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

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    Beautician Jenna Pike, 22, who is offering free manicures to people who are facing a lonely Christmas in Edinburgh..See SWNS story SWSCsalon.A beautician is offering free manicures to people facing a lonely Christmas - on the condition they tell her a story.Jenna Pike, 22, is offering to file and shape the nails of those who are suffering from social isolation, during the festive period - because she ?loves a blether?.Chatterbox Jenna was inspired after having a conversation with an elderly customer, who?s arthritis meant she was unable to file her own nails.But the OAP revealed that she had no further plans for the week - which shocked the young salon worker.
    Jenna is offering free manicures to anyone who will spend Christmas alone (Picture: Jon Savage/SWNS.COM)

    A salon is offering free manicures to anyone feeling lonely at Christmas.

    There’s just one condition: They’ll need to be up for having a chat.

    You’ll also need to be in Edinburgh, but we’re hoping other salons will take note and introduce the same plan.

    Jenna Pike, who works at Kolours Beauty Bar in Edinburgh, was inspired to give free manicures to people experiencing loneliness after having a conversation with an elderly customer whose arthritis meant she couldn’t file her own nails.

    While chatting to the woman, she found out that she didn’t have any other plans that week, and would be spending her days all alone.

    ‘It was clear this lady was very isolated and it made me think I needed to do something,’ said Jenna.

    Jenna decided that she would find the time to do free manicures for other people feeling lonely, on the condition that they’d have a chat and share their story.

    She set up a fundraising page in the hopes of raising £100 to cover the costs.

    ‘All the amazing things people have seen, done and experienced are not getting the chance to be told,’ says Jenna.

    ‘I am looking to do this all year round.

    ‘But isolation would be worse at this time of the year when people spend a lot of time with family and friends.

    ‘I imagine living my life alone with only a TV and radio for company and it just would be so lonely.

    ‘If I can help just one person with this then it will have been worthwhile.’

    Any additional funds raised will be donated to Vintage Vibes Edinburgh, a service working to remedy isolation and loneliness in over-60s.

    She recognises that free manicures are a small thing, but if they help a few people that can only be a good thing.

    Jenna hopes the project will inspire others to connect with people who may be isolated this Christmas.

    ‘What I’m doing is very much on the smaller scale for what can be done in tackling isolation,’ she says.

    ‘But it can make a difference.

    ‘I also genuinely love a blether so it’s a win-win.

    ‘I might not be able to do it immediately, but I will be able to squeeze them in at some point that day. Or if they are needing a specific time, give me a wee phone call and I’ll do my best.

    ‘Isolation is happening more now and we need to tackle it as a city.

    ‘I am lucky I’m in a job where I can chat all day to people.

    ‘I just want to help people and let them know that there’s someone thinking of them and willing to talk.

    ‘I cannot urge you more to give whatever time you may have to help someone in whatever way you can.

    ‘Whether that be old or young. We can really make a difference.’

    MORE: Nothing prepares you for the loneliness of being a single mother by sperm donor

    MORE: Mum shares lengthy list of requirements for babysitter who’ll be paid £8 an hour


    SEI_42847215-c0c2SEI_42847215-c0c2ellencscottBeautician Jenna Pike, 22, who is offering free manicures to people who are facing a lonely Christmas in Edinburgh..See SWNS story SWSCsalon.A beautician is offering free manicures to people facing a lonely Christmas - on the condition they tell her a story.Jenna Pike, 22, is offering to file and shape the nails of those who are suffering from social isolation, during the festive period - because she ?loves a blether?.Chatterbox Jenna was inspired after having a conversation with an elderly customer, who?s arthritis meant she was unable to file her own nails.But the OAP revealed that she had no further plans for the week - which shocked the young salon worker.SEI_42847215-c0c2SEI_42847215-c0c2ellencscottBeautician Jenna Pike, 22, who is offering free manicures to people who are facing a lonely Christmas in Edinburgh..See SWNS story SWSCsalon.A beautician is offering free manicures to people facing a lonely Christmas - on the condition they tell her a story.Jenna Pike, 22, is offering to file and shape the nails of those who are suffering from social isolation, during the festive period - because she ?loves a blether?.Chatterbox Jenna was inspired after having a conversation with an elderly customer, who?s arthritis meant she was unable to file her own nails.But the OAP revealed that she had no further plans for the week - which shocked the young salon worker.

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    (Picture: Getty)

    Oh, the classic Christmas cracker.

    We know full well they’ll be filled with tweezers that don’t quite work and magic tricks that grow stale before it’s time for pudding, but we buy a pack of crackers anyway.

    It’s tradition. Even if the paper hats are annoying and the jokes are groan-worthy.

    And the jokes truly are groan-worthy. It’s impressive.

    Who hides in a bakery at Christmas? A mince spy.

    Ha.

    Who is Santa’s favourite singer? Elfis Presley.

    To bring us Christmas cheer in advance of pulling a cracker open, Currys PC World commissioned a survey to find the worst Christmas cracker jokes around.

    The full top 50 are below for your enjoyment.

    50 terrible Christmas cracker jokes:

    1. Who hides in a bakery at Christmas? A mince spy
    2. What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck? A Christmas quacker
    3. What’s a horse’s favourite TV show? Neigh-bours
    4. What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back? A stick
    5. Why do birds fly south in the winter? It’s too far to walk
    6. What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinsillitis
    7. What did Cinderella say when her photos didn’t arrive? ‘One day my prints will come!’
    8. Did Rudolph go to school? No, he was elf-taught
    9. What lies at the bottom of the sea shivering? A nervous wreck
    10. Who is Santa’s favourite singer? Elfis Presley
    11. What did Adam say the day before Christmas? It’s Christmas, Eve.
    12. How many letters are in the alphabet at Christmas? 25 – there’s no-el
    13. Why are Christmas trees so bad at knitting? Because they always drop their needles
    14. What did the farmer get for Christmas? A cowculator
    15. Why did nobody bid for Rudolph and Blitzen on eBay? They were two deer
    16. What did one snowman say to the other snowman? ‘Can you smell carrots?’
    17. Why can’t a bike stand up by itself? It’s two-tyred
    18. What school subject are snakes best at? Hisssstory
    19. What do you get if you lie under a cow? A pat on the head
    20. How did Mary and Joseph figure out baby Jesus was exactly 7lb 9oz? They had a weigh in a manger
    21. Which side of a turkey has the most feathers? The outside
    22. What carol do they sing in the desert? O Camel Ye Faithful
    23. What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence? Time to get a new fence
    24. What do you sing a snowman’s birthday party? Freeze a jolly good fellow
    25. What happened to Santa when he went speed dating? He pulled a cracker
    26. Who’s Rudolph’s favourite singer? Beyon-sleigh
    27. Who delivers presents to baby sharks at Christmas? Santa Jaws
    28. What athlete is warmest in winter? A long jumper
    29. What’s the most popular Christmas wine? ‘I don’t like sprouts!’
    30. What does a frog do if his car breaks down? He has it toad
    31. Why does your nose get tired in winter? It runs all day
    32. What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite
    33. What do you call a line of men waiting for a haircut? A barber-queue
    34. What kind of music do elves listen to? Wrap
    35. What kind of motorcycle does Santa ride? A Holly Davidson
    36. Why was the turkey in a band? He was the only one with drumsticks
    37. What do reindeer put on their Christmas trees? Hornaments
    38. What happened to the man who stole an advent calendar? He got 25 days
    39. What does Santa do when his elves misbehave? He gives them the sack
    40. What happened when Santa got stuck in a chimney? He felt Claus-trophobic
    41. What has four wheels and flies? A bin lorry
    42. How do snowmen get around? By riding an icicle
    43. How did Scrooge win the football match? The ghost of Christmas passed
    44. Why is it getting so hard to buy advent calendars? Their days are numbered
    45. Why was Cinderella no good at football? Because her coach was a pumpkin
    46. How does Darth Vader like his Christmas turkey? On the dark side
    47. What do snowmen wear on their heads? Ice caps
    48. When do vampires like horse racing? When it’s neck and neck
    49. How does Santa keep track of all the fireplaces he’s visited? He keeps a logbook
    50. What does a football team do when the pitch is flooded? Bring on the subs.

    MORE: Beautician offers free manicures to anyone facing a lonely Christmas

    MORE: Millennials are killing canned tuna


    Christmas puppy dogChristmas puppy dogellencscottChristmas puppy dogChristmas puppy dogellencscott

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    Royal Sacks - Three Lighter-5225
    (Picture: Harrow & Green)

    Parents always seem to know what to buy their kids – they are walking encyclopedias of hotly desired and age-appropriate entertainment.

    But what about those who don’t have their own kids – but are nonetheless locked into buying exciting, relevant children’s presents every time December rolls around?

    For godparents (as well as single aunts and uncles) it is a veritable festive minefield.

    If desperately searching age range categories on Amazon has become a regular holiday ritual, then look no further.

    From the personalised Christmas sack Prince George will open on Christmas Day, to slime kits, LOL Surprise Dolls and Kylie Kardashian’s phone case  –  here is Metro.co.uk’s Christmas Guide for Clueless Godparents -put together with intel from real insiders, aka, people with kids.

    Personalised Stockings and Sacks

    Start at the beginning – with a new Christmas sack or stocking. Personalisation is the way forward in 2019.

    Letterpress Personalised Christmas Stocking by Harrow & Green
    (Picture: Harrow & Green)

    Kate Middleton was spotted snapping these sacks up at Selfridges a couple of Christmases ago – so you know you’re in good company.

    These hessian Christmas sacks are large enough to cater for even the most generous stash Christmas presents. They are personalised and you can choose your own fabric trim – ticking, gingham or tartan.

    Letterpress Christmas Sack, starts at £22, harrowandgreen.com

    Personalised Christmas Stockings Not on the High Street
    (Picture: Not on the High Street)

    Not On The High Street does these lovely hand-embroidered, personalised stockings – choose between a fetching festive snowman or penguin.

    Festive Friends Personalised Christmas Stockings, £9.72, notonthehighstreet.com

    £20 and Under – Small Wonders

    Circus Play Set

    Circus Play Set Stocking Stuffer
    (Picture: hoorayandco.co.uk)

    Cute circus play with 19 wooden pieces housed in a box which doubles as the Big Top. The set includes a ringmaster, acrobats, clowns, a monkey, a lion, a ring of fire, a circus caravan and more.

    Suitable for ages 3+

    Janod Story Box Circus Play Set, £23.00 hoorayandco.co.uk

    Not Just a Princess

    Not Just a Princess T Shirt
    (Picture: NotJustaPrincess.co.uk)

    A great new range of clothing that is majorly on trend for empowering little girls.

    Their Not Just A Princess T-shirts are designed to smash career and gender stereotypes – in the UK, there are more FTSE 100 CEOs called David than there are women overall.

    These beauties encourage girls to dream big.  Each T-shirt sold also raises money for Inspiring Girls International, a charity where women talk about their jobs to school-aged girls.

    Sizes start from age 6 months +

    Not Just a Princess T-shirt, £16,  notjustaprincess.co.uk

    Melissa & Doug

    Melissa & Doug Pounding Bench
    (Picture: Melissa & Doug)

    Melissa & Doug Toys are always a safe choice for toddlers and are a number one parent-recommended toy brand. Designed to spark kids’ imaginations, their toys are generally a cut above, inspiring open-ended thinking and curiosity during key developmental years.

    Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench – 2-4 year olds, £14.99 amazon.co.uk

    Slime Factory

    SSC002 Scene png-4c53
    (Picture: So Slime DIY)

    Kids pretty much all love slime. This one is the original DIY Slime Factory and lets them make neon, pastel and metallic slime, add glitter, confetti and even a collectible surprise.

    They just add water to create the perfect consistency of slime – which means they will no longer be raiding your kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinets.

    Includes slime factory, shakers, slime powder and collectibles.

    Suitable for ages 6 years and up.

    SO Slime DIY Slime Factory, £19.99, argos.co.uk

    Star Wars Swim

    Star Wars Swim by Speedo
    (Picture: Speedo)

    Disney Star Wars and swimming – both are pretty big with kids.

    For keen swimmers and fans of the film, nothing is more fun than Speedo’s new range of Disney Star Wars swimwear, featuring girls and boys’ swimsuits, swim shorts, board shorts, cool swim caps and wet kit bags.

    Star Wars Swim, £11 for swim cap, £18 for swimming trunks, speedo.com 

    Wow Gifts

    Great for 2-5 year olds

    Little People Skyway

    Little People Take Turns Skyway copy.jpg
    (Picture: Fisher-Price)

    At over 3ft tall, the Little People Take Turns Skyway is an impressive bit of kit. It has three different tracks, an awesome launcher, cool racing sounds – great for impressing toddlers

    Great for 18 months +.  Batteries required: 2 x AA (included)

    Fisher-Price  Little People Take Turns Skyway,  £29.99, amazon.co.uk

    The L.O.L. Surprise Doll Empire

    553007 LOL Surprise Bigger Surprise FW PKG F-b1c2
    (Picture: L.O.L. Surprise Dolls)
    L.O
    (Picture: L.O.L. Surprise Dolls)

    If she’s a girl and she’s over the age of 4 – L.O.L. Surprise Dolls are definitely on her radar.

    These are elaborately packaged dolls that are a surprise – you don’t know which one you get until you open it. They also come with a host of surprise accessories.

    The two coveted gifts for Christmas are the L.O.L. Surprise Bigger Surprise – with 60+ surprises inside along with the doll and the Limited Edition LOL Surprise Dolls, Pet and Lil Sister & Case which works as a purse, storage case and a chic cafe, fashion boutique, and pizza parlour. The display holds 55+ dolls and accessories and includes one L. O. L. Surprise doll.

