMES and has decided NOT to have a breast reconstruction to show other women with cancer that they are lovable regardless of their appearance. Business woman and mum-of-three, Gemma Cockrell (49) from Kingston-upon-Thames, United Kingdom, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013, and she had three lumpectomy surgeries to remove it followed by a month of radiotherapy, although treatment left her feeling exhausted, incredibly, Gemma worked throughout her treatment. Then two years later, Gemma???s cancer returned in the same breast and scans revealed that it had spread into her lymph nodes. She then had a mastectomy followed by emergency surgery in December 2015. This time round, it took Gemma longer to bounce back but she was well looked after by hospital staff, her husband, James, and three children, Reid (25), Torrin (20) and Jove (14). In February 2017, Gemma felt as though something wasn???t right in her remaining breast so opted to have it removed and doctors discovered that there was cancer present. Gemma has been cancer free since her second mastectomy and recently posed in a sensational photoshoot celebrating her flat chest and scars after deciding not to have a breast reconstruction. She now hopes to empower other women through her decision to show them the ???real??? side of surviving breast cancer, after only being confronted with diagrams in information leaflets. MDWfeatures / Abi MooreKINGSTON-UPON-THAMES, UNITED KINGDOM: Gemma now. THIS BRAVE British mum-of-three is embracing her mastectomy scars and flat chest by posing topless after beating cancer THREE TIMES and has decided NOT to have a breast reconstruction to show other women with cancer that they are lovable regardless of their appearance. Business woman and mum-of-three, Gemma Cockrell (49) from Kingston-upon-Thames, United Kingdom, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013, and she had three lumpectomy surgeries to remove it followed by a month of radiotherapy, although treatment left her feeling exhausted, incredibly, Gemma worked throughout her treatment. Then two years later, Gemma???s cancer returned in the same breast and scans revealed that it had spread into her lymph nodes. She then had a mastectomy followed by emergency surgery in December 2015. This time round, it took Gemma longer to bounce back but she was well looked after by hospital staff, her husband, James, and three children, Reid (25), Torrin (20) and Jove (14). In February 2017, Gemma felt as though something wasn???t right in her remaining breast so opted to have it removed and doctors discovered that there was cancer present. Gemma has been cancer free since her second mastectomy and recently posed in a sensational photoshoot celebrating her flat chest and scars after deciding not to have a breast reconstruction. She now hopes to empower other women through her decision to show them the ???real??? side of surviving breast cancer, after only being confronted with diagrams in information leaflets. MDWfeatures / Gemma Cockrell
When it comes to choosing someone to take care of your child, it makes sense to be a little picky.
That’s your child, after all. If you can’t spend every hour of them, you want to make sure the person taking care of them when you’re away is someone you can trust and rely on, 100%.
So honestly, we’re understanding of this mum who posted a lengthy list of requirements for prospective babysitters.
Yes, those requirements may be a bit extreme, especially when the pay is $10 (around £8) an hour, but wouldn’t we all get a touch intense when searching for someone to care for our flesh and blood?
In a Facebook post, the anonymous mum announced that she was looking for a babysitter in the area, and shared a 14-point list of requirements.
Among other things, anyone who fancies the job will need to have a degree in childcare or nine years experience, no tattoos, and ‘ideally’ be a fan of Trump. Cool.
‘Looking for a babysitter in the area,’ wrote the mum. ‘PM me if you’re interested. Here are my requirements:
‘Have a bachelors degree in childcare OR nine years of relevant babysitting experience.
‘3 good references with phone numbers.
‘Full time availability inc. weekends.
‘Your own car and driving licence.
‘Native English speaking and preferred second language to teach my children.
‘CPR certified. Ideally a CNA licence.
‘NO history of traffic tickets and NO problems with the law (I will be running your name thru databases).
‘No tattoos. No drugs. No alcohol. No sketchy social media behaviour AND/OR public pictures.
‘MUST be okay with my two pitbulls.
‘MUST be okay with emergency last minute calls.
‘Perfect Attendance 100% required.
‘Willing to pay for some snacks.
‘Will love to work with an infant, 3 yr old, and 5 yr old.
‘Ideally will be a Trump fan.’
Once that (long) list of requirements is out of the way, the mum explains the pay rate: ‘In exchange I will be offering $10/hr under the table cash. It’s like paying $15/hr normally but without paying tax.’
Right. Cool. Seems perfectly reasonable.
Any prospective babysitters can’t have any issues with the law, but they’ll need to be okay with committing tax fraud. No way would you be allowed to corrupt the kiddos’ minds by having tattoos, but chatting about Trump is a-okay. Makes sense.
