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- 01/17/19--03:36: _Dad who adopted two...
- 01/18/19--23:27: _Fertility advice wi...
- 01/19/19--01:03: _Obesity is a diseas...
- 01/19/19--01:15: _You can now buy a h...
- 01/19/19--01:22: _A Creme Egg has bee...
- 01/19/19--01:25: _Sniffing a burger o...
- 01/19/19--01:32: _Disabled woman slam...
- 01/19/19--03:12: _I got an offer to O...
- 01/19/19--03:59: _It’s never okay to ...
- 01/19/19--04:01: _Dumped dogs get muc...
- 01/19/19--04:30: _Woman writes powerf...
- 01/19/19--06:00: _My patient has been...
- 01/19/19--06:35: _Why do I love watch...
- 01/19/19--07:09: _If you need to focu...
- 01/19/19--07:54: _Couple with a 35 ye...
- 01/19/19--08:11: _If you can’t afford...
- 01/19/19--08:47: _For sailing, sand, ...
- 01/19/19--09:12: _There’s a festival ...
- 01/19/19--21:00: _What time does the ...
- 01/20/19--02:00: _My Odd Job: I’m the...
- 01/18/19--23:27: Fertility advice with Zita West: 5 tips for getting pregnant at 40
- 01/19/19--01:15: You can now buy a house in Sicily for £1 – here’s how
- 01/19/19--01:22: A Creme Egg has been in this woman’s family since 1973
- 01/19/19--03:59: It’s never okay to talk about an ex’s penis size
- 01/19/19--06:35: Why do I love watching makeup get destroyed?
- 01/19/19--07:09: If you need to focus, just put this £395 ‘thought box’ on your head
- 01/19/19--08:47: For sailing, sand, sea and spas, head to BodyHoliday Saint Lucia
- Breakfast wraps
- Sausage / Bacon egg and cheese bagels
- Toasted bagels plain / with jam / light cream cheese
- 5 different incarnations of the Egg McMuffin, including:
- Double Sausage
- Double Bacon
- Classic egg and cheese
- Pancakes with syrup and optional sausage
- Bacon rolls
- Quaker Oat So Simple plain / Apple and cherry porridge
- Cheesy Bacon Flatbreads
- Chocolate covered / sugar doughnuts
- Blueberry / Chocolate muffins
- Pineapple sticks
- Triple chocolate cookies
- Tropicana Orange Juice
- Various coffees, hot chocolate and tea
- 01/20/19--02:00: My Odd Job: I’m the world’s only doll’s house interior designer
Gregg Eichhorn, from Ohio, U.S, who has adopted nine disabled children with his wife, wanted his family to enjoy the snow over the weekend.
But his disabled son Elijah and daughter Zahara both use wheelchairs, making it difficult for them to play in the snow.
After a meeting with all his children, not all of whom use wheelchairs, Gregg – with the help of his sister – decided to make the fort and make sure everyone could play in it.
Having built igloos as a child, Gregg built his children an accessible fort which included a mini igloo and second-floor snowball deck.
Though he was widely applauded for his efforts, the dad-of-nine said it was just another day of having fun with his family.
Sharing the picture on his Facebook, he wrote: ‘Built this handicap accessible igloo today with my sister. Includes mini igloo and second-floor snowball deck. Not the first ambitious thing I’ve done.’
Talking to disability support group The Mighty, Gregg said: ‘I had talked it over with the kids and decided we were going to make it so that a wheelchair could roll into it so that Elijah and Zahara could come into the igloo the same as the other kids.
‘Our family includes all of our kids in every activity that we can. Nothing was super extraordinary about the day.’
Gregg and his wife knew early on that they wanted to build a family through adoption but didn’t expect to have adopted all disabled children.
Shortly after, they got their foster parents license and started welcoming kids into their home.
‘We received a call for Elijah, a terminally ill unhealthy baby boy who was inevitably going to die in about two weeks,’ explained Gregg.
‘Elijah is now 11 years old and I cannot imagine not having him. He makes me a better person and even taught me to adopt children with medical needs.
‘He has cortical vision blindness and had his eyes closed most of the morning until we rolled him into the snow fort. He widely opened up his eyes and was looking around.’
‘And Zahara is from Uganda, where it doesn’t snow.’
After Gregg’s friend shared an image of the igloo on Reddit, the post blew up, with many commending Gregg for his family spirit.
The humble dad simply responded: ‘Everyone needs a loving family’.
Dad builds accessible iglooDad builds accessible igloofaimabakar1A dad from the US state of Ohio decided to build an igloo out of snow for his disabled daughter. With a wider and taller front porch than most home-built igloos would generally have, Gregg Eichhorn's daughter Zahara was able to access it in her wheelchair.A dad from the US state of Ohio decided to build an igloo out of snow for his disabled daughter. With a wider and taller front porch than most home-built igloos would generally have, Gregg Eichhorn's daughter Zahara was able to access it in her wheelchair.
There’s no avoiding it – getting pregnant at 40 is different from getting pregnant in your 20s and 30s.
In the majority of situations, the main factor in this (taking the man out of the equation for a moment) is likely to be egg quality, although there may also be a decreased ovarian reserve (fewer eggs left) and hormonal imbalances which can be contributing factors to why women over 40 are struggling to get pregnant.
Despite it being harder to get pregnant over the age of 40 though, many women do go on to get pregnant and have a baby.
In fact, over-40s are the only age group with a rising conception rate, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.
So how do you increase your chances of success?
Fertility expert Zita West shares her top 5 tips for getting pregnant at 40.
Tip 1: Measure your egg reserves
You may have read about ‘egg counting’, but this is misleading as you cannot actually ‘count’ the number of eggs you have left.
What you can do though is use a blood test and a scan that assesses what your egg reserves are likely to be and the higher your egg reserves, the better the chances are for you to conceive.
The test will help you to make informed choice and to plan in terms of what your next steps are.
However, it is really important that you think ahead, because for every test there is always a result.
I have seen so many women devastated when they get a result they’re not expecting or have been told by a professional that they’re never going to get pregnant.
If you’re not in a relationship and do not want a baby alone, you need to think carefully about taking this test and whether it is the best thing for you.
Where it can be useful to measure your egg reserves is that it can predict how well you’re likely to respond to IVF drugs, which can help you to decide whether to start planning fertility treatment.
Tip 2: Have more sex
A lot of women that I see aged 40 and over just aren’t having enough sex. For some, they’ve been in a relationship for a long time, or for others they’re stressed and just really, really busy with their jobs and travelling, etc.
But the thing is, your 6-day fertile window is just the same if you’re 40 as it is when you’re 30 so take advantage of that. You need to be having sex at least three times a week.
Tip 3: Take the pressure off
Performance anxiety around fertility is a perfectly normal and natural feeling. The way in which some women constantly track and monitor their fertility can put pressure on their men, especially around the time of ovulation. The woman focuses on her fertile time, her anxiety goes up, she tells her partner to ‘come home immediately’, his anxiety goes up, and so on. Sound familiar?
If trying to conceive is giving your partner performance anxiety, then here are my top tips:
1. Don’t feel like you need to tell your man every little detail about your cycle – at the end of the day, it’s a passion killer!
2. Try talking to each other properly about how you can get past this hurdle together, or, if you can’t, seek couples counselling
3. For a man to be able to perform, he needs passion, and scheduling your sex life and giving him specific times when he needs to be home can ruin that, so try to come up with a plan together on how to manage this. It can be hard to have fun and be romantic all the time, but it’s important to try and take the pressure off in any way you can.
4. For many men with performance anxiety, it’s present for a short period of time – such as during the time that you are trying for a baby. But for others, it can be a sign of something underlying. Don’t be afraid to go to your GP, just to make sure everything is okay.
Tip 4: Try acupuncture
Acupuncture can help with blood flow to the ovaries, which means more oxygen, more nutrients and more help developing the follicles.
It may also help with stress and beta-endorphin release, which means a greater sense of relaxation and wellbeing.
It really can give you that bit of extra support that you need and be that one thing that you have control over to help improve the process.
Tip 4: Learn to manage your stress
So many of the women that I see at 40 have got responsible jobs and a lot of stress that comes with that.
They’re working long hours and they’re incredibly tired and, on top of that, trying for a baby as well sends them into a bit of panic.
It’s worthwhile learning to manage your stress before even trying to get pregnant. Find the stress-management techniques that work for you and ensure that you add them into your daily routine.
This may be yoga, meditation, swimming, running or just taking a long bath – try different things out and select whichever works best.
Tip 5: Be strategic in your approach
I really advise my patients to be strategic and have to plan. So many couples over 40 see getting pregnant as a challenge, but they focus so much on getting to the finish line, they forget to enjoy the journey.
Of course, getting pregnant requires time, effort and commitment. And more often than not, there will be obstacles along the way.
But you’d be surprised how planning ahead can ease your mindset and make the process just that little bit easier.
It’s important to have ticked every box and that you can look back and know that you have done everything you possibly could do. I advise the creation of a holistic plan tht looks at health, nutrition, wellbeing, relationship, stress, work-life balance, as well as looking outside the box, too.
At 40 there is a limited window of how long you should try naturally because of age and uncertainty about getting pregnant quickly.
So exploring options such as IVF ( depending on your egg reserves) is worth doing and will help you understand what your options are.
You can find more by Zita West at zitawest.com, or you can make an appointment to visit the Zita West Clinic (020 7224 0017), where Zita and her team specialise in natural fertility and IVF as well as working with couples who have already had failed IVF cycles.
This story is part of Fertility Month, a month-long series covering all aspects of fertility.
For the next four weeks, we will be speaking to people at all stages of the fertility journey as well as doctors, lawyers and fertility experts who can shed light on the most important issues.
If you have a story to tell, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a selection of the stories from Fertility Month so far - and you can find all Fertility Month content here.
The call by the Royal College of Physicians to recognise obesity as a disease, and not a lifestyle choice, must be welcomed.
It has been a long time coming and we’ve already fallen behind the USA, the ‘fat capital’ of the world, where obesity was recognised as a disease in 2013.
The distinction is important. For too long, being overweight or obese has been deemed by doctors, politicians and the general public as an individual’s fault, the result of wanton gluttony, sloth and laziness.
Not that we employ the same blame approach to other ‘lifestyle’ diseases.
Smoking causes lung cancer, but who would think of denying a smoker specialist treatment? Alcohol causes liver damage, some cancers, heart disease and stroke, but help for those afflicted is readily available.
Obesity is not the individual’s fault. We live in an obesogenic environment – one that promotes lifestyles that lead to weight gain.
