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- 12/19/18--06:20: _Don’t be a Grinch, ...
- 12/19/18--06:26: _What it’s like spen...
- 12/19/18--07:08: _People are accusing...
- 12/19/18--07:28: _Goofy rescue dog’s ...
- 12/19/18--08:14: _Eczema sufferers wa...
- 12/19/18--09:15: _You can now buy cav...
- 12/19/18--10:44: _Do Zara models know...
- 12/19/18--11:07: _Last minute online ...
- 12/19/18--14:34: _Snowbombing 2019: A...
- 12/19/18--22:14: _Girl’s £20 bodycon ...
- 12/19/18--22:26: _Meet the people cro...
- 12/19/18--22:37: _Why the English Riv...
- 12/20/18--00:00: _My Label and Me: Do...
- 12/20/18--00:23: _You really should b...
- 12/20/18--00:30: _Lean On Me: Is it c...
- 12/20/18--00:56: _Dad places dating a...
- 12/20/18--01:26: _People are ‘revenge...
- 12/20/18--02:00: _Being estranged fro...
- 12/20/18--02:44: _Why you should neve...
- 12/20/18--03:12: _Woman explains why ...
- 12/19/18--06:20: Don’t be a Grinch, have a vegan Christmas and save the planet
- 12/19/18--06:26: What it’s like spending Christmas Day with strangers you met online
- 12/19/18--07:28: Goofy rescue dog’s tongue constantly hangs out of his mouth
- 12/19/18--09:15: You can now buy caviar from Aldi for Christmas
- 12/19/18--10:44: Do Zara models know how to wear clothes?
- 12/19/18--22:14: Girl’s £20 bodycon dress ends up showing more than she bargained for
- 12/20/18--00:00: My Label and Me: Do not call me a person of colour
- 12/20/18--00:23: You really should be washing your avocados before eating them
- 12/20/18--02:44: Why you should never give your dog a mince pie
- Christmas cake
- Turkey, chicken and goose bones
- Holly, mistletoe, poinsettia and ivy
- Grapes (from your cheeseboard)
This week the UK will be caught up in a present-buying frenzy, frantically writing cards and putting up finishing touches to their festive decorations at home.
But while it is the season to be jolly, Christmas can often come gift-wrapped in sheets of single use plastic, destined to become landfill come mid-January.
So how can you can enjoy the holidays without destroying the planet?
Grow your own Christmas tree
Kathryn Holloway, 36, lugged her potted tree home on the bus seven years ago after realising that she wouldn’t be home enough over the holidays to warrant a full-sized one.Jose Mourinho told Manchester United player to 'stay away' from Paul Pogba
The tree lives outside on her patio until all year round until December, when she brings it into the house and decorates it with an ‘eclectic mix of decorations’.
‘It is part of the family. We do feel really attached to it because we have it every year and I’ve we’ve watched it grow,’ she said.
‘It’s probably about 5 foot tall now. We didn’t want to have something that we only used for a couple of weeks before going off to see family for Christmas.’
The tree has no limit on how long it will live for, and has already moved with Kathryn when she bought a house four years ago.
What’s more, both the FOE fundraiser, originally from Devon, and her family adorn their trees with reused decorations they’ve had for years – with some even older than her.Piers Morgan slams Jeremy Corbyn for 'shocking sexism' after Theresa May comment
‘The tree is quite full! We have things that have been passed down through the family,’ she said.
‘My parents have got some really old family ones that are so beautiful and ornate and they must over fifty years old. We even have things me and my siblings made at school.
‘My sister covered a toilet roll with crêpe paper and a Christmas picture when she was four and it’s still going. She’s now 39! We delicately put it back in its box each year.Coleen and Wayne Rooney cosy up at dinner after flying home for Christmas
‘We’ve not bought anything new for our tree since we bought it and we use the same set of lights every year.’
Kathryn advises that the best way to make your Christmas tree sustainable is to ‘think about the materials you’re using so that they are durable and going to last’.
‘That way, if anything does need to be thrown away, you can just recycle it,’ she said.
Don’t buy any new gifts
Tom Ross, 26, and his girlfriend have followed a ‘no new presents’ rule this Christmas, instead finding creative ways to surprise their families.Ariana Grande had 'the best time of her life' on Jimmy Fallon amid Pete Davidson drama
‘We spent an afternoon making a whole selection of different preserves for our families,’ he said.
‘We did lime pickle, chilli jam, mango chutney, peanut butter, all with recycled jars that we have saved up for ages.
‘We tried to get all the ingredients from Brixton fruit and vegetable market so we wouldn’t need packaging. Everything we’ve made is vegan.
‘We’re also making terrariums, little eco systems within a glass jar that look kind of like a nice ornament. I’ve made one of those out of a glass jar from a charity shop.’Sex attacker who raped four young roommates in a single night jailed for 357 years
Tom, from Edinburgh, says he will then be making his own wrapping paper out of newspapers, decorated with images cut out of magazines.
‘It’s so much better than a £1 roll of paper from a supermarket, which can be quite wasteful,’ he said.
‘I’ve been told another idea that I am definitely going to use, which is buying old scarfs from charity shops and using them to wrap presents before tying them up with twine.
‘It’s a double present, you get a scarf at the same time!’Doctor Who drops festive mini-series and it's adorable
Other ideas Tom recommends are finding second hand books, as they don’t ‘devalue from being read several times already’.
While an experience day, such as going to see a show or attending a workshop, can be the perfect way to treat relatives without causing any waste.
Tom’s girlfriend is equally committed to the no-waste Christmas cause and has made him an advent calendar full ethical and edible gifts for him to open each day.
Make a low impact Christmas dinner
Brenda Pollack, 55, has always made a vegetarian meal each Christmas but this year she will be taking on a new challenge after her son Ben, 19, went vegan.
This means she will have to make her traditional nut roast from scratch – as the ones she normally buys have honey in.
‘I try to buy things that are locally produced and organic as much as possible,’ she said.
‘My father-in-law grows brussel sprouts so we use them.
‘If you buy things from supermarkets you do end up getting a lot of packaging, but if you choose different shops then you can refill things, or take along your own tubs.
‘I try to buy vegetables in paper bags and any peel goes in the compost bin in the garden.
‘The biggest thing is not contributing to the meat industry, which takes up a huge amount of land and contributes to climate change more than plants.’
Brenda, from Brighton, has been vegetarian since she was a student at university despite being brought up ‘very much a meat eater’.
The campaign organiser trialled a plant based diet for health reasons at first, but decided to stick with it after learning more about the impact the farming industry has on the environment.
But despite going vegan this Christmas, Brenda says her family won’t be missing out on any of the traditional trimmings when it comes to dinner.
‘I’ve made vegetarian pigs in blankets before,’ Brenda said.
‘They’re made of veggie bacon wrapped around soya-based sausages. They’re a really good thing!’
Top tips for an environmentally-friendly Christmas
Resist the temptation to deck the halls with tinsel or baubles: Instead hang out Christmas cookies or adorn your home with strings of popcorn and cranberries.
If you’ve got a fake tree already, keep using it – or head for a pre-loved option online.
We all love a Christmas card, but try shopping for ones that aren’t wrapped in plastic or send an e-card to really cut down on waste.
Try to purchase children’s toys that are made of environmentally-friendly materials like wood. You can also donate any now-unused toys from previous Christmases to charity.
Pulling the crackers is part of the festive fun, but who really needs a little plastic jumping frog? Grab a DIY cracker kit and ditch the plastic tat.
Courtesy of Friends of the Earth.
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Green ChristmasGreen Christmaslucymiddleton1
Christmas might usually be about swapping presents, family dinners and spending time with your relatives.
But can you imagine spending the big day with a bunch of strangers instead?
For some people, work commitments or just the distance to travel home means they have no option but to stay in London for the holidays – and it can be pretty lonely.
The solution is an ‘orphan Christmas’, where people meet in online groups and organise to spend the day together.
Cindy Cheng, 40, who lives in East Ham but is originally from Taiwan, has spent the last few years celebrating with people she hadn’t met before.
With family all over the world, getting together at Christmas is difficult so she spends one year in London and the next travelling somewhere.
‘My parents are in Taiwan, my grandma is in Los Angeles and my sister is in San Francisco, so they all live far away,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
Last year, she joined a Christmas brunch and hosted a dinner with girls from the London New Girl Facebook group, which was set up to bring together women who have moved to London from anywhere in the world. Previously Cindy has hosted ‘orphan Christmas’ dinners in London.
She explains: ‘I spent part of Christmas in London last year before I flew to Taiwan to see my family.
‘I went to brunch with London New Girls on the day of Christmas Eve, hosted a Christmas Eve dinner at my place, than enjoyed Christmas brunch with my boyfriend and went for a lovely walk in Greenwich before I went to the airport.
‘I also spent Christmas in London the year before in 2016. That year, I volunteered with Crisis for Christmas and the Basket Brigades, met up with friends for a Christmas eve party.
‘On Christmas Day, I had brunch at home with a friend then went we cycling, brunching before cooking and hosting a Christmas dinner at home.’
Although spending her day with strangers was unconventional, it was exactly what Cindy wanted.
‘London is such a large city and there are still many people around for Christmas,’ she says.