    Suitable for Ages 4+ – (but really hits the mark for girls 4-6)

    L.O.L. Surprise Bigger Surprise, £84.99, thetoyshop.com, L.O.L. Surprise Pop Up Store,  £39.99  argos.co.uk

    Crate Creatures Surprise

    549123 549246 Crate Creatures Blizz PW PKG R-d0a5
    (Picture: Create Creatures Surprise)

    Break into the crate to unbox your new beast friend.

    Named one of Hamley’s Top Toys for Christmas 2018, as well as featuring on ITV This Morning’s Must-Have Toys for Christmas  – this one is expected to sell out.

    A surprise assortment so you won’t know which creature it is until opened, kids can pull their tongues for monstrously fun sounds and gross noises. They can also record their own phrases too and get the monster to yak them back.

    Requires 3 x AA batteries (included).

    Crate Creatures Surprise, £31.99, hamleys.com

    Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck

    Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck
    (Picture: Paw Patrol)

    Every 3-5 year old knows about Paw Patrol.

    Equipped with flashing lights and sounds, this rescue vehicle is ready for any action-packed mission.  Kids can use the extendable ladder to reach new heights (it extends up to 2 feet and rotates)  and save the day.

    Paw Patrol Ultimate Fire Truck, £49.99, argos.co.uk

    Modern Music Box

    tonies music box
    (Picture: Tonies®)

    Just launched in the UK but already a big hit in Europe, Tonies® is a cool new audio system for children which puts listening and playing together.

    A  portable, child-friendly, speaker that is designed for small hands – putting the Tonie figure on top of the Toniebox starts the music – the audio stops when the Tonie is taken off.

    With over 25 Tonies in the collection, the clever box of audio fun plays songs and stories, and even gives you the chance to record your own.

    Toniebox,  £79.95, tonies.com

    Easy Riders

    Great for 18 months – 5 years old

    Ride-ons are big business for little kids to get take them through all the stages until they are ready to pedal confidently down the pavement on their first bike.

    A Balance Bike

    hippy chick balance bike
    (Picture: hippychick)

    A Balance Bike is a great thing for a kid to practise on before he/she learns to ride a bike of his or her own.

    The Trybike is one of the most versatile as it goes from a low three-wheeler to a two-wheeler and then a high two-wheeler to a high three-wheeler. Its 4-in-1 concept means it can grow alongside your child.

    From 12 months old the Trybike can help them learn how to walk – and grow with them until age 7.

    Trybike 4 in 1 – £159.99,  hippychick.com

    Cozy Coupe Ride-On

    Little Tikes Cozy Coupe with Pump
    (Picture: Little Tikes)

    A total classic – this kid-powered car is universally beloved by children.

    Complete with a working horn, a contained storage area perfect for toy travellers and a door that opens and closes – buy it along with the Little Tikes cozy coupe gas pumper to really put a smile on their face.

    Suitable from 18 months + – no batteries required.

    Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, £49.99, argos.co.uk, Little Tikes Cozy Pumper, £24.99, amazon.co.uk

    Magical Unicorn Carriage

    645860M Magical Unicorn Carriage FW 01054.jpg
    (Picture: Little Tikes)

    She or he will feel like feeling like royalty in the Magical Unicorn Carriage.

    Perfect for trotting along in style, younger kids can enjoy being pushed along by parents while older kids can take the reins and steer themselves.

    Includes a removable floor, trunk for storage and a unicorn clopping sound effect.

    Suitable for ages 18+-5 years old

    Magical Unicorn Carriage, £199.99, littletikes.co.uk

    JCB Battery-Powered Ride on Digger

    JCB Battery Powered Ride On Digger
    (Picture: JCB Ride On Digger)

    This JCB Battery Powered Ride-On is an all in one tractor, loader and digger that will delight the adventurous and get the job done.

    Kids 3 years and up can use the accelerator to move, a horn to warn others and a control stick to tip the bucket to empty their load.

    A rechargeable 6V battery is included. Suitable for ages 3+.

    JCB Battery Powered Ride On Digger, £99, therange.co.uk

    A Ducati GP Peg Perego

    DucatiENDURO_productSX.jpg

    Yeah, this one is over the top, but come on, this is the ultimate in cool. Speaking of cool – Tom Hardy is said to have snapped one up for his 3-year-old.

    Modelled after the original, the new Ducati GP Peg Perego has an electric engine with a 12 Volt rechargeable battery and features the same design of the real Ducati MotoGP bike. Stickers included mimic the look of the original Ducati bike used by MotoGP champions.

    Features include rubber tread wheels with hand grip accelerator and pedal brake and it comes with training wheels for younger rides and a kickstand – oh, and a real working horn.

    Suitable for ages 3+.

    Ducati GP Peg Perago,  £380, duplay.co.uk

    Wow Gifts

    Great for 5-10 Year Olds

    The Book Club

    Bookabees book club for kids
    (Picture: Bookabees)

    Bookabees is a children’s book club that turns reading into a magical and educational experience for any child. Their mission is simple: to inspire children to read more by creating anticipation and excitement around their Bookabees delivery.

    Every month a personalised parcel containing a carefully tailored selection of books based on the child’s age, likes and interests will be delivered  alongside a range of fun, age appropriate educational activities including an art and craft activity, stickers and bookmarks.

    It makes for the perfect gift or monthly subscription for children aged 0-11 years.

    Bookabees Book Club starts at £29.99 for 1 book a month for 3 months, or 1 book a month for 12 months is £109.99. bookabees.com

    Barbie Dreamhouse

    Barbie Dreamhouse.jpg

    This large, three-storey Barbie dreamhouse is the ultimate gift for a Barbie lover.

    It’s a sweet pad – it comes with 8 rooms (includes furniture),  a lift, a swimming pool that can be filled with real water, and a garage.

    It’s also very cool. A fireplace turns to reveal a desk and changes then into a home office; the couch becomes bunk beds and the coffee table flips to become an additional bed, turning the living room into a second bedroom; the kitchen sink has the oven and a recycling bin on one side, while the other opens into the backyard with shelves and barbecue images for outdoor fun. There’s also lights and sounds.

    Suitable from age 3+ – but ideal for ages 4-7

    Barbie Estate Dreamhouse Adventures Large Three-Story House, Pink with Transforming Accessories, £269.99, amazon.co.uk

    Hot Wheels City Ultimate Garage with Shark Attack

    Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage
    (Picture: Hot Wheels)

    An enormous playset that features parking for 90+ cars, a massive double lane loop, and a surprise shark attack all works together to make this one of 2018’s hottest toys.

    Kids can launch cars through the double lane loop back into Hot Wheels City or be devoured by a toothy shark. The adventure continues with multiple connection points to connect to other Hot Wheels sets.

    Suitable for ages 5-10

    Hot Wheels City Ultimate Garage with Shark Attack, £69.99, argos.co.uk

    2018 Top Christmas Board Games

    Board Games are never bigger than they are at Christmas – but you can’t just bring Monopoly and Operation every year.  This year there are two standouts.

    What’s that Smell?

    What's That Smell Board Game from Wow Wee
    (Picture: WowWee)

    What’s That Smell? is already a YouTube favourite; it’s a new scratch & sniff party game that totally stinks!

    Guess the scent on the card correctly to win or you could be suffering the reeking ramifications of one of the deadly Stank Cards.

    With over 50 smells from nice to downright nasty, this one is a breath of fresh (and not-so-fresh) air for game-loving kids.

    Wowee What’s That Smell Board Game, £19.97, amazon.co.uk

    Pie in the Face 2.0

    E19721020_5010993516575_pkg_18_Large_300DPI-e0e5The game that stole Christmas a couple of years back has added a cannon. Kids blast opponents with a cannon full of whipped cream while they try to bat it away. What’s not to love? Whipped cream not included.

    Suitable for ages 5+

    Pie Face Cannon from Hasbro, £26.99, argos.co.uk

    Tech Treats

    Great for Ages 10-14

    DC5Film_3d.jpg
    (Picture: DC5 Films)

     

    A box set sure to please. Featuring  Bruce Wayne, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and a host of other metahumans – all racing to save the world from the greatest of threats.

    Box Set includes Justice League, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man of Steel.

    DC5 Film Collection, £19.99, – amazon.co.uk

    A Safe, 2 in 1 Tablet

    Kurio 2 in 1 Smart Tablet
    (Picture: Kurio)

    It’s the first kid’s tablet that lets parents control the tablet remotely from their phone and kids and parents can play or message together across devices. Parents can control website access, block apps and manage screen time

    Kurio Smart kids is an Android Go, 2 in 1 10 inch Tablet, with detachable Bluetooth keyboard, WPS Office & magnetic protective case and great for everything from homework to play.

    It includes award-winning Kurio Genius Parental Controls and filters more than 32 billion websites.

    KurioKurio Tab Smart Kids 2-in-1 10 Inch 16GB Tablet, £149.99, kurioworld.com and argos.co.uk

    HP 2-in-1 Laptop

    HP Steam 2-1 Laptop Violet Blue
    (Picture: ao.com)

    This violet purple 2-in-1 from HP is sure to make them smile.

    Great for students, they can knock out an essay in laptop mode, then flip it over into a tablet to relax with a boxset.

    Has an 11-hour battery life and an Intel® Celeron® processor with 2GB of RAM and a  32GB hard drive and 1TB of Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage. Comes with Office 365 pre-installed.

    HP Stream x360 11.6in 2-in-1 Laptop Includes Office 365 Personal 1-year subscription with 1TB Cloud Storage, £199, ao.com

    Insta-Tweens

    Kylie and Gigi’s Phone Case

    Castify Say My Name Glitter Phonecase
    (Picture: Casetify)

    Casetify is the most followed tech accessory brand on social media, with high profile fans including Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Hilary Duff and Shay Mitchell who delight in showing off their personalised glitter cases.

    This year you can wow them with your Insta-cred.

    Castify Say My Name Glow in the Dark case, £35, casetify.com

    The Group Selfie Stick

    Evoko Group Selfie Stick
    (Picture: Evoko)

    Great for Groupies – this portable, wide-angle illumination lens, effortlessly attaches to any computer, laptop or smartphone. It’s an upgrade to the selfie stick in that it expands the field of vision to fit everybody in a perfect view behind you.

    Small and portable, it comes with a travel case and is also a great add-on for keeping in touch as a family or group on FaceTime.

    Includes a built-in discreet USB charger to power up its 8 LED lights lasts up to 13.5 hours on a charge.

    Evoko Groupie, £96.32, amazon.co.uk

    Insta-Printer

    HP Sprocket Printer 10 sheets
    (Picture: ao.com)

    They can print out all their favourite pictures from their phone on this Sprocket printer bundle from HP.

    It’s the ideal travelling companion as it’s perfectly pocket-sized and has a rechargeable battery, so they can snap and print photos on the go.

    The app lets you customise images and send them to print straight from your phone, so they can easily get a physical copy of their best selfies.

    Includes a protective case, ink, and 10 sheets of sticky back paper to get them started.

    HP Sprocket Limited Edition Gift Box Photo Printer, £129 ao.com

    Snap Happy

    Instax Mini 9 Camera Ice Blue
    (Picture: Instax mini)

    A stylish instant camera, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 prints beautiful, vibrant photos instantly.

    With an auto flash and focus free – nifty add-ons include a selfie mirror, a close-up lens, a ‘high-key’ mode for brighter pictures, and a distinctive white frame around the photo that lets them write a personalised message around the shot.

    The Mini 9’s compact design means that you can take it anywhere with you. Even the film is easy to carry in your purse or wallet.

    Camera purchase includes 10 shots.

    Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera, £64, currys.co.uk

    Affordable, Cool Headphones

    EM-JH133-CP_Product_01.png

    These House of Marley Positive Vibration 2.0 on-ear headphones are super stylish, affordable and fun.

    Comfortable design with great sound, they easily hook up to their devices via the 3.5mm jack connection. They can also effortlessly stop and start songs thanks to the in-line controls, along with a built-in mic that makes taking calls simple too.

    House of Marley Positive Vibration 2.0 On-ear Headphones £29 ao.com

    Apple Airpods

    Apple Airpods earphones
    (Picture: ao.com)

    For the sophisticated teen – these state-of-the-art headphones from Apple are a definite must have.

    Their simple in-ear design makes them great for getting around and their wireless bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to connect.

    Includes a charging dock which doubles as a carry case and an impressive 24-hour battery life. Just tap once to set them up and twice to talk to Siri. Voice control lets you skip tracks, adjust the volume or make a call.

    Apple AirPods £159, ao.com

    The High Flyer

    Parrot MAMBO_Packshot_01.jpg

    The Parrot Mambo FPV can be flown both indoors and outdoors. Small but mighty, it can fit in the palm of your hand, and it packs a punch!

    Includes an attachable HD FPV camera and accompanying Parrot Cockpitglasses 2 – which allows kids to see with their own eyes what the drone sees for incredible, immersive flights.

    Works up to 100m distance in optimum conditions with the included Bluetooth controller – and can do flips and tricks in flight.

    Parrot Mambo FPV,  £144, amazon.co.uk

    Sassy Smartphone

    Alcatel Android Smartphone
    (Picture: Alcatel Android)

    Keen to gift a smartphone with many of the snazzy features of an iPhone XR, but lacking the £1,000 budget? Join the club.

    You can now get many similar features – such as 12MP rear camera, 6 inch HD screen, Face Recognition to unlock the phone and a Fingerprint Scanner from the Alcatel 3V – which comes in at around a tenth of the cost at £129.99.

    It has a 18:9 screen ratio for a bigger screen in a smaller device and its high quality 2K Display means fans of Netflix and YouTube can watch with pure delight.

