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

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    (Pictures: Jemma Morris)

    We’re all familiar with that black bin bag filled with wrapping paper after everyone opens their presents on Christmas morning.

    But had you ever thought about how much we actually throw away at this time of year.

    As we become more and more conscious of what we put in the bin, particularly in terms of plastic, should we be doing more to reduce our rubbish?

    According to research, we threw away 108 million rolls of wrapping paper last year.

    One mum, Jemma Morris, 27, from Fareham, Hampshire, is aiming to have a low-waste Christmas, reusing old paper and making presents that she packages herself.

    She has been trying to live a more eco-friendly life since her daughter was born 18 months ago.

    Some of the decorations Jemma has made as gifts (Picture: Jemma Morris)

    ‘In general I’m trying to consume less. I’ve always been quite likely environmentally conscious but when I had my little girl the need to safeguard the future for her became overwhelming,’ she told Metro.co.uk

    ‘The main issue with our lifestyle at the minute is we are a throwaway culture, because we’ve had the advantages of more and more disposable items at our fingertips.

    Jemma has baked some of her gifts (Picture: Jemma Morris)

    ‘Obviously there are some people that need these things, that these items have been created for, but the majority of people don’t so I started by making easy swaps – making sure I always have a water bottle and flask on me, having reusable shopping and produce bags with me at all times and trying to be as little packaged items as possible.

    ‘Then I moved on to looking at my waste more closely and trying to find swaps for the main problem areas. Ecobricking really helped with that as I can investigate my waste as I put it in the brick.

    ‘I swapped to solid shampoo and conditioner bars and use a soap bar in a famine bag instead of shower gel and a scrubby. I switched to reusable menstrual products (a cup and pads) and bought toothpaste tabs.

    Zero waste Christmas (Picture: Jemma Morris)
    She is using up old wrapping paper and making her own recyclable paper (Picture: Jemma Morris)

    ‘We started using cloth nappies and reusable wipes for my little girl and I’m making a conscious effort to bake more with her rather than succumbing to plastic coated snacks.

    ‘And then I make an effort to recycle what I can as responsible as I can, so signed up for as many relevant Terracycle schemes as I could.’

    So when it came to Christmas this year, Jemma realised that it was one of the most wasteful periods and she wanted to cut down.

    Zero waste Christmas (Picture: Jemma Morris)
    Jemma became more conscious about waste after the birth of her daughter (Picture: Jemma Morris)

    As I love Christmas, I was eager to try and minimise the worst of it – the waste – ad much as I could in whatever way I could. Plus it seemed to be the logical step as I was naturally veering towards homemade gifts that I was making with my little girls ‘assistance’.

    ‘Less is more, 100%. I used to fall into the trap of I have to look like I’m giving a gift, so instead of buying something extra to go with a gift card I am just giving the person I’m buying for what they have asked for.

    ‘I’ve been making a lot of gifts like tree decorations: salt dough ornaments, modge podged wooden ornaments; buying experience gifts or preloved gifts; buying from small, local businesses rather than big stores.’

    Jemma with her daughter and husband (Picture: Jemma Morris)

    And when it comes to wrapping her gifts, Jemma has been focusing on using up what paper she has left before looking at recyclable, homemade wrapping paper and reusable wrapping.

    A lot of wrapping paper is covered in dyed, laminated, covered in glitter or plastic shapes, which means it can’t be recycled. Even if it is recyclable, using plastic tape makes it more difficult.

    Jemma adds: ‘For wrapping paper I’ve been using up the paper I bought last year and then won’t be buying anymore as so much wrapping paper cannot be recycled.

    ‘Instead of wrapping paper I’ve been using brown paper and packing paper that I’ve either left plan or got my daughter to draw on it to decorate it.

    ‘I’ve bought reusable gift bags so that the recipient can use them again and again without worrying that they will rip, and have experimented with furoshiki wrapping, which is a Japanese art of wrapping gifts in material.

    ‘I reuse Christmas cards as gift bags or I pass them on to my mum who makes her own cards with them.

    Zero waste Christmas (Picture: Jemma Morris)
    She is trying furoshiki wrapping as scarves can be reused (Picture: Jemma Morris)

    And when it comes to decorations? Jemma has also planned for the future.

    She says: ‘We have an artificial tree that we have had for 8 years so we are going to keep using it until it completely falls to pieces rather than buying anything new.

    ‘Our lights are LED bulbs that are only on for short periods of time or are solar panel lights outside. Mostly we are reusing what we have to get maximum use out of everything.’

    For Jemma, the experience has been really positive and it’s something she wants to expand on in the future.

    She has made baubles and gifts (Picture: Jemma Morris)

    ‘It was definitely more straight forward than I thought, although difficult to resist all the Christmas bargains.

    ‘But it has taken the stress out of all of it, because I’m truly buying what people want and we’re not stressing out under too high a mountain of stuff or running around buying last minute bits.

    ‘I would like to make more of my gifts next year, and save up anything that can be used to wrap them in throughout the year.

    ‘I also am going to start shopping earlier so I have time to source more ethical shopping locations.

    ‘Obviously for some people that may be harder/impossible to do, depending on what they want! I’ll also be involving my daughter more next year as she’ll be two-and-a-half so will be more able to help out with crafting.’

    MORE: To the milk donors that helped to feed my baby: I cannot thank you enough

    MORE: Dad cooks entire Christmas dinner on a fire in the middle of a forest


    Zero waste ChristmasZero waste Christmaslauraabernethy6Zero waste Christmas (Picture: Jemma Morris)Zero waste Christmas (Picture: Jemma Morris)Zero waste Christmas (Picture: Jemma Morris)Zero waste ChristmasZero waste Christmaslauraabernethy6Zero waste Christmas (Picture: Jemma Morris)Zero waste Christmas (Picture: Jemma Morris)Zero waste Christmas (Picture: Jemma Morris)

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    (Picture: @mrblakemitchell)

    Blake Mitchell is a popular porn star with a large fan base who also faces hurtful comments from trolls, both for his work and sexuality.

    The American sex worker explained on his YouTube channel the backlash he gets for being bisexual which he says is a bit of a ‘controversial’ thing but is becoming less so.

    He revealed that he faces discrimination from straight people who see him as gay but also the LGBT community who see him as straight if he is with a woman.

    Part of the criticisms were also aimed at Blake doing gay porn and not straight, an industry he admitted he found ‘seedy’.

    In the six-minute video, Blake talked about his experiences and explained how sexuality is not a simple binary.

    ‘I see more and more guys and girls openly identifying as bisexual because previously, especially in the LGBT community, the B has been silent,’ he said in the video.

    ‘And it’s like you’re part of the LGBT [community], but only halfway.

    ‘I often felt in the past that if I was dating a guy, then my LGBT card was a little stronger, or people viewed that as more legitimate, and whenever I was dating a girl it was just instantly like “oh so you’re straight now”.

    ‘It’s like, no, I understand that maybe it works like that for some people but that’s not how it works for me.

    ‘You can just tell that straight people think you’re actually just straight and gay people think you’re actually just gay.

    ‘It seems like it’s very difficult sometimes to get people to actually recognise and accept, truly and honestly, that I’m bisexual.’

    Instagram Photo

    Despite some of his negative experiences, Blake still wants people to question things they don’t understand and be straight up with him.

    But it’s all about the intentions, he said.

    ‘If you don’t get it, ask questions. And ask questions from a place of wanting to learn more, not a place of trying to pick someone apart.’

    He also explained why he prefers to perform gay porn, saying it was more lucrative.

    ‘I choose to do gay porn instead of straight porn because there’s more money to be made as a male performer in gay porn than there is in straight porn.

    ‘I’d still consider doing straight porn and I may in the future, but I also just didn’t want to be a part of the straight industry in a lot of ways because of how it can be operated sometimes.’

    Blake has been applauded for his honesty and talking about his experiences which previously explored his struggle with mental health and depression.

    Hundreds of supportive messages poured in for Blake, one of which read: ‘I think that judging like this in 2018 is something absurd. If you sleep with a girl or a boy, it does not matter, what matters is that you are happy.’

    Wise words.

    MORE: Why do people want to have sex with the Grinch?

    MORE: Gyms should challenge transphobia, instead of removing trans women to please others

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

    Lonely gay porn star opens upLonely gay porn star opens upfaimabakar1Lonely gay porn star opens upLonely gay porn star opens upfaimabakar1

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    Why Boxing Day is better than Christmas Picture: Dave Anderson
    (Picture: Dave Anderson)

    Christmas is a time to indulge.

    It’s a month-long excuse.

    ‘Yes, I will have that gin and tonic – it’s Christmas.’

    ‘Of course I want more cheese – it’s Christmas.’

    ‘I’ve had a hard day shopping. I deserve that Uber home – it is Christmas.’

    But apparently self-gifting is the new trend that is taking that ‘treat yourself’ spirit a bit further.

    Apparently more and more of us are saving up to buy gifts for ourselves at the end of the year, as well as for friends and family.

    According to research from streaming player Roku, almost half of us will self-gift this year, spending an average of £33.98.

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

    Men spend an average of £37.70 and women on average £30.66.

    The study suggests there could be around £1 billion worth of self-gifted presents under the tree this year.

    So is this the way forward and the only way to make sure you always get what you really want?

    Rochelle, 32, revealed that she spends between £200-£900 on herself every Christmas, buying beauty, technology and pampering gifts.

    She says: ‘I think that self-gifting is important for various reason. If you have had a tough year, a good year, a mixed year or maybe worked so hard you haven’t had a chance to do much it is nice to treat yourself.

    ‘It can help you feel better and be selfish. I see it as a way of rewarding myself for the hardwork.

    ‘I have put in over the year and if there is something that I have saved for, it makes it more rewarding when you go and buy it.’

    Each year Rochelle’s spending varies, depending on what piece of technology she buys.

    She adds: ‘It will depend on what I might be looking to get.

    Metro Illustrations I hate the present I've been given Christmas wrapping paper being opened revealing a box (Picture: Monika Muffin for Metro.co.uk)
    (Picture: Monika Muffin for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I would say anything between £200 – £900, with the most expensive being something technology based, but if not including any tech, it’s around £200 – £500.

    ‘From when I started working and earning money I have always got myself something, whether that was beauty bits from Topshop/ New Look when I was around 15 or when I started working full time and earning more I would look at things that I really wanted and work towards getting that.

    ‘One of the first pay checks I got when I was around 17/18 went straight on the PS2 (in silver) when it first came out.