‘I tend to be proactive and do a mixture of hosting and joining other planned events to mix it up. The time tends to go by quickly and I didn’t feel lonely being in London for Christmas.
‘I don’t mind spending time alone but it is also nice to share special occasions with others in the same situation.
‘Some of the strangers I spent Christmas with are new or recent arrivals in London, friends who opted not to go home or are stuck in London due to work, homeless people seeking comfort and shelter. It’s a wide range, really.’
This year, she’ll be going back to volunteer with Crisis for Christmas again. She plans to work as a career counselor to help homeless people find jobs.
She says: ‘In addition, I’ll be spending Christmas eve with my boyfriend, have Christmas dinner at home with housemates and friends, and maybe go to Chinatown for dinner on Boxing Day after my volunteer shifts at Crisis.’
The group was set up by blogger Kamila Zawadzka, and this year, she had been inspired to bring together some other Christmas ‘orphans’ after a miserable Christmas in London alone a few years ago.
Kamila tells us: ‘I couldn’t get time off work to go back home to Australia, I’d just come out of a seven-year relationship and all my London friends had gone to see their own families for the holidays.
‘I spent Christmas Day all alone in bed, my only company being the stomach bug that arrived that morning.
‘I’d always romanticised the idea of an ‘orphan Christmas’, like you see in the movies. Or in a Wham music video. No family drama – just your closest friends, Christmas jumpers, cosy fires and snow. But it turns out that the reality can be very different.’
This year, Kamila will be spending the day with her British fiancé’s family but she wanted to make sure others had a space to come together.
She set up an offshoot of her original group for Christmas ‘orphans’ to share plans.
She says: ‘I don’t want any girls to have a rubbish Christmas like the one I had. Hopefully by bringing them all together, they’ll have a fun Christmas Day and walk away with a bunch of new friends too.’
Another ‘orphan’ is Ana Jurado, 28, who is originally from Spain.
This year, she’s alone in London for Christmas for the first time and is on the lookout for an ‘orphan Christmas’ event she can attend.
She explains: ‘I ended up being an ‘orphan’ this year because my new job means I have to be here to work.
‘This is the first time that I’m not going back home for Christmas and actually it feels a bit overwhelming.
‘I decided I wanted to spend Christmas with strangers because I want to be with some people in the same situation with me, enjoy that time and not be alone.
‘All my friends and flatmates are out of town. I’m hoping for a nice dinner on Christmas Eve or a lunch on New Years Day. I usually watch the New Year’s concert and go out for breakfast and I would love to be in company for that plan.’
So if you find yourself alone, what can you do?
First you need to find some people to join up with – Facebook is a good place to start. Try looking for an ‘orphan Christmas’ group or try asking in local community or ex-pat groups.
If you are spending Christmas with your partner or a friend, you might want to find a bigger group. It’s totally fine to bring along a guest, as long as you let your host know.
You need to find a location that is nearby as there won’t be any public transport on Christmas Day. Ideally you want somewhere you can walk to.
If you would like to host the event yourself, make sure everyone knows the best way to get there.
If there’s a group of you and no one wants to host, try looking for local restaurants or pubs that are open on Christmas Day, or if that’s too expensive, you could try a brunch or event on one of the days around Christmas.
Set up a chat with everyone to organise what each person is going to bring to prevent any overlap. Make sure you have covered drinks too and have discussed if you want to do presents to make sure there isn’t any embarrassment.
Fashion retailer Boohoo is facing criticism for allegedly using ‘padding’ to make slim models look plus-sized.
Some customers are angry at the brand for using models that they say are too small to be given the label plus-size.
A number of people have expressed their outrage online, claiming that the use of slimmer models doesn’t reflect how the clothes will actually look on plus-sized people.
One particular image has caused a stir, with an angry customer suggesting the brand may have used ‘butt/hip pads’ on the model in order to make her look bigger than she actually is.
Another shopper added, ‘Are Boohoo padding slim models so they fit into the plus size clothes? The hips are suspicious. Am I imagining this?’
Boohoo’s plus size range covers sizes 16-24, but judging by the comments, some people don’t think the models used genuinely reflect the full range of sizes.
In a post on Facebook, Rory Mason waded in on the debate to criticise the fashion outlet.
‘That’s f*****g appalling to be honest and I’m not even a woman.
‘No wonder girls are so body conscious, calling each other “fat” when this is classed as being plus sized.’
This kind of criticism is not new for Boohoo. Back in July and August of this year, shoppers were calling out the use of seemingly average-sized models being used to market their plus-size range.
A Twitter user, who calls herself Brighton Girl, said, ‘I think it’s disgusting and incredibly damaging that the model is labelled as Plus Size when she cannot possibly be bigger than a size 8/10. Really disappointing to see.’
Boohoo have been contacted for comment on this. We will update this article when we receive a response.
Boohoo accused of using slim models to sell plus-size clothingBoohoo accused of using slim models to sell plus-size clothingnataliemorris88Boohoo accused of using slim models to sell plus-size clothing METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.boohoo.com/plus-lace-cycling-short/PZZ77764.html Credit: Boohoo
A goofy rescue dog who looks like he’s always pulling a silly face is melting hearts online.
Elmer the eight-year-old Bernese mountain dog has a tongue that’s always hanging out of his mouth.
He was adopted by Stephanie Tran, 28, who fell in love with the special needs dog due to his unusual looks and longing to be loved when she met him in January.
Elmer’s five-inch tongue flops from his mouth due to four of his teeth being removed, and prior to being rescued was found wandering the streets.
He’s also deaf, meaning owner Stephanie has to communicate differently with Elmer.
Stephanie, a catering coordinator, said: ‘He is deaf and has no teeth, he was found as a stray wandering around the city.
‘I needed to have a goofy-looking dog, I felt bad for him and knew I needed to help this dog out.
‘When people see him they often laugh at first, because of his tongue but then they think he is the friendliest goofball ever.
‘The first thing anyone says is that “he must be thirsty” because his tongue is hanging out.
‘I normally laugh and use it to explain the reason his tongue is like that because he has very few teeth.
‘Despite only having two molars on the top and two on the bottom, he is really good at gobbling a whole mouthful of food and swallowing it.
‘Elmer is also completely deaf, the only time I believe he hears is when another dog is barking really loudly, but if I’m standing next to him or come home from work, he has no idea.
‘Special needs dogs require a lot of patience, it’s all about showing them unconditional love and the patience they need.
‘He brings so much joy into my life, I love hanging him and wouldn’t change a thing about him, he is such a sweetheart.’
Often teaching Elmer can be a long process and can require Stephanie to physically show Elmer what she wants him to do.
But due to his amusing appearance, the pooch has attracted 11,000 fans online who love to follow his journey.
Stephanie said: ‘It was a real challenge at first because I have never had a special needs dog, so letting him adjust was really hard at first because he couldn’t understand.
‘Adapting him to routines was more difficult and recognising when he wanted to go out, when and how much her should eat, as well as knowing when and where to sleep.
‘Almost all of the communication between him and I is through body language, signing and signals that he has learned.
‘If I needed him to understand something I would need to try to show him. It was a long process.’
Stephanie hopes his online presence helps to promote dogs with disabilities and educate others.
She added: ‘I think being able to watch a special needs dog’s journey, how they develop and showing they have a great life is a positive thing.
‘It shows how rewarding it is to have a special needs dog and that people should adopt not shop.’
Dog with a comedy tongueDog with a comedy tonguehattiegladwellmetroPICS BY STEPHANIE TRAN / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: This is Elmer looking festive this Christmas as he poses with Santa) - A goofy rescue dog who looks like he is always pulling a silly face because his tongue constantly hangs out of his mouth is melting hearts online. Stephanie Tran, 28, from Peoria, Arizona, adopted adorable eight-year-old Bernese mountain dog Elmer earlier this year.She fell in love with the special needs dog due to his unusual looks and longing to be loved when she met him in January. Elmers five-inch tongue flops from his mouth due to only having all but four teeth removed prior to being found wandering the streets by rescuers. - SEE CATERS COPYPICS BY STEPHANIE TRAN / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: The was the first image Stephanie saw of the dog she would go onto adopt) - A goofy rescue dog who looks like he is always pulling a silly face because his tongue constantly hangs out of his mouth is melting hearts online. Stephanie Tran, 28, from Peoria, Arizona, adopted adorable eight-year-old Bernese mountain dog Elmer earlier this year.She fell in love with the special needs dog due to his unusual looks and longing to be loved when she met him in January. Elmers five-inch tongue flops from his mouth due to only having all but four teeth removed prior to being found wandering the streets by rescuers. - SEE CATERS COPYPICS BY STEPHANIE TRAN / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: Stephanie says people constantly believe Elmer is thirsty because his tongue is constantly hanging out) - A goofy rescue dog who looks like he is always pulling a silly face because his tongue constantly hangs out of his mouth is melting hearts online. Stephanie Tran, 28, from Peoria, Arizona, adopted adorable eight-year-old Bernese mountain dog Elmer earlier this year.She fell in love with the special needs dog due to his unusual looks and longing to be loved when she met him in January. Elmers five-inch tongue flops from his mouth due to only having all but four teeth removed prior to being found wandering the streets by rescuers. - SEE CATERS COPY
Experts are warning people with eczema to stop using skin cream Zudaifu, because it contains illegal steroids.