    Comes in a glossy blue, glossy black or gold.

    Alcatel 3V SIM-free, £129.99, carphonewarehouse.com or alcatelmobile.com

    A Different Reality

    Looking for something out of the box this year? Try these three :

    The ‘New’ Harry Potter

    The Islands of Fandye by Ollie Locke Made in Chelsea
    (Picture: The Islands of Fandye)

    Hailed as the ‘new Harry Potter’, here 12-year-old Antigone explores the mystical kingdom of Fandye, a archipelago of magical islands where unbelievable creatures live and wishes can come true.

    Written by Made In Chelsea star Ollie Locke and already being praised by critics, Locke was inspired to write the magical tale by his campervan childhood holidays in Polzeath, Cornwall.

    Recommended for readers aged 7-18.

    The Islands of Fandye, £9.99 amazon.co.uk

    Drummer for a Day

    Virgin Experience Days - Drummer for a Day
    (Picture: Virgin Experience Days)

    If they are into drumming, why not let them play rock star for a day?

    They’ll be led by an industry-experienced drum tutor on a top-of-the-range set, including Mapex, Tama or Yamaha. Their session will take place in a custom-designed, acoustic studio space, so they can play as loud as they want.

    Afterwards they’ll get an email with an MP3 recording of the session (subject to availability at their chosen studio).

    Drummer for a Day, £135, virginexperiencedays.co.uk

    Virtual Reality Star

    HO17_TR_Jump_Start
    (Picture: Oculus)

    The Oculus Go virtual reality headset is the first ever all-in-one VR headset with no need for smartphones or lengthy cables.

    There are more than 1,000 apps, games and experiences kids can enjoy with the Oculus Go, including Netflix, Melody VR, Jurassic World, Coaster Combat, Oculus Rooms and a lot more.

    Designed with breathable fabrics, adjustable straps and Oculus’s best lenses yet, it’s a great way to introduce someone to VR.

    Oculus Go, Standalone VR Headset and Controller, 32GB £169.99 argos.co.uk

     


    DucatiENDURO_productSX-6189DucatiENDURO_productSX-6189ashleysinlondonRoyal Sacks - Three Lighter-5225Letterpress Personalised Christmas Stocking by Harrow & Green Personalised Christmas Stockings Not on the High Street Circus Play Set Stocking Stuffer Not Just a Princess T Shirt Melissa & Doug Pounding Bench SSC002 Scene png-4c53Star Wars Swim by SpeedoLittle People Take Turns Skyway copy.jpg553007 LOL Surprise Bigger Surprise FW PKG F-b1c2L.O549123 549246 Crate Creatures Blizz PW PKG R-d0a5Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck tonies music box hippy chick balance bikeLittle Tikes Cozy Coupe with Pump645860M Magical Unicorn Carriage FW 01054.jpgJCB Battery Powered Ride On Digger DucatiENDURO_productSX.jpgBookabees book club for kids Barbie Dreamhouse.jpgHot Wheels Ultimate Garage What's That Smell Board Game from Wow WeeE19721020_5010993516575_pkg_18_Large_300DPI-e0e5DC5Film_3d.jpgKurio 2 in 1 Smart Tablet HP Steam 2-1 Laptop Violet BlueCastify Say My Name Glitter PhonecaseEvoko Group Selfie Stick HP Sprocket Printer 10 sheets Instax Mini 9 Camera Ice Blue EM-JH133-CP_Product_01.pngApple Airpods earphonesParrot MAMBO_Packshot_01.jpgAlcatel Android Smartphone The Islands of Fandye by Ollie Locke Made in Chelsea Virgin Experience Days - Drummer for a DayHO17_TR_Jump_StartDucatiENDURO_productSX-6189DucatiENDURO_productSX-6189ashleysinlondonRoyal Sacks - Three Lighter-5225Letterpress Personalised Christmas Stocking by Harrow & Green Personalised Christmas Stockings Not on the High Street Circus Play Set Stocking Stuffer Not Just a Princess T Shirt Melissa & Doug Pounding Bench SSC002 Scene png-4c53Star Wars Swim by SpeedoLittle People Take Turns Skyway copy.jpg553007 LOL Surprise Bigger Surprise FW PKG F-b1c2L.O549123 549246 Crate Creatures Blizz PW PKG R-d0a5Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck tonies music box hippy chick balance bikeLittle Tikes Cozy Coupe with Pump645860M Magical Unicorn Carriage FW 01054.jpgJCB Battery Powered Ride On Digger DucatiENDURO_productSX.jpgBookabees book club for kids Barbie Dreamhouse.jpgHot Wheels Ultimate Garage What's That Smell Board Game from Wow WeeE19721020_5010993516575_pkg_18_Large_300DPI-e0e5DC5Film_3d.jpgKurio 2 in 1 Smart Tablet HP Steam 2-1 Laptop Violet BlueCastify Say My Name Glitter PhonecaseEvoko Group Selfie Stick HP Sprocket Printer 10 sheets Instax Mini 9 Camera Ice Blue EM-JH133-CP_Product_01.pngApple Airpods earphonesParrot MAMBO_Packshot_01.jpgAlcatel Android Smartphone The Islands of Fandye by Ollie Locke Made in Chelsea Virgin Experience Days - Drummer for a DayHO17_TR_Jump_Start

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    Singing baby shark toys
    (Picture: WowWee)

    Baby shark do do do do do do. Yup, that’ll be in your head for the rest of the week, now.

    The Baby Shark song is everywhere, and it’s not going away any time soon.

    Instead of just hearing it when a child plays it on YouTube, however, parents now have the option of having it every time their beloved wee won cuddles their teddy. Fun.

    The singing Baby Shark toy is coming, and that means there’s absolutely no escape from the catchy tune.

    It’s produced by WowWee for Pinkfong – official creator of the global hit song Baby Shark.

    However, the stuffed animals don’t go on sale until 15 December, and some pre-orders have already sold out.

    Here’s how to get your hands on one before the big day.

    Singing baby shark toys
    (Picture: WowWee)

    The actual WowWee page has no sign of the toy, showing it’s probably already sold out.

    On Amazon, the babymummy and daddy sharks are available.

    They were retailing for between $49.99 (£39) to $69.99 (£54) originally, but you’re now looking at about $89.99 (£74) due to the demand.

    Expect to pay hefty postage and possibly customs too if you want them before Christmas.

    Sorry, this video isn't available any more.

    Alternatively, hit up eBay for the possibility of winning one.

    Some come from South Korea where the song originated, but many sellers are promising delivery in less than a week.

    Check that the description is PINKFONG, as a number of other imitations are on the site.

    Good luck, and we hope you survive January with that earworm around you.

    MORE: Now my abuser is behind bars, I’m finally able to enjoy Christmas with my loved ones

    MORE: The ultimate Christmas gift guide for kids – perfect for clueless godparents


    SEI_42868673-96efSEI_42868673-96efjessicacvlSinging baby shark toysSinging baby shark toysSEI_42868673-96efSEI_42868673-96efjessicacvlSinging baby shark toysSinging baby shark toys

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    (Picture: Getty Images)

    Decorating the tree is one of the cosiest parts of the Christmas season.

    But it can be difficult to know which decorations to buy- what’s going to leave you with a skimpy Scrooge tree, and what’s going to be OTT tacky overkill?

    Apparently there’s even a wrong and right way to hang your lights, and chances are you’ve been doing it wrong:

    Designer Francesco Bilotto told House Beautiful that lights shouldn’t be strung horizontally from bottom to top as most of us do.

    Instead, hanging them vertically means that every branch is well lit and the lights are prominently displayed.

    Closeup of red bauble hanging from a decorated Christmas tree. Retro filter effect.
    (Picture: Getty)

    There’s now a handy tool to help you figure out exactly how many lights and ornaments you need for your ideal tree.

    Admiral have put together an online calculator to determine what suits your specific tree best for a picturesque Christmas.

    The quiz will ask for your tree’s height, shape, and what kind of aesthetic you’re after- minimal, fairly full, or jam packed.

    So for example, a 6ft tree that’s full in shape would need 74 baubles and eight metres of fairly lights. Easy.

    Have a look before you get round to unstringing the lights and you’ll get your ideal set-up, straight off a Christmas card.

    MORE: Please enjoy 50 truly terrible Christmas cracker jokes

    MORE: The best pre lit Christmas trees from Argos, Asda, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer this year


    Children decorating Christmas treeChildren decorating Christmas treemeganbnolanCloseup of red bauble hanging from a decorated Christmas tree. Retro filter effect.Children decorating Christmas treeChildren decorating Christmas treemeganbnolanCloseup of red bauble hanging from a decorated Christmas tree. Retro filter effect.

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    This is the moment a couple?s intimate marriage proposal was INTERRUPTED by a speeding cyclist after three months of planning. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.
    (Picture: Christine Calacsan / SWNS.com)

    A couple’s proposal photos were ruined after an oblivious cyclist cycled through the romantic scene as 25-year-old Blake Martin was down on one knee.

    Black had spent three months planning the moment he would ask his girlfriend, Shannon Keene, 24, to marry him.

    He picked a beautiful spot on a wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, and hired a photographer to capture the proposal on camera.

    This is the moment a couple?s intimate marriage proposal was INTERRUPTED by a speeding cyclist after three months of planning. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.
    (Picture: Christine Calacsan / SWNS.com)

    But just as he got down on one knee to pop the question, an oblivious cyclist in a bright orange jacket whizzed right in front of him.

    Blake, a chemical engineering PhD student, said the man apologised quickly before continuing on his way.

    The funny moment on 9 November was captured on camera by photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple.

    Blake, from Louisville, Kentucky, said: ‘I had been planning this proposal for about three months.

    Blake Martin, 25, with his girlfriend Shannon Keene. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.
    (Picture: Christine Calacsan / SWNS.com)

    ‘I was extremely nervous. It all happened so fast. I got down on one knee and this orange blur just zipped by and screamed ‘Sorry’. It was nuts.’

    Law student Shannon added: ‘I thought we were just going to pose for fun.

    ‘We were on this little bridge when Blake asked me to look out over the creek for a photo which I thought was dumb.

    ‘I did not know why he wanted me to pose on my own during a couple’s photo shoot. When I turned around he was on one knee.

    This is the moment a couple?s intimate marriage proposal was INTERRUPTED by a speeding cyclist after three months of planning. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.
    (Picture: Christine Calacsan / SWNS.com)

    ‘I was so shocked. He started saying: “I love you so much, I want to spend my life with you. Will you marry me?”

    ‘It was at this exact moment this man flies by on a bike so fast I hardly even registered it.’

    Despite the disruption Shannon, who has dated Blake for four years, accepted her boyfriend’s proposal.

    The couple, who live in Louisville, said the amusing moment made the proposal even more memorable.

    Shannon said: ‘It wasn’t until after we hugged that Christine said: “You won’t believe the photo I got”.

    Blake Martin, 25, with his girlfriend Shannon Keene. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.
    (Picture: Christine Calacsan / SWNS.com)

    ‘When we saw it we both cracked up. It was a good reminder that you shouldn’t take things too seriously.’

    Blake added: ‘Afterwards I was like ‘What in the world was this guy thinking?’ When we saw the photo we just laughed.

    ‘It made the proposal so much more special because it was unique.’

    The happy couple plan to wed in 2020.

    MORE: Now my abuser is behind bars, I’m finally able to enjoy Christmas with my loved ones

    MORE: New dads to be offered mental health checks and treatment on the NHS


    SEI_42973174-5801SEI_42973174-5801hattiegladwellmetroThis is the moment a couple?s intimate marriage proposal was INTERRUPTED by a speeding cyclist after three months of planning. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: SEI_42973174-5801SEI_42973174-5801hattiegladwellmetroThis is the moment a couple?s intimate marriage proposal was INTERRUPTED by a speeding cyclist after three months of planning. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.This is the moment a couple?s intimate marriage proposal was INTERRUPTED by a speeding cyclist after three months of planning. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.Blake Martin, 25, with his girlfriend Shannon Keene. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.This is the moment a couple?s intimate marriage proposal was INTERRUPTED by a speeding cyclist after three months of planning. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.Blake Martin, 25, with his girlfriend Shannon Keene. See SWNS story SWNYpropose; Blake Martin, 25, was horrified when a cyclist bounded between he and his girlfriend Shannon Keene, 24, just after he had gone down on one knee to propose. PHD student Blake had just asked the all important question when ?an orange blur? whizzed across the wooden bridge in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9. The couple were stunned as the moment-wrecking cyclist apologized quickly before continuing on his way. The funny moment was captured on camera photographer Christine Calacsan, a friend of the couple who had been roped into Blake?s plans from the beginning. Shannon said: "One of my law school friends has taken photos of us in the past and Blake reached out to her and asked her if she could send me a message, pretending she wanted to test out her new lens.

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    This time of year can be a bit horrible, we know.

    That daily commute seems a lot worse when it’s dark, wet and cold outside.

    It might be the perfect time to book yourself some time away for next year – and if you are looking for somewhere a bit different, Airbnb have just released their list of top destinations for 2019.

    The list, which is based on booking, searching and wish list growth data, focuses on more off-the-beaten-path regions, cities and towns to explore.

    A spokesperson for the company said: ‘Ranging from a vehicle-free island off the coast of southeastern China’s Xiamen, to the site of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary celebration next year, we’ve found that most of our trending destinations are places where the increased “healthy,” more sustainable and authentic tourism will benefit residents and travelers alike, promoting emerging locales like Accra, Ghana; supporting environmental sustainability in places like Calabria, Italy; and offering the chance to help rebuild communities after natural disasters, starting with the top-trending destination on our list: Kaikoura, New Zealand.’