The Facebook post was shared on Reddit, where it’s been flooded with baffled responses.
‘9 years experience is very specific,’ wrote one Redditor. ‘Also, would be worried about someone who had the degree and/or experience but was still willing to graft for $10 an hour.’
Another wrote: ‘I thought she meant SHE’D be willing to pay for the babysitters snacks. I was like well I guess that’s nice, then I realized she meant the babysitters would be paying for snacks. Lovely.’
Mum's list of requirements for a babysitterMum's list of requirements for a babysitterellencscottGirl playing with colorful toy wood blocks, her mother is helping her, education and fun conceptMETRO GRAB - taken from the ChoosingBeggars Reddit page without permission - unknown source from Facebook Mum's list of requirements for a babysitter https://www.reddit.com/r/ChoosingBeggars/comments/a2664j/delusional_babysitter_requirements/ credit: Choosing Beggars
Safari in Africa is a once in a lifetime experience – even better if you’re given a camera with a hefty zoom lens, taught how to use it, and manage to capture great shots.
Let’s face it, you’re not going to get stunning images of wildlife with your phone – even if you have the latest model – and probably your point and shoot camera’s going to struggle too.
That’s why I opted for a trip with Pangolin Photo Safaris where you get to borrow state-of-the-art kit, and have expert tutoring as you go along, so you end up with the sort of pictures that would make David Attenborough proud.
I started my photographic adventures in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
Getting there involved flying from Johannesburg to Maun, then transferring to a smaller 12-seater plane and landing on a makeshift airstrip near the village of Khwai.
It’s then a bumpy ride in a bush vehicle to the safari lodge, home for the next few days.
I was given a Canon 80D camera with a 150-600mm zoom lens and Dan, my instructor, took me through the basics of safari photography.
His told me to never switch off the camera, and always give the subject enough room in the frame as you could always crop later.
His single bush survival tip was ‘Never panic!’
I was really in the middle of nowhere – villagers risked life and limb to venture out into the bush to gather grasses. They sold them for thatch, using the money to buy school books and uniforms.
As I set out in the late afternoon, I passed two of them on their way home. This was lion country, and sometimes they don’t make it back.
Wax, the spotter driver, had news of the beasts.
He whisked me off to see a big male and a smaller female wake from their afternoon nap. They’re hungry, so we watched them stealthily stalk an impala.
Unfortunately night was falling, and it became too dark for photography, so we returned to camp. That night, my fitful slumber was disturbed by the roaring of lions, braying of hyenas and the chomping of hippos.
Later, I was put to the test as I was about to enter a hide to observe elephants at a watering hole.
There’s a solitary bull who I thought would make a good shot, so I pointed my camera.
He’s not pleased; he trumpeted loudly and started to charge, and of course I jumped straight into the safety of the hide.
Apparently it’s only a mock charge, but it seemed real enough to scare me.
Over the next few days, we tracked leopard and lion in a landscape with no roads and no discernible features.
As well as spotting the big cats, we stumbled across a huge herd of around 150 elephants, complete with babies, crossing the river.
Nearby, we waited to get shots of hippos throwing their heads out of water – the classic hippopotamus yawn.
After three glorious days, I took a small plane to Kasane, on the Chobe. Pangolin Photo Safaris have a brand new hotel there, on a hill overlooking the river.
It’s equipped with an editing room where the tutors could view your shots and give you advice.
Their boats were equipped with custom camera mounts, which allowed you to sit and pan 360 degrees.
The river was stacked with game.
Mornings found hippos on the bank, munching on grass, and huge crocs sunning themselves with their jaws wide open. Baboons played by the water and waterbucks came to drink.
There’s time to linger, observe all, and also to get those special shots.
The afternoon saw large herds of elephants playing in the mud, and a sighting of an elusive leopard in a tree.
There were also game drives through the National Park twice a day.
One memorable morning, I got to see four of the big five – lions, leopards, buffalo, and elephants – all close enough to almost touch. In the evening we came across three lionesses with cubs, all out to play.
Sometimes things don’t turn out as you expected.
One afternoon, we spotted an old battered buffalo busily chomping away by the water, seemingly unaware of the two young lions, perhaps brother and sister, stalking him.
Our cameras were ready as the cats got closer, ready for the kill.
Suddenly, the buffalo turned, lowered his horns and charged. The lions backed off.
We didn’t get our shots but at least the old boy wandered off safely into the sunset.
Where to stay in Botswana and how to get there:
Pangolin Photo Safaris offers a seven-day trip to the Chobe River and the Okavango Delta.