The cream, which can currently be bought over-the-counter from pharmacies and chemists, contains a prescription-only drug which could be dangerous – particularly for children.
Regulators have issued an urgent warning for people to stop buying the cream, which is normally used to treat eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have announced that anyone selling the cream should be reported to the authorities.
The experts found that the cream is being sold illegally because it contains clobetasol propionate, which is a controlled substance.
Despite being marketed in the UK as a ‘natural’ Chinese herbal medicine, Zudaifu is not a licensed product.
Dr. Chris Jones, Manager of the Medicines Borderline Section at MHRA, said, ‘We have again identified a potentially harmful cream described as a natural Chinese herbal medicine on the market.
‘Selling creams directly to the public that contain strong steroids is illegal and they are potentially dangerous if they are used without medical supervision.
‘Steroids must only be prescribed by healthcare professionals who follow strict criteria when prescribing them and can monitor patients using them.
He went on to say that creams like this can suppress the skin’s response to infection and can also cause long-term thinning of the skin. They can also lead to other medical problems, particularly on children.
‘Our advice to anyone who has bought it previously or is currently using Zudaifu cream – particularly on young children and babies – is to stop using it immediately,’ warns Dr. Jones.
‘If you have any questions, please contact your healthcare professional.’
Eczema sufferers warned to stop using cream 'immediately' over illegal steroid fearsEczema sufferers warned to stop using cream 'immediately' over illegal steroid fearsnataliemorris88
Aldi is the greatest.
From their ‘super-6′ cheap veggies, to their ludicrously affordable wine – they have transformed the grocery shopping experience.
Particularly for those of us on a budget.
Thanks to Aldi, nothing is off the table this Christmas. You can stock up on bubbly, fancy appetizers and gorgeous deli nibbles, all without breaking the bank.
Now Aldi are even selling caviar, to help us live our very best fancy lives this season.
And even better – it’s ethically sourced from Yorkshire.
You may have thought caviar was a decadent treat reserved for people who do their weekly shop in Waitrose, or Wholefoods.
But the German retailer is dedicated to making luxury more inclusive – everyone should get a taste of the finer things in life. It is Christmas after all.
Aldi’s Specially Selected British Caviar is the retailer’s first ever range of the fishy delicacy. And, compared to Aldi’s usual prices – you might not think it’s all that cheap.
A 10g pot of the stuff will cost you £17.99 – but for caviar, this is one of the best price points on the market.
The product is supplied by Yorkshire-based company KC Caviar, a company dedicated to helping maintain the ancient sturgeon fish species.
The founders have perfected the process of extracting eggs from sturgeon without harming the fish, meaning their animals can continue producing eggs for many years.
So now it’s a bit more affordable, maybe it’s time to splash out on something really special this Christmas.
Surely the in-laws can’t find a reason to criticise you if you feed them caviar the moment they walk in the door.
You can now buy caviar from Aldi for ChristmasYou can now buy caviar from Aldi for Christmasnataliemorris88
We know we’re close to the holidays and everything is a bit of a struggle.
Getting dressed in the morning takes a bit more concentration that normal.
But you know how to put a jacket on if you think hard enough – one arm through one hole, the other arm through the other and button it up at the front.
It seems that concept might be a bit of a struggle for Zara models.
Some shoppers have noticed some interesting ways they’ve been showing off the high-street brand’s designs, particularly this coat.
The model wears the coat backwards and it’s certainly a statement.
Taking a deeper look through their website, there are plenty of other examples.
Like this jumper – you might struggle to have a conversation with this look but at least you’d be warm.
This one is for those days you just don’t want to see anyone. Just copy this model and curl up in a ball inside your coat (but careful, someone might see your heels).
Or you could wear a coat over the top of another coat and throw it over your head.
Of course, you could just take your coat off and wear it on your lap, like this model.
Or try another back to front look with your bag around your neck.
For something different, you can wear your coat as a skirt.
Maybe you want to try this scarf on scarf on scarf look.
Or if you’ve lost your hat, copy this model and use your scarf.
Who needs a coat when you can have a backpack?
And apparently trying to take your jumper off is a look.
Despite the unusual tactic, Zara fans have said they’d still buy their products but some admit they go in store to look because of the pictures online.
So what exactly is Zara’s thinking? Fashion PR expert Dominique St. John explains: ‘It looks like Zara has added a twist to online shopping by adding more playful shots to its online catalogue.
‘We often see these playful shots in glossy editorial shoots from Vogue to Glamour.
‘Of course, we would never wear a coat as a rucksack, but I can only imagine its part of their PR campaign.
‘It has definitely caught the public’s attention.
‘Whether these images encourage customers to shop on Zara.com is another question, but there are also other images online where shoppers can see what clothing items look like on the models.’
So whether you like them or not, it’s certainly got us talking and who knows, maybe these are set to be the big trends for 2019 and Zara is just ahead of the curve.
We spoke to Zara and they said they wouldn’t be able to comment on this issue.
Zara models don't know how to wear clothesZara models don't know how to wear clotheslauraabernethy6
First things first: there’s no judgement here.
Clearly you’ve left it to the last minute to sort out your shopping – and you’ll be lucky to get anything delivered before Christmas now.
But what’s done is done, and we’ve got your back.
Read on for the ultimate guide of online gifts that you can click to buy just minutes before your guests arrive on Christmas morning – and in most cases, there is even something to print off to put under the tree.
A Little Christmas Cheer
Monthly Wine Club
Not your average wine club. Le Petit Ballon wines are hand-selected by Jean-Michel Deluc, the former sommelier at the Ritz Paris. He chooses every bottle personally via a meticulous tasting process.
Each month your recipient will receive two bottles of beautiful wine which are selected based on their answers to an online questionnaire – asking questions about their favourite smells and tastes – to identify their palate.
Le Petit Ballon Monthly wine subscription, from £29.89 a month (min three months) includes two bottles of wine a month, lepetitballon.co.uk
Make Their Own Gin
Literally The Coolest Bar
Literally the coolest destination in London – they can bring a guest with them and step into the sub-zero world of the UK’s only permanent ice bar.
Made from 40 tonnes of ice fashioned into ice art sculptural displays, they will don warm capes and gloves while they sip cocktails in ice glasses.
Gift voucher includes entry to Ice Bar for two, warm cape and gloves, a spirit-based ice cocktail each and a 40-minute Ice Bar experience.
Ice Bar Experience with Cocktails for Two, £50 virginexperiencedays.co.uk
Don’t Like it? Swap it!
Don’t know where they want to shop this Christmas? Zeek is perfect.
Zeek Shop is the brand new all-digital gift card that includes everything from Asos and Uber Eats to Topshop, Ticketmaster and Spotify.
It is the perfect shopping destination for those who are unsure what presents to buy this Christmas.
And, if you don’t pick quite the right gift card, the recipient can ‘Swap it’ for any brand of their choice – without the present buyer ever knowing.
Launched in time for Christmas, it gives shoppers a guaranteed way to pick the perfect present every time, taking all the stress out of gift giving.
Zeek Gift Cards start at £10, zeekshop.com
The Sexiest Little Show from Spain
Let them unwrap the spirit of Ibiza with tickets to next year’s sexiest night out.
A six-week London pop-up from the iconic Ibizan show, Lio Ibiza, it will take up temporary residency at The London Cabaret Club for the first time from February.
A jaw-dropping, immersive experience that’s not for the prudish. Your gift recipient will be wowed by world-class cabaret, burlesque and acrobatic acts, along with a delicious dinner.
Lio London tickets, £180 per person, includes the Lio London show, club entrance and full menu, liolondon.co.uk
The Art of Storytelling
Audible is the part of Amazon that specialises in audiobooks, and has over 200,000 titles in its library, with standouts like Sherlock Holmes narrated by Stephen Fry, Jane Eyre by Thandie Newton or The Great Gatsby read by Jake Gyllenhaal.
You can gift them a three-month, six-month or year-long subscription, which gives them one book credit a month, as well as a range of exclusive discounts.
The gift voucher itself can be printed out on a Christmas-themed card along with a personal message.
Amazon Audible gift options: starting at one month (£7.99), three month (£23.99) or twelve month membership (£69.99 and 25% discount), audible.co.uk
Books, Books, Books
This Christmas, support The British Library with a great last minute gift for book lovers.
Europe’s largest library holds over 150 million items and boasts historical pieces dating back as far as 2000 BC – and the British Library’s annual membership scheme will let them experience everything from five-star exhibitions to high-profile talks and events that include brilliant literary, historical, scientific and artistic works from all over the globe.
Sure to please the culture lover in your life.
British Library membership, £80, bl.uk/membership
Learn to Play Guitar
Fender Play is a brand new video-based guitar learning app that equips you with everything you need to learn guitar – and promises to help complete beginners learn recognisable riffs in just 22 minutes.
It offers bite-sized video lessons that include acoustic or electric guitar, and even the ukelele! Recipients can track their development and music evolution in real time – with a dashboard progress report.
