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I’ve never really got the whole ‘go skiing and prance around in the snow in sub-zero temperatures’ kind of holidays.
To me, a holiday is somewhere with a beach, a book and a hearty tan – end of.
That is until I bravely ventured east to St Lambrecht in Austria…in February.
The prospect of having to learn to ski for the first time at 29 didn’t exactly fill me with confidence but I had been assured that St Lambrecht had plenty of other beauties to offer aside from terrifying black Slopes if I didn’t turn out to be next Lindsay Vonn.
And you know what? It does – if you can bear to tear yourself away from the stunning ski resort.
It turns out skiing is a load of fun. St Lambrecht’s slopes are so beautiful that I left kicking myself for being such a dummy and avoiding skiing for so many years.
We stayed at the NatureparkHotel Lambrechterhof, a luxury wellness hotel just a stone’s throw away from the ski resort.
It provides a free shuttle bus to the slopes every day 9am to 11.30am, and 2pm to 4pm – although it is only a ten-minute walk.
According to the skiing veterans among us, the more advanced slopes were stunning and everything you’d want from a winter break.
For us beginners, St Lambrecht is the perfect environment to learn. I had visions of small children pelting us with bratwursts for being rubbish but thanks to our superb teacher Andy (who is available to hire from the equipment hire store on site), within about 90 minutes of stepping on skis for the first time, we were snow plowing down the blue slope like no one’s business.
It’s just quiet enough to not feel intimidated and yet bustling with a great atmosphere. And it really is stunning. So yes, I’m a total convert.
If you’re thinking of taking a pack of folk out there, you might be better off opting for one of the luxury chalets that are situated just to the side of the blue slope.
Can’t be bothered to walk home? No problem – just ski home. Rents start at £175 a night for a three bedroom chalet, and they’re also available to buy (prices start at €350,600). You can either be self-catering or get the hotel to provide your sheets and food.
NatureparkHotel Lambrechterhof, as I say, is a kind of wellness hotspot kitted out with a mega spa – including sauna and steam to hot tub and therapists.
I had an excellent facial there (needed after the plane over) as well as a truly fantastic massage at the hands of head masseur, Marius.
I also had a rather curious treatment called Balancer, which essentially involves being zipped into a big pair of ski-like pants which then rhythmically constrict and massage your legs from big toe to crotch. Sounds odd, but it’s actually really therapeutic and is supposed to help with lymphatic drainage – useful for us runners and skiers
After a hard day on the slopes, a bit of a rub down is exactly what you need. Chalet girls (and boys) can get a 20% discount off any treatments.
Nothing screams wellness quite like a good old thermal bath, and at Aqua Lux Spa, you’ve got it all.
It’s a short drive away from the resort and is located on a site carved out by a gigantic glacier a zillion years ago.
Kick back and unwind with a beer in the outdoor hot water springs, which boast Evian views across the mountains. If you’ve got kids, there’s a whole area reserved for them – complete with a baby pool and an epic three-story waterslide.
One thing you must try is the outdoor sauna and pool.
Northern and central Europe loves a nude sauna and although it’s totally against our British principles to get out bits out in public, there’s nothing like it for feeling totally free and liberated. I’m sure that mental health must be excellent in those kinds of areas simply because no one gives a damn about having a little padding or slightly droopy bits.
The only way to finish an authentic sauna sesh is to jump – in the buff still – into a freezing pool.
Going away with someone who’s more into speed than steaming?
Project Spielberg – the home of Formula 1 and MotoGP lies a short drive away, nestled in glorious countryside.
I’m definitely no motorhead but you can’t help but get sucked in when you’re looking at all the glistening cars that have smashed records in the museum…or stop yourself from getting goosebumps under the portraits of those who lay it all on the track – including their lives.
If you’re not going in time to actually see any racing (the season kicks off next month, passes are available to buy here, starting from €195), then it’d be rude not to test out what the track is like.
We got to have a go on some buggies, racing around the course before going offroad – leaping across ditches and over rough terrain. There’s nothing like gunning it over an enormous mound and seeing your buggy’s wheels come off the ground – looking down onto a Formula 1 track – to put your heart in your mouth!
Want to go mega fast? You can also drive Porsches, superbikes, and Formula 4s. Or you can get a pro driver to run you around at top speeds. Just be careful about what you choose to have for breakfast.
The finer details
Mountain Residences at St Lambrecht
Rental rates start at £175 per night for a 3 bedroom chalet, sleeping 6.