    ‘I was so excited and proud that I could walk into a shop and buy what I wanted myself in cash.

    ‘At the time that PS2 was expensive. I guess from that moment I always self-gifted things such as spa days, holidays, iPods, laptops and new game consoles – I was a nice feeling.

    ‘I am very lucky to have family that get my a lot of things that I need or forget that I need. In regards to the big things, as I am old enough and work hard, I know that I can buy myself the things that I really like and want.

    It would be ridiculous for me to ask my family to buy me a brand new iMac at over £1.5k but knowing that I can buy that myself is more satisfying and rewarding.’

    Tom adds that doing his Christmas shopping early means he buys more things for himself in December.

    Why a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good idea
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    He told Metro.co.uk: ‘I’m a self-gifter at Christmas. I am quite pro-active with buying presents and tend to have them all bought before the end of November.

    ‘I love seeing the smile on people’s face when I give them a present.

    ‘I much prefer giving a gift than receiving one, however when it gets to December, it feels weird having everything bought and the hype kind of dies down.

    ‘I also use this time to reflect on how I’ve done with my new years resolutions and work out my new resolutions for the next year.

    ‘With this in mind, I start working out a number of items I need to help me achieve these targets.

    ‘So for example, I write a blog called Spaghetti Traveller and I’ve been trying to transition from blog to vlog a lot more, therefore I gifted myself some new GoPro equipment to help increase the quality of my videos. I also looked into getting a drone, however the prices were a little steep.

    ‘I spent a semi-fortune on all the Christmas gifts for everyone, however once they have all been bought and you see a little money left over, you do feel like why not buy yourself a treat.’

    But remember, you never know who might surprise you and you could double up on gifts.

    Plus, if you can manage to wait until Boxing Day, you might be able to get a better deal.

    MORE: A last minute online gift guide for Christmas shoppers who’ve left it far too late

    MORE: Mum explains what she’s doing to cut out waste this Christmas


    Metro  IllustrationsMetro  Illustrationslauraabernethy6Why Boxing Day is better than Christmas Picture: Dave AndersonILLUSTRATION REQUEST: How to combat loneliness at Christmas (Frances)Metro Illustrations I hate the present I've been given Christmas wrapping paper being opened revealing a box (Picture: Monika Muffin for Metro.co.uk)Why a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good ideaMetro IllustrationsMetro Illustrationslauraabernethy6Why Boxing Day is better than Christmas Picture: Dave AndersonILLUSTRATION REQUEST: How to combat loneliness at Christmas (Frances)Metro Illustrations I hate the present I've been given Christmas wrapping paper being opened revealing a box (Picture: Monika Muffin for Metro.co.uk)Why a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good idea

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    (Picture: INS News Agency/Vagner Vidal)

    Mum Nekeshia Bentley and daughter Nyemah are big fans of Nickelodeon’s Nella the Princess Knight, a mixed race heroic character loved by children.

    But Nekeshia was disappointed to learn that a pyjama set available at Matalan inspired by Nella depicted the princess as having much lighter skin.

    The 29-year-old thought it was just a bit of a glitch when she saw first saw the top online but was shocked to learn that it was also whiter in store which, she felt was a sign of ‘sub-conscious racism’.

    Nella the Princess Knight (Picture: Nickleodeon)
    (Picture: Nickleodeon)

    Nyemah five, who is particularly fond of Nella, also has a doll of her and was upset to see that it didn’t match the one she saw on the pyjama top.

    ‘It’s either a massive mistake or a case of sub-conscious racism. Either way it is out of order,’ Nekeshia told The Sun.

    ‘My daughter loves Nella. She watches the show all the time and pretends to be Nella, trying to do the things she does. She is a good, strong role model.

    ‘I’ve no idea why Matalan whitened the character — they need to explain.

    ‘I thought it may have been the way it looked on the website, but it was the same in the shop — she looked white.

    Kids Nella the Princess Knight Pyjama Set (12mths-6yrs)
    Caption: Kids Nella the Princess Knight Pyjama Set (12mths-6yrs) Provider: Matalan

    ‘Both Nyemah and I are black British Caribbean. She has toys of all ethnicities but she gravitates towards toys that look like her.

    ‘Nella’s one of her favourites, so this is a real disappointment.’

    A spokesperson for Matalan told Metro.co.uk: ‘We are really sorry to hear of this concern regarding the Nickelodeon character pyjama set.

    ‘We are working closely with Nickelodeon and our supplier to address these concerns. Customer feedback is extremely important to us at Matalan and all feedback is taken seriously.’

    Nickelodeon created the character of Nella, who has a black dad and a white mum, last year to be more representative of what children look like nowadays.

    A spokesperson from the Nickelodeon said: ‘This product doesn’t accurately represent Nella in the same way that millions of children see her on Nickelodeon screens worldwide.

    ‘We believe there potentially was an issue somewhere in the manufacturing process, of which we are investigating.’

    MORE: Mum explains what she’s doing to cut out waste this Christmas

    MORE: It’s not just racism that workplaces must break down, it’s unconscious bias

    MORE: My Label and Me: Do not call me a person of colour


    Mother went to buy matalan's kids pyjamas based on Nickleodeon character Nella but the character on the Pyjamas appear to have been "whitened" the mixed race characterMother went to buy matalan's kids pyjamas based on Nickleodeon character Nella but the character on the Pyjamas appear to have been Mother went to buy matalan's kids pyjamas based on Nickleodeon character Nella but the character on the Pyjamas appear to have been "whitened" the mixed race characterMother went to buy matalan's kids pyjamas based on Nickleodeon character Nella but the character on the Pyjamas appear to have been "whitened" the mixed race characterfaimabakar1Nella the Princess Knight (Picture: Nickleodeon)Kids Nella the Princess Knight Pyjama Set (12mths-6yrs)

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    (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

    One of the highlights of Christmas Day is usually the Christmas dinner that overflows your plate with turkey, potatoes and pigs in blankets.

    MERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Children enjoying the christmas lights festooning the house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPYCouple's heavily decorated Christmas house is absolutely amazing

    For some of us McDonald’s is the only way to celebrate the day and a burger is the only comfort food we need before settling in front of the TV for the rest of the afternoon.

    If you’re one of those people, then its important to do your research as believe it or not, some McDonald’s restaurants will open their doors on Christmas Day this year.

    Some McDonald’s restaurants will be opening their doors on Christmas Day but in most cases they will be closed for the day so you will need to check that the one that you plan to go to is open.

    Many McDonald’s restaurants will also be open after midnight on New Year’s Day for those of us in need for a post-celebration snack to have on our journey home.

    This can vary depending on the restaurant so if you think that you’ll be in need of a Big Mac after your New Year celebrations then plan ahead and check if any near you will be open.

    (Photo Rui Vieira/PA Wire)

    Is McDonald’s open on Christmas day?

    The good news for the McDonald’s fans among you is that while most McDonald’s restaurants will be shut on Christmas Day, there are actually some that will be open.

    If you’re keen to have a Big Mac for your Christmas dinner, you should use the McDonald’s restaurant locator to find out if any of your local McDonald’s will be open.

    Some of the restaurants set to open their doors for Christmas include the Green Lanes in Haringey, Luton Road in Dunstable and Victoria Street in London and the Unit 4 Motorway Service in Beaconsfield.

    All of these opening times can vary, so to get the most accurate opening hours for you local store you should use the McDonald’s store locator.

    MORE: Post Office opening times for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day

    MORE: What it’s like to spend Christmas in prison


    A McDonald's Big Mac Challenge Is Offering A Cash PrizeA McDonald's Big Mac Challenge Is Offering A Cash PrizedanielmackrellblogA McDonald's Big Mac Challenge Is Offering A Cash PrizeA McDonald's Big Mac Challenge Is Offering A Cash Prizedanielmackrellblog

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    Comedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2018 Christmas card Credit: John Cessna
    2018’s image is a twisted version of A Christmas Story (Picture: John Cessna)

    Forget the generic reindeer and snowman Christmas cards because one photographer has created something a lot… darker, to say the least.

    John Cessna’s dark, festive work has turned him into an online celebrity over the past few years, each year creating new, twisted scenes with a somewhat festive inspiration.

    He only started after his own mother jokingly suggested that he ‘sober up’ and send out his own Christmas cards so now he uses them to push the joke back to her.

    Comedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2016 Christmas card Credit: John Cessna
    2016’s card took a swipe at Donald Trump becoming president (Picture: John Cessna)

    For his 2018 card, John, 33, created a twist of A Christmas Story with the iconic leg lamp – showcasing aliens who decided to cut off a man’s leg to create a leg lamp similar to the one in the film (seen at the top of the article).

    He captioned the photo: ‘It wouldn’t be Christmas without some surprise guests…’.

    Comedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2017 Christmas card Credit: John Cessna
    2017’s card is perhaps the darkest of the lot (Picture: John Cessna)

    The picture also includes a fallen Christmas tree on the ground as blood is pouring out of John’s leg.

    John created his first Christmas card nine years ago, when his mother joked that he should send out his own cards when he was at school.

    Comedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2014 Christmas card Credit: John Cessna
    Though 2014’s image portraying Santa as leader of a cult offers quite a frightening picture (Picture: John Cessna)

    It featured a photo of himself drunk, slumped into a shower surrounded by bottles of alcohol.

    On his website, he explains: ‘In 2008, my mother called and told me since I was away at school, I wouldn’t be in the Christmas photo that year.

    Comedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2008 Christmas card Credit: John Cessna
    Here’s how it all started in 2008, when he was told to ‘sober up’ (Picture: John Cessna)

    ‘She jokingly suggested I “sober up” and send out my own Christmas cards.’

    John has snapped many photos inspired by alcoholism, but has since created even darker scenes, including a snowman poking his carrot through a hole in a bathroom wall to a ritual sacrifice, with a large photo of Father Christmas.

    Comedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2015 Christmas card Credit: John Cessna
    I don’t think a snowman has ever been more scary (Picture: John Cessna)

    Alongside this, his wife also gets involved – one year they created a hostage scene in which he and his wife are tied up and surrounded by explosives after being kidnapped by ‘ICE-ISS’ – the International Christmas Elves Independent Sovereign State.

    Comedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2013 Christmas card Credit: John Cessna
    This, from 2013, just shows how seriously he’s been taking this annual tradition (Picture: John Cessna)

    He said: ‘Originally inspired by my mother’s joke, the subject matter has since matured with me.

    ‘In recent years, I have steered their content away from the bottle and have focused on absurdity and insidiousness.’