Speak Spanish (or any other language)
Babbel has really stepped up when it comes to bite-sized language learning.
The super app offers 12 languages with interactive courses that include writing, listening and practising that will have you fluent in no time.
A great gift for a frequent traveller or for someone you know who is planning a big trip very soon and might want to learn a bit of native speak.
Babbel Language App, 3 months £21, 6 months £33, 12 months £57, uk.babbel-giftshop
A (date) Night to Remember
Everyone agrees that date nights are a good idea (especially for sad marrieds) but not everyone likes to plan them.
Enter My Date Night – they will tailor a date night to a couple’s preferences and they work with literally thousands of venues nationwide to offer experiences for all tastes and budgets – from drink and dance ideas, to theatre breaks and VIP experiences.
This is something that can be printed out on Christmas day and you can still look like you gave it some serious thought.
My Date Night, prices start at £50, mydatenight.com
Simplified Self Help
This is a great idea for someone you know who never has time to read a book but is really interesting in finding out what’s going on out there.
Ideal for the time-poo, curiosity-rich, Blinkist is a subscription-based app that helps you fit learning and reading into hectic schedules, by taking key ideas from best-selling non-fiction books and condensing them into 15-minute text and audio digests.
Blinkist subscription app, 12-month gift card, £62.50, blinkist.com
Choco Afternoon Tea
An afternoon tea at London Hilton on Park Lane is a perfect last minute gift for the chocoholics in your life.
Designed by Pastry Chefs Emmanuel Bonneau and Sam Leatherby, crowned the winners of Bake Off: The Professionals 2018, this delectable tea offers a four-course feast of exquisite treats, following a selection of open sandwiches with traditional filling.
Includes freshly baked chocolate chip scones served with homemade chocolate praline spread, gooey cupcakes and miniature chocolate fancies, all served on an edible chocolate plate.
Presentation wise, you can get a booking confirmation emailed to you to wrap up in a nice gift box or put in an envelope as soon as the tea is booked.
Afternoon Tea at the London Hilton Park Lane, from £39 per person, hilton.com
Have they always wanted to go skydiving but aren’t quite ready to throw themselves out of a plane?
iFLY Indoor skydiving simulates freefall conditions in a vertical wind tunnel, where they can fly in controlled winds of up to 120mph. And they’ve just added a new twist this year with a virtual reality headset.
The VR experience uses state-of-the-art virtual reality technology to combine an indoor skydive with the thrill of a simulated ‘real’ skydive from a plane. They will strap on a specialised helmet and get whisked off into a virtual plane before descending 12,000 feet, taking in their choice of landscape: English countryside, southern California or Hawaii.
That way they can enjoy the feeling of human flight without the terrifying bit.
iFly Extended Indoor Skydiving, VR experience start from £69.99 iflyworld.co.uk
A Photobook of Their Memories
Birthdays and holidays have all come and gone this year and you’ve taken photos of all of them – but they’re more than likely still up there in the iCloud.
Why not give your friends and family the gift of precious memories in a photo book this Christmas? Motif (formerly Apple’s printer provider) is an easy-to-use app that offers a quick way to make professional photo books for your favourite people.
Just download the Motif app from the Mac Apple store and you can create your photo book within minutes and let them know it’s on its way with a handmade card and print-out of a favourite picture.
Motif is also offering 30% off for Metro readers this Christmas using the code WELCOMEUK30
Motif App Photo Book, start from £9, download the app at itunes.apple.com.
For Insta-genic Friends
The next time they go on holiday – set up a photo shoot for them!
Shoot My Travel lets you hire a professional photographer for a few hours to take pictures of them either in their home city or wherever they are on holiday.
With a network of over 1000 talented photographers in over 280 destinations around the globe, this is a gift that will work nearly everywhere.
All they have to do is to arrange a meeting point with their personal photographer (typically somewhere central where they can get the best pics of iconic places).
Vouchers can be printed on Christmas Day – opt for ‘print at home’ when buying and you’re sent the download link right after purchase.
Shoot My Travel, from £180, shootmytravel.com
The View to a Grill
Perfect for foodies who love a little a wow factor, the evening kicks off at the View from the Shard where they will ascend 800 ft in a matter of seconds to the top of Western Europe’s tallest building.
The view is a breathtaking 360-degree one and looks out across 40 miles of the capital – they even have powerful telescopes available to take it up a notch.
Following this, your giftee will enjoy a three-course meal for two at one of Marco Pierre White’s restaurants; London Steakhouse Co. – City or London Steakhouse Co. – Chelsea. Note: The London Steakhouse Co. – City is the most 5 star reviewed steakhouse in the world.
Included is entry to The View from The Shard for two adults, a three-course meal for two including a cocktail at one of two Marco Pierre White Steak restaurants.
The View from The Shard and a Three Course Meal for Two at Marco Pierre White’s London Steakhouse Co £95 . virginexperiencedays.co.uk
Help to Stop Smoking
Who says it’s too late to kick a bad habit? This year, help them stop smoking once and for all, get help getting over an ex or give them an upper hand when it comes to sticking to their new resolutions.
The UK’s top hypnotherapist, Harley Street ‘Reinvention Hypnotherapist’ Malminder Gill, has had fantastic success helping clients change their thinking and kick bad habits once and for all – with just two sessions of hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis with Malminder Gill, from £500, hypnosis-in-london.com
A Glossy Gift
Perfect for their magazine fix on the go – this year give them the magazine subscription to beat all others. The Readly digital magazine app will give them access to unlimited magazines to read anytime, anywhere, at the click of a button.
There are over 3,000 top titles available to read on your mobile, tablet or laptop, plus all the latest issues and back issues too.
With this pressie they can say goodbye to lugging armfuls of glossies on to a plane or train – the app gives users five profiles per household, so the entire family can read with their own profiles. And with no paper, it’s environmentally friendly too.
Right now there is a Christmas offer available (until 31 December) – the first 2 months for £1.99 and £7.99 thereafter.
Readly magazine app, £7.99 a month (£1.99p for the first two months), readly.com
For Football Fans
A gift that will get sports fans cheering on Christmas morning; Club Wembley’s Inner Circle is the ultimate, luxury present for the football fanatic in your life.
It keeps on giving throughout the whole year, with the membership you automatically get guaranteed seats for all England Men’s Senior Internationals at Wembley, The Emirates FA Cup Semi Finals and Final, and the FA Cup Community Shield.
Wembley Stadium. Inner Circle membership starts from £2,148 (inc. VAT). clubwembley
The Fitness Booster
Dubbed ‘the Netflix of the fitness industry’, MoveGB connects more 300,000 users to 6,000 fitness partners nationwide.
If you gift them a monthly membership, they will have unrestricted access to mainstream gyms, boutique studios, and independent workout spaces.
Partners include BaseFit, BLOK, Bootcamp Pilates, Digme Fitness, Virgin Active, Good Vibes, Vauxhall climbing centre, Hotpod Yoga, One Studio London, London Parkour Project and lots more.
Pricewise it starts from £5.99 and goes up to £18.99 per week – depending on how many places they will have access to. It’s a 4-week rolling contract and they can cancel any time
Move GB, £16.99 per week for unlimited use of 2823 venues across London and the UK, movegb.com
And Finally…Too Late For Even Amazon Prime? Here’s Some Great Kid Stuff
Kidzania Annual Pass
Parents already know about this place – basically heaven for kids.
KidZania London is an immersive and interactive child-sized city that is set up to empower and entertain kids aged 4-14. It lets them explore their dreams through playing out whatever they want to do when they grow up.
It’s also humongous. Spanning 75,000 square feet, it is the size of Leicester Square and the height of Heathrow Terminal 5 and is built on top of Westfield London.
Kids can take part in loads of real-life activities and ‘learn by doing’; from putting out fires with the Emergency Services one minute, to reporting it on the news the next. Whether they’re a budding pilot, dentist, shop-keeper or radio DJ, there’s something for everyone.
A KidZania annual pass includes 12 months of unlimited entry for the child and 5 free adult tickets, also fast track and other discounts are included.
Last minute you can buy and get a downloadable voucher online which can then be activated by the recipient at a later date.
Kidzania Annual Pass, £129, kidzania.co.uk
The Ice Show
Perfect for kids – this ice show is packed with lots of their favourite characters and the theme is adventurous dreaming.
Called “Dream Big’, they will watch fearless Moana and Maui on an action-packed voyage to restore the stolen heart of Te Fiti and get tangled up in Rapunzel’s hair-raising quest to see the floating lights – all live on ice.
And don’t worry, there’s plenty of Arendelle with Anna, Elsa and Olaf from Frozen too.
High-flying jumps, breath-taking skating and favourite Disney friends will make this a superb gift.
Buy online and print out the confirmation.
Disney On Ice presents Dream Big at the O2, from 26 December to 6 January, tickets from £18, disneyonice.co.uk
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An Austrian ski resort isn’t the first place you’d associate with icons like Stormzy, The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim.
But that’s exactly where they’ll be in a few months time.
Après-ski this is not: igloo raves, forest parties, underground tennis clubs and, of course, skiing at 8,497ft make Snowbombing a little different from your average festival or ski resort.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Snowbombing has been a fixture on the Alpine festival circuit for quite some time, and its birthday doesn’t look set to disappoint.