I’m not saying that we have no control over what we eat, and what activity we undertake, but there are powerful underlying reasons for why we do what we do, and why some of us make poor choices.
Obesity is undoubtedly a socio-economic disease. Poor access to healthy food, or exercise opportunities, oppressive environments, unsafe streets and the underlying stress of poverty all takes its toll.
We live in an obesogenic environment – one that promotes lifestyles that lead to weight gain.
Genetics also play a part. Between 40 and 70 per cent of the variation in our BMI (body mass index) is due to genetic factors.
There are a few rare genetic disorders that cause severe obesity, but the environment that we live in has a much larger impact.
Over the last 30 years, our environment has changed how we live considerably. In the 1980s, eight per cent of women and six per cent of men in England were obese; in 2016 levels were recorded at 26 per cent.
Calories are cheap; we are inundated with adverts for high-fat, high-sugar, processed foods, aggressively marketed, and priced cheap to sell; hard to resist if you’re on a limited budget. It’s hard to be physically active if you have a sedentary job, you have your own car to drive from door to door, a much more appealing option if public transport is limited and streets feel unsafe.
I’ve worked with many overweight and obese patients over the years. Their battle with their weight is tough, and lifelong. Obesity can never be cured, only managed.
An important thing that is often missed when it comes to tackling weight management is the role of psychological therapy. In my hospital clinic we estimated that more than a third of our patients had significant psychological issues.
Unless underlying stress, anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem or self-confidence is tackled head on, any progress made will be little and definitely short-lived.
From my time as medical advisor on The Biggest Loser, I found that regardless of the amazing work contestants achieved with their weight loss and health goals, when the cameras stop rolling and they had to return to their old lives, they faced huge dangers if they returned to an unfulfilling job an unhappy relationship.
Old demons surfaced again and old habits returned, and the majority of participants once again continued with an unhealthy, overweight lifestyle.
Obesity kills. On average, if you’re obese, it could cut your life expectancy by 10 years.
And that could be after years of disabled living. You could also contract type two diabetes and heart disease, mobility problems, sleep disorders or some forms of cancer.
You’ll be offered medical help for all of those disorders of course – and so you should – but it’s unlikely that you’ll be offered help to deal with the underlying problem, your weight.
And that’s why it’s important that’s we recognise obesity as a disease, as a product of our unhealthy environment and a cause of significant morbidity and premature mortality.
Unless underlying stress, anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem or self-confidence is tackled head on, any progress made will be little and definitely short-lived.
Dealing with the health consequences of obesity is already causing profound strain on NHS resources, yet treatment for those with a weight problem is starkly limited and where it is available, results are often poor and short-lived.
We desperately need more specialist medical services to be made available across the country.
Another important way we can work to prevent obesity is to get the government to limit the activities of those who profit from promoting and selling unhealthy food, and to make the world in which we live less conducive to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Twenty five years ago a single patient in my GP practice changed my whole perspective on obesity.
As the tears rolled down her cheeks, so desperate for help, I recognised the terrible toll that years of obesity take on an individual, and how helpless many people feel.
Reclassifying obesity as a disease will hopefully sharpen minds, improve patient care and force the government to finally step up and deal with the real causes.
TOP IMAGETOP IMAGEcharleyross92
Have you ever wanted to live in Sicily? Well, now you can – for as little as €1 (around 88p).
The Sicilian town of Sambuca is selling off houses for just €1, to encourage people to move there to help the economy and encourage re-population.
This follows on from the Sardinian town of Ollolai announcing it was selling 200 houses for €1 to attract new residents back in January 2018.
Sambuca’s deputy mayor and tourist councillor, Giuseppe Cacioppo, told CNN: ‘As opposed to other towns that have merely done this for propaganda, this city hall owns all €1 houses on sale.
‘We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners. You want that house, you’ll get it no time.’
While it sounds amazing, of course there is going to be a catch – I mean, who gives away a house for a quid?
The properties, which range from 430 square feet to 1,614 square feet, are in dire need of renovation, and you’ll have to commit to spending at least £15,000 on renovating over a period of three years.
Which, isn’t so bad considering this is pretty common when buying new houses – and people spend a lot more.
There’s also a £5,000 security deposit needed, which will be returned after the renovations are complete.
But this is a small price to pay for a beautiful house in Sicily.
Giuseppe added: ‘This fertile patch of land is dubbed the Earthly Paradise.
‘We’re located inside a natural reserve, packed with history. Gorgeous beaches, woods and mountains surround us. It’s silent and peaceful, an idyllic retreat for a detox stay.
‘Foreigners are flocking here, flabbergasted by all this beauty.
‘Some 10 houses have already been sold,’ he said. ‘Dozens of others are available but badly in need of a makeover. We’ve been contacted by people from Switzerland, France, and Spain and are receiving many requests.’
If you’re interested in buying and renovating a property, contact email@example.com.
sei_48188028-e0c9sei_48188028-e0c9hattiegladwellmetroA view of the village of Sambuca di Sicilia, Italy. Sambuca di Sicilia is a municipality in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region Sicily,; Shutterstock ID 1031137342; Purchase Order: -A view of the village of Sambuca di Sicilia, Italy. Sambuca di Sicilia is a municipality in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region Sicily,; Shutterstock ID 1031137339; Purchase Order: -
A Cadbury’s Creme Egg has remained a treasured family memento for decades.
The egg was first given to Jean Peters by her husband Dan Clark, on their first date in 1973.
Jean was in her 50s at the time and recently widowed, but the couple quickly fell in love and tied the knot the following year.
She never removed the foil wrapper for the Cadbury egg and when Jean died in 2010, the heirloom was passed down through generations of her family.
It was so cherished granddaughter Ainslie Peters, 48, insisted it was the only possession of her late grandmother’s she wanted, despite not even liking Creme Eggs.
She now keeps the egg on display in her home in Kirkcaldy.
She said: ‘The egg is just something I remember from all of my childhood visits to see my gran in Glasgow, she kept it in a glass cabinet with her ornaments.
‘Me and my three sisters did ask her about it but she would just laugh it off.
‘Eventually she told us the story, that Dan had given it to her on their first date.
‘My gran died in 2010 and it was the only thing I asked if I could have.’
It now takes pride of place in Ainslie’s own glass cabinet, along with an order of service from her dad’s funeral, and a miniature wooden model of the Glasgow skyline.
She added: ‘I’m quite a sentimental person.
‘I keep stuff just because someone has given it to me.
‘My dad’s father passed away the year I was born, leaving my gran a widow.
‘Dan had also been married before and I think his first wife died too.
‘To find love again a couple of years after her husband died must have meant a lot for my gran.’
Until her death aged 94, Jean treasured the Creme Egg and took it with her when she moved from the flat she shared with Dan, in Kilbirnie, North Ayrshire, to sheltered housing.
Sadly Dan died in 1981.
Ainslie said: ‘Gran stayed in their flat in Kilbirnie right up until she moved to sheltered housing in 2001 – the Creme Egg went with her.
‘When she passed away in 2010 that was the one thing I asked for.
‘It’s just me being a bit of a daftie.
‘I’ve never peeled the foil back and I wouldn’t disturb it.’
After this Easter, the vintage egg will mark 46 years since Jean and Dan became romantically involved.
Ainslie added: ‘I’ve never been tempted to even unwrap it and see under the foil and won’t ever be eating it – I don’t even like Creme Eggs.’
Romantic creme eggRomantic creme egghattiegladwellmetroAinslie Peters, from Kirkcaldy, with a Cadbury's Creme Egg which is almost 50 years old which she got from her late gran Jean Clark, when she died in 2010. Creme Egg was given to Jean on one of the first dates with her future husband Dan Clark, in at least 1972. See SWNS story SWSCegg; A Creme Egg gifted by a man to his future wife on their first date nearly 50 years ago remains a treasured family memento - preserved in a glass cabinet. The vintage chocolate treat takes pride of place alongside ornaments and trinkets - and was so important to its owner, Ainslie Peters, that she insisted it was the only possession of her late grandmother?s that she wanted. Ainslie?s grandmother, Jean Peters, died in 2010, and the heirloom was passed down the generations. It was given to Jean by her new beau Dan Clark, on their first date in 1973. Recently widowed, Jean was in her 50s at the time - but the couple quickly fell in love and tied the knot the following year.Collect of gran Jean Clark in the 1980s. Ainslie Peters, from Kirkcaldy, with a Cadbury's Creme Egg which is almost 50 years old which she got from her late gran Jean Clark, when she died in 2010. See SWNS story SWSCegg; A Creme Egg gifted by a man to his future wife on their first date nearly 50 years ago remains a treasured family memento - preserved in a glass cabinet. The vintage chocolate treat takes pride of place alongside ornaments and trinkets - and was so important to its owner, Ainslie Peters, that she insisted it was the only possession of her late grandmother?s that she wanted. Ainslie?s grandmother, Jean Peters, died in 2010, and the heirloom was passed down the generations. It was given to Jean by her new beau Dan Clark, on their first date in 1973. Recently widowed, Jean was in her 50s at the time - but the couple quickly fell in love and tied the knot the following year.Ainslie Peters, from Kirkcaldy, with a Cadbury's Creme Egg which is almost 50 years old which she got from her late gran Jean Clark, when she died in 2010. Creme Egg was given to Jean on one of the first dates with her future husband Dan Clark, in at least 1972. See SWNS story SWSCegg; A Creme Egg gifted by a man to his future wife on their first date nearly 50 years ago remains a treasured family memento - preserved in a glass cabinet. The vintage chocolate treat takes pride of place alongside ornaments and trinkets - and was so important to its owner, Ainslie Peters, that she insisted it was the only possession of her late grandmother?s that she wanted. Ainslie?s grandmother, Jean Peters, died in 2010, and the heirloom was passed down the generations. It was given to Jean by her new beau Dan Clark, on their first date in 1973. Recently widowed, Jean was in her 50s at the time - but the couple quickly fell in love and tied the knot the following year.
Apparently, sniffing a burger or a pizza for two minutes can stop the cravings for junk food.
According to new research, air freshener manufacturers could develop food scented ones to curb people urges to eat fatty and sugary foods in a bid to beat the obesity epidemic.
The reason two minutes of takeaway scent could help to battle urges happens because the brain doesn’t necessarily differentiate the source of sensory pleasure, according to scientists.
Lead author Professor Dipayan Biswas explained: ‘Ambient scent can be a powerful tool to resist cravings for indulgent foods.’
‘In fact, subtle sensory stimuli like scents can be more effective in influencing children’s and adults’ food choices than restrictive policies.’
The findings, published in the Journal of Marketing Research, may lead to food scented air fresheners and room sprays encouraging people to eat more healthily.