Prices to purchase a 2/3 bedroom home start at £350,600
The NatureparkHotel Lambrechterhof offers:
2 nights from £190 per person. Includes overnight stay, breakfast and 1.5 days ski pass including free use of ski bus.
Flights from London Gatwick to Klagenfurt with EasyJet start at £51 return.
For more tourism information, visit: www.steiermark.com/en
St Lambrecht boasts a lot of incredibly attractive architecture (think Toy Town), and at the heart of the place is a still functioning monastery and seminary.
It’s packed with interesting artifacts and bizarrely rococo art works, and is overlooked by a hunters lodge. It really is the stuff of OTT Austrian dreams.
As you come out of the airport at Klagenfurt, you’ll start to see Ironman competition posters. Kinda random, right? Isn’t that the sort of thing that only takes place in hardcore American states?
Once you get to St Lambrecht, you’ll see exactly why the world’s hardest triathlon may be well suited to this part of Austria. It’s all up hill and down dale and because you’re so far above sea level, any aerobic activity you do is fantastic conditioning.
I headed out for a little morning run as part of my Reading Half Marathon and Paris Marathon training and it was tough going. But it was made tougher by the fact that I had to stop every few minutes to take pictures of slow coated fields, brown cows wandering on an all-white background and chocolate box-like houses.
You can hire bikes at the hotel and with a little digging, you’ll find some open-air swimming to be had. Rather you than me in winter, mind. Failing that, you’ll struggle to find a walking route that isn’t picturesque.
If the weather is particularly bad and you don’t fancy another day of skiing, there’s a hi-tech indoor golfing studio behind the hotel which offers a number of world-class golfing greens on which to practice your swing.
Full disclosure, I was pretty nervous as a travelling vegan about going to the home of the sausage stew. But I actually had the best vegan risotto and sorbet of my life at the hotel (huge claim, I know).
The hotel’s kitchen is led by chef Erich Pucher, who has won two hats (like Michelin stars).
If you are a meat eater, prepare to die and go straight to alpine heaven because from what I saw, the local dishes mainly seem to revolve around the most succulent cuts of veal and beef in the richest sauces.
No matter how small the establishment, I found people only too happy to whip up something off menu for a pesky plant-based diner. From the crispiest potato slices with creamed spinach, to the tastiest of soups and vegan bratwurst, you just have to ask (or probably better yet, ring ahead) and you’ll get something incredibly delicious.
One place you have to try is Hüttenabend – a traditional Austrian wooden lodge up the top of the slopes in the middle of the forest. It’s incredibly pretty and snug and the food is the kind of hearty fare you need after a day of skiing. An absolute must-visit.
So am I a winter holiday convert?
I started googling ‘Austrian ski season jobs’ on the plane home, inspired by the alpine god himself, Andy.
Oh, and if anyone does fancy going in on a chalet, you know where I am.
We never thought we’d have to tell people to stop flushing Yorkshire puddings down the toilet.
Surely no one would waste such carby joy by throwing a Yorkshire pud into the plumbing system. Surely no one would be so silly.
But alas, it turns out that there are indeed people in the world who have thrown Yorkshire puddings down the toilet. And thus we must share this gentle request to, well, not do that.
Last week Anglian Water were called to Ipswich in Suffolk due to a sewage drain blockage.
They took a look and found the drain was blocked because ‘somebody dumped a load of Yorkshire puddings in an Ipswich sewer’.
Those puds caused quite a bit off faff, needing specialist removal, so this is a situation Anglian Water would really quite like to avoid in future.
They’ve issued a warning to only flush the ‘three Ps’ – pee, poo, and (toilet) paper.
‘Please don’t treat sewers as bins, avoid blocked pipes and compost your food waste,’ the company tweeted.
Please, people, if you do have Yorkshire puddings you’re not planning to eat, just chuck them in the bin or your compost collection rather than trying to smuggle them down the drains. You’ll save yourself from blocked up pipes and the embarrassment of telling a plumber what you’ve done.
Of course, Yorkshire puddings aren’t the main problem for those unblocking drains.
Anglian Water says that the ‘everyday’ things that block up drains cost them £15 million a year, pointing to wet wipes as one of the greatest evils.
They note that wet wipes – which they call ‘foul smelling rags’ – have to be regularly removed by hand as they are not biodegradable.
Anglian Water, alongside Water UK and other water companies, is launching a new flushability standard for wet wipes, allowing manufacturers to label their products ‘Fine to Flush’ if their wipes pass strict scientific tests.
The water company says they hope this will prevent blockages, fatbergs and sewage overflows.
Sewer blockages and fatbergs – mainly caused by a build-up of wet wipes, fats, oils and grease into a solid mass – have been increasing in frequency in recent years.
A study in 2017 found that non-flushable wet wipes could make up around 93% of the material causing some sewer blockages.
Although there has been an increase in products being labelled ‘Do Not Flush’, there are many wipes on the market labelled ‘Flushable’ which do not break down quickly.
Rachel Dyson, Anglian Water’s Keep It Clear programme manager said: ‘Wipes cause real problems in the sewer network and have a devastating impact on customers.
‘Wipes are by far the worst culprit but cotton buds, tampons and fats also cause problems in the sewers.
‘They result in around 80% of the 40,000 blockages across the East of England each year.
‘Most of these blockages are entirely preventable, but instead lead to devastating sewage spills, can harm the environment and cost more than £15million each year to clear.
‘Ultimately this cost is added onto customers’ water bills and would be better spent elsewhere.’
True that. On more Yorkshire puddings, perhaps.
Please don't throw Yorkshire puddings down the toiletPlease don't throw Yorkshire puddings down the toiletellencscottWater bosses have urged people only to put the 'three Ps' down the toilet after a sewage drain was found blocked by Yorkshire puddings. See SWNS story SWCApuddings. Workers from Anglian Water found the popular accompaniment to Sunday roasts stuffing a sewer in Ipswich, Suffolk yesterday (fri).Water bosses have urged people only to put the 'three Ps' down the toilet after a sewage drain was found blocked by Yorkshire puddings. See SWNS story SWCApuddings. Workers from Anglian Water found the popular accompaniment to Sunday roasts stuffing a sewer in Ipswich, Suffolk yesterday (fri).
You might have heard Greggs has released a vegan version of their classic sausage roll.
But have you been able to get your hands on one?
Since they were launched in January, the pastry treat has proven both popular, with many people reporting their stores were completely sold out.
They have now rolled them out across all stores, and there’s even a sausage roll locator but if you want to try one, this is your chance.
On Friday, you can pick up a free vegan sausage roll.
To celebrate their sixth birthday, takeaway delivery service Deliveroo is offering 6,000 free Greggs sausage rolls at locations across London.
If you back Piers Morgan’s view on the vegan version, there will also be plenty of their classic sausage rolls to enjoy too.
Where can you get a free Greggs sausage roll?
To get your free sausage roll, visit one of the stores below from 2.30pm on Friday and look out for the Deliveroo drivers in their signature teal uniform.
You don’t need to download the app or order anything, just turn up on the day.
The huge sausage roll giveaway will take place at stores in:
Will Shu, Deliveroo’s first rider and CEO said: ‘Deliveroo was founded, built in and inspired by London. In 6 years we’ve worked together to build one of Britain’s most successful tech companies, that now operates in over 14 countries.
‘Deliveroo customers love amazing food whether it’s a gourmet burger, protein-packed salad or even one of Greggs’ famous sausage rolls.’
Any teacher will know the struggle of remembering the name of every kid in a class.
Now imagine if a load of them were twins.
That’s what dance teacher Josephine Johnson is dealing with after four sets of twins joined her ballet class.
Yes, four sets of twins. Eight little girls wearing matching leotards. Best of luck telling those apart, Josephine.
Josephine has been teaching at her school, the Thanet Stage School of Performing Arts, for 43 years and has never had more than one set of twins in a class before.
Six-year-old twins Ava and Freya Laslette-White were first to join the stage school three years ago, and are in a more advanced dance class to the three sets of younger twins.
Those three sets include identical Evie and Amelia Manning, who joined in September, non-identical Francesca and Thomasina Kinsey, and Lillie and Alex Sorrell.
Esme Oliver, four, also joined the class in January and if her twin brother decides to join, Josephine will have a grand total of five sets of twins at the studio – with four pairs of twins in the same dance class.
Josephine said: ‘There must be something in the water – I couldn’t believe it when I kept getting all these enquiries from parents of twin girls.
‘I have four sets, it’s amazing to have so many twins in one go and people tell me they can see straight away who matches up with who.
‘It’s so nice to see them dancing together all in pink, they are all such characters and the most darling little things.
‘They cuddle each other and when I tell them to go and find a partner, they always choose each other.
‘The girls are very similar – when you get them to start dancing at the same time, I wonder which one is which.
‘Sometimes I have to put a pink bow on one of them so I can tell them apart.
‘I have had twins before of course but never this many, let alone all in one age group.’
Josephine can now tell all of the sisters apart based on their different dance styles. Impressive.
‘The older ones you get to know they dance differently,’ she explains.
‘They move in different ways – some of their feet are stronger or their feet move faster and they have different capabilities.’
SEI_54050412-5043SEI_54050412-5043ellencscott(L-R) Ava and Freya Laslett'White aged 6, Evie and Amelia Manning aged 5, Thomasina and Frances Kingsley aged 4, Alexis and Lillie Sorrell aged 4. (Four sets of twins have all joined Thanet Stage school performing arts with in the last year at Thanet in Kent). (L-R) Ava and Freya Laslett'White aged 6, Evie and Amelia Manning aged 5, Thomasina and Frances Kingsley aged 4, Alexis and Lillie Sorrell aged 4. (Four sets of twins have all joined Thanet Stage school performing arts with in the last year at Thanet in Kent). See story NNTWINS. The ballerinas, aged between four and six, love to dance and always pick their 'other half' to be their dance partner in class. School principal Josephine Johnston has taught at Thanet Stage School of Performing Arts for 43 years and said it is the first time she has seen more than one set of twins at her studio in Kent. She said: "There must be something in the water - I couldn't believe it when I kept getting all these enquiries for twins. "I have four sets, it's amazing to have so many twins in one go and people tell me they can see straight away who matches up with who. "It's so nice to see them dancing together all in pink, they are all such characters and the most darling little things. "They cuddle each other and when I tell them to go and find a partner, they always chose each other."Ava and Freya Laslett'White aged 6. (Four sets of twins have all joined Thanet Stage school performing arts with in the last year at Thanet in Kent). See story NNTWINS. The ballerinas, aged between four and six, love to dance and always pick their 'other half' to be their dance partner in class. School principal Josephine Johnston has taught at Thanet Stage School of Performing Arts for 43 years and said it is the first time she has seen more than one set of twins at her studio in Kent. She said: "There must be something in the water - I couldn't believe it when I kept getting all these enquiries for twins. "I have four sets, it's amazing to have so many twins in one go and people tell me they can see straight away who matches up with who. "It's so nice to see them dancing together all in pink, they are all such characters and the most darling little things. "They cuddle each other and when I tell them to go and find a partner, they always chose each other."Thomasina and sister Frances Kingsley aged 4. (Four sets of twins have all joined Thanet Stage school performing arts with in the last year at Thanet in Kent). See story NNTWINS. The ballerinas, aged between four and six, love to dance and always pick their 'other half' to be their dance partner in class. School principal Josephine Johnston has taught at Thanet Stage School of Performing Arts for 43 years and said it is the first time she has seen more than one set of twins at her studio in Kent. She said: "There must be something in the water - I couldn't believe it when I kept getting all these enquiries for twins. "I have four sets, it's amazing to have so many twins in one go and people tell me they can see straight away who matches up with who. "It's so nice to see them dancing together all in pink, they are all such characters and the most darling little things. "They cuddle each other and when I tell them to go and find a partner, they always chose each other."Evie and sister Amelia Manning aged 5. (Four sets of twins have all joined Thanet Stage school performing arts with in the last year at Thanet in Kent). See story NNTWINS. The ballerinas, aged between four and six, love to dance and always pick their 'other half' to be their dance partner in class. School principal Josephine Johnston has taught at Thanet Stage School of Performing Arts for 43 years and said it is the first time she has seen more than one set of twins at her studio in Kent. She said: "There must be something in the water - I couldn't believe it when I kept getting all these enquiries for twins. "I have four sets, it's amazing to have so many twins in one go and people tell me they can see straight away who matches up with who. "It's so nice to see them dancing together all in pink, they are all such characters and the most darling little things. "They cuddle each other and when I tell them to go and find a partner, they always chose each other."Alexis and Lillie Sorrell aged 4. (Four sets of twins have all joined Thanet Stage school performing arts with in the last year at Thanet in Kent). See story NNTWINS. The ballerinas, aged between four and six, love to dance and always pick their 'other half' to be their dance partner in class. School principal Josephine Johnston has taught at Thanet Stage School of Performing Arts for 43 years and said it is the first time she has seen more than one set of twins at her studio in Kent. She said: "There must be something in the water - I couldn't believe it when I kept getting all these enquiries for twins. "I have four sets, it's amazing to have so many twins in one go and people tell me they can see straight away who matches up with who. "It's so nice to see them dancing together all in pink, they are all such characters and the most darling little things. "They cuddle each other and when I tell them to go and find a partner, they always chose each other."(L-R) Ava and Freya Laslett'White aged 6, Evie and Amelia Manning aged 5, Thomasina and Frances Kingsley aged 4, Alexis and Lillie Sorrell aged 4. (Four sets of twins have all joined Thanet Stage school performing arts with in the last year at Thanet in Kent). See story NNTWINS. The ballerinas, aged between four and six, love to dance and always pick their 'other half' to be their dance partner in class. School principal Josephine Johnston has taught at Thanet Stage School of Performing Arts for 43 years and said it is the first time she has seen more than one set of twins at her studio in Kent. She said: "There must be something in the water - I couldn't believe it when I kept getting all these enquiries for twins. "I have four sets, it's amazing to have so many twins in one go and people tell me they can see straight away who matches up with who. "It's so nice to see them dancing together all in pink, they are all such characters and the most darling little things. "They cuddle each other and when I tell them to go and find a partner, they always chose each other."
Anastasia Beverly Hills has just announced they’re launching a new eyeshadow palette named Riviera to add to their already unrivaled collection of beauty products and makeup.
Yep, you heard us. And it’s bold, bright and beautiful.
The summer themed palette will be available for all UK makeup addicts to dip their brushes into from Thursday 7th March.
ABH’s President, Norvina Soare shared her excitement for the new release today on Instagram saying: ‘I absolutely love her so much. RIVIERA is a getaway in a palette. I want you to open it up and feel the breeze, ok that sounds cheesy, but you get what I mean.’
And it didn’t take long for fans of the brand to lose their minds over the cute sailor-themed packaging and vibrant shades.
View this post on Instagram
What can I say 🙂 I absolutely love her so much RIVIERA 🛳 is a getaway in a palette. I want you to open it up and feel the breeze 😂 ok that sounds cheesy, but you get what I mean. 2019 is a creative evolution for me as a creator, I feel comfortable to grow and supported by all of you guys to show you more of me 😊💗 I love you all so much thank you for this incredible journey #abhriviera #norvina Swipe left for a little swatch video & forgive the quality of those swatches, they’re done by hand, I was so excited to swatch the palette in paradise
Not only does Riviera include 14 never-before-seen paradise inspired mattes, and metallics, from vibrant jewel tones to bright pops of colour, the cult beauty brand has also introduced their first-ever duo chrome eyeshadows, with the shades Yacht, a stunning mauve taupe with violet shift and Seaside, a duo chrome silver with a blue shift – dreamy.
And while some may be a little weary of the idea of adding splashes of colour to their lids, there’s a couple of cool-neutrals and warm toned shades, so you can create wearable everyday looks too.
A few of our favourites, alongside the duo chromes, include Coastline, a matte papaya and Yacht, a gorgeous shimmery bronze.
Like the brand’s previous eyeshadow palettes, Riviera gives fans the same high-pigmented shades for a more intense look and comes with a mirror and a dual-ended eyeshadow brush for blending and creating Instagram-worthy eye looks.
We’re especially excited about this unequivocally summery makeup option.
What more can we say?
When and where to buy the Anastasia Beverly Hills Riviera palette in the UK
Shop Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palettes
Spring Rivera ABH-ca34Spring Rivera ABH-ca34emilyknott17
Whatever you do on the internet, it leaves a digital footprint. Unless you have the foresight to do it on a private browser.
Youngsters curious about the world might take to Google to ask all about the burning questions of life. But they’re not usually mindful of their internet search history.
One dad who decided to have a look at his son’s past peruses online was left entertained and a little concerned.
Craig Wilson, from Blackpool, was left in stitches when he discovered eight-year-old Finlay’s search history which was uploaded on Twitter by older sister Ashleigh.
A lot of the topics were standard tween interests like video game Fortnite, Club Ubisoft, a popular YouTuber, and general curiosities such as lucid dreaming.
But then it started to take a bit of a dark turn with searches on celebrity deaths, arson, and one total headscratcher: ‘BBQ sauce on titties’.
The dad-of-five absolutely lost it, bursting into laughter at what seems like a NSFW phrase.
But the good people of the internet assured the family it was just in reference to a popular vine, derived from a clip of TV show Orange is the New Black.
Everyone was tickled pink to see the dad’s reaction to the searches as the post now has over 700,000 likes and 200,000 retweets.
Ashleigh spoke to Metro.co.uk about her brother’s curiosity.
‘It’s super funny, he’s really clever and curious so he was watching a news report on arson which made him google to find out more,’ she told us.
‘He’s a great kid who’s always up to things like this.
‘He hasn’t seen the viral comments, we decided to keep it quiet as his last viral video gained a lot of attention and negative comments as viral videos do. But he knows he’s gone viral again and he’s super excited.’
It’s not the first time Ashleigh has documented her brother’s adventures. She previously recorded him crying after he racked up a £200 bill playing Fornite on his parents’ bank card.
The family pranked him and told him he was being taken in by the police when he was actually going to his aunt’s house.
Though Ashleigh likes to poke fun at him, she’s also paying the price for his fame, as everyone keeps leaving comments saying ‘BBQ titties’ on her Instagram page.
Brb, we’re off to check out this vine.
Excited father and son watching a movie on tablet under blanketExcited father and son watching a movie on tablet under blanketfaimabakar1Dad finds some very questionable searches on eight-year-old son's iPad
A mum has taken to Mumsnet to express her irritation over people calling her child nicknames.
She explained that her daughter is called Megan, and that she is also called Megan at home. She is very annoyed because people tend to call her daughter Meg, Meggy or Megs.
She wrote: ‘Her name is Megan and that is what we call her at home.
‘Aibu [am I being unreasonable] to think people should just call her by the name her parents use & not make names up?! It really bloody irritates me.’
Despite showing her annoyance, other mums told her that she was being a bit over dramatic, and that it shouldn’t bother her that people shorten her daughter’s name.
One person wrote: ‘Calling her by a clear diminutive of her actual name, eg Meg, is just people being friendly, and could be a term of endearment. So yes, chill for goodness sake.
‘Can remember the Hyacinth Bucket-like mother of a school friend who always made a point of referring to her daughter as ‘Elizabeth’ and pretended not to know who our mate Lizzie was! Uptight and ridiculous.’
Someone else told her to chill, while another added: ‘I’m a Megan. I get called all sorts depending on which social group I’m in. You don’t own your child’s name and she is her own person. It’s a good thing people shorten it as it means they have their own relationship with her outside of you.’
Someone else told her that she should ‘get over’ herself, writing: ‘Oh get over yourself. You don’t own your daughter,her name or other people’s free will, so you call her what you want at home, and others will call her what they want elsewhere and there’s f*** all you can about it.’
Of course, a mother is allowed to feel annoyed about people changing her daughter’s name, but it is very difficult to dictate what other people call her outside of her home – and if her daughter allows it, that’s all that should matter.
Irritated mum blasts pals who keep ?making up names? for her baby daughterIrritated mum blasts pals who keep ?making up names? for her baby daughterhattiegladwellmetro
I’d donned the tail feathers, I’d downed the caipirinhas and I’d learnt how to say ‘Carnival’ in Portuguese (Carnaval, it turns out). It could only mean one thing – I was headed for ‘the greatest party on earth’.
Six million people fill the streets in the fiesta that is Rio Carnival, and you can feel it.
There’s a buzz. An energy ramped up by the sun streaming down and the cocktails in free flow, and by the bursts of glitter and flashes of colour that fill every corner of this lively, sleepless city.
Women wander round in flesh-bearing costumes and men prance about in tutus and bunny outfits. Street parties with moving samba bands draw in up to a million people a pop, and Brazilian celebrities flock to opulent masked balls.
Promiscuity is its raison d’etre and it has been since the Roman times, when Carnival was a celebration of revelry in the run up to Lent.
It was brought over by the Portuguese in the 19th century and given its Brazilian twist in 1917, when samba became a part of the festivities.
Today, it’s an excuse to forget about anything and everything, and party for a solid week, or more – it officially starts on the Saturday before Mardi Gras and ends on the Tuesday, but pre- and post-Carnival parties stretch it out to nearly two.
If you’re looking to have a good time, it needs to be next on your list.
At the heart of Carnaval are the blocos – loud, in-your-face, dance-all-day-long street parties that start as early as 8am.
They’re made up of brass bands and vocal groups that snake their way slowly round each block, playing everything from traditional samba to Afroreggae and 80s rock as locals sing and dance along, hands in the air, in the heat of the day.
More than 400 take place across the city over the Carnival period – annual highlights include the Beatles-meets-samba fiesta, Sargento Pimenta, and Banda da Ipanema, which chugs its way along the beach with trumpets and other brass instruments, drawing in crowds of more than 90,000.
For some of the liveliest and trendiest parties, head to Lapa. It’s a young, lively area in the central part of the city where you’ll find several street parades as well as bars, clubs and a main square selling cheap-as caipirinhas.
There’s a positive, energetic, anything-goes vibe all over the city though, and it’s not just for the tourists – locals and Brazilians from other parts of the country make up the majority here.
Just make sure you’ve got some costumes ready. Fancy dress themes span nuns and priests to angels, devils and plenty more weird-and-wonderful ideas, and if you’re not flaunting your most flamboyant threads, you’ll look odd to say the least.
Put that British sense of embarrassment aside and roll with it. I’ve never felt freer.
Rio Carnival wouldn’t be Rio Carnival without samba, which originated among African slave communities in the 1800s and eventually spread to other areas of society.
Today, visitors flock to the Sambadrome to see it in its most extravagant form during the festival.
Here ginormous, glittering floats glide along a huge, 90,000-capacity stadium, as dancers spin round to the beat of the drums and audience members bop along from the sidelines.
There’s so much sparkle you’d be forgiven for thinking it was Disneyland, and the parades go on for hours. Ours finished around six in the morning. Then there was an after party.
Schools compete to be crowned champion, and over 30,000 participants shimmy on down the runway over the course of the five nights, with the two main parades taking place on the Sunday and Monday.
It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Among my highlights was an enormous, illuminated UFO float spinning around and blasting out smoke, followed by a troupe of dancers dressed as metallic jellyfish. Enough said.
There’s another side to the festivities – fancy masquerades.
The most famous is the annual Magic Ball at Belmond Copacabana Palace, where I found myself rubbing shoulders with various presidents and Brazilian soap stars as I attempted to avoid dropping clumps of lobster down my £25 Boohoo dress.
It’s the most exclusive carnival event in the country – it felt like stepping back into the 1920s or a Hollywood movie-set, and I half-expected Mr Gatsby to welcome me in with a mint julep. Instead, I made do with a glass of pink bubbly served from the dedicated champagne bar.
Brigitte Bardot and Gerald Butler are among the guests who’ve graced its elegant floors in the past, while everyone from Justin Bieber to Charles and Diana have stayed at the lavish hotel.
Tickets start at around £600 and go far beyond, so if that doesn’t quite fall within the budget, fear not.
There are several less exclusive versions, including the annual masked ball at the Rio Scenarium.
This eclectic bar was once an antique store, and now houses old dolls and other quirky artefacts strewn across three floors, with live music, tapas, dancing and feathers aplenty in Carnival season.
Carnival is all about indulgence before Lent – it takes its name from the Latin for ‘farewell to meat’, carne vale, apparently – so it would be sacrilege not to indulge in some good food while you’re here.
You won’t be short on options.
For steak and seafood cooked to perfection, head to the trendy Giuseppe Grill, located in the upmarket Leblon neighbourhood. The squid was ultra-tender and the warm guava jam with ‘cheese ice cream’ was surprisingly tasty – and significantly less weird than it sounded.
For a yet more traditional dish try Casa do Feijoada, over in Ipanema. It serves Rio’s traditional meaty stew – pork ribs, smoked sausage, beef cuts and more unusual pork trimmings including ears, tail and feet – in clay pots with lashing of black beans and rice.
A slightly different hangover cure to the usual bacon and eggs/smoked salmon and avo combo, but effective nonetheless.
It’s not just Carnival itself that gives Rio its appeal of course, and if you can tear yourself away from the parties, there’s plenty more to see.
You can’t come here and not see Christ the Redeemer, the giant, 30-metre tall statue that peers over the city. Set atop the 700-metre high Corcovado mountain, it’s impressive to say the least, and it should be – it took nine years to build.
Elsewhere in the central part of the city, there’s the Selaron Steps, a colourful staircase decorated with more than 2,000 brightly coloured tiles and mirrors. Snoop Dogg and Pharell loved it so much, they even filmed their video for ‘Beautiful’ here.
Then there’s Sugarloaf Mountain, the iconic, slightly phallic-looking rock that pierces the city skyline.
A cable car takes you up to the top, where panoramic views over the whole city await – all bright green, tree-covered islands, hilly peaks and clusters of skyscrapers surrounded by the blue of the ocean.
There’s no getting bored here, Carnival time or not.
Where to stay in Rio and how to get there:
We stayed at Hotel Regina, a basic three-star with a decent location in Flamengo that’s close to Lapa without being right in the heart of the action. The beach areas of Copacabana and Ipanema are 20-30 minutes away by metro or taxi.
It was part of a Carnival City Package with Tucan Travel, which costs from £839, including five nights’ hotel accommodation with breakfast, a Sector 11 ticket to the Sambadrome parade, a city tour and a visit to Brazil’s largest favela, Rocinha (plus an orientation walk and dinner on the first night).
Carnaval - BrazilCarnaval - Brazilqinxierio carnivalrio carnivalA close-up on a young and beautiful woman at the Brazilian carnivalSouth America, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro city, costumed dancer in a feather headdress and the floats and dancers of the Caprichosos samba school at carnival in the Sambadrome Marques de Sapucai (South America, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro city,Belmond Copacabana Ball A band performs in front of a crowded dance floor in Rio Scenarium.Aerial view of 'Christ The Redeemer' statue with Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana Beach and Botafogo Beach in the background.
Humans obviously evolve and change over time. And while we probably only notice physical changes in our dogs, a new study says our pets’ personalities also change. Just like ours.
We never question the goodness of our beloved pets (unless you have a cat, maybe) and when it comes to dogs, we expect them to be forever loyal and kind to us.
Researchers from Michigan State University found that doggo personalities aren’t set in stone though and just as humans are changed by experiences in life so too are our canines.
Just as children who are nurtured and loved in their childhood will be positively affected in their emotional development, dogs are also affected by how much time is spent with their owners.
The number of belly rubs you give dogs, whether they’re taken out for walks, playing fetch with them help to determine their mood, attachment, aggression, and ability to obey.
The study of over 1,600 dogs spanning 50 different breeds were included in the work – the biggest of its kind – and was published in the Journal of Research in Personality
Outgoing dogs had outgoing owners, the study found, while aggressive dogs tended to have negative owners.
And researchers also found that the saying ‘you can’t teach old dogs new tricks’ has some truth to it.
‘When humans go through big changes in life, their personality traits can change,’ explained lead author William Chopik. ‘We found that this also happens with dogs – and to a surprisingly large degree.
‘We expected the dogs’ personalities to be fairly stable because they don’t have wild lifestyle changes humans do, but they actually change a lot.
‘We uncovered similarities to their owners, the optimal time for training and even a time in their lives that they can get more aggressive toward other animals.
‘Older dogs are much harder to train; we found that the “sweet spot” for teaching a dog obedience is around the age of six when it outgrows its excitable puppy stage but before it’s too set in its ways.
‘There are a lot of things we can do with dogs – like obedience classes and training – that we can’t do with people. Exposure to obedience classes was associated with more positive personality traits across the dog’s lifespan. This gives us exciting opportunities to examine why personality changes in all sorts of animals.’
It’s good news too for those thinking to adopt a dog from a shelter, especially if you’re worried about previously aggressive pooches.
If you can put it in a new environment where it’s loved, walked and entertained often, the dog then might become a little more relaxed and sociable.
Senior man with look alike dog.Senior man with look alike dog.faimabakar1Young girl holding head of a Beautiful Border Collie dog
Many of us have had our trusty GHDs for years. They’re efficient, long-lasting and come with impressive results.
The only downside? They’re expensive.
When GHD released a new straightening brush, which promised to keep hair looking shiny and straight without having to go to the effort of straightening layer by layer, they sold out quickly after being launched earlier this year.
In true GHD style, these were also pretty expensive, at £125. Which, just after Christmas – or at any given time, really – is not the most affordable for those of us who have rent and bills to pay.
Which is why we are over the moon that Lidl has created its own dupe of the brush, and is selling it for £110 cheaper, at just £14.99. Amazing.
The brush features a similar design to the GHD heated brush, with added rose gold detailing, and adds volume and body to the hair while the heated prongs straighten it.
Like the GHD brush, Lidl’s version features a ceramic heat pad, which is adjustable from 120 to 210 degrees – meaning you can keep your hair nice and healthy by adjusting the heat settings to suit you.
This isn’t the first time Lidl has sold a heated brush – though it is their first own-brand version.
Last year, they sold the Silvercrest straightening brush for £9.99, and it had amazing reviews
YouTuber Bethany Mew shared a video of herself reviewing the heated brush, and she was really happy with the results
Showing her viewers how to use it and using it on her own hair, she said: ‘My hair looks smooth, and nice, and the only thing that I guess isn’t so good is that you can’t get super close to the curly bits.
‘But I am super impressed, my hair is straight.
‘And it works – £10! Fabulous.’
Lidl launches GHD straightening brush dupeLidl launches GHD straightening brush dupehattiegladwellmetroLidl launches GHD straightening brush dupe Credit: Lidl
In today’s list of things you probably can’t afford comes the Louis Vuitton