    MORE: Self-gifting is the new trend that means you get exactly what you want at Christmas

    MORE: A last minute online gift guide for Christmas shoppers who’ve left it far too late


    Comedian yearly Christmas photoComedian yearly Christmas photohattiegladwellmetroComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2018 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2016 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2017 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2014 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2008 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2015 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2013 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photoComedian yearly Christmas photohattiegladwellmetroComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2018 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2016 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2017 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2014 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2008 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2015 Christmas card Credit: John CessnaComedian yearly Christmas photo PICTURES PROVIDED BY JOHN CESSNA - MUST LINK BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA/WEBSITE: @JohnCessna JohnCessna.com Picture: John Cessna's 2013 Christmas card Credit: John Cessna

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    J.K Emezi has been free from his porn addiction for eleven years (Picture: J.K Emezi/MDW Features)

    As a young boy, JK Emezi was really into comic books when he accidentally stumbled across his nanny’s adult graphic novel.

    Thinking it would be the same as the action adventure books he loved, JK, from Kansas, US, was surprised to see X-rated images.

    After experiencing a sexual high, he continued reading them and by the age of 14, after he discovered orgasming through masturbation, JK became addicted to porn.

    But since getting help for his 14-year addiction, JK has overcome his dependency on it and opened up a business aimed at recovering from addiction.

    JK was was just eight years old when he first stumbled across his nanny’s adult graphic novels which piqued his interest (Picture: MDWfeatures / J.K Emezi)

    ‘Once I discovered that I could do much more with sexual images and that many more pleasurable chemicals were released when I experienced orgasm, I was hooked,’ he said.

    ‘The three biggest impacts these had on my life were shame, social anxiety and low self-esteem. Each of these stunted my development as a healthy adolescent.

    ‘My porn addiction increasingly led to isolation at school. I frequently fantasised about teachers and other classmates- replacing them in my fantasy with porn stars I would watch.

    ‘This made it challenging to communicate with them in person as I felt guilty for what I did. I constantly sexualised them and felt that they would catch me ogling them instead of focusing on school work.

    ‘At the age of 17 I developed Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED) where I could only masturbate and orgasm to pornography.’

    At 22 he decided to do something about his addiction (Picture: MDWfeatures / JK Emezi)

    J.K admitted that porn had a negative impact on his relationship with women, giving him social anxiety.

    When he turned 22, he had planned to meet someone through an anonymous sex website but when he drove to the house, his side of the car window was smashed in by someone.

    Scared of what could’ve happened, JK decided to delete all saved porn from his computer, vowing to do something about his addiction.

    ‘I became obsessed with working out and instead of spending my evenings alone at home, I would go to the gym and work out till I was exhausted. The endorphins from my workout made me feel much better and the workouts required that I eat a healthier diet.

    JK turned to the gym to help him feel better about himself (Picture: MDWfeatures / J.K Emezi)

    ‘I also started trying to get in touch with my feelings again. Every morning I would start the day with writing out my feelings in a journal.

    ‘I found that years of porn use had destroyed my empathy. This was very helpful because over the next few months as my emotions thawed out I began to see women more as human beings and less like objects for my sexual pleasure.

    ‘I’m free of PIED and I’m able to have sex without bringing up scenes from pornography. I’m healthier mentally and physically. I’m more confident than I have ever been.’

    JK has been sharing his recovery and inspiring others to get help through his company, Elevated Recovery.

    ‘Anyone who finds themselves in a position where their porn use is out of control should seek professional help,’ he said.

    ‘A trained professional can provide you with the guidance you need, prepare you for withdrawal symptoms and help you plan a life where healthy habits replace porn.’

    MORE: Man shares how he got out of his addiction to the porn, masturbation, and orgasm cycle

    MORE: Porn star YouTuber says he’s discriminated against for being bisexual

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


    Addicted to PornAddicted to Pornfaimabakar1Addicted to PornAddicted to Pornfaimabakar1

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    MERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Children enjoying the christmas lights festooning the house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPY
    (Picture: Mercury Press)

    A couple spent five weeks covering their house in Christmas decorations for the 20th year running.

    55-year-old Karen Williams and 56-year-old Frank have been decorating the front of their house in the Wirral, Merseyside, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer.

    Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Children’s Hospice and have collected over £20,000.

    And, with some encouragement, the couple convinced the rest of the street to join in and decorate their houses – meaning that their road could be one of the most festive in the UK.

    MERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Mollie, 4, is one of the many children who visit the lights every evening. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPY
    (Picture: Mercury Press)

    Karen, a painter, said: ‘We’ve been doing the lights for the past 20 years and we’ll be doing it until we have our last breath.

    ‘Myself and Frank started putting our Christmas decorations up at the end of October, and just finished recently.

    ‘Then when ours are done, I go and help the neighbours do their’s too.

    ‘We did the big Christmas light switch on last Friday (30 November), where everyone in the street turned theirs on in unison.

    MERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56 outside their house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPY
    (Picture: Mercury Press)
    MERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56 in the home made sled with life sized deer outside their house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPY
    (Picture: Mercury Press)

    ‘I love Christmas, but mainly it’s about seeing the enjoyment on the children’s faces when they see the lights.

    ‘Also it’s a great way to spread Christmas cheer, whilst raising money for an amazing charity.’

    Alongside the decorations, the couple also keep a post box outside of the house so the local children can post their letters to Santa in there.

    Then, every night, Karen takes the letters and sends them on to the real Santa – usually getting through 350 letters a month – and even distributing replies when she receives them back.

    ‘Frank has dressed up as Santa for years,’  Karen says. ‘He puts on his £350 suit and hops on the sleigh he built outside.

    ‘All of this helps us raise even more money for charity and doesn’t take much time or money. In fact, our electric bill only goes up by £60 for the entire month we have them up!

    ‘It’s all worth it for the ill children – life is hard enough for those children, so it’s great that we can help give them a magical Christmas.’

    MORE: We finally have a Kardashian Christmas card and boy is it glorious

    MORE: Self-gifting is the new trend that means you get exactly what you want at Christmas


    CHRISTMAS CRAZY COUPLE SPEND FIVE WEEKS COVERING HOUSE IN LIGHTS - FOR TWENTIETH YEAR IN A ROWCHRISTMAS CRAZY COUPLE SPEND FIVE WEEKS COVERING HOUSE IN LIGHTS - FOR TWENTIETH YEAR IN A ROWhattiegladwellmetroMERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Children enjoying the christmas lights festooning the house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Mollie, 4, is one of the many children who visit the lights every evening. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56 outside their house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56 in the home made sled with life sized deer outside their house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPYCHRISTMAS CRAZY COUPLE SPEND FIVE WEEKS COVERING HOUSE IN LIGHTS - FOR TWENTIETH YEAR IN A ROWCHRISTMAS CRAZY COUPLE SPEND FIVE WEEKS COVERING HOUSE IN LIGHTS - FOR TWENTIETH YEAR IN A ROWhattiegladwellmetroMERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Children enjoying the christmas lights festooning the house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Mollie, 4, is one of the many children who visit the lights every evening. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56 outside their house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPYMERCURY PRESS. Wirral, UK. Pictured: Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56 in the home made sled with life sized deer outside their house in Saughall Massie, Wirral. A Christmas crazy couple have spent five weeks covering their house in festive decorations for the TWENTIETH year running. Karen, 55, and Frank Williams, 56, have been decorating the front of their house, on Amberley Close, Wirral, for the past 20 years to give their neighbours festive cheer. Despite initially covering their house in lights for the first eight years just for their own enjoyment, the couple have since been raising money for charity Claire House Childrens Hospice and have collected over ?20,000. SEE MERCURY COPY

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    Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.
    (Picture: SWNS- Cambridge)

    A litter of eight white puppies were born five days before Christmas, and they’ve each been named after Santa’s reindeer. .

    Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on 20 December.

    All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds.

    Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.
    (Picture: SWNS- Cambridge)

    The dogs will remain at the home to be cared for over Christmas Day and until they are old enough to go to their ‘forever’ home.

    Amanda Sands, Rehoming Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Leeds said: ‘We may not have snow forecast here, but it’s certainly a white Christmas for us at Dogs Trust Leeds!

    Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.
    (Picture: SWNS- Cambridge)

    ‘Mum and pups are happy, healthy and doing amazingly well – it’s our own little Christmas miracle.

    ‘Our team were on hand to help deliver the puppies and have been caring for mum and pups round-the-clock since their arrival.

    Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.
    (Picture: SWNS- Cambridge)

    ‘They will be spending Christmas Day with us here and will remain in our care until they’re old enough to go to their forever homes.

    ‘It’s the 40th anniversary of our slogan a dog is for life, not just for Christmas, so we’d like to remind everyone that if you are thinking about getting a dog in 2019, please carefully consider the responsibilities of dog ownership before bringing a four-legged friend into your home.’

    MORE: This is what it’s like to live on a remote island in Antarctica for three months

    MORE: These are the UK’s most unwanted dogs looking for a home this Christmas


    SEI_45296382-5649SEI_45296382-5649hattiegladwellmetroRescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.SEI_45296382-5649SEI_45296382-5649hattiegladwellmetroRescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus who gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. See SWNS copy SWLEdogs: A miracle litter of eight white puppies have been born just five days before Christmas - and named after SANTA'S REINDEER.Rescue Lurcher Mrs Claus gave birth to her newborn puppies named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen on Dec 20. All of the pups are a snowy shade of white and four-year-old Mrs Claus is nurturing them in their temporary home at Dogs Trust Leeds, West Yorks.

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    Are they funny or terrible? (Picture: Getty)

    One of the dozens of quirky traditions we observe on Christmas Day is the pulling of crackers and unleashing the bizarre contents from within.

    When you pull the cracker and get the little bang, you are treated to a rubbish paper hat, some random ‘gift’ and a bit of paper with a pun-based joke on it.

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    It has been going on for so long that we don’t really question it, but it is pretty odd when you do let it cross your mind.

    Christmas crackers date all the way back to the 1840s when London confectioner Tom Smith put his sweets in a a cracking package to make them a bit more appealing.

    Don’t actually give the crackers to the dog (Picture: Getty)

    At first these crackers included messages of love, but this was eventually phased out to give them a more comedic slant.

    Whether you think they are genuinely funny or just hilariously bad, Babbel have put together their top 10 Christmas cracker jokes.