    Kaikoura, New Zealand

    295% year on year increase in bookings.

    210% year on year increase in searches.

    Kaikoura, New Zealand
    Kaikoura, New Zealand (Picture: Andrea Schaffer / Flickr)

    This coastal town was heavily damaged by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2016 but it is making a comeback – train and transportation services have been rebuilt and now it has the largest increase in bookings and searches on Airbnb.

    It’s popular with whale and seal watchers looking to spot some of the notable spem whale population.

    Xiamen, China

    283% year on year increase in bookings.

    Xiamen, China
    Caption: Xiamen, China (Picture: Airbnb)

    Xiamen is a port city surrounded by islands, including Kulangsu, a pedestrian-only, vehicle free island.

    Puebla, Mexico

    240% year on year increase in searches.

    206% year on year increase in wish list inclusion.

    Puebla, Mexico
    Puebla, Mexico (Picture: Airbnb)

    Despite an earthquake in 2017, bookings and searches for Puebla have increased.

    It’s just two-hours from Mexico City and provides an alternative to the typical Mexican beach vacation and trip to the capital city.

    Normandy, France

    229% year on year increase in bookings.

    120% year on y ear increase in searches.

    Normandy, France
    Normandy, France (Picture: Ilnur Kalimullin / Unsplash)

    With the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings next year, bookings and searches for this area in Northern France have increased.

    Only a two-hour train ride from Paris, locals and travelers can experience the region’s lush landscapes, architectural gems, and Route du Camembert, the trail named after the popular cheese.

    Great Smoky Mountains, U.S.

    191% year on year increase in bookings.

    190% year on year increase in searches.

    Great Smoky Mountains
    Great Smoky Mountains (Picture: Bryan Minear / Unsplash)

    Home to America’s most visited national park due to its central location, general ease in getting there, and affordability, the Smokies are calling.

    Two of the park’s most iconic trails (among the 800 miles of trails to choose from) are reopening after a wildfire two years ago.

    Nature-lovers can also revel in the varied plants and animals in the area as it’s part of UNESCO’s International Biosphere Reserve and be interested to know it’s also home to the biggest black bear population in the eastern U.S..

    Buenos Aires Province, Argentina

    188% year on year increase in bookings.

    176% year on year increase in wish list inclusion.

    Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. 2014.
    Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. 2014 (Picture: Airbnb/AB2CT495)

    Not to be confused with the capital city of the same name, the province provides a string of beaches and forests and towns like Tigre, characteristic of its Puerto de Frutos, or bustling craft market.

    Accra, Ghana

    163% year on year increase in bookings.

    120% year on year increase in searches.

    Accra, Ghana
    Accra, Ghana (Picture: Airbnb)

    The capital city of Ghana is emerging as a global destination, with Makola Market offering its must-see colorful bazaar and the Labadi and Kokrobite beaches along the Gulf of Guinea boasting an exciting nightlife.

    Mozambique

    156% year on year increase in bookings.

    160% year on year increase in searches.

    Mozambique
    Mozambique (Picture: Rohan Reddy / Unsplash)

    Visit Mozambique for the nature – coral islands, marine and national parks.

    The Indian Ocean surrounding the islands is home to 2,000 types of colorful fish prime for watching by scuba diving or snorkeling. Animal lovers can further rejoice in Mozambique’s pink flamingos, Nile crocodiles and dolphins.

    Outer Hebrides, Scotland

    147% year on year increase in bookings.

    170% year on year increase in searches.

    Outer Hebrides, Scotland
    Outer Hebrides, Scotland (Simaron / Flickr)

    A series of beautiful but rugged natural islands, the Outer Hebrides provide a spectacle from the moment you arrive.

    Barra Airport is an attraction as it’s one of the only commercial airports in the world where the planes land on a beach.

    Wakayama Prefecture, Japan

    128% year on year increase in bookings.

    Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
    Wakayama Prefecture, Japan (Picture: Tom Vining / Unsplash)

    Described at Japan’s ‘spiritual heartland’, Wakayama Prefecture has 52 temples on holy Buddhist grounds in Koyasan, where travelers and locals can go to experience meditation, Buddhist gardens and vegetarian cuisine.

    The area is particularly popular in July during the Nachi Fire Festival – a 1,700-year-old event and considered one of the most sacred festivals in Japan.

    Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, U.S.

    100% year on year increase in bookings.

    130% year on year increase in searches.

    Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, USA
    Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, USA (Picture: David Berkowitz / Flickr)

    This is the location of the original Woodstock festival and with the 50th anniversary taking place in 2019, many famous musicians and groups are rumoured to be performing.

    Santa Catarina State, Brazil

    Over 100% in year on year increase in books

    140% increase in year on year increase in wish list inclusion.

    Santa Catarina State, Brazil
    Santa Catarina State, Brazil (Picture: Airbnb)

    This state is known for both its beaches and its mountains. With bookings surging in cities such as Joinville (216%), Itajaí (166%), and Blumenau (134%), it’s apparent that travelers are seeking a side of history to accompany their panoramic mountain views.

    Batumi, Georgia

    200% increase in searches.

    Batumi, Georgia
    Batumi, Georgia (Picture: Airbnb)

    Batumi is the second-largest city of Georgia, with a beautiful coast and year-round moderate climate.

    The Black Sea resort has a lively promenade and an old town district to explore as well as beaches and ski resorts.

    Winnipeg, Canada

    140% year on year increase in searches.

    Winnipeg, Canada
    Winnipeg, Canada (Picture: Eva Blue / Unsplash)

    Winnipeg is home to the first museum dedicated entirely to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights.

    Pondicherry, India

    140% year on year increase in searches.

    Pondicherry, India
    Pondicherry, India (Picture: Airbnb)

    ‘Pondy’ as it is known, is a few hours drive from capital Chennai but you can enjoy scuba diving or visit the Pichavaram Mangrove Forest.

    Uzbekistan

    165% year on year increase in wish list inclusion.

    Uzbekistan
    Uzbekistan (Picture: Giorgio Montersino / Flickr)

    With new investments in air travel, high-speed rail connections, simplified visa requirements and 300 days of sunshine, you can understand why it’s had the fastest year-over-year growth with bookings.

    It’s also home to Samarkand, a major city on the Silk Road and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    Calabria, Italy

    100% year on year increase in wish list inclusion.

    Calabria, Italy
    Calabria, Italy (Picture: Airbnb)

    Right at the tip of Italy, sits Calabria but it is one of the country’s least-visited regions, but it has mountains, national parks, medieval villages, an expansive coastline, and a laid-back, rustic vibe.

    Andalucia, Spain

    Over 100% year on year increase in wish list inclusion.

    Andalucia, Spain
    Andalucia, Spain (Picture:Willian Justen de Vasconcellos / Unsplash)

    Spain’s hill region on its southern coast is best known for the picturesque Spanish cities of Granada, Córdoba and Seville.

    The area is loved for its architecture: the Alcázar castle in Seville, the capital city; Córdoba’s Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral; and Granada’s Alhambra palace.

    Taiwan

    Over 100% year on year increase in wish list inclusion.

    Taiwan
    Taiwan (Picture: Airbnb)

    Though Taipei remains a tourist favorite with night markets aplenty, the eastern districts of Daxi and Yujing are appearing on more wish lists this year over last.

    Daxi, a relatively small town, has an increasing variety of historic and culinary attractions, making it a worthwhile day trip or two if you’re visiting the capital city.

    If you want a more remote experience, head to Yujing with its mango farms and hot springs.

    Additionally the southeastern coastal city of Taitung attracts ancient treasure-seekers with relics recovered from buried Neolithic slate coffins, and part-time birders along the many lakefront paths.

    MORE: The ultimate Christmas gift guide for kids – perfect for clueless godparents

    MORE: Millennials are killing canned tuna


    19 places to visit in 201919 places to visit in 2019lauraabernethy6Kaikoura, New ZealandXiamen, ChinaPuebla, MexicoNormandy, FranceGreat Smoky MountainsBuenos Aires Province, Argentina. 2014.Accra, GhanaMozambiqueOuter Hebrides, ScotlandWakayama Prefecture, JapanCatskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, USASanta Catarina State, BrazilBatumi, GeorgiaWinnipeg, CanadaPondicherry, IndiaUzbekistanCalabria, ItalyAndalucia, SpainTaiwan19 places to visit in 201919 places to visit in 2019lauraabernethy6Kaikoura, New ZealandXiamen, ChinaPuebla, MexicoNormandy, FranceGreat Smoky MountainsBuenos Aires Province, Argentina. 2014.Accra, GhanaMozambiqueOuter Hebrides, ScotlandWakayama Prefecture, JapanCatskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, USASanta Catarina State, BrazilBatumi, GeorgiaWinnipeg, CanadaPondicherry, IndiaUzbekistanCalabria, ItalyAndalucia, SpainTaiwan

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    (Picture: Instagram)

    Last year, Lush launched an orangutan sculpted soap for Black Friday 2016.

    They launched the limited edition soap after partnering with conservation charity Sumatran Orangutan society (SOS)

    The base of Orangutan Soap is palm-free and made with extra virgin coconut oil from Nias, Sumatra, and is mixed with a universal soap base.

    They’re packed with a bespoke patchouli and orange fragrance and are cute and orange.

    Instagram Photo

    Lush recently took to Instagram to explain why they were re-releasing a very limited run of the soap.

    They said: ‘There are only 14,600 Sumatran Orangutans left thanks to the devastating effects of palm plantations and deforestation.

    ‘When you purchase this soap, 100% of the sales minus the tax will go to the Orangutan Information Centre so they can buy 360 hectares of palm plantation in Indonesia to restore back to native forest.’

    In an interview with Lush, Helen Buckland, director of SOS, explained how important it is that Sumatra’s forests are restored.

    Instagram Photo

    She said: ‘At the start of November, the discovery of a new species of orangutan was announced in Sumatra – so now we have the Sumatran orangutan, and the Tapanuli orangutan. Both are critically endangered.

    ‘The loss of their habitat is the ultimate threat we need to tackle to ensure the survival of orangutans. Sumatra’s forests have been falling relentlessly for decades, pushing orangutans and many other species to the edge of extinction.’

    She continued: ‘When I first visited what is now our flagship forest restoration site, I was faced with rows and rows of oil palms inside the border of the national park.

    ‘The soil was dry and cracked, and there was absolute silence, not even bird song. I planted a rainforest tree seedling in that barren soil, and hoped that it would survive.

    Instagram Photo

    ‘Just two years later, I went back to the spot where I had planted that tree. I heard gibbons and birds singing, and heard from the team about a herd of elephants that had passed through the previous day. That, right there, was conservation in action! Not long after that the team spotted the first wild orangutan to return to the area.

    ‘It takes a long time to grow a rainforest, but it’s incredible how quickly the restoration sites can once again become valuable habitat for orangutans and so many other species. Within 3-4 years, nature takes over, and wildlife starts to return long before that.’

    The soaps are available to buy now for £8.25. If you’d like to further help the orangutans, you can make a donation to SOS.

    MORE: Beautician offers free manicures to anyone facing a lonely Christmas

    MORE: If you’re conventionally beautiful, it’s easy to criticise airbrushing and beauty standards


    Lush Palm free soapLush Palm free soaphattiegladwellmetroLush Palm free soapLush Palm free soaphattiegladwellmetro

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    (Picture: AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

    Times are changing, and so is the old-fashioned world of beauty pageantry

    Ángela Ponce from Pilas in Southern Spain is to become the first ever transgender woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant – and some bookmakers are now placing the 27 year old as their favourite to win.

    Ms Ponce became the first transgender woman crowned Miss Spain in July, and will now go on to make history in Thailand on December 16th when the Miss Universe pageant takes place.

    Miss Spain Angela Ponce waves on her arrival in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Ponce is the first transgender who participates in the final competition of the Miss Universe scheduled on Dec. 17, 2018 in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
    (Picture: AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

    Donald Trump owned the Miss Universe contest for almost two decades until 2015. He was forced to give up the organisation– which includes sister scholarship programs Miss USA and Miss Teen USA – after offensive comments about Mexicans drove away broadcasters.

    During his tenure, the rules around transgender contestants changed in 2012 after a legal challenge from a would-be Canadian contestant, Jenna Talackova.

    He has made a determined move against transgender rights during his presidency to date, including efforts to ban transgender individuals from the military, and a move to legally redefine the current accepted relationship between sex assigned at birth and gender.

    Pics shows: Miss Universe Spain Angela Ponce; Spain has crowned its first transgender Miss Universe contestant who will go on to represent her country at the prestigious international pageant later this year. Angela Ponce, a 26-year-old trans woman from Seville who previously represented Cadiz in the 2015 Miss World Spain contest, has become her country???s first transgender representative. In 2015, she lost to Miss Barcelona Mireia Lalaguna who went on to win Miss World. Despite Angela???s participation, at the time the Miss World Organization did not accept transgender contestants. In response, Angela said: "At least I have the regional (Cadiz) crown on my head." In 2012, rival contest Miss Universe announced that it would allow transgender beauty queens after Canadian model Jenna Talackova successfully sued Miss Universe Canada organisers for initially disqualifying her for being transgender. At the pageant in May 2012, Jenna made it into the Top 12 but failed to reach the Top five. However, she was one of four contestants awarded the title of Miss Congeniality. Angela, who is 181 centimetres (5 feet, 9 inches) tall, was crowned Miss Universe Spain at the same time as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community's celebration of Pride Month. The beauty queen, who says she first identified as a woman at the age of three, will represent Spain at Miss Universe 2018 at a date yet to be set. One anonymous netizen said: "These people deserve to be on the international stage and show the world what LGBT stands for." Social media user ???XxxX??? said: "Trans ???women??? have a height advantage as men naturally grow taller. She is 1.81cm. Most women do not grow that tall. Height is an advantage in Miss Universe. I am against this on all levels. Shame on Spain for taking away the very few opportunities that women get and giving it to a man in drag."
    (Picture: CEN/@satunatu)

    When asked if her presence in the competition would act as a rebuke to President Trump’s anti-transgender initiatives, Ms Ponce replied: ‘More than a message to him, it would be a win for human rights. Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long.