In the study Prof Biswas and colleagues exposed participants to the scent of either healthy strawberries or apples or biscuits or pizza.
Those who sniffed the unhealthy options for less than 30 seconds were more likely to want them.
But if the scent lasted for more than two minutes they stopped finding them desirable, and instead craved the fruit.
The experiments involved US teenagers in a middle school cafeteria and a supermarket, with the results backed up in the lab.
Previous research has shown just a whiff of fried food from a burger or pizza bar is enough to make us buy one.
But Prof Biswas said putting yourself through 120 seconds of the torment may actually help you to say no.
He said one manufacturer is the US is already making cupcake-scented and cookie-scented air fresheners.
Prof Biswas said: ‘Several companies are selling different types of cookie-scented room sprays.
‘If the findings of our research hold in non store, non cafeteria and non lab settings, such as in homes, then using cookie-scented air fresheners or scented candles could possibly nudge healthier choices at home.
‘Clearly, additional research in home settings is needed to explore this in greater depth.’
He said marketers are increasingly using ambient scent as a way to attract customers, stimulate sales, influence mood and create an overall pleasant and memorable shopping experience.
They are often infused in supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and cafeterias.
Prof Biswas said: ‘While managers have traditionally focused on ambient sensory factors related to visual and auditory cues, there is a growing trend toward focusing on olfactory cues as a strategic element in retail atmospherics.
‘For example, Samsung pumps the scent of honeydew melons into its flagship store in New York.
‘Although managers use different types of ambient scents, food-related ambient scents are especially common.
‘In a recent trend, restaurants are adding artificial ambient scents of foods that may not even be on their menus.
‘For instance, Chicago-based Alinea restaurant uses burning cinnamon sticks and branches of fresh rosemary as an ambient scent; Cleveland-based Vita Urbana uses the smell of burned bay leaves and heated cilantro as an ambient scent, even though the chef does not put cilantro into the dishes.’
He added: ‘Given the prominence of ambient scent as a marketing tool and the popularity of food-related ambient scents in the marketplace, this research examines the influence of food-related ambient scents on consumers’ product choices.’
pizza and hamburger on wooden backgroundpizza and hamburger on wooden backgroundhattiegladwellmetroSNIFF AND SCRATCH - Just two minutes of sniffing a burger or pizza stops the cravings for junk food pizza and hamburger on wooden background with French fries red onion garlic and sweet pepper and picklesSNIFF AND SCRATCH - Just two minutes of sniffing a burger or pizza stops the cravings for junk food Fast food concept with greasy fried restaurant take out as onion rings burger and hot dogs with fried chicken french fries and pizza as a symbol of diet temptation resulting in unhealthy nutrition.SNIFF AND SCRATCH - Just two minutes of sniffing a burger or pizza stops the cravings for junk food Closeup of home made burgers , french fries and donuts on wooden background
A disabled woman has slammed ‘ignorant’ strangers who mistake her able-bodied boyfriend for her carer – and even ask invasive questions about her sex life.
25-year-old Jasmine Lowdon has been with her partner Alex Hay, 24, for ten years, after the pair met at school.
During this time, Jasmine was diagnosed with illnesses including epilepsy, ME and tachycardia syndrome. She now uses a wheelchair.
Though Jasmine and Alex’s relationship is stronger than ever, the reactions of strangers really do frustrate Jasmine.
She said: ‘We constantly get people thinking Alex is my carer. Once, when we were out on a date together, a lady even asked what time he finished work.
‘People will also speak over my head, directly to him, or even see the chair as an open invitation to ask questions.
‘It’s fine if it’s children, as they are still learning, but adults can be very rude. We’ve literally been asked about our sex life on the bus before.
‘I wish people would stop making assumptions and see us for what we are – a young couple, in love, just like anybody else.’
Jasmine, who is unable to work, met retail worker Alex when they were just 12 years old.
Immediately drawn to one another, they used to hold hands in the playground.
But before long, Jasmine’s health rapidly declined as she began to suffer mysterious seizures.
She recalled: ‘I would lose consciousness, and my head would jerk around.’
Eventually, aged 14, she was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Though initially relieved to have an answer for what was causing her symptoms, things went from bad to worse.
‘Shortly after my diagnosis, I began feeling incredibly tired, to the point where I’d struggle to get out of bed,’ she explained.
‘At first, I thought it was just my body reacting to the epilepsy, but eventually I realised it wasn’t right.’
Consulting the doctor, Jasmine was referred for a string of tests and, aged 17, was diagnosed with ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
A chronic condition, common symptoms include debilitating pain, fatigue, sleep and memory issues and migraines.
‘It can be very difficult to get an ME diagnosis, as there is no set test for it,’ said Jasmine. ‘So, in a way, I was lucky it was diagnosed.
‘But my health was still deteriorating. Not only was I having seizures related to the epilepsy, but I also began fainting too.
‘Doctors were struggling to tell the difference, as they look outwardly similar, but I could tell them apart. With fainting, I would get really hot and feel sick, whereas with a seizure, it was like a swarm of bees were in my head, and I’d completely pass out.’
After yet more tests, aged 19, Jasmine attended Newcastle’s CRESTA Clinic for a tilt table test to determine the cause of her fainting.
During the procedure, she was strapped to a motorised table before being tilted at different angles while her body’s reactions – including her heart rate, blood pressure and any light-headedness – were monitored.
The results showed that, in addition to her other conditions, she also had PoTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome).
‘It’s an abnormal increase in the heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing,’ she explained.
‘Where someone else’s blood would be able to pump round their body, mine pools in my legs, which can leave me light-headed and cause me to faint.
‘I can’t stand for more than a couple of minutes, which is where the wheelchair comes in. Anything that raises the heart rate can be a trigger, so heat is also a problem.
‘The summer heatwave last year was a nightmare, and I can’t even shower or bathe in hot water without Alex there to help me.
‘We learnt the hard way that shock is a trigger too, after a friend jumped out on me as a joke and I fainted. He felt awful, but knows not to do it now.’
In January 2015 things came to a head and Jasmine ‘completely crashed’ – ending up bedbound for a month.
She continued: ‘The PoTs in particular was very bad. I couldn’t even sit up in bed without fainting.’
But, having become her official boyfriend when they were 15, Alex was by Jasmine’s side throughout.
She added: ‘When I was younger, I’d really worry that he’d have enough of looking after me, or get sick of the fact I couldn’t always keep up with our friends, and leave me.
‘But he’s been there throughout, and got me through some truly awful times.’
While the young couple are stronger than ever, Jasmine does still find herself the target of hurtful comments or assumptions, and hopes that, by speaking out, she will help normalise disabled and able-bodied people being in relationships.
She explained: ‘People are constantly calling Alex a hero, or telling him it’s great he can “see past” my wheelchair.
‘I know they mean well, but I find it patronising, and it erases my experiences. We both know I’m disabled – we can’t pretend otherwise – but I’m still me.
‘Once, we even had someone offer to take him for a drink ‘to give him a break’ which I was really taken aback by. He is great at remaining calm, though. We always just talk about it afterwards and make sure each other are okay, as we don’t want to react at the time and cause a scene.’
Jasmine also gets upset when people talk about her as if she isn’t there, which often falls in with the assumption that Alex is her carer.
She said: ‘I think it all stems from society struggling to normalise relationships between able-bodied and disabled people.
People will see Alex and think, “What’s a young lad like that doing with her?”
‘When we are out on dates, though, he will purposefully squeeze my hand or do something like that, to make it clear we are a couple.
‘Although he does help me a lot with my health issues, he is, first and foremost, my boyfriend. We’re no different to any other couple, and can still do all the same things – it’s just that we may have to adapt slightly.’
Though there is no set treatment for her conditions, Jasmine is feeling hopeful.
Currently, she mainly uses a wheelchair for distances longer than a couple of metres, but is working hard to maintain a balance between ‘over and underdoing it’ to keep herself as well as possible. She also has regular physiotherapy appointments to help build up her strength.
And, whatever the future holds, she knows Alex will be by her side.
‘We live together now, and are on the same page with marriage and all of that in the future,’ she said. ‘I can’t imagine life without him. We’re a real unit and have learned to laugh during tough times.
‘Going through so much together has also taught us not to worry about petty problems.’
Disabled woman slams ?ignorant? strangers who assume her able-bodied boyfriend is her carer ? and even ask about her sex lifeDisabled woman slams ?ignorant? strangers who assume her able-bodied boyfriend is her carer ? and even ask about her sex lifehattiegladwellmetroJasmine and Alex (PA Real Life/Collect)Jasmine and Alex (PA Real Life/Collect)Jasmine and Alex when they were 15 (PA Real Life/Collect)Jasmine and Alex (PA Real Life/Collect)
My name is Dorcas and I have been in care since I was 14. Along with 40 other students at my school, Brampton Manor Academy, I recently received an offer to study at Oxbridge, which for me is a place at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, to study Law.
When I received the news, it was a very surreal moment. I honestly was just so surprised and also ecstatic that I have been given an opportunity to go to such a prestigious university.
Some of my friends even cried and I realised at that moment that it is the support and love that the students and staff at Brampton Manor Academy show one another that empowered us throughout this intense process!
It was great to see that I received an offer after all the effort I put into my application, but regardless of the outcome I would have been proud of just taking the leap to apply, as it can be a daunting thing to do.
I would like to say to anyone thinking of applying to Oxford or Cambridge that it’s an achievement in itself to have applied to top universities and it is important to remember that the effort you put into the application is a testament to what great and dedicated individuals you are.
Since getting my offer, I have received so many positive reactions; all my friends and family have been so supportive and have encouraged me.
When I start university, I hope to do outreach work by visiting schools and speaking to other people who have been in care or who are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
I want to prove that regardless of what you look like or where you come from, you are as worthy of attending prestigious institutions as anyone else. A lot of people forget that showing that you are motivated, willing to persevere and that you are eager to learn is the most important thing to demonstrate.
I’d say the thing that has helped me the most is having a ‘can do’ mind-set and being encouraged in my choices by those around me.
Even when I doubted myself, my teachers, friends and family always made me feel like I had the potential to succeed. Attending a History study programme with Wadham College, Oxford and summer schools at the University of Bristol and with the Sutton Trust made it clear to me that there isn’t a typical Oxbridge applicant – you don’t have to have all A-star grades to apply.
All you need is passion for your subject. The only way you’re guaranteed to not get in is by not applying.
If as an ethnic minority you feel put off by applying because those from your demographics are underrepresented, you can be the change you want to see.