Drum and bass pioneer Andy C, house maestros Bicep and all-around dance music legends Groove Armada are just a few of the big names on the line-up.
If the ski-resort part of the festival is what caught your eye, then you’re in luck. Featuring Europe’s steepest slope, The Harikiri, and 650km of piste, you’re not going to run out of mountain to ski in a hurry.
Aside from the skiing, there’s a slew of Alpine activities to keep you entertained: yoga in the mountains from London’s dance yoga experts Fat Buddha Yoga; karaoke and raucous raves in cable cars, chairlift speed dating and even paragliding, if you’re feeling up to it.
Set in the Austrian mountain town of Mayrhofen, Snowbombing have also enlisted the help of professional party-goers like LGBTQ+ Sink the Pink, soulful trio The Cuban Brothers and aptly-named tribute band the Antarctic Monkeys (the real Arctic Monkeys are not in attendance, sadly) to commemorate their big 20th.
With a stellar line-up, and a huge array of snow-based activities, Snowbombing could make a strong claim to be, as it calls itself, “The World’s Greatest Show On Snow.”
Snowbombing festival runs from April 8th-13th in Mayrhofen, Austria, with festival packages starting from £269.
Got a showbiz story?
Street Party feat. David Rodigan-f50aStreet Party feat. David Rodigan-f50azanderwilkins19
A woman has said she will never buy from PrettyLittleThing again after her thigh-split mini dress covered less than she’d hoped.
The £20 bodycon dress features an ‘extreme thigh split and a plunging neckline’, but Ashley Nicole Teran was pretty surprised when the dress turned out to be a lot more revealing than she’d thought.
Sharing images to Twitter, she wrote: ‘This is the worst purchase I’ve ever made.
‘I only weigh 100lbs I’m a size 2… Never buying from here again!’
She added: ‘I’m just disappointed that I waited over two weeks for a shirt, basically lol… I’m in shock..’
Pretty Little Thing replied: ‘Sorry that you are disappointed Ashley i can totally understand where your coming from please can you DM me with your order number so i can get this sorted for you.’
A spokesperson said: ‘The team got in touch with Ashley after seeing the tweet and offered for her to return the item for a full refund as well as any postage cost incurred.
‘Ashley hasn’t as of yet come back to us.
‘The item is listed as being “extreme” thigh split within the product description.’
This isn’t the first time someone has had an issue with PLT’s clothing.
Just recently we wrote about a girl who bought a shredded crop top that ended up flashing her nipples. Luckily she was able to see the funny side.
Woman slams PrettyLittleThing?s sizing slammed after thigh-split black dress barely covers her modestyWoman slams PrettyLittleThing?s sizing slammed after thigh-split black dress barely covers her modestyhattiegladwellmetroBLACK EXTREME THIGH SPLIT PANELLED PLUNGE BODYCON DRESS (Picture: PrettyLittleThing)A shopper has hit out at fashion shop Pretty Little Thing?s sizing after ordering a little black dress that barely covered her modesty. Ordering clothes online means you always run the risk of buying something that doesn't quite fit. Ashley Nicole Teran from Miami, Florida posted on social media about the purchase after buying a black though split dress from the retailer which was so small for her it barley covered her knicker line. She said of the ?20 dress Black Extreme Thigh Split Panelled Plunge Bodycon Dress ?THIS IS THE WORST PURCHASE IVE EVER MADE LMAOOO I only weigh 100lbs I?m a size 2. Never buying from here again!? ?I?m just disappointed that I waited over two weeks for a shirt, basically lol? And after posting a hilarious picture online of her trying on the the dress she received various messages, @Samyyy__ said ?I still can?t believe it. I?ve never had an issue but sometimes their sizes are off? While others were happier to see the funnier side of the tweet @Freekyoulater posted ?I?ve notice that in life everything is a matter of prospective, your dress is now a piece of lingerie lmao? Women face a sizeable challenge when it comes to finding clothes that fit on and can often leave fitting rooms feeling frustrated. A recent test by Good Morning Britain?revealed that 83 per cent are forced to buy a larger size, while one in three women?say it has negative impact on their self-esteem. The company responded to Ashley tweet very quickly offering to sort out the issue. ENDSA shopper has hit out at fashion shop Pretty Little Thing?s sizing after ordering a little black dress that barely covered her modesty. Ordering clothes online means you always run the risk of buying something that doesn't quite fit. Ashley Nicole Teran from Miami, Florida posted on social media about the purchase after buying a black though split dress from the retailer which was so small for her it barley covered her knicker line. She said of the ?20 dress Black Extreme Thigh Split Panelled Plunge Bodycon Dress ?THIS IS THE WORST PURCHASE IVE EVER MADE LMAOOO I only weigh 100lbs I?m a size 2. Never buying from here again!? ?I?m just disappointed that I waited over two weeks for a shirt, basically lol? And after posting a hilarious picture online of her trying on the the dress she received various messages, @Samyyy__ said ?I still can?t believe it. I?ve never had an issue but sometimes their sizes are off? While others were happier to see the funnier side of the tweet @Freekyoulater posted ?I?ve notice that in life everything is a matter of prospective, your dress is now a piece of lingerie lmao? Women face a sizeable challenge when it comes to finding clothes that fit on and can often leave fitting rooms feeling frustrated. A recent test by Good Morning Britain?revealed that 83 per cent are forced to buy a larger size, while one in three women?say it has negative impact on their self-esteem. The company responded to Ashley tweet very quickly offering to sort out the issue. ENDS
There is problem with a lack of diversity in children’s publishing in the UK – and two people are trying to solve it.
With almost two decades of reading (and publishing) experience racked up between them, Aimée Felone and David Stevens are the perfect people to tackle the issue.
They founded Knights Of, a children’s fiction publisher in 2017 and following its success, a year later launched a Crowdfunder campaign to raise £30,000 for a permanent #ReadTheOnePercent bookshop in Brixton filled exclusively with stories in which the main characters are non-white.
They’re not far off.
There’s a real need. According to the CLPE Reflecting Realities report, less than 1% of kid’s books published in 2017 had a Black or Minority (BAME) protagonist. This is despite the fact that 32.1% of schoolchildren in the UK are of ‘minority ethnic origins.’
Simply put, a third of children in the UK probably don’t read books about characters that look like them.
‘The children’s publishing workforce is largely made up of people from white, middle class backgrounds – with such a homogenous workforce the percentage is unsurprising,’ they tell Metro.co.uk.
David, who worked in publishing for 12 years, had never worked with an editor of colour. Aimée had worked in publishing and said she was ‘overwhelmed by the whiteness of the industry and its output.’
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, they revealed that they were both ‘frustrated’ with how slow the industry was moving towards diverse books for children. America seems to be crawling forward at a slightly faster pace – with the likes of Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch and Zoraida Cordova’s Bruja Born – there are books out there with African, Mexican, and Asian protagonists.
But there aren’t many, and arguably less in the UK.
‘It’s incredibly important for children to read about people who look like them, people with similar experiences and ethnic backgrounds,’ Aimée said.
‘There is an overwhelming power in representation!’ she added. ‘Seeing yourself in a book shows you the possibilities of who you can be, allows you to imagine and see yourself in places and spaces that you otherwise couldn’t think of. For children from diverse backgrounds.’
Aimée, an English Literature graduate, spent a year after graduating interning at many paid and unpaid publishing positions.
She went on to take a job at the prestigious publishing house Scholastic, where she worked as an Assistant Editor before leaving to launch Knights Of.
David worked in children’s publishing and media for over 15 years – including Penguin, Brown Bag Films and Scholastic Children’s Books.
Though they come from different backgrounds, they were struck by the limited opportunities available for non-white authors, and the difficult time that they had selling books with non-white protagonists to bookshops. ‘Mainstream bookshops don’t currently offer the breadth of representation that is so desperately needed,’ they admitted.
The pair have worked incredibly hard to make #ReadTheOnePercent happen, and opened a popup bookshop in Brixton, partnering with children’s bookshop Tales on Moon Lane to stock the likes of Malorie Blackman and Alesha Dixon.
Kids who come through their doors, they say, are ‘very excited to see that there are not only representations of them on the cover but that there is also a whole shop that has a range of books that they can get stuck into.’
The crowdfunding campaign is gaining traction, and after popular publishing house Penguin Random House caught wind of it, they pledged a whopping £15,000 to the project.
‘We want to hire a full-time specialist bookseller – to run a pop-up programme across the UK and Ireland, with a base in Brixton as a permanent bookstore,’ they said passionately.
People have been pledging money to the campaign – both big and small donations, and it seems to have lit a fire in London’s readers.
And if they achieve the bookshop? What would be the dream?
‘Topping the charts of children’s bestsellers and authors. We want to make inclusive books as commercial as they should be, getting them the shine they deserve.’
I asked David and Aimée to recommend some juicy inclusive books for Metro.co.uk readers. Here they are:
Ruby’s Worry Tom Percival – A wonderful story about Ruby who learns that sharing your worry is the best way to help get rid of it
Knights and Bikes Gabrielle Kent– Nessa and Demelza spend their summer holidays riding around their Cornish town of Penfurzy fighting Knights and riding bikes.