It includes three nights at the Pangolin Chobe Hotel and three nights at the Pangolin Khwai Camp, starting at Kasane and finishing in Maun, from $2,850 (approximately £2,220).
Airlink flies from Johannesburg to Kasane and back from Maun for around £500.
Ethiopian Airlines flies via Addis Ababa to Johannesburg from Heathrow, starting from £460 return.
IMG_1098-119cIMG_1098-119cqinxieRupert Standing with Elephant Behind-0858lionleopardhipposelephant
It’s the news sausage roll fans have been waiting for – Gregg’s has launched a gift range for Christmas.
The bakery has released a Christmas jumper, socks, umbrella, phone case and reusable cup.
You can also pick up gift cards, pin badges and Christmas cards.
And to add to the experience, Greggs staff will even wrap it and give you a glass of mulled wine while you wait.
The full Greggs Christmas gift range includes:
Greggs Christmas jumper – £18.00
Sausage roll or doughnut socks – £4.00
Sausage roll umbrella – £10.00
Sausage roll phone case (suitable for Apple and Android top five devices) – £10.00
Greggs pin badges (set of 5) – £6.50
Reusable cup – £3.00
High Roller Greggs gift card (minimum £50 load) – £50.00
Greggs Christmas cards (set of 8) – £4.00
You can buy the pastry-themed presents from 11-13 December from Stratford Shopping Centre, London, Birmingham High Street, Parker Street in Manchester, Grainger Street in Newcastle and at the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre in Glasgow.
It’ll even help you do some good as all proceeds from Greggs’ gifts will be donated to the Greggs Foundation.
Hannah Squirrell, of Greggs said: ‘Fitting everything in at Christmas can be a struggle, and we wanted to help our customers lighten the load.
‘Our free gift-wrapping service means weary shoppers can take a break while our elves wrap their presents, and they can even pick up some gifts for the Greggs fan in their life (or themselves) with our limited edition range.’
Greggs launch Christmas rangeGreggs launch Christmas rangelauraabernethy6EMBARGOED TO TUESDAY DECEMBER 4 EDITORIAL USE ONLY Undated handout photo issued by Greggs of socks as the high street retailer launches its first ever range of Christmas stocking fillers and free gift-wrapping service, which will be available in selected shops next week. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. Photo credit should read: Greggs/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.EMBARGOED TO TUESDAY DECEMBER 4 EDITORIAL USE ONLY Undated handout photo issued by Greggs of a 'sausage roll' phone case as the high street retailer launches its first ever range of Christmas stocking fillers and free gift-wrapping service, which will be available in selected shops next week. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. Photo credit should read: Greggs/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.Greggs is launching a free gift-wrapping service and their first ever range of Christmas stocking fillers, in selected shops next week. The gift range includes a Christmas jumper, socks and an umbrella. Shoppers will be able to have their gifts wrapped in special festive bake paper at shops in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle from 11th-13th December, from 4-8pm: greggs.co.uk/wrappedupEMBARGOED TO TUESDAY DECEMBER 4 EDITORIAL USE ONLY Undated handout photo issued by Greggs as the high street retailer launches its first ever range of Christmas stocking fillers and free gift-wrapping service, which will be available in selected shops next week. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. Photo credit should read: Greggs/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.Umbrella from Greggs' first ever range of Christmas stocking fillers Greggs is launching a free gift-wrapping service and their first ever range of Christmas stocking fillers, in selected shops next week. The gift range includes a Christmas jumper, socks and an umbrella. Shoppers will be able to have their gifts wrapped in special festive bake paper at shops in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle from 11th-13th December, from 4-8pm: greggs.co.uk/wrappedupEMBARGOED TO TUESDAY DECEMBER 4 EDITORIAL USE ONLY Undated handout photo issued by Greggs of a Christmas cards as the high street retailer launches its first ever range of Christmas stocking fillers and free gift-wrapping service, which will be available in selected shops next week. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. Photo credit should read: Greggs/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Incontinence – it’s a taboo subject. Whether you’re young, old, male or female, urine leakage isn’t something people discuss openly.
There are so many misconceptions about the condition.
For some reason, people often think that if you suffer from it you will be lacking in personal hygiene, or have an odour because of the condition, and many just think: ‘surely you can control yourself’.
When you say bladder weakness, people automatically assume that it only affects the elderly or women who’ve had babies.
In fact, one in four men over the age of 40 in the UK are likely to experience some form of the condition in their lifetime.
These common misunderstandings mean that us men are left out of the conversation, and in turn it makes the stigma and embarrassment even worse.
We don’t talk about our health at the best of times, so unsurprisingly urine leakage isn’t something we’re happy to discuss with mates over a pint on a Friday night.