Change is a gradual process and you can be involved in starting it off so that others that come after you have a different and better experience.
Some of the press surrounding the recent news of 40 of my peers receiving Oxford and Cambridge offers has been negative. I have read comments where people say that we’re getting these offers because we are from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds.
What some people don’t realise is that we all have good grades, which we have achieved in spite of our experiences. We have earned our offers through hard work.
What I would say to others in the same position is that you should just believe in yourself and who you are. View your diversity for what it is, it’s part of what makes you unique and special rather than a negative aspect that you should be ashamed of. Even if you do come from a traditional background, you are still an inspiration to others.
As I settle down to the hardest task of getting my grades, I am looking to forward to being in an environment with so many intellectual, like-minded people, which is motivating me further.
The prospect of being taught by, and studying alongside, people from all around the world is just such a privilege to be given.
sei_47995296-7ceesei_47995296-7ceermve86Dorcas. The 41 students from Brampton Manner who have been awarded places at Oxford and Cambridge Permission: Yes Contact: Sam Dobin - firstname.lastname@example.org / 07737219318The 41 students from Brampton Manner who have been awarded places at Oxford and Cambridge Permission: Yes Contact: Sam Dobin - email@example.com / 07737219318
Let me begin by saying that I’m extremely reluctant to disagree with anything Ariana Grande says or does.
She is our lord and saviour. She created grande-ing, helped bring BDE into the mainstream, and gifted us with bops fitting for every moment of heartbreak and restoration.
She is an icon.
But Ariana is also, shockingly enough, a human being, so she can get things wrong.
That she did, when she made repeated references to her ex-fiancé’s penis.
Cast your mind back to the thank u, next video, in which Ariana writes ‘huuuuge’ next to a photo of Pete, discusses his big… teeth, and slaps a BDE (big dick energy, for anyone not in the know) badge on the driver in the Legally Blonde section.
We laughed along, analysed photos of Pete Davidson wearing sweatpants, and focused on dissecting every other bit of the video.
Before that, Ariana responded to multiple references about the size of Pete’s penis, at one point answering a question about the length of her song, Pete Davidson, with: ‘Like 10 inches?….oh fuck….I mean….like a lil over a minute.’
Now, Pete Davidson has mentioned how he felt about all those discussions of his dick in the form of a joke at a stand-up set.
And, as loath as I am to say it, he actually has a point.
‘I don’t like that she talked all that shit for my penis,’ he said.
‘Everything is huge to her. Why would she tell everyone that I have a huge penis? So that every girl who sees my dick for the rest of my life is disappointed?’
He doesn’t seem huuuugely upset, thankfully, but the joke brings up an important line in the sand about what’s appropriate to discuss when it comes to the intimacies of your relationship.
Is it okay to talk about the penis of someone you had sex with? Is it okay if you’re being complimentary?
I’m going to say no, it’s not.
But before we get into that, let me acknowledge that Pete doesn’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to the appropriateness of things to joke about.
This is the man who joked about swapping out his then-girlfriend’s birth control pills to lock her down with a pregnancy, loudly proclaimed that he used to masturbate to photos of her, and, before they were dating, joked about the Manchester terror attack on stage.
Pete is not some poor, innocent victim here. He’s done a lot of shitty stuff.
But two wrongs don’t make a right, and while most of Pete’s shittiness has been pretty specific to him (how many of us are comedians planning to talk about our extremely famous significant others in a recorded interview?), discussions of an ex’s penis size are one of those things that a lot of us might find ourselves doing.
We’re just being sexually empowered, right? What was Sex and the City for if not to make us drink cosmos and feel free to chat about dream dicks over brunch?
Not so, I’m afraid.
The wrongness of chatting about someone else’s penis comes down to consent and privacy.
When you have consensual sex with someone, part of the deal is that they get to see your genitals and vice versa. They even get to touch them, the lucky sods.
The knowledge of the parts of their body that usually remain covered is a privilege, granted with trust and passion. They get undressed and they bare themselves to you, giving you permission to know every physical part of them and keep that information as a personal memory, gifted as part of your sexual experience.
I’m sorry, I know that sounds extremely corny and emotional, but stay with me.
If you were to use that moment to snap a photo without asking ‘hey, is it cool if I do this?’, your sexual partner would rightly be upset. They didn’t agree to that.
If you then posted that photo online without their permission, that would be revenge porn, which is entirely not allowed.
Obviously, talking about someone’s penis is not the same as revenge porn. Saying someone is huge is not the equivalent of posting photos of someone’s naked body online.
But it sits on the outskirts of the same circle of not-okay-ness.
The details of your sexual partner’s genitals, and the rest of their body, have been shared with you, not with whoever else you fancy telling. It’s something that people generally like to keep private, and choose who they let in.
Even if you’re being complimentary, by discussing the usually hidden body parts of someone you’ve slept with, you’re crossing a major line of personal privacy, denying them the right to keep personal details just to themselves and to people with whom they choose to share them.
It’s like telling someone else’s secret that they told you in confidence. It’s not your secret to tell just because you’ve heard it, it’s theirs.
And – not to explain the basics of empathy – imagine how you would feel to know that people you’ve never met have discussed your body parts at length, offering their views on the description of your vulva and declaring that they wouldn’t like a man with balls that hang that low.
It feels creepy, doesn’t it? Like someone looking through your diary or nosing around your underwear drawer.
When it’s positive (he’s massive) it’s crossing a boundary of respect and privacy, and when it’s negative, it’s body shaming, plain and simple.
There are caveats to this rule of never, ever discussing an ex’s peen, of course.
If you ask them first if it’s okay to discuss their penis at length, and they say yes, you’re in the clear – they’ve consented to the details being shared far and wide.
If they are a person who shares photos of their schlong publicly on the internet, yes, it’s probably up for discussion.
But beyond that, it’s simple, just the very basic details of a penis – its length, its colour, its curve, its pubic stylings – are not public information unless the owner of said penis has consented to that being the case.
Allow the hidden parts of people to remain private. Rather than telling everyone that your ex’s penis is massive, let those who are allowed to unzip his trousers discover that happy secret for themselves. Instead of spreading the word that you think someone has a tiny dick, allow others to make up their mind.
Oh, and remember that penis size really, really isn’t everything, and that by reducing all the intimacies of your sex life down to ‘he was really big’ or ‘his left ball was bigger than his right’, you’re ignoring all the intricacies of sex that lead to pleasure – the emotions, the techniques, the foreplay. It’s reductive, and by chatting about sex simply in terms of penis size, you’re upholding the negative idea that that’s what sex is all about.
Your ex’s penis belongs to them. It’s up to them who they share it with, whether in its literal form, through a photo, or a vivid verbal description.
No, it's not okay to talk about an ex's penis sizeNo, it's not okay to talk about an ex's penis sizeellencscottNo, it's not okay to talk about an ex's penis size
When nine bichon frises were found dumped in the parking lot of the Furry Friends Refuge in Iowa, their fur was so matted they couldn’t move.
Trapped in wire crates, they were covered in fleas, in pain from the tension from their fur, and needed urgent care for ear and dental infections.
The crates were so packed the dogs had hardly any space to wriggle around.
But they were lucky enough to be spotted by a member of staff at the shelter, who quickly set to getting them the care the dogs so desperately needed.
The dogs were clearly terrified, and didn’t respond well to being held.
But as their matted, tangled coats were carefully snipped away, each of the dogs became a little more confident.
That’s probably down to the fact that they could move again – being able to walk and play without their matted fur pinching their skin and weighing them down.
Having undergone a dramatic transformation, the dogs are now in foster homes.
None of them are housetrained, and they have a lot of work to do before they’ll be ready for adoption. Having been treated badly by people before, it’s taking them some time to be comfortable around humans – but they’re making progress.
Now, staff at the shelter are trying to find out how the dogs ended up in their parking lot.
‘We do believe that there are more dogs where these came from and are working with law enforcement to investigate,’ shelter manager Andrea Touzani told The Dodo.
‘We do know that they came from either a backyard breeder or hoarding situation.’
‘They are all under-socialized, but making great strides toward becoming people social.
‘They all really liked being brushed at the groomer.’
Dumped dogs were so matted they couldn't moveDumped dogs were so matted they couldn't moveellencscottMETRO GRAB - Facebook Furry Friends Refuge - no permission Dumped dogs were so matted they couldn't move https://www.facebook.com/pg/ffrefuge/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Furry Friends RefugeMETRO GRAB - Facebook Furry Friends Refuge - no permission Dumped dogs were so matted they couldn't move https://www.facebook.com/pg/ffrefuge/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Furry Friends RefugeMETRO GRAB - Facebook Furry Friends Refuge - no permission Dumped dogs were so matted they couldn't move https://www.facebook.com/pg/ffrefuge/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Furry Friends RefugeMETRO GRAB - Facebook Furry Friends Refuge - no permission Dumped dogs were so matted they couldn't move https://www.facebook.com/pg/ffrefuge/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Furry Friends RefugeMETRO GRAB - Facebook Furry Friends Refuge - no permission Dumped dogs were so matted they couldn't move https://www.facebook.com/pg/ffrefuge/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Furry Friends RefugeMETRO GRAB - Facebook Furry Friends Refuge - no permission Dumped dogs were so matted they couldn't move https://www.facebook.com/pg/ffrefuge/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Furry Friends Refuge
We thought we’d moved past the ridiculous idea that you need to have a certain type of body to wear a bikini on the beach.
When New Zealand-based Shelly Proebstel went to the beach, she had to put up with young men pointing and laughing at her, simply because she’d dared to wear a bikini in public.
Rather than hiding away, Shelly responded with a powerful letter addressing men and others like them, explaining why their reaction to her body was so out of line.
That letter has now been shared more than 8,000 times.
‘To the guys who pointed and laughed when I took my sarong off today at Mt Maunganui Beach, bearing my soul (my bikini body) to the world, I just want to say (excuse my language but) FUCK YOU,’ wrote Shelly.
‘It’s because of dickheads like you that people are so incredibly insecure about their body image.
‘It’s because of people like you that women especially don’t feel safe or confident or comfortable to go out in society in something like a bikini, or a crop top (they probably aren’t even called that anymore!) or a short dress, or with their midriff showing.
‘It’s because of people like you that people starve themselves and make themselves sick in an attempt to maintain a ‘model-like figure’.
‘It’s because of people like you that people wear long sleeves all year round because they are scared to show their arms.
‘No, you are not responsible for the entirety.
‘But YES, you have to take some responsibility.
‘Next time you see someone like me on the beach in a bikini or in a situation similar, before you laugh and point, take a moment to think about the damage you may just do, because not every person, young or old, male or female, will have learnt to have the thick skin, or the resilience, or the self confidence, that I do to brush it off.’