    ‘If they give me the crown, it would show trans women are just as much women as cis women.’

    Meanwhile in Spain, Guillermo Escobar, the president of Spain’s national beauty contest, told the New York Times that ‘the jury simply valued her as a great woman.’

    ‘She is a pioneer, sending a message of equality and respect, but my hope is that we will eventually have many more candidates like her and this will no longer make the headlines,’

    MORE: Is President Trump about to appear on Keeping Up With The Kardashians?


    Angela PonceAngela PoncemeganbnolanMiss Spain Angela Ponce waves on her arrival in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Ponce is the first transgender who participates in the final competition of the Miss Universe scheduled on Dec. 17, 2018 in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)Pics shows: Miss Universe Spain Angela Ponce; Spain has crowned its first transgender Miss Universe contestant who will go on to represent her country at the prestigious international pageant later this year. Angela Ponce, a 26-year-old trans woman from Seville who previously represented Cadiz in the 2015 Miss World Spain contest, has become her country???s first transgender representative. In 2015, she lost to Miss Barcelona Mireia Lalaguna who went on to win Miss World. Despite Angela???s participation, at the time the Miss World Organization did not accept transgender contestants. In response, Angela said: Angela PonceAngela PoncemeganbnolanMiss Spain Angela Ponce waves on her arrival in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Ponce is the first transgender who participates in the final competition of the Miss Universe scheduled on Dec. 17, 2018 in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)Pics shows: Miss Universe Spain Angela Ponce; Spain has crowned its first transgender Miss Universe contestant who will go on to represent her country at the prestigious international pageant later this year. Angela Ponce, a 26-year-old trans woman from Seville who previously represented Cadiz in the 2015 Miss World Spain contest, has become her country???s first transgender representative. In 2015, she lost to Miss Barcelona Mireia Lalaguna who went on to win Miss World. Despite Angela???s participation, at the time the Miss World Organization did not accept transgender contestants. In response, Angela said: "At least I have the regional (Cadiz) crown on my head." In 2012, rival contest Miss Universe announced that it would allow transgender beauty queens after Canadian model Jenna Talackova successfully sued Miss Universe Canada organisers for initially disqualifying her for being transgender. At the pageant in May 2012, Jenna made it into the Top 12 but failed to reach the Top five. However, she was one of four contestants awarded the title of Miss Congeniality. Angela, who is 181 centimetres (5 feet, 9 inches) tall, was crowned Miss Universe Spain at the same time as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community's celebration of Pride Month. The beauty queen, who says she first identified as a woman at the age of three, will represent Spain at Miss Universe 2018 at a date yet to be set. One anonymous netizen said: "These people deserve to be on the international stage and show the world what LGBT stands for." Social media user ???XxxX??? said: "Trans ???women??? have a height advantage as men naturally grow taller. She is 1.81cm. Most women do not grow that tall. Height is an advantage in Miss Universe. I am against this on all levels. Shame on Spain for taking away the very few opportunities that women get and giving it to a man in drag."

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    (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

    Chores, eh?

    No better way to drive home the tedium of human life than the realisation you’ll have to just keep cleaning the same toilet every week until you die.

    Australian company Bare All Cleaning Company aim to make the concept a little more exciting and pleasurable by sending their cleaners round in the nip.

    Ok, not always in the nip. Sometimes, if you’re on a lower budget, they’re not nude but merely in bikinis while they give the sinks a good scouring and set off one of those nuclear oven bombs.

    It makes sense in a way, to make yourself wipe-down friendly after a hardcore session rinsing out a bin.

    Bare All insist that they do not provide a sex service and that sexually engaging with their staff is not allowed, although their website concedes that: ‘They won’t get upset and will understand your reaction to a nude female’s body.’

    So just to reiterate, no tomfoolery or touching, but the odd ‘phwoar” will be tolerated.

    Refuting accusations of sexism – to be fair, the idea of men paying naked women to scrub floors in front of them for their pleasure doesn’t exactly sound a feminist utopia – Bare Ass Cleaning has now taken men into the fold.

    Naked chef standing by the stove with frying pan; Shutterstock ID 151267151; Purchase Order: -
    (Picture: Shutterstock)

    A new sister business established by founder Brett Jones will see naked male gardeners for hire.

    New recruit Leeroy Evans is already enjoying himself, telling Australian news: ‘It’s kind of liberating, everybody likes to get their kit off now and again. It’s all natural. Vitamin D is great for your skin.’

    But Leeroy also offered some assurance for the squeamish among us:

    ‘Obviously we won’t go too close with the chainsaws and whatnot.’

    MORE: Kourtney Kardashian likes to be naked at home as star reveals she’s ditched strict diets


    Naked cleaning company introduces male cleanersNaked cleaning company introduces male cleanersmeganbnolanNaked chef standing by the stove with frying pan; Shutterstock ID 151267151; Purchase Order: -Naked cleaning company introduces male cleanersNaked cleaning company introduces male cleanersmeganbnolanNaked chef standing by the stove with frying pan; Shutterstock ID 151267151; Purchase Order: -

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    Tales of office Christmas party hookups - good, bad, and deeply embarrassing Metro illustrations (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)
    (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)

    Ah, the classic office Christmas party hookup.

    Months of friendly emails and eye contact in the queue for the microwave have been building up to this moment.

    Sexual tension is running high. You’ve had a glass of mulled wine and are thus feeling naughty.

    It’s time to finally blurt out that you’re interested in each other and start smushing your faces together in a corner.

    But an office Christmas party hookup isn’t just a highlight of a year for the two people making out. All their coworkers get the thrill of hot, juicy gossip.

    In case your office is dismally drama-free, we’ve asked people for their tales of hooking up with people at their office Christmas parties to bring you secondhand joy.

    I’ll start, because I feel it’s only fair to share my story if I’m forcing people to reveal their office romances online.

    Ellen, 25

    Okay, so let me preface this by saying that the guy I got with at the Christmas party is now my boyfriend. We’ve been together two years, we live together, and we work together.

    So… success.

    There was a lot of buildup beforehand. We’d been messaging for months and had previously gone to a work thing (a festival dedicated to cats, if you’re curious) in which we were both really shy around each other, as well as chatting at usual work pub trips.

    Basically, he and I both assumed that we had unrequited crushes.

    It got to the Christmas party and – spoiler – we did not hook up.

    But it was the official start of us dating, because I am smooth as f***.

    After looking after a pal who’d gone a bit too hard on the drinks, we decided it was hometime. The tube station was closed, so I very smoothly suggested that we just get an Uber back to mine. He lived far away, we could split the cost, and there would be no funny business.

    There was no funny business. We were very respectful and only had a very brief kiss. But it turns out getting a McDonald’s, sleeping in the same bed, and then going to work the next morning sleep-deprived and in need of carbs, is quite an intimate experience.

    We ended up coming clean about our mutual crush and decided to go on an actual date.

    We did, it went well, and soon we were in a proper relationship. We had a very serious discussion about what would happen if things went wrong (if someone cheated they had to leave their job, if it was a mutual breakup we could both stay at work together and make sure we could collaborate as friends) and kept things secret for a good few months, making the official announcement with a casual holiday Instagram from Barcelona.

    It was all very sweet, he is lovely, and it’s the first healthy relationship I’ve been in, even with the initial worry about whether we’d both get sacked.

    Anyway. Can we read other people’s stories now? I’m deeply embarrassed.

    How it feels to be depressed at Christmas (Lucy Dimbylow)
    (Picture: Phébe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

    Tara, 26

    So, the hookup happened four years ago. Yes there was a build up, it was mainly all about the build up. Went on lunches together all the time, constant flirting and messaging. I went to his flat for dinner, nothing happened.

    Christmas party comes along and I’m basically determined that it was the night it would happen.

    He arrives later than everyone and kind of gives me the cold shoulder a little. I’m like ,what is going on? This is what we have been waiting for!

    I catch him in a quiet corner, there’s a very passionate snog, and then he says: ‘I can’t see you for the rest of the night but I will explain later.’

    WHAT?

    Then I see him with a girl who has just arrived.

    His work bestie pulls me to one side and is like, oh, yeah, that’s his girlfriend.

    I did what any 22-year-old would do: I found a handsome stranger and snogged him in front of work guy.

    Work guy gets annoyed, pulls me outside, and yells at me while his bestie preoccupies his girlfriend.

    He said it was mean to do it out of spite. He said he didn’t want to be with his girlfriend, he wanted to be with me, and he didn’t know his girlfriend would turn up.

    Then he leaves. I didn’t talk to him for a week after.

    We did eventually sleep together after leaving work at the same time one day, but then didn’t talk again until I handed in my notice a month later.

    Two years ago he moved to London and messaged me to ask if I fancied meeting for a drink. I said no.

    Sarah, 23

    There was no buildup – I just always thought he was a really nice person and that we had similar interests. We got on really well and in my mind I thought I’d be working with him in the future so I never thought of crossing the professional line.

    He’s told me since he always liked me when we worked together but didn’t want to act upon it, as he wanted to be professional.

    We still don’t know who made the first move as we both had one too many drinks. But last year we were dancing with each other at our work Christmas party at a nightclub and then it just suddenly happened. We kissed out of nowhere.

    Colleagues spotted us and from what I remember I ran to the toilet in embarrassment. I couldn’t believe what had happened. My friend followed me and we spoke about it in shock.

    I obviously wasn’t worried about people seeing at the time as we were both drunk but I think I immediately regretted it.

    After speaking to my friend and also realising everyone saw the kiss, I think we just carried on chatting and dancing. Later we went back to his and we both passed out on the sofa super quick. We both woke up and moved to sleep in his room, then I woke up at around 11am fully dressed with my belt, jeans and jacket on with a full face of makeup, lying on top of the covers.

    I immediately thought what is everyone going to think at work on Monday? I saw so many missed calls and messages on my phone from my work friend and I literally could not face replying, I was so embarrassed.

    In my mind I had to leave his house straight away as I thought it must have been a drunken mistake, but then he asked me if I wanted to stay for lunch, I knew then it was something different and that it wouldn’t be awkward.

    He was leaving work anyway, so there weren’t really any consequences. Most people said they saw it coming, others said they were shocked. I still couldn’t really believe it myself!

    Thank goodness it was the last week of work before Christmas so it meant most people were off on holiday leave, so I didn’t have to face much embarrassment.

    It also meant that hopefully everyone would forget it even happened over the Christmas break (I hoped). Over the Christmas holidays we saw each other a few times for dinner and drinks and I realised I really liked him.

    I think because I knew he had left work, I allowed myself to like him more – and it kept growing from there.

    Next week on 15 December it will be a year from when we first got together. In January that’s our official year anniversary. He’s completely a part of my family and life now. I also think he’s my dad’s best friend…

    Emma, 23

    I always fancied him a little bit I think but we were always so busy at work we never really got to further anything. I never really got to test the waters. By the time we finished at work at 5/6am, I was never feeling or looking my best to think here is a good moment to try.

    But we’d occasionally drink after we finished and we’d always have a great, flirty time.

    We were bartenders so we didn’t have an actual Christmas party, we had a delayed ‘thanks for the work over Christmas party’ in January.

    We closed the bar for an evening on a Sunday when we were usually very quiet and basically just went hard on the booze, karaoke and silly bar games. We spent most of the evening together playing bar Olympics and there had been a lot of alcohol.

    A couple of people had asked me separately if I was interested in him but I got cagey and weird. Turns out they’d asked him and he was interested.

    Not sure the exact steps leading up to the ‘main event’ but we ended up nipping off to the disabled toilets together and you can guess the rest.

    It was very drunk, sloppy, awkward groping each other against the doors and walls. Knowing how grotty the floor was meant that laying down was never an option.

    The sink was a bit dodgy as well and not really attached to the wall so as we leaned on that or I was bent over it I got a bit scared I was gonna rip the whole thing off the wall. We both finished and it was ok as drunken toilet based hookups go.

    Everyone saw us go in and applauded as we came out. Horrific.

    Absolutely nothing changed afterwards. We never hooked up again, but stayed friends and continued to work together well and have fun and even meet each others new partners. Our colleagues teased us but we just accepted it.

    I don’t live in the same city any more but we are still Facebook friends and if I returned I wouldn’t feel awkward seeing him.

    How to hook up responsibly at your office Christmas party
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Molly, 29

    Before the party I saw him, like, once in the office but had no interaction.

    I had a boyfriend at the time so I wasn’t looking or noticing other people.

    Anyway, there we were at the Christmas party listening to the boss making a Christmas speech surrounded by dancers when Sam said something inappropriate to me and we both started howling.

    Honestly, the next thing I remember is literally getting it on in a room at the back of the club.

    We left together but I was actually on the way to meet my boyfriend and tried to shake him off. I was very ashamed.

    But we did actually have a conversation after someone told me he had a girlfriend. I was going to tell him I had a boyfriend and before I said anything he was like, ‘I have a girlfriend so don’t worry about this being anything’.

    He proceeded to follow me home and ask to take me to a hotel.

    I shook him off and was, like, f***, what did I do? How can I go back to the office?

    But the next day in the office we started chatting on Slack. That was the start of a beautiful romance, but there was a sizeable gap between the hookup and the official getting together.

    The Christmas party was the initial meet but we didn’t get together ’til April.

    Now we have cats.

    Abby, 28

    There was SO MUCH buildup to it. We’d sat opposite each other for a few months and just spent our working days flirting between customer calls.

    It made work so much more enjoyable, and I spent 99% of my time there happy and confident.

    We were pretty merry at our christmas do and a couple of us went on to a club. We just ended up kissing in the corner of the nightclub. I’m not really sure which of us made the first move.

    I’m pretty sure nobody saw us, although we were pretty paranoid about it – as both of us had partners at the time.

    I think a lot of people in the office shipped us anyway. They were always telling us how good we’d be together.

    The next day was pretty awkward. We spoke about what happened on the phone and vowed we were just friends. I could tell he was pretty pleased with himself though.

    The sexual tension continued and then a few months later we actually slept together a couple of times.

    In the long term it definitely made work a little more uncomfortable, especially as we had to face the music with our respective partners – we couldn’t help but resent each other for a while.

    I don’t work in the same place now, but over the years since we’ve managed to remain friendly – there’s no chemistry between us anymore, and we rarely see each other at all, but we’d always be there if the other needed it.

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

    Lucy, 40

    Working in a producing theatre company (specifically Hull Truck Theatre) was great for a single girl in her 20s. There were so many new people coming through the doors for each show so I’d scan the cast headshots for potential boyfriend material.

    We’d have a meet ‘n’ greet in the foyer with the new cast and crew and I spotted Chris, the Geordie actor who was cast in a show called Cooking With Elvis by Lee Hall. I was instantly smitten.

    I proceeded to avoid him for 3 years as I was far too socially awkward to speak to him.

    If I bumped into him in the supermarket, I legged it down the aisle. If I bumped into him in the green room, I stood with my back to him to make a cuppa. He thought I HATED him.

    The only thing I ever managed to say to him was that I’d found a butternut squash rotting in the back of my wardrobe. Keeping quiet, I think, was far more endearing.

    I was at the Hull Truck Christmas party, and was returning to my mates after a trip to the loo when Chris walked up to me and said ‘you look nice’. I giggled nervously and replied: ‘so do you’.

    He offered me a ciggie, lit it for me (it was pre-2007) and I scurried over to my girlfriends with a Marlboro hanging out my mouth excitedly telling them: ‘Chris just said I looked nice.’ We all stood smoking ciggies in our posh frocks and looking over towards him with anticipation

    After the initial compliment and ciggie moment, Chris came over to me and, with the grace of a down-to-earth gadgie said: Give us a kiss. Let’s give these c***s something to talk about.’

    I fell hook line and sinker. We snogged outside the bar and heard lots of not very subtle whispers of ‘look – Lucy and Chris are snogging’ as each member of the theatre bar and front of house crew took it in turns to have a spy.

    Back in the theatre the next morning, the exec director announced how much fun Lucy was having at the party last night and I hid under my desk with a beetroot red face.

    We didn’t leave the party together that night. But just a few days later it was the press night for another show Chris was in – A Kick in the Baubles. After doing Cooking with Elvis where he got his bum out on stage for comedy sex scenes with about three different characters, he was now in a festive farce that included him donning a PVC mini skirt, fishnet tights and marigold gloves whilst re-enacting the Queen video for I Want to Break Free.

    So it was a bit try before you buy in some ways.

    Mind you, the events following press night didn’t involve PVC or Freddie Mercury impressions thankfully. And it must have been alright, because, despite the festive booze, he stayed with me until his call for the show the next evening.

    No we’re married. We’ve got a mortgage. We’re in it for life.

    Despite the fact we can seriously annoy the crap out of each other, he’s definitely the one for me.

    It was 2011 when we married, and I’ve called Newcastle my home since 2006. So I’d say we’re in it for good. And I’m pretty blummin happy about that.

    MORE: How to hook up responsibly at the office Christmas party

    MORE: People really like cheating on their partners at Christmas parties


    Tales of office Christmas party hookups - good, bad, and deeply embarrassingTales of office Christmas party hookups - good, bad, and deeply embarrassingellencscottTales of office Christmas party hookups - good, bad, and deeply embarrassing Metro illustrations (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)How it feels to be depressed at Christmas (Lucy Dimbylow)How to hook up responsibly at your office Christmas partyTales of office Christmas party hookups - good, bad, and deeply embarrassingTales of office Christmas party hookups - good, bad, and deeply embarrassingellencscottTales of office Christmas party hookups - good, bad, and deeply embarrassing Metro illustrations (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)How it feels to be depressed at Christmas (Lucy Dimbylow)How to hook up responsibly at your office Christmas party

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    (Picture: MDWFeatures)

    A mum is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression.

    Office manager, Rachel Butler, 27, from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava, three, via c-section in July 2015.

    Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right. Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

    Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement.

    Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of it and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter’s face.

    Rachel said: ‘I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. I already didn’t know what I was doing as a new parent but throwing this diagnosis on top of it really put me through the ringer.

    Rachel pictured with Ava. MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Lindsay Sallee
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Lindsay Sallee)

    ‘They handed us a pamphlet about Moebius Syndrome, but we had questions that the specialists couldn’t answer.

    ‘I remember processing the diagnosis a few days later when I was finally by myself. I finally got the courage to do my own research and I sat in there for almost an hour ugly crying.

    ‘I got myself together and walked out of the room and just held Ava. I think we were at an advantage seeing as though this was our first child so, anything we experience would be our normal.

    ‘We knew something was different about her from the time she went to the NICU, but we were relieved to have some answers, so we could start her plan of care.

    ‘We get a lot of questions from little kids who notice Ava’s facial features and we understand where they are coming from.

    ‘It’s the comments from the adults that really got to me. Over the years we’ve had one of her cousin’s ask, “Why do her eyes look so crazy?” We’ve also had a grandparent say, “make that face again”, my granddaughter can’t make faces.’

    ‘At first they caught me off guard. Now we try and answer their questions so it’s a positive experience for everyone.

    ‘Not sure if this is appropriate or not but it’s honest and I feel that other special needs parents have felt the same way where they just want to throat-punch the person making an ignorant comment.

    Ava pictured when she was two. MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Rachel Butler
    (Picture: MDWfeatures/Rachel Butler)

    ‘But we must realise our kids are watching everything we do, and the way we react now is how they will react later.

    ‘There is so much to look forward to and for that we are so lucky. She’s so smart and such a spitfire that we know she’ll be able to handle herself when the time comes. My favourite thing right now is watching her make friends in her class and interacting with her peers.’

    People with Moebius Syndrome do not have the sixth and seventh cranial nerve. This means they experience a form of facial paralysis. They can also experience other limb deformities such as club feet, missing fingers or toes and in some cases their digits can fuse together.

    Researchers estimate that the condition affects one in 500,000 newborns worldwide. The causes of Moebius Syndrome are unknown but could probably result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

    While most comments from strangers are positive, Rachel says that Ava would get an odd comment from her peers about her physical appearance out of curiosity.

    They are now looking towards the future for a possibility of Ava undergoing a smile surgery to help give her a smile.

    ‘This procedure will give Ava the ability to make some form of facial movement. There have been a few other kids with Moebius syndrome who have done this procedure and they have had excellent results,’ Rachel said.

    Ava pictured when she was two (2). MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Rachel Butler
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Rachel Butler)

    ‘For us this would mean traveling out of state for this procedure. My understanding is that the surgery is done one side at a time with a twelve-week recovery period for each side.

    ‘Right now, we are in the planning stages for consults that will happen this summer. We want to be very informed and we definitely want Ava to have a say in this matter, after all this is her body.

    ‘I feel now that we’ve had three years to adjust to this life it feels normal to us. I don’t think we would know what to do if she didn’t have appointments throughout the week or upcoming procedures to plan for.

    ‘I no longer worry about the things that I worried about when she was diagnosed. I feel that we have adapted to the situation at hand and we have learnt to overcome any challenges.

    ‘I dread the day she comes home from school and tells me about how another student picked on her for her differences.

    ‘So far, they haven’t been mean-spirited, just honest questions about her eyes and why she uses her fingers to move food around in her mouth. I think as she gets older that could change.

    Ava pictured when she was a baby (6). MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Rachel Butler
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Rachel Butler)

    ‘As of today, she hasn’t ever indicated that she feels different or that she looks different and I hope it stays that way but I know that reality will come sooner than later and we will have to explain to her about how she wears her differences on the outside.

    ‘I feel that our worries are the same as any parents. I want her to grow up happy and healthy, but I also want her to know that this disability is a part of her story, but it doesn’t define her.

    ‘She’s constantly finding ways to adapt to life and I hope she never loses that. Right now, her classmates are super protective of her. She’s the smallest in her class and I love seeing how much they help each other out.

    ‘Don’t be afraid to be an advocate for your child, especially with medical professionals. They might be the expert with regards to their speciality, but they aren’t the expert with your child.

    ‘I can’t stress the importance of early intervention programs for kids with any form of disability. I also want parents to know that they can’t compare their kids to others.

    ‘Ava was going to be Ava regardless of what plans I had for her, so celebrate as much as you can. Rely on the help of others, that’s honestly what’s kept me sane.’

    Rachel is now raising funds on Go Fund Me towards Ava’s medical care and her future surgery. You can donate here.

    MORE: Nothing prepares you for the loneliness of being a single mother by sperm donor

    MORE: Not to be a Grinch, but Christmas creates huge emotional labour for women


    Girl that can't smileGirl that can't smilehattiegladwellmetroRachel pictured with Ava. MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Lindsay SalleeAva pictured when she was two. MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Rachel ButlerAva pictured when she was two (2). MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Rachel ButlerAva pictured when she was a baby (6). MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Rachel ButlerGirl that can't smileGirl that can't smilehattiegladwellmetroRachel pictured with Ava. MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Lindsay SalleeAva pictured when she was two. MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Rachel ButlerAva pictured when she was two (2). MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Rachel ButlerAva pictured when she was a baby (6). MEET THE mum who is trying to raise money for surgery to give her daughter a smile, due to a very rare neurological condition that prevents facial expression. Office manager, Rachel Butler (27), from Wichita, Kansas, USA, delivered her daughter Ava (now three-years-old) via c-section in July 2015. Just eight hours following her birth, the paediatrician noticed something was not right; Ava struggled to feed, so she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Three days later, the neurologist diagnosed her with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement. Rachel began crying with shock when she did her research on the disorder, but over the years she has come to terms with her condition and has vowed to raise awareness of the condition and raise money for a surgical procedure that can put a smile on her daughter???s face. MDWfeatures / Rachel Butler

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    Can you spot the North Pole travel sticker in the array of luggage labels? Brits are being faced with the ultimate passenger puzzle, and this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.
    (Picture: Holiday Extracts)

    A new brain teaser has made it to the internet, and it’s surprisingly hard.

    A new picture by Holiday Extras shows some luggage which is covered in travel stickers.

    The company is asking people to try to find the North Pole travel sticker – and it’s incredibly difficult.

    Can you find the North Pole sticker?

    Can you spot the North Pole travel sticker in the array of luggage labels? Brits are being faced with the ultimate passenger puzzle, and this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.
    (Picture: Holiday Extracts)

    *Spoiler alert*: Here it is…

    Can you spot the North Pole travel sticker in the array of luggage labels? Brits are being faced with the ultimate passenger puzzle, and this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.
    (Picture: Holiday Extracts)

    Seamus McCauley of Holiday Extras said: ‘With Christmas drawing near, we wanted to provide our customers with a little extra for their holiday that would keep the whole family entertained.

    ‘This is just another way we’re aiming to remove the hassle from every trip, providing some extra holiday fun and peace and quiet, particularly if our attempts are anything to go by.’

    MORE: Trippy optical illusion doesn’t mean what you think it means

    MORE: Mum’s picture with her baby makes people think she has a penis


    Can you spot the north pole?Can you spot the north pole?hattiegladwellmetroCan you spot the North Pole travel sticker in the array of luggage labels? Brits are being faced with the ultimate passenger puzzle, and this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.Can you spot the North Pole travel sticker in the array of luggage labels? Brits are being faced with the ultimate passenger puzzle, and this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.Can you spot the North Pole travel sticker in the array of luggage labels? Brits are being faced with the ultimate passenger puzzle, and this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.Can you spot the north pole?Can you spot the north pole?hattiegladwellmetroCan you spot the North Pole travel sticker in the array of luggage labels? Brits are being faced with the ultimate passenger puzzle, and this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.Can you spot the North Pole travel sticker in the array of luggage labels? Brits are being faced with the ultimate passenger puzzle, and this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.Can you spot the North Pole travel sticker in the array of luggage labels? Brits are being faced with the ultimate passenger puzzle, and this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.

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    (Picture: Amazon)

    Christmas is coming, which means the weather is getting colder and colder and it is now perfectly acceptable to spend every single evening wrapped in a blanket with a hot chocolate.

    The only thing we hate about winter is having to leave the house and brave the cold air.

    But thankfully, there is now heated clothing to make sure you feel warm all of the time. We recently wrote about the heated clothing range which was selling on Amazon.

    And now, another Amazon seller is offering heated mittens, to keep your hands warm, too.

    The heated gloves are USB SV powered. Meaning all you have to do is charge them up and they’ll keep you warm all day.

    You can buy heated mittens for ??7 which you can charge up on the go and get five stars on Amazon Yinuoday Unisex Women's & Men's USB Heated Gloves Mitten Winter Hands Warm Laptop Gloves Full & Half Heated Fingerless Heating Knitting Hands Warmer Washable Design https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07HKKQ54N/
    (Picture: Amazon)

    They have a heating temperature of 40C, and feature a half finger design, meaning you can go about your daily activities like typing, using your phone or going to the toilet without ever having to take them off.

    The gloves have heating pads on both sides, keeping your palms and back of your hands warm at the same time, to drive faster temperature rises and keep your hands warm evenly at all times.

    The product description reads: ‘We’re so proud of the quality we made for you no matter in material but also in workmanship.

    ‘High-end knitting wool, ultra-soft, and super elastic, slightly tight but offers full flexibility to your hand and finger upon movement freedom. Even more, it’s sturdy, delicately knitted and hemmed, durable enough to last throughout year to year.’

    Best of all, the gloves are super cheap at £7.99, and they even come with free delivery.

    Bargain.

    MORE: What is a Christmas Eve box and how do I make one?

    MORE: Zara announces new makeup line inspired by Pat McGrath


    Heated mittensHeated mittenshattiegladwellmetroYou can buy heated mittens for ??7 which you can charge up on the go and get five stars on Amazon Yinuoday Unisex Women's & Men's USB Heated Gloves Mitten Winter Hands Warm Laptop Gloves Full & Half Heated Fingerless Heating Knitting Hands Warmer Washable Design https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07HKKQ54N/Heated mittensHeated mittenshattiegladwellmetroYou can buy heated mittens for ??7 which you can charge up on the go and get five stars on Amazon Yinuoday Unisex Women's & Men's USB Heated Gloves Mitten Winter Hands Warm Laptop Gloves Full & Half Heated Fingerless Heating Knitting Hands Warmer Washable Design https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07HKKQ54N/

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    (Picture:Paul Davey / SWNS)

    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but pies are pretty good too.

    Nikki Barton, 38, was surprised and presumably baffled to receive an advent calendar with a Fray Bentos pie behind each door from her doting boyfriend Nigel Canning, 37.

    The unusual festive offering took two months to put together and comes with a different meat pie per day- and a bonus two steak puddings on Christmas Day.

    The savoury calendar tradition began last year after Nikki presented him with a pork scratchings edition.

    ‘After she got me that I didn’t want to just get her a chocolate one,’ Nigel said.

    *ONLINE EMBARGO. Please no online use before 14.00GMT December 5 2018* Nigel Canning with his girlfriend Nikki Barton for whom he created a 'pie in a tin' advent calendar with a Fray Bentos surprise behind every door. See SWNS story SWTPpie; A doting boyfriend crafted a homemade Christmas advent calendar with a difference for his girlfriend - containing a Fray Bentos PIE for every day. Nigel Canning, 37, spent two months making the gift, which has a different tinned meat pie behind every door - and two steak puddings for Christmas Day. He proudly presented partner Nikki Barton with the huge tinsel and fairy-light clad construction for her 38th birthday on Saturday (1) as a surprise gift. The 15,000 calorie treat - which weights more than two stone - is made with 25 pies bought from B&M for ??1 each.
    (Picture: Paul Davey / SWNS)

    Nigel made the calendar by taping 25 cardboard boxes together and filling them with Fray Bentos before adorning his creation with tinsel and fairy lights.

    The final product comes in at 15,000 calories and weighs two stone, but cost just 30 pounds to put together.

    *ONLINE EMBARGO. Please no online use before 14.00GMT December 5 2018* Nigel Canning with his girlfriend Nikki Barton for whom he created a 'pie in a tin' advent calendar with a Fray Bentos surprise behind every door. See SWNS story SWTPpie; A doting boyfriend crafted a homemade Christmas advent calendar with a difference for his girlfriend - containing a Fray Bentos PIE for every day. Nigel Canning, 37, spent two months making the gift, which has a different tinned meat pie behind every door - and two steak puddings for Christmas Day. He proudly presented partner Nikki Barton with the huge tinsel and fairy-light clad construction for her 38th birthday on Saturday (1) as a surprise gift. The 15,000 calorie treat - which weights more than two stone - is made with 25 pies bought from B&M for ??1 each.
    (Picture: Paul Davey / SWNS)

    So, you’d imagine Nikki must be pretty wild about pies to warrant such an unusual treat, right?

    Nope.

    ‘I haven’t had any of the pies yet. I don’t mind one every now and again but 25 is a bit much,’ she says.

    ‘There’s no real reason for it at all,’ Nigel confirmed.

    ‘It’s just a bit of a joke. I can’t imagine she’s going to sit down and eat a pie every morning.’

    *ONLINE EMBARGO. Please no online use before 14.00GMT December 5 2018* Nigel Canning with his girlfriend Nikki Barton for whom he created a 'pie in a tin' advent calendar with a Fray Bentos surprise behind every door. See SWNS story SWTPpie; A doting boyfriend crafted a homemade Christmas advent calendar with a difference for his girlfriend - containing a Fray Bentos PIE for every day. Nigel Canning, 37, spent two months making the gift, which has a different tinned meat pie behind every door - and two steak puddings for Christmas Day. He proudly presented partner Nikki Barton with the huge tinsel and fairy-light clad construction for her 38th birthday on Saturday (1) as a surprise gift. The 15,000 calorie treat - which weights more than two stone - is made with 25 pies bought from B&M for ??1 each.
    (Picture: Paul Davey / SWNS)

    Some warned Nigel he might be in for an earful for his playful gift.

    But, thankfully Nikki, though resolutely ambivalent about Fray Bentos pies, saw the funny side.

    ‘I find the whole thing hilarious. We have got that sort of relationship where we have fun.’

    MORE: Parents swapped out chocolate for vitamins in Christmas Advent calendar


    Man creates 15-stone advent calendar for his girlfriend with a Fray Bentos pie behind each doorMan creates 15-stone advent calendar for his girlfriend with a Fray Bentos pie behind each doormeganbnolan*ONLINE EMBARGO. Please no online use before 14.00GMT December 5 2018* Nigel Canning with his girlfriend Nikki Barton for whom he created a 'pie in a tin' advent calendar with a Fray Bentos surprise behind every door. See SWNS story SWTPpie; A doting boyfriend crafted a homemade Christmas advent calendar with a difference for his girlfriend - containing a Fray Bentos PIE for every day. Nigel Canning, 37, spent two months making the gift, which has a different tinned meat pie behind every door - and two steak puddings for Christmas Day. He proudly presented partner Nikki Barton with the huge tinsel and fairy-light clad construction for her 38th birthday on Saturday (1) as a surprise gift. The 15,000 calorie treat - which weights more than two stone - is made with 25 pies bought from B&M for ??1 each.*ONLINE EMBARGO. Please no online use before 14.00GMT December 5 2018* Nigel Canning with his girlfriend Nikki Barton for whom he created a 'pie in a tin' advent calendar with a Fray Bentos surprise behind every door. See SWNS story SWTPpie; A doting boyfriend crafted a homemade Christmas advent calendar with a difference for his girlfriend - containing a Fray Bentos PIE for every day. Nigel Canning, 37, spent two months making the gift, which has a different tinned meat pie behind every door - and two steak puddings for Christmas Day. He proudly presented partner Nikki Barton with the huge tinsel and fairy-light clad construction for her 38th birthday on Saturday (1) as a surprise gift. The 15,000 calorie treat - which weights more than two stone - is made with 25 pies bought from B&M for ??1 each.*ONLINE EMBARGO. Please no online use before 14.00GMT December 5 2018* Nigel Canning with his girlfriend Nikki Barton for whom he created a 'pie in a tin' advent calendar with a Fray Bentos surprise behind every door. See SWNS story SWTPpie; A doting boyfriend crafted a homemade Christmas advent calendar with a difference for his girlfriend - containing a Fray Bentos PIE for every day. Nigel Canning, 37, spent two months making the gift, which has a different tinned meat pie behind every door - and two steak puddings for Christmas Day. He proudly presented partner Nikki Barton with the huge tinsel and fairy-light clad construction for her 38th birthday on Saturday (1) as a surprise gift. The 15,000 calorie treat - which weights more than two stone - is made with 25 pies bought from B&M for ??1 each.Man creates 15-stone advent calendar for his girlfriend with a Fray Bentos pie behind each doorMan creates 15-stone advent calendar for his girlfriend with a Fray Bentos pie behind each doormeganbnolan*ONLINE EMBARGO. Please no online use before 14.00GMT December 5 2018* Nigel Canning with his girlfriend Nikki Barton for whom he created a 'pie in a tin' advent calendar with a Fray Bentos surprise behind every door. See SWNS story SWTPpie; A doting boyfriend crafted a homemade Christmas advent calendar with a difference for his girlfriend - containing a Fray Bentos PIE for every day. Nigel Canning, 37, spent two months making the gift, which has a different tinned meat pie behind every door - and two steak puddings for Christmas Day. He proudly presented partner Nikki Barton with the huge tinsel and fairy-light clad construction for her 38th birthday on Saturday (1) as a surprise gift. The 15,000 calorie treat - which weights more than two stone - is made with 25 pies bought from B&M for ??1 each.*ONLINE EMBARGO. Please no online use before 14.00GMT December 5 2018* Nigel Canning with his girlfriend Nikki Barton for whom he created a 'pie in a tin' advent calendar with a Fray Bentos surprise behind every door. See SWNS story SWTPpie; A doting boyfriend crafted a homemade Christmas advent calendar with a difference for his girlfriend - containing a Fray Bentos PIE for every day. Nigel Canning, 37, spent two months making the gift, which has a different tinned meat pie behind every door - and two steak puddings for Christmas Day. He proudly presented partner Nikki Barton with the huge tinsel and fairy-light clad construction for her 38th birthday on Saturday (1) as a surprise gift. The 15,000 calorie treat - which weights more than two stone - is made with 25 pies bought from B&M for ??1 each.*ONLINE EMBARGO. Please no online use before 14.00GMT December 5 2018* Nigel Canning with his girlfriend Nikki Barton for whom he created a 'pie in a tin' advent calendar with a Fray Bentos surprise behind every door. See SWNS story SWTPpie; A doting boyfriend crafted a homemade Christmas advent calendar with a difference for his girlfriend - containing a Fray Bentos PIE for every day. Nigel Canning, 37, spent two months making the gift, which has a different tinned meat pie behind every door - and two steak puddings for Christmas Day. He proudly presented partner Nikki Barton with the huge tinsel and fairy-light clad construction for her 38th birthday on Saturday (1) as a surprise gift. The 15,000 calorie treat - which weights more than two stone - is made with 25 pies bought from B&M for ??1 each.

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    Plus-size fashion brand Navabi recreated their own Victoria's Secret fashion show
    (Picture: Navabi)

    Ed Razek, Victoria’s Secret’s Chief Marketing Officer, has recently explained why the brand lacks diverse models.

    He said: ‘It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.’

    The brand has been struggling, and may face even more difficulties after plus-size fashion brand Navabi recently hit back, after Ed claimed that people had no interest in a Victoria’s Secret attempt at a plus-size show back in 2000.

    Plus-size fashion brand Navabi recreated their own Victoria's Secret fashion show
    (Picture: Navabi)

    Navabi teamed up with a range of plus-size models to create their own mini lingerie show to show diversity and to be inclusive of all women.

    Despite apologising for his comments, the CEO of VS, Jan Singer, resigned, and the brand has now seen its lowest ever TV ratings.

    Navabi said: ‘The #VSFashionShow is ‘the most watched’ fashion show in the world. Each year they send women down the runway with just one size and shape body. ‘Angels’ they call them, as if only this one idea of the ‘perfect’ body gets into heaven.

    ‘68% of women in the USA are plus size, yet their Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek says ‘nobody was interested’ in them featuring plus women, and this year the body diversity of the show looked the same as every year. VS needs to get with the times or get out of the way.’

    Another tweet, posted yesterday, 4 December has received more than 1,000 likes and plenty of comments complimenting the models, cheering on Nevabi and praising them on showing a ‘true selection of female bodies’.

    The photoshoot shows the models in black and red lingerie, and proves very much so that there is interest in plus-size models, and that larger brands should start becoming more inclusive.

    MORE: 420-pound woman prefers sex with skinny men because they can try more positions

    MORE: First transgender woman in Miss Universe is now favourite to win


    SEI_43037221-5547SEI_43037221-5547hattiegladwellmetroPlus-size fashion brand Navabi recreated their own Victoria's Secret fashion showPlus-size fashion brand Navabi recreated their own Victoria's Secret fashion showSEI_43037221-5547SEI_43037221-5547hattiegladwellmetroPlus-size fashion brand Navabi recreated their own Victoria's Secret fashion showPlus-size fashion brand Navabi recreated their own Victoria's Secret fashion show

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    (Pantone Color Institute via AP)

    Ready to embrace the colour that’s going to be splashed over every trendy thing next year?

    We hope so, because Pantone has gone ahead and announced their colour of the year for 2019.

    This time, it’s Living Coral, also known as Pantone 16-1546 (catchy).

    It’s a warm, vibrant orange tone that’s been selected ‘in reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life.’

    Pantone said: ‘Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity.

    ‘Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.

    ‘Representing the fusion of modern life, PANTONE Living Coral is a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media.’

    Instagram Photo

    That’s all a very artsy way of saying Living Coral is a colour that’s fun and exciting, which is exactly what we need in these bleak times.

    It’s been chosen to appeal to our need for a return to nature – it’s the colour of coral reefs under the sea – while celebrating the beauty of the parts of the natural world we don’t often get to say.

    Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute, said: ‘PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral emits the desired, familiar, and energizing aspects of color found in nature.

    ‘In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind.

    ‘Lying at the center of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, PANTONE Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of color.’

    Plus, it’s pretty.

    We’d recommend it as an accent colour for your interiors (painting an entire room coral might be a bit full on, but a nice coral cushion would be a lovely touch), as well as picking coral tones for your lips and nails.