I first experienced incontinence five years ago, after I underwent a radical prostatectomy to treat my prostate cancer.
My condition got gradually worse as my treatment progressed, leaving me with no control over my bladder and needing to use up to 15 incontinence products each day.
Male incontinence is rarely talked about and the lack of awareness is startling
I was incredibly embarrassed and it really took its toll on my day-to-day life.
Leaving the house became a huge effort – I had to plan my trips meticulously, making sure I knew where the closest bathroom was at all times, in case I got caught short.
I became obsessed by the thought of leaking through my pads and I was petrified that I would smell like urine.
Luckily, the products I was using were incredibly absorbent and neutralised odour – but this didn’t stop me from taking precautions.
I only ever wore black trousers and always had a spare pair to hand. My wife and I even had a pact that no matter where we were, if I did experience leakage or my pad was visible, she would tell me immediately.
As I got used to the condition, I was able to take more control – I was given a Radar Key to give me access to disabled bathrooms and began carrying round a man bag with back-up incontinence products for when I needed to change.
This did attract some negative attention.
People would give me looks for using a disabled bathroom, despite not being in a wheelchair, and I had many questions from people about why I carried a bag around all the time.
I once responded to someone who wouldn’t stop asking me about what was in my bag by telling him it was full of adult nappies – you should have seen his face!
This is the problem though – most people are unaware of the scale of the problem of incontinence, especially in men.
Male incontinence is rarely talked about and the lack of awareness is startling, as is the lack of provisions in place to support men.
Have you ever seen a sanitary disposal bin in a men’s toilet? Have you ever seen a hook on the back of a male public loo?
These simple fixes could make the lives of men like me so much better – they’d actually be able to leave the house confident in the knowledge that they could still continue to do the things they enjoy.
We are making progress though. TENA Men and Durham County Cricket Club have made the first move to improve the lives of men living with this condition.
They’ve installed sanitary bins in all the male toilets at the ground so that men like me can dispose of an incontinence product discreetly, without questions or wandering eyes from others.
It’s such a simple fix, and I can’t understand why more clubs or public places aren’t offering these facilities.
These changes would help more people than just us chaps experiencing bladder weakness. They would improve the lives of transgender men and dads who need nappy-changing facilities for their children.
I feel passionately that we need to make more people aware of the condition.
Yes, it’s embarrassing, but it doesn’t need to control your life. That’s why I’m being open about my experience.
Thankfully, I have a very supportive group of friends and family that have helped me through this tough time, but I know not everyone is a lucky as I am.
If I can make one man feel more comfortable about something he’s probably suffering with in silence, then that’s a great success to me.
North Carolina Clashes With U.S. Over New Public Restroom LawNorth Carolina Clashes With U.S. Over New Public Restroom Lawcharleyross92
We all love being nosy about other people’s homes, right?
I can’t be the only one who’d love to gaze into people’s bathroom cabinets and see how they’ve chosen to decorate for Christmas.
That’s part of the reason we take you inside a different person’s rented property each week for our What I Rent series.
The other part is so we can take a proper look at the nightmare that is the housing market in London, and what we’re getting in return for chucking obscene amounts of money at landlords each week.
This week we’re chatting to Vicky, a 24-year-old PR consultant. She shares a three-bedroom flat in Shepherd’s Bush with two housemates: Laura, 24, another PR consultant, and Alex, 26, a Fashion Buyer’s Admin Assistant.
Hi Vicky! How much do you pay for this place?
The total for the flat is £1950, which we split slightly differently due to the different room sizes. I pay £620, Laura pays £660 and Alex has the largest room so pays £670.
We have a joint bank account, so we each transfer £50 into the account to cover bills and then if we have money leftover at the end of the year we’re planning to treat ourselves to a nice meal out together.
And what do you get for that money?
Three bedrooms, one living room, one bathroom and a separate toilet room.
How did you find the flat?
We found it on a few different websites, and we instantly loved it so we applied to every site.
We’ve almost been here a year now, we moved in on New Year’s Day.
Do you like where you live?
We’re really happy with the area because we’re so close to Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush Empire and the nice new restaurants at Television Centre, and it only takes 20 minutes to get to Central London.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
We definitely think we have enough space and it’s the first time we’ve all had a living room since moving to London. The only thing is that it’d be nice to have more storage as it’s very limited.
How did you end up living with Laura and Alex?
Laura and I worked together at the time of moving in, and I used to live with Alex in our old place – a flat we both moved in together as strangers.
How have you made the place your own?