Shelly went on to explain that while she had a moment of doubt, she was confident enough to ignore the men’s rudeness and keep having a great time at the beach.
‘I won’t lie, there was a split second that I almost quickly covered up again,’ she wrote, ‘and then I reminded myself of all I have learnt on this journey, and I held my head high and stuck my belly out and wore that bikini with pride.
‘Parents, I urge you to teach your children that there is no one body shape, but instead that there is a rainbow of beautiful bodies.
I urge you to teach them not to stare directly at a bigger stomach than they might be accustomed to seeing on tv or in society, but instead, to look at a person’s face and into their eyes.
‘I urge you to teach them to be kind to all types of people, regardless of their outer appearance. I urge you to teach your children to accept people for exactly who they are on the inside.
‘And I urge you to teach your children to be role models to those around them who aren’t being taught this, and to be the positive change we need to see in the world, so that in 5 or 10 or 20 years time, no more people are pointed at and laughed at by the way they look when they wear a bikini on the beach.’
Bravo to that.
The post received a load of comments from people echoing Shelly’s call for consideration and kindness, and thanking her for refusing to cover up after being shamed.
The lesson here: someone’s else’s body is none of your business.
Woman slams men who laughed at her body on the beachWoman slams men who laughed at her body on the beachellencscottMETRO GRAB - taken from the Facebook of Bald and Beautiful with no permission Woman slams men who laughed at her body on the beach Shelly Proebstel, New Zealand https://www.facebook.com/pg/BaldandBeaYOUtiful/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Shelly ProebstelMETRO GRAB - taken from the Facebook of Bald and Beautiful with no permission Woman slams men who laughed at her body on the beach Shelly Proebstel, New Zealand https://www.facebook.com/pg/BaldandBeaYOUtiful/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Shelly ProebstelMETRO GRAB - taken from the Facebook of Bald and Beautiful with no permission Woman slams men who laughed at her body on the beach Shelly Proebstel, New Zealand https://www.facebook.com/pg/BaldandBeaYOUtiful/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Shelly ProebstelMETRO GRAB - taken from the Facebook of Bald and Beautiful with no permission Woman slams men who laughed at her body on the beach Shelly Proebstel, New Zealand https://www.facebook.com/pg/BaldandBeaYOUtiful/photos/?ref=page_internal Credit: Shelly Proebstel
I decided to become a doctor because I wanted to help people in need.
However, when I started work as a GP, I saw that there was a huge un-met need in the patients who never made it into my consultation room.
Last year I became the Doctors of the World UK GP Champion for Birmingham and the West Midlands, and began working with fellow doctors to support excluded people access safe and equitable healthcare.
As part of my role, I see all too frequently how healthcare and immigration control clash in our hospitals, how bureaucratic identity checks delay appointments and risk racial profiling in our waiting rooms.
I see unresolved residency issues (often caused by Home Office administrative errors or lack of legal aid provision) have devastating consequences for patients who are wrongly denied life-saving treatment.
But there is one family I’m working with whose suffering is beyond even my own experience, I believe as a result of the so-called ‘hostile environment’ in health.
Nasar Ullah Khan, 38, is a Pakistani national who has lived in the UK for more than nine years. He has just a short time to live, due to end-stage heart failure.
His relatives in Birmingham contacted me the week before Christmas in a state of desperation. They had been told that Nasar was ineligible for the heart transplant required to save his life.
The hospital explained that without indefinite leave to remain in the UK (which would mean securing representation and a lengthy legal application), he couldn’t be considered a candidate for the operation.
Now suffering acute organ failure, immigration procedures are currently preventing his wife and children from being by his side in his final days.
Now critically ill, Nasar’s final wish is to see his wife and two young sons before he passes away.
As I worked with the doctors caring for Nasar to ensure that he was comfortable, I reflected on this heartbreaking situation – a man who will not reach 40, dying amid arguments around eligibility for treatment and healthcare costs. It might have been avoided.
Nasar didn’t register with a GP until after he had suffered heart failure. This is common among the patients that Doctors of the World sees at our London clinic.
Many are turned away by GP reception staff who ask for documentation they cannot provide – even though to insist upon this contravenes NHS England guidance.
Others fear that their doctor’s surgery will report them to the authorities. Most do not even know that consulting with a GP is their right, afforded to everyone living in the country.
Perhaps if Nasar had not experienced these barriers and had accessed primary healthcare, his condition could have been detected before his situation deteriorated and a transplant was necessary.
Now it is in the hands of the hospital to negotiate the best course of action and uphold his right to care.
However, Nasar is not considered ‘Ordinarily Resident’ in the UK despite living here for almost a decade. The confusion around his entitlement to care has meant that over the past fortnight, Nasar and his family have been given new and contradictory information about his treatment options almost every day.
Now critically ill, Nasar’s final wish is to see his wife and two young sons before he passes away. His friends and supporters have started a crowdfunding campaign to raise the essential funds to support their travel.
Going forward in my work as a GP, I will always remember Nasar’s case as a painful example of the incompatibility of healthcare and border control. The asylum and immigration process in the UK is nuanced, complicated and most importantly, inconsistent. To me, it seems illogical to allow somebody’s health – let alone their life – to depend upon it.
If Nasar had had access to legal advice, perhaps he would have received the information he needed to resolve his immigration status. Perhaps he would have been diagnosed sooner and offered treatment options with dignity. His situation is such that now he is too fragile for long-term treatment options even if his status were to be resolved.
I will continue to advocate for a distinction between immigration control and healthcare. Our NHS doctors are not border guards. Treating everyone at the point of need – regardless of where they were born or how long they’ve lived here – is the founding principle of a health service we can be proud of.
To support Nasar’s family to be with him in his final days, please visit crowdfunder.co.uk/wife-of-pakistani-national-in-the-uk
immigration nhs-3e1dimmigration nhs-3e1daimeepm
I am a woman obsessed.
A pair of hands smushes up a creamy lipstick with a metal implement, smearing it across a surface. I feel a thrill shivering down to my fingertips.
An artfully designed highlighter is crushed into a powder, its careful embossed design wrecked. What a high.
I can’t be alone in loving watching makeup getting wrecked beyond return.
On YouTube, Beauty News’ The Makeup Breakup playlist, packed with videos of Australian Kat and Haley scraping, breaking, slicing, and smashing makeup products, has more than 1.8 million views.
Emily Dougherty has 91.7k followers on Instagram, where designer lipsticks crack, shatter, and squash into oblivion.
There’s plenty of poison to pick from in this particular branch of ASMR. You might prefer the crunchy powder sounds of an eyeshadow or highlighter palette being shattered, or the swirling vision of mysterious goopy lip balm having its shiny surface mixed and ruined.
Personally, I love it all.
But why are so many of us getting a strange satisfaction from videos of beauty products getting wrecked?
It is a rebellion against beauty standards? A protest of consumerism? Or is this just another one of those strange things the internet has birthed and that we’ve discovered we like?
The answer is as mixed and muddled as those lipstick smears, and it really depends on who you’re asking.
For a lot of fans, the appeal is as simple as any other ASMR video – they can’t explain why, exactly, but the sounds and sights of watching makeup get broken makes them feel good and sends tingles all over their body.
There’s no deeper meaning to that. It feels good, we like it, so we keep watching videos that give us that feeling.
But just like soap-cutting and those accounts dedicated to chopping up bath bombs, a key part of the makeup destruction experience is, well, the destruction.
Psychologist Marc Hekster argues that the satisfaction lies in destroying something without having to deal with the consequences. The same way you get an urge to squeeze a puppy or to make some jelly wobble, sometimes we’re hit with a flash of wanting to smash up makeup and see what happens. The benefit of watching someone else fulfill that urge is that you then don’t have to deal with the mess and waste of what you’ve just done.
‘It is about change, and transformation; to see something as pristine as a makeup item being carefully destroyed leads to a total shift in the way the item is perceived,’ Marc tells us. ‘The videos are about repetition, watching the items of makeup being slowly undone, one after the other.
‘[It’s] about finding an outlet for aggressive feelings, to see something pristine being destroyed.
‘YouTube has made this possible, to be able to escape without damage being done to you.’
There’s also a sense of removing the product’s power.
It doesn’t matter how fancy something is, how quickly it sold out, or what celebs are promoting it, in the end the makeup product can be destroyed, reduced into meaningless mush.
It’s a way of rebelling not against makeup itself, but off the marketing around it; hype built up not because of a product’s substance but its artsy packaging and design.
Again, destroying very expensive makeup isn’t something most of us can afford to do – which is why videos showing this can be so successful. It’s the same vicarious enjoyment we get from watching Ariana Grande smashing that tower of champagne glasses in the 7 Rings video, a thrill of being so wealthy, so wasteful, so destructive, without actually being any of those things ourselves.
And yes, it is wasteful. Of course it is.
Kat and Haley state that after each product is destroyed, it’s repackaged and reused. It’s important to note, too, that these are beauty experts who are likely sent piles of free samples each week, many of which would go unused if it weren’t for the potential of their destruction.
But in a time when minimalism is praised, waste is a dirty word, and Marie Kondo wants you to own only things that spark joy, there’s a dark, rebellious pleasure in watching something being ruined for no reason at all, having its joy scraped away.
We love watching makeup get destroyed because it feels wrong, but oh so right. It’s a way to take down the idea of need and smush it until it’s meaningless. Do you really need that highlighter, or do you just want to watch a video of someone hacking at it with a pair of tweezers?
It’s a way to answer our id, that base desire to cause wreckage, without actually doing any real damage. It’s an embrace of chaos… but with a sheen of gloss.
why do i love watching makeup get destroyed-5d83why do i love watching makeup get destroyed-5d83ellencscott
Distraction is everywhere, and it can be hard to focus on the task at hand.
Your deskmates are chattering, your Netflix queue awaits, and your phone keeps glittering with mysterious notifications.
You could just rely on willpower alone to get your work done, but really, that’s for schmucks.
Clearly we should all be dropping hundreds of pounds on special boxes to wear on our heads when we need to get some thinking done.
That’s the proposal of design company The Form Emporium, anyway. Over on Not On The High Street, they’re selling a magical thing that they call a Thought Box for just £395, or £495 if you buy it through The Form Emporium’s website.
The concept is simple. Included in the product are a box and a stool. When you need to do some thinking, you sit on the stool and put the box on your head.
Yep, that’s it.
Inside there are interchangeable colour filters so you can gaze at a haze of yellow, pink, or blue, ear plugs are included, and you can always add a cushion if you fancy making the stool a bit more exciting.
