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

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    (Picture: Reddit; Getty)

    Ah, the office secret Santa. It can be a minefield.

    Inappropriate gifts, the pressure to buy your boss something they’ll like, being handed a name and realising you have no clue they are. Oh, what fun.

    But no matter how stressful you may find your secret Santa, take comfort in the knowledge that it’s not as bad as this person’s.

    Now, before we get started, let us say that this is a series of messages shared on Reddit, so we have no clue if it really happened or not. It could be a well-played joke or there could really be a woman this audacious.

    Either way, we can enjoy the story. Okay?

    So, over on the ChoosingBeggars subreddit, an anonymous person shared a text exchange between themselves and a woman from their office.

    That woman managed to find out who had chosen her secret Santa gift, and decided to send a message to say thank you.

    Which would have been nice… except she had looked up the price of gifts online and wanted more presents to meet the secret Santa budget.

    ‘So… I know this is kinda awkward,’ she wrote, ‘but the spending limit was $50 and I looked online and the blanket and chocolates only add up to about $30?

    Woman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa gift (Picture: Reddit)
    (Picture: Reddit)

    ‘Do you think it’s possible you could get me something else? My kids have been spending me up the wazoo! LOL’.

    Amazingly enough, the gifter actually responded agreeing to give her $20, so she could get something nice for her and the kids for the holidays.

    The woman was not a fan of this plan.

    Instead, she asked for a Samsung Galaxy tablet, writing: ‘My kids would love it, thanks!’

    Woman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa gift (Picture: Reddit)
    (Picture: Reddit)

    When the gifter gently explained that a $120 tablet is a tad over the $50 secret Santa budget, the woman responded: ‘I know… it’s just the kids have been spending me up the wazoo! And it would make their day if mommy gave them something nice like this! Thanks I appreciate it.’

    She didn’t stop there.

    ‘And I don’t meant to be abrasive or anything, but you’re an engineer so you make quite a bit more than I do! LOL.

    ‘I’d also just take $120 cash if that makes it easier on you!’

    That’s not how it works, buddy.

    Woman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa gift (Picture: Reddit)
    (Picture: Reddit)

    Again, the gifter calmly explained that $120 on a secret Santa for a coworker is a bit out of budget. But the woman was not satisfied with this (entirely reasonable) response.

    She wrote: ‘You kidding me right? You don’t even have kids… what else would you spend your money on?

    ‘Now you’re gonna ignore me… REAL nice of you! During the holidays!

    ‘Honestly don’t know how you live with yourself. Disgusting!’

    The woman did eventually come round, writing: ‘fine I’ll take the $20. Cash please.’

    But that kind offer was now off the table, so she’ll be getting nada. Apart from her lovely blanket and chocolates.

    This is why secret Santa must remain secret. A lesson to us all.

    MORE: Why you should never give your dog a mince pie

    MORE: I won’t be buying a single present this Christmas – I don’t see the point


    Woman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa giftWoman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa giftellencscottWoman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa gift (Picture: Reddit)Woman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa gift (Picture: Reddit)Woman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa gift (Picture: Reddit)Woman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa giftWoman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa giftellencscottWoman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa gift (Picture: Reddit)Woman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa gift (Picture: Reddit)Woman asks for cash after getting cheap secret santa gift (Picture: Reddit)

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    Despite being molested by a priest as a child, I had no contentions with religion or other religious figures – they weren’t the problem.

    But for many people abused by a religious figure – a powerful person who represents Godly virtue – it has become, understandably, difficult to keep on following the institution that failed to take care of them and, in many cases, to believe them.

    Personally, I’ve separated the two. I know the priest who abused me is not a true man of faith. And fortunately for me, I’m surrounded by good Muslim people who have shown that Islam has no place for predators.

    Though it’s common to see ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ and #churchtoo used to tell stories of sexual exploitation, the problem isn’t religion. It’s individual men who decide to prey on the innocent. And to a much lesser extent, predatory women.

    For me, the problem is people, not the wider network they represent. Religion is not inherently a bad thing.

    But the problem also lies at an institutional level, as allegations are brushed under the carpet which in turn fosters a culture of silence – thus enabling abusers.

    Writer Janet Heimlich, founder of The Child-Friendly Faith Project, believes religious beliefs and doctrines enable child sexual abuse.

    ‘There are three perfect-storm factors that identify a religious culture or community as authoritarian: one, the culture has a strict, social hierarchy,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Two, the culture is fearful. And three, the culture is separatist.’

    ‘The more intense these three factors are – the more authoritarian the culture is – the more likely children will be harmed.’

    Zara* was assaulted by a priest. She felt like she couldn’t ‘snitch’ on the man who assaulted her as he was such a respected figure in the community

    But the assault didn’t dilute her Muslim beliefs and identity.

    ‘When it happened to me, I didn’t think anything that made my faith waiver, it was more me asking “how can he just get away with it?”.

    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    ‘And later in life, and now, my thoughts are more in line with “God will punish him one way or another”. I guess it depends on the individual.

    ‘Personally, I feel like faith is a massive portion of my life and personality. Any thoughts of abandoning my religion didn’t occur to me.’

    Emily* is a child sexual assault survivor who was abused by her pastor from the ages of three to 11. The devastating experience completely changed her view of religion and now stepping in a church gives her anxiety attacks.

    She tells Metro.co.uk about the strict, sheltered community she grew up in where the education of children was closely controlled and any outside influences were not allowed.

    ‘The church pastor and his wife were in charge and everyone had to listen and obey. Our parents were told how to raise their children and how to punish them. A lot of damage was done.

    ‘Back then I had no idea what was going on. Once my family moved away I completely repressed those memories and continued on with my life.

    ‘I had zero self-esteem. I hated myself and was in pain all the time. I was different from everyone else. I couldn’t make friends, No matter where I went the pain followed me.’

    In her 20s Emily moved away, but that’s when the memories of her past traumas returned. A few years later she moved back home to care for her sick father.

    ‘One day I got to the doorway of the hospital and froze. There sitting by my dad’s bed and chatting with him was the pastor. The pastor got up to hug me. I just stood there. Frozen and terrified.

    I finally used every ounce of strength I had and excused myself to go to the bathroom. As soon as I got there I collapsed on the floor, sobbing and shaking. The pastor talked to me like nothing happened. He recalled when I was younger and how cute I was.

    ‘I continued to unravel and had a massive breakdown.

    ‘The next day I told my parents what had happened to me. My mum was hysterical and my dad didn’t know how to process it. My abuser wasn’t just a random guy. He’d been [a friend of the family] for years.

    ‘My mum begged me to go to therapy and my dad begged me to go to the police. Which I did.

    ‘Everyone chose sides. My parents lost friends and I lost [people close to me] who sided with the pastor.’

    Emily still has trouble sleeping and functioning normally but she is determined to tell her story so other young people can tell theirs.

    In the process of it all, she has lost her religion but has some belief in God, she adds.

    ‘I believe there’s something out there. Whether it’s God or something else. An organised religion like Christianity has done so much damage to me. I don’t believe in it anymore and will never be a part of it again.

    ‘But it’s hard to let go of the rules I was raised with.’

    My own experiences haven’t changed my view of my religion, and I’m still Muslim.

    Religion doesn’t propagate sexual abuse and for me, it would be a disservice to leave it altogether because of its transgressors.

    After all, the biggest institution within which sexual abuse most occurs is the family – with 80% of abuse taking place within the home – this does not mean we should abandon the concept of family completely, though we may choose to cut ties with the abusive family member.

    The people to blame are the abusers. Religion is a commonality between some abusers, a proxy through which they target children. It is not the cause.

    However, followers of that religion still have a responsibility to create safe, healthy spaces for everyone.

    We should safeguard children by having stringent vetting processes when it comes to letting adults spend time with them (with relevant qualifications), we should have open dialogue with young people so they know their options if lines are crossed, we should call out abusers as soon as they appear as such. We should believe survivors.

    That’s how we can begin to fix the problem.

    MORE: Why there’s so much silence around being sexually assaulted in the Asian community

    MORE: How criminalising sex work can put vulnerable women at higher risk of violence

    MORE: The Indian community is happy to talk about having babies, except when you’re struggling to get pregnant


    How do we stop child sexual assault by religious figures?How do we stop child sexual assault by religious figures?faimabakar1How do we stop child sexual assault by religious figures?How do we stop child sexual assault by religious figures?faimabakar1

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    (Picture: Morrisons)

    Pop into any store for the next few days and you’ll have All I Want for Christmas is You or Jingle Bells stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

    Christmas music and general chaos in public spaces are inevitable over the festive period, so Morrisons has brought back its quiet mornings to give people a break.

    That means all the beeps on their tills and self-checkout scans will be disabled and their in-store radio switched off on the last Saturday before Christmas.

    So you can pick up all your groceries and last minute bits without having a headache later on.

    It’s helpful for those with autism as well as anyone who could do with some peace and quiet.