The living room had basic furniture when we moved in (a table and sofa) so we brought our own bits and pieces to put our touch in the place, obviously with a colour scheme of grey and pink!
We’ve also started thinking about pictures and have created a gallery wall to make the room a little more homely. We’re just waiting for our frames for it to be complete.
Are there any problems with the flat?
Definitely no major issues. There have been a few small things, like we had ants in the summer and the bathroom ceiling started to grow mould as we didn’t have an extractor fan.
Both times we flagged the issue with our landlord and she arranged the appropriate solutions straight away – we had an extractor fan within 48 hours of emailing her.
Any plans to move again?
Our lease is until the summer and we have no plans to move out currently. We really love the flat and we’re very comfortable here so unless circumstances change we’ll be staying here.
And what about buying a place?
It is the dream, but everyone knows the struggle millennials are facing in terms of trying to get on the property ladder. We’ve all said that if we could possibly save the money for a deposit then we’d definitely love to own our own homes.
Shall we have a look around the flat?
What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property in London.
How to get involved in What I Rent
What I Rent is Metro.co.uk's weekly series that takes you inside the places in London people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what's normal and how much we should be paying.
If you fancy taking part, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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When I arrived on Sangeli island, I was more than a little shook up.
The seas were choppy on the speedboat journey, and despite the fact the driver and attendants were laughing all the way, I was looking a bit puce.
Hopping on to the jetty, however, thankfully the thought I might be about the throw up passed quickly.
I was handed a glass of blue bubbly (they love blue drinks in the Maldives) and my things were taken to my room. From that moment on during the trip, I wouldn’t have to do anything else.
Oblu Select at Sangeli opened in July, and is run by the Atmosphere group, who already manage three other resorts in the Indian Ocean.
There are 137 villas at Oblu Select, with some over the water and some on the beach. You can also choose whether you go for one with a private pool or the sea is good enough for swimming in.
Guests will be on their ‘serenity plan’ which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner at their restaurant The Spice, unlimited drinks, and a meal each week at both of their premium a la carte restaurants Simply Veg and Just Grill.
You also get a sunset fishing trip and a complimentary excursion, use of all sorts of non-motorised watersports equipment, and a fully stocked mini-bar in your room that’s refreshed every day.
The Maldives is a place for lovers, with some of the most incredible sunsets, and the beauty of nature everywhere you turn.
If you are going there on honeymoon, you can stay in one of Oblu Sangeli’s over-water honeymoon suites.
A huge, red bath dominates the bedroom, and there’s an outdoor shower that you basically have to have sex in (sorry, I don’t make the rules).
To go with that, you get a butler service – for those days where you can’t even be bothered leaving your room at all – a couples massage, and dine-around at all the restaurants at the resort.
When I stayed, here’s what I got up to:
Our group went on a snorkelling trip at Oblu Select’s house reef, which was honestly unreal.
We were taken out on a traditional Dhoni boat to see the local marine life, and it did not disappoint.
Although the coral is mostly bleached – as it is in large swathes of the world now, unfortunately – the sea is crystal clear, and there are tropical fish right underneath you.
At one point a turtle swam by, which was a proper pinch-yourself moment for everyone there.
Since you have full use of the equipment for all of your stay you can take yourself snorkelling whenever you want, and other guests told us they’d seen rays on their beach-side swims.
Even if you don’t fancy donning a snorkel, you can see so many amazing animals.
Walking on the beach there are hermit crabs and herons, and if you go to the jetty you can see dozens of eels.
Over one one side of the island we enjoyed a glass of wine while watching reef sharks dart by, and the over water villas have a glass viewing pane in the floor for in-room marine life spots.
I cannot stress enough how beautiful the views are here, and it’d be rude not to share them with everyone at home.
Watch the sun go down at the special Rock Bar that opens for just two hours a day. It’s super romantic.
Even taking a bath in the room is so stunning, with the bathrooms (featuring a deep stone tub and rain shower) in the beach-side villas set outdoors – don’t worry, there are walls – so you can watch the stars while you pamper.
Eating all the food
You’ll have most of your meals at buffet restaurant The Spice. It tends to be catered to Asian tastes, although this is perfect for people who like Asian food aka me.
The service is incredible, and staff couldn’t do enough for me, even making me a special healthy juice when I looked a bit worse for wear after a night of wine.
Then there’s Just Grill that serves everything from lamb chops to huge grilled prawns and steaks.
The piece de resistance at Oblu, though, is Simply Veg. Trust me, although it’s completely veggie, you won’t miss meat at all. The Maldivian curries and dahls are delicious.
There are snacks throughout the day too, just in case you didn’t already feel like you were rolling around the place.