    Instagram Photo

    We’re also big fans of the idea of dyeing your hair coral, as shown by Aveda.

    You can expect to see a load of beauty brands buying into the Living Coral trend, but to get us started Butter London has collaborated with Pantone to launch a Living Coral collection, including three nail lacquers, a lip gloss, and a blush stick.

    MORE: Pantone’s colour of the year for 2018 is Ultra Violet

    MORE: Artist imagines cats as Pantone shades and it’s an Instagram-lover’s dream


    This image released by Pantone Color Institute shows a swatch featuring Living Coral, which Pantone Color Institute has chosen as its 2019 color of the year. (Pantone Color Institute via AP)This image released by Pantone Color Institute shows a swatch featuring Living Coral, which Pantone Color Institute has chosen as its 2019 color of the year. (Pantone Color Institute via AP)ellencscottThis image released by Pantone Color Institute shows a swatch featuring Living Coral, which Pantone Color Institute has chosen as its 2019 color of the year. (Pantone Color Institute via AP)This image released by Pantone Color Institute shows a swatch featuring Living Coral, which Pantone Color Institute has chosen as its 2019 color of the year. (Pantone Color Institute via AP)ellencscott

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    When people think of junior doctors, they usually think of the junior doctor strikes, the BBC television programme, or the theme song from Scrubs.

    They think of the doctor who examined them in A&E when they felt dizzy, or who came to speak to them after their partner’s operation. And I suppose, now, some people will think of me.

    When I tell people I am a junior doctor, I am met by a mixture of admiration and pity.

    ‘Your parents must be so proud.’

    ‘Have you had to give mouth to mouth?’

    ‘Do you think I should see my GP about this rash?’

    Yes. No. And, probably.

    Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.
    Samara graduated from medical school in July (Picture: Alexander Crawley/Metro.co.uk)

    Junior doctors account for almost half of all doctors in hospitals in England, and the label refers to any doctor who is still engaged in postgraduate training.

    In the UK, postgraduate training begins with a two-year foundation programme, followed by a speciality training programme, some of which take eight years to complete.

    This means that the junior doctor label applies to doctors like me, fresh out of medical school, as well as senior doctors who are only a step away from becoming a consultant or GP and have a decade of medical experience.

    Having graduated from medical school in July, I am from the generation of £9000 tuition fees. I am from the generation of perpetual renters, avocado lovers, and recently, mayonnaise killers.

    Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.
    ‘Being a junior doctor is both exhilarating and tedious, exciting and mundane. It is also frightening.’ (Picture: Alexander Crawley/Metro.co.uk)

    I, like many of my peers, am still relatively bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, trying to find my feet on a busy ward in a busy hospital. I spend a lot of time looking up the correct doses for medications, asking my seniors for advice, and reassuring patients that I will feedback their concerns to the rest of my team.

    Whether sitting in a seminar on the management of the critically ill patient or liaising with a housing support officer on the other end of the phone, I am continually learning, and I will be for the duration of my career.

    Being a junior doctor is both exhilarating and tedious, exciting and mundane. It is also frightening.

    The tragic death of six-year-old Jack Adcock and the subsequent punitive actions taken against junior paediatrician Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba and agency nurse Isabel Amaro are recent and grave reminders of how easily things fall apart in an overstretched system.

    Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.
    ‘I know that I am privileged to hold the junior doctor label.’ (Picture: Alexander Crawley/Metro.co.uk)

    For junior doctors across the country, working a 13 hour shift on an understaffed ward, with IT failures and little senior support is a common occurrence. Despite working fewer hours than the junior doctors that came before us, our workloads are increasing in intensity and complexity.

    Junior doctors are being asked to take on the roles of more senior colleagues and feel pressured into taking on extra shifts to cover rota gaps. In a survey of approximately 500 junior doctors, four in five reported experiencing excessive stress because of their job, and one in four reported that their job seriously impacted their mental health.

    Earning the junior doctor label took me six arduous years, and I know that the coming years will continue to place demands on my time, energy, and personal life.

    Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.
    ‘Yes, caring for patients in the NHS is a challenge, but rarely am I ever truly alone.’ (Picture: Alexander Crawley/Metro.co.uk)

    Despite this, I know that I am privileged to hold the junior doctor label. Each day, I have the ability to support patients and their loved ones during the most vulnerable moments of their lives; few things can compare to that.

    Yes, the statistics I hear and the headlines I read sometimes scare me. I have to be disciplined and put in place safeguards and boundaries that will allow me to maintain my own health and wellbeing while I care for others.

    Yes, I sometimes feel inadequate, inexperienced, and overwhelmed, but I have to remind myself that as a junior doctor, I am still in training and have much to learn. As a junior doctor, I am just one member of a skilled, multidisciplinary team.

    Yes, caring for patients in the NHS is a challenge, but rarely am I ever truly alone.

    I have the support of those around me: doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, ward managers, pharmacists, phlebotomists and so forth.

    We are a team, and when the team works, we do a pretty incredible job.

    Samara edited The Colour of Madness: Exploring BAME Mental Health in the UK, which can be found here

    Labels

    Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity  positively or negatively  and what the label means to them.

    If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

    MORE: My Label and Me: Alcoholic

    MORE: My Label and Me: Scarred

    MORE: My Label and Me: Cancer survivor


    LABELS BLOGLABELS BLOGjessrubyaustinLabels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.LABELS BLOGLABELS BLOGjessrubyaustinLabels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.Labels blog portraits of Junior Doctor Samara. - FOR JESS.

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    People on Tinder aren't having sex
    (Pictures: Getty/Tinder)

    Cuffing season may be cancelled, but that doesn’t mean we want to rule out all our options entirely.

    If we are going to peruse Tinder, though, it’ll need to be efficient.

    Thankfully Tinder has released data about the time and day when matches are most likely, so you can stop mindlessly swiping and start scheduling in your search for a bone sesh.

    That time: 9pm on a Monday.

    Tinder doesn’t explain why this time is so popular, but we imagine it’s because nothing else is going on on a Monday.

    You’re not out on the town, you’re not hanging out with friends, you’re feeling a bit miserable about it being only the start of the week, and you think: ‘you know what would make me feel better? Some casual flirting’. It all adds up.

    Unfortunately if you are hoping for some last-minute Christmas action, you’ve missed the time of year that’s ripe with matching potential. March is the most active month for British people on Tinder.

    But if you can hold out until January, you might be able to rake in the matches, as the most sign-ups happen on Sunday 14 January and Monday 15 January – also known as Blue Monday (which isn’t actually a thing, FYI).

    The most activity happens on 14 February. As expected,

    Tinder’s Year In Swipe reveals some other tidbits daters might find handy.

    The tag that receives the most right-swipes is ‘entrepreneur’ for both men and women, so it’s worth running that pop-up you were pondering.

    Firefighters continue to be popular, as do models. No surprises there.

    The tags with the most right-swipes:

    Women:

    1. Entrepreneur
    2. Adventurer
    3. Lifesaver/Scholar (tied for third place)
    4. Firefighter
    5. Model

    Men:

    1. Entrepreneur
    2. Firefighter
    3. Lifesaver
    4. Model
    5. Scholar/Doctor (tied for fifth place)

    The most used gif on Tinder is Joey’s ‘how you doin’?’, so if you want to stand out from the crowd, don’t use that one.

    Similarly, the most popular food to mention in people’s bios is cheese, so your dream of chilling by the fire while you’re eating fondue might not be as quirky as you’d hoped.

    Most popular food in bio:

    1. Cheese
    2. Cake
    3. Chocolate
    4. Pasta
    5. Ice cream
    6. Sushi
    7. Burger
    8. Avocado
    9. Fries
    10. Salad
    11. Seafood
    12. Guacamole

    Just remember, swipers, that you can manipulate every algorithm you can find and appeal to all the most popular attributes, but if you’re not actually being yourself, you’re only going to end up on dismal dates.

    Use all those recommended words and pretend you’re sporty and you’ll get matches from people you might have nothing in common with. If the aim of your game is quantity not quality, that’s all good, but a lasting connection likely won’t come from trying to replicate the most successful people on the app.

    Your mum was right: Be yourself.

    If not to find love, at least to save yourself from misery-inducing dates with a mindnumbingly dull entrepreneur you only swiped right on because he mentioned that he, too, likes guacamole.

    Most popular TV shows to mention on Tinder:

    1. Friends
    2. Game of Thrones
    3. The Office
    4. Love Island
    5. Doctor Who
    6. Sherlock

    Most popular terms mentioned in Tinder bios:

    1. Travel
    2. Music
    3. Gym
    4. Drink
    5. Dogs
    6. Wine
    7. Relationship
    8. Coffee
    9. Mum
    10. Beer
    11. LOL
    12. Height
    13. Foodie

    Most popular slang terms in Tinder bios:

    1. Fit
    2. Funny
    3. LOL
    4. Eyes
    5. Outgoing
    6. Intelligent
    7. Foodie
    8. Babe

    MORE: This is what it’s like to date after having cancer

    MORE: Why do men lie about their age on dating apps?

    MORE: People share tales of hooking up at their office Christmas party


    People on Tinder aren't having sexPeople on Tinder aren't having sexellencscottPeople on Tinder aren't having sexPeople on Tinder aren't having sexPeople on Tinder aren't having sexellencscottPeople on Tinder aren't having sex

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    Please stop giving unsolicited advice to people with acne
    ‘Trust your instincts here and maybe spend a little time apart from the usual squad.’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Welcome to Lean On Me – a weekly agony aunt style column from Metro.co.uk where Kate Leaver answers your friendship woes.

    Dear Kate,

    I meet up monthly with my mates to have a natter and a catch up, but over the past few months when one of the friends isn’t there, the others have started bitching about them and it just reminds me of when we were teenagers.

    I love them all equally and usually try and defend the one who is being talked about.

    I know we are all guilty of having a bitch from time to time and it’s all very petty stuff but I worry that if this behaviour carries on, it’s just going to tear our sweet little group apart.

    I also fear that when I’m not there, it’s my flaws that are put under the microscope and that no one is there to defend me.

    How do I stop this Burn Book-esque behaviour?

    Georgia, 26

    I fear that when I’m not there, it’s my flaws that are put under the microscope and that no one is there to defend me (Photo: Getty)

    Dear, sweet Georgia.

    I can picture the scene: a gaggle of young women, huddled together over pale pink rose and tapas, whispering nasty nothings to one another.

    It’s a cosy little bitch sesh and, you know what, that would be fine – if the subject of your gossiping did something truly heinous. Sometimes, sharing a grudge against a common nemesis can be a beautiful, bonding thing.

    Gossip between women can even be important; our whisper networks are where we sometimes navigate the experience of being female. But this ain’t that.

    These are your friends you’re talking about; pettiness doesn’t excuse it. You’re perfectly correct in saying this is teenage behaviour.

    Your squad is being juvenile and unkind. There were some great things about being a teenager – sleepovers, choreographed routines to Nsync, a high-speed metabolism – but judgment is not one of them.

    You need to leave that behind. You are adult enough now not to need to validate your friendships with an exchange of gossip about one another.

    My advice is this: Be brave, say something to your girls. Next time it happens, tell them you think you can all be better than this.

    It’ll be hard and it’ll feel weird; being confrontational goes against a lifetime of conditioning to be nice. But give it a go.

    If it doesn’t work – if all you do is give these girls another person to bitch about next time they meet – then it’s time to step back from the monthly get-togethers.

    In theory, it’s a complete and noble delight that you meet up with your crew once a month and if they were being gorgeous, I’d say keep that tradition up until you’re meeting for a bowl of soup before a hearty knitting session in five decades time.

    But maybe the truth is that these women are not your people. Maybe, if you’re the only one who feels uncomfortable bitching about your absent friends, then you’ve outgrown these mates, or surpassed them in the integrity department.

    Maybe you became friends as teenagers, largely out of convenience and proximity, and now it’s time to surround yourself with kinder people.

    People who will lift you up, who will make your heart swell to be in their company, who will talk about life and love and politics and dreams rather than whatever triviality these women have chosen to focus on.

    At 26, you probably know yourself a little better than you did a decade ago – calling out this mean girl behaviour is proof of that – so trust your instincts here and maybe spend a little time apart from the usual squad.

    It’s not your responsibility to stop these women from bitching about each other, but it can absolutely be your choice to give yourself a little distance from it.

    Why don’t you try nurturing some newer friendships? Ask Sophie from work out for brunch on the weekend, text that uni friend you haven’t seen for ages, throw yourself into the group WhatsApp thread you sometimes neglect.

    Spend a little time investigating your other friendship options and hope that someday, your once-a-month pub pals will get it together and act their age.

    If you still adore them individually, try singling them out for one-on-one friend dates to eliminate the mob mentality that enables bitching to happen.

    For now, speak up or put down the wine and get out.

    About Lean On Me

    Kate Leaver is the author of The Friendship Cure and she will be answering your friendship woes in her weekly Metro.co.uk column.

    If you’d like to submit a question or problem, email LeanOnMe@metro.co.uk with ‘Lean on me’ in the subject line.

    Submissions are anonymous and you can follow the discussion on Twitter #LeanOnMe.

    MORE: Introducing ‘Lean On Me’: Female friendships are transformative, beautiful and life-saving and must be nurtured

    MORE: Lean On Me: Can a friendship between a man and woman ever be purely platonic?

    MORE: Why is there such stigma attached to friendship apps when we all feel lonely at times?


    Please stop giving unsolicited advice to people with acnePlease stop giving unsolicited advice to people with acnekateleaverPlease stop giving unsolicited advice to people with acnePlease stop giving unsolicited advice to people with acnePlease stop giving unsolicited advice to people with acnekateleaverPlease stop giving unsolicited advice to people with acne

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