    1. How does Darth Vader like his Christmas turkey? On the dark side

    2. What happened to Santa when he went speed dating? He pulled a cracker

    3. What’s the most popular Christmas wine? “I don’t like sprouts!”

    4. What happened when Santa got stuck in a chimney? He felt Claus-trophobic

    5. Why can’t a bike stand up by itself? It’s two-tyred

    6. What has four wheels and flies? A bin lorry

    7. How does Santa keep track of all the fireplaces he’s visited? He keeps a logbook

    8. What do snowmen wear on their heads? Ice caps

    9. Why was Cinderella no good at football? Because her coach was a pumpkin

    10. How did Scrooge win the football match? The ghost of Christmas passed

    MORE: New Year’s Eve in London: Events, parties and fireworks to ring in 2019 in style

    MORE: Hugh Grant ‘doesn’t know’ why Love Actually is still popular


    Friends reading out Christmas cracker jokes.Friends reading out Christmas cracker jokes.philhaigh26Friends reading out Christmas cracker jokes.Friends reading out Christmas cracker jokes.philhaigh26

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    The islands of Tahiti are undoubtedly a honeymooners’ paradise, where loved-up couples can relax in over-water bungalows while sipping a cocktail.

    Unsurprisingly, tourism is the main industry here. But the islands are also producers of an equally romantic product: black pearls.

    Tahiti is, in fact, the largest producer of black pearls in the world and they account for over 55% of its annual exports.

    I have to admit I was totally ignorant about how pearls are made. I assumed that all pearls were found in wild oysters at the bottom of the ocean, but I learned that this isn’t necessarily the case.

    And in fact, most pearls are commercially farmed.

    One of the many black pearls for sale (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    A natural pearl occurs when fragments of shell, a parasite or even a blister appears inside the oyster.

    The oyster then regards this as a foreign object and covers it with mother of pearl (nacre), which is excreted from the mantle (the fleshy part of the mollusc).

    While it is possible to find natural pearls, these are extremely rare, and in most cases they are small and often oddly shaped – not what is considered beautiful in the pearl industry.

    The beautiful round pearls you find in upmarket jewellers on Bond Street are generally cultured pearls, and a lot goes on behind the scenes of these exotic jewels.

    Different shades of mother of pearl inside the oyster shells (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet )

    In order to create a round pearl, a pearl starter known as the nucleus must be inserted into the oyster. In Tahiti, the nuclei are made from mussel shells from the Mississippi River, which are thick and strong.

    Over time, the nucleus will be coated in mother of pearl by the oyster just as it happens in nature.

    The method was created in 1893 in Japan by Kokichi Mikimoto, and further developed in Japan and in Australia, before being used to cultivate pearls around the world.

    In French Polynesia, black-lip oysters are used to create the pearls, and it is the oyster’s mantle that gives the pearl its black colour.

    However, it’s not as simple as just inserting a nucleus into the oyster and a pearl appearing.

    It takes time and skill to produce pearls, and even then, there is no guarantee that a pearl will be produced, or that it will beautiful.

    The inside a pearl oyster (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    I headed to Rangiroa, an atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago, to find out more.

    Gaugin’s Pearl are one of the biggest producers on the island and the owner explained that oysters must reach three years old before they can be used to cultivate pearls.

    At this point, one oyster must be ‘sacrificed’ as part of the process. It is selected based on the colour inside its shell – the more beautiful the shell, the more likely the pearls will be beautiful.

    This sacrificed oyster is opened and its mantle cut into 1mm pieces. These are then inserted into other oysters along with the nucleus with painstaking precision and speed.

    Once the oyster has been grafted, it must go back into the ocean for 18 months to allow the pearls to develop.

    The oysters are placed in nets to protect them from predators such as turtles and triggerfish.

    Watching the oyster grafter at work was like watching a surgeon.

    An oyster grafter at work (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    In fact, it takes a lot of skill to become an oyster grafter and you can find the only black pearl school in the world in Rangiroa.

    The government-funded school was founded in 1988 and teaches students all aspects of the pearl industry, from business and accounting, to the technical and scientific elements required to produce pearls, along with practical skills such as diving and how to drive a boat.

    The 3-year course includes an internship at a pearl farm on one of the islands of Tahiti, and most students are then hired by a farm or go on to start their own.

    I can’t imagine there are many schools in the world in such a stunning location, with lagoon views on one side and the open ocean on the other.

    The view from the Pearl School (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet )

    We decided to take a closer look at those predators on a dive with Top Dive, the island’s biggest dive company, who offers two-tank dives for approximately £141.50 (19,000 XPF).

    Rangiroa, and in particular the famous Tiputa Pass, is considered one of the best dive spots in the world, where schools of sharks, dolphins, manta rays and a plethora of fish can be seen.

    Up close, I could easily see the problems caused by triggerfish, whose sharp teeth are strong enough to break coral.

    They can actually be quite aggressive if you get too close to their nest, so we kept our distance!

    A triggerfish in the wild (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    Back on dry land, we headed to another island famed for pearls – Taha’a.

    Here, we visited family-run Champon Pearl Farm on the south of the island.

    Owner Maeva told us that each oyster shell can create up to five pearls in their lifetime.

    If the first pearl created is considered beautiful then another nucleus will be placed inside the oyster, this time larger than the first.

    This process will be repeated, but each time with a larger nucleus – providing that the previous pearl produced is beautiful.

    An oyster ready to be seeded (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    So what makes a pearl beautiful?

    There are a number of criteria when classifying a pearl; these include size, shape and lustre.

    Unsurprisingly, the bigger the pearl, the more valuable – but only if the pearl is good quality.

    Round pearls are more highly prized, with fewer than 3% of those produced achieving a perfect round grade.

    The lustre relates to the shine of the pearl and how many imperfections it has.

    Some lovely examples of black pearls (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    So if you want a large, round, imperfection-free, shiny pearl, you can expect to pay a lot of money.

    Colour has very little to do with the price of the pearl, unless the pearl is truly black. Otherwise, it is more a case of personal taste.

    Despite being called black pearls here, the colour can range from green or pink to silver and yellow.

    Back on the main island of Tahiti, we headed to the Pape’ete market (Marche de Pape’ete) to check out the pearl offering there.

    I couldn’t leave French Polynesia without purchasing a pearl or two.

    After a little research, we discovered that it’s cheaper to buy loose pearls and have them set into jewellery back in the UK, as there are only a few jewellers on the islands and you’ll often pay a lot more for the setting than for the pearl.

    So many pearls to choose from (Picture: Hayley Lewis @alovelyplanet)

    Each pearl is unique and I left the islands with a memento that will always remind me of French Polynesia, as well as a far greater understanding and respect for these underwater gems.

    Other things to do in French Polynesia:

    There is plenty to do when you’re not relaxing in paradise or hunting for pearls.

    Take a boat trip to the stunning, untouched paradise of Rangiroa’s blue lagoon with Rairoa Fishing Tours. A day tour costs £67 (9.000 XPF) per person including lunch.

    Or go on a fishing trip and catch some big game, including Marlin and Mahi Mahi. FishingBooker offers a variety of trips with local skippers. Fishing trips in Tahiti start from £550 (USD $700) for a private boat charter (1-4 people).

    Where to stay in French Polynesia and how to get there:

    I visited three islands – Rangiroa, Taha’a and Tahiti.

    On Rangiroa, book a beach bungalow with jacuzzi at Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa. Rates start from £331 (44,460 XFP) per night, while its American breakfast is £27.50 (3,706 XPF) per person per day.

    Or there’s Va’a i Te Moana, where double rooms start from £141.50 (19,000 XFP) per night, including breakfast.

    In Taha’a, a Taha’a Overwater Suite at Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa starts from £550 (€630) per night.

    And finally in Tahiti, a standard double room at Relais Fenua starts from £85 (11,400 XPF) per night. Breakfast is an additional £9 (1,200 XPF) per person, per day.

    Fly from London to Pape’ete via Los Angeles with Air Tahiti Nui and airline partners from £1,689 in economy class.

    For more information on the Islands of Tahiti visit Tahiti Tourisme UK.

    Hayley Lewis is a travel writer, blogger and producer. For more on the Islands of Tahiti head to alovelyplanet.com or follow Hayley on Instagram, YouTubeTwitter or Facebook.

    (Top picture: Hayley Lewis)

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    French PolynesiaFrench PolynesiahayleyalovelyplanetcomFrench PolynesiaFrench Polynesiahayleyalovelyplanetcom

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    Metro Illustrations I hate the present I've been given Christmas wrapping paper being opened revealing a box (Picture: Monika Muffin for Metro.co.uk)
    (Picture: Monika Muffin for Metro.co.uk)

    Everyone does Christmas differently. The schedule can be contentious.

    Your family’s Christmas Day timetable is likely entrenched in ancient traditions and long-established family rituals. Attempt to change them on pain of death.

    What time you eat dinner and what time you open presents are probably the most divisive issues of all.

    So when is the best time to open Christmas presents? Before the crack of dawn in your pyjamas? After the food so there’s something to look forward to?

    Turns out people have opinions on this. Vehement opinions.

    Here's what a Christmas binge does to your body
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    So, there are a few schools of thought.

    Firstly, there are the people who can’t wait. The ones who wake up at five am, and their first thought when they crack open their eyes is; ‘has Santa been?’

    Yes, normally these people are under the age of six, but some people don’t grow out of this compulsion for pre-dawn presents. Is it ridiculous? Or does it keep the childlike magic of Christmas alive?

    Jenna, 26, knows she should act more grown up, but says she just can’t help it.

    ‘I’m one of those really annoying people who wakes everyone up first thing in the morning,’ Jenna tells Metro.co.uk

    ‘I’ll be banging on my mum’s door at six am telling her it’s time for presents – I always bring her a cup of tea too, so she can’t get too mad at me.

    ‘My little brother would just sleep right through the morning if it wasn’t for me getting everyone up.’

    Jenna says it isn’t just about the presents, the early start is also about maximising the time they spend together as a family.

    ‘Christmas only happens once a year, and I’m normally only home for a couple of days. I like to make the day last as long as possible – so the earlier we start the festivities, the better!’

    For most of us, the hideously early starts ended when there were no longer little kids in the house. A large number of people are firmly gunning for the post-breakfast unwrapping session.

    In my house we wake up, have breakfast (typically buck’s fizz and chocolate) and we have to wait for my Dad to arrive before we start opening presents.

    This was obviously torture when my sister and I were little – but now, we love a leisurely morning. Opening presents a bit closer to lunch time elongates the day.

    Steph, 28, agrees.

    ‘We definitely don’t do five am,’ Steph tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘We usually open in the morning at around 10 am – after we’ve had cups of tea and woken up a bit. Sometimes we will even go on a walk first, so then we open the presents even later.

    ‘I think it depends on your circumstances – if you have little ones in the family, or additional family arriving later – you’ve got to take that into account.’

    Sacha, 26, thinks opening your presents later is all part of the process of growing up.

    ‘When you’re with children, you should open presents really early, like five am,’ she tells us.

    ‘It should be as close to Santa arriving as possible – because they will be so excited.

    ‘Now that we’re older, we tend to wait until around nine or 10 am. It seems a bit stingy to wait until after Christmas dinner – the delayed gratification is too much.’

    Why a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good idea
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    So what about the afternoon openers?

    The idea of waiting that long before presents is utterly alien to me and my family – but apparently a lot of people do it.

    At 30-years-old, I know I do not have the patience to handle this. So I cannot imagine how kids must feel if their parents enforce this policy.

    Rachel, 34, says her family wait until food is over and they can all sit around the Christmas tree to exchange gifts.

    ‘I have a lot to do on Christmas Day, and I like to start cooking really early – there’s just no time to do presents in the morning if I want to get everything ready in time,’ explains Rachel.

    ‘I have two children, eight and six, but they don’t find it hard because it’s just how we have always done it. I feel like they appreciate their presents more if they’ve had to wait for them.

    ‘There will always be at least one present that’s really loud or annoying – so the later in the day they open that one, the better.’

    That actually does sound entirely reasonable. It seems that for many people, their Christmas Day schedule is based around circumstance.

    Take Rochelle, 30, she says that she staggers the gifts, opening some at different times throughout the day.

    ‘Me and my boyfriend, Kris, open ours first because I’m always too excited to wait.

    ‘But we move around a lot through the day, so that’s why it ends up being staggered. After our presents, we go to my Mum’s house, have breakfast and then open some presents there.

    ‘Then it’s on to Nana’s for the main event – Christmas lunch. The whole family will be there, and there’s a perfect window to do presents – after food, but before the Christmas quiz, when everyone starts getting far too rowdy!’

    Presents aren’t the most important thing about Christmas Day. But finding a moment to get everyone together and exchange gifts can be a really special part of the holiday – and giving the perfect gift can feel even better than receiving one.

    The Royal Family open all of their presents on Christmas Eve, over dinner – leaving Christmas Day free for food, games and festive TV. Maybe that’s one to try for next year.

    MORE: TV schedule for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day

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

    MORE: What it’s like spending Christmas Day with strangers you met online


    SEI_42666344-7a62SEI_42666344-7a62nataliemorris88Metro Illustrations I hate the present I've been given Christmas wrapping paper being opened revealing a box (Picture: Monika Muffin for Metro.co.uk)Here's what a Christmas binge does to your bodyWhy a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good ideaSEI_42666344-7a62SEI_42666344-7a62nataliemorris88Metro Illustrations I hate the present I've been given Christmas wrapping paper being opened revealing a box (Picture: Monika Muffin for Metro.co.uk)Here's what a Christmas binge does to your bodyWhy a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good idea

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    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Tenant Carlie Line pictured in the living room of her two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    Carlie lives with her daughter in a two-bedroom flat in Streatham Hill (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

    What I Rent doesn’t take a break over Christmas – don’t you worry.

    Each week we take you inside someone’s rented property in London so we can all have a better sense of what people are paying and what they’re getting in return. Today is no different, except you’ll spot some tinsel.

    This week we’re with Carlie, a 34-year-old creative director for an art gallery who lives with her four-year-old daughter in a two-bedroom flat in Streatham.

    Carlie got in touch after seeing Stephanie’s flat, which she pays £650 a month for.

    The single mum wants to show that not everyone in Streatham gets such a sweet deal, but also to remind us that sometimes high rents aren’t down to landlords being mean – she tells us her landlord has to pay a lot for the flat’s mortgage, so the rent is high to match.

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Tenant Carlie Line pictured in her bedroom of her two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    Carlie pays £1,500 a month in rent (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

    Hi, Carlie! How much rent are you paying?

    £1,500 a month including service charges.

    It’s hard to say how much I pay for bills because I pay things quarterly, but I would say including Sky, phone, and broadband maybe £400 a month.

    My gas and electric would roughly be £200 for winter. In summer nowhere near as high. But I have a four-year-old so I like to keep the heating on. My Sky is £85, my council tax £95. So yeah, £400 is roughly right.

    My private landlord is very honest and open about the mortgage and how much he has to pay therefore he makes no profit from renting it out.

    And what do you get for what you pay?

    Two bedrooms, a kitchen/living area, and a bathroom.

    How did you find the flat?

    Through a friend. They recommended me. I’ve lived here since March 2018.

    Do you like the area?

    I love where I live. I’m on the high road. I can get to pretty much anywhere from the bus stop right outside my front door. I have parking out the back and fantastic neighbours.

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    She says the rent is high because the landlord’s mortgage is high (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

    Do you feel like you have enough space?

    The rooms are huge apart from the kitchen and bathroom. But who spends that much time in those rooms anyway?

    How have you made the house feel like home?

    My landlords are amazing and have given me free reign to decorate how I like. I run a budget/DIY Instagram @carliescandles so I take great pleasure in finding ingenious ways of decorating with no money.

    I have found furniture on the street, bought flooring from the Poundshop, spray painted old stuff to make it new. Even painted the floor in the hall to freshen it up.

    Are there any major issues with the house you have to put up with?

    We need a new kitchen and the landlord has told us next year it will be replaced but it’s really not bad at all.

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Cat Ziggy is pictured in the home of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    Carlie’s cat, Ziggy, is welcome too (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

    Was it important for you to find a place that allows your cat, Ziggy?

    Yes, The women in my family would never be without a cat. My six times great grandmother was eight hours away from being buried alive until the Vicar’s cat jumped on her and woke her up. She had sleeping sickness but of course then they never knew what that was.

    So the women in my family are very superstitious about our familiars. Luckily my landlords are animal lovers and was happy for me to bring Ziggy.

    Do you have any plans to move again?

    If I move it will be a little cottage in the countryside. Close enough I could get back into London quickly but far enough away from the hustle and bustle.

    Have you considered buying a place?

    Not very likely for me in this climate but maybe if I cast enough spells?

    Shall we have a look at Carlie’s place?

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the hallway of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    The landlords have been nice enough to let Carlie decorate as she wishes (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the hallway of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    She’s a fan of budget buys and DIY (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the living room of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    The living room looks particularly festive (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    What’s more Christmassy than sitting in front of a fire drinking mulled wine? (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the living room of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    There’s plenty of space for a dining table (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    And decorations aplenty (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the living room of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the kitchen of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    The kitchen has just as much cutesy stuff (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the kitchen of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    Here’s Carlie’s bedroom (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    We’re fans of the punchy colour scheme (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    Now that’s a feature wall (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the second bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    And here’s Carlie’s daughter’s room (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the second bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    A spare bed is there for guests or for relaxing in the room (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the hallway of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    There’s desk space for writing and drawing (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the second bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the second bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    Ziggy seems to call this room his own, too (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the second bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bathroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    The bathroom. Yep, that’s a freestanding tub. Yep, we are jealous. (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bathroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the bathroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
    Merry Christmas, one and all (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

    What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property in London.

    How to get involved in What I Rent

    What I Rent is Metro.co.uk's weekly series that takes you inside the places in London people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what's normal and how much we should be paying.

    If you fancy taking part, please email whatirent@metro.co.uk.

    You'll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates!

    You'll also need to be okay with sharing how much you're paying for rent, as that's pretty important.

    MORE: What I Rent: Lee, £825 per month for a room in a two-bedroom flat in Holloway

    MORE: What I Rent: Max, £900 a month for a room in a four-bedroom house in Tooting

    MORE: What I Rent: Alex and Andy, £1,400 a month for a maisonette in Hither Green


    What I Rent: Streatham HillWhat I Rent: Streatham HillellencscottLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Tenant Carlie Line pictured in the living room of her two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Tenant Carlie Line pictured in her bedroom of her two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Cat Ziggy is pictured in the home of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the hallway of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the hallway of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the living room of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the living room of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the living room of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the kitchen of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the kitchen of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the second bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the second bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the hallway of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the second bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the second bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the second bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bathroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bathroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the bathroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandWhat I Rent: Streatham HillWhat I Rent: Streatham HillellencscottLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Tenant Carlie Line pictured in the living room of her two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Tenant Carlie Line pictured in her bedroom of her two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Cat Ziggy is pictured in the home of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the hallway of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the hallway of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the living room of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the living room of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the living room of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the living room of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the kitchen of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the kitchen of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the second bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the second bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the hallway of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the second bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the second bedroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the second bedroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bathroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL General view of the bathroom of Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah IrelandLONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 17TH 2018. WHAT I RENT: STREATHAM HILL Details are pictured in the bathroom of tenant Carlie Lines' two bedroomed flat in Streatham Hill, London, 17th December 2018. Carlie pays ?1500 a month not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland

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    (Picture: Getty)

    Burpees are the worst.

    The mere word is enough to strike fear into the hearts of everyone in the body pump class. But there’s a reason why trainers swear by them

    The burpee is an incredible full-body move. All you need is a bit of space and you can elevate your heart rate and start conditioning your muscles in seconds.

    It’s really the perfect example of functional fitness. You use every muscle in your body, and the explosive power involved in getting yourself off the ground helps improve your anaerobic fitness.

    But there’s a lot going on. Up, down, jump, land, back down again – there are loads of stages where you could get something wrong.

    Luckily, our expert James, Creative Director of Sweat by BXR, is on hand to teach you exactly how to execute the perfect burpee.

    The key is to break it down into the different elements.

    Jumping as high as you can and throwing yourself on the floor is great for your heart and lungs, but shocking on your joints.

    It can be just as effective if you slow it down.

    Start in a high plank position, then do a full push up lowering your chest to the ground and back up.

    Then jump your feet up towards your hands and jump up from a squat position.

    When you land, drop back into the high plank position and repeat the movement.

    Try for ten burpees in a row. Rest for 30 seconds and then go again. Four sets of ten burpees is a good number to aim for.

    Tips for perfect burpees

    Land on your heels
    After your squat jump, make sure to land on your heels rather than the balls of your feet. This will help to engage your bum and thigh muscles, rather than tiring out your calves.

    You don’t have to do a full press up
    If you can’t do a press up – that doesn’t mean you can’t burpee. Hold your position in a high plank, or drop as low as comfortable instead.

    Don’t forget to breathe
    Burpees are exhausting and require a huge amount of energy. Taking deep, steady breaths will help you keep going for longer.