Organise something special
This holiday is all about unwinding, so we decided to get massages at Elena Spa on the island.
There are double treatment rooms for couples, and you come out feeling totally at peace, with Aromatherapy Associates oils softening your skin.
For afterwards, you can organise private dining on the beach, with a personal chef there cooking up tuna steaks, lobster, filet mignon and all sorts of fresh deliciousness.
When I say the staff go out of their way I really mean it. They’d dug out the shape of a ray and a dolphin in the sand and put lights in there, and had special cocktails ready and waiting for us.
During peak season (starting from 1 Sep 2018) you’re looking at around £2,499 per person based on two adults staying in a Water Villa or Beach Villa on Oblu Sangeli’s All Inclusive Serenity Plan for 7 nights, with return Etihad flights from LHR. This price includes return speedboat transfers.
In truly shocking news, it turns out that having wealthy parents might help you own a property.
According to a report from the Resolution Foundation, young people with parents who own a property are nearly three times more likely to be home owners by 30.
Having wealthy parents who can lend a helping hand is now considered to be a major factor for first-time buyers. With the gap between those with wealthy parents and those without increasing in size over the last decade.
Back in the mid-90s and early 2000s, home ownership was only twice as likely for young people whose parents owned a home. Now it’s three times as likely.
‘Buying a home is almost impossible for many young people without access to the bank of mum and dad,’ said the report.
Stephen Clarke, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: ‘Our housing crisis is so big that what your parents own is becoming as important as how much you earn when it comes to owning your own home.
‘This is particularly worrying for the one in two millennials who aren’t homeowners, and whose parents also aren’t either.’
It’s been tricky to track the exact impact of parents handing out money to their kids for the purpose of buying a home.
Young people with wealthy parents tend to benefit in other ways that may help them get on to the property ladder. They’re 74% more likely to have a degree than those without parental wealth, and typically earn £500 more per month.
But even when accounting for these benefits, the reports still found that the bank of mum and dad is a major factor in home ownership. It’s even catching up to more obvious factors, such as salary.
The report highlights a troubling trend towards only young people with parental wealth ever being able to afford their own home.
The Resolution Foundation urges policy makers to enforce radical change, beyond just building more homes.
Stephen Clarke said: ‘These findings reinforce the need to think more broadly about what the barriers to social mobility are in 21st century Britain.
‘We’ve always known that who your parents are affects what education you get and job you do.
‘But increasingly the effect is continuing later into life by determining whether you are able to own a home of your own.’
So basically, things need to change.
While we wait, at least we can take solace in knowing that it’s not that we’re not working hard enough or that we’re being silly with our spending – the people our age who own homes are very likely to have had a helping hand from mum and dad.
organising communal rentingorganising communal rentingellencscott(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk) metro illustrationsnow that summer is over, it's harder to harness that spring
To me, Los Angeles has always been synonymous with beauty, sex and money, a melting-pot-cum-playground for the rich and famous with a constant influx of newcomers desperate to ‘make it’.
Although part of the image is well-deserved, there’s another element to LA that deserves your attention – its beach communities.
From the tourist trap that is Santa Monica to the happy-go-lucky lifestyle of Hermosa Beach, each area on the strip has its own appeal.
My trip began on the gritty streets of Venice Beach (and eventually ended with me being driven to the hospital in an ambulance – but I’ll get to that later).
On the way to the hotel, my driver shed some light on the underbelly of LA.
Up ahead, a woman was standing in the middle of the junction and holding a sign scrawled with the word ‘pregnant’, while asking passers-by for money.
It’s a common sight, according to my driver, who was banker but left the industry just before the financial crash.
At first glance, it’s hard to see the appeal of Venice.
Two homeless men were camped out by the green near the beach – one smoking a spliff, the other kindly greeted me as I walked past.
When I arrived on the strip, there’s a heated basketball game taking place (and since this is California, it was being filmed by a crew), while skaters and cyclists whizzed past.
But beneath its somewhat rough exterior, Venice was actually incredibly charming, with an authentic coolness that gentrification hasn’t quite erased yet.
I recommend starting your day with breakfast at EggSlut, popping into vintage shops for a spot of retail therapy, grabbing a pizza slice at lunch, and ending your night in a local dive bar.
For serious shopping, abandon the strip in favour of Abbot Kinney Boulevard, where you can find plenty of independent retailers, local food joints, and a weed shop called MedMen where there’s smokeable and edible marijuana on display.
On nearby Rose Avenue, swing by Moon Juice for ‘adoptogenic’ super herbs, juices and blends, including supplements like ‘brain dust’ and vanilla mushroom proteins.