‘Alone at last,’ reads the product description. ‘The Thought Box is an original and curious piece of furniture that promotes mental efficiency in the user.
‘Simply lift up the seat by the handle, thus freeing the unit, then sit on the stool and place the box on your head.
‘It is intended as a personal space in which to simply think. Comes complete with ear plugs and 5 interchangeable (and washable) coloured filters – chose a filter to suit your mood.’
The idea is that the box blocks everything out so you’re able to focus, although you might struggle to type or write up any ideas you come up with. Also, we suspect that if you put it on in the office, people will be cruel and stick post-it notes to your head. Sorry.
We also reckon that you could create the same effect with a simple cardboard box, which has the added bonus of serving as hours of entertainment for your cat once you’re done.
But really, is it possible to get any thinking done without possessing a £395 Thought Box designed specifically for this purpose? Surely not. We’ll buy 10.
Would you put a box on your head to think more clearly?Would you put a box on your head to think more clearly?ellencscottWould you put a box on your head to think more clearly?notonthehighstreet
Cheyenne Baker, 22, and James Hines, 58, are done hiding their relationship.
They’ve been together for five years, but kept their love a secret for three of those years out of fear they would be judged.
The couple met through an online dating site. Cheyenne liked James’ ‘dorkiness’, while James was attracted to Cheyenne’s wit. They started chatting, met in person after seven months, and have been in love ever since.
The relationship has had ups and downs, with a few breakups as well as the pressure to keep what was going on a secret.
Both worried about how their families would react, and whether people would accept them as a couple that’s not just generationally mixed, but racially, too.
‘We met online on a dating website and eventually met in person,’ said Cheyenne. ‘I got kind of shy because it felt so unreal that we were finally meeting in real life.
‘I was nervous, but he was so charming that I eventually got over my jitters.
‘We discussed the pros and cons of the age gap but it’s never been a problem, per se. We’ve actually broken up a few times because we thought that it just wasn’t possible to have the dream outcome with our families and society accepting and all of that.
‘That’s part of why we kept the relationship a secret for nearly three years.
‘My mum was very opposed, but now she loves James dearly. I wouldn’t say that all of my family knows about James, not that it’s a secret but I’m not entirely close with everyone because there’s just too many people and I’m not going to make a special announcement to people that I don’t talk to frequently. I’m not going to hide him either.’
When the couple made the decision to be open about their relationship, the reaction was pretty positive.
James says they both experienced a ‘huge sense of relief’ in coming clean.
‘We expected the worst and it went better than expected,’ he explained.
‘We reached a point where we had to be honest with our families or our relationship would have ended.
‘If we didn’t tell our families it would have been a fake relationship and it was taking an emotional toll on the both of us, so we decided to be free.’
The couple don’t receive many negative comments when they’re out in public, but they do get funny looks – and James has been high-fived by a stranger purely because of who he’s dating.
But Cheyenne and James are so loved up they don’t really care what anyone thinks. They’re happy.
‘People are mostly polite, no one’s really accosted us about being together,’ said James. ‘If anything, they’re curious but don’t know how to ask us. We assume they think Cheyenne’s a gold digger and I’m a sex fiend.
‘Most people don’t say anything in public out of politeness, maybe. When people, who aren’t just random strangers first meet us, they either comment on the interracial aspect or the generational aspect, it’s never really both.
‘One time we were having brunch at an outdoor restaurant and a guy walked past us and yelled out to me, “you’re my brother from another mother, you got you some fine chocolate”.
‘Sometimes I gets a nod of approval or a smirk, one time I got a high five while we were walking down the street.
‘I have been more comfortable with doing things in public because I get to show her off but Cheyenne’s been more reluctant because she’s been more concerned with what people are saying and thinking about us.
‘We don’t really care anymore. If anyone were to approach us on the street with negative remarks, we’d probably just laugh and walk away.’
35 year age gap35 year age gapellencscottNASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, USA: Cheyenne and James have been together for five-years. THIS LOVED up couple who have a THIRTY-FIVE-YEAR age gap kept their romance a secret for three-years because they feared what their families and society would think of them. Public relations and customer service professional, Cheyenne Baker (22) from Chicago, Illinois, USA, first met her life partner, U.S. Marine Corps purple heart veteran and retired U.S. government employee, James Hines (58) from Forrest City, Iowa, on an online dating site five-years ago. Cheyenne was first attracted to James??? ???dorkiness??? thanks to his fun pictures on his profile whereas James was intrigued by her great wit, ability to hold great conversation and petite frame. The couple, who now live together in Nashville, Tennessee, met in person seven months after their first interaction online and have now been together for five-years. It hasn???t all been plain sailing though as they have broken up a few times and decided to keep their relationship a secret for the first three-years as after discussing the pros and cons of being together they were unsure if both their families and society would be accepting as not only is their relationship generationally mixed, they are an interracial couple. After ???coming out??? to their families, the pair felt an overwhelming sense of relief as both parties took the news better than expected, with only Cheyenne???s mother opposing at first but now she loves her daughter???s choice of partner. MDWfeatures / Cheyenne BakerNASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, USA: Cheyenne and James dressed in fancy dress. THIS LOVED up couple who have a THIRTY-FIVE-YEAR age gap kept their romance a secret for three-years because they feared what their families and society would think of them. Public relations and customer service professional, Cheyenne Baker (22) from Chicago, Illinois, USA, first met her life partner, U.S. Marine Corps purple heart veteran and retired U.S. government employee, James Hines (58) from Forrest City, Iowa, on an online dating site five-years ago. Cheyenne was first attracted to James??? ???dorkiness??? thanks to his fun pictures on his profile whereas James was intrigued by her great wit, ability to hold great conversation and petite frame. The couple, who now live together in Nashville, Tennessee, met in person seven months after their first interaction online and have now been together for five-years. It hasn???t all been plain sailing though as they have broken up a few times and decided to keep their relationship a secret for the first three-years as after discussing the pros and cons of being together they were unsure if both their families and society would be accepting as not only is their relationship generationally mixed, they are an interracial couple. After ???coming out??? to their families, the pair felt an overwhelming sense of relief as both parties took the news better than expected, with only Cheyenne???s mother opposing at first but now she loves her daughter???s choice of partner. MDWfeatures / Cheyenne BakerNASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, USA: James and Cheyenne. THIS LOVED up couple who have a THIRTY-FIVE-YEAR age gap kept their romance a secret for three-years because they feared what their families and society would think of them. Public relations and customer service professional, Cheyenne Baker (22) from Chicago, Illinois, USA, first met her life partner, U.S. Marine Corps purple heart veteran and retired U.S. government employee, James Hines (58) from Forrest City, Iowa, on an online dating site five-years ago. Cheyenne was first attracted to James??? ???dorkiness??? thanks to his fun pictures on his profile whereas James was intrigued by her great wit, ability to hold great conversation and petite frame. The couple, who now live together in Nashville, Tennessee, met in person seven months after their first interaction online and have now been together for five-years. It hasn???t all been plain sailing though as they have broken up a few times and decided to keep their relationship a secret for the first three-years as after discussing the pros and cons of being together they were unsure if both their families and society would be accepting as not only is their relationship generationally mixed, they are an interracial couple. After ???coming out??? to their families, the pair felt an overwhelming sense of relief as both parties took the news better than expected, with only Cheyenne???s mother opposing at first but now she loves her daughter???s choice of partner. MDWfeatures / Cheyenne BakerNASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, USA: Cheyenne and James. THIS LOVED up couple who have a THIRTY-FIVE-YEAR age gap kept their romance a secret for three-years because they feared what their families and society would think of them. Public relations and customer service professional, Cheyenne Baker (22) from Chicago, Illinois, USA, first met her life partner, U.S. Marine Corps purple heart veteran and retired U.S. government employee, James Hines (58) from Forrest City, Iowa, on an online dating site five-years ago. Cheyenne was first attracted to James??? ???dorkiness??? thanks to his fun pictures on his profile whereas James was intrigued by her great wit, ability to hold great conversation and petite frame. The couple, who now live together in Nashville, Tennessee, met in person seven months after their first interaction online and have now been together for five-years. It hasn???t all been plain sailing though as they have broken up a few times and decided to keep their relationship a secret for the first three-years as after discussing the pros and cons of being together they were unsure if both their families and society would be accepting as not only is their relationship generationally mixed, they are an interracial couple. After ???coming out??? to their families, the pair felt an overwhelming sense of relief as both parties took the news better than expected, with only Cheyenne???s mother opposing at first but now she loves her daughter???s choice of partner. MDWfeatures / Cheyenne Baker
I’m a big fan of the beach. Let’s face it, who isn’t?
I dream of the kind with crystal clear water, white sand and ideally, a cocktail bar. I’ve spent many an hour lusting over pictures of Tahiti on Instagram, but sadly have been unable to afford a trip to the tropical paradise.
However, less than a three hour flight from the UK, there are beaches just like those of Tahiti, and a holiday here costs a fraction of the price tag. I’m talking about Sardinia.
Sardinia is known for having the best beaches in Italy, and it really does live up to its reputation. Whether you visit the north, south, east or west of the island, you can find tropical looking beaches. One beach is even nicknamed ‘Little Tahiti’.
It’s a bigger island than you might expect, so if you want to see more than one place, it’s best to hire a car. We landed in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, picked up a rental car and headed south.
We aimed to do a loop of the island, exploring the best beaches and enjoying all that Sardinia has to offer.
First on the itinerary was the small town of Sant’Antioco, located on an island of the same name (Isola di Sant’Antioco). Just like Tahiti, Sardinia has a number of small islands, and it is here that some of the best beaches can be found.
A special feature of Isola di Sant’Antioco is easily noticeable as you drive over the mile-long causeway that connects the island to the mainland: flamingos.
Hundreds of pink flamingos nest in the pond of Santa Caterina, so make sure you stop for a look at these tropical birds. Certainly not what I was expecting to see on an Italian island!
After exploring a few of the island’s beaches we headed north, on the incredibly scenic drive to Capo Mannu. This is Sardinia’s version of Teahupoʻo, Tahiti’s famous surf break.
Capo Mannu offers some of Italy’s best surfing and is a popular destination for surfers from all over Europe. There is a surf school here so you can take a lesson, or for the pros, you can hire a board.
A big part of Tahitian cuisine is fish, and this is also true of Sardinia. Our next stop was the fishing town of Bosa. As well as fish aplenty, this town has two other special features; an impressive castle on a hill and lovely multicoloured houses.
We spent an afternoon wandering the cobbled streets and admiring the attractive palazzos, before moving onto our hotel for the night, in nearby Tresnuraghes.
The name Tresnuraghes means three nuraghes. I had no idea what a nuraghe was before arriving here, but soon found that Sardinia is full of them. These fortress-like structures were built during the bronze age and are unlike any other ruins found across the globe. As you might have guessed, Tresnuraghes had three such structures of which only a trace of one remains.
It is a charming little town and we spent a lovely evening at Maison Tresnuraghes, two old houses that have been restored into a hotel around a large garden, with beautiful views of the coast from the roof terrace.
One of the most popular towns in Sardinia is Alghero, in the north east of the island. Here you will find paella as well as pasta, as the town has a heavy Catalan influence, in fact Catalan is the co-official language. This stems from the middle ages, when Catalans conquered Alghero, and Sardinia was part of the Crown of Aragon. Many of the town’s residents have Catalan ancestors.
It’s no secret that hotels in Tahiti are pretty pricey, so in comparison, staying at a luxury hotel in Sardinia seems relatively cheap.
We treated ourselves to a few nights at the fabulous Villa Las Tronas – a hotel fit for royalty – in fact, it was once the residence of the Italian royal family.
Now it was really time to explore those beaches! We headed to the east coast and travelled our way south, beach-by-beach.
First stop was Cala Suaraccia. This is such a tropical looking beach, even though it was cloudy when we visited, the water was still a vibrant blue and the beach looks out over a small mountain immediately conjuring images of Bora Bora.
Then it was on to previously mentioned ‘Little Tahiti’ otherwise known as Cala Bradinchi. A small sheltered bay in the north east of the island, I could immediately see where it had gained its nickname.
This was followed by San Teodoro, which is set in front of a lagoon and also happens to be home to even more flamingos.
After an incredible selection of beaches, we arrived at our hotel for the night, Hotel Nuraghes Arvu in Cala Gonone. Cala Gonone is a destination in itself, but many people come here to explore the Gulf of Orosei and the gorgeous Cala Goloritze. This beach is famed for its cliff backdrop, clear waters and rugged beauty.
It is actually quite challenging to reach Cala Goloritze and there are two options if you wish to visit. The first is a 90-minute hike through the mountains and then down some stairs to the beach, the second is by taking a boat trip from Cala Gonone and swimming to shore. We opted for the latter.
Prima Sardegna offers daily boat trips along the coast and we hopped aboard ready to explore this picturesque stretch of coastline. It didn’t disappoint, the water here is a bright aquamarine and incredibly clear.
We stopped off at a number of different beaches for a quick swim and a bit of relaxation, before moving onto the next beach.
Before returning to Cala Gonone we stopped at the Bue Marino Grotto, one of the many caves along this coastline. For a small entrance fee, a guide will take you around 1km inside the cave, through different ‘rooms’ containing striking stalactites and stalagmites.
Our final destination was Cala Sinzias. Wow. We really did save the best for last.
This beach was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Endless white sand, lined with eucalyptus trees, with only a handful of people and the most incredible turquoise water. It was like a swimming pool.
I just couldn’t believe that this was in Europe and not the South Pacific or the Caribbean. At the entrance is a beach club, so you can enjoy a cocktail while relaxing on a sun lounger in this stunning paradise.
Cala Sinzias along with many other beaches confirmed for me that Sardinia is the perfect alternative holiday for those wanting to visit Tahiti. Plus there is the added benefit of pizza!
Other beaches to explore in Sardinia:
Located on the south-west coast, Cala Domestica is long, narrow beach surrounded by white limestone cliffs and wild sand dunes. Popular with scuba divers.
An island in an archipelago of the same name in the north east of Sardinia, full of scenic coves and beaches with jewel-like waters.
Considered one of the best beaches in Europe, La Pelosa has fine white sand and shallow clear water. The beach is located in the small town of Stintino in the north east of Sardinia.
Where to stay:
Classic rooms at Hotel Nuraghes Arvu start at £116 (€130) per night for a double room.
A double room at Villa Las Tronas starts from £223 (€250,00) per night. The best rates and special offers can be found on their website
3 nights bed and breakfast at Maison Tresnuraghes with Just Sardinia starts from £263.50, based on 2 adults sharing a Standard room.
How to get there:
British Airways flies direct from London to Cagliari. Return fares start from £84 in Economy.
What to do:
A boat trip along the Gulf of Orosei with Prima Sardegna costs from £31 (€35) per person.
We were sailing around the bay on our way to lunch when our G-force power racing yacht crashed with a jolting thud and proceeded to keel from one side and to the next.
We hadn’t been going at all quickly, but I – and everyone else on board – still slid some way down the deck before wondering what had happened.
For a moment, though it seemed much longer, we tilted first to the starboard side and then to port, rocking relatively gently, though to quite a considerable degree. We clung on, jokes about capsizing were made, and the shore, which wasn’t all that far off, looked increasingly appealing.
When our captain said, ‘Hey, we have a situation here’, laughter suddenly became looks of vague concern. But all was well.
The £1 million racing vessel, a sleek X-Treme 26, wasn’t damaged; we had run into something, but soon our trusty guides managed to career ourselves from the obstacle below and sail on.
Safely ashore and lunch that day involved fresh seafood, fries, and Piton beer, which takes its name from Saint Lucia’s highest peak and is every bit as refreshing as a sailor would hope. I probably don’t need to remind you how good beer tastes on holiday.
I was on the Caribbean island to discover The BodyHoliday’s new Spring Sail programme. Under the tutelage of former Team GB Olympian Saskia Clarke, we were put through our paces on one of the hotel’s new X-Treme 26 racers, which are ‘built to win’ and often do. They can reach 20 knots with ease.
On one afternoon, Clarke, a former World Champion and Olympic gold medallist – among other accolades – took us out beyond the bay and into open water.
The sea wasn’t rough but it felt it to a novice, waves climbing up to our dangling feet as we topped a 45 degree angle and picked up pace in the heady Caribbean wind. It was exhausting, thrilling, and Clarke allowed anyone willing to try their hand at tacking, jiving, even steering. An Olympic medal beckoned. Or another Piton beer. Either would do.
Sailing was very much my focus while visiting The BodyHoliday. After instruction, Hobie Cats were available to anyone hoping to further their skills, and I was soon addicted to finding the wind and sailing off the beautiful Cap Estate.
The trees surrounding the hotel are emerald green and the sea pearly blue. It is paradise-like and tranquil. Although there’s rum aplenty for anyone hoping to unwind after an intensive day.
The BodyHoliday emphasises exercise, but not in a preachy or overtly earnest way. It’s the Caribbean. It pays to workout in the gym, hike through the mountains, swim in the pool, play golf, tennis, volleyball, waterski, take part in a gruelling 6am beach workout – and oh my, it is intense – but equally encouraged is good steak and fine wine of an evening, and dancing in the bar after hours. Basic club activities all come with the room; sailing, Scuba, and personal training are extra.
There are six dining options at the hotel. The basic dining options are included in all inclusive packages, but two to pick out now are the Pavilion Grill, where the breakfast and lunch buffets are served, and Tao, a pan-Asian concept with sushi made with fish caught metres away, and views from the terrace across the sea. It was there I ate on the first evening, filling up on champagne, lobster and red mullet. Lavish indeed and fairly enchanting. You’ll soon get used to it.
In the bar below, nights go on for as long as you would like to savour. Rum is best paired with fresh orange juice and staff remain attentive even if they’re on the dancefloor with you. I happened to be there on 17 March, and hey, do Saint Lucians love a Guinness. We partied at a small shack-like bar a little way over from the complex.
This might all sound far from relaxing. I favour going all out in one direction or the other, but appreciate the benefits of meeting in the middle. Fortunately, I felt under no pressure to do anything at all on the days I didn’t fancy cycling through the jungle. There’s a wellness centre too, where yoga and massage is all too easy to enjoy.
I tried yoga and meditation once because, well, it’s so in vogue, but much preferred the massages – they helped me far more, of that I’m certain. I had one every day. One Thai, one Swedish, one on my head and one where the masseuse used only her feet, which was bizarre, but effective.
The spa is set away from the hotel’s beach area, restaurants and bars, shops and accommodation, a welcome division.
After an hour in the spa, bed is usually best.
I made use of my room as much as I could. It was contemporary Caribbean in style – rich woods and teal linen, everything light and airy and set on white tiles. Everything was as you expect if you’re paying approx £600 a night – beautiful views, lots of room and staff who are there whenever you need them. They are brilliant.
I sleep well anywhere after a day in the sun and a bottle of wine. Still, it pays to comfortable. I also like massive showers. Who doesn’t, frankly? They seem to fit with the elegance of it all.
In my five days at BodyHoliday, I felt as if I’d done everything and nothing at all. It went too quickly, though that really does sound spoilt. Maybe I spent an hour too long playing pool – you can do that anywhere – or a little too long merely frolicking in the water hoping for a tan.
But that’s really the point – it’s as much about totally detaching yourself from everything as it is about adventure, if adventure of the indulgent kind.
Be sure to visit other parts of the island, meet locals, try the food and explore the rich hillsides. Do that morning of yoga you don’t have time to at home, take part in the hot, sweaty beach workout early morning – you will always, always feel better for it – and have that bottle of wine you were admiring the evening before. It’s not a reward, it’s just part of the fun. Whatever happens, the experience makes you feel good.
All the key information:
Rooms start from $744 (£583) per night at single occupancy and $1,018 (£798) per night at double occupancy at entry level for March 2019 which is applicable over Spring Sail dates. For the Spring Sail 2019 Programme, we have confirmed Hanna Dimond from 5 March to 17 March, and Saskia Clark from 17 March until 31 March.
X-Treme 26 Sailing Experience: A two-hour sailing experience on an X-Treme 26 ft sailing yacht with Saskia Clarke. Taught how to steer, tack, jive, etc. $150 per person, four people max.
Sail and lunch at Malabar Beach (Sundays): A trip round the cove on one of the yachts. Includes lunch. $50 per person
The vicious spike of winter air forces your hands deep into your pockets as you make your way around Bern’s UNESCO protected Old Town on the last weekend in November.
The surroundings are lightly greyed with cold, which makes the green domes of the Parliament and the yellow leaves on the trees flanking the Aare River pop.
People, bundled up in coats and scarves, walk sedately, while several joggers, clad in gilets and hats, determinedly tackle routes over bridges and on the paths alongside the water. Just as our train from Zurich to Bern had left and run with military precision and punctuality, you wouldn’t expect the no-nonsense Swiss to let a change in season sway them from their fitness routine.
It’s this efficiency that makes the following day’s events all the more gloriously kooky by comparison, when the city – the seat of the Swiss government – rises before the dawn to buy and celebrate… onions.
These aren’t your standard supermarket-variety onions in a string bag, though: think, rather, onion wreaths, onion garlands, onions woven with herbs and flowers into decorative shapes.
Onions are toothpicked onto other onions to form statues of Father Christmas, elephants, pirates, cats, snowmen – even Harry Potter.
There are even, nestled in cosy walnut shells, tiny little Zwiebel babies – onion babies – for a bargain 5CHF each.
Looking around, you’d wonder how anyone in the country has worked, eaten or slept for the last few months; it looks as though the whole country has done nothing but craft with onions.
The Onion Festival – Zwiebelmärit – has been running since the Middle Ages – exactly when varies according to legend and opinion – and is always held on the fourth Monday of November.
Facts about how it came into existence are fairly sketchy – a popular explanation concerns the Great Fire of 1405, which devastated the city’s buildings. Help, it is said, came from the inhabitants of nearby Freiburg, whom the Bernese thanked by allowing them to sell their onions in Bern each autumn from then on.
From the scenes that surround us, it seems unlikely that anyone much cares about where the tradition stems from – everyone is having far too good a time drinking warm Glühwein, scoffing onion tart and throwing handfuls of confetti at one another, which, inexplicably, seems to be as much a part of the festival’s tradition as anything else.
Young children, granted a day off school, gleefully ambush the old men they’d probably give a wide berth to on any other day, while parents who, one imagines, would usually be aghast and apologetic in response, look on admiringly.
The streets are absolutely awash with the stuff from the early hours, so much so that it’s surprising that there’s any left over for the official confetti battle that takes place in the Old Town at the day’s end. There is – lots of it; I’m still shaking it out of my clothes the next day. Like glitter, it gets into places you didn’t even know you had.
The festivities continue late into the night – yes, there is even a ZibeleRave, for those so inclined, but we have wellness (and possibly mouthwash) on our minds.
Given that onions are known for their health-giving and beautifying properties (they’re full of anti-ageing benefits, can reduce pigmentation and treat acne) you might expect that the spa at the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern would have incorporated them into a treatment in honour of the day but Bern’s symbol, the Bear, means that honey is something that the city also holds dear.
Correspondingly, there are three hives, tended by a professional beekeeper, on the roof of the hotel, which have the ability to produce up to 120kg of honey annually. This is used in some of the spa’s treatments. It’s also used in the bar’s exclusive ‘A Tale of Bees and Bears’ cocktail, a heady concoction of honey liqueur, rum, chartreuse jaune, lemon juice and sugar.
Bears are also a feature of Bern’s wonderful Zytglogge, the clock tower that stands in the Old Town and was once the city’s first western gate. Astronomical and extraordinarily ornate, its hourly spectacle involves a rotating parade of bears, as well as a jester, an hourglass-reversing Chronos and a flapping rooster.
Possible (and delightful) though it is to enjoy its workings on the hour-strike from street level, the experience of ascending the tower’s narrow staircases and observing its inner workings is something not to be missed – it’s easy to believe that this is where time is woven, within these ancient and dense stone walls.
Fanciful? It seems I’m not the only person to have been transported by the possibilities of the movement of time suggested by the Zytglogge. Einstein, who lived here from 1903 to 1905 is said to have been inspired by the workings of the clock to develop his theory of relativity, which is explained in layman’s terms at the city’s Einstein Museum.
At the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern, the physicist’s work is given form in the lobby’s ceiling, where mesmerising projections of space and time reflect his theories.
I can’t claim to have got to grips with anything of physics-based nature during my stay, but if relativity has anything to do with time flying when you’re having fun and dragging when you’re not, then it’s fair to say that the fourth Monday in November is probably over in a flash for Zwiebelmärit attendees.
While you’re there…
Not for nothing is Bern sometimes referred to as the ‘city of fountains’ – there are more than 100 hundred of them dotted throughout its streets.
Look out in particular for the ones with coloured medieval statues at their tops, though – especially the Kindlifresserbrunnen (Ogre Fountain) which features a grotesque being busily gobbling a baby, while others try to escape from the sack he is clutching, like a live bag of child-flavoured crisps. Long used as a threat to keep misbehaving children in check, the fountain is one of eleven in Bern’s Old Town, each of which has a social or moral meaning; others include a barefoot musician and feathered cap wearing musketeer.
Where to stay
As one of the most luxurious hotels in the city, the 99-room Hotel Schweizerhof Bern is also ideally placed for arrival by train (it’s a moment’s walk from the station) and exploration of Bern’s charming Old Town.
Rich design elements combine with modern flourishes, like the ‘healthy bowls’ menu in the lobby bar, the 500 sqm spa and the chic Sky Terrace, with panoramic 360-degree views over the city.
The on-site Jack’s restaurant is old-school glamour at its best, a feast of dark wood, tiled floors, brass railings and, of course, a world-famous Wiener Schnitzel.
Stay from CHF 439 per night in a deluxe room (approximately £344).
Fly into Zurich and catch the train from there – it takes about an hour and offers some scenic vistas en route. The Swiss Travel System transfer return ticket takes you from the Swiss border or an airport to your destination from £116 in second class; the return journey must be taken within the month.
Ever had a day that couldn’t be improved by a good McDonald’s breakfast? Nah, neither have we.Maria Sharapova gives frosty press conference after being booed by Australian Open crowd
Making hash-browns and pancakes yourself is fine, but sometimes the effort is just too much to bear, especially if you’re hung over or about to start a killer day at work.
McDonald’s always comes through with the satisfying, filling and often beautifully greasy combo of breakfast foods that we desperately need when we’re worse for wear, or just hungry for a but of comfort.
If you want a bit of a lie-in, though, you’ll want to know when McDonald’s finish serving breakfast. No point rushing for no reason, after all.
Breakfast starts and ends at different times at different restaurants.
A general rule though, is that it starts when the restaurant opens, or if the branch is open 24 hours, it’ll start at 5am.
Breakfast also ends at most locations in the UK 10.30am.
But why is this?
McDonald’s have said previously that, ‘Items on our breakfast menu are cooked slightly differently and at a different temperature from items on our main menu.
‘Unfortunately we don’t have enough space in our kitchens to accommodate the cooking and preparation of our breakfast and main menus at the same time.
‘The 10.30am cut off enables us to accommodate our breakfast lovers and allow the customers who enjoy our main menu offering to get it before 11am.’
You can check the opening times for your local restaurant here.
After that, the lunch service will start, so unfortunately McMuffins will be out of the question.
What’s on the breakfast menu?
If you’ve never given yourself the pleasure of a McDonald’s breakfast before, then first of all what have you been doing with your life all this time?
Second of all, the menu is as follows:
McDonald's Breakfast Menu
A McDonald's fast food store is picturedA McDonald's fast food store is picturedaidanmilan6A McDonald's fast food store is pictured in central London on August 6, 2008. McDonald's launched a campaign on August 6 to recruit 4,000 staff in Britain to satisfy the demand from cash-strapped customers flocking to its restaurants as the credit crunch bites hard. As the rest of the British economy hits turbulent times, the fast food giant said it was serving an extra two million meals a month compared with this time last year. AFP PHOTO/Ben Stansall (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
An unusual job? Well this one has to be up there with the really odd ones.
I am an interior designer for doll’s houses.
How did I get here, in this mildly eccentric world, from my past background as a corporate banker of 30 years? I have asked myself the same question.
Well it was a bit by chance. During a break from my job in the City I stumbled into a small doll’s house shop in Colchester, Essex.
It was here that I found myself immersed into the world of houses and miniatures.
Now don’t get me wrong, it was not new to me. I loved them as a child, but this was the first time in my adulthood where I felt like I was close to recapturing what it was like to be a 10 year old.
And it appears I’m not alone. Through my work I have found out doll’s house collection and decoration is a huge hobby.
It is a passion shared by many a man and woman, of all ages and nationalities, uniting the artistic among us who appreciate the skill in something if it’s made beautifully.
It’s pure escapism!
In this shop there were some houses that had sat on the shelves for years. They needed a bit of TLC, a door fixing, a paint retouch – easy – and maybe a redesign. I found myself offering to do it for free, and that’s where the idea for my company, Doll’s House Grand Designs, was born.
Then I bought a second-hand doll’s house, re-designed it with the perspective of an interior designer – it was even complete with secret passages.
This was a real house, rather than a toy for a child.
I took it to a doll’s house fair, and offered a service, rather than the house. This was an example of what I could do. From that event I got two commissions and nowadays have a considerable waiting list.
Day-to-day, it’s like any other job. I spend the time meeting the requests of my clients.
I have a free consultation process, just like a real designer. The only difference is that I work smaller. Each house is personal to each client. Every person comes in with a story that makes it unique and meaningful.
One day I may go to work and build a shop front out of plaster and wood based on the revered Fortnum & Mason.
Or I design or redesign a building from floor to ceiling.
My workshop is fully kitted out and I have learnt over the years to use the best tools to get the finest finish – especially as my clients are only getting more demanding!
I aim to give my client the dream that had been in their heads – sometimes for years. I am so proud of each house, shop or café that I make.
The best bit is definitely when I present the final pieces to their owners and see their happy faces. It’s so rewarding to see the joy they bring, and knowing these creations will be filled with tiny treasures and have a place in the heart of the owner forever.
My own house (human size) is polar opposite. I have plain walls, magnolia everywhere. It’s new with no ornaments. Minimalist, you could say.
In my view, I have both the cluttered, chintz home in the form of my doll’s houses and my modern, easy to dust real one.
Most people associate doll’s houses with little girls but that couldn’t be further from the truth!
My clients are never the same. They range from couples doing a joint project, the older lady and older man (who are just as enthusiastic as when they were younger), gay and straight people alike, people with money with exceptional high end taste, people who take loans to pay for them, disabled people who find it to be an accessible hobby (in a world where there aren’t many), etc.
Ultimately the houses are a piece of furniture, and are incredibly beautiful if well done.
I’ve had some odd requests over the years, and I often find myself thinking, ‘you know this isn’t real, right?’
But to my clients it is – and I love it.
I had to build a secret staircase in a female bedroom from a man’s study, so the servants wouldn’t see him sneak in there. Both passageways were hidden in walls and behind bookcases.
I mean you have to laugh, don’t you?
In my showroom, here in Suffolk, I have two huge Georgian houses, three small shops and cottages.
I am a collector too, but I hire the big ones out for photo shoots so I can tell my accountant that we need them for business purposes.
To find out more about Emma and doll’s house interior design, click here.
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