Articles on this Page
- 02/05/19--02:20: _Woman asked her gue...
- 02/05/19--03:20: _How to plan the ult...
- 02/05/19--03:48: _Mum writes open let...
- 02/05/19--04:10: _Ex-boyfriend has sa...
- 02/05/19--04:36: _A very rich man is ...
- 02/05/19--04:55: _People are puzzled ...
- 02/05/19--05:36: _Topshop launches ne...
- 02/05/19--05:46: _Woman makes boyfrie...
- 02/05/19--05:48: _Woman who was born ...
- 02/05/19--07:07: _Woman wants to pay ...
- 02/05/19--07:27: _I was bullied at sc...
- 02/05/19--09:11: _Aunt Bessie’s launc...
- 02/05/19--22:25: _Seagull flies every...
- 02/05/19--22:29: _Mum has newborn the...
- 02/05/19--22:52: _Tinder predicts the...
- 02/06/19--00:01: _Mixed Up: ‘Being ha...
- 02/06/19--01:10: _Loads of us don’t k...
- 02/06/19--01:34: _Mystery condition m...
- 02/06/19--01:38: _Lovehoney is now do...
- 02/06/19--02:50: _Our hearts melt for...
- 02/05/19--03:20: How to plan the ultimate foodie tour of Taiwan
- 02/05/19--04:10: Ex-boyfriend has savage response to bride’s wedding invitation
- 02/05/19--04:55: People are puzzled by Boohoo’s ‘front thong’ bodysuit
- 02/05/19--05:36: Topshop launches new Editor jeans for £49
- 02/05/19--22:25: Seagull flies every day to visit 80-year-old man who saved his life
- 02/05/19--22:29: Mum has newborn themed photoshoot to celebrate trans son’s birthday
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Find it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks
- Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- Being confused about time or and place
- Mood changes
- Memory problems to the point that people may not recognise close family and friends or remember where they live
- Communication problems
- Mobility problems
- Behavioural problems, such as agitation, depression, anxiety, wandering around, and aggression
- Weight loss
- Memory problems
- Asking the same questions over and over
- Becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
- Becoming withdrawn or anxious
- Difficulty with tasks that require planning and organisation
- Difficulty finding the right word
- Difficulty with numbers
- Stroke-like symptoms such as muscle weakness or temporary paralysis on one side of the body
- Difficulty walking or a change in how someone walks
- Struggles with attention, planning, and reasoning
- Mood changes
- Fluctuating levels of confusion, with periods of being alert or drowsy
- Visual hallucinations
- Slowness in physical movement
- Repeated falls and fainting
- Sleep disturbances
- 02/06/19--01:34: Mystery condition makes woman’s lips double in size
- acute urticaria– if the rash clears completely within six weeks
- chronic urticaria –in rarer cases, where the rash persists or comes and goes for more than 6 weeks, often over many years
- 02/06/19--01:38: Lovehoney is now doing a sex toy subscription box
You probably don’t mind spending hundreds of pounds for a festival or a big event, but what would you do if you were invited to a wedding and asked to pay to be there?
That’s what one bride did, according to a post on Mumsnet.
One of her guests, her sister-in-law, said she was asked to pay £180 just to ‘secure a place at the wedding’ for her, her husband and her child.
The bride even included her bank details so guests could pay alongside their RSVP.
The post explains: ‘So my sister-in-law announced that her wedding (this summer) was going to be a weekend-long affair a couple of hours away from where we live.
‘Invitations recently went out and my husband and I were a little shocked to see that alongside RSVP info was bank details to pay £180 to secure our place at the wedding! ‘
She explained that they would be staying overnight for two nights and she understood the money was probably going towards their stay but she felt it was ‘bad etiquette’.
‘When we got married, immediate family stayed at the venue which we paid for,’ she added.
She also questioned what the £180 was going towards as her mother-in-law has already paid for the venue and the rooms come as a part of that cost.
She said: ‘My MIL was shocked as she is footing a lot of the wedding bill and when SIL sounded her out in this, she asked SIL not to ask for money off immediate family in this way.
‘We will pay as we wouldn’t want to miss it for the world but just wondered how others would feel about this?’
Most posters said that it was rude, especially if the rooms had been paid for, while others suggested it was fair to ask for money towards accommodation but maybe it could have been handled better.
The poster said that they would pay it as her husband gets on well with her sister and she didn’t want to cause an argument, but they would cut back on their spending when it came to a wedding present.
She added: ‘We can just about afford it but it is an unexpected expense at a time when we are struggling financially as I am on mat leave.
‘I guess we will just have to suck it up and pay as my husband gets on with his sister well and wouldn’t want to upset her. Still feel aggrieved though.
‘At the end of the invitation it says to ‘give generously’ with regards to a wedding present. I doubt we will be doing this!’
Bride asks guest to pay £180 to secure her place in the weddingBride asks guest to pay £180 to secure her place in the weddinglauraabernethy6Wedding and party place decoration with lamps and garlandsNetMums
There are destinations around the world that every food lover should visit and Taiwan is one of them.
Situated off the south east coast of China, the island has a long, rich history of food that’s stitched into its culinary heritage.
While many of the settlers can trace their ancestors to Fujian province in China, Taiwan’s food offering is also strongly influenced by its period of Japanese occupation.
I signed up to Intrepid’s new culinary tour to Taiwan to give me a little taster of the island’s offering.
My trip kicked off in the capital Taipei, where I met the rest of my tour group over snacks at Ningxia night market – one of the many around the city – to try the local street food.
We were all food lovers in our 30s and 40s, and had flown in from around the world.
Over bites such as barbecued mushrooms and fried squid balls, we chatted about the good food we hoped to get from the trip.
The tour started in earnest the next day, when we got a bus out to Taoyuan to learn the art of making xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at the Dian Shui Lou factory – one of the best known restaurants in Taiwan.
It was there that a chef showed us how to fold the pleats to get the perfect seal for these dainty soup dumplings – or as near to perfect as our clumsy fingers could manage.
But paying attention was important as we had the fruits of our labour for lunch – needless to say, a leaky dumpling wouldn’t have cut the mustard.
Getting hands on was central to the food experiences on Intrepid tours, and we learned to make several Taiwanese dishes during our trip.
We travelled further south that day, to Spring Land Villa, a guesthouse in Puli.
It was there that I had one of the best meals of the trip – a selection of homecooked dishes before we were let lose on the barbeque.
It was the perfect sit down meal to help the group gel.
The long trip down south was so we get to see the picturesque Sun Moon Lake, one of the must-see attractions in Taiwan.
After two hours cycling around a segment of the lake, we settled down to a picnic lunch that we made that morning. This time, it was all about steamed sweet potato cakes and sticky rice balls.
That afternoon, we made the long journey back north to Yilan, a county just east of Taiwan.
Yilan is one of the main agricultural regions in Taiwan so there was plenty to discover there, starting with a classic jar-cooked chicken.
While traditionally a whole chicken would have been cooked in an enormous earthen jar, which worked like an oven to crisp up the skin while keeping the meat tender, the modern version is actually a jar-shaped oven.
We had a sharing meal at a local restaurant with the chicken as the centre piece. It’s rustic stuff, but delicious if you don’t mind the fact that the chicken is served whole – that means heads and all.
Yilan is known for producing spring onion and tea.
At a local organic farm, we got to pick our own leaves and process them into tea to take home.
Top tip – the mosquitoes there are ruthless so lather up with bug spray before you go anywhere near those bushes.
The farm also had a great little organic restaurant where we had lunch.
At a spring onion farm, we plucked our own giant spring onions – it’s harder than you imagine – before trying our hands at making spring onion breads.
Gently fried and layered with freshly cut spring onions, it’s quite a treat for the taste buds.
Yilan is also home to Taiwan’s premier whiskey – Kavalan – where we had a little tasting in the distillery’s impressive grounds.
I’m still a Scotch fan, but it’s definitely worth a visit.
We headed back to Taipei after Yilan to see some of the capital’s cultural sites, like Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Taiwan’s National Palace Museum, and to sample some of the food offering near the capital.
There was the opportunity to go to Jiufen for a street food crawl through the old town, try the infamous xiao long bao at Ding Tai Fung, and sit down for dinner at the Michelin-starred and incredibly busy Shin Yeh.
We also had another hands-on experience – a chef took us to an open market where we sampled some of the more unusual offerings on sale, before we headed back to his kitchen to learn how to make a typical Taiwanese soup as well as potstickers.
Even after eight days, I can tell we barely scratched the surface of delicious eating.
Some top restaurants to check out in Taipei:
Taipei is one of those places where you can drop a pin on a map and find a small, family-run restaurant offering tasty morsels.
Most of these are quite rustic, offering one or two simple dishes done really, really well.
Right near our hotel was Lin Dong Fang, one of the best spots in the city for beef noodles. There’s almost always a queue, but it’s well worth it.
Taipei has some incredible Michelin-starred and fine-dining restaurants too.
Before my Intrepid tour started, I stayed for a couple of days at the Mandarin Oriental where they have a Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant, Ya Ge.