I considered purchasing some ‘sex dust’, meant to improve stamina, but as I lacked a penis, it felt like a waste of money (and it would have been awkward to explain at customs).
It’s generally pretty quiet early in the week, and the silence can come off a bit intimidating, but don’t let that put you off.
Where Venice is young, cool and edgy, the neighbouring communities Manhattan and Hermosa are its older sisters – still up for a night out, but without the pretentiousness (and probably in bed by midnight).
Despite being just a 15-minute bike ride from Venice, Hermosa especially is vastly different.
For one, the properties are more expensive, but overall it feels safer, calmer and by default, less exciting.
Life slows down in this neighbourhood; dog walkers stroll along with their pets, kids ride by on their scooters, and eager tourists go on biking tours.
LA beach life is all about being active, whether that’s surfing, cycling or the pride of Hermosa – beach volleyball.
It’s not just a hobby either; you can train with professionals like local Mark Burik, who I worked with on my second day in California.
Sadly I wasn’t blessed with good hand-eye co-ordination, so spent the majority of the time sweating, swearing and attempting to dodge the balls Mark threw at me.
Food highlights in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach:
Make sure you have breakfast at Serve on 2nd, where chefs prove that not all of California has given into low-fat dishes and kale salads.
Opt for the crunchy whole wheat french toast with frosted cornflakes and a side of bacon – you won’t regret it.
Another low-key local favourite is Hermosa Pie & Cake, a tiny shop with vegan-friendly options and a secret garden in the back.
Or stop by the beach-front food market to pick up homemade fig jam and sample fresh fruit.
If you keep walking down Hermosa Beach, you’ll eventually find Redondo beach and pier, and its quaint fishing community. Stop here for some excellent seafood.
Fish is a very big part of LA’s food offering. Far from the British deep-fried fish and chips, LA seafood is re-imagined into mouth-watering delicacies, like the blue crab gnocchi at farm-to-table restaurant Manhattan Beach Post, founded by Michelin-starred chef David LeFevre.
His seasonal menu changes without notice, though that’s all part of its appeal. Thankfully, the downright filthy bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits seem to be a signature staple.
After a day of cycling and volleyball, we headed to Jay Leno’s comedy club in Hermosa Beach. There’s a two-drink maximum; clearly someone has heckled the comedians a tad too hard in the past.
It’s a fantastic night out with a mixed bag on stage and in the crowds, as well as plenty of jokes about the current political state of LA. Sadly, no phones allowed during the show.
On my third day, I travelled along the coast to Marina del Rey.
Although it’s a stone’s throw from Venice, it has a distinct luxurious vibe – you can even rent yourself a yacht for the day and go cruising around the harbour.
Or you could try sports activities, like kayaking or paddle boarding.
And here is where disaster struck for me.
Remember how I told you I was taken away in an ambulance? Well, my paddle boarding session ended with firemen carrying me into an ambulance, a broken ankle and four days in a hospital before I was flown home.
I say it now, and I’ll say it forever – always get travel insurance (and don’t ever take the NHS for granted again).
Sadly, the accident cut my trip short, and I missed rock climbing and a wine hike in Malibu – you’d have thought that’s where I would have broken a bone.
But despite the dramatic ending, LA and the Californian lifestyle have left a great impression.
I’ll be back in next year, but I’ll stick to tanning on the beach this time around.
Where to stay in LA and how to get there:
I can highly recommend Hotel Erwin in Venice, as it’s a prime location to the beach and within walking distance to shops and restaurants.
And, since you’ll be smack in the middle, you can venture up and down the strip to explore.
When it comes to flying, there are plenty of good options, including British Airways. Prices start from £315 return.
(Top picture: Getty)
Life Guard ShackLife Guard ShackallieabgarianVenice Beach signHotel ErwinHermosa beach
What is it about Christmas parties that seems to turn everyone into horny beasts?
Perhaps it’s the mulled wine, the mistletoe, or the fact we all secretly fancy people in novelty jumpers. Either way, the festive season seems to get everyone all hot under their Santa hats.
Office Christmas parties are rife with sexual tension, and even if you miss the event itself the goss the next day is fantastic.
It’s like everybody there is waiting for their time to pounce on the person they’ve been eyeing up over the water cooler each year.
This is fantastic in a lot of ways – who doesn’t want to get lucky, especially at Christmas? – but there are a lot of perils around a workplace hookup.
There are ways around these dangers, but getting it right involves a lot more than a shot of tequila for courage. Here’s what to know before you go… to the photocopying room for a snog.
Do you really want to?