    You don’t have to jump
    If you’re recovering from injury, or find jumping too uncomfortable, step back into the plank position instead. It’s about finding adjustments that work for you.

    MORE: How to do a plank: The perfect technique for the core exercise

    MORE: How to do crunches: The perfect technique for the abdominal muscle exercise

    MORE: Exercising at night won’t mess up your sleep


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    One of Jessica’s clients on Christmas Eve  (Picture: Jessica Veal)

    My second favourite thing to do each year is spend 25 December with my loved ones.

    My Christmas Eve and Boxing Day are a little different in comparison to how I used to spend them – my loved ones and I now dedicate these days to the Crisis at Christmas Women’s Residential Centre.

    These are my favourite days of the year. 2018 will be my fifth year at the centre, and I’ll be managing the salon.

    I’ve had so many people ask: ‘These guests are homeless, why do you think they care about their hair and nails?’ But this is exactly why I do it.

    To many of us, looking good on the outside can make us feel good on the inside and for many, it is just the beginning of their journey out of homelessness.

    It’s a huge volunteer effort, with 15 centres across Britain where guests can access food, warmth and clothing, along with being able to receive advice and support with things like health, housing and employment.

    In the salon team, a regular day involves guests having hair, nails and podiatry treatments.

    Often, the salon is a gateway to the wider centre, and we’ll see guests open up, talk to us and start feeling good – then they come out to get lunch, attend classes and meetings, and visit other services we have to offer.

    It’s a unique experience that finds me meeting the same people year on year, becoming friends and a form of family.

    Feeling positive about their appearance is often the way to gain the confidence to do this.

    When I started volunteering, I attended an open day centre in the city for men and women. One of the guests told me that visiting family at Christmas was so stressful that he’d rather spend the time with us – practical strangers.

    But we become much more than strangers and it’s a unique experience that finds me meeting the same people year on year, becoming friends and a form of family.

    Other people I have met have been at the shelters due to relationship breakdown, family bereavements, mental and physical abuse, and of course the one thing that most of us can relate to – pure loneliness.

    That’s why these centres are so important, as it gives guests a safe space to enjoy Christmas – making new friends or catching up with old ones. The way everyone should be able to spend the festive period.

    This is what makes me and so many others that I have met come back year after year.

    Each year, I also notice positive changes in terms of donations and sponsorships from companies trying to help. It’s brilliant to see this important initiative getting the attention and assistance that it deserves.

    The atmosphere that these centres provide is a safe haven to both volunteers and guests.

    Our small contributions to each other’s lives over the Christmas week is enough to alleviate forms of feeling alone – temporarily or permanently – and might be the difference that some need to make necessary steps forward in their lives and put homelessness behind them for good.

    If you would like to volunteer at Crisis at Christmas, visit crisis.org.uk/volunteer

    MORE: Stolen from, urinated on and almost set on fire: I wouldn’t wish homelessness on anyone

    MORE: Imagine yourself in the shoes of refugees and remember this isn’t a faceless crisis

    MORE: Saving someone’s life taught me how much small talk matters


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    (Picture: Sula Slawson, Beth Bartram and Amy Eldridge)

    We all have family traditions – Christmas dinner at a certain time, opening presents after we’ve all had food and fights over what to watch.

    You might think every Christmas is pretty similar but those little things make each one slightly unique.

    And when it comes to the festive season, we can get pretty stuck in our ways, usually following what we did as children.

    So when there are changes in your family, bringing those things together might not be straightforward.

    For Amy Eldridge, this is her first Christmas bringing together her new partner Gavin, her two children, Ava, now 10 and Frank, now five, and his three children, Maggie, eight, Keira, five and Grace, three.

    Amy and Gavin with Frank, Keira, Maggie, Ava and Grace (Picture: Amy Eldridge)

    Before this, she was used to small christmases with her kids, parents and her Nan.

    Her marriage ended in early 2017 and it helped her reconnect with an old friend, Gavin.

    His relationship also ended around the same time and they sent messages of support to each other.

    However, they didn’t get back in touch again until they bumped into each other at a festival with friends in the summer.

    They went on some dates between August 2017 and December 2017 but struggled to see each other as Amy’s schedule with her children and Gavin’s with his children were running on opposite weekends.

    Last year, they spent Christmas afternoon together, just the two of them, when Gavin cooked Christmas dinner and they watched Star Wars.

    Their children didn’t meet until January this year when they were able to sync their weekends so they would have all five children one weekend and a ‘child free’ weekend the next.

    What to do if you are planning a blended Christmas next year

    Barbara Honey, a counsellor and Senior Practice Consultant at Relate explains: ‘You need to prepare the children in advance – talking to them in an age appropriate way about different families having different sets of rules and doing things differently.

    ‘You know that at our house we don’t get down from the table unless we ask first…. Well not everyone does that so it might be different at someone else’s house.

    ‘You need to be aware that children may not know their new step siblings very well, and don’t expect them to get on just because they are children or because they are similar ages.

    ‘Do some research – find out what games the children like in advance. Ideally do not have the children meeting each other for the first time at Christmas – far too much pressure.

    ‘If you are moving from a small – ‘you and me’ Christmas to a bigger one be ready for signs of jealousy and envy when your attention goes to another adult or another child – make sure your child/children get plenty of attention and reassurance that they are the most important person/people in your life.

    ‘Plan ahead to have some private time with them when they will get your exclusive attention on the big day.

    Talk to your new partner about his/her expectations for Christmas. If compromise is required, make it – don’t leave it until the day.

    ‘People often assume that everyone does Christmas the same way, but they don’t – we are emotionally attached to our childhood memories of Christmas and if ‘we always open presents in the morning we are going to be very upset if we don’t open them until after tea.

    ‘Compromise might involve giving way on one thing while your partner gives way on another. Remember it is a very exciting time for children, they get tired and emotional very quickly. Build in a nap.’

    Amy explains: ‘We introduced the children gradually at play dates and days out at country parks, bowling, cinema and theme parks.

    ‘The children have become firm friends and we now spend at least one day of our child weekends together, having sleepovers and having days out.’

    Now preparing to move into their dream home together in January, this is the first time Amy and Gavin have had to consider bringing their families together for Christmas.

    Amy explained: ‘Christmases have always been family orientated for both of us. For myself they have been pretty small with just my parents, Nan and children.

    ‘It will be very different for me this year having a Christmas dinner with 15. Gavin has a large family so is used to the hustle and bustle of a large family Christmas.’

    In the build-up to the festive season, the couple have found they have had to adopt each other’s traditions as well as make some compromises.

    Amy adds: ‘We have had to make a few adjustments to Christmas to fit in with all of the kids’ parents and to ensure that we get to see everyone on Christmas Day.

    Instagram Photo

    ‘We have adopted Elf on the Shelf from Gavin and girls, they have adopted Christmas duvets and new Christmas night pyjamas from us.

    ‘We have enjoyed taking on parts of both of our Christmas’ to make one large family Christmas.

    ‘Our parents will be meeting for the first time on Christmas Day which is a bit nerve wracking.

    ‘I have always had to have a strict budget when dealing with Christmas, allocating a certain amount to each child, having a list of what to buy, everything finished and wrapped by early December.

    ‘Gavin’s approach to Christmas was very last minute and spending lots of money on each child with no plan of what to buy until he got to the toy shop. We have met in the middle with both of our approaches to ensure a smooth but fun, toy filled Christmas for all five children.’

    On Christmas Day, the couple plan to wake up by themselves with all the children staying with Amy’s kids staying with their dad and Gavin’s kids staying with their mum for Christmas Eve and the morning of Christmas Day.

    The couple will have the morning to set up presents for the kids before they return at 12pm so they can open their gifts together.

    The couple, the kids and their families are then meeting at a local restaurant for Christmas lunch – which will hopefully help to keep stress levels down for Amy’s first big family Christmas.

    Beth, Rick, Albie, Seth and Max (Picture: Beth Bartram)

    For Beth Bartram, the blended family Christmas is something she is a little more used to.

    She met her husband, Rick, five years ago when she was a single mum to Albie, now six, Seth, now seven and Effie, now 10. Rick had one son – Max, also 10.

    Beth, who owns her own clothing brand Fearlesss, had been single for about 18 months after splitting up with her kids’ dad and in 2013, she had her first and only Christmas as a single parent.

    She explains: ‘My kids were quite young at the time.

    ‘It was just one Christmas that I was single.

    ‘It was quite quiet and strange, with it being just me and the kids on Christmas Day.

    ‘We saw my parents and my family later in the day but the morning was a bit lonely really.

    ‘To go from a family unit the year before to that was quite hard.’

    Beth and Rick with their children (Picture: Beth Bartram)

    By Christmas 2014, Beth and Rick had met and moved in together and they had to think about bringing their kids together on the big day.

    Beth’s children spent the day with them both and Max stayed with his mum before joining them later in the day.

    Since then, they have split the day between themselves and the children’s other parents but Beth admits it has not always been easy.

    She says: ‘It can be quite disjointed and hard to make sure no one gets upset. I think after a few years, we have got there now.

    ‘It’s important to work together to avoid any atmosphere.

    ‘It is hard when you are two families coming together – I have been on both sides of it because my children’s dad has a new partner.

    ‘We all want the kids to feel like everyone is getting on. Christmas is a special time of year and you don’t want it to affect the kids. I see how happy they are when they have everything around them.’

    For Beth and Rick, one of the most important things is incorporating things everyone was used to but also creating memories of their own as a family.

    Beth adds: ‘You are set in your own ways and each family has their own traditions.

    ‘I remember things like we always had stockings, then breakfast and open the rest of our presents together but my stepson was used to opening presents in one go. We just had to adjust.

    ‘Now, as the years have gone on, we have started new traditions as a family of six.

    ‘Every year we go to see the pantomime in Manchester and we go to see Santa together.

    ‘I think it’s nice and my stepson has things he does with his mum and her side of the family so we try to do different things so he doesn’t have to do things twice.’

    Sula and Tom with Samuel, Luke, James, Blla, Giselle and Shia (Picture: Sula Slawson)

    Tom Gunning and Sula Slawson met in 2014, when Tom was a recently divorced single parent with one daughter, Bella, nine, and Sula was a single parent with three boys, Samuel, now 11, Luke, 10, and James, eight.

    Since then, the couple have gone on to have two children together, Giselle, 18 months and Shia, three months.

    Sula explains: ‘When we met, it was Tom’s first Chistmas away from his daughter, something that they both found difficult, so we spoke and agreed that he would spend Christmas morning at his ex-wife’s house to open presents and spend time with his daughter.

    ‘After this, he returned to us and we had a had an intimate celebration, just the five of us.

    The boys and Bella meeting Giselle (Picture: Sula Slawson)

    ‘Tom used to visit his mum and dad every Christmas or on Boxing Day and this was also an opportunity for them to see their granddaughter.

    ‘Although we desperately wanted to spend every second together (as we’d been together for three months at this point and were inseparable) we agreed that it was important that he still carried on that tradition and it was definitely too early for Tom to whisk us all down there to ‘meet the parents’.

    ‘This was a hard time for us as we had never spent time apart since we made it official in mid-September 2014.’

    The boys and Bella in Christmas pyjamas (Picture: Sula Slawson)

    Now, the couple basically have two Christmas days to try to accommodate everyone.

    Sula adds: ‘It’s honestly been a breeze since. Tom’s daughter alternates yearly between us and her mum and instead of being there physically, Tom will Skype her and then she’ll join us on Boxing Day.

    ‘For the past two Christmases we have all gone down to Tom’s parents in Dorchester which the kids love because they get spoilt rotten with presents and treats on tap.

    ‘We practically repeat Christmas Day all over again on Boxing Day so the kids, who regard themselves as brothers and sisters (we don’t use the term ‘step’ in our family) get to experience it all over again and we save some presents for them to open altogether, as well as their stockings, as they all like to see what each other has received.

    Tom with some of the children (Picture: Sula Slawson)

    ‘We all get dressed in matching Christmas PJs, spend the day watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas jingles…and Tom and the kids will usually bake some cookies while I chill out on the sofa eating cheese and crackers.’

    MORE: Meet the people paying for private therapy because they feel failed by the NHS

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    Blended familiesBlended familieslauraabernethy6Blended familiesBlended familieslauraabernethy6

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    Mona Patel from San Antonio, Texas, was involved in a horrific drink driving accident at 17 years old which saw her go through 20 surgeries and left her unable to walk for three years.

    Seven years after the accident, she was given the choice to keep having more surgeries or have her leg amputated above the knee. She chose the latter.

    Almost 30 years later, Mona has dedicated her life to encouraging other amputees to get active, to get fit, and get out of their comfort zone.

    Climbing Kilimanjaro is one of the things she’s achieved with them.

    Mt. Kilimanjaro pictures Credit: David Tesinsky
    Mona, who became an amputee at the age of 24, climbed Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in the world (Picture: David Tesinsky)
    Mt. Kilimanjaro pictures Credit: David Tesinsky
    She led a team of other amputees on their biggest challenge yet (Picture: David Tesinsky)

    After her accident, Mona started the San Antonio Amputee Foundation through which she led a team of 13 amputees aged between 14 to 66, along with a medical support team and film crew, up Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world standing at 19,341 feet.

    Mona told Metro.co.uk about how strenuous but fulfilling the climb was.

    ‘The climb was quite challenging but we had done ample training to prepare, physically,’ she says. ‘And I tried my best to prepare my team for the mental aspects.

    Mt. Kilimanjaro pictures Credit: David Tesinsky
    (Picture: David Tesinsky)

    ‘It was an amazing experience for all of us, adaptive and able-bodied. We kept each other motivated. The times one of us would hit a wall, there would be an entire team ready to support and encourage.

    ‘I selected my team very carefully, knowing I’d need a team that had a positive collective resolve. I decided on Kilimanjaro because I knew it was a summit that was manageable with hard work.

    ‘It was six days to the summit and two days down. There were so many highlights from the trip but downsides too.

    ‘One of the amputees had severe altitude sickness and thankfully we got to safety in time.

    ‘The other difficulty was reaching the summit after 12-14 hours of straight climbing.’

    Mt. Kilimanjaro pictures Credit: David Tesinsky
    (Picture: David Tesinsky)

    Mona started the San Antonio Amputee Foundation to help others like her rebuild their lives. The organisation offers peer support, education, and financial assistance to pay for home or car modifications as well as prosthetic limbs.

    Due to all the important work she has done, Mona was recognised by the CNN Heroes programme which celebrates people making positive and inspiring contributions to their communities.

    Though she has worked with some incredible people like herself over the last 20 years, it’s been an extremely tough journey for Mona.

    She had her accident as a teenager when a drunk driver came charging at her after making eye contact with her and calling her a wh*re.

    Woman with prosthetic limb climbs Mount Kilimanjaro Credit: San Antonio Amputee Foundation
    Mona lost her leg after a drunk driver smashed into her (Picture: San Antonio Amputee Foundation)
    Woman with prosthetic limb climbs Mount Kilimanjaro Credit: San Antonio Amputee Foundation
    (Picture: San Antonio Amputee Foundation)

    In hospital, Mona’s body weight went down to a mere 75 pounds and she developed malaria.

    After countless surgeries, something sparked in her and she decided to be strong and go for amputation.

    Since then, along with the support of her husband and two children, Mona has stayed strong to help lots of other amputees and assure them they are capable of much more than they think.

    She shared words of advice for anyone, regardless of body type, about believing in themselves: ‘What I tell those I work with is, that with the right mindset anything is possible. If you think you can or if you think you can’t, the answer is yes.’

    MORE: Woman who became paralysed after horrific car crash dreams of walking down the aisle

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    Why a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good idea
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    You’ve opened your presents, eaten large numbers of roast potatoes, and now you’re settling in to watch a classic Christmas film.

    But wait. You’re feeling snoozy. Oh so snoozy.

    Is it bad form to ditch the film, pop on your new pyjamas, and have a lie down?

    We say no. No, it is not.

    In fact, everyone should go and have a nap right this minute. A Christmas Day nap is a tradition we should all embrace – it feels good and it does us good.

    There are a few reasons we feel the urge to nap on Christmas Day.

    The first is that often our sleep is disrupted in the run-up to 25 December – we’ve been too excited to sleep properly the night before, or we’ve been up late wrapping presents, or the stress of getting everything ready has made us toss and turn.

    A recent study from Nectar Sleep found that Brits collectively lose 5.5 million hours of sleep over the Christmas period, with endless Christmas parties and boozing keeping us out late.

    Add to that uncomfortable beds in your family’s home, excited kids running around at 6am, and long journeys on noisy trains, and it makes sense that you might not have stuck to your usual sleep routine over the last few days.

    Then you get to Christmas itself, which, as we know, is a time for season’s eatings.

    You’ll notice yourself feeling sleepy after drinking booze, which is a depressant, but also after you eat a massive Christmas lunch.

    Here's what a Christmas binge does to your body
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    The body uses quite a bit of energy to digest large amounts of food, which saps away our energy. The digestion process produces insulin, which can trigger the increased production of serotonin (the happiness hormone) and melatonin (the sleepiness hormone).

    When you eat a lot of sugary food (oh, hello family tub of Quality Street), excessive insulin can lead to a sudden increase in those two hormones, making you feel so sluggish that all you want to do is laze on the sofa.

    Carbs add to this effect too, making us feel warm, cosy, and sleepy, while turkey, cheese, and salmon contain high levels of tryptophan, which again spikes your melatonin levels.

    No wonder you’re feeling tired after all that camembert and turkey, then.

    Most of us try to battle that natural tiredness, but it could be a great idea to give in and just bloody well have a nap. You deserve it, and resisting tiredness will only make you an irritable mess.

    Petra Simic, interim medical director at Bupa Health Clinics notes that ‘a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can improve mood, alertness and performance, especially in the early afternoon.’

    A nap can reduce stress and improve your mood, which could be the essential protection you need from family tension and bubbling arguments over Monopoly.

    Nipping up to your room for 20 minutes can also give you a moment of relief from the pressure cooker of Christmas with the family.

    You can head upstairs, give your snoozy body what it’s asking for, then return to the festivities feeling restored.

    ‘If you’re finding the festivities particularly taxing, then having a nap on Christmas day will help you to recharge your batteries and feel refreshed,’ Dr Rafael Euba, consultant psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre.

    Plus, a proper nap might save you from falling asleep on the sofa and waking up with a sore neck and tinsel draped around your shoulders.

    Just make sure that your nap has a time limit with a set alarm. A nap shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes, as this may disrupt your sleep at night-time.

    Don’t leave it too late, either – just after Christmas lunch in the early afternoon is perfect.

    To make sure your sleep is still excellent come nightfall, take it easy on the booze (it makes you feel tired but then disrupts your sleep), avoid caffeine after noon, and turn off screens an hour before you want to sleep. That’s a good time for a board game, as long as it won’t be too tense.

    Christmas can be stressful, and it can knock your routines out of their usual order. Sleep helps with that – both a proper night’s sleep and a short nap after a massive meal.

    Happy snoozing, one and all.

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    Why a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good ideaWhy a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good ideaellencscottHere's what a Christmas binge does to your bodyWhy a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good ideaWhy a nap on Christmas day feels so damn good/is such a good ideaellencscottHere's what a Christmas binge does to your body

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    What happens if you hold in farts around your partner?
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    We all hold in farts on occasion.

    Sometimes we feel a fart coming in at work. Or we’re in a confined space with strangers, and aren’t feeling evil. Or we’re dating someone and we haven’t reached that stage of comfort yet. Or we’re hanging out with someone’s family and want to make a good impression.

    We hold it in, we tense up, and we do whatever it takes to keep that gas from escaping our butt.

    But is this doing us any damage? Is it bad to hold in your farts?

    The short answer is that yes, it really is better out than in, and if you need to fart, you should.

    The good news is that it’s unlikely that holding in your farts will do you any serious damage – but it can lead to embarrassing consequences.

    ‘If you get an excessive build-up of intestinal gas it can lead to bloating, which can be really uncomfortable, and often embarrassing too if your stomach is making strange gurgling noises,’ Gill Hart, the scientific director of YorkTest Laboratories, tells Metro.co.uk.

    Holding in your farts can cause bloating and discomfort, leaving you awkwardly squirming in your seat.

    There’s a much smaller risk of diverticula, causing pockets in the wall of the colon to form. In very rare cases, these pockets can become infected, which would need medical attention. This isn’t common, and a cause and effect relationship between holding in farts and diverticula hasn’t been properly established – it may just be that those with diverticula tend to fart more often.

    What’s more likely is that your fart will unleash itself in another way.

    Why do we fart?

    Farts happen when the colon produces bacteria and gas as a result of digestion. The gas moves around the colon and collects in the rectum, and when the volume is large enough it triggers the relaxation of the anal sphincter, allowing the release of the gas through the anal canal.

    Excessive amounts of gas can be produced when you eat a lot of foods that are difficult to digest. The bacteria of the colon digest the nutrients and produce gas as a result.

    Foods that can trigger excess gas are calls FODMAPS (fermentable oligo, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols).

    The smell of someone’s farts will depend on the food they’re eating and the type of bacteria their intestine produces, as well as their general gut health.

    Gas doesn’t just go away. It’ll come out somehow, no matter how hard you try to hold it in.

    Left unreleased, some of gas can also be reabsorbed into the circulation and exhaled in your breath – which, yes, will smell pretty foul – or burped out. Both of which are likely things you’d like to avoid if you’re worried about farting.

    As professor Clare Collins explains in a piece for The Conversation, ‘holding on too long means the build up of intestinal gas will eventually escape via an uncontrollable fart.’

    That’s right – an uncontrollable fart. The second you relax and forget about your need for relief, that gas could come blasting right out, with all the noise and smell you’ve been trying so hard to limit.

    So, to recap: holding in your farts can lead to bloating, discomfort, smelly breath or burping, and a loud, uncontrollable fart. None of these consequences sound great.

    Our advice: Let it out.

    Don’t panic, you don’t have to do a massive fart in front of strangers/your colleagues/your new partner/your partner’s family. Rather than holding it in, it’s best to nip to the loo and let out your fart there.

    If you’re unable to escape, there are ways to limit the sound your fart may make – so you can get away without a stink being blamed on you.

    United European Gastroentorology Education explains that the noise levels of farts are down to ‘vibrations in the anal canal and buttocks as the air rushes out’. They recommend that if you know you’re about to fart and you can’t leave the room, it’s worth leaning forward in your seat or secretly pulling one buttock to the side to ‘free the passage and silence your fart’.

    If you’re feeling really tense at the idea of farting, you can also adjust your diet to reduce your likelihood of flatulence.

    How to reduce farting:

    Avoiding FODMAPS foods and fizzy drinks (including Champagne) can help to prevent the number of farts you do as well as their smell.

    You may also have an intolerance to certain types of foods that can cause bloating and excessive gas.

    High FODMAP foods include:

    • Onions
    • Garlic
    • Cabbage
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Snow peas
    • Asparagus
    • Artichokes
    • Leeks
    • Beetroot
    • Celery
    • Sweetcorn
    • Brussels Sprouts
    • Mushrooms
    • Peaches
    • Apricots
    • Nectarines,
    • Plums
    • Prunes
    • Mangoes
    • Apples
    • Pears
    • Watermelon
    • Cherries
    • Blackberries
    • Beans and lentils
    • Wheat and rye
    • Dairy products that contain lactose
    • Sweeteners and artificial sweeteners, including agave, honey, high fructose corn syrup, xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, and mannitol
    • Alcohol
    • Sports drinks
    • Coconut water

    But really, it’s important to note that farting is a perfectly natural, normal byproduct of the digestive process. Everybody farts and it’s nothing to be embarrassed.

    Relax and let it go – even if you can only do that in a corner when no one’s around.

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    Babies born on Christmas day
    (Pictures: Vanessa Rinaldi, Lisa Van Kempen, Charlotte Robertson)

    Being pregnant at Christmas isn’t much fun.

    You have to skip the mulled wine and you’re advised to avoid the Brie and Camembert in the pre-Christmas build up.

    So by the time you get to Christmas day, you probably can’t wait for Christmas dinner, when at least you can eat everything on your plate.

    But what if you miss out on your longed-for dinner because your little one decides the big day is the time to make an appearance?

    Christmas day is one of the least common days to be born in the UK, perhaps due to fewer inductions and non-emergency intervention due to lower staff numbers.

    Unfortunately, if your baby is on the way, you can’t do much to stop it and last year, some new mums gave up present opening and pulling crackers to welcome a new addition to their families.

    ‘I listened to Little Drummer Boy as my legs were up in stirrups and I’ll never be able to listen to it in the same way again.’

    Vanessa Rinaldi, 32, Leamington Spa

    Vanessa and Barnaby (Picture: Vanessa Rinaldi)

    My due date was 6 January but as my first son, Jack was two weeks early, I was expecting it to be around Christmas. I hadn’t expected it to be actually Christmas Day.

    We live in the countryside and when the snow hit a few days before Christmas last year we were even talking about how the air ambulance would get to us.

    I remember putting a post out on our local Facebook group to see if there were any midwives in the village over Christmas in case we couldn’t get to the hospital in time.

    On Christmas Eve, I was so grouchy and spent most of the day bouncing on a huge ball trying to get comfy – I even ate on it at the dinner table on Christmas Eve.

    (Picture: Vanessa Rinaldi)

    We laid out the mince pies, carrot and a glass of whiskey for Santa (luckily Santa never got round to drinking the whiskey!) and went to bed at 11pm.

    At 1am my waters went – I remember saying out loud ‘not Christmas Day’ in the en suite before waking my husband and saying ‘I think my waters have broken.’

    Because my first son Jack had been born in six hours I was keen to get to the hospital in case it was quicker but not before two crumpets for fuel and stopping to write an emotional letter to Jack to explain that Mummy and Daddy wouldn’t be there when he woke on Christmas day because they’d gone to the hospital to bring home a present not even Santa could deliver.

    I had to have an epidural which meant I couldn’t walk for Christmas Day.

    Vanessa and Barnaby (Picture: Vanessa Rinaldi)

    I won’t be able to listen to Little Drummer Boy this year as I remember having my legs in stirrups, not feeling anything from the waist down with ‘pa rum pum pum pum’ blasting out – it’s hilarious to look back on, what a Christmas Day.

    Barnaby Jay Wakford arrived at 4.30am on Christmas morning, weighing 6lb 9.5oz.

    He was the first baby born that day at Warwick Hospital and each of the Christmas Day babies get a special little red bobble hat knitted by the Friends of the Hospital.

    He was happy and healthy which was a huge relief after a rocky pregnancy and he really was a Christmas miracle.

    Jack and Barnaby (Picture: Vanessa Rinaldi)

    We stayed in one night as unfortunately my placenta wasn’t as keen to come out.

    Christmas dinner in the hospital was the best ever – much better than the usual white toast and jam you get.

    I was sad not to have anyone to pull the cracker with though but have saved it for Barney’s 18th birthday.

    Barnaby (Picture: Vanessa Rinaldi)

    We kept the beef wellington for our new family of four to enjoy Boxing Day evening with a glass of champagne.

    That night, snow fell and we spent the next week sledging, eating all the Christmas food and opening Christmas presents every day – it was the most special time.

    This year, we’ll be celebrating his birthday on Christmas Eve for the first few years until he’s old enough to decide when and how he wants to celebrate – bubbles for us and cake for him.

    In many ways it’s a lovely time to be born as we’ll all always be on holiday and he’ll always have his friends around for a party. But we are insisting on two separate sets of presents.

    ‘My five-year-old thought we were Father Christmas when we came home at 3.30am with the baby.’

    Lisa Van Kempen, 34, Basingstoke

    Lisa and Bella (Picture: Lisa Van Kempen)

    My due date was 28 December but I was taken in a week early on 23 December to be induced.

    I had a previous stillborn baby and the plan was to induce on or around 40 weeks.

    As the baby was measuring on the larger side my consultant was happy to induce a week early

    When I arrived I was shocked how festive and well decorated the wards were. The nurses were dressed up and were so happy and jolly.

    Bella as a newborn (Picture: Lisa Van Kempen)

    I was the only lady on my ward and it was very quiet on the maternity ward. It was the most relaxing time I’ve spent in hospital.

    They initially tried a pessary form of inducement but that didn’t work so at 7pm on the 24 December my waters were broken and at 8pm I was put on the drip up be induced.

    I had Bella Raine Van Kempen at 1.14am, weighing 9lb 3oz. She was the second baby born on Christmas Day at North Hants Hospital, Basingstoke.

    Bella meeting her siblings (Piture: Lisa Van Kempen)

    The staff were all excited to see who was going to be born first. They were popping in and out and joked they had bets going.

    The labour was great. We were sat there listening to Christmas songs on the radio and was so chilled and happy.

    All the midwives were full of joy and they were sharing sweets and homemade brownies.

    Baby Bella (Picture: Lisa Van Kempen)

    My midwife came in and had made a crochet crown and gave it to me for Bella, along with a muslin embroidered with Basingstoke Christmas baby.

    Luckily, everything was fine with the baby so I went home at 3.30am.

    My five-year-old heard us arriving home and she thought we was Father Christmas.

    I went to bed and woke up again at 7am with our new addition, my in-laws and older children Freya, Sharna and Hayden.

    Bella now (Picture: Lisa Van Kempen)

    We had tea and biscuits and watched the kids open their presents and fuss over the new baby.

    The nurse came to see Bella at 10am and then we went out to my husband’s family’s house for our Christmas dinner. They were pretty shocked.

    We thought she might be born on Christmas Eve but am so happy that’s she born on such a special day.

    This year she has a birthday gifts and Christmas gifts to unwrap on Christmas Day and we’ll have a birthday cake on Christmas day but have a party in the new year.

    ‘I found my Christmas dinner in the oven the next day but threw it in the bin.’

    Charlotte Robertson, 28, Stoke on Trent

    Amelia as a newborn (Picture: Charlotte Robertson)

    My due date was the 11 January. I never thought I would give birth on Christmas Day and I really didn’t want to either.

    I went into hospital on 23 December to be induced but I was still waiting at 11pm on 24th so they broke my waters. They actually flooded the room. The nurse had never seen so much amniotic fluid.

    Amelia was born at 1.36pm on Christmas Day and she weighed 7lb 4oz. Luckily I was able to have my partner, mum and her grandparents there because it was Christmas Day.

    Amelia (Picture: Charlotte Robertson)

    We had to stay in that day and I didn’t get a Christmas dinner but they did a buffet at the hospital for everyone to nibble on.

    I went home the next day and found mine in the oven so that ended up in the bin.

    Amelia was born on Christmas Day (Picture: Charlotte Robertson)

    The staff were fantastic and treated her like royalty.

    This year we’re having Christmas in the morning and we’re going to celebrate her birthday at 1.36pm on the day but we’ll have a party for her a few days before on 22 December.

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    Babies born on Christmas dayBabies born on Christmas daylauraabernethy6Babies born on Christmas dayBabies born on Christmas dayBabies born on Christmas daylauraabernethy6Babies born on Christmas day

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