The inspiration is traditional Cantonese fare but the interpretation is very modern. Their dim sums are incredible, and you won’t want to miss the charcoal salted egg custard buns.
The hotel’s cake shop is also where you will find the best pineapple cake – an essential Taiwanese speciality – in the city.
Another one to look out for is Yen at W Taipei.
There are great views of the city from the windows and their tasting menu lets you try Taiwanese flavours in a very modern setting.
Among the things I tried was a dish flavoured with peppercorns native to Taiwan.
If you’re looking for boundary-pushing food, head to Raw.
Chef Alain Huang uses distinctively Taiwanese ingredients to create some truly unforgettable dishes. Who knew truffle tofu could be so delicious?
And then there’s Mume, a small-plates restaurant that mixes Scandi approach to food with Taiwanese sensibilities.
You’ll want to go as a small group for this one so you can try a few different things.
Where to stay in Taiwan and how to get there:
Intrepid Travel’s 9-day Taiwan Real Food Adventure starts from £1,595 per person and includes seven nights’ hotel and one nights’ guesthouse accommodation with daily breakfast, some meals, transport, most activities and a guide throughout.
The itinerary for 2019 has been amended from the one I went on and will include a trip to Tainan.
Intrepid’s tour started on Sunday night so I took the opportunity to fly in a couple of days early and explore the city on my own.
I stayed at the lovely Mandarin Oriental Taipei while in town, where rooms start from 9,500 TWD (approx. £241) per night based on two adults sharing on a room only basis.
The who’s who of celebrities have all stayed at the hotel and, if you’re lucky, they’ll slip a couple of those delicious pineapple cakes into your room as a welcome snack.
Flights are not included. I flew with Cathay Pacific, which has flights from £463 return with a stop over in Hong Kong.
For more travel ideas, visit the Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s website.
20181108_144647-01-e93b20181108_144647-01-e93bqinxieA jar cooked chicken all shredded up (Picture: Qin Xie)A spring onion bread with a view (Picture: Qin Xie)Tasting whiskys at Kavalan (Picture: Qin Xie)
We’re all guilty of it: that internal groan when we see a baby will be sitting near us on our flight.
Our plans of snoozing the whole eight hours are at risk of being interrupted by a child’s wails. It makes sense to be a little disappointed.
But while that internal groan is acceptable, actually saying anything to make the parents of the child feel unwelcome really isn’t okay.
One mum has shared how much it hurt her when a fellow passenger on her flight let out ‘over dramatic huffs and puffs’ simply because her daughter was laughing and playing.
Stephanie Hollifield, a parenting blogger who recently thanked a stranger for helping with her adopted daughter’s hair, wrote an open letter to the man who was so annoyed by her child’s presence.
She wrote: ‘To the Gentleman on Flight 1451,
‘I first noticed you when you sighed loudly as you laid eyes on me and my toddler boarding the plane.
‘In a momentary lapse of judgement, we sat behind you. It was the nearest set of seats, and I couldn’t wait to put my child and our heavy bags down.
‘From the over dramatic huffs and puffs you let out as we buckled in, it was clear that you were annoyed by our very presence.
‘At this point, my little girl was laughing and playing, obviously too loud for your liking.
‘I wondered if you had a bad day, or if this grouchy temperament was your normal behavior.
‘I wondered if your wife was embarrassed as she quietly nodded at your frustrations.
‘I wondered if you had children of your own. I wondered a lot about you.
‘Did you wonder about us?’
Stephanie goes on to explain that this was the first time she had ever flown with a child, and was incredibly nervous about the journey. For weeks she had researched tips for flying with children, packing toys and games and giving her child allergy medicine Benadryl (which is supposed to make you sleepy) so she could do everything possible to keep her daughter quiet.
‘It didn’t work,’ writes Stephanie. ‘She only slept 20 minutes on a cross country flight.
‘I did everything in my power to keep her calm and quiet. I shushed her, and made sure her little feet didn’t kick your seat.
‘As we took off, her tears started. The kicking and the screaming tantrums came on fast.
‘She had been up since early morning.
‘She hadn’t had a nap. She hadn’t eaten much.
‘She was recovering from the tail end of a sinus infection, and I wondered if the pressure from the altitude hurt her ears.
‘She was exhausted and fussy.
‘You did not let up with your mutters of annoyance and looks over your shoulder.
‘I apologized to everyone around me. I almost started crying myself.
‘I was feeling shame and guilt for not being able to control my own child.’
At breaking point, Stephanie was helped by a stranger. As the man in front of her tutted and groaned, a flight attendant gave Stephanie’s daughter a cup and straw to play with, immediately stopping her cries.
That moment of kindness was a huge help. It also serves as an example to the man, and other people like him who choose to be annoyed by a screaming child rather than offering any assistance.
The fact is, no parent is out to ruin your flight. They want their baby to be quiet just as much as you do – if not more.
But rolling your eyes and tutting won’t stop a baby’s sobs. All it will do is pile on shame to the parent.
We could all do with extending some kindness to young children and their parents on long-haul flights. Travelling is tough.
Stephanie ended her letter by writing: ‘What you need to know, is that while children can be terribly inconvenient now, they will run the world when you are old and grey.
‘They need a kind word. They need the novelty of a plastic cup and conversation from a new friend.
‘They need someone to look square in their mama’s nervous eyes and tell them that they are doing great, and that everything is going to be ok.
‘If you can’t muster up a smile and a hello, then simple silence will do just fine.
‘I get it, kids can be a nuisance, but next time you are forced to be near one, I hope that you will be more like the flight attendant. I hope that instead of frustration and annoyance, you feel hope and goodness.
‘This world certainly has enough negativity without us adding to it, and just maybe the kindness you give out today, will be returned to you in the future.’
Mum writes open letter to man who got annoyed by her baby on a flightMum writes open letter to man who got annoyed by her baby on a flightellencscottParenting blogger Stephanie Hollifield is seen with husband AJ Hollifield and their children in AJ's Facebook cover photo.Mum writes open letter to man who got annoyed by her baby on a flight. When parenting blogger Stephanie Hollifield was struggling on a cross-country flight with her daughter, another passenger kept letting out ?over dramatic huffs and puffs,? as she put it in a Sunday night Facebook post.
Inviting an ex to your wedding is always a tricky business, as one bride found out recently.
Sharing her story on Twitter, 21-year-old Hayley Stamper said: ”My ex-boyfriend just RSVP’d to my wedding and look at the song he requested.’
Underneath, she the Lincoln, Nebraska bride a picture of said invitation, where the aforementioned ex had asked for I Loved Her First by Heartland to be played at the reception.
It was actually part of the invite, and thankfully he hadn’t just taken it upon himself to hijack the playlist, but it was certainly still an awkward moment for Hayley.
He’d also ticked that he’d love to come to the wedding, so it seemed all a moment of lighthearted fun rather than anything malicious.
On an Australian Facebook group, conversation then turned to whether people would invite their exes to their wedding in the first place.
But, one commenter said the original poster was ‘asking for trouble’ and that ‘inviting an ex says she’s not over him or she has a s**t ton of money and wants to make him feel bad or jealous (which goes back to her not being over him.’
Others told how they’re still friends with exes and have gone to their weddings, been on double dates with new partners, or even had them as groomsmen or bridesmaids in their own weddings.
Hayley then clarified after the backlash: ‘Before you quote me with “why tf did you invite your ex” here’s my response!!! We Broke up over 5 years ago!
‘Not every breakup has to have a traumatic ending, thus we’re still friends who can laugh and joke around.
‘If my fiance and ex can laugh at this tweet, you should too!’
Hayley, her then-fiance Austin, and the unnamed ex-boyfriend all went to school together, and the boys were even on the same football team.
She dated her ex when she was 15 years old, so it’s understandable that their past is water under the bridge now.
It all obviously depends on how your relationship ended. If there was bad blood, or one person still has feelings, that’s not a great idea.
If, however, you simply just weren’t compatible in a romantic relationship, why not invite someone who knows you best?
Ex-boyfriend's naughty reply to wedding guest invitation gettyEx-boyfriend's naughty reply to wedding guest invitation gettyjessicacvlEx-boyfriend's naughty reply to wedding guest invitationEx-boyfriend's naughty reply to wedding guest invitation Getty Images Picture: LEAVE BLANK (via @hayley stamper) https://twitter.com/hayleystamperX metrograb **TAKEN VIA MAIL ONLINE SYSTEM, ORIGIN OF PIC SINCE BEEN DELETED. NO PERMISSION GRANTED**
When asked what you’d do if you were a millionaire, you might say you’d buy your parents a nice house in the country or go on the trip of a lifetime.
This wealthy man, however, has decided to immortalise his family in stone – and is currently looking for the perfect spot to do so.
On luxury online marketplace HushHush.com, an ad has been placed requesting a large rockface for the princely sum of £12 million.
The millionaire sent a message to the site’s staff after buying a necklace on the platform, saying:
Thanks so much for helping me out last week, my wife loved the necklace – it was a great find! I have another favour to ask you… I wonder if you know of any mountains being sold? Maybe a cliff face? The reason I ask is because I’d like to see if I can buy one and then carve my family’s face onto it as a surprise. It would be good to immortalise the family, and this is a fun and unique way to do it (I’m thinking Mount Rushmore style).
