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

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    Helen and her now husband Paul, and their two daughters (Picture: Helen Fear)

    In 2002, I received a phone call that changed the landscape of my future forever – the man I loved had died.

    Just days after I’d last seen him, Stuart was knocked down by a car on a night out and left brain dead. He was just 22 years old, and his parents were forced to make the horrendous decision to turn off his life support machine.

    It was the first tragedy of my life.

    Stuart and I met on the very first day of university and the attraction was instant and mutual. We were both studying English Literature, shared a passion for books and had an equal affection for clubbing, drinking and the rest.

    At the time, I had a boyfriend back home, a security blanket I regularly returned to, and Stuart always had a girl on the go.

    I was jealous, but there was an unwritten rule that we would always be there for each other.

    And so we didn’t rush things, because we thought we had the rest of our lives to be together.

    After months of flirting, we became more than friends. I can still remember our kisses, his hand on my lower back and the way he made me feel.

    But we were young and I didn’t want to be tied down, so once graduation came around, we ended things (though we never officially committed to each other). He stayed in London and I moved away to do a post-grad.

    The shame of mine and Stuart’s final moment together has never left me – I wish I’d told him that I loved him.

    Six months later, the last time I saw Stuart, I chose not to run into his arms – despite still being in love with him, and both us having written love letters to each other during the months we’d been apart.

    I laughed loudly at other people’s jokes and stared at him when he didn’t know I was looking, but gave him no attention.

    After all, I thought there would be other nights, so I could play games one last time.

    I left without saying goodbye to him and days later, he was dead.

    The phone call came late at night from my best friend, who told me the news. I vomited from the shock of it.

    I was surrounded by people who didn’t know him and wanted to be on the first train to London to be around others grieving for him, like me. I felt pathetically helpless and hated the life I was left in without him.

    The funeral was the most horrifying experience of my life. To this day, it remains the saddest thing I have ever experienced.

    His family howled in grief. We all did.

    The boys wanted to honour his memory by getting drunk, taking drugs and having ‘fun’.

    ‘It’s what Stu would have wanted’, they told themselves. Meanwhile, I couldn’t stop crying.

    I returned to my life feeling like a zombie. I threw myself into my studies, drink and other men, but nothing helped.

    Our group of friends kept in touch for a while but as the years went on, we realised that all we had in common was missing Stuart. I only see a few of them now but when I do, Stuart is always in the room.

    The shame of mine and Stuart’s final moment together has never left me – I wish I’d told him that I loved him.

    Once the grief had subsided – not gone, because it’s never gone – I began to put one foot in front of the other again. Surprisingly, I became more confident, because I felt I had nothing to lose.

    In my mind, nothing could be worse than losing someone you love.

    Years after Stuart’s death, I met Paul, my husband. He was a friend of a friend and I was quick to make my move.

    He knows all about Stuart. It felt important to tell him, because it helped explain who I was back then and how his death had shaped my life.

    Another university friend of mine was killed in an accident a few years later, so I am all too aware of living in the moment.

    Now, I am conscious of always kissing Paul goodbye and telling him and our two seven-year-old daughters how much I love them.

    People say regrets are foolish, but I disagree. I learnt from mine.

    It has taught me that you never know what’s around the corner, so enjoy your life now.

    MORE: What I learnt from being in a relationship where we both have anxiety and depression

    MORE: Lean On Me: Is it possible to stay friends with my ex?

    MORE: I have bipolar disorder, so why am I scared of dating someone with a mental illness?


    The love of my life died before I could tell him I loved himThe love of my life died before I could tell him I loved himallieabgarianThe love of my life died before I could tell him I loved himThe love of my life died before I could tell him I loved himallieabgarian

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    Man typing love text messages on a smartphone for Valentine's day. Selective focus on hands and phone device.
    (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

    Happy Valentine’s Day, folks. Hoping your day is filled with love and everything you want… Unless you’re this guy.

    Rather than a ‘roses are red, violets are blue’ type V-Day missive, he decided to tell the world what he was looking for in a partner, and it didn’t end well.

    Sharing on an Australian Facebook, the unnamed 35-year-old stated a list of demands for his future girlfriend, and felt compelled to throw in a racist slur and some fat shaming for good measure.

    It’s unclear what this man looks like, but we assume he must be an adonis to make up for his high standards and apparent lack of self awareness or personality.

    The qualities he expects in a woman include being smaller than a miniscule 5 foot 1 inch, exactly C-cup breasts, and (randomly) a reasonably modern car.

    They also have to be totally chill with his bad behaviour. He is allowed to stay out all weekend with no explanation, and if you ask where he’s been you’re being ‘bratty’ and ‘insecure’ okay?

    (Picture: Get it Off Your Chest/Facebook)

    One of his other stipulations is an ‘innie’ vagina, clearly indicating he does not know how vaginas work at all.

    It’s also extremely worrying that he’s 35 years old but specifically wants to date women up to 16 years younger than him, and uses a slur and the word ‘exotic’ to describe which race he wants.

    Commenters have said they don’t think it’s going to bag him a partner (and that’s putting it midly).

    One of the 1,400 commenters said, ‘So he basically want a young, small, inexperienced woman who he can intimidate, gaslight and control. What a catch.’

    Another said, ‘Well with a list like that I think he is going to struggle to find anyone, let’s be thankful he won’t be propagating his genes.’

    In response to his request to hit him up, another stated they’d like to hit him with a shovel instead.

    It’s not really a surprise that many felt hostile to someone who expects a woman to basically be his little robot, fulfilling his desires while expecting nothing from him. Whether he’ll learn from this, however, who knows.

    MORE: Losing the man I loved made me appreciate the time we have

    MORE: There’s a Tinder for cows looking for love this Valentine’s Day


    Man's list of dating demandsMan's list of dating demandsjessicacvlMan typing love text messages on a smartphone for Valentine's day. Selective focus on hands and phone device.Man's list of dating demandsMan's list of dating demandsjessicacvlMan typing love text messages on a smartphone for Valentine's day. Selective focus on hands and phone device.

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    Romantic Valentine's Day dinner for two
    Who say’s you can’t have all this lovey-dovey stuff at home? (Picture: volody10/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

    Valentine’s Day is here and you know what that means…

    thumbnail for post ID 8622583Two players given Ashes hope but England coach confirms 'bad news' for Ben Foakes

    That’s right, time to cram into a pricey, crowded eatery, or squint at your partner in an under-lit bar that is, for some reason, insisting on playing early 00’s club classics when all you really want is a nice conversation with your other half.

    If you’re not into that sort of thing, or if you’ve forgotten that you’ll probably need a reservation to go anywhere near a restaurant tonight, then don’t fret.

    We’ve found some of the best 2019 Valentine’s Day meal deals out there that will make staying in feel like the new going out, only better, because you won’t have to get out of your PJs.

    Romantic candlelight dinner table setup
    (Picture: Shutterstock / 9MOT)

    Morrisons

    Morrisons are offering a dine in meal for two until 17 February, including a starter, main, side, dessert and a bottle of wine, all for just £15.

    Starters include Garlic and Herb Tear & Share Bread with French Camembert, Smoked Salmon Mousse, and Sweet Potato, Coconut & Chilli Soup.

    The mains look great too, with things like  Lamb Shanks With Rioja & Mint Sauce and Lobster & Cromer Crab Macaroni Cheese.

    If you don’t want to booze it up this Valentine’s Day, then they’re also offering alternatives to wine, including their Elderflower Pressé, Sicilian Lemonade, and a Caipirinha Mocktail.

    two hands holding glasses of wine
    (Picture: Dulin/Getty Images/RooM RF)

    Not only that, but there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan friendly options to choose from too, like Sweet Potato, Coconut & Chilli Soup and Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Heart Paella.

    Tesco

    Tesco’s Finest Valentine’s Menu for two offers you a romantic night in with a three course menu for £20. These can include a starter, main, side, dessert, or wine/chocolate.

    For the mains, you can choose from things like their Lamb Shank With Roasted Vegetables, Chicken in Champagne Sauce, and Beef Wellington.

    Valentine's Day chocolates in red heart box on wooden table
    (Picture: eli_asenova/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

    Sides include a Green Vegetable Selection, Potato Dauphinoise, or Rosti Hearts with Cheese and Onion, and starters like their Chicken Liver Parfait and Tomato and Mozzarella Tartlets look great too.

    And for dessert? Tesco’s Chocolate Brownie Heart, or their Belgian Chocolate Selection sound divine.

    Aldi

    Aldi has released a range of dine in for two meals, which, while without a set price for a meal, does mean that you might be able to pay as little as £6.77 (that’s £3.39 per person) for a main, a side and a desert for two.

    To pay just under £7 for your Valentine’s night in, you’d have to get the £3.49 Orkney Cheese & Chicken Gratin, the £1.59 side of Triple Cooked Chips, and one of the £1.69 Chocolate & Raspberry Melt in the Middle Puddings.

    Two cups of coffee, strawberry and croissants on white table. Festive breakfast with a bouquet of red roses.
    (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

    Of course, if you wanted to push the boat out a little further, you could also choose from things like Sirloin Steaks with Pink Peppercorn Butter and Truffled Macaroni & Cheese for a main, Triple Cooked Chips or their Green Vegetable Trio for a side, and Raspberry Panna Cotta or Valentine’s Belgian Chocolate Hearts for a dessert.

    Asda

    Over at Asda, they’ve got a Valentine’s meal deal for two on offer for £15, which comes with a starter, a main, two sides, dessert and a drink, which can be either wine, beer, Cava, Prosecco, non-alcoholic Nosecco, or soft drink .

    Starters and sides include their: Cornish Camembert with a Sloe Gin & Cranberry Dip, Runny Scotch Eggs, Garlic Stuffed Chestnut Mushrooms and their Roast Root Vegetables with Shallot & Dijon Butter.

    As for mains, you can choose from the likes of: Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken in Prosecco Sauce, Chicken with Chorizo in a Chianti Sauce or their Smoked Salmon En Croûte.

    white wine being poured into a glass as part of a valentine's day date
    (Picture: ossphotostock/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

    There’s also a number of tasty sweet treats like: two Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Hearts, two Lemon Meringue Pies, or two Dark Chocolate & Brownie Domes

    There are vegan options as well, like the Beetroot & Spinach Melts starter, Portobello Mushroom & Lentil Gratin main, and sides like the Pea Crush or Smoked Paprika Fries.

    This deal is available in selected stores, but get a shift on if you want in, because it ends today.

    M&S

    M&S are offering more than a Love Sausage this Valentine’s Day.

    Their meal deal in £20 and with it, you can get a starter, main, side, dessert, Prosecco or wine and a box of chocolates.

    Starters and sides look outstanding, with things like Salmon and King Prawn Stacks, Gastropub Breaded Camembert, Truffled Cauliflower Cheese and Tenderstem Broccoli to choose between.

    And the mains look delish as well, from the Slow-cooked Pork Shoulder to the Gastropub Beef Bourguignon.

    two people toasting with a glass of prosecco
    (Picture: Irina Dobrolyubova/Getty Images/Moment RF)

    And for dessert, M&S are offering Billionaire’s Desserts, Vibrant Macaroons and Toffee Tarts among other tasty treats.

    This offer will run in-store until 16 February 2019.

    Co-op

    Another budget-friendly Valentine’s meal deal comes from the Co-op this year, which costs £8 and gets you one main and two sides, one of which can be a dessert, from their Irresistible range.

    This savory sides include: Chips and Dauphinoise Potatoes, while for dessert, you can choose between Sticky Toffee Pudding and Chocolate Melt in the Middle Puddings.

    Meanwhile, the mains include: Lasagne Al Forno, Vintage Cheddar Mac and Cheese, and their Hereford Rump Steak Twin Pack.

    You’ll have to act fast though, because this offer is only valid today, on Valentine’s Day.

    MORE: Morrisons is selling rainbow LGBTQ+ roses this Valentine’s Day

    MORE: M&S launches £20 dine in Valentine’s Day menu – and there’s a fully vegan option for the first time


    Romantic Valentine's Day dinner with a ringRomantic Valentine's Day dinner with a ringaidanmilan6Romantic Valentine's Day dinner for twoRomantic candlelight dinner table setuptwo hands holding glasses of wineValentine's Day chocolates in red heart box on wooden tableTwo cups of coffee, strawberry and croissants on white table. Festive breakfast with a bouquet of red roses.white wine being poured into a glass as part of a valentine's day datetwo people toasting with a glass of proseccoRomantic Valentine's Day dinner with a ringRomantic Valentine's Day dinner with a ringaidanmilan6Romantic Valentine's Day dinner for twoRomantic candlelight dinner table setuptwo hands holding glasses of wineValentine's Day chocolates in red heart box on wooden tableTwo cups of coffee, strawberry and croissants on white table. Festive breakfast with a bouquet of red roses.white wine being poured into a glass as part of a valentine's day datetwo people toasting with a glass of prosecco

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    Self-employed stress
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    It’s 9pm and I’m just settling in to watch Silent Witness on my laptop.

    Then there’s a ‘ping’ – an email from an editor requesting changes to a feature I wrote last week.

    I could just ignore it till the morning, but my conscience is prickling. And the next thing I know, it’s 11.30, I’m elbow-deep in copy, and there’s no chance of watching any TV tonight.

    If you’re self-employed, this is probably a familiar scenario. We hear a lot about workplace stress, but we self-employed people are just as likely to be under stress – and we have a whole different set of issues to deal with.

    One of the biggest worries for self-employed people is financial insecurity. Many of us lurch from having too much work to not having enough, with few periods of stability in between.

    ‘You’re less secure, and you feel you have to accept all the work you’re offered because you don’t know when you’ll get more,’ explains Professor Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at the University of Manchester. ‘There’s a lot of pressure to deliver because if you don’t, you might not get another contract.’

    Adam Barlow has been running his business, Simply Trios, for a year. ‘I find myself constantly worried about the money coming in,’ he tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Not having the security of a consistent, guaranteed pay check keeps me awake at night.’

    For those of us who work from home, the lack of boundaries between work and home life can be a source of stress, too.

    Even though I’m working, I’m the ‘default parent’ who’s expected to go to my kids’ school assemblies and fold the laundry between answering emails. And because I don’t clock off at a fixed time, I often find myself working late at night when I should be unwinding.

    Sara Tasker, who runs Me & Orla from her kitchen table, is used to this struggle. ‘I’ll get emails at 9pm and a follow-up the next morning asking why I haven’t replied,’ she says.

    ‘I also suffer from “time optimism,” where I think I can fit far more into my day than I can. It all comes together to form a toxic soup of 1am email responses and poor boundaries.’

    Some self-employed people have a dedicated workspace, in or out of the house, but others work right in the middle of the home: my ‘desk’ is one end of the sofa.

    That, too, can have an impact on our stress levels: a recent study by Staples found that 81% of us say our workplace affects our mental health, and that’s certainly true when you work from home.

    Drawing of someone writing an email on their laptop
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘If you don’t have your own workspace, it’s a real problem because you end up with family and home commitments surrounding you when you’re trying to work,’ agrees Cary, who worked on the project.

    Loneliness is a big problem for self-employed people. When my workload is overwhelming, I can go weeks without any meaningful social contact.

    ‘You don’t have the social infrastructure that people working in organisations have,’ Cary explains. ‘Even if you’re going from place to place, you don’t get to develop sustained relationships, and loneliness can be a big issue.’

    Another stress point for self-employed people is the day-to-day pressure of running a business. Sure, I can write a good story, but completing my tax return or fixing my computer if it breaks? Not so much.

    Rebecca Davies and her husband are both self-employed, and she feels the stress of taking care of the practicalities of running a business.

    She tells us: ‘I’m frequently up at 5am working on accounts, and when my husband comes home at 6pm he often needs me to email a quote or create an invoice.’

    It all leads to a vicious cycle in which we get so stressed we make ourselves ill and have to take time off, which then leads to more stress as we’re jeopardising our relationships with clients and not earning money… And as all self-employed people know, there’s no such thing as sick pay when you work for yourself.

    The question is what can we do about it?

    The first thing is to put some proper boundaries in place to stop work encroaching on home life. Sure, you’ll need to have some flexibility, but aim to give your working day a defined start and end point – and stick to it.

    Agreed, it’s not easy to ignore those late-night emails that pop up while you’re in the midst of a Netflix binge, but would you expect your postman, GP or hairdresser to be available at 11pm at night? Exactly.

    This is something that Tim Latham, self-employed founder of Unretired, makes a priority. ‘I love the ability to work at any time of the day, but I’m careful to draw boundaries, particularly as night approaches, otherwise I won’t get a good night’s sleep,’ he says. ‘I’ve found that a short session of yoga and mindfulness using an app on my phone helps a great deal.’

    We also need, if at all possible, to give ourselves a defined workspace away from the hustle and bustle of family life, whether that’s a spare room, a cabin in the garden or hired office space outside the house.

    ‘Having your own space helps you differentiate what’s work time and what’s family time,’ Cary explains. ‘It’s also important to set rules for the family: for example, if your office door is shut, you’re working and can’t be disturbed.’

    The unpredictability of work flow is a harder issue to solve, especially if you’re newly self-employed and building a reputation.

    Going to networking events and investing some time in marketing your business, for example through connecting with people on LinkedIn and advertising in local magazines, can help you get your name out there and bring in new work.

    And don’t be scared to turn work down if you’re overwhelmed. Clients who value your work will see your busyness as an asset, showing that you’re highly skilled and in demand, and won’t necessarily strike you from their contacts book if you can’t take on a commission.

    It’s also important to ask for help with the aspects of running a business that don’t come naturally. Hiring an accountant might seem an unnecessary expense if you’ve not got much cash coming in, but if it takes some of the strain off and clears some headspace for work, it’s a worthwhile investment.

    Finally, make a real effort to combat loneliness. We can all take an hour out at some point to see friends or family, no matter how busy we are.

    ‘The beauty of working from home is that you can go and get a coffee in your local community when you want to, so take advantage of that,’ agrees Cary.

    Adam adds: ‘I’ve tried to address loneliness by scheduling social gatherings well in advance so that, busy or not, I get to meet up with people.’

    No one would deny that self-employment is stressful, and it’s impossible to think that we can eliminate that stress altogether. But by making a few life changes, we can tip the balance in a healthier direction.

    Now, I’m off to Starbucks. Who’s with me?

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

    MORE: What’s the right way to sign off an email?

    MORE: These are the work perks British employees actually want, depending on their age


    Self-employed stressSelf-employed stressmymummylifeSelf-employed stressDrawing of someone writing an email on their laptopSelf-employed stressSelf-employed stressmymummylifeSelf-employed stressDrawing of someone writing an email on their laptop

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    (Picture: Getty)

    With just 43 days until Brexit our Prime Minister is understandably focussed on the important issues.

    Namely, can you eat jam after it has gone mouldy?

    Theresa May reportedly told senior ministers in a discussion about ways to reduce food waste that she scrapes off the mould and eats what’s underneath.

    Now, if we put aside the alarming fact that our Government seems genuinely concerned about food shortages after we leave the EU, we are left with the question of mouldy jam – is it actually safe to eat it?

    We have all unscrewed a jar of jam and been met with the unappetizing sight of white fuzz resting snuggly atop the fruity preserve. But scrape it off and the jam underneath looks basically fine.

    So what do you do? Spoon off the offending mould, stick your knife in and go to town? Or is the entire jar irrevocably contaminated?

    The Food Standards Agency advises against eating food that is obviously rotten or contains mould.

    Apparently this is especially important for people in vulnerable groups like children, the elderly, pregnant women and those who have a weakened immune system.

    But not all mould is the same, and if you can effectively remove all of the contaminated product, then it should be OK to eat.

    But with soft foods like jam that’s really hard to do.

    Wild blackberry jam and toast
    (Picture: getty)

    ‘I would not recommend eating mouldy jam,’ explains nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr.

    ‘As it is soft, the mould may have seeped deeper down into the jar.

    ‘Jam has a shorter lifespan than most of us think and now with more jams on the market using less sugar, they are more susceptible to producing mould.’

    So despite what Theresa thinks, mouldy jam is probably a no-no, even if you scrape off the fuzz. But what about other foods? Clarissa thinks it depends on the type of mould.

    ‘If your mouldy fruit or veg is firm, it’s going to be somewhat dry and therefore probably safer to eat once you have removed the mould,’ Clarissa explains.

    ‘However, if the fruit or veg have turned soft, they are probably best to throw.

    ‘It often depends on the colour of the mould and the food product.

    ‘If the mould is light blue or white, it is likely to be less harmful, and you are safe to eat foods that have had the mould scraped off. But if it’s black, orange, yellow or green, then it is best to throw the whole food out.

    ‘Mould can produce myotoxins which are toxic in the body. If you know you have a weak immune system, are pregnant or elderly, then avoiding mould all together is advised.

    And it isn’t only the colour of the mould that you should take into consideration. According to Clarissa, some foods are safe to eat if you cut the mouldy bits off.

    ‘Hard cheeses are fine to eat if you cut off the mould, whereas softer cheeses should be avoided, as because they are softer, the bacteria’s roots can actually penetrate deeper into the cheese,’ she says.

    ‘The same goes with meat. Because it is soft and moist, the bacteria can quickly get deep into the flesh. Avoid eating any meat that has mould on it, even if you cut/scrape it off.

    ‘However cured meats, due to the curing process, are safer to eat if you remove all of the mould – but safer doesn’t mean entirely safe, so it’s down to individual choice.

    ‘Mouldy nuts should be avoided at all costs as they can be particularly toxic.’

    Another key cupboard item that’s often struck by the curse of mould is jam’s best friend, bread. There’s nothing worse than taking a bite of freshly buttered toast only to discover that it has gone bad.

    ‘You can normally smell if bread has mould on it, even before the mould begins to show. Often we miss it, as the mould first becomes white before it is blue,’ explains Clarissa.

    ‘When you begin to see blue dots on the bread, this means the mould has spread throughout the loaf. These dots are the mould roots and produce toxins. Do not scrape the mould off, and bin it!’

    Eating food that has gone bad can be really dangerous. Mould can have a toxic effect on the body and you should never just rely on the sniff test.

    But it is useful to use common sense when you are deciding whether to eat something or throw something. Food waste is a real and destructive problem in the UK so we all have a responsibilty to make smarter choices.

    ‘Use-by and sell-by dates are there for regulation and safety,’ Clarissa tells us.

    ‘Food labels are a modern thing, in the past people would base eating their foods on the smell, firmness and aesthetic of a food.

    ‘With sell-by and use-by dates, I base my decision on how the food tastes, cooks and looks – if I spot mould I tend to throw the product out, but if my food looks and feels fine past the sell-by date, I am eating it!’

    MORE: Soap dispensers in public toilets could be hiding deadly bacteria inside

    MORE: Mum says ‘cheat day’ lunchbox is marketing diet culture to young girls

    MORE: Behold the croiffle, the croissant waffle hybrid we’ve all been waiting for


    Is it safe to eat mouldy jamIs it safe to eat mouldy jamnataliemorris88Wild blackberry jam and toastIs it safe to eat mouldy jamIs it safe to eat mouldy jamnataliemorris88Wild blackberry jam and toast

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    a couple holding hands
    (Picture: Sharlene Nallamuthu/Getty Images/EyeEm)

    Valentine’s Day has rolled around again, as it tends to do every year, but that doesn’t mean you have to celebrate in the same old way.

    thumbnail for post ID 8623836CBBC in race row as 100 East Asian actors sign petition against Living With The Lams

    Nor does do you have to use the same old words to express your love for your other half.

    Whether you’re dating someone with a different first language than yours, or you simply want to make your Valentine’s Day a little more multi-cultural, we’ve got the translations and pronunciations right here so that you can tell your significant other how much they mean to you in over 20 different languages…

    a cupcake next to a card that says 'i love you'
    (Picture: Getty Images/Digital Vision)

    French – Je t’aime

    Pronounced: Zhuh tem

     

    Spanish – Te amo

    Pronounced: Tay ahm-oh

     

    Italian – Ti amo

    Pronounced: Tee-ah-mo

     

    Japanese –  Aishiteru

    Pronounced: ī shē tā ē rū

     

    German – Ich liebe dich

    Pronounced: Ish leeba dish or Ick leeba dick

    Red heart on the computer keyboard with sunlight and shadow. Internet dating, Valentines day concept.
    (Picture: oatawa/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

    Chinese (Mandarin) – Wǒ ài nǐ

    Pronounced: Wuh eye nee

     

    Arabic -‘ana bihabak

    Pronounced: a-ha ba-he-back

     

    Polish – Kocham Ciebe

    Pronounced: kŏk-ĕm  chĕll

     

    Welsh – Rwy’n dy garu di

    Pronounced: roo-in dū garry dee

     

    Russian – YA lyublyu tebya

    Pronounced: Ya loobloo tebya

     

    Portuguese – Eu te amo

    Pronounced: eh-oo  tē  ämō

     

    Farsi – Doset daram

    Pronounced: dū sät  dä räm

    red roses and presents presumably for valentines day
    (Picture: Getty)

    Danish – Jeg elsker dig

    Pronounced: yī el sker dī

     

    Czech – Miluju tě

    Pronounced: mē lū sēē  chā

     

    Turkish – Seni seviyorum

    Pronounced: sĕn-yē  sā vē your rŭm

     

    Finnish – Minä rakastan sinua

    Pronounced: mē nĕ rä kä stän sēēn-ū-wä

     

    Romanian – te iubesc

    Pronounced: tĕ  yū bā-sk

     

    Swedish – Jag älskar dig

    Pronounced: Ya ellscar dey

    a teddy bear holding a love heart
    (Picture: Getty)

    Dutch – Ik hou van jou

    Pronounced: ĭk how von yow

     

    Hungarian – Szeretlek

    Pronounced: sair rĕt lĕk

     

    Greek – Se agapó

    Pronounced: sag-app-oh

     

    Bengali – Ami tomake bhloashi

    Pronounced: ämē tō-mä-kē bä-lō-bä-shē

     

    Irish Gaelic – Tá grá agam ort

    Pronounced: Taw graw o-gum urt

     

    Korean – saranghae

    Pronounced: sah-rahn-gh-aee

     

    Elvish (Lord of the Rings) – Melin le

    Pronounced: MEL-in leh

    MORE: The best Valentine's Day meal deals from Morrisons, Tesco, Aldi, Asda and more

    MORE: Morrisons is selling rainbow LGBTQ+ roses this Valentine’s Day


    Midsection Of Bride And Groom Holding Hands During Wedding CeremonyMidsection Of Bride And Groom Holding Hands During Wedding Ceremonyaidanmilan6a couple holding handsa cupcake next to a card that says 'i love you'Red heart on the computer keyboard with sunlight and shadow. Internet dating, Valentines day concept.red roses and presents presumably for valentines daya teddy bear holding a love heartMidsection Of Bride And Groom Holding Hands During Wedding CeremonyMidsection Of Bride And Groom Holding Hands During Wedding Ceremonyaidanmilan6a couple holding handsa cupcake next to a card that says 'i love you'Red heart on the computer keyboard with sunlight and shadow. Internet dating, Valentines day concept.red roses and presents presumably for valentines daya teddy bear holding a love heart

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    Ken Myers, with his wife Val. A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARS. See SWNS story SWLEcard. Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying 'I love you' back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie. The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year - which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades. And Ken, of Leeds, West Yorks., even created the romantic card himself ? he used to work as a card designer back in the 1970s.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    A devoted husband is celebrating Valentine’s Day by sending his wife the same card he has posted to her for the last 40 years.

    Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying ‘I love you’ back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie.

    The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year – which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades.

    Ken, from Leeds, created the card himself, as he used to work as a card designer back in the 70s.

    He said: ‘I worked in the industry for around ten years and designed hundreds of cards, for big companies like Hallmark.

    ‘I sent the card to Valerie in 1979, and then again in 1980. After that, I just carried on because it was a novelty.

    ‘I like to think I’m a romantic husband. I am a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, so I’m a qualified romantic.

    ‘I think Valerie would be disappointed if I came back one year with a different card. It’s become a family heirloom.’

    Ken’s card, which reads ‘Happy Valentine’s Day to my Wife’, features a boy offering his love a heart tied to a catapult.

    A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARS. See SWNS story SWLEcard. Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying 'I love you' back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie. The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year - which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades. And Ken, of Leeds, West Yorks., even created the romantic card himself ? he used to work as a card designer back in the 1970s.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    Though the card will be a hugely romantic gesture, Ken and Valerie plan to keep Valentine’s Day low-key, by having a meal and exchanging cards.

    Ken said: ‘My old card is brimming with messages but there’s room for many more. It’s got plenty of years left in it yet.’

    Valerie, 69, added: ‘I do love the card and it’s become really special to me over the years. It’s in very good condition.

    Ken Myers, with his wife Val on their first photo together in 1971 (L) and more recent (R). A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARS. See SWNS story SWLEcard. Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying 'I love you' back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie. The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year - which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades. And Ken, of Leeds, West Yorks., even created the romantic card himself ? he used to work as a card designer back in the 1970s.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘I always make sure it’s in a safe place. One year, I put it in such a safe place that I couldn’t find for a while afterwards.

    ‘Ken is a very romantic husband. After 45 years of marriage, those little touches definitely help to keep the magic alive.

    ‘I think the secret to a long and happy marriage is to be friends. When the first flushes of love disappear you have to like each other a lot. We make each other laugh.

    ‘My health has deteriorated in the past couple of years and Ken has been a tower of strength.

    ‘He is absolutely brilliant, he does everything, cooks and cleans, and he never grumbles. I really struck gold when I met Ken.’

    MORE: There’s a Tinder for cows looking for love this Valentine’s Day

    MORE: These are the 10 least-wanted Valentine’s Day gifts


    RETURN MY LOVE - A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARSRETURN MY LOVE - A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARShattiegladwellmetroKen Myers, with his wife Val. A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARS. See SWNS story SWLEcard. Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying 'I love you' back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie. The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year - which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades. And Ken, of Leeds, West Yorks., even created the romantic card himself ? he used to work as a card designer back in the 1970s.A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARS. See SWNS story SWLEcard. Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying 'I love you' back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie. The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year - which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades. And Ken, of Leeds, West Yorks., even created the romantic card himself ? he used to work as a card designer back in the 1970s.Ken Myers, with his wife Val on their first photo together in 1971 (L) and more recent (R). A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARS. See SWNS story SWLEcard. Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying 'I love you' back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie. The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year - which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades. And Ken, of Leeds, West Yorks., even created the romantic card himself ? he used to work as a card designer back in the 1970s.RETURN MY LOVE - A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARSRETURN MY LOVE - A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARShattiegladwellmetroKen Myers, with his wife Val. A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARS. See SWNS story SWLEcard. Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying 'I love you' back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie. The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year - which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades. And Ken, of Leeds, West Yorks., even created the romantic card himself ? he used to work as a card designer back in the 1970s.A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARS. See SWNS story SWLEcard. Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying 'I love you' back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie. The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year - which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades. And Ken, of Leeds, West Yorks., even created the romantic card himself ? he used to work as a card designer back in the 1970s.Ken Myers, with his wife Val on their first photo together in 1971 (L) and more recent (R). A devoted husband is celebrating St Valentine's Day by sending his beloved wife the same card he has posted to her - for the last 40 YEARS. See SWNS story SWLEcard. Ken Myers, a self-confessed romantic, began his unique way of saying 'I love you' back in 1979, six years after he married his sweetheart, Valerie. The 78-year-old novelist writes a new message inside the card every year - which is now full of little love notes from the past four decades. And Ken, of Leeds, West Yorks., even created the romantic card himself ? he used to work as a card designer back in the 1970s.

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    Caption: Dating after divorce: How to date as a single parent Dating relationships sex app parent mother mum texting baby child Ph?be Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk Phebe Fertility Series
    (Picture: Phebe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk

    Have you ever been so busy that you’ve broken your schedule into small increments of time, assigning yourself a generous three-minute slot to get to the loo and back?

    That’s what crackerjack scheduler Elaine Lui does according to a recent story published on the Guardian, which highlights the extreme version of a technique known as ‘micro-scheduling’.

    While some of the people featured seem to have a standard approach to organisation — one woman simply plans in three-hour chunks using a system to prioritise tasks by importance — others appear obsessed with overachieving.

    The article references YouTuber royalty Casey Neistat who has two tattoos placed in prominent places on his body with the aim of self-motivation.

    One reads ‘work harder’ and the other ‘do more’.

    While this type of go get ‘em attitude might work in the business world, is it really a healthy way of life?

    What is our scheduling obsession teaching our kids?

    Children are regularly subjected to over-scheduling in the form of nursery, school, birthday parties, play dates, music lessons, homework and after-school tutoring.

    From day one, the pressure is firmly on to hit milestones such as talking and walking.

    It’s a wonder that pregnant women aren’t being sold foetal Tai Kwondo or neonatal French lessons to ensure their unborn child a bilingual badass when they make their grand entrance into the world.

    Victoria Beckham laments that her daughter Harper has a better social life than the world-renowned fashion designer.

    Just let that sink in. A seven-year-old allegedly has a busier schedule than the most famous Spice Girl.

    Although some research suggests that extra-curricular activities can lead to improved grades, they’re not the be-all and end-all when it comes to child development.

    Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Oxford tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Sport and clubs are beneficial in many ways but should not take precedence over other important aspects of young people’s development’

    ‘That includes relaxing with your family and learning how to embrace boredom.

    ‘I have seen some young people who are talented academically and at extra-curricular activities become very anxious due to the pressure to succeed in so many different aspects of life.’

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

    This anxiety can play out in a number of ways, according to psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member Paula Coles, who explains that over-scheduled children typically eat badly, struggle to sleep well and have problems making friends.

    It can also hamper their basic problem-solving and decision-making skills.

    The solution? Make time to do sweet, sweet nothing.

    Encourage empty space throughout the day when children can make their own choices and learn to manage their own time. Boredom is healthy.

    Metro.co.uk spoke to mum Sinead who believes in not scheduling at all.

    She told us: ‘The only thing we have set in stone is a Saturday morning swimming session. We tried a couple of after-school groups but he was too tired, it was too much.

    ‘He’s at school for so long so when we get home we just play and watch telly. I just want him to have fun and be a kid.’

    How children feel during extra-curricular activities is often much more impactful than the learning opportunity of the activity itself.

    ’In other words,’ Paula says, ‘if a child can play the violin but was coerced and criticised by their parents as part of that process, they are better off not learning at all.’

    Parents can sometimes be guilty of organising adult-led activities if they think their child is shy, but having quiet tendencies isn’t necessarily a flaw that needs to be quashed.

    ‘That is absolutely fine and should be encouraged rather than a parent projecting their own feelings on to the situation and imagining their child must be lonely,’ says Paula.

    Leyla Preston of MotherhoodDiaries.com shared what it was like when her son started to display signs of anxiety.

    ‘We noticed that he was unable to express what he was going through,’ she says, ‘which meant all those feelings he had inside were festering without any release. We figured something needed to be done, especially as his sleep was suffering.’

    With advice from the Step2 CAMHs program, Leyla now ensures that downtime is a key part of her son’s routine and encourages quiet, mindfulness exercises such as ocean breathing, the power of listening and tuning into all five senses.

    However, there is one scheduling tool that continues to have a positive impact on her son’s anxiety.

    She asks that he postpones his immediate worries until a specific time later in the day, called Worry Time.

    ‘Worry Time is a designed place and time, often around ten minutes, where you are allowed to talk about your worries as much as you want,’ she explains.

    The bottom line? Trying to pack in learning is important, but as parents, we need to remember that education doesn’t always take place in the classroom.

    Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, and when left to their own devices they develop important skills and learn life lessons that ultimately make them who they are.

    Giving young people the time and emotional space to use their imagination is one of the most important parts of self-development.

    As Paula puts it: ‘Boredom gives birth to creativity. It’s far more beneficial for a child to have a blank piece of paper than a colour by numbers.’


    Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrationsfr040780Caption: Dating after divorce: How to date as a single parent Dating relationships sex app parent mother mum texting baby child Ph?be Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk Phebe Fertility SeriesWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration IllustrationsMetro IllustrationsMetro Illustrationsfr040780Caption: Dating after divorce: How to date as a single parent Dating relationships sex app parent mother mum texting baby child Ph?be Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk Phebe Fertility SeriesWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration Illustrations

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    Hidden Side - more than meets the eye
    Hidden Side – more than meets the eye

    The latest line of Lego sets aren’t just the usual construction toys, but a ‘mixed reality’ experience with their own phone app.

    Lego might be the biggest toy company in the world but they’re obviously keenly aware that for many kids today playing means messing around on your smartphone and little else.

    To counter that, Lego has been experimenting with AR (augmented reality) for years, with sets and promotions where you can, like Pokémon GO, superimpose computer animations onto the real-world view from your smartphone camera.

    But what Lego refers to as ‘mixed reality’ is something more than that: a new line of toy sets that interact with a special phone app so that you have to play with both at the same time to catch ghosts and solve mysteries.

    The school set is the biggest and most complicated

    Hidden Side is due to launch this August and Metro recently visited a secret Lego unveiling of three of the upcoming sets. At first glance they look like ordinary City style constructions: a science lab, a graveyard (okay, maybe that one’s not so ordinary), and a school.

    But as senior design manager Roberto Marchesi demonstrated there’s a lot more going on than just some cool-looking buildings.

    Using the app, which will be released at the same time as the sets, you can see that there are actually ‘ghosts’ floating around the sets. Not only that but the app highlights various switches and wheels on the set that kids have to turn in order to trick the ghost into fully revealing itself, so you can then catch it with your phone.

    The lab set is one of the smaller one, but still has a lot of moving parts, whereas the graveyard is a bit bigger and has a really cool-looking animated tree. The school is the largest set of the initial line-up though and it’s really something.

    Turn it around and it’s filled with lost of details, from lunch halls to classrooms, so that you don’t just come across the solutions by accident. But work you way through all the clues and the school itself slowly transforms into a monster, with arms, legs, eyes, and mouth, that you fold out from the Lego set and then see reflected in the app.

    The bus set wasn’t one of the ones we got to see, but it looks cool

    ‘We really wanted to push the boundaries between physical and digital play’, said Marchesi. ‘And we think that we have found a theme that really lends itself well to this type of mixed reality. It makes sense to the kids and seems relevant to them, and it’s just a plain cool world to hang out in.’

    The sets alone are great, the school in particular, but there’s also a whole backstory with the two main characters – kids using their own Lego-sized smartphones – that will be explored in other media.

    Hidden Side is aimed at kids seven and up, which is a little older than Ninjago and most of Lego’s other non-licensed sets. ‘We found there was a strong interest in the paranormal theme and having ghosts that are not physically present on the set made perfect sense to the kids. That’s the first spark to their imagination,’ says Marchesi.

    ‘Rather than just having a set with a brick-made monster from the get go the world of the hidden, where ghosts can take over everyday objects and possess them, really seems to drive children’s imagination.

    Will this be Lego’s next big thing?

    Although we only saw three sets in person the first wave will have eight in total, priced from £17.99 to £109.99. That includes a truck, a diner, bus, train, and a boat that Marchesi excitedly describes as completely coming apart and then folding back again.

    ‘We have a second wave already planned’, says Marchesi. ‘But we also want to keep adding new content throughout the first two years. We’ll add new ghosts to existing sets and everything will be backwards compatible so that there’s always something new to do. Existing ghosts will even come back stronger, so you wouldn’t be able to just beat the app and then say it’s finished’.

    But Marchesi is insistent that AR and mixed reality is not a replacement for traditional Lego bricks: ‘For us the brick is always central. For us this mixed reality experience is something we do to enhance the sets, not necessarily to stop kids from going away or playing with other things. Because it’s all about inspiration and getting these kids engaged and really kickstarting their imagination.

    ‘It’s something where they can test out the boundaries and play out all their fantasies, which is really the first step in using your imagination. It’s all about stimulating young people’s minds, but also their motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination. It can all be done at once in an experience they really enjoy’.


    Hidden Side - more than meets the eyeHidden Side - more than meets the eyedavidjenkins2012Hidden Side - more than meets the eyeHidden Side - more than meets the eyeHidden Side - more than meets the eyedavidjenkins2012Hidden Side - more than meets the eye

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    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    A woman is so in love with Valentines Day that she has spent £3,800 filling her house with romance themed decorations and accessories.

    Now happily married, Tina Ostergaard, 32, from Ashville, North Carolina, USA, ropes her husband, David, 39, into spending a whole day sprinkling their house with love hearts and twinkly red lights in preparation for Valentine’s Day.

    Tina, who runs a travelling theatre company and an online clothing and homeware store with David, said: ‘Valentine’s Day is a beautiful holiday. It’s so pretty and happy, who wouldn’t want to celebrate the pink and red colours and the loving atmosphere?

    ‘Even when I was single I was obsessed – I refer to myself as a theme queen because I love getting dressed up and making a big event out of any holiday.

    ‘It never bothered me being single and still putting my decorations up – I just love the feeling. I never needed a man to enjoy the day, I celebrated it as a day for myself, single or not – a bit like the galentines trend, where women send each other cards and presents.’

    Tina's homemade fudge with candy hearts (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    Even though she is in an established couple, Tina, who is known as @mrs.osterglam on Instagram, still buys herself roses and chooses to stay in on Valentine’s Day, getting David to cook her a delicious meal before watching a movie of her choice – her favourite being, predictably, My Bloody Valentine.

    Despite enjoying the lovers’ day when she was single, she has a number of important anniversaries with her other half at this time of year, which she admits have made it even more special.

    She said: ‘I met David in September 2012 and started dating him in January 2013 after I started working for his company. I was living in Texas at the time, so we didn’t see much of each other, but we fell in love instantly.

    Tina's Valentine themed ice cream Sunday (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    ‘Just a month later, on February 14, I drove to his place and moved in. I started putting up my decorations right away and it was clear he was startled – but charmed by it.

    ‘A few years later in 2015, he took me to Paris in February, where he finally proposed. It was magical and made Valentine’s Day very special to me.’

    Tina's blueberry muffins (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    Tina says that she has been taking over the house with Valentine’s decorations since she and David moved in together.

    She said: ‘Every year I fill the house with romantic food, like my heart-shaped focaccia bread.

    ‘There are rose petals everywhere and now even a Valentine’s themed 6ft silver tinsel tree, which I’ve introduced this year and keep in the dining area, decorated with love hearts and bows.’

    Tina's Valentine's Day tree (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    While she is full of ideas for Valentine’s inspired accessories, Tina admits that she isn’t very good at crafting.

    She said: ‘I’m not crafty at all! I prefer to buy things from random thrift stores and usually get all my stuff on discount after the holiday season is over. So far, I have spent $5,000 (£3800).

    ‘I like to keep notes on my phone whenever I have an idea of what I want to buy next or of things I want to bake.

    ‘This year, my latest idea is to put Valentine’s Day gifts under our new tree.’

    Tina watching her unusual favorite Valentine's Day film (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    Rather than being upset when she takes everything down on 15 February, Tina even finds packing everything away therapeutic.

    She explained: ‘I like the process of putting it all away. While I do it, I write down things I want to improve on next year.

    ‘Obviously, there is a moment of sadness. These decorations are like my kids! They are so special to me and I miss them when they’re gone.

    ‘But, luckily, with my love for all the different holidays throughout the year, I always have something new to look forward to.

    Tina's accessories (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    ‘January is so dreary and everyone is miserable after Christmas – it’s like the world falls into a depressive state.

    ‘I’d like to change that by encouraging people to celebrate Valentine’s Day as much as they can and to decorate their homes.

    ‘While everyone else dreads waking up in the cold weather and going to work, I have a spring in my step, because I know I’ll be able to drink from my lovely Valentine’s mug and eat from my heart shaped bowl soon.

    ‘Having February 14 to plan for and look forward to is a real tonic!’

    MORE: How to say I love you in 25 different languages

    MORE: The best Valentine’s Day meal deals from M&S to Morrisons, Tesco, Aldi, Asda and more


    Valentine?s Day obsessed woman splurges almost ?4,000 on decorating her house every February 14thValentine?s Day obsessed woman splurges almost ?4,000 on decorating her house every February 14thhattiegladwellmetroTina's homemade fudge with candy hearts (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina's Valentine themed ice cream Sunday (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina's blueberry muffins (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina's Valentine's Day tree (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina watching her unusual favorite Valentine's Day film (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina's accessories (PA Real Life/Collect)Valentine?s Day obsessed woman splurges almost ?4,000 on decorating her house every February 14thValentine?s Day obsessed woman splurges almost ?4,000 on decorating her house every February 14thhattiegladwellmetroTina's homemade fudge with candy hearts (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina's Valentine themed ice cream Sunday (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina's blueberry muffins (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina's Valentine's Day tree (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina watching her unusual favorite Valentine's Day film (PA Real Life/Collect)Tina's accessories (PA Real Life/Collect)

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    A girl was pranked by her boyfriend when the laptop she wanted for Valentine’s Day ended up being made out of cardboard.

    As Valentine’s Day was approaching, 32-year-old Jeff Gunn, from Boise, Idaho, looked at his girlfriend’s online wish list and saw she wanted a new laptop.

    Dciding that just giving her the laptop would be boring, he decided to prank Jessica Johnson, 25, by ‘surprising’ her with what she thought was a computer.

    But when she opened the gift, which was concealed in a laptop box, she was shocked to find her ‘laptop’ was made out of cardboard – complete with working buttons and a ‘desktop wallpaper’ of the couple.

    After pranking Jessica, Jeff revealed he wanted her to pick out her own laptop that night – and forked out $480 (£372) on it.

    Jessica said: ‘When I walked into the room and saw the laptop box, I was so shocked and couldn’t believe that he had bought me – what I thought was – a laptop.

    (PICTURED : Jeff Gunn, 32, with his girlfriend, Jessica Johnson, 25, who he pranked with a cardboard laptop for Valentines Day) A girl was pranked by her boyfriend when the laptop she wanted for for Valentines Day ended up being made out of CARDBOARD. As Valentines Day was approaching, Jeff Gunn, 32, headed to his girlfriends online wish list and saw that she wanted a new laptop. However, deciding that just giving her the laptop would be boring, he decided to prank his beau, Jessica Johnson, 25, by surprising her with what she thought was a computer. But when she opened the gift, which was concealed in a laptop cardboard box, she was shocked when the gadget she received was made out of cardboard - complete with working buttons and a desktop wallpaper of the couple. - SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: JESS NATE / CATERS NEWS)

    ‘But then when I opened the box and saw the fake, cardboard version, I couldn’t stop laughing.

    ‘He spent a month and a half making the fake and did it so well that I couldn’t be mad at him or disappointed at all – even the keys worked!

    ‘But as soon as he gave me the fake, he told me he wanted me to pick out my own at the store, so we went later that night, and that was a massive surprise too.’

    Jeff said: ‘I knew that Jessica needed a laptop, but I was worried I’d get the wrong one so I wanted her to pick out her own, but there had to be something to open – gift cards are boring.

    ‘Her reaction went from super excited, to completely let down.

    ‘She laughed it off, but I could tell how disappointed she was, so I told her ‘let’s go right now and pick you out a real one’.

    (PICTURED : Jessica Johnson, 25, took to Facebook to share the hilarious gift that her boyfriend, Jeff Gunn, 32, pranked her with.) A girl was pranked by her boyfriend when the laptop she wanted for for Valentines Day ended up being made out of CARDBOARD. As Valentines Day was approaching, Jeff Gunn, 32, headed to his girlfriends online wish list and saw that she wanted a new laptop. However, deciding that just giving her the laptop would be boring, he decided to prank his beau, Jessica Johnson, 25, by surprising her with what she thought was a computer. But when she opened the gift, which was concealed in a laptop cardboard box, she was shocked when the gadget she received was made out of cardboard - complete with working buttons and a desktop wallpaper of the couple. - SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: JESS NATE / CATERS NEWS)

    ‘She couldn’t get in the car fast enough – and it wasn’t until the next day that she started to really appreciate the fake one.’

    Jessica said: ‘Everyone has thought that it was such a cute gesture.

    ‘But, like myself, everyone also thought it was a massive gesture to do just for Valentine’s Day – but I am very grateful.

    ‘I think Jeff was tired of me getting upset with my old laptop, and decided it was more of a ‘need’ instead of just a want, but obviously wanted to put a bit of fun into the gift giving.’

    MORE: How to say I love you in 25 different languages

    MORE: There’s a Tinder for cows looking for love this Valentine’s Day


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    Moonpig is ruining Valentine's Day for people across the country today
    (Pictures: Moonpig/Getty)

    The least you can do on Valentine’s Day is a card, and with Moonpig, you don’t even need to go to the postbox.

    As many people are finding out, however, you will need to personalise the card yourself. Moonpig cards have generic names on the front ready for you to alter, but failure to do so means you’ll send a card with a random name.

    This Morning featured a small segment today from a caller called Molly. Her boyfriend had added a beautiful picture of them to the card and had it sent to their house, only to find that it was addressed ‘to my beautiful girlfriend Georgina’. Awkward.

    Molly isn’t alone in getting a card with the wrong name, however. Ryan Smith was caught out with the same thing on his girlfriend’s birthday last year, and people have been burned today too.

    Althought it’s a matter of forgetfulness over fidelity, these cases show that forgetting to change the name to your boo’s could result in them thinking you’ve got another lover.

    So no matter how much time you’ve spent on picking your best holiday snaps for the front, the desired effect likely won’t be what you’re after.

    We spoke to Moonpig, who said ‘double check what you write in the personal box, as we don’t want you getting in the dog house on Valentine’s Day’. They also highlighted that they’d try their best to fix the problem if you did find yourself in such a predicament.

    By that time, though, it might be too late – so take this as a PSA to ensure you always check the name box on your card – and get the right one. It’ll save you fielding questions such as ‘who the hell is Georgia?’ and ensure you get the required credit for your thoughtful cards.

    MORE: Devoted husband has sent the same Valentine’s Day card to wife for the last 40 years

    MORE: Is it safe to eat mouldy jam?


    Moonpig is ruining Valentine's Day for people across the country todayMoonpig is ruining Valentine's Day for people across the country todayjessicacvlMoonpig is ruining Valentine's Day for people across the country todayMoonpig is ruining Valentine's Day for people across the country todayjessicacvl

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    (XX) men explain what a blowjob really feels like
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Most men love blowjobs.

    But why? What exactly do they get from it that they can’t get from penetrative sex?

    Metro.co.uk spoke with several men about why they love blowjobs so much – and what they actually feel like.

    Here’s what they said.

    ‘It offers what sex just doesn’t’

    ‘Sex is amazing, obviously. But blowjobs give a sensation that sex just doesn’t and leaves you feeling all tingly.

    ‘Especially if it’s done right. If they know what they’re doing, they hit the more sensitive spots that penetrative sex doesn’t, and it’s incredible.’

    ‘More suction and pressure’

    ‘Basically like normal sex but with more suction and pressure on it if that makes any sense’.

    ‘A good blowjob is better than sex itself’

    ‘For me, a good blowjob is better than sex itself. It’s all of the benefit of penetration with zero effort for me.

    ‘Also, consider the fact that the vagina practically does nothing during penetration…it just kind of sits there.

    ‘The mouth can move, the tongue can move, creating different sensations around the penis that the vagina just can’t match.

    ‘A blowjob feels like more of a participatory act, from my perspective. There are things men can do for women while the act is taking place, so both can get pleasure.’

    ‘If you’re with the right woman it can be mind blowing’

    ‘If you’re with the right woman who likes giving blowjobs then they can be mind blowing.

    ‘If the woman doesn’t like giving them or isn’t really experienced they can be a real boner killer, so it really depends who you are with, really.

    ‘I wouldn’t want to ask someone who doesn’t like giving them to give one.’

    (Illustraion: Dave Anderson for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘It’s like putting a straw into a bottle of J20’

    ‘I guess the easiest comparison – but not particularly poetic, I’m afraid – is imagining how it feels putting a straw in to the bottle of J20 and bobbing it up and down.

    ‘Obviously the bottle would be full.’

    ‘It’s quite a sensitive area’

    ‘It’s quite a sensitive area, so you can feel everything – the tongue, the mouth, teeth (I’m not into girls using teeth but I know some guys are).

    ‘It feels warm, intimate, and there’s a tingling sensation to it.’

    ‘A delicious sensation of warmth’

    ‘So hard to describe but not a bit like warm apple pie as a certain movie might suggest. The best description I could think of would be a delicious sensation of warmth and tingling rising throughout the entire body.

    ‘It’s different to straight sex as the hand is moving as well as the tongue and when timed right, hitting the frenulum just right it’s how I imagine having just the right amount of pressure on a girl’s G-spot feels whilst she’s also having her clitoris stimulated and the whole area (as it extends down the thighs too).’

    ‘A mode of vulnerability that sex doesn’t give’

    ‘A blow job is a mode of vulnerability that sex doesn’t sometimes give.

    ‘It also has a sense of attentiveness. When I was young I actually shied away from them because I wasn’t secure enough to receive such close attention.

    ‘Physically a well-done blow Job has the ability to take over every inch of skin with ticklish goosebumps.

    ‘The entire body is at a cataclysmic state of urgency that coupled with the aforementioned vulnerability can be one beautiful thing.

    ‘That’s why it is so essential for men to be willing to be attentive to his significant person as well.’

    ‘A smooth, wet, chicken nugget’

    ‘So, have you ever stuck your finger in Flarp!’s Noise Putty?

    ‘It’s similar to that. But warm. And there’s a smooth, wet, chicken nugget that occasionally wiggles around, and sometimes teeth. I mean, I don’t know how to explain it without making myself laugh.’

    So there you go, guys. Blowjobs are amazing – and for the first time, we’ve heard one compared to a chicken nugget.

    Brilliant.

    MORE: Woman obsessed with Valentine’s Day spends £3,800 on decorations

    MORE: Devoted husband has sent the same Valentine’s Day card to wife for the last 40 years


    (XX) men explain what a blowjob really feels like(XX) men explain what a blowjob really feels likehattiegladwellmetro(XX) men explain what a blowjob really feels like(XX) men explain what a blowjob really feels like(XX) men explain what a blowjob really feels likehattiegladwellmetro(XX) men explain what a blowjob really feels like

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    hand in a cookie jar
    (Picture: Getty)

    The general consensus seems to be that processed food is bad.

    Sausages, burgers, ready meals, cakes, biscuits. These are the kinds of things we generally associate with the word ‘processed’.

    But a processed food is simply any food that has been altered in some way during preparation. So that includes milk, cheese, yoghurt and oil.

    So just because a food is processed, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad or unhealthy choice.

    Some foods need processing to make them safe, like when milk is pasteurised. Other foods need processing to make them suitable for use, such as pressing seeds to make oil.

    But a lot of processed foods contain high levels of salt, sugar and fat to make them taste better and extend their shelf lives. So that’s why so many processed foods are really bad for us.

    And ultra-processed foods pose an even higher risk.

    According to a new study, ultra-processed foods correlate with a considerably higher risk of early death. Which does not sound good.

    But what even are ultra-processed foods? And what makes them so terrible?

    We asked Nutritionist Resource member Sonal Shah: ‘Ultra-processed foods are foods that have undergone several transformation processes including heating at high temperatures and include the presence of additives and emulsifiers.

    ‘These are added to enhance the flavour, taste and appearance.

    Men eating fast food, fries chicken and fries
    (Picture: Getty)

    ‘Examples include sweet or savoury packaged snacks like crisps, packaged baked goods like cakes, cookies, frozen ready meals, reconstituted meat products, instant noodles, soups and soft drinks,’ explains Sonal.

    ‘These foods tend to have a long list of ingredients and are high in sugar, salt, and low in vitamins, minerals and fibre.’

    The latest study analysed the diets of 44,551 French adults, aged 45 and older, for two years.

    During the two years, 602 participants died. After adjusting for factors such as smoking, the researchers calculated a 14% higher risk of early death for each 10% increase in the amount of ultra-processed foods consumed.

    The more of these foods participants ate, the higher their chance of dying.

    So what is it about ultra-processed foods that make them so detrimental for our health?

    ‘The negative impacts on health are visible around us as many individuals consuming these foods are overweight and have a myriad of other health issues including type 2 diabetes and digestive complaints,’ Sonal tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Eating processed foods is linked with weight gain, as the combination of sugar and processed fats together is addictive and tastes good, thereby leading to the over-consumption of calories.

    ‘Furthermore, artificial sweeteners may have appetite stimulating effects. They may get stored in the body’s cells as they are not properly broken down. It is a heavy burden for the liver which has a major role to process and detoxify anything entering the body.

    ‘There is also evidence that artificial chemicals in our foods and drinks could lead to tumour growth and unfortunately the food industry is not aware of the full long-term health implications and negative effects processed foods have on the body.’

    The results of the study have received some criticism. Some experts have claimed that ‘ultra-processed’ is a huge category of foods and, as such, it would be hard for scientists to pinpoint what exactly is causing the effect seen in the study.

    But while some factors may be more harmful than others, it’s still probably a good idea to limit how many ultra-processed foods you have in your diet.

    The fat, sugar and salt content alone should be enough to convince you to be extremely wary.

    The NHS has some really simple and effective advice that can help you improve your overall diet.

    They suggest that you pay close attention to nutrition labels, particularly ones that use colour coding to denote fat, sugar and salt content. Try to aim for more ambers and greens, and fewer reds.

    They also advice cooking at home more often. When you prepare your own meals you have more control over what goes in.

    Use oil, salt and sauces sparingly and try to use whole grains and whole foods like meat, seafood and vegetables the basis of any meal.

    MORE: Is it safe to eat mouldy jam?

    MORE: Drinking diet fizzy drinks ‘could increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and early death’

    MORE: What are nightshade vegetables and should you be cutting down?


    hand in a cookie jarhand in a cookie jarnataliemorris88hand in a cookie jarMen eating fast food, fries chicken and frieshand in a cookie jarhand in a cookie jarnataliemorris88hand in a cookie jarMen eating fast food, fries chicken and fries

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    (Picture: Treehouse)

    Blame the drop in drinking culture, but ‘experiences’ and ‘adventures’ have become a real thing recently.

    Rather than going to the pub, your office night out might be an escape room or a round of mini golf.

    Both of those options are pretty solid, but if you’re not skilled in puzzles or you’re terrified of jump scares and horror plots, it might be wise to skip the spooky escape room and go for a new take on the immersive game vibe.

    Enter Bring Them Home, an ‘immersive game experience’ meets play that lets you pretend to be a 1970s astronaut. The dream.

    The idea is simple: In an alternative version of the 1970s, an astronaut is floating through space in a broken ship. You have to help them.

    Players will take on the roles of astronaut, space agency members, and the press, all working to guide the stranded astronaut back to safety.

    (Picture: Treehouse)

    Each audience member is sent an email with their role and the rules, and everyone’s encouraged to dress like they’re in the 70s.

    So it’s a bit like a murder mystery party, but with the goal of saving someone from the horrifying abyss of deep space.

    Each game lasts for two hours (so choose a group you actually want to spend time with), and they’ll be running in South Bank from 20 February to 3 March.

    Have a go if you’re in need of a team-building exercise, you want to hang out with your friends outside of a pub, or you like to give your date a challenge.

    Tickets are available online for £22 a pop.

    MORE: All aboard the Jose Cuervo Express, the all-you-can-drink tequila train in Mexico

    MORE: People are baffled by ASOS’s see-through trousers that look like cling film

    MORE: Empowered communities are the solution to London’s housing crisis


    70s space game 1-4d1d70s space game 1-4d1dellencscott70s space game 1-4d1d70s space game 1-4d1dellencscott

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    Getting Freaky: How would doctors actually remove a lightbulb from your anus or vagina?
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Sometimes legends aren’t borne of words but images, such as in the case of the light bulb pelvis X-rays.

    Back in the days of FunnyJunk and before listicles became coherent, we had galleries of images showing weird and wonderful phenomena. One of those was a gallery of the strangest things doctors had found inside people’s bodies, from people impaled with hacksaws to those who’d ‘fallen’ on vegetables.

    The worst of all was the pelvic X-ray showing a light bulb inside someone.

    Now, people get things stuck up their butts all the time. Surely there’s already some sort of Murphy’s law that states ‘anything that can fit inside an anus or vagina, will be shoved up there’.

    The light bulb is a conundrum primarily because it’s so fragile. How did it get in there? Why did you pick that specific item? How the hell is it going to come out without smashing?

    In a world in which dildos and buttplugs are available delivered discreetly to your door, it’s surprising that people would resort to such measures. Unfathomable, even.

    As we’ve found in most of our Getting Freaky sexual urban legend investigations, though, it’s not just an abstract thing that someone might do, but something that people very much have done.

    Fateh Mohamad, a prisoner in a Pakistani jail, said that he woke up one morning in 2006 with a light bulb up his anus.

    He swore that it was police or fellow inmates who’d drugged him and inserted the bulb, and it was removed in a 90-minute operation where – thankfully – it remained intact rather than needing to be smashed.

    We spoke to Alice Murray BSc MBBS Oxon MRCS, Colorectal Surgical Registrar and self-titled Bottom Queen, who says she has ‘seen a whole range of items up there. Wine bottles, deodorant cans, a shower curtain rail, keys, a toy plastic snake, a gerbil – and of course sex toys.’

    She’s heard of a patient who found themselves with a light bulb up their bum, and says ‘foreign bodies inside the rectum are pretty much managed the same way’ apart from when sharp objects are involved ‘as they are more likely to cut the walls of the bowel or perforate (make a hole in the bowel wall).

    Alice tells Metro.co.uk: ‘When objects are fragile we approach the situation in the same way with any rectal foreign body: a systematic assessment of the patient and using a stepwise approach to removal.

    ‘When patients come in, sometimes it’s simple to manage… requiring a bit of perseverance in A&E with lots of lubricant and some basic instruments to grab hold of the thing and gently pull it out. We are very careful not to damage the very important anal sphincters.

    ‘If it is really tricky we may have to do this in a safer environment in theatre with the patient sedated or anaesthetised and with full relaxation of the sphincters.’

    Our Bottom Queen says that there may also be X-rays or CT scans performed to ensure no damage has been done and ascertain the exact shape of the item stuck. Then if it’s too far up or hard to easily remove there might be ‘a major operation which could (as a worst case scenario) include bowel resection and a stoma (bowel emptying into a bag on the tummy).’

    With perforation of the bowel one of the main worries, there’s also the fact that the item could create a vacuum.

    This can make the item retreat further up the rectum, complicating things even further.

    Stick to sex toys or items with handles, says Alice. She also advises: ‘If it gets stuck, don’t try to fish it out yourself with something else that then also disappears! Seek help. We all know people put things up there but just be careful!’

    When it comes to the vagina, the advice is pretty similar, but the method of light bulb removal is different.

    One (oddly specific) journal article in the Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England states that: ‘Traction on the light bulb creates a vacuum and risks breaking the glass into pieces,’ but that ‘the entrance of the vagina is too small to use obstetric forceps.’

    They recommend blowing air into the vagina before traction or an epistiotomy (where they cut your perineum) to widen the vaginal opening for removal.

    Essentially, none of the outcomes of putting a light bulb into one of your orifices are going to be good. Some people enjoy danger, and that’s fine; become a life drawing model or bungee jump in Bali. Please, however, keep extremely fragile glass objects out of the winding lanes of your asshole.

    If you’ve already made this very dumb mistake, swallow your pride and get yourself to A&E.

    Until next week, freaks.

    MORE: Men tell us what a good blowjob feels like

    MORE: Be warned: You could be a victim of valentighting this Valentine’s Day


    Getting Freaky: How would doctors actually remove a lightbulb from your anus or vagina?Getting Freaky: How would doctors actually remove a lightbulb from your anus or vagina?jessicacvlGetting Freaky: How would doctors actually remove a lightbulb from your anus or vagina?Getting Freaky: How would doctors actually remove a lightbulb from your anus or vagina?Getting Freaky: How would doctors actually remove a lightbulb from your anus or vagina?jessicacvlGetting Freaky: How would doctors actually remove a lightbulb from your anus or vagina?

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    (Picture: Kissy Dress)

    A bride has been slammed on Mumsnet after one of her bridesmaids shared her dilemma online: She and the other bridesmaids absolutely hate the dresses the bride has picked out for them.

    She explained that a friend of hers got engaged and asked her to be a bridesmaid. She said yes and started helping her plan the wedding.

    Apparently, the bride has had some ‘bridezilla moments’ but they are mainly with the mother-in-law.

    She went onto explain that while she is a firm believer in wearing whatever the bride wants you to, she absolutely hates the dress that has been picked out for her and she doesn’t know what to do.

    It’s a large, sweetheart gown that features big ruffles and lots of bling – and the bride wants her bridesmaids to wear them in yellow.

    She said: ‘She has also asked us all to pay for our dresses but she told us upfront when she asked us to be bridesmaids that we would need to so we are fine with this (within reason).

    Orange Organza Ruffles Sweetheart Floor Length Ball Gown (Picture: Kissy Dress)
    (Picture: Kissy Dress)

    ‘There are six of us and we all absolutely hate the dress she has picked. She has found it online with her DM and it is honestly the fugliest dress I have ever seen.

    ‘We’ve decided to tell her how we feel and drew straws. I obviously drew the short straw.’

    After drawing the short straw, the bridesmaid has been left to tell the bride how she and the other bridesmaids feel about the dress – but she didn’t know how to do it without upsetting her, so she took to Mumsnet for some advice.

    And let’s just say, the bride wasn’t in everyone’s best books.

    One person wrote: ‘Is it a Disney themed wedding?

    ‘Sorry – I’ve nothing further to add apart from I hope it goes well and she can see sense.

    ‘Perhaps a gentle reminder that she will still be looking at the photos in 20, 30, 40 years….’

    (Picture: Mumsnet)
    (Picture: Mumsnet)

    Another said: ‘F**k me. It is hideous. You cannot possibly wear it. What is she thinking!’

    Another user wrote: ‘It looks like something out of “Big Fat Gypsy Weddings” !

    ‘Just in case this isn’t a windup, yes I’d say that all six bridesmaids hate it and are not prepared to pay for it. Sure it may stress her, but she is stressing you by telling you what to wear with no consultation.

    ‘Grit your teeth and just do it.’

    Someone joked that the bridesmaids would look like something off Sesame Street: ‘Yellow? Is it a Sesame Street themed wedding because you will all look like Big Bird!!’

    Someone else said that it should be up to her what she buys with her own money: ‘You pay you choose. Tell her to pick a colour and if she wants short/long style, then leave it to you all to pick similar dresses to each other.’

    What do you think? Do you think the bridesmaid should suck it up and wear the dress, or should she get a say?

    Let us know in the comments below.

    MORE: There’s a Tinder for cows looking for love this Valentine’s Day

    MORE: Man pranks girlfriend with a cardboard laptop for Valentine’s Day


    Awful bridesmaid dressesAwful bridesmaid dresseshattiegladwellmetroOrange Organza Ruffles Sweetheart Floor Length Ball Gown (Picture: Kissy Dress)(Picture: Mumsnet)Awful bridesmaid dressesAwful bridesmaid dresseshattiegladwellmetroOrange Organza Ruffles Sweetheart Floor Length Ball Gown (Picture: Kissy Dress)(Picture: Mumsnet)

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    KATIE ASHLEY, 33, HANDLING HER PET LEECH
    (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    Couples activities normally include things like going to the pub or going for long walks on the beach.

    For Katie Ashley and her husband, Mike, however, they prefer allowing their two pet leeches to feast on their blood for a couple of hours every few months – despite the fact they know someone who died from it.

    They adopted the pair last year, and each leech gets to drink from one person’s arm until they’ve had their fill.

    While it’s adorable in a kinda strange way, it’s actually to Katie and Mike’s detriment, as the process can be painful, leaving them with a headache, often dizzy from the blood loss. and with the wound still bleeding for hours afterwards.

    Katie, age 33 from Preston, Lancashire, said: ‘I’ve had tattoos that are worse, but for the first 10 minutes you do think ‘ow, what have I done? It’s kind of like being repetitively stung by a bee…

    ‘They’ve got several hundred teeth and three jaws so what it’s doing is scraping away all the skin and gnawing away until it can get to the blood supply. It’s quite a deep hole and anywhere there’s a good source of blood, they’ll use.’

    The pair know someone who’s bled to death from the practice, but insist that it was the exception rather than the rule.

    PIC FROM KENNEDY NEWS AND MEDIA (PICTURED: KATIE ASHLEY, 33, WITH HER PET LEECH WHICH FEEDS FOR UP TO TWO HOURS AT A TIME ) A mini-beast lover allows her PET LEECH to drink her blood for two hours at a time - despite another leech owner almost bleeding to death feeding their parasites. Creepy-crawly fan Katie Ashley, 33, adopted two leeches last year and she and her husband feed one each on their own arms. The hungry leech uses its three jaws and several hundred teeth to bore into its owner's flesh and find a blood supply - drinking for up to two hours. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    Apparently, ‘It was a freak thing. Nobody could figure out why, or what happened. They just couldn’t stop the bleeding.

    ‘They release an anti-clotting agent into the blood stream so they can just drink it. It’s a similar effect to if you were taking warfarin.’

    Mike and Katie feed their leeches every four to six months, with the leeches taking in roughly 15ml of blood before dropping off.

    After that, Katie says, ‘The wound generally takes a couple of weeks to fully heal, but once you’ve stopped the bleeding it heals like any other wound.’

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: KATIE'S PARTNER MIKE BLEEDING AFTER FEEDING LEECH) A mini-beast lover allows her PET LEECH to drink her blood for two hours at a time - despite another leech owner almost bleeding to death feeding their parasites. Creepy-crawly fan Katie Ashley, 33, adopted two leeches last year and she and her husband feed one each on their own arms. The hungry leech uses its three jaws and several hundred teeth to bore into its owner's flesh and find a blood supply - drinking for up to two hours. . SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    A fresh wound (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
    PIC FROM KENNEDY NEWS AND MEDIA (PICTURED: WOUND LEFT BEHIND BY KATIE'S PET LEECH ONCE IT HAS BEEN FED) A mini-beast lover allows her PET LEECH to drink her blood for two hours at a time - despite another leech owner almost bleeding to death feeding their parasites. Creepy-crawly fan Katie Ashley, 33, adopted two leeches last year and she and her husband feed one each on their own arms. The hungry leech uses its three jaws and several hundred teeth to bore into its owner's flesh and find a blood supply - drinking for up to two hours. . SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    And some time after (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    Mike owns animal company Critters Interactive, and the couple travel around schools and care homes as part of ‘activity therapy’. Katie claims that while the leeches don’t go with them on petting sessions, it is often children more than adults who warm to them.

    She says, ‘Kids are far more accepting and far less horrified by it. My partner hadn’t thought about having the leeches before, but because I have a heart condition I really like animals used in the medical profession.’

    Pet leeches can live in a regular fish tank, but you need to ensure the water is far from the top so they don’t escape.

    They are nocturnal, though, so need to be kept out of direct sunlight. Some people prefer to feel their leeches with earthworms, beef liver, frogs, or fish.

    For Katie and Mike, however, it’s all about that human touch.

    MORE: A bridesmaid is trying to find the best way to tell the bride she hates her dress

    MORE: Getting Freaky: How would doctors actually remove a light bulb from your rectum or vagina?


    Pet leechPet leechjessicacvlKATIE ASHLEY, 33, HANDLING HER PET LEECHPIC FROM KENNEDY NEWS AND MEDIA (PICTURED: KATIE ASHLEY, 33, WITH HER PET LEECH WHICH FEEDS FOR UP TO TWO HOURS AT A TIME ) A mini-beast lover allows her PET LEECH to drink her blood for two hours at a time - despite another leech owner almost bleeding to death feeding their parasites. Creepy-crawly fan Katie Ashley, 33, adopted two leeches last year and she and her husband feed one each on their own arms. The hungry leech uses its three jaws and several hundred teeth to bore into its owner's flesh and find a blood supply - drinking for up to two hours. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: KATIE'S PARTNER MIKE BLEEDING AFTER FEEDING LEECH) A mini-beast lover allows her PET LEECH to drink her blood for two hours at a time - despite another leech owner almost bleeding to death feeding their parasites. Creepy-crawly fan Katie Ashley, 33, adopted two leeches last year and she and her husband feed one each on their own arms. The hungry leech uses its three jaws and several hundred teeth to bore into its owner's flesh and find a blood supply - drinking for up to two hours. . SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266PIC FROM KENNEDY NEWS AND MEDIA (PICTURED: WOUND LEFT BEHIND BY KATIE'S PET LEECH ONCE IT HAS BEEN FED) A mini-beast lover allows her PET LEECH to drink her blood for two hours at a time - despite another leech owner almost bleeding to death feeding their parasites. Creepy-crawly fan Katie Ashley, 33, adopted two leeches last year and she and her husband feed one each on their own arms. The hungry leech uses its three jaws and several hundred teeth to bore into its owner's flesh and find a blood supply - drinking for up to two hours. . SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266Pet leechPet leechjessicacvlKATIE ASHLEY, 33, HANDLING HER PET LEECHPIC FROM KENNEDY NEWS AND MEDIA (PICTURED: KATIE ASHLEY, 33, WITH HER PET LEECH WHICH FEEDS FOR UP TO TWO HOURS AT A TIME ) A mini-beast lover allows her PET LEECH to drink her blood for two hours at a time - despite another leech owner almost bleeding to death feeding their parasites. Creepy-crawly fan Katie Ashley, 33, adopted two leeches last year and she and her husband feed one each on their own arms. The hungry leech uses its three jaws and several hundred teeth to bore into its owner's flesh and find a blood supply - drinking for up to two hours. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: KATIE'S PARTNER MIKE BLEEDING AFTER FEEDING LEECH) A mini-beast lover allows her PET LEECH to drink her blood for two hours at a time - despite another leech owner almost bleeding to death feeding their parasites. Creepy-crawly fan Katie Ashley, 33, adopted two leeches last year and she and her husband feed one each on their own arms. The hungry leech uses its three jaws and several hundred teeth to bore into its owner's flesh and find a blood supply - drinking for up to two hours. . SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266PIC FROM KENNEDY NEWS AND MEDIA (PICTURED: WOUND LEFT BEHIND BY KATIE'S PET LEECH ONCE IT HAS BEEN FED) A mini-beast lover allows her PET LEECH to drink her blood for two hours at a time - despite another leech owner almost bleeding to death feeding their parasites. Creepy-crawly fan Katie Ashley, 33, adopted two leeches last year and she and her husband feed one each on their own arms. The hungry leech uses its three jaws and several hundred teeth to bore into its owner's flesh and find a blood supply - drinking for up to two hours. . SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266

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    (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm)

    Women who take the contraceptive pill might struggle to read emotion, according to a new study.

    The side effects are widely reported but usually focus on physical things like weight gain and headaches.

    But a study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience shows that it may also affect mental health and particularly the ability to understand facial expressions.

    Scientists at the University of Greifswald in Germany studied 95 healthy women between the ages of 18 and 35 – 42 of them took the contraceptive pill.

    They were shown images of the area around the eyes on people’s face and asked to choose from four labels to describe the emotion in the picture

    There was one ‘target’ emotion, while the other three labels were ‘distractors’.

    They found that those who take the contraceptive pill were not as accurate at understanding the emotion.

    The authors said: ‘Despite the widespread use of oral contraceptives (OCs), remarkably little is known about the effects of OCs on emotion, cognition, and behavior.

    ‘However, coincidental findings suggest that OCs impair the ability to recognize others’ emotional expressions, which may have serious consequences in interpersonal contexts.

    ‘To further investigate the effects of OCs on emotion recognition, we tested whether women who were using OCs would be less accurate in the recognition of complex emotional expressions than women who were not using.

    ‘In addition, we explored whether these differences in emotion recognition would depend on women’s menstrual cycle phase.

    ‘We found that women with OC use were indeed less accurate in the recognition of complex expressions than women without OC use, in particular during the processing of expressions that were difficult to recognize.

    ‘These differences in emotion recognition did not depend on women’s menstrual cycle phase.

    ‘Our findings, thus, suggest that OCs impair women’s emotion recognition, which should be taken into account when informing women about the side-effects of OC use.’

    MORE: A bridesmaid is trying to find the best way to tell the bride she hates her dress

    MORE: Getting Freaky: How would doctors actually remove a light bulb from your rectum or vagina?


    High Angle View Contraceptive Pill And Purse Over Pink BackgroundHigh Angle View Contraceptive Pill And Purse Over Pink Backgroundlauraabernethy6High Angle View Contraceptive Pill And Purse Over Pink BackgroundHigh Angle View Contraceptive Pill And Purse Over Pink Backgroundlauraabernethy6

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    (Picture: Mumsnet)

    A woman has taken to Mumsnet to ask for advice about wearing a dress to a wedding – which is pretty standard, except it’s white.

    She wrote: ‘I’ve just purchased this dress for an upcoming charity event I have to attend but I am hoping it will be double up for an upcoming wedding due to the cost and I am having to have the dress altered and taken in slightly so would be nice to get more than one wear out of it.

    ‘It will only be the evening reception I am attending. It will be paired with black shoes and a black bag and the bottom of the dress is like a taupe colour.’

    The dress comes in ivory and features short sleeves and a ruffled design. It’s a lovely dress, but people have taken to the comments section to say it’s unacceptable to wear to a wedding – given that the only person that should be wearing white on the bride’s big day is the bride.

    Mum slammed after buying a ?white? dress to wear to a pal?s wedding reception picture: mumsnet.com METROGRAB
    (Picture: Mumsnet)

    One person said: ‘If it was any other colour it would be fine. But white to somebody else’s wedding is a no IMO.’

    Someone else added the colour was a no-go: ‘It is generally a bit of a no-no to wear a white dress to a wedding.’

    Another added that buying the dress was a silly idea: ‘You could wear any other colour without fear of causing offence except white. So why wear white?’

    However, some people thought the dress was acceptable if she were to jazz it up a bit.

    One woman suggested: ‘Yes if you wear brightly coloured or black accessories. Because otherwise it is too white. You don’t know if the bride might be wearing a short white dress… or the bridesmaids, and so it might be embarrassing if you look too much like them.

    Mum slammed after buying a ?white? dress to wear to a pal?s wedding reception picture: mumsnet.com METROGRAB
    (Picture: Mumsnet)

    ‘Someone wore a short white lace dress to my wedding which was almost exactly the same as my bridesmaids dresses… she hadn’t done it on purpose but it looked really odd in all the photos… she looked like some nuts person who had tried to tag on the end of the bridesmaids… some older family members did have a bit of a grumble about it.’

    What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

    MORE: A bridesmaid is trying to find the best way to tell the bride she hates her dress

    MORE: People are puzzled by Boohoo’s ‘front thong’ bodysuit


    WEDDING_DRESS0001-9c31WEDDING_DRESS0001-9c31hattiegladwellmetroMum slammed after buying a ?white? dress to wear to a pal?s wedding reception picture: mumsnet.com METROGRABMum slammed after buying a ?white? dress to wear to a pal?s wedding reception picture: mumsnet.com METROGRABWEDDING_DRESS0001-9c31WEDDING_DRESS0001-9c31hattiegladwellmetroMum slammed after buying a ?white? dress to wear to a pal?s wedding reception picture: mumsnet.com METROGRABMum slammed after buying a ?white? dress to wear to a pal?s wedding reception picture: mumsnet.com METROGRAB

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