    (Picture: Morrisons)

    Dubbed Super Saturday, 22 December is set to be the busiest food shopping day of the year as most families prepare for Christmas day.

    With millions of shoppers expected to visit Morrisons, all of its 494 stores will turn off their festive music between 9am and 12pm.

    The supermarket will also turn down the beeping sounds at all of its main checkout, express lane and self-service tills.

    The move comes after the store heads asked customers what would make their shopping experience better.

    They said a quieter store would help them to concentrate on their shopping lists, shop around the store more quickly, prevent them from making another trip for forgotten items, and enjoy their shopping trip.

    ‘Some customers love listening to Mariah Carey, Paul McCartney and Wham as they do their Christmas shop. Other customers have told us they’d like the option of a calmer morning without music so that they can focus on buying everything they need for Christmas,’ said Anna Lane, customer director.

    For those customers who want to shop with Christmas tunes playing, music will be restored at all other opening times.

    It’s not the first time Morrisons had quiet mornings as they previously had the same concept to aid shoppers with autism.

    The supermarket dimmed its lights and hushed beeping machines for an hour every weekend in a bid to calm customers with autism.

    The move was praised by many shoppers.

    MORE: You could be eating vegan sausage rolls at Greggs next year

    MORE: Morrisons is selling 1kg boxes of unsold fruits and veggies for £1

    MORE: Morrisons’ £7 ruby port has won the highest prize that can be given to a wine


    MORRISONS TO MAKE STORES QUIET ON SUPER SATURDAYMORRISONS TO MAKE STORES QUIET ON SUPER SATURDAYfaimabakar1MORRISONS TO MAKE STORES QUIET ON SUPER SATURDAYMORRISONS TO MAKE STORES QUIET ON SUPER SATURDAYfaimabakar1

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    One of the many confusing, but long-standing Christmas traditions is the hanging of mistletoe and the subsequent kissing underneath it.

    There’s more than one theory about why mistletoe is linked to kissing. The plant was sacred for the Druids, as it was believed to have the power to heal diseases, provide fertility, protect from witchcraft and bring good luck.

    thumbnail for post ID 8269336Debenhams mug arrives wrapped in 18ft of packaging

    It held such significant meaning that enemies who met under mistletoe in a forest would lay down their weapons, exchange a friendly greeting and cease fighting until the next day.

    This old tradition is said to have grown into the practice of hanging mistletoe over a doorway as a symbol of peace and goodwill to all who enter.

    (Picture: Getty)

    The most popular tale is the Norse legend describing how Balder, son of the goddess Frigga, was plagued by dreams predicting his death. His mother ensured everything living or growing in the earth would never harm him.

    However, she overlooked mistletoe, as it doesn’t grow in the ground – so Loki got Balder killed by an evil spirit with an arrow made of it.

    Frigga wept tears of white berries which, in some versions of the tale, brought Balder back to life. Frigga was so overjoyed that she blessed the plant, announcing that it should be a symbol of peace and friendship and promising a kiss to all who passed beneath it from then on.

    This tale inspired the ancient tradition where visitors would kiss the hand of their host under the mistletoe upon arrival, as a way of remembering the story.

    Where to buy mistletoe

    The best place to find mistletoe will be in your local florist.

    If you are looking for it in the wild, ‘it is found in the south and West Midlands of the UK, specifically in Hertfordshire and Worcestershire,’ according to Interflora.

    ‘You’ll most commonly find mistletoe in apple, hawthorn, poplar, lime, rowan, willow and conifer trees. ‘

    More facts about mistletoe

    (Picture: Getty)
    (Picture: Getty)

    • The plant was given the name ‘mistletan’. This can be broken down into the Old English word ‘mistel’, which is the word for poo, and ‘tan’, the plural of ‘ta’, which means ‘stick’. In other words, mistletoe means ‘poo on a stick’.
    • Mistletoe is a parasitic plant, so depends on another for survival
    • It’s highly toxic for humans – but birds and other wildlife can eat the berries
    • Around 20 species of mistletoe are endangered, out of around 1,300 species worldwide
    • Mistletoe can be male and female – we hang female mistletoe in our houses at Christmas, which has berries

    Couple in Santa hats kissing underneath mistletoeCouple in Santa hats kissing underneath mistletoephilhaigh26(Picture: Getty)Couple in Santa hats kissing underneath mistletoeCouple in Santa hats kissing underneath mistletoephilhaigh26(Picture: Getty)

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    (Picture: WireImage, Getty)

    Ariana Grande might have had platinum records worldwide and become one of the greatest pop stars of our generation, but until there was a dating trend named after her, she hadn’t reached true icon status (she obviously had, please don’t come after me, stans).

    Grande-ing is that trend, and for once it’s a nice and healthy one that doesn’t involve ignoring people or cheating on them.

    It was coined by Plenty of Fish and all stems from the Sweetener singer’s newest hit Thank U, Next where she thanks her past partners for how they’ve helped her learn and grow.

    After listing off her exes, she also states what they taught her, and declares ‘I’m so fucking grateful for my ex’. What a lil treasure.

    As a knock-on effect, we’re apparently going to be learning and growing from Grande’s humility, and saying goodbye to the revenge mentality that often dogs break ups. 

    PoF say 46% admit to Grande-ing in the past, and that women are significantly more likely to Grande than men, too (53% for women, 40% for men).

    Older people are also more likely to be grateful for their exes, perhaps suggesting that the wisdom of age gives people a better sense of perspective on their lives.

    So, instead of blocking their mum on Facebook and carefully using a craft knife to remove their face from photographs, why not consider moving on and being the bigger person?  

    Ariana said one taught her love, one taught her patience, and one taught her pain. Try to remember what you’ve learned, too; like never to let a man called Darren leave the seat up in your bathroom ever again.  

    Even if you broke up in the worst possible terms, it’s likely that you gained something positive in the process. Perhaps it was the ability to pretend to enjoy sports, or the drinking capacity of a heavyweight (built up each time you had to endure dinner with the in-laws).  

    (Illustration: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)

    In all seriousness, though, there’s nothing to be gained from hating on your exes. Despite the fact it can be hard to rid yourself of revenge fantasies, it’s completely necessary.

    Relationship expert and dating writer Sarah Louise Ryan says that by Grande-ing, ‘you are essentially practising gratitude, thankfulness and reducing negative thoughts, emotions and feelings in your life overall, which can have many mental health benefits.

    ‘Practising gratitude whether that’s gratitude for an ex or things you have in your life, inclusive of your friends and family is the practice of positive psychology. When you cultivate the gratitude habit of you are harvesting positivity in your life and a brighter outlook for your future, romantic or not.’

    Keeping hold of feelings of anger and revenge could cloud future relationships in a big way, making it hard for you to enjoy anything else. Ryan says:

    ‘If you can take a leaf out of the Grande-ing book you are essentially letting go of what was not meant for you and opening the door for something new, perhaps someone new that is actually meant for you.’

    And Sarah practices what she preaches. She was ghosted by her partner of seven years, with him simply moving out of their shared home without a word. While this situation would make most of us spitting angry, she worked through it and managed to grow:

    ‘When I was ghosted back in 2016 I wrote a very public blog, my heartbreak in realtime, called the ’30 Days of Heartbreak’ after the man who I thought for 7 years was my person, left our home and never returned.

    ‘I didn’t know how to cope and so, I practised gratitude and creatively had my outlet which helped so many broken hearts in return. I realised very quickly that practising gratitude is in alignment with self-love and care and helps to let go sooner rather than later.

    ‘Harbouring hate and dislike for another is just like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die and life is too short to live like that. We should all be grateful for relationships gone, they help make us who we are today – we learn more about what we want and what we definitely don’t want. Thank U, Next.’

    Not to be too dramatic, but I trust Ariana Grande with my life. She’s been through so much at a young age, and somehow manages to spread love and joy.

    Surely you’d rather come out of a break up like her or Sarah, with your head held high over keying their car and writing indirect tweets.

    If you weren’t born with this humility gene, just fake it ’til you make it. If not right now, one day, you’ll thank yourself (and your ex).

    MORE: Woman explains why she doesn’t want to be haunted by her dead sugar daddy, again

    MORE: What are the rules about having an affair with a work colleague?


    Grande-ing is the healthiest dating trend of all, and is all thanks to our saviour Ms ArianaGrande-ing is the healthiest dating trend of all, and is all thanks to our saviour Ms ArianajessicacvlGrande-ing is the healthiest dating trend of all, and is all thanks to our saviour Ms ArianaGrande-ing is the healthiest dating trend of all, and is all thanks to our saviour Ms Arianajessicacvl

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    When 23-year-old Olivia Davis spent the afternoon walking through a Christmas market in Newcastle, she expected to feel it.

    Lauren Toby, 22, thought she’d be overcome with the sensation when watching a Christmas film with a festive-flavoured drink.

    Luckily, Braden Lee-Stevens, 33, managed to sense it briefly – when taking his 18-month-old nephew to meet Santa for the first time. But then it went away.

    With just a few days until Christmas, none of these people are able to feel it. You know, it. ‘Christmassy’.

    It’s a common complaint at this time of year. Over 50 people a day have tweeted that they ‘don’t feel Christmassy every day this week, and on forums from Netmums to Reddit to Quora, people are frantically asking why they can’t feel the Christmas spirit – as though it’s a disease ready to be diagnosed.

    Yet Christmassy isn’t technically an emotion. What exactly is it – and why is it that so many of us worry when we can’t ‘feel’ Christmas?

    ‘Feeling Christmassy is not a simple emotion but a combination,’ Patricia Riddell, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Reading’s school of psychology, tells Metro.co.uk. Riddell explains that the happiness, surprise, awe, and love we feel at Christmas release both dopamine (the reward molecule) and oxytocin (the hormone that causes us to feel attached to people we are close to).

    The problem, Riddell says, is that anticipation can lead to disappointment.

    ‘Our brain does not assess how happy we are but the difference between how happy we expected to be and how happy we actually are,’ she explains. By over-anticipating Christmas, we raise our expectations of happiness and therefore feel less happy than we expected.

    Riddell also says that ‘when we make sense of events, we lose the emotional intensity’ – a point echoed by Krystine Batcho, a psychology professor at Le Moyne College, who invented the Nostalgia Inventory Test, a measure for how deeply people feel nostalgic.

    ‘Based on our childhood experiences, Christmas has acquired unrealistic expectations of mythical ideas,’ says Krystine, explaining that childhood myths about Santa and magic allowed us to suspend reality at Christmastime.

    ‘As adults, we know we can never again enjoy those wondrous feelings and beliefs… It isn’t surprising, then, that many people are disappointed when they don’t experience the fulfillment of the promise of Christmas.’

    Batcho notes that many of us try to do Christmas activities to get in the holiday spirit – like Olivia’s market, Lauren’s drink, and Bradley’s trip to Santa. Anyone with a love of The Muppets knows that it’s in the singing of the street corner choir (and going home and getting warm by the fire), but why might doing Christmas activities not actually prompt that special Christmassy feeling?

    ‘Often, doing something that seemed so amazing when we were a child is a bit disappointing when we do it as an adult,’ Batcho says. ‘The gingerbread house we make now is nowhere near as amazing as the one we remember. Our memories are often rosier than reality.

    ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: How to combat loneliness at Christmas (Frances)
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘Also, as adults we’re often feeling stressed as we try to meet all the demands of our regular lives and the additional obligations of doing all the holiday activities. What was once a joyful experience can now be felt as burdensome.’

    It is certainly easier, as we age, to feel the burden of Christmas.

    Olivia, from South Shields, says she normally feels like December is ‘a different month’ from the rest of the year because she enjoys ‘the magic of it’. But a recent breakup with her partner of seven years means this year is more difficult.

    ‘It’s so, so hard to recapture the magic,’ she tells us. ‘It’s different as a child, you can enjoy it for what it is… you don’t have the stress of buying presents and money catching up with you in months to come.’

    Callum Griffin, a 22-year-old from Exeter, says that work means he hasn’t had time to do his usual Christmas traditions. He complains of not feeling as ‘festive’ as he ‘should’. ‘I was definitely more excited in previous years,’ he says.

    But was he? Brian Hughes, a professor of psychology at NUI Galway, who has written in the past about the psychological impact of Christmas, says that last Christmas might not have been as great as you think.

    ‘It is helpful to recall that today’s underwhelming banalities will eventually be filtered from our memories, and in the future we will look back nostalgically on 2018 with a sense of mystical yuletide wonder,’ he says.

    Hughes explains that we respond to our memories with emotions, and physiologically feel the sensations of the past – be they excitement or sadness. Yet the distortions of nostalgia mean we only remember extreme emotions, so this re-experienced memory is biased and thus somewhat ‘false’.

    ‘We filter out the mundanity,’ he explains. ‘In that sense, it is good for us to step back and realise the selective nature of our memories, and to not feel too sad when we compare the past to the present.’

    Of course that doesn’t mean we should give up trying to feel Christmassy or that feeling the spirit of Christmas is a myth. Hughes explains that instead we need to put less pressure on ourselves and be psychologically flexible.

    ‘Christmas is highly visible and almost unavoidable, so people tend to develop structured ideas, or schemas of what Christmas should and should not involve,’ he explains. ‘People tend to visualise an idealised version of Christmas… the ideal and the actual seldom coincide.

    ‘This is why, in psychology, we encourage people to be adaptable and flexible. Feeling that you must conform to a detailed, idealised template of Christmas makes everything very pressurised.’

    You might actually feel more Christmassy, then, if you give up the gingerbread-making session and just relax.

    Batcho thinks we ‘can’t ever’ recapture the same pure Christmas feelings we had as children. ‘We now know too much,’ she says. ‘We know the difference between fantasy and reality and can only hope to feel similar sensations’.

    Yet although we cannot feel identical sensations, the psychologist says we can feel new ones.

    ‘Although they’re not exactly identical, they can in some ways be richer,’ she says, ‘As we are now the ones ‘making Christmas’ for others – especially children.’

    MORE: Conversation envy: Why does it always feel like you're missing out on the better conversation?

    MORE: Why you should never give your dog a mince pie

    MORE: Please enjoy this story of a woman demanding cash because her secret Santa gift was too cheap


    Why don't you feel Christmassy?Why don't you feel Christmassy?ellencscottILLUSTRATION REQUEST: How to combat loneliness at Christmas (Frances)Why don't you feel Christmassy?Why don't you feel Christmassy?ellencscottILLUSTRATION REQUEST: How to combat loneliness at Christmas (Frances)

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    Illustration of woman in therapy session
    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    One in four people in the UK are affected by mental illness, yet, according to KingsFund, spending on mental health services consumes only 11% of the NHS budget.

    Mental health hospitals are closing down and waiting lists are getting longer.

    People can wait months or even years for services catered to their needs, and often this long wait is just for an initial assessment session, with further waiting coming after that.

    The mental health system is struggling, and sadly it is extremely short of resources and professionals, with the NHS workforce plan identifying over 20,000 vacant posts in NHS specialist mental health services.

    Many people are now seeking private therapy.

    Private therapy is rarely a first resort for most, due to the expense – with some therapists charging upwards of £100 an hour. But when you feel you’ve been failed by the NHS, private therapy can feel like the only option.

    We spoke to a variety of people who are currently undergoing, and have had private therapy.

    Anneli is 28, and decided to go for private therapy because she wanted to be seen as soon as possible. She says she was almost at crisis point.

    She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I did speak to my doctor about it, but told them I was going to pay privately.

    ‘I found it quite easy to find a therapist, I looked through the official counselling directory and chose the therapist with the friendliest face, it was important to me that she was female too – I liked that I could choose a face I could open up to.’

    Anneli paid £40 an hour for her sessions.

    She continued: ‘Having the space to open up in was so wonderful.

    ‘I would go again in a heartbeat, if I could afford it. It’s amazing to have a safe space with an unbiased and supportive professional to offload, nothing has ever compared to it in how much it helped me.

    ‘I’d love to hope that the NHS will eventually get there so that people can access better help, whether or not they can afford to pay for it – but for now at least I think that you have far more flexibility to choose your therapist, the type of work you do together and the times you are seen by going private.’

    Anneli feels mental healthcare should be available to those who need it – and that getting help shouldn’t depend on income.

    She said: ‘I would always pay for it if I could afford to, but now that I can no longer afford it, I think it should still be available to me.

    ‘A big part of the reason I can’t afford it is because I had to leave my job as a result of my mental ill health, so it’s now a horrible self fulfilling cycle.’

    Anya, 25, was referred to a private therapist who works with Mind Charity.

    She says: ‘When I first approached my GP about mental health issues he gave me the number for Mind. After a telephone assessment they suggested counselling but the waiting list for NHS was over 8 months.

    ‘They could offer Skype sessions immediately or refer me to a private company straight away. I chose private over Skype.

    ‘This whole process probably only took about 2-3 weeks from getting the number from my GP and my first appointment.

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

    ‘Sessions cost £30 per hour, I had one a week at first and eventually moved to biweekly appointments. The time it took to go private as opposed to the NHS was a huge influence in the decision to go with private.’

    Anya says private sessions were sometimes helpful, but sometimes they weren’t.

    She added: ‘It did get difficult cost and travel wise, they moved offices to over a 45 min drive from home.

    ‘It felt hard to leave, I was at the right point mentally to stop and see how I would cope without it but I did feel like the counsellor tried to get me to stay, they offered Skype sessions so I wouldn’t have to deal with the commute, for example.

    ‘I started having counselling after the end of a long term relationship which was very unhealthy and very toxic.

    ‘I was struggling to deal with the breakup from the beginning but still felt like I was at square one after over 6 months.

    ‘I started questioning if I had been in an emotionally abusive relationship. Counselling helped me separate my actions from my ex-partner’s actions, what was reaction to situations, helped me understand coercive control and how he held certain things over me.

    ‘I’ve learned a lot about myself. Even though I first went in about my relationship I discovered a bit more of a career path, some life goals and what I want my future to look like. So even though it started out as one thing it ended up being about so much more.’

    25-year-old Jack decided to go for private therapy after feeling he had no other option. He had initially gone through the NHS for some help but was on a long waiting list and felt ‘forgotten about’.

    ‘We are so lucky to have the NHS but in this department I feel it is struggling extremely in an area which needs as much help, support and more importantly funding as possible,’ he said.

    Jack found his therapist through a quick Google search. He ended up finding the perfect person and paid £45 for a 55 minute session, which he says was ‘worth every penny’.

    But he understands how difficult it could be for people struggling who aren’t able to afford this.

    Jack tells us: ‘Private therapy has changed my life. I have a good relationship with my therapist and she was able to get to the roots of why I have suffered with anxiety and depression. She has been able to give me a place to talk about anything on my mind, something which beforehand I never really had the freedom to do.

    ‘For me private therapy is a better service than the NHS. I was seen privately within a day of the initial contact with my therapist, whereas with the NHS it took 10 months to be at the front of the waiting list for one to one therapy.

    ‘When I first contacted the NHS to tell them how I was feeling, I was placed into a “group therapy class” which made me feel absolutely worthless. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the group who felt the same.

    ‘I’ve learned a lot from private therapy, mostly about myself and through my therapist different ways of thinking, approaching, and reacting to different situations.

    ‘I can’t put my finger or point to a time where it all happened, but over time from seeing my therapist things just slowly clicked back to how I was before my symptoms of depression and anxiety.

    ‘Of course I still have bad days but to this day I don’t know where I would have been if I didn’t make that phone call nearly a year ago to get some private help.’

    ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Kieran, 18, has just finished therapy. He tried to go through the NHS but was given a waiting time of six months.

    He started looking for a private therapist which he says was a lot of hard work – especially finding one he was comfortable with.

    When he finally did find one, he was paying up to £100 a session, and so he ended up having to borrow money from his parents.

    He said: ‘[Therapy] was very helpful and gave me some coping methods for my anxiety, OCD and depression, but was a lot less professional than my NHS one. However my NHS one discharged me too early and I have relapsed a few times due to this

    ‘I learnt some more coping methods from private and would use it again, but that’s more down to downfalls with the NHS compared to the private being good.’

    Dane, 35, went private after there was no availability on the NHS, despite waiting months to see someone, and telling the crisis service he was going to attempt suicide.

    Like Kieran, he also paid £100 a session, and seeing a private psychiatrist was double that.

    He said: ‘It was very helpful. I would confidently say without it I probably wouldn’t still be here.

    ‘I’m just one of the lucky ones who was able to afford private so I would say I’m grateful to be able to pay for it.’

    Ellen, 25, was initially offered therapy through the NHS, and was told that if she would be open to online therapy she would be on a waiting list for a few months, but if she wanted in-person therapy she could be waiting for up to a year.

    She said: ‘I wasn’t really keen on online therapy but I said yes to get help in a shorter time frame. It ended up being around five months before my first session.

    ‘I was given six sessions, but in my first chat (done over Skype) the therapist I had been assigned said she didn’t have any expertise in OCD, so she’d just be focusing on social anxiety.

    ‘My main issue was – and still is – OCD alongside depression, so this wasn’t helpful.

    ‘I did a few sessions then quit, and when I realised how difficult it would be to get another therapist through the NHS I decided to bite the bullet and go private.

    ‘I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have to wait months for support, and to make sure I was talking to someone who was able to help with everything – not just one tiny portion of what was wrong.

    ‘I have to say, though, that I stopped therapy this year because it also wasn’t the right fit and the expense was really stressful.’

    Ellen found a therapist for £60 a session. She was able to choose a therapist who listed their skills located somewhere that was easy to get to.

    She felt that in-person therapy would work a lot better for her, as she feels it’s easier to ‘hold stuff back over Skype’.

    She said: ‘When I actually made the time to go to a session and sit in that room, it made me more invested in the time with the therapist.

    ‘And it was absolutely helpful! So much of what I learned was vital and life-changing. It helped me realise a lot about myself and work through a lot of triggers.

    ‘The cost was what put me off the most. It was definitely still helpful months on, but I kept questioning whether I could justify £60 a week on something that sometimes helped, sometimes didn’t.

    ‘I wanted to cut down to every other week, as I thought that would mean I’d always have something to talk about, but my therapist wouldn’t agree to that so instead I cancelled.’

    Ellen feels that she should be working on finding a new therapist, because she believes there are a lot of benefits, but the financial side of things makes it difficult.

    She said: ‘As bad as it sounds, I question what would make me feel better: a monthly massage or a £60 a week for therapy.

    ‘That’s not a healthy way of looking at it AT ALL and logically, therapy is so much more than just something to make me relax, but therapy is also tough and I think part of me wants to avoid getting into all that heavy stuff again.’

    How to find a good therapist

    Therapy is different for everyone. Everyone has different experiences and deals with things in their own way. The best way to go about private therapy is to do your research into local therapists. Look at their skill sets to ensure they can work with you in a way that you want them to.

    Call to enquire about price ranges, as every therapist has different rates and sometimes, depending on how many sessions you want/need, they will work with you to ensure you can pay without making yourself skint.

    Some therapists will offer a discounted rate for an initial session to see if they’re the right fit.

    Go into therapy with an open mind, with no expectations and be honest with them. Remember that everything you say is confidential, and that they are there to help.

    Though it’s amazing that people are able to find support through private therapy, as mentioned, it’s just not possible for everyone due to costs.

    When your mental health declines your life is seriously affected. Some people need to take time off work, completely unable to function, which means less money, making private therapy impossible.

    The mental health system needs more funding. According to the NHS, it’s better than it was three years ago – with an investment of up to £1.4 billion in funding, and 120,000 people getting better specialist mental health treatment.

    However, people continue to linger on waiting lists, offered Skype calls over personal meetings and struggling to have their voices heard.

    The mental health system needs to listen to what patients are asking for. While we wait for funding, there has to be a way to offer support to people still waiting for proper treatment.

    MORE: There are little things you can do to help those with Alzheimer’s enjoy Christmas cards

    MORE: Workplace stress and rude colleagues could be ruining your sleep


    private-therapy 2 Metro Illustrationsprivate-therapy 2 Metro IllustrationshattiegladwellmetroIllustration of woman in therapy sessionWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration IllustrationsILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)private-therapy 2 Metro Illustrationsprivate-therapy 2 Metro IllustrationshattiegladwellmetroIllustration of woman in therapy sessionWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration IllustrationsILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)

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    (Picture: Instagram)

    Flower beards are nothing new – they first made an appearance on Instagram back in 2016.

    But now, they’ve been incorporated into weddings – giving hairy dudes a handy take on a traditional bridal bouquet.

    Men are taking to Instagram to share photos of their flower beards – which, as you can probably guess, are just beards filled with flowers.

    Guys have been taking teeny tiny flowers and sticking in their beards for decoration.

    Some have done it for arty photographs, whereas others have dressed themselves up in floral for their wedding – and we’ve got to admit, a floral beard goes great with a wedding suit.

    Here are a few of our favourites.

    This is a great flower beard

    Instagram Photo

     

    This one is incredibly impressive

    Instagram Photo

     

    These flowers are very pretty

    Instagram Photo

     

    That is one lovely flower beard

    Instagram Photo

     

    This beard is very arty

    Instagram Photo

    This is so cute!

    Instagram Photo

    MORE: 38 best last-minute Christmas gifts for her to suit every budget

    MORE: Aldi is selling dupes of your favourite perfumes for £6.99


    Beard Bouquets Are The Wedding Trend No One Asked ForBeard Bouquets Are The Wedding Trend No One Asked ForhattiegladwellmetroBeard Bouquets Are The Wedding Trend No One Asked ForBeard Bouquets Are The Wedding Trend No One Asked Forhattiegladwellmetro

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    (Picture: Morrisons)

    Morrisons has launched a scotch egg pork pie just in time for Christmas.

    Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds: a scotch egg combined with a pork pie, and it’s the ultimate festive snack.

    The Scotch Egg Pie is made with 100% British pork and has a whole egg in the centre. It’s wrapped in a hot water crust pastry.

    To replicate the crispy outer of a scotch egg, the pie is topped with a baked golden crumb.

    MORRISONS LAUNCHES SCOTCH EGG PIE Credit: Morrisons
    (Picture: Morrisons)

    The new scotch egg pork pie comes after the supermarket sold around two million pork pies and 500,000 scotch eggs from its Deli Counters last year in the run up to Christmas.

    Morrisons Deli Expert, Dan Barrett, said: ‘The combination of the crisp breadcrumbs, pork filling and egg is magic – it will be a talking point at any Boxing Day Buffet!’

    Each Scotch Egg Pie costs £3 and serves 4 people.

    They will be sold from Morrisons Deli Counters until 28 December 2018 – so act fast if you want to get your hands on them.

    MORE: Morrisons will be having a quiet morning on the last Saturday before Christmas

    MORE: Why you should never give your dog a mince pie


    MORRISONS LAUNCHES SCOTCH EGG PIEMORRISONS LAUNCHES SCOTCH EGG PIEhattiegladwellmetroMORRISONS LAUNCHES SCOTCH EGG PIE Credit: MorrisonsMORRISONS LAUNCHES SCOTCH EGG PIEMORRISONS LAUNCHES SCOTCH EGG PIEhattiegladwellmetroMORRISONS LAUNCHES SCOTCH EGG PIE Credit: Morrisons

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    This brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this? Credit: HotSpring World
    (Picture: HotSpring World)

    If you’re needing a distraction to help you get through this Thursday, we have the perfect brainteaser.

    In this festive puzzle, Santa and his elves are relaxing at a hot tub party – except one of the elves has hidden Christmas treats around, which includes a Christmas cookie, a gingerbread man, a bottle of champagne, a turkey, a Christmas pudding and mince pies.

    The brainteaser, which was released by HotSpring World, takes people around 1 minute and 21 seconds to find all of the hidden treats (they’re listed in the bar at the bottom of the picture, so you know what you’re looking for) – but could you find them all in less time?

    Take a look at the puzzle below:

    This brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this? Credit: HotSpring World
    (Picture: HotSpring World)

     

    If you think you’ve found all the answers – or you’re just fed up of looking and want the results, here they are:

    This brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this?Credit: HotSpring World
    (Picture: HotSpring World)

    Lynda Smart, from HotSpring World Participant, says: ‘So many people get stressed out over this festive season, we wanted to create a brainteaser that reminds people to relax over this Christmas break. We all love a puzzle and what’s better than imagining Santa in a hot tub?’

    One person who attempted the brainteaser says the Christmas pudding ‘stumped’ them the most – while others struggled to find the cookie.

    Which item was the hardest for you to find?

    Let us know in the comments below.

    MORE: Apparently, only 10% of people can figure out these brain teasers in under 30 seconds

    MORE: Crosswords and sudoku puzzles ‘don’t stop dementia or mental decline’


    This brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this?This brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this?hattiegladwellmetroThis brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this? Credit: HotSpring WorldThis brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this? Credit: HotSpring WorldThis brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this?Credit: HotSpring WorldThis brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this?This brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this?hattiegladwellmetroThis brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this? Credit: HotSpring WorldThis brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this? Credit: HotSpring WorldThis brainteaser takes nearly a minute and a half to solve, can your readers beat this?Credit: HotSpring World

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    (Picture: Kennedy News)

    A bride walked down the aisle with her best friend – her childhood teddy bear.

    Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her ‘ringbear’ on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be.

    But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her teddy really was making a surprise appearance on their big day.

    25-year-old Stacy bought her Care Bear a black suit to make sure he was probably dressed for the occasion, and carried him in one arm down the aisle.

    The bear was even given a spot at the head table at the reception as the couple ate their dinner.

    Seeing Care Bear tag along with Stacey is hardly unusual; as she often hid him in her locker at school and sometimes takes him to work.

    Lewis even has to share his marital bed with the bear every night after Stacey warned him a relationship with her also meant a ‘relationship with her bear as well’.

    But both her husband and family accept that Stacey comes with the bear. Her family joke ‘that bloody bear goes everywhere’.

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: STACEY ARROWSMITH ON HER WEDDING DAY WALKING DOWN THE AISLE WITH HER TEDDY BEAR 'CARE BEAR' UNDER HER ARM) A bride stunned her groom when she walked down the aisle accompanied by her best friend - her childhood TEDDY BEAR. Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her 'ringbear' on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be. But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her best friend was making a surprise appearance on their big day. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    (Picture: Kennedy News)

    Stacey, from Chepstow in Monmouthshire, said: ‘It’s really special that Care Bear was there. I wouldn’t have had my wedding any other way. He made it in quite a few wedding pictures.

    ‘He literally goes with me everywhere and I didn’t want him to not be there.

    ‘It was the idea at first that he was going to be the ring bear – like a ring bearer but a ring ‘bear’, but we couldn’t figure out how to connect the rings to him.

    ‘Because my husband’s little brother was going to hold him I just said, ‘no, I can’t do that, he’s got to come with me’. I even bought him a little suit.

    ‘My husband thought I was joking. He was saying, ‘wouldn’t it make more sense for my brother to hold him?’ And I was just like, ‘no’.

    ‘I don’t think he took me seriously until he saw me and Care Bear walking down the aisle towards him.

    ‘He sat on the head table with us [at our reception]. He sat on the table next to my dinner. All my guests just knew it was normal for me.’

    Stacey’s dad, Eddie Gittoes, originally gave the Care Bear to her mum, Sally, as a Valentine’s Day gift before Stacey was born.

    But Stacey took a shine to the bear as a baby and her mum let her keep him.

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: STACEY ARROWSMITH ON HER WEDDING DAY WITH HER TEDDY BEAR 'CARE BEAR' BEFORE HER WEDDING) A bride stunned her groom when she walked down the aisle accompanied by her best friend - her childhood TEDDY BEAR. Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her 'ringbear' on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be. But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her best friend was making a surprise appearance on their big day. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    (Picture: Kennedy News)

    Now the cuddly toy accompanies Stacey everywhere she goes – including on her holidays to Majorca, Tunisia and Cyprus.

    Lewis has embraced his wife’s love of cuddly toys throughout their six-year relationship and now buys her a new one every Christmas.

    Stacey, who is a senior care assistant at a nursing home, said: ‘I think my husband thought I was joking when I first told him about Care Bear.

    ‘We’ve been together since I was 18, so I was going out on the drink or whatever and the first time he stayed around he was like ‘you actually have all these teddy bears?’.

    ‘I said ‘yeah, but the most important one is this one’ and I think he thought I was joking.

    ‘It wasn’t until we got really serious that I said ‘you’re not just in a relationship with me, it’s with my bear as well’.

    ‘He sleeps in the bed with us every night. At the moment I sleep with two other [toys] too – it’s quite crowded in my bed.

    ‘I don’t remember getting Care Bear but I know that he was a Valentine’s Day present from my dad to my mum.

    ‘He used to hold a heart in his hands but I think I must have ripped that off somewhere down the line.

    ‘I just love teddy bears really. Any cuddly toy. My husband buys me one every year for Christmas.

    ‘When Lewis is poorly I let him have a cuddle, but he knows not to mess with him. If we’re play fighting he’ll go ‘stop or the bear gets it’ and that’s it, I’ll stop.

    PIC FROM MorLove Ltd / Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: STACEY ARROWSMITH AFTER WALKING DOWN THE AILSE WITH HER DAD EDDIE GITTOES AND HER GROOM LEWIS ARROWSMITH LOOKING AT HER TEDDY BEAR 'CARE BEAR' UNDER HER ARM) A bride stunned her groom when she walked down the aisle accompanied by her best friend - her childhood TEDDY BEAR. Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her 'ringbear' on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be. But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her best friend was making a surprise appearance on their big day. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    (Picture: Kennedy News)

    ‘He knows not to chuck him over or anything as he is old. He’s had quite a few ‘operations’, as my nan calls them.

    ‘His ear came off when I was younger and she stitched that back on. He’s got a scar on his arm in blue thread where she’s stitched him up, down his chest, and the fur has come off his nose.

    ‘There’s even stitching on his neck now but I don’t remember that [being done] – nan must have done that in secret.’

    Stacey credits her Care Bear with helping her cope with life’s difficult patches.

    Stacey said: ‘He’s definitely one of my best friends. Nowadays I leave him at home, but I used to take him to secondary school and put him in my locker.

    ‘I struggled a bit in school so in breaks I would go and see him and give him a quick hug.

    ‘I’ve done it in work too – I’ve taken him in my bag if I’m having a rough day. I’ll just go and give him a quick cuddle.

    ‘It’s really sad but it helps. He and my cats help me [to cope].

    ‘I don’t have any children at the moment, but if I did then he wouldn’t go to them. It’s really horrible but everyone asks me that because my mum gave him to me, but I say no. He’s mine.’

    MORE: Woman who wanted to see world before going blind vanishes during trip to Peru

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Can you identify as both mixed-race and black?’


    Teddy weddingTeddy weddinghattiegladwellmetroPIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: STACEY ARROWSMITH ON HER WEDDING DAY WALKING DOWN THE AISLE WITH HER TEDDY BEAR 'CARE BEAR' UNDER HER ARM) A bride stunned her groom when she walked down the aisle accompanied by her best friend - her childhood TEDDY BEAR. Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her 'ringbear' on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be. But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her best friend was making a surprise appearance on their big day. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: STACEY ARROWSMITH ON HER WEDDING DAY WITH HER TEDDY BEAR 'CARE BEAR' BEFORE HER WEDDING) A bride stunned her groom when she walked down the aisle accompanied by her best friend - her childhood TEDDY BEAR. Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her 'ringbear' on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be. But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her best friend was making a surprise appearance on their big day. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266PIC FROM MorLove Ltd / Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: STACEY ARROWSMITH AFTER WALKING DOWN THE AILSE WITH HER DAD EDDIE GITTOES AND HER GROOM LEWIS ARROWSMITH LOOKING AT HER TEDDY BEAR 'CARE BEAR' UNDER HER ARM) A bride stunned her groom when she walked down the aisle accompanied by her best friend - her childhood TEDDY BEAR. Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her 'ringbear' on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be. But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her best friend was making a surprise appearance on their big day. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266Teddy weddingTeddy weddinghattiegladwellmetroPIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: STACEY ARROWSMITH ON HER WEDDING DAY WALKING DOWN THE AISLE WITH HER TEDDY BEAR 'CARE BEAR' UNDER HER ARM) A bride stunned her groom when she walked down the aisle accompanied by her best friend - her childhood TEDDY BEAR. Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her 'ringbear' on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be. But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her best friend was making a surprise appearance on their big day. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: STACEY ARROWSMITH ON HER WEDDING DAY WITH HER TEDDY BEAR 'CARE BEAR' BEFORE HER WEDDING) A bride stunned her groom when she walked down the aisle accompanied by her best friend - her childhood TEDDY BEAR. Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her 'ringbear' on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be. But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her best friend was making a surprise appearance on their big day. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266PIC FROM MorLove Ltd / Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: STACEY ARROWSMITH AFTER WALKING DOWN THE AILSE WITH HER DAD EDDIE GITTOES AND HER GROOM LEWIS ARROWSMITH LOOKING AT HER TEDDY BEAR 'CARE BEAR' UNDER HER ARM) A bride stunned her groom when she walked down the aisle accompanied by her best friend - her childhood TEDDY BEAR. Stacey Arrowsmith hoped her 25-year-old teddy named Care Bear would be her 'ringbear' on her big day and joked that he would be attending her wedding to her husband-to-be. But it was not until groom Lewis Arrowsmith, 27, saw Stacey walking down the aisle that he realised her best friend was making a surprise appearance on their big day. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266

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    (Picture: Boots)

    Gone are the days of sheepishly perusing through an Ann Summer store, mustering up the courage to pick up a rabbit or a bullet, or if you were with friends, slapping them with a dildo.

    Now, you can pop to your local Sainsburys, pick up a meal deal and a couple of sex toys. With Ocado, Superdrugs and ASDA getting in on the act too, the latest brand to embrace vibrating bullets and rabbits is Boots.

    The beauty and skincare company is now offering sexy stuff for some pretty good prices.

    If you were planning to pick some up on your lunch break then sad news, it’s only available online for now. But fear not, pretty soon you could be checking out with some cough medicine and a couple of sex toys in-store.

    (Picture: Boots)
    (Picture: Boots)

    So Divine is the brand creating sex toys for high street stores. The line comes in a range of prices from under a tenner to nearly £50.

    You can get the Halo vibrating bullet or the French Kiss vibrating bullet for £7.99. The mid-range includes the Lovesexy Silky Touch vibrator for £15.99, the Get Lucky USB rechargeable vibrator for £22.49 or the Ooh La La Flower vibrator for £29.99.

    (Picture: Boots)
    Pretty (Picture: Boots)

    The more pricey stuff, Wicked Game Magic Wand is available for £41.24 and the Kiss Kiss Vibrating Rabbit is £48.74.

    If you’ve purchased any of their products from another store then just note that So Divine has changed the design and colour of their Ooh La La Flower Vibrator – now it comes in purple and gold.

    A spokesperson for Boots said although it’s only available online for now, So Divine may hit the Boots shop floor in 2019 as well as other stores such as Sainsbury’s and Tescos.

    We can’t wait.

    MORE: Santa outfits, a group masturbation session and multiple orgasms: Here’s what a sex club Christmas party is really like

    MORE: Woman explains why she doesn’t want to be haunted by her dead sugar daddy, again

    MORE: Parents have ‘quickie’ sex lasting just two minutes because they have so little time, study says


    C8jmF54UAAIYX3FC8jmF54UAAIYX3Ffaimabakar1(Picture: Boots)(Picture: Boots)C8jmF54UAAIYX3FC8jmF54UAAIYX3Ffaimabakar1(Picture: Boots)(Picture: Boots)

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    (Picture: Miramonti Boutique Hotel)

    Infinity pools are so aesthetically pleasing, aren’t they?

    If swimming in blue pools and lounging around the sun are your top holiday priorities then you might want to look at easyJet’s Traveller magazine which has listed its top 12 travel experiences.

    The budget airliner has named its pick of the best destinations around the globe. The one with the best pool view in the world is closer than you may think.

    The Miramonti Boutique Hotel in South Tyrol, Italy, was recognised for its saltwater infinity pool which overlooks spectacular mountains.

    Don’t be surprised if looking at the pictures has you twitching to fire up the Skyscanner website.

    Best pool with a view in the world Credit: Miramonti Boutique Hotel
    (Picture: Miramonti Boutique Hotel)

    ‘Measuring 16 metres long and five metres wide, the pool is like a warm cave that leads you to the stunning scenery in all four seasons,’ it says on the hotel website.

    ‘Caressed by 32°C warming, healing salt water and floating high above the Merano basin below, like a spectacular private panoramic lounge. That’s floating deluxe.’

    Best pool with a view in the world Credit: Miramonti Boutique Hotel
    (Picture: Miramonti Boutique Hotel)

    Nestled away in the town of Merano, the hotel served as a location for parts of the James Bond film, the Spy Who Loved Me.

    Run by husband and wife Carmen Kruselburger and Klaus Alber, the boutique hotel is described as an alpine hideaway that bewitches immediately.

    Best pool with a view in the world Credit: Miramonti Boutique Hotel
    (Picture: Miramonti Boutique Hotel)

    Initially, it was intended to be a three-bedroom guesthouse but was then turned into a luxurious hotel with 36 rooms and suites, boasting three restaurants, a relaxation space, a forest sauna, and of course the infinity pool.

    If that all sounds like your kind of thing then five nights half board will cost you €908 (£820).

    Other notable winners decided by easyJet include the best cat cafe which went to the Maison de Moggy in Scotland.

    The best public toilet (yes that’s a category) went to the Strait Street Toilets in Malta.

    If you want a wild escape then head to the Stedsans in the Woods in Sweden.

    The Bellboy’s Keep Clean #2 in Israel was voted the best cocktail in disguise, while the best hotel for Instagram likes went to Ibiza’s Paradiso San Antonio.

    London’s Temple of Camden also got a shoutout for the best vegan burger.

    All worth checking out.

    MORE: Getting Freaky: Has anyone really had their anus damaged by masturbating beside a pool vent?

    MORE: Last minute online gifts you can still buy in order to look like a decent human this Christmas

    MORE: You’ll be able to pee for free at London stations from April 1


    Best pool with a view in the worldBest pool with a view in the worldfaimabakar1Best pool with a view in the world Credit: Miramonti Boutique HotelBest pool with a view in the world Credit: Miramonti Boutique HotelBest pool with a view in the world Credit: Miramonti Boutique HotelBest pool with a view in the worldBest pool with a view in the worldfaimabakar1Best pool with a view in the world Credit: Miramonti Boutique HotelBest pool with a view in the world Credit: Miramonti Boutique HotelBest pool with a view in the world Credit: Miramonti Boutique Hotel

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    (Picture: Morrisons/Getty)

    From today, Morrisons is selling a 75cl bottle of Adrien Chopin Champagne Brut for just £10.

    Made exclusively for Morrisons, the champagne is aged for over three years which apparent gives it a ‘toast style and intense flavours’.

    It’s proven so popular that it even won a silver medal at the International Wine Challenge in 2018.

    Senior Wine Sourcing Manager, Clive Donaldson, said: ‘This is a wonderfully biscuity Champagne with citrus and hazelnut notes. It will go perfectly with turkey or smoked salmon this Christmas.’

    The Champagne will be for sale online and in Morrisons stores from 19 December until 1 January 2019 – however, you can only buy a maximum of six bottles per customer.

    So, if you’re planning on filling your cupboards, we’d recommend splitting your family up and going to the checkouts one at a time with six bottles each.

    MORE: Morrisons launches scotch egg pork pie

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    Morrisons is selling bottles of its award-winning champagne for ?10Morrisons is selling bottles of its award-winning champagne for ?10hattiegladwellmetroMorrisons is selling bottles of its award-winning champagne for ?10Morrisons is selling bottles of its award-winning champagne for ?10hattiegladwellmetro

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    Morrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quiche Morrisons
    (Picture: Morrisons)

    In the latest in utterly bizarre Christmas foods, Morrisons is launching a full Christmas dinner in a quiche.

    Why? You may ask. And that would be a good question. We’re not sure anyone has ever needed Christmas dinner to be served in quiche form… but here we are.

    That being said, we can imagine this festive quiche going down an absolute treat on Boxing Day.

    Imagine a slice of this along side some leftover pigs in blankets, a wedge of brie and some pickled onions. We could certainly get behind that.

    Morrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quiche Morrisons
    (Picture: Morrisons)

    Inside this festive mash-up you will find British turkey, shredded Wiltshire ham, British pork sage and onion stuffing.

    It also includes British green cabbage, and it’s seasoned with black pepper and baked in a smooth, egg custard filling.

    It sounds surprisingly good. But isn’t quiche more of a summer food?

    Or does adding stuffing to anything automatically make it Christmassy?

    The quiche is the latest unconventional Christmas offering from the supermarket giant.

    Earlier this month they announced the launch of a pasty containing an entire three-course Christmas dinner, including desert. Which received an unsurprisingly mixed response.

    The quiche is made in-store by Morrisons’ own bakers. It costs just £2 and is available to buy until 31 December.

    MORE: Morrisons is selling a 75cl bottle of champagne for £10

    MORE: Morrisons launches scotch egg pork pie

    MORE: Morrisons is doing a three-course Christmas dinner in a pasty


    Morrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quicheMorrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quichenataliemorris88Morrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quiche MorrisonsMorrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quiche MorrisonsMorrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quicheMorrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quichenataliemorris88Morrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quiche MorrisonsMorrisons launches Christmas Dinner in a quiche Morrisons

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    What happens if you put sweets up your vagina? Sex body life lifestyle vagina woman girl masturbation nudity naked relationships sweet eating food (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    There was a girl at my school who was nicknamed Fruit-ella.

    Her name wasn’t Ella, and it wasn’t because she wore a Carmen Miranda style hat or always made sure to get her five a day.

    It was actually because of a rumour that – while she was getting to it with another guy in our year – he inserted a Fruit-ella sweet into her vagina.

    It’s been a few years since I was at school, and I can’t remember the details of what happened next, but I believe there was some variation on the sweet getting stuck or melting. IDK, kids are stupid.

    Realistically, it’s unlikely this happened at all, given that most teenage sex involved about five seconds of penetration and a lot of washing-machine-tongue kissing.

    Why these 16-year-olds would have already graduated to food play is quite beyond me, and why they used a sweet so unsexy also poses another question.

    Beyond that, however, is the fact that even if this story wasn’t true (and therefore wasn’t worth some poor girl being called a sex-based nickname by our horrible rugby team for two years) people probably have done that.

    In the realms of Getting Freaky, it’s not actually that freaky. We often delve into some absolutely wild stuff; like, truly the stuff of nightmares.

    In the spirit of Christmas, though, we wanted to shield you from the true horror, and instead remind you of funny and strange school rumours ahead of your annual homecoming and potential reunions.

    So, let’s see what would actually happen if you put a sweet treat into your vagina.

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

    Firstly, there’s no chance the sweet could get stuck forever. That’s a good sign, at least.

    Apart from the actual opening of your vagina, the only other hole is the cervix, but that isn’t open (unless you’re in labour). Not even a Tic Tac is getting in there.

    If it does feel stuck, you should be able to get it out with your fingers but you need to make sure you do so WHOLE.

    Anything that may have crumbled or broken off could stay put and grow bacteria.

    In the event that this happens or you can’t find the offending object, go to A&E. It’ll be embarrassing, but not more than a piece of old candy falling out of you next time you have sex.

    Karin O’Sullivan, clinical lead at sexual health charity FPA says: ‘Whatever goes inside your vagina must be something that can be taken out intact. Food left behind in the vagina requires an immediate trip to A&E or a sexual health clinic to be removed.’

    The potentially bigger problem when it comes to sweets is the sugar content, as sugar can affect the delicate pH of your vagina.

    Karin tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It’s a bad idea to put any food, especially sweets, inside your vagina. Your vagina has a natural healthy balance which can be upset by the introduction of foreign objects.

    ‘When it comes to food, hygiene can be an issue, with the introduction of new bacteria into your vagina. Sugary foods and sweets can upset the PH balance of your vagina, and serve as a food source for bacteria and yeast which can cause infection such as thrush or bacterial vaginosis.’

    Thrush symptoms include itching and soreness around the entrance of the vagina, unusual vaginal discharge, pain during sex, or a stinging sensation when peeing.

    BV can change your discharge too, or alter the smell of your vagina, making it smell more ‘fishy’ than normal.

    Also, 50% of women with bacterial vaginosis don’t have any symptoms, so you may not even notice it (but should get it checked out regardless, since it can increase your risk of complications during pregnancy, and some reports claim it can increase your risk of contraction some STIs).

    It’s advised that, if you want to use food in the bedroom, you keep it to the vulva region or above the waist.

    You could also try a flavoured lubricant, as long as you’re not sensitive to glycerine, which is often present. Make sure you go for a sugar-free version to avoid similar problems.

    Hell, get a candy-cane-coloured dildo and use that to emulate the sweet treat. You won’t need a course of antibiotics and time off sex with that one!

    Until next week, freaks.

    MORE: Boots is selling sex toys that you can add to your cart right now

    MORE: Getting Freaky: Has anyone really had their anus damaged by masturbating beside a pool vent?


    Metro IllustrationsMetro IllustrationsjessicacvlWhat happens if you put sweets up your vagina? Sex body life lifestyle vagina woman girl masturbation nudity naked relationships sweet eating food (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)Metro IllustrationsMetro IllustrationsjessicacvlWhat happens if you put sweets up your vagina? Sex body life lifestyle vagina woman girl masturbation nudity naked relationships sweet eating food (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

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    (Picture: Jarret Stodghill)

    When Jarret Stodghill, a teenager from Iowa, U.S, was sent a picture of himself circulating Twitter, he knew he had to explain.

    A person was trolling him for posting pictures showing only one side of his face. They assumed Jarret only posed like that because he wanted to show off his jawline.

    But, Jarret explained, it’s actually because he lost his eye to a rare form of cancer which means he has to wear a prosthetic eye, something he feels self-conscious about.

    The 18-year-old from New Sharon told Metro.co.uk about others who had trolled him for the same reason and why he felt it was time to say something.

    ‘A friend of mine had seen that someone had tweeted a picture of me and was insulting my profile because I only show half of my face and he had sent it to me.

    ‘It offended me that he had assumed I was trying to show off my jawline but didn’t really know the real story behind it.

    Jarret Stodghill trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancer
    (Picture: Jarret Stodghill)

    ‘After about 45 minutes of me tweeting him, it had reached thousands of people. Later, the man deleted the tweet. After a while, I decided to search my name on Twitter and I noticed that a couple of people had posted something similar to the first tweet I had seen.

    ‘It really made me upset because people are assuming things without knowing my story behind it, and that’s why I decided to share it. Not for myself, but for everyone else who is also dealing with situations like this.

    ‘When I was a child, my mother had taken a picture of me and she had noticed that my eye was gold in the picture. When we went to the hospital, my mother decided to ask a doctor about my eye.

    ‘After getting tested, they had found out that I was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (cancer that develops in the retina).

    ‘The doctors had given my parents two options; to try chemo and have that risk of cancer spreading, or remove my eye and remove all the cancer without risking it. Without any doubt, my parents decided to remove my eye because they didn’t want to risk losing me.’

    Jarret Stodghill trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancer
    (Picture: Jarret Stodghill)

    Jarret added that since his tweet went viral, the person who originally posted it has deleted the comment, apologising to Jarret for making assumptions.

    Since being open about his condition, Jarret has received thousands of supportive messages, though he was nervous at first to share his story.

    ‘I was nervous about posting a picture of me with me prosthetic eye out,’ he tells us. ‘But I felt like I had to because no one believed it, and I just wanted to prove a point.

    ‘I thought I would receive a lot of negative feedback from the picture, but I have received hundreds of positive and caring words from people. I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me and given me caring and supportive words, it means a lot.’

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    MORE: Boy with giant mole covering entire body won’t let bullies hold him back


    Boy trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancerBoy trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancerfaimabakar1Jarret Stodghill trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancerJarret Stodghill trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancerBoy trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancerBoy trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancerfaimabakar1Jarret Stodghill trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancerJarret Stodghill trolled for side profile 'posing' tells people its because he lost an eye to cancer

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    (Picture: Doll House Photography)

    A photographer took stunning photos of women with alopecia to show that bald is beautiful.

    Models removed their wigs to embrace their hairlessness to pose in a photoshoot which raises awareness of the condition.

    Photographer Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago.

    Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Danielle Atkins, 20, a student, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia- A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004 ???Not only this, but we also wanted to show women how we can successfully style and photograph our clients regardless of any physical concerns - after all, we all have them and, for us, it is gratifying for these insecurities not to inhibit the success of a shoot.???
    (Picture: Doll House Photography/HotSpot Media)

    Chrissy says: ‘My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media – and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards.

    ‘Not only this, but we also wanted to show women how we can successfully style and photograph our clients regardless of any physical concerns – after all, we all have them and, for us, it is gratifying for these insecurities not to inhibit the success of a shoot.’

    Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Shannon Grimson, 24, from Yorkshire, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004
    (Picture: Doll House Photography/HotSpot Media)

    Most of the women pictured have suffered with alopecia since their childhood.

    Natasha Lachs, 34, a team leader at a call centre in Northumberland, says: ‘I have had alopecia since I was 7.

    ‘I never really liked looking at pictures of myself, and I would also never dream of having my pictures taken without my wig on.

    Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Danielle Atkins, 20, a student, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004
    (Picture: Doll House Photography/HotSpot Media)

    ‘I usually feel unfeminine without my hair, however when I saw these DollHouse pictures I actually cried.

    ‘I was overwhelmed with how beautiful I actually looked.

    ‘Who would have thought I could look sexy without my wig on!

    ‘They have made me feel like a million dollars.’

    Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Alopecia sufferer, Natasha Lachs, 34, after her stunning transformation - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004
    (Picture: Doll House Photography/HotSpot Media)

    Alopecia sufferer, Danielle Atkins, 20, a student from Newcastle, also starred in the photoshoot. She has had alopecia since she was two.

    She said: ‘It started with a tiny patch on the top of my head which was dismissed as ‘baby alopecia’ which would go away.

    ‘However, it never did.

    ‘I was utterly amazed when I saw the final DollHouse images.

    Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Danielle Atkins, 20, a student, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004
    (Picture: Doll House Photography/HotSpot Media)

    ‘I absolutely loved them and it definitely shows that bald can be beautiful and sexy.

    ‘I love transforming myself with makeup, clothes and wigs, but this was the first time with the wig off, I felt amazing.

    ‘Before the shoot I felt that because we don’t fit the typical stereotype of beauty that we can’t model or be within the beauty industry.

    Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Alopecia sufferer, Natasha Lachs, 34, pictured after her stunning transformation - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004
    (Picture: Doll House Photography/HotSpot Media)

    ‘But the shoot shows that we too can be as beautiful as the commercial models you see in the media.’

    Chrissy and her team of stylists spent hours transforming their clients into glamorous goddesses.

    Her studio features an impressive wardrobe, with £200,000 worth of lingerie sets, corsets, basques, gowns, dresses, accessories, costumes and furniture.

    Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Shannon Grimson, 24, from Yorkshire, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004
    (Picture: Doll House Photography/HotSpot Media)

    She says: ‘I’m a great supporter of body confidence, and so at our studio we make the client feel relaxed and comfortable during the shoot.

    ‘We involve and encourage the client in their styling and makeup; we have a magnificent range of lingerie, clothes, accessories and props at our client’s disposal.

    Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Nicola Watson, 41, a carer, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004
    (Picture: Doll House Photography/HotSpot Media)

    ‘Once the makeup and hair is done, we guide the models with their poses and facial expressions.

    ‘We want all women to feel utterly spoilt and make her feel and look her most beautiful.’

    For this project, Chrissy teamed up with Panache, a group that aims to raise awareness and support for people who suffer with hair loss.

    A spokesperson for Panache says: ‘We want men, women, and children to know that bald is beautiful too, and that you’re 100% not alone on this journey, we are here for you.

    ‘We aim to bring the hair loss community together.

    ‘Our vision is to create a hub for the hair loss community to feel comfortable, supported, find friendship and no longer feel isolated.’

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    BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENSBALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENShattiegladwellmetroPic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Danielle Atkins, 20, a student, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia- A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards.BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENSBALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENShattiegladwellmetroPic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Danielle Atkins, 20, a student, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia- A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004 ???Not only this, but we also wanted to show women how we can successfully style and photograph our clients regardless of any physical concerns - after all, we all have them and, for us, it is gratifying for these insecurities not to inhibit the success of a shoot.???Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Shannon Grimson, 24, from Yorkshire, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Danielle Atkins, 20, a student, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Alopecia sufferer, Natasha Lachs, 34, after her stunning transformation - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Danielle Atkins, 20, a student, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Alopecia sufferer, Natasha Lachs, 34, pictured after her stunning transformation - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Shannon Grimson, 24, from Yorkshire, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004Pic by www.dollhousephotography.co.uk/HotSpot Media- Media - BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: WOMEN WITH ALOPECIA TRANSFORMED INTO STUNNING SIRENS- IN PIC - Nicola Watson, 41, a carer, wows in her shoot to raise awareness of alopecia - A photographer has transformed women with alopecia into stunning sirens - showing that bald is beautiful. The models bravely removed their wigs and embraced their hairlessness to pose for the seductive snaps to raise awareness for the condition. Talented photographer, Chrissy Sparks, 35, from Birmingham, has photographed thousands of women, of all shapes and sizes, since opening DollHouse Photography five years ago. Chrissy says: ???My stylist Nav Soroya and I wanted to show how women can look glamorous without fitting the typical beauty stereotype you tend to see in the media - and we wanted to support the unconventional beauty standards."...SEE HOTSPOT MEDIA COPY 0121 551 1004

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    (Picture: Getty)

    Asda has slashed its prices of vegetables to just 20p ready for Christmas – this will include parsnips, sprouts, carrots and broccoli.

    Launching today, 20 December, and running to 26 December, Asda predicts the sale of over 4,700 tonnes of veg the week before Christmas, as customers start stocking up for Christmas dinner.

    Vegetables that will be reduced to 20p include 500g of Brussels sprouts, 500g of parsnips, 1kg of carrots and 360g of broccoli.

    An Asda spokesperson said: ‘Whilst the big Christmas lunch may be famous for turkey, stuffing and pigs in blankets, the day wouldn’t be complete without bowls of sweet sprouts, earthy parsnips and tasty broccoli and carrots.

    ‘With almost 30% of Brits admitting to having forgotten veg in their Christmas food shopping*, our 20p veg promotion aims to provide customers with quality, value veg they can grab and go with ahead of December 25.’

    Alongside Asda, Lidl and Aldi have also cut down their veg prices, with Aldi’s deals including potatoes, swedes and cabbages going down to 19p.

    Asda, Lidl and Aldi are currently the cheapest supermarkets to buy festive veg from – with Sainsbury’s more expensive at 30p and Morrisons offering a 3 for £1 deal across its vegetable range in store.

    At the time of writing Lidl and Aldi are offering Christmas trimmings for 19p a bag, Asda at 20p, while Sainsbury’s have dropped their prices to 30p and Morrisons is offering 3 for £1 across its range in store.

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    ASDA SLASHES PRICE OF CHRISTMAS VEG TO JUST 20PASDA SLASHES PRICE OF CHRISTMAS VEG TO JUST 20PhattiegladwellmetroASDA SLASHES PRICE OF CHRISTMAS VEG TO JUST 20PASDA SLASHES PRICE OF CHRISTMAS VEG TO JUST 20Phattiegladwellmetro

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    Mince pies and brandy are a welcome treat for Santa (Picture: Getty)

    Many families across the UK will be leaving a few treats out on Christmas Eve for Santa and his reindeer to enjoy when they (hopefully) stop by.

    The usual options are a glass of brandy and a mince pie for the big man, while many people will also leave a carrot out for one of his reindeer to have a nibble on.

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    However, these traditions can differ from home to home and certainly change from country to country.

    Some will leave a glass of milk out, others some cookies, even a festive candy cane is an option.

    It really doesn’t matter what you leave out, because the chosen food and drink are basically what each country believes Santa and Rudolph would like, but the general tradition of leaving stuff out dates back a bit further than that.

    Fancy treats for the man in red (Picture: Getty)

    One theory is that the tradition is linked to the feast day of Saint Nicholas, which is actually on 6 December, despite him being so closely associated with Christmas.

    Children would leave food and drink out for the saint and family would exchange them for gifts overnight – which may well have been incorporated into the Christmas celebrations.

    The little gifts could also be linked to the original Christmas trees in Germany – known as paradise trees. The decorations on these trees were not the baubles and tinsel we are used to today, but lots of little bits of food, which may well have influenced what we do today.

    Another option is that the gifts for Santa date all the way back to Norse mythology as edible presents were left out for Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipner when people went out on their Yule hunts. This superstition could easily have become the treats offered to Santa’s reindeer.

    MORE: Asda is selling Christmas veg for 20p

    MORE: Morrisons launches Christmas dinner in a quiche


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