The budget of £12 million is for the mountain itself, and the mysterious customer would then pay for the carvings to be done by a professional.
The mountain needs to be big enough to fit his own image, his partner’s, their four children’s, and also their dog’s, so unfortunately you can’t just sell him a mound at the back of your garden.
The man, who’d like to remain anonymous, is no stranger to extravagant gifts. Two years ago he bought his family a private island, which set a pretty big precedent when it came to the value of presents.
His latest request for an actual mountain is proving rather tricky, but if you have got one going spare, you might be able to bag a cool 12 mil by applying here.
Aaron Harpin, founder and CEO of HushHush.com, commented on the strange but amazing present idea:
‘We’ve only been running for a short time, but we’ve already gained many loyal customers who find the site useful for their needs. This customer is one that we have worked with since the beginning and has often sent us messages asking for specific items that aren’t currently on the site, all of which we have managed, but this one we need some help with!
‘Obviously, he’s done his own research, as have we, but perhaps there’s a mountain or cliff face in the UK that we haven’t thought of yet, which is why we’re asking for the public’s help.’
A very rich person is looking to buy a UK mountain for ?12m so they can carve their family's faces in itA very rich person is looking to buy a UK mountain for ?12m so they can carve their family's faces in itjessicacvl
Fashion is strange.
Every other week a label unleashes an utterly bizarre item of clothing into the world, whether it’s asymmetrical jeans or clothes that look like they’ve been covered in mud.
In the fight to get as unusual as possible, comfort often seems to take a back seat.
Case in point: This bodysuit from Boohoo, which has an under-genitals strip that’s so skinny it’s called a ‘front thong’.
The bodysuit, currently on sale for £9 and nearly sold out (yes, people are indeed buying it), was featured in a promoted social media post from Boohoo. This attracted a lot of attention to its… unique design.
People have questioned how comfortable a front thong bodysuit could be, and wondered why the legs need to be quite so high cut – isn’t the idea of a leotard that you wear it under a skirt or pair of trousers, thus covering up our lower half?
And, of course, people have questioned what has happened to the model’s pubic area.
Not to get too blunt, but few of us are so smooth that we could wear such a thin piece of fabric without certain areas being visible. And yet here’s this model, with no visible labia or stubble.
How, we ask. How?
We reached out to Boohoo to get some important questions answered, but they haven’t got back to us yet.
Hopefully they do soon, as we need to know. Was Photoshop used to make this model so easily conceal her genitals? Is a front wedgie actually shockingly comfortable? If the wedgie goes too far, how can we free ourselves without shoving our hands down our jeans?
Like many unusual bits of clothing, the bodysuit has made its way to Mumsnet, where mums have been quick to criticise the item of clothing.
‘That is disturbing on so many different levels,’ wrote one.
‘God your undercarriage would engulf that in under a minute,’ said another.
One user summed up our feelings pretty concisely, writing: ‘Ouch!!’
People are very puzzled by this Boohoo leotardPeople are very puzzled by this Boohoo leotardellencscott
Topshop jeans are a go-to for a lot of us.
Joni jeans and Jamie jeans are a great for something stretchy, skinny, and high-waisted that’s not just a pair of leggings.
And now, the fashion retailer has just launched a new style of jeans: The Editor edition.
The new denim Editor jeans feature a straight leg style, but they’re high-waisted and stretchy.
They’re basically Mom and Jamie jeans in one.
The jeans are ankle-grazing length and look super cute with boots – as seen styled on Topshop’s Instagram page, along with a chunky jumper.
The jeans come in three colours: mid blue, grey and bleach, and come in regular, tall and petite lengths – which is amazing, considering it’s so annoying when you find a style you love but it only comes in one of these sizes.
The jeans are already selling out, since they were posted to Topshop’s Instagram, receiving nearly 11,000 likes.
They’ve also received a bunch of comments from excited customers.
One person said: ‘Ohhhh these are cute’.
Another wrote: ‘Oh heck yeah I like them.’
The Editor jeans are currently selling online and in stores for £49 – a little bit pricier than the other styles.
So, go forth my fellow Topshop lovers, before they all sell out.
Topshop has launched new 'Editor' jeans, and they'll suit every shapeTopshop has launched new 'Editor' jeans, and they'll suit every shapehattiegladwellmetro
A girlfriend made her boyfriend a T-shirt to let other girls know he’s in a relationship when he goes on nights out.
Holly Cockerill, from Manchester, got the top made for her boyfriend Karl Hennan, and shared photos of him wearing it on Twitter.
The top had the warning message to other women: ‘If your [sic] reading this you’ve been looking at my man for too long.’
Alongside a photo of her posing, it continued: ‘And this is how I’d be looking at if if I was here.
‘Hi I’m Holly, his GIRLFRIEND!’
In the photo, Karl looked clearly unimpressed and was pictured rolling his eyes while wearing the top.
Holly captioned her tweet: ‘Don’t think Karl likes his new top I got him for his birthday x wear it with pride hun x.’
The post was liked by by thousands of people and received mixed replies.
One person wrote: ‘Karl blink twice if you’re being held against your will.’
Another said: ‘And I thought I was insecure but DAMN you a whole other level.’
Karl himself then replied: ‘Babe I really don’t wanna wear this stupid top tonight can I take the thing off?’
But Holly shot him straight down, replying: ‘No you best keep it on at all times, even around ya family you little b****.’
Holly was overwhelmed by the response to her initial tweet, pointing out the fact that the whole thing was just light-hearted banter.
Taking to Twitter a couple of hours later, she said: ‘I can’t cope with the responses to the top I got my bf. it’s called a joke because me and my boyfriend actually like to have a laugh, it’ll be in the bin after knowing him.’
Controlling girlfriend with trust issues forces boyfriend to wear t-shirt with her name on itControlling girlfriend with trust issues forces boyfriend to wear t-shirt with her name on ithattiegladwellmetroA girlfriend found an imaginative way to stop people flirting with her fella on a night out - by getting him a top with her face on it. Holly Cockerill, from Manchester, got the hilarious top for her boyfriend Karl Hennan, and shared snaps of him wearing her custom-made t-shirt on Twitter. caption: Holly, Karl and 'the top'A girlfriend found an imaginative way to stop people flirting with her fella on a night out - by getting him a top with her face on it.Holly Cockerill, from Manchester, got the hilarious top for her boyfriend Karl Hennan, and shared snaps of him wearing her custom-made t-shirt on Twitter.caption: Holly said the whole thing was just a big jokeA girlfriend found an imaginative way to stop people flirting with her fella on a night out - by getting him a top with her face on it. Holly Cockerill, from Manchester, got the hilarious top for her boyfriend Karl Hennan, and shared snaps of him wearing her custom-made t-shirt on Twitter. caption: Holly Cockerill got the hilarious top for her boyfriend Karl Hennan
‘Do you know why Molly was born deaf?’
It was a simple question from a optician but it turned everything upside down for Molly Watt when she was 12 years old.
When she was just a baby, her family knew she had problems with her hearing but they never really questioned why – it was just something that had happened.
She wore hearing aids, learned to lip read and was doing well at mainstream school
At 12 years old, Molly, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, was struggling to read the board and her parents thought she might need glasses.
But the optician spotted something more serious and after tests, Molly’s parents were told she had Usher Syndrome and she was going to gradually lose her sight.
Initially, they were told it would be around 10 years before she was blind, but Molly’s sight deteriorated so quickly in two years that she was registered as blind at 14.
Molly was still able to see things in the very centre of her vision but it was like looking through a straw.
What is Usher syndrome?
Everybody with Usher syndrome experiences the condition in a different way.
The time of onset, as well as how your sight, hearing and balance are affected, varies from person to person. It also changes over time.
The main symptoms of Usher syndrome are hearing loss and an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
RP causes nightblindness (when someone can’t see in the dark) and a loss of peripheral vision through the progressive degeneration of the retina. As RP progresses the field of vision narrows – a condition sometimes known as ‘tunnel vision’ – until only the ability to see straight ahead remains.
If you have Usher syndrome, you may also have balance problems.
Losing her sight meant Molly struggled to lip read and would not be able to learn to sign.
When she attended a school for deaf children, she was told she wasn’t a real deaf person if she couldn’t use sign language, and would feel isolated by the other children.
But Molly found her experience of living with the loss of two senses and trying to get by in a world that wasn’t accessible for her has helped her forge a career, showing how technology can be used to make things easier for disabled people.
When Molly was born 24 years ago, her family had no idea she would struggle to hear but accepted it as ‘just something that had happened’.
Molly was given her first set of hearing aids at 18 months and went on to mainstream school.
But as she reached her teens, she was struggling to see. A trip to the opticians led to a diagnosis of Retinitus Pigmentosa, which meant the retina was slowly breaking down.
A combination of deafness and RP is called Usher syndrome, meaning Molly’s sight and hearing would gradually deteriorate as she got older, though doctors couldn’t give her an exact time frame as each person with the condition experiences it differently.