For Every One Jason Reynolds An inspirational long form letter for the dreamers of the world to remind them that chasing their dreams is just as important as making them a reality.
If you would like to donate to this campaign, and see London’s very first inclusive bookshop, you can do so here.
‘That’ll be the ghost again,’ says Karen on reception.
I’d been photographing Orestone Manor’s lobby and bar for the ‘Gram when a beer pump clip clatters to the ground of its own accord – or possibly not.
I ain’t afraid of no ghosts but the hotel, in Maidencombe near Torquay, has reason enough to have them – it’s the blue plaqued former home of John Callcott Horsley, who designed the first commercial Christmas card.
He’s also known for his painting of his brother-in-law, engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, which you can see in the National Portrait Gallery.
As I sit by the fire drinking my tea I imagine John chatting to Isambard, seemingly the perfect host but quietly resentful that his artistic achievements have been overshadowed yet again by his in-law and another sodding bridge.
The hotel ghost – who I later learn is supposedly a woman with dark hair, spotted twice at the very top of the house, hasn’t put off celebrity guests, who have included Roger Moore and the Made In Chelsea set.
Next door is Rock House, where Rudyard Kipling stayed. The building, currently for sale, is thought to have inspired his novel The House Surgeon.
This area is also a must for Agatha Christie fans – you can visit her holiday home, Greenway, and travel to and from there by steam train. It’s open Saturdays and Sundays in December, tickets cost £12.80.
Orestone is now run by the D’Allen family, mum and dad in the kitchen, the boys waiting tables.
The D’Allen’s Christmas, of course, will be spent looking after guests, the family celebrating together in the evening.
James, the youngest, and his girlfriend give me a lift to Sharpham, a vineyard that offers wine and cheese tasting tours.
There we sample British sparking wine, whites and a red plus some excellent cheeses. My favourite’s the sweet, fruity Bacchus and I also make off with some of their Elmhirst – a triple cream Jersey milk cheese. A guided tasting in December lasts 45 minutes and costs £12.50, while hampers cost from £30.
Back at Orestone I take the 15-minute walk down to the sea and explore the local beach with its red clay cliffs. There’s a pub handily half way up the very steep slope too, called The Thatched Tavern, if you need to stop for refreshment.
It’s a very good spot for coastal walks, of course, but make sure you pack your mac and wellies or walking boots this time of year.
Nearby tourist attractions include Babbacombe, with its model village, cliff railway and theatre. The former will be looking Christmassy from now to January 20, while Babbacombe Theatre is hosting a show featuring comedy, magic, song and dance called Christmas Crackers from now until January. Tickets cost £22.
Slightly further afield there’s Torquay, with its harbour and museum, and Exeter, with shiny shops, impressive cathedral and museums.
I enjoyed my little jaunt to Torquay and its slightly rundown high street. For one thing, there’s a little land train to take you about.
For another there’s Fleet Walk, a two-level shopping mall with a balcony that makes you look like you’re in an old school platform game. Here you’ll find Vintage & Retro clothes shop and Torquay Candle Co, which looks like Christmas on khat.
There’s also Hooper’s department store and Jane’s for quirky bags – I bought one that looks and works like a boom box.
In terms of festive shows, The Princess Theatre in Torquay has Melinda Messenger starring in Sleeping Beauty from now until January 6.
Torquay train station is about a mile from the town centre, and it’s a pleasant walk round the bay.
If steam trains are your thing, there’s the Santa Express and Train Of Lights. While the latter has already sold out, there’s still tickets to The Santa Express, between Queen’s Park Station in Paignton and Kingswear, featuring magic tricks and a two-part panto.
Father Christmas and his elves are on board, and the train runs on December 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24. Tickets cost £19.75 for adults and £13 for children on each day except Christmas Eve, when adults’ tickets cost £20.75 and childrens’ are £14.
On the normal train from Torquay, I decided to explore more of Devon, heading up to Exeter St David’s (£7.70 single) – it’s about a 30-minute walk up a hill to the town centre or you can wait for a connecting train to Exeter Central.
The city has a younger, more cosmopolitan feel – the first thing I see here is a pub sign for vegan snacks.
Karen recommended a cream tea at Tea On The Green, near Exeter Cathedral, and I’m not disappointed – they serve enormous homemade scones, locally-made jam and fresh Devonshire cream. There’s also Spirited Tea Pots – hot or cold tea and booze blends.
Once you’ve looked round the stunning cathedral (entrance £7.50), there’s a decent high street for shopping, and stores include House Of Fraser, M&S, L’Occitaine and Waterstones.
Nearby, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm. There’s free entry. It is closed on Mondays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
If you book in advance, you can also explore Exeter’s underground passages – they transported water round the city in the 14th century. Tickets cost £6.
In terms of festive shows, Exeter Corn Exchange’s production of Aladdin runs until January 1.
Where to stay and how to get there
I stayed at Orestone Manor which, as a family-run hotel, made for a particularly welcoming stay.
The food was outstanding – locally-sourced and hearty.
One lemon posset, with its Devon cream, was the kind of dessert to make vegans seriously question their life choices.
The hotel’s Christmas Day lunch menu, which includes black tiger prawn cocktail, free range turkey and homemade Christmas pudding costs £110 each.
Their 70’s-themed New Year’s Eve dinner, which includes a three-course meal, Champagne and fireworks, jazz band and disco, costs £110.
A double room in December, plus breakfast, costs from £145 per night. In February prices start from £110 per night.
I recommend driving to the area as this time of year local bus and train services are reduced, so getting about can be tricky (Uber doesn’t seem to exist and local taxis are expensive).
However, if you’re looking to hole up in a cosy hotel, occasionally heading out for a coastal walk, take a direct train from London Paddington to Newton Abbot – the trip takes about three hours and a return costs from £54.50. A taxi from the station to the hotel cost me £25 – book in advance for a better rate.
Top image: Getty
the illuminations and fireworks, Torquay, Devon, England.the illuminations and fireworks, Torquay, Devon, England.yvettemcaster
Person of colour (POC) is not a label I would have given to myself, but it is one that has been used to describe everyone who is not white – and that includes me, a black woman.
When I was younger I was described as a black woman, and it’s how I’ve always seen myself. However, more recently I’ve noticed the term ‘person of colour’ being used to describe me. It’s new to me and I don’t like it. I’m going to explain why.
The first time I heard myself described as a POC was in New York, at a casting. The directors were talking about how diverse the casting was because they had so many models of colour, but as I looked around I noticed there were only black models and white models.
After that awakening, I started hearing it more and more; on the news, on blogs, in print, at work … everywhere. Person of Colour has become the new term for everyone non-white. Far from being positive, this term is lazy at best and harmful at its worst.
The label makes me feel like the nuances that identify me are not important enough to be valid and respected individually, and that any relevance and importance I have is just part of a mass group.
I feel whitewashed and cast aside, as if white is the standard and that everyone else is another. I haven’t been given the chance to define my identity.
There are differences in our ethnicities and these need to be given a space and platform. It should not be white and everyone else.
Every ethnicity should be given the space to be who they want to be and take charge of their identity. As a black woman living in the West, I have been robbed of this for too long.
Wider society often sees the term POC as a positive and a non-problematic way to address the various ethnicities when discussing race in a wider context.
The media has aggressively used this term in attempts to engage with and discuss the struggles of ethnic minorities. However, in a world where racism and prejudice has taken centre stage (not new, just exposed), it is important that we have these discussions in the right way.
In making non-white an other, discussions regarding the struggles of ethnic minorities rarely identify the nuances between the various ethnicities that make up POC.
It is wrong to think that racism (the structure), what is deemed to be racist (the experience), and the effects of this, is homogenised among non-white people.
There are, in fact, many nuances to this. When we discuss the consequences of racism we very quickly see that the way a racist white person treats a black person is not the same as they would an Asian person or a Latin person, or any other race is treated.
As a black woman, I can only speak from my own lived experience. I will find similarity in the experiences of fellow black people, and even more similarity with black women.
However, even then, these similarities cannot be taken as the general experience of black women or black people.
I’ve felt personally judged by this term, mainly because in the wider public arena the problems of POC have been grouped together.
I feel this especially in the US, where just because I am a black woman, I am expected to talk about the struggles of African American women, an experience with which I can sympathise but cannot fully speak to.
This is the same when talking about my experiences as a ‘model of colour’. Even though my experiences are as a model, my experience as a black model is very different to that of an Asian model.
The Fashion Spot released their diversity report in which they listed Bella and Gigi Hadid as models of colour. I’ll be honest, I was mortified.
I understand that their mixed heritage technically makes them ‘non-white’ but when you include white passing models in statistics that seek to explain and measure diversity in fashion, then we all lose.
It cannot be true that Bella and Gigi face the same exclusion and barriers that non-white models face; that black, East Asian, Southeast Asian models face. The same attitudes can be found in all industries, not just fashion.
I strongly dislike the POC label because it removes an identity that I have so much pride in. It removes the importance and significance of my terms of choice. I am a black woman and would like to own it.
The term POC seeks to find a neutral term to discuss and analyse non-white matters, and in some ways it has its uses. I guess I can think of only one: it starts a conversation, and for better or worse, talking about issues starts the slow and painful journey to change, but for me, that’s about it.
I’ve found this term more damaging than helpful.
I do not want to be a woman of colour. I do not want to be a person of colour. I do not want my experience to be lumped together with every ‘other’.
I do not want to be subjected to a one stop inclusion drive that fails to appreciate and acknowledge the richness in non-white experiences, and this is why I refuse to use any of these terms.
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 email@example.com
LabelsLabelsjessrubyaustinPhilomena Kwao Labels: Person of Colour Credit: Jide AlakijaPhilomena Kwao Credit: Phillip Raheem Labels: Person of ColourPhilomena Kwao Credit: Phillip Raheem Labels: Person of ColourPhilomena Kwao Labels: Person of Colour Credit: Jide Alakija
Sitting at your desk about to smugly munch into some avo on toast?
Stop right there.
Did you wash that avocado before you chopped it, mashed it, and spread it?
You really should have.
The FDA (the food and drug administration in the U.S.) has issued a warning that it’s vital to wash your avocados before you eat them, because they’ve found bacteria such as salmonella and listeria on the skin of avocados tested over the last 18 months.
And no, peeling the avocado and just not eating the skin won’t protect you entirely.
When you slice through your avocado, the knife could carry bacteria from the skin into the avocado’s flesh, which you then put in your mouth.
Oh, cool. That’s horrifying.
Plus, 0.24% of the avocados the FDA tested had listeria within their edible bits. A small percentage, sure, but that’s not a risk we’re up for taking.
To protect yourself, you need to give your avocado a good scrub before you start slicing it. Give it a thorough wash under running water, then scrub the skin with a clean produce brush and dry with a bit of kitchen roll.
The FDA also recommends chucking out avocado skin speedily so any bacteria can’t transfer to other surfaces, and eating avocados shortly after slicing the fruit – so don’t leave your avo sitting out on the counter once you’ve peeled it.
The agency collected 1,615 samples of both imported and domestically grown avocados to test for the presence of salmonella and listeria bacteria, and found that listeria was present in 0.24% in the avocado pulp samples, and in 17.73% of the avocado skin tested.
At low levels, listeria won’t cause severe illness, but it can pose a risk for pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
There are no cases yet in which people have become ill due to eating avocado, but the FDA prefers to be safe than sorry – even bacteria found on 1% of avocados would prompt a warning.
They concluded that salmonella may be present on the skin of avocados and listeria may be present on the skin or in the fruit, so it’s vital for avocado growers to comply with FDA’s produce safety guidelines, and for avo fans to wash their fruit before eating it.
Wash your avocadosWash your avocadosellencscott(Picture: Getty; Metro.co.uk)Photo Taken In Malaysia, George Town
Welcome to Lean On Me – a weekly agony aunt style column from Metro.co.uk where Kate Leaver answers your friendship woes.
I’m new to London and I have no idea where to find my tribe in a city of 9million.
I’m not into match-making apps, but is it weird to just DM someone on Insta who I feel could be my kind of person?
What’s the etiquette? Is it borderline creepy?
Dear Ingrid, welcome to this magnificent, grey-sky, red-bus city. I hope you’ll fall in love with it, as I have.
Try curling up on a tatty leather armchair by the fireplace in a cosy little pub on a winter’s day, after a brisk wander through the park. Order a roast and some wine – I defy you not to be charmed.
Ah, but who do you go down the pub with? That’s why you wrote to me in the first place.
And so, to the matter of finding your tribe – as noble and important a pursuit as any for an expat. One I know well.
I arrived from Sydney three and a half years ago, so I truly do get how you feel. Being one in 9million makes you feel small, and the ease with which you can find yourself lonely is breathtaking. Please, take some small comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in feeling isolated.
You want to know if it’s socially acceptable to direct message someone on Instagram with the intent to befriend them. Maybe you follow each other, maybe you’ve exchanged a few likes. Maybe you religiously watch their stories and just get this instinctive feeling that you’d get on.
This is marvelous and I want you to message them immediately. It’s not only socially acceptable to do so, it’s one of the smartest ways to make new friends, in a time and place where so many of us are powerfully devoted to our phones.
It’s not creepy or inappropriate to approach someone for friendship – done right, it’s completely lovely.
An unsolicited Instagram DM is creepy and inappropriate when it contains a naked picture, when it verbally attacks or insults the recipient and when it goes against a previous request not to be contacted.
The type of message you’re talking about here – which is likely to include such phrases as ‘Would you like to grab a coffee sometime?’ or ‘Just wondered if you might like to come and see Mary Poppins Returns with me’ – is perfectly delightful and strongly encouraged.
I expect that the recipient of your message will be rather pleased to hear from you. Your fear and doubt here is entirely motivated by the fantasy that this person is going to think you desperate, or sad, or weird.
You worry that they will roll their eyes, delete your message and unfollow you. But really, it’s deeply flattering to be asked on a friendship date and they will most likely find it charming. They may even be in need of a new friend themselves.
When I was trying to recruit new friends in London, I used Twitter. I followed a lot of young, London-based journalists and diligently replied to their pithy 140-character thoughts as wittily as possible.
If we had a little banter, I would send them a direct message and invite them out for brunch or drinks. I started several lasting friendships this way – and also joined an all-lady book club, got some new journalist allies and became a member of several WhatsApp threads.
This is a mad, busy city and we spend so much of our lives online. The world wide web is a perfectly acceptable place to meet people. Please, go forth and DM.
Be warm, respectful and kind. Be open, generous and sweet. For your opening message, maybe explain that you’re new to London and you’d love to hang out sometime.
If they say yes – brilliant, set up a date and then try and see them again relatively soon after just to consolidate the friendship. If they say no, for whatever reason – please don’t be disheartened.
As you said yourself, there are 9million people in this great city. That’s a lot of potential friends.
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.
Sexual assault is not a problem we can solve with a ‘consent app’ (Sirena)Sexual assault is not a problem we can solve with a ‘consent app’ (Sirena)kateleaverSexual assault is not a problem we can solve with a ‘consent app’ (Sirena)Meet the women who lie about their age on dating apps
A father from Oregan secretly placed a newspaper dating ad for his three adult sons ahead of a holiday to New Zealand.
Dad, Neil, placed the ad in the hopes of finding Kiwi girlfriends for his boys. Because who needs Tinder?
The sons, Benjamin, 26, Jeremy, 28, and Matthew, 31, are all currently single. But Neil hopes that his newspaper listing might change that.
‘Hello Parents. We are from the States (Oregon), visiting your beautiful country. My wife and I have three wonderful, successful, handsome, alas unmarried, sons between the ages of 28-32,’ read the listing.
‘We are not expecting, just hoping, to introduce our sons to nice NZ daughters. At the very least, we’ll embarrass our sons, and the truth is we do find some enjoyment in that.’
Since placing the ad, Neil said he has received more than 200 responses.
His single sons still don’t even know that the ad was placed – but they might get suspicious if they suddenly start getting a lot of attention from the ladies in New Zealand.
Speaking to the NZ Herald, Neil explained why he did it.
‘We like to travel and I have gone with my kids to Europe, Australia and Japan, but we have never really interacted with anybody and in my mind I was just interested in them getting to know people, meeting people their age, and maybe develop some lasting, permanent relationships,’ he said.
‘I have never done anything like this before and they don’t know. They are clueless, which I love.
‘I’m somewhat surprised that I have got quite a lot of responses,’ Neil added.
‘It is hard to tell how many are genuine. A few are maybe just scammers but for the most part people are really amazingly nice in your country.’
The family will be in New Zealand until 7th January, plenty of time for romance to spark. Maybe there will be fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
Dad places advert for three handsome unmarried sonsDad places advert for three handsome unmarried sonsnataliemorris88Dad places advert for three handsome unmarried sons METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12179653 Credit: Newstalk ZBDad places advert for three handsome unmarried sons METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156906452009850&set=a.10153805786919850&type=3&theater Credit: Kimberley Dixon/Facebook
Their needs aren’t being met. They’re lonely. The sex has fallen off a cliff.
But some people cheat not out of lust or longing, but out of anger and sadness.
A third of people who have affairs are ‘revenge cheating’, says new research from Illicit Encounters.
A survey of 1,000 users of Illicit Encounters (a website specifically for affairs, so everyone involved has cheated or wants to cheat on a partner) found that many people cheat on their partners to get back at them for cheating first.
Revenge cheating is slightly more common in women than in men – 37% of women surveyed have revenge cheated versus 31% of men – but this may be because men are more likely to have an affair first in a failing relationship.
In more than half of cases (54%), the revenge cheater told their partner about their affair to fully enact their vengeance (because it won’t hurt them unless they know about it, right?).
81% of revenge cheaters felt they were justified in having an affair because their partner had one first. Fair enough.
Of course, it’s worth noting that these stats are among people on a dating website for having affairs, so they may not be representative of the general population.
It seems logical that if your partner were to cheat on you, you’d dump them rather than getting rage-y and cheating right back just to make them feel bad – but only 26% of the people surveyed ended their relationship immediately after discovering an affair.
Staying in an unhappy relationship just to make sure both parties are equally hurt doesn’t sound like the healthiest thing to us, but the research notes that this behaviour is likely down to finances – couples might stay together because they can’t afford to split up and set up two new homes.
Illicit Encounters spokesman Christian Grant said: ‘There has been a big rise in the number of women revenge cheating in the last year.
‘They are stuck in unhappy relationship which they cannot afford to leave because of house prices and economic uncertainty.
‘They had not planned to cheat but feel justified in doing so because their partner has had an affair first.
‘Such tit-for-tat cheating can sometimes bring couples closer together because after both have an affair there is no sense of grievance on either side. Many discover they are happier with what they’ve already got, realising the grass isn’t greener on the other side.
‘So if you discover that your partner has been unfaithful this Christmas the best advice might well be to have an affair, too.’
But someone promoting a website for having affairs would say that, wouldn’t they?
If you’ve been cheated on and are thinking of cheating in revenge, it’s worth having a sit down and thinking about whether it’s worth the hassle.
Reconciliation after an affair is absolutely possible, but it takes time and work to build up that trust again – while cheating could ‘level the playing field’, it rarely works out so neatly.
The desire to hurt and upset the person you’re with may point to it being time to just break up, especially if they’ve already hurt you by straying outside the relationship.
Try not to make any rash decisions, and weigh up whether you’re ready to invest in the relationship. Is your partner making you so happy and fulfilled that you’d like to work through why they cheated and stay together? Or are you really not too keen on them anymore and ready to break up?
Staying in the relationship but cheating in revenge is a sort of half in, half out situation. If that works for you, great. But just be warned that it could cause some serious upset longterm.
How to have good sex if you still live at home (Rosy Edwards)How to have good sex if you still live at home (Rosy Edwards)ellencscottmetro illustrations
Families are complicated. Knock on any front door on any street and you will find stories that will make bestsellers.
Good for her, if she feels this is the best way to create an environment in which she can be happy and fulfilled.
I should know. I have not seen my father for more than 15 years and we have not spoken for about three. I left home when I was 17, put a continent between us, and we have barely been in each other’s lives since then.
When I look back, I cannot recall a moment when I decided that this is the way it should be – yet as months became years, and the gaps between contact became longer, I saw no reason why it should be any other way.
I do not miss what I never had and I feel I have been able to become the person I was meant to be.
Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I see my father staring back at me. We bear a strong physical resemblance, which has become more obvious as I have grown older. I stare back, confident and proud.
Yes, I am estranged from my father but you have no right to judge me.
I have no regrets. I believe I have been a better parent, and now a grandparent, by choosing a different path.
I learned not from my father but from the fathers of others, whose families made my own childhood immeasurably better, and safer.
Their homes were my refuge. More recently, I learned from my father-in-law, a gentle, kind man who found joy in his family and encouraged his children and grandchildren to seize every moment.
Today my wife and I are foster carers. We applied as soon as we felt our own children were ready – that was almost 10 years ago.
Since then, our lives have focused on helping young people rebuild their lives.
We offer sanctuary to children who are unable to live with their own families.
They stay for weeks or months, sometimes for a couple of years. And our home will always be their home. There always will be room at our table for one more, just as there was for me many years ago.
In them, I recognise my own anxieties and experience. Fostering has given me a chance to repay the kindness of families who were there when my world felt threatening.
They recognised in me something that many others did not, at a time when I was kicking out against anything and everything.
Deep down, I suspect, a part of me is also saying to my father: ‘This is what being a parent means.’
As I write, three brothers are playing noisily in the next room. They have been with us long enough for it to be hard to remember what life was like before they arrived at our door.
Their future is uncertain. It is our role to put an arm around them as they face up to the next challenge.
There is no magic formula to what we do as foster carers. We help children feel safe and give them time and space to take those first, painful steps towards becoming the people they are meant to be.
We strive to rebuild their trust in humanity and to help them recognise their own strength and qualities.
For them it is a lifelong mission; we hope we have prepared them well. Some will want to rebuild their relationships with their parents, in time. Others will choose not to.
Yes, I am estranged from my father but you have no right to judge me. As you have no right to judge Meghan.
For many like her, estrangement is a positive choice, a bold step to take control of one’s life. There must be no shaming.
**ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** The first month of being a Dad – The partying has stopped, but the late nights haven’t (Jamie Roberts)**ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** The first month of being a Dad – The partying has stopped, but the late nights haven’t (Jamie Roberts)rmve86Pushy parent
When your dog is begging beside you at the Christmas table, it feels extremely Grinchy to deny them a treat or two.
But, while it might be alright to slip Buster a slice of turkey, giving them a mince pie could be genuinely deadly.
No-one knows this more than Pauline Warren, 62, from Derby.
Earlier this month, she noticed her 15-month-old Belgian Shepherd Mickey has snaffled a pie that was left out.
Seeing Mickey licking his lips, the train production manager thankfully decided to do a quick Google search just to make sure everything was fine.
Everything was not fine, though, and the search revealed that the raisins in mincemeat can be fatal to dogs, causing unnoticeable kidney failure which can lead to death within 48 hours.
Pauline jumped into action, and got little Mickey to the vets, where he required £1,000 in treatment.
He made a full recovery after being put on a drip, having his stomach pumped, but it was quite the scare after something as simple as a mince pie.
Pauline had known about raisins being toxic to dogs, but thought that since Mickey was about 30 kilograms in weight it wouldn’t be too damaging.
However, she says: ‘When I spoke to the vet, she revealed just one raisin could have killed him. Don’t put your mince pies in arms reach of pets – you’re gambling with your dog’s life.’
Despite the fact some dogs can get away with eating a raisin or sultana and live to tell the tale, it’s not worth risking it.
Just one can be fatal to some dogs, and enough to cause acute renal failure in your pup.
Symptoms experienced by dogs who ingest such toxis foods include vomiting, diarrhoea, not eating, weakness, abdominal pain, and increased drinking.
Within 48 hours, things may have turned deadly. So, as soon as you suspect your dog has eaten any grape products, call your vet.
As a preventative measure, make sure mince pies aren’t within reach of your dog’s hungry chops, and keep kids under supervision while eating just to ensure nothing falls on the floor.
Then just don’t look too smug while you enjoy your festive treats in front of the dog.
Other winter items which can harm dogs
People often use social media to write poignant tributes to loved ones after they’ve passed.
Former adult entertainer Lydia Dupra, who goes by Melina Mason, however, had a few more home truths about her sugar daddy Brad who died last year.
In a now-viral Instagram post, the 28-year-old wrote: ‘As horrible as he was, I am sitting here and trying to dig up a good memory to remember him on this day. So here it is: Brad, you bought me my first pair of Louboutins, my first Birkin and my first and only racehorse.
‘You understood the value of my time and for that, I honour you with my time today by making this post for you.
‘I still don’t forgive you for taking me out of the will after you attacked me while you were on whippets [nitrous oxide].
‘However, you knew I would always be okay and yes, I’ve been living a double life this whole time with the guy you thought was my gay bodyguard and I’m also an author and serial entrepreneur. So, let’s call it even.
‘I will finally visit you one of these days. Rest in peace. P.S please don’t haunt me again.’
L.A-based Lydia explained to Metro.co.uk about what she meant when she requested that Brad doesn’t haunt her again.
‘He began haunting me the second and third night after he died. I heard a big stack of quarters and hundreds of dollars in change being thrown onto the nightstand. I also heard five loud knocks.
‘But then I believe he sent me a little message months later by sending me two dollar bills in two days. The number 222 represents peace and harmony so, I took it as a truce.’
Brad’s spirit might have made peace with Lydia but when he was alive, their relationship wasn’t all that easy.
‘It was tumultuous,’ said Lydia. ‘We had a lot of elevated experiences and Brad really brought me into the next social class which I am forever grateful for.
‘Brad also paid me to do drugs which I later got addicted to, gave me an STD (two but I can’t prove the second one) and had a general entitlement to my mind and body.
‘People ask why I stayed and it’s like asking anyone else why they stayed in a relationship that wasn’t healthy. Money, sex, avoiding loneliness, the kids etc.
‘We had some good times but it got to an extreme point where it was toxic for both of us. I didn’t want to be with him and he knew it. So he just kept spending and spending to keep my attention.
‘He knew my weaknesses and it was diamonds and real estate. I knew his weakness and it was me.
‘We constantly exploited the other’s weakness to get what we wanted from each other.’
‘I saw him about three days before he passed. We had dinner at The Beverly Hills Hotel.
‘And honestly, I don’t feel sad about his passing. Above everyone, I felt bad for his dog. His dog really loved him and wasn’t in it for the money like everyone else in his life.’
When asked about the racehorse she was gifted, she declined to comment, as she doesn’t want to mess up his odds.
Woman explains why she doesn't want to be haunted by her dead sugar daddy, againWoman explains why she doesn't want to be haunted by her dead sugar daddy, againfaimabakar1Woman explains why she doesn't want to be haunted by her dead sugar daddy, again Credit: Lydia DupraWoman explains why she doesn't want to be haunted by her dead sugar daddy, again Credit: Lydia DupraWoman explains why she doesn't want to be haunted by her dead sugar daddy, again Credit: Lydia Dupra