Is Barry from marketing actually hot?.. Or are you just around him all the time? These are the questions you must ask yourself.
There might be pressure from others you work with, or from yourself because it’s been a long, cold, sexless winter.
Depending on how impulsive you are, there might be a shag now ask questions later rationale to your actions. However, when you work with the other person, you have to be a bit more careful.
Try to think as if you’re already hungover and waking up with them beside you.
Do they really want to?
Is this a mutual thing, or have you just been staring at Sandra’s undone shirt button for the last two hours and hoping she likes you back?
Get consent every time (regardless of whether you work with someone). No harm in a quick ‘are you sure?’
P.s. If you’re really worried you’re being a bit creepy, ask a work friend who will be honest with you. If they say yes, it’s probably time to call it a night.
Be single, and ensure they’re single
Obviously be single. Obviously. But, realistically cheating still happens so it still needs to be said.
If you have a crush on a co-worker and want to act on it (and aren’t in a relationship where you have agreed this is acceptable), you should break up with your partner first.
Then there’s the tricky business of working out if your crush is off-limits or not.
Just because they haven’t mentioned a significant other doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Facebook stalking is a must here, and potentially just being direct and asking before anything happens.
Assess the balance of power
In comedy and in relationships, it’s always worth remembering the phrase: Never punch down.
As anybody’s superior, you should avoid sleeping with them. For one, it can make your working life awkward. Secondly, it can blur the lines of consent, as someone may feel coerced or forced to say yes because they’re your subordinate.
One thing you do not want in this situation is crossed wires over who wants a relationship and who doesn’t.
Be extremely clear to whoever you’re getting with what you want; whether that’s a one time thing or marriage and babies.
If your answers don’t match up (regardless of how well you think either side can handle it) abort mission.
If your answers do match and you both want a relationship, make a plan of what to do if it all goes wrong. Pipe dreams aside, this could happen, and jeopardising your career is not ideal.
Manage your alcohol consumption
You should try not to be completely rat-arsed during your hook up, and not just so you don’t whitey while the deed is being done.
If you’re out of it, you can’t consent.
Although someone assaulting you is absolutely never your fault, it’s always good to keep a clear head when sex is involved.
You can’t stop people gossiping – and it’s likely you’d be loving it if you were in your colleagues’ shoes.
There are two options to reduce embarrassment here:
Regardless of what you choose to do, personal details should always remain private. Telling everyone penis sizes or sexual quirks is seriously bad form.
Please – for the love of God – don’t f*** in the office itself
There’s always one. Don’t let it be you.
A snog behind Brenda’s standing desk is one thing, but getting your bollocks out in public is wholly unacceptable and could result in you getting swiftly fired.
No matter how secret you think you’re being – you’re not that slick. Many offices have CCTV, or there’s every chance someone will come in.
Don’t you have a home to go to!? Or at least anywhere better than under the printer table?
Somewhere private means there will be no video evidence of what just happened, and you can retain at least a shred of your dignity when you come in the morning after.
How to hook up responsibly at your office Christmas partyHow to hook up responsibly at your office Christmas partyjessicacvl
If you’re welcoming a tiny human being next year and want to make sure their name is ahead of the trends, read on.
Who wants a name that’s meaningful or approved by your nan when you can choose one that perfectly fits the zeitgeist, am I right?
Thankfully the good people over at BabyCentre have rounded up what they predict will be the top baby name trends for 2019. Just pick a name that fits one of these trends and you’re sorted.
Alternatively, if you want to make sure your baby has the same name as five other kids in their future school class, you could take a look at the most popular names of 2018. Or get ahead of the curve and choose one of the names predicted to be big in 2028.
Basically, there’s a lot of inspiration out there.
But the baby name trends right now, predicted to be a big deal in 2019, are right here:
Peter (as in Peter Rabbit) is on the rise, while Jemima is predicted to pop up more next year.
BabyCentre also reckons we’ll see more babies named after the pups in Paw Patrol; Ryder, Chase, Marshall, and Rocky.
And of course, Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff will keep going strong.
Thank Bodyguard for bringing back Julia and David, and expect to see more babies called Eve after the success of Killing Eve.
We do hope some parents will choose Villanelle or Oksana, but we think that’s a little less likely.
Brian, Barry, Patricia, Cliff, Christine, and Susan, all fell out of fashion after the 70s, but now they’re making a comeback.
BabyCentre predicts a rising number of babies named after faraway destinations.
So no, babies won’t be named after the town where they were conceived, but more aspirational holiday destinations.
Think Cairo, India, and Dallas.
Close-up of father embracing son against buildingClose-up of father embracing son against buildingellencscott