Initially Molly’s parents chose not to tell her about her sight loss as they believed it would be a long time before it became more serious.
But when she was 14, a conversation during a car journey made them realise it had deteriorated much quicker than they thought it would.
She explains: ‘It wasn’t until I started asking more questions and noticed a few things. The day I was told, my mum was driving and she said to me “Molly, can you see me?” I turned my head round to look at her and I said “of course I can”.
‘I remember thinking it was a really silly question. I was quite naive, I think. She said “No, when you look ahead, can you see me?”
‘I was trying to use my peripheral vision. I realised I could only see her hands and the reality hit that I had lost a lot of my vision already and my mum realised she had to tell me.
‘I was thinking why was she asking me this but I could see she was really quite upset. I was asking more questions and she told me I had this condition called Usher syndrome.’
Molly struggled to accept her diagnosis.
‘For a long time, I called it a condition but I struggled to call it blindness,’ she says.
‘I started researching as a teenager and I saw the word blind everywhere and I just didn’t want to accept it.
‘I just wanted to be out with my friends and to go out and do all the things they were doing.
‘It was a long hard journey. I was probably still in denial when I got to about 17 or 18.
‘Part of being blind was doing mobility cane training but being a hormonal teenager, I was sure I didn’t need one. I had all these people coming into our home and trying to talk to me about using it and how I needed it to be independent.
‘For a long time, I didn’t want to listen. They said to me about having a guide dog because I refused to use a cane. They said I could be waiting three years before I got matched. I said that was fine because I thought I would have time then to figure this out and they would get off my back.
‘I went on the list when I was 17 and within seven months, I was matched. I was actually pretty gutted. She was beautiful and I fell in love with her but I could not accept I needed her.
‘I was quite selective about when I worked her – it would only be if it was somewhere that wasn’t local. I was hiding it from people in my local town. The thought of someone I knew seeing me with a guide dog was just putting this gigantic ‘I’m blind’ label on my forehead.’
As Molly started to struggle more with school, the family decided she should go to a school for deaf children but for Molly, it was even more isolating.
‘The kids there were all deaf and I didn’t sign so I felt like I was seen as a sad excuse of a deaf person.
‘I struggled to fit in. You had to be aural in the lessons but as soon as you were outside of class, they were all signing. I felt totally excluded because I couldn’t join in.
‘I had a lot of grief.’
Molly went on to sixth form where the bullying continued. She felt her teachers did not support her.
‘People would tell me I was pretending to have this condition and I wasn’t blind enough to have a guide dog. I was trying to explain that they just don’t hand out guide dogs but I felt people just didn’t accept me,’ she says.
After a gap year, she was able to go to a college which was supportive and tried to adapt to help her.
Their support helped her get a place at university to study Primary Education but again Molly struggled with accessibility issues and dropped out.
After university, she was offered a job at Apple and she soon found her own experiences meant she could help others.
She explains: ‘I felt like I found my niche. I started working with Apple in Reading.
‘I was working with the public and I noticed the way I was using technology meant I had a unique set of skills and I could use them to make life a lot easier.
‘I became a specialist in accessibility and now I work with Sigma, a digital user experience agency, as a usability and accessibility consultant.
‘We speak to companies about how we can make all user interfaces accessible to everyone.
‘Because of my personal experiences of being excluded on so many occasions, like applying for university, I found the whole thing totally inaccessible.
‘I had to rely on somebody to help me do it. I want to be independent and I feel if we could make all experiences much more usable, a lot of people like myself have the ability to succeed. There is no reason why they shouldn’t.
‘It’s not that I don’t have the ability or the drive, the world just isn’t always willing to help.’
Molly now works with companies to help them improve the accessibility of their website and apps but says many still don’t see the importance of investing in the issue.
She says: ‘I think it is quite unhealthy to think of accessibility as something just affecting a minority group. Doing this is involving more people than we realise.
‘A lot of companies have this as an afterthought and they are missing out on revenue. They view it as something as something for a small group of people and they need to change the way they think about it. It can benefit everyone.
‘I talk a lot about the aging population, which is growing. You could be reaching so many more people by being fully accessible. Many people need glasses or lose their hearing as they are older. My parents use bigger text for example, but that doesn’t work with some apps.
‘Companies need to invest in training and invest in this. They need to look at user testing and research to make sure it works.
‘It all starts with awareness and they need to realise what the grey areas are. So many users have different ways of accessing material and you can’t people into boxes.
‘It’s one thing saying to companies they are doing it wrong but we also want to offer solutions. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks it is important enough to pay for it. The priority isn’t there.’
Although Molly’s condition continues to deteriorate, she has found technology helps her every day.
She uses all the accessibility features across her apple devices as well as bluetooth hearing aids, meaning she can listen to phone calls and music.
She adds: ‘Technology has absolutely changed my life and now I finally accept my condition.’
Molly has set up her own charity, the Molly Watt Trust, to help raise awareness and provide support for other people with Usher syndrome.
A woman has posted an advert on Bark.com looking for someone to make decisions for her for £2,000.
She has asked for a spiritual guide or clairvoyant to make key life choices for her over the course of a month, after apparently making a year of terrible choices.
She is offering £2,000 to the successful candidate who will need to be on-call via text or phone for the next four weeks.
In the ad, the woman, from Bristol, explains that she has made bad choices for the past year, including in her love life and finances, and feels as though she needs guidance from an ‘enlightened individual’ to get her life back on track.
Over the last twelve months the woman has lost money by misplacing trust in an old friend, been stranded abroad penniless, was in a toxic relationship and was even mugged, among other minor mishaps.
The unnamed woman posted the job request on Bark.com after coming across the psychics and mediums page when looking for another service, and was inspired to try to find someone to help her with her general life.
In the advert she explains that she has always been a spiritual person and needs some external guidance, because she is completely incapable of making the right choices.
The woman from the advert wants to give full control to the person she hires, from whether she should go on a Tinder date, to more important decisions like what she should spend her savings on. She states that she’d need the hired professional ‘to be on-call’ 24/7, available to message and quick to respond to her.
People interested in applying for the role can view the full advert through Bark.
Bark.com co-founder, Kai Feller said: ‘Despite the fact it’s a bit of a strange idea, with the pressures of modern life I’m surprised that a request like this hasn’t come in sooner. We’re now bombarded with countless decisions and choices and sometimes people don’t always make the best ones.
‘It’s a bit extreme to hire someone to make those decisions for you, but I guess people hire financial advisors and trust banks to manage their money, so why not hire someone to manage your life?’
Woman talking to patientWoman talking to patienthattiegladwellmetroThe Real Life Bandersnatch ? Would you take control of someone?s life for ?2,000? Elder woman talking to her patient during her life crisisThe Real Life Bandersnatch ? Would you take control of someone?s life for ?2,000? Couple In Love. Happy Romantic Smiling Elegant People Having Dinner, Drinking Wine, Celebrating Holiday, Anniversary Or Valentine's Day In Gourmet Restaurant. Romance, Relationships Concept.
The five years that I attended an all-boys secondary school were possibly the worst years of my life.
I experienced a large amount of homophobic bullying – I was spat at, sworn at, shoved around, belittled, bullied and abused on a regular basis.
It was the early 90s in Bromley, where I was born and bred, and the school did very little to help. Being gay wasn’t discussed in my PSHE classes or by any of my teachers, and it certainly wasn’t something that was seen as acceptable.
There were very few LGBTQ role models on television or in the media, and only a handful of teachers ever challenged my tormenters.
I chose not to tell my parents about the real extent of the bullying because I didn’t want them to feel embarrassed.
Section 28 – the notorious piece of legislation that banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools from 1988 until its repeal in 2003 (introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government) – put a stop to any dialogue on matters surrounding sexuality, meaning that many students during this era had no voice and nowhere to turn for support.
There was no sex or relationship education relating to same-sex couples, and I felt this absence deeply. There seemed to be one set way of having relationships and it looked totally different to the way my feelings were developing.
Like so many other LGBTQ students, I was in the dark when it came to understanding more about myself and my sexual preferences.
It was not until my early 20s that I told my parents the full details of the bullying I had faced at school. By then, I had realised the huge effect it had caused on my confidence and feelings of self-worth.
In 2005, two years after Section 28 was repealed, I went back to Bromley to work as a secondary school teacher.
This time I was to be the teacher in the classroom, not the student – it would make or break me.
The first term was a real challenge; some of the students would mimic my voice or make comments when my back was turned.
However, I had an incredibly supportive department who would report homophobic incidents and ensure students faced the consequences of their actions.
I was the only openly gay teacher at my school. Within a year, I saw the difference it had made to my own life, as well as to the students’.
More gay students came out in school, and I directed plays about sexuality and challenged homophobic bullying. A number of students also saw LGBTQ work receive a bigger profile in their lessons. It was powerful to have them tell me that they felt my presence had made space for them to be who they wanted to be and given them the confidence to come out.
The sex education classes at the school were often delivered through short tutor time sessions at the end of the school day.
The material focused predominantly on heterosexual relationships, and form tutors were left to answer any questions the students had on sex, which is quite a responsibility if sex is not your specialism.
I certainly felt like not addressing the balance of LGBTQ sex education led to students experiencing more bullying within the school, as they had less of an understanding of LGBTQ relationships – and so I decided to address this myself on a different platform.
After six years of working as a drama teacher, I returned to my professional passions of acting and writing.
My new play, Next Lesson, has recently been published, and is a portrait of a London secondary school that focuses on a gay student named Michael. The story begins in 1988 and follows Michael’s journey to becoming an English teacher at the same school.
The major theme of the play focuses on love rather than sex in LGBTQ relationships, which often gets overlooked when discussing sexuality and relationships in schools.
We should spend more time talking about what makes a successful, respectful and loving relationship. Sex can be one part of a relationship – but not the defining feature – and young people need to be able to understand how to communicate their emotional needs more.
My hope is that the play will enable young people to learn more about LGBTQ history in this country and promote a more open dialogue about sexuality, acceptance and equality in education.
The repeal of Section 28 came incredibly late, and left a feeling of confusion in our education system about what could and could not be discussed. It’s been almost 20 years since policies were revised, but without open and honest conversation, we are at risk of failing LGBTQ young people.
There are still reports in the news of young people self-harming and taking their own lives while at secondary school because the bullying was too much for them, or they didn’t feel supported – it’s heart-breaking.
As it stands, compulsory sex and relationship education isn’t happening in this country until 2020, and it’s long overdue.
I was lucky enough to see the tide begin to turn during my time as a teacher in Bromley, but there have been former students who have still waited until university to come out, through fear of the actions of other students in school.
From now on, we need to ensure young people have the freedom to be who they are and are educated in a safe space.
Next Lesson has been published by Aurora Metro to coincide with LGBTQ History Month.
Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrationscharleyross92Sex and relationships education Provider: Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk
What says love more than a big Yorkshire pudding full of gravy? Perhaps one shaped like a heart, like this new creation from Aunt Bessie’s.
The company have decided to make a special limited edition version of their classic Northern treat for Valentine’s Day, so you can jazz up your romantic roast.
It’s the same recipe as the original one – which was launched in 1995 – but with a brand new shape, and will be available until March.
They’ll come in a pack of 6 and cost £1.50, which is a decent price when you think of the usual mark-up on Valentine’s products.
Plus, they cook in as little as five minutes. Plenty of time for other, more romantic, pursuits than slaving over a hot stover (although of course you will need to accompany them with something).
While Yorkies aren’t considered the sexiest of foods, they do say that the best way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, and their cripsy, battery goodness certainly fills that.
If you don’t fancy them with the traditional beef, you could alternatively treat them like a sweet waffle and cover them with ice cream, cream, chocolate spread, or fruit. You’ll just have to trust us on that one.
Hannah Haas, Head of Marketing at Aunt Bessie’s, said: ‘Our new Heart Shaped Yorkshire Puddings are a first for Aunt Bessie’s and have been created for customers looking to add a special touch to mealtimes. Whether it be a traditional Sunday roast or a quick mid-week meal our Heart Shaped Yorkshires will be sure to impress whatever the occasion.’
Valentines Day Yorkshire PuddingsValentines Day Yorkshire PuddingsjessicacvlAunt Bessie???s is spreading the love this Valentine???s Day, with the launch of its limited-edition Heart Shaped Yorkshires. And with a growing number of Brits choosing to celebrate Valentine???s Day at home, Aunt Bessie???s new Heart Shaped Yorkshire puddings are the perfect addition to any candle-lit dinner. Each pudding is made from Aunt Bessie???s popular recipe, which has been a family favourite since 1995. The easy-to-prepare side dish will give time-poor Brits the reassurance of delicious Yorkshires in just 5 minutes ??? leaving even more time to enjoy a night of romance. Where: United Kingdom When: 23 Jan 2019 Credit: Dave Phillips/PinPep/WENN.comAunt Bessie???s is spreading the love this Valentine???s Day, with the launch of its limited-edition Heart Shaped Yorkshires. And with a growing number of Brits choosing to celebrate Valentine???s Day at home, Aunt Bessie???s new Heart Shaped Yorkshire puddings are the perfect addition to any candle-lit dinner. Each pudding is made from Aunt Bessie???s popular recipe, which has been a family favourite since 1995. The easy-to-prepare side dish will give time-poor Brits the reassurance of delicious Yorkshires in just 5 minutes ??? leaving even more time to enjoy a night of romance. Where: United Kingdom When: 23 Jan 2019 Credit: Dave Phillips/PinPep/WENN.com
An elderly man has developed an adorable 12-year friendship with a seagull after he saved its life.
John Summer has a special bond with his friend Chirpy. They spend time together every single day, playing together on the beach.
Chirpy, who is around 20 years old, won’t go near anyone else, but will fly straight over to John as soon as he arrives on Instow Beach near Yelland, Devon.
They became friends after John found Chirpy with a broken leg and nursed him back to health.
80-year-old John said: ‘I saw him screaming and shouting above my head in agony and I did not know what to do.
‘The next day he came around me again and tried to land, but was screaming in pain. I did not think he would live, his leg was completely broken.’
To help the bird, John fed him dog biscuits that he brought along for his pet Jack, a process that he repeated each time he returned to the beach.
Soon Chirpy’s leg healed, although a bit crooked, and he was back to his regular self.
John believes Chirpy could be as much as 20 years old – the maximum age recorded for a seagull is
He added: ‘He comes right up to me, he gets so close. He won’t go to anybody else but me, so he has got some sort of relationship with me.
‘In March he will go off and do his natural thing and then September he is back with me as normal after they have done their nesting.
‘There’s not that many black-headed gulls on Instow Beach, if there was more than 20 I’d be surprised.
‘He encourages the rest to come over but he is the only one that comes close to me and he will just stay there and hover.
‘People are aghast when I tell them, they can’t believe a seagull would come back like that.
‘It makes you wonder what kind of world we actually are in – do they know more than we think they know?’
SEI_50556009-4affSEI_50556009-4affhattiegladwellmetroJohn Sumner, 80, with his friend of 12-years Chirpy - a seagull John spends everyday with on Instow Beach near Yelland, Devon, after he nursed his feathered friend back to health through a broken leg.See SWNS story SWPLgull.An elderly man has developed an incredible 12-year friendship with a SEAGULL after he saved its life - and it still returns to visit him every day. John Sumner and his feathered friend 'Chirpy' have a unique bond which sees them spend a bit of each day playing together on the beach.Chirpy, believed to be around 20 years old, won't approach anyone else but will fly straight over to John as soon as he arrives on Instow Beach near Yelland, Devon.They became friends after John found Chirpy with a broken leg and nursed him back to health.John Sumner, 80, with his friend of 12-years Chirpy - a seagull John spends everyday with on Instow Beach near Yelland, Devon, after he nursed his feathered friend back to health through a broken leg.See SWNS story SWPLgull.An elderly man has developed an incredible 12-year friendship with a SEAGULL after he saved its life - and it still returns to visit him every day. John Sumner and his feathered friend 'Chirpy' have a unique bond which sees them spend a bit of each day playing together on the beach.Chirpy, believed to be around 20 years old, won't approach anyone else but will fly straight over to John as soon as he arrives on Instow Beach near Yelland, Devon.They became friends after John found Chirpy with a broken leg and nursed him back to health.John Sumner, 80, with his friend of 12-years Chirpy - a seagull John spends everyday with on Instow Beach near Yelland, Devon, after he nursed his feathered friend back to health through a broken leg.See SWNS story SWPLgull.An elderly man has developed an incredible 12-year friendship with a SEAGULL after he saved its life - and it still returns to visit him every day. John Sumner and his feathered friend 'Chirpy' have a unique bond which sees them spend a bit of each day playing together on the beach.Chirpy, believed to be around 20 years old, won't approach anyone else but will fly straight over to John as soon as he arrives on Instow Beach near Yelland, Devon.They became friends after John found Chirpy with a broken leg and nursed him back to health.
A mum set up an incredible photoshoot to celebrate her son coming out as trans.
Heather Lundberg Green celebrated her son Adrian’s birthday by snapping photos of him in an ‘It’s a boy’ blanket, and of herself wearing a fake pregnancy belly with holding ‘boy’ balloons.
Alongside the photographs, Heather wrote: ‘When your child comes out as trans, the best thing to do is create a photoshoot to celebrate the fact that he silently and bravely stepped out of the race that he never wanted to be in, found his own lane and proceeded to win.
‘HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY, Adrian! You are without a doubt the most fascinating human I know and I will always be your biggest fan!
‘I love you, I honor who you are and I respect your courage to be unapologetically you!! Let’s celebrate’.
Adrian was pictured in an ‘It’s a Boy’ blanket
And also in a baby box…
While Heather was pictured holding some blue balloons
And Adrian preparing to pop some pink ones…
The pictures were taken to replicate a photoshoot newborn babies often have for parents to look back on and celebrate the birth of their children.
But with Adrian born into the wrong body, the family have recreated the photos in the best way.
Heather told Scary Mommy: ‘As parents, we are supposed to make the world a better place for our children and I intend to do that one celebration at a time!’
Picture: HEATHER LUNDBERG GREEN METROGRAB TAKEN FROM OPEN FACEBOOK PAGE https://www.facebook.com/HeatherLundbergBrown?fref=nf REF: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10216955512296560&set=pcb.10216955536577167&type=3&theaterPicture: HEATHER LUNDBERG GREEN METROGRAB TAKEN FROM OPEN FACEBOOK PAGE https://www.facebook.com/HeatherLundbergBrown?fref=nf REF: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10216955512296560&set=pcb.10216955536577167&type=3&theaterhattiegladwellmetroPicture: HEATHER LUNDBERG GREEN METROGRAB TAKEN FROM OPEN FACEBOOK PAGE https://www.facebook.com/HeatherLundbergBrown?fref=nf REF: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10216955512296560&set=pcb.10216955536577167&type=3&theaterPicture: HEATHER LUNDBERG GREEN METROGRAB TAKEN FROM OPEN FACEBOOK PAGE https://www.facebook.com/HeatherLundbergBrown?fref=nf REF: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10216955512296560&set=pcb.10216955536577167&type=3&theaterPicture: HEATHER LUNDBERG GREEN METROGRAB TAKEN FROM OPEN FACEBOOK PAGE https://www.facebook.com/HeatherLundbergBrown?fref=nf REF: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10216955512296560&set=pcb.10216955536577167&type=3&theaterPicture: HEATHER LUNDBERG GREEN METROGRAB TAKEN FROM OPEN FACEBOOK PAGE https://www.facebook.com/HeatherLundbergBrown?fref=nf REF: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10216955512296560&set=pcb.10216955536577167&type=3&theaterPicture: HEATHER LUNDBERG GREEN METROGRAB TAKEN FROM OPEN FACEBOOK PAGE https://www.facebook.com/HeatherLundbergBrown?fref=nf REF: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10216955512296560&set=pcb.10216955536577167&type=3&theater
Or, in this case, many dating trends at once. How fun.
Tinder has released a list of what they reckon will be the big dating terms of 2019, including bird boxing, deflexting, and Dracula-ing.
As we know by now, it’s crucial to have a catchy word to describe every single human behaviour, and thus it’s highly important that you get to know all of these terms.
Ready? Here they are…
The dating trends Tinder says you need to know:
Dracula-ing – When someone only messages you at night, usually with the ‘you up?’ text
Exagger-date – When you embellish a date to pretend it went loads better than it actually did
Bird Boxed – When someone is blind to how rubbish the person they’re dating is
Buzz-erflies – The excited feeling you get when your phone buzzes with a message from someone you’re dating. Cute.
Deflexting – When someone straight up ignores a question you ask over text and brings up a different topic. Awkward.
S.O. Stalemate – This refers to the situation where neither party will DTR (define the relationship), and so you’re stuck in a strange limbo of not knowing what you’re doing
Insta-gator – When you use Instagram to make the relationship public and thus push it to the next level
Three-dot disappearing act – The infuriating moment someone starts to type a message then stops
iPhony – Someone who swears they’re going to message you to arrange a date but never actually does
Isn’t dating fun?
Remember, pals, that no matter what you call it, if someone is making you miserable it’s time to ditch them. Don’t excuse poor behaviour with a catchy trend or start getting strategic right back.
As corny as it sounds, when someone really cares they won’t play games or ghost you.
Meet the women who lie about their age on dating apps-5d1cMeet the women who lie about their age on dating apps-5d1cellencscottMeet the women who lie about their age on dating apps
Welcome to Mixed Up, a series looking at the highs, lows and unique experiences of being mixed-race.
Mixed-race is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the UK. It means your parents hail from two (or more) different ethnicities, leaving you somewhere in the middle.
Alongside the unique pleasures and benefits of being exposed to multiple cultures, being mixed comes with complexities, conflicts and innate contradictions.
Mixed Up aims to elevate mixed narratives and look deeper at the nuanced realities of being part of this rapidly growing ethnic group.
Nicole Ocran is half Filipino and half Ghanaian. She grew up in the States, but she has been reconnecting with her black British family since moving to London eight years ago.
‘I grew up in Virginia, just outside of Washington DC and Alexandria. My parents still live there now. I moved to London to do my Masters, I was actually planning on going to New York, but it was cheaper to study in London,’ Nicole tells Metro.co.uk.
Mixed-race identity has always been a big issue for Nicole. Living an ocean away from her British Ghanaian relatives, she had to navigate a space where she was perceived as black but was physically, so far removed from her black heritage.
‘I feel like it’s one of those things that has been a big factor in my life – even up until now. Growing up, I was much more preoccupied with being black than with being mixed,’ she explains.
‘I grew up with the Filippino side of my family. My mom and her sisters all emigrated to the US together, so that side was much more prominent in my life, and I felt a lot closer to them.
‘When I was a kid, it was really difficult for me because they all look so different to me. They had that closeness. And it wasn’t that I didn’t feel that too, it was more that I was very aware that I didn’t look like them, and people who saw us out together wouldn’t get the fact that I was with them.
‘Now I am here in London. My dad has a lot of sisters who live here.
‘I have reconnected with this black British side of my family, and I feel very much like the odd one out here too, because I didn’t grow up with them, I didn’t grow up with much Ghanaian food, so it’s not really my taste – and there are all these really conflicting things.
‘It’s a lot of re-learning stuff for me, to find all this newness now as an adult. It’s a bit of a dichotomy. There are definitely lots of emotions involved.
‘It’s so funny because the two cultures in my family are actually really similar.
‘Both sides of my family are big – both parents are one of five or six siblings. But I’m an only child, so having a big extended family has always been really cool, but also it’s just like loud and overwhelming at times.
‘Food and family are both big, big features for the two sides. A really strong respect for elders is a really big thing in both of these cultures. Religion is a big thing. Both sides of my family are Christian.
‘My mom and dad talk about it a lot, and they find it so interesting that there are so many similarities between the two families.’
Growing up in the US gave Nicole an entirely different perspective on race and racism. Racism in the US is public, brash, violent and frighting. In the UK, it is equally frighting, but often it is more insidious. It’s hidden and systemic.
But from what Nicole has seen over the eight years she has spent in London, that gap is closing. UK racism is becoming louder and worryingly emboldened.
‘Especially now, because of Twitter and social media, there are a lot of those viral videos of people being really outwardly racist towards people, being really aggressive and sometimes violent – which I feel like we’re seeing happen here in the UK more,’ Nicole tells us.
‘Those videos used to go around in the US a lot, particularly last year when the Black Lives Matter movement was really strong, all those awful clips of police brutality.
‘But I feel like we’re seeing more of it in Britain now.
‘With things like Brexit, we’re finding that there are a lot more of those people here – like we saw in the Brixton McDonalds video.
‘I don’t want to say it’s a trend, like racism is trendy, or like it ever went anywhere – but I definitely think people in the UK have become a lot more comfortable in expressing those feelings.’
Nicole says it comes down to education. When she speaks to her British cousins it’s clear to Nicole that there are stark gaps in knowledge about the history of race in this country.
‘I think there is often a lot of focus on American racism, American history and American civil rights, and what I gather is that people know more about what happened in the US than the history of black people in the UK.
‘Even here in London, people tend to look at racism through an Americanized lens.
‘I feel like a lot of black Brits struggle with their history. I don’t think people really know about the UK’s involvement in the slave trade for example. I don’t think the education is there.’
Nicole says that her perception of the UK has changed pretty dramatically from when she first moved here as a student.
‘I think people from other countries tend to look at the UK as this kind of racial utopia, where nothing bad ever happens – I even thought that when I moved here.
‘It was on a UK TV show where I first saw a mixed race couple in the media, and I just thought that is so bizarre – because that’s just not what we do in America. So when you see things like that you get a certain idea of how the UK is with race.
‘But now that I’m living here, it’s a completely different story.
‘The racism here is less obvious, there are a lot of microaggressions for sure.
‘I got married in Virginia last year – and that was the same year the girl in Charlottesville died. It was just a couple of minute’s drive away from where we were having the wedding,’ explains Nicole.
‘I picked that venue because it’s so hard to find a wedding venue in Virginia that wasn’t a plantation, but I know my husband was quite nervous to go there after what happened just down the road.
‘So in America there is that level of open racism that is outward and hateful. Which isn’t the same here.
‘Here, you get Britain First marches that barely bring out a crowd of five people – and I think that is where the difference between the two really lies.’
Despite spending much of her youth thinking of herself as black, Nicole has only really connected with the Ghanaian side of her family since moving to London.
Nicole’s dad is one of six siblings who live in the capital, so Nicole has suddenly found herself surrounded by dozens of Ghanaian aunties, uncles and cousins.
‘Even just learning about my family has been so eye-opening,’ she tells us.
‘Obviously, growing up with my dad I knew things about the culture – we went to Ghana, I went to see my grandparents. It was kind of there… but my friends and cousins and my mom’s side were all Filippino, so I never felt like my Ghanain heritage was something I could ever really talk about.
‘Since I came to England, I have spent more time with them, learning the simple things like how they spend their days, and also just building those relationships that I never got to experience because I was so far away – it has been interesting for me.
‘They understand the different dialects, they understand Twi, Fante, Ga, all those other things. I don’t understand any of it, my parents spoke English to me because they didn’t even speak the same languages – that was the common language between them.
‘Being able to see things from their perspective has not only helped me come to terms with being a black woman, but being a black African woman, and how important that is to us and our family.
‘My grandfather was part of a presidential committee in Ghana – he was quite a key figure in African history. And it’s so good for me and my cousins to be able to talk about that. We found out he wrote books on it – and that was just something I hadn’t known anything about!’
Nicole has seen both sides of the effects of colourism. At home, surrounded by her Filipino family, she is dark, closer to black. Here in the UK with her Ghanaian relatives, she has the privileges that come with being light-skinned.
‘My Filipino side is not the same as being white, at all, but there is a much closer proximity to lightness, and that makes it an entirely different experience to being black,’ explains Nicole.
‘People see my Filipino side as this amazing, great thing in my life, which of course it is – I love being half Filippino. But no one ever has the same reaction about my African side. No one is like – “oh my God, you’re half Ghanaian, that’s amazing.”
‘Being half Filipino brings me that little bit closer to whiteness, which allows people to find me more palatable.
‘Whereas, on the opposite end of the spectrum, being in the UK and being closer to the African side of my family – it has made me much more aware of how that colourism really exists.’
Nicole wants people to understand that being mixed-race is more than just skin-deep.
She says she has noticed that some people feel like they have the right to cherry pick the more appealing elements of blackness – but it doesn’t work that way.
‘There’s a thing that really bothers me at the moment where so many people are talking about how they really want mixed-race babies.
‘My husband is white, and everyone goes on about how beautiful our kids are gonna be. I just think there’s nothing that makes mixed-race people better than other people – it’s that simple really.
‘I also think there is this real issue with people wanting to be black in a way that’s more palatable to white people.
‘So many people want to be black, but nobody really knows what that means. They want to be able to pick and choose the elements of blackness that they like, without taking on the whole package.
‘It’s not that simple.
‘There are so many layers to being mixed-race that I don’t think people really understand.
‘Not necessarily difficulties or hardships, but it’s so much more nuanced than just being about the way you look – so when people fixate on that or say that they want “beautiful brown babies”, they are totally missing the point.’
Mixed Up is a weekly series focused on telling the stories of mixed-race people. Next week we speak to George who is half Indian, but looks like a completely different race to his brother.
Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie MorrisMixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morrisnataliemorris88Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morris
Just one in three adults believes they can reduce their risk of developing dementia, says a new poll of 2,361 people by Alzheimer’s Research UK.
And 48% of those surveyed didn’t know a single risk factor for dementia. Just 1% were able to name all six known risk factors for dementia.
That points to a lack of awareness around the lifestyle factors that can contribute to dementia… which is worrying, as experts believe that a third of all cases of dementia are influenced by factors that are under people’s control.
The risk factors for dementia are heavy drinking, smoking, high blood pressure, depression, genetics, and diabetes.
The poll also found that 49% of people didn’t know dementia could be a cause of death, 22% thought dementia was an inevitable part of getting older, and 42% said dementia is the health condition they fear the most.
More than 850,000 people in the UK are currently living with dementia and this number is set to rise to more than one million by 2025.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that affect cognitive function, such as memory loss, confusion and changes to personality.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for around two thirds of all cases.
Common early symptoms of dementia:
Symptoms of advanced dementia:
Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer but only half of people recognise it even causes death, and almost half of UK adults are unable to name one of seven known risk factors for dementia including smoking, high blood pressure and heavy drinking.
‘Many of these enduring misconceptions influence attitudes to research, with the Dementia Attitudes Monitor showing that those who believe dementia is an inevitable part of ageing are also less likely to value a formal diagnosis or to engage with research developments that could bring about life-changing preventions and treatments.
‘Making breakthroughs in public understanding has the potential to empower more people to take steps to maintain their own brain health, to seek a diagnosis and to support research that has the power to transform lives.’
Care minister Caroline Dinenage said: ‘Prevention is becoming an increasingly vital tool in tackling dementia – one of the biggest health challenges of our time, and the UK’s biggest killer.
What's the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia?
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, and the most common type.
Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect mental cognitive tasks – it’s a syndrome and not a disease. It’s the umbrella term which diseases like Alzheimer’s fall under.
There are other types of dementia, too, and each has their own symptoms to look out for.
Common types of dementia and their symptoms:
Dementia with Lewy bodies
Other types of dementia include frontotemporal dementia, early onset dementia, mild cognitive impairment, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease dementia, Korsakoff syndrome, and Huntington’s disease dementia.
‘This research supports our Challenge on Dementia 2020 by highlighting the need to raise public awareness around the condition and how healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the personal risk of developing it.
‘We’ve already made significant progress on this, with advice on how to reduce dementia risk included in all health checks for the over 40s.
‘By spreading the word on prevention, we can help fulfill the Government’s ambition to make England the world leader in dementia care, research and awareness.’
Stereotypes around older people's sex lives are damaging their wellbeingStereotypes around older people's sex lives are damaging their wellbeingellencscott
A trainee paramedic is suffering traumatic symptoms that can leave her struggling for breath, and double the size of her lips without any warning.
23-year-old Lydia O’Connor, from Essex, says the reactions, which can also include a full-body rash, can happen at any moment and can be life-threatening.
Doctors initially thought she had a nut allergy, after suffering a similar reaction for six days at the age of 16.
But after being hospitalised in intensive care for four days last year, tests revealed that the true cause was idiopathic urticaria.
After a reaction, she will then have head-to-toe hives for six months, which can be tiny, or can cover her entire stomach.
Her symptoms disappeared in August, but Lydia knows that it could come back at any point.
‘I came out in a rash from head to toe, it happened in an evening almost straight away,’ explains Lydia.
‘My lips definitely doubled in size, it was terrifying because I didn’t know what was happening.
‘When I was admitted to the ICU, I thought I was having a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis, because I was struggling to breathe, and my tongue and lips were so swollen.
What is urticaria?
Urticaria – also known as hives, weals, welts or nettle rash – is a raised, itchy rash that appears on the skin. It may appear on one part of the body or be spread across large areas.
The rash is usually very itchy and ranges in size from a few millimetres to the size of a hand.
Although the affected area may change in appearance within 24 hours, the rash usually settles within a few days.
Doctors may refer to urticaria as either:
‘Medication took down the swelling but the next day it all came back while I was in intensive care, then it continued to repeat over and over again.
‘The daily rashes affected my whole body, I would wake up with them every day, they were really itchy and large.
‘They even covered the palms of my hands and soles of my feet, it made me feel unwell, as I was so exhausted from being unable to sleep due to being so itchy.
‘I remember thinking that it couldn’t have stopped completely and that it must just be for the better day, but I’ve been clear ever since.
‘I’m worried it will come back next year as it started during the cold spell in the UK, so I do wonder if it’s related to snow and cold weather.’
Lydia’s biggest concerned is that it will return in the future. Doctors say that there is no known cause for her symptoms, which means that even if she changes her lifestyle drastically, she doesn’t know when it could return.
‘Talking to friends they don’t understand it, believing there must be a cause but I have tried and changed everything, but nothing worked,’ says Lydia.
‘Online, there is a police officer and another lady from the ambulance service in London who have it too, it makes you realise how many people are dealing with this.’
Lydia believes that others suffering with urticaria are only like to discover they have the condition after blood tests following what appears to be an allergic reaction.
Mystery condition makes girl's lips double in sizeMystery condition makes girl's lips double in sizenataliemorris88PICS BY LYDIA OCONNOR / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: Lydia showing her swollen lips - a dangerous reaction showing she was closer to anaphylaxis) - A trainee paramedic is battling mystery allergic reactions that leave her struggling for breath, her lips doubling in size and a full body rash. Lydia OConnor, 23, from Chelmsford, Essex, can suffer the potentially fatal symptoms at any moment without any cause since being diagnosed with idiopathic urticaria. She was previously believed to have a nut allergy, after suffering a similar reaction at the age of 16, while living in Cork, Ireland. But after being hospitalised in intensive care for four days after her initial reaction last year, tests revealed the true cause. She then suffered head to toe hives for six months, that range from a pin-prick to covering her entire stomach, and at her worst forcing her to go to hospital once a week. - SEE CATERS COPYPICS BY LYDIA OCONNOR / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: After her first concerning reaction she suffered daily rashes with welt ranging from pin pricks to covering her entire stomach - this happened for over six months) - A trainee paramedic is battling mystery allergic reactions that leave her struggling for breath, her lips doubling in size and a full body rash. Lydia OConnor, 23, from Chelmsford, Essex, can suffer the potentially fatal symptoms at any moment without any cause since being diagnosed with idiopathic urticaria. She was previously believed to have a nut allergy, after suffering a similar reaction at the age of 16, while living in Cork, Ireland. But after being hospitalised in intensive care for four days after her initial reaction last year, tests revealed the true cause. She then suffered head to toe hives for six months, that range from a pin-prick to covering her entire stomach, and at her worst forcing her to go to hospital once a week. - SEE CATERS COPY
You already have subscription boxes for your makeup, your snacks, and your beer. Why not for your sex life?
Handily enough, Lovehoney has just announced the launch of a snazzy new subscription box called Play Box.
Can you guess what it’s filled with?
Yep, it’s sex toys.
The new quarterly boxes (meaning they’ll be sent out every three months) will be filled with all sorts of sexy stuff, whether it’s vibrators, lubes, or handcuffs. There’ll be five items in each box.
Each box will cost £50, but the value of the toys will be – Lovehoney says – over £100, so those who regularly buy new sex bits will make a saving.
None of the sex toys inside the box will be available to buy separately, so they’re exclusive items, too.
The first one is out now in time for Valentine’s Day, and includes a rechargeable G-spot Rabbit vibrator, a vibrating Rabbit love ring, ‘sexploration’ vouchers which encourage you to try a different sexual act each week, a black satin blindfold, and a lockable storage bag. Fancy.
Don’t panic, the box will not arrive with ‘SEX TOYS INSIDE’ written in black marker on the top. The subscription is designed to be discreet so you won’t be shamed by any nosy neighbours.
The box arrives in plain, unmarked packaging, but you can unfold and refold the box into storage for your stash, as the inner print is a pretty pink rabbit design.
Bonny Hall, Product Director at Lovehoney, said: ‘Beauty and wellness subscription boxes have really taken off and we knew there was demand for a sex toy subscription service from a previous trial we undertook.
‘Subscription boxes are a great way to trial new things and discover new treats.
‘We have carefully selected the very best products for people to enjoy all year round with each box containing a unique theme every quarter.’
Sounds good – although we do hope you’ve got enough space in your bedside drawer for a new load of sex toys every three months.
If you fancy ordering your first box and subscribing to get more, you can sign up through the Lovehoney website.
lovehoney box-208alovehoney box-208aellencscottlovehoney's new subscription sex toy box comes in discreet packagingplaybox by lovehoney
Adding further proof to the belief that we don’t deserve dogs, we present you with five pooches that will melt your heart.
Each of these loving creatures is a finalist in the Friends for Life category at this year’s Crufts dog show, held at the Birmingham NEC next month, and it’s up to the public to decide who the winner should be.
It’s going to be a tough call.
There’s Snoopy, who provides cuddles and comfort to Ollie, a three-year-old who suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and Emma the assistance dog for seven-year-old Milli who has Down’s Syndrome. You could also choose Lance, who has spent the better part of his life sniffing out bombs and protecting soldiers and Finn, who saved his owner during a knife attack and nearly died in the process. Or will it be Ringo, who donates his blood to save other dogs.
Each finalist has already won £1,000 to donate to a dog charity of their choice, and the main winner will take home £5,000 to his or her charity.
Go ahead, have a read of these fantastic dog stories and see who wins your heart (and vote).
Ollie and his hero dog, Snoopy
Ollie Gage, originally from Banbury, Oxfordshire, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at three years old.
Because of his illness, he’s forced to remain inside to avoid catching an infection, which can be a lonely experience for the little one.
Thankfully, he has his best friend by his side.
Snoopy the cross breed dog was adopted by the Gage family when he was 10 weeks old, just three months before Ollie received his life-changing diagnosis.
He takes care of Ollie by giving him plenty of cuddles and playing with him to lift his spirits and be a friend in need.
‘I don’t know how my son would have coped without Snoopy by his side, Ollie was isolated from his friends because of infection, but Snoopy was there and ready for whatever was needed, whether it was a cuddle or a play,’ said Ollie’s mother, Rebecca.
‘Snoopy was even allowed in the hospital when Ollie got really sick and knew when Ollie needed him and would just lay with him. He helped Ollie learn to walk again and has been the light in such a dark time.’
Milli and her hero dog, Emma
Emma the Golden Retriever is the only female dog up for the award, which only makes us like her more.
She is an assistance dog who was adopted by Steve Gunn to help his seven-year-old daughter Milli, who was born with Down’s syndrome. She suffers from numerous other health issues, including a hole in her heart, which she was diagnosed with when she was just four weeks old.
Milli also suffers from anxiety and has been in and out of hospital, and often struggles with confidence issues when trying to make friends. Emma, who was adopted by the family through the charity Dogs for Good, is now her best pal.
She retrieves medicated drinks for Milli, and picks up dropped items for her.
And she also calms her down. Not too long ago, Milli was getting short of breath when playing, so Emma put her head in her lap to help her relax and calm her breathing.
‘Emma’s turned a light on for Milli and given her the confidence to shine as brightly out in the wider world as she does at home,’ said Steve.
Lee and his hero dog, Lance
Lance isn’t your ordinary dog.
While all dogs are to be cherished and appreciated for their skills (sitting, fetching, cuddling), Lance is even more special. He’s an army-trained arms and explosives search dog.
In other words, he hunts for bombs.
During his training, he formed an instant bond with his now human, Army private Lee Hampson, and the two have been together ever since, travelling across the world and serving their country.
They were even deployed to Afghanistan together, where they assisted with searches for explosives and weapons.
In 2016, they faced another challenge as the army tried to split them up but Lee refused and when he accepted a new post in Cyprus, fought to take Lance with him.
Lance, who retired last Christmas, is now nine years old and is living with Lee’s family in Rutland, Leicestershire.
‘Lance looked after me in Afghanistan and helped lots of people get home safe to their families – now it’s my turn to look after him. He is my best friend,’ said Lance.
David and his hero dog, Finn
Finn the German Shepherd is the epitome of man’s best friend – he bravely defended his human during a robbery and saved his life.
His owner, PC David Wardwell, was attacked with a knife when Finn jumped in, grabbed the perpetrator and despite being stabbed several times, didn’t let go until reinforcements arrived at the scene.
Thanks to Finn’s heroic efforts, David got away with a minor injury to his hand, while Finn himself was badly injured, but thankfully survived.
Unfortunately, despite the horrific injuries, he didn’t get justice in court, as there is currently no criminal damage law for service animals, something David is now campaigning to change.
He has started Finn’s Law, a new piece of legislation that will make attacking a service animal a criminal offence.
Sarah and her hero dog, Ringo
Ringo the greyhound is a rescue who has saved not only his humans, but also other dogs.
The former Irish race dog had a tough start to life when at just three years old, he was retired and found himself without a home.
He was subsequently rescued by the Greyhound Trust who paired him with his new owner, Sarah Candy from Luton.
Sarah credits Ringo with helping her turn her life around and becoming healthier, as well as supporting her daughters through their studies.
What’s more, the fantastic pooch is also a blood donor at the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire and according to his owner has saved ‘countless dogs’ lives’.
‘When I saw him on the Greyhound Trust Facebook site it was love at first sight,’ said Sarah.
‘Ringo has changed all our lives as well as saving countless dogs’ lives with the blood he donates. He is never happier than when he is at home chilling on our sofa with our three cats – he is such a loving, wonderful dog.’
Crufts 2019Crufts 2019allieabgarianThe finalists for the prestigious Crufts dog hero competition, Friends for Life 2019, (left to right) Steve Gunn, his daughter Milli and their dog Emma, Sarah Candy and her dog Ringo, Private Lee Hampson and his dog Lance, Becky Gaye, her son Oli, and their dog Snoopy, and PC David Wardell and his dog Finnattend a launch event for this year's Crufts and the Friends for Life dog hero finalists at the Kennel Club in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 5, 2019. See PA story ANIMALS Crufts. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA WireOli Gage from Banbury with his dog Snoopy , one of the finalists for the prestigious Crufts dog hero competition, Friends for Life 2019, at a launch event for this year's Crufts and the Friends for Life dog hero finalists at the Kennel Club in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 5, 2019. See PA story ANIMALS Crufts. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA WireMilli Gunn from Essex with dog Emma , one of the finalists for the prestigious Crufts dog hero competition, Friends for Life 2019, at a launch event for this year's Crufts and the Friends for Life dog hero finalists at the Kennel Club in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 5, 2019. See PA story ANIMALS Crufts. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA WirePrivate Lee Hampson from Rutland with his dog Lance, one of the finalists for the prestigious Crufts dog hero competition, Friends for Life 2019, at a launch event for this year's Crufts and the Friends for Life dog hero finalists at the Kennel Club in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 5, 2019. See PA story ANIMALS Crufts. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA WirePC David Wardell from Hertfordshire with dog Finn , one of the finalists for the prestigious Crufts dog hero competition, Friends for Life 2019, at a launch event for this year's Crufts and the Friends for Life dog hero finalists at the Kennel Club in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 5, 2019. See PA story ANIMALS Crufts. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA WireSarah Candy from Luton with dog Ringo, one of the finalists for the prestigious Crufts dog hero competition, Friends for Life 2019, at a launch event for this year's Crufts and the Friends for Life dog hero finalists at the Kennel Club in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 5, 2019. See PA story ANIMALS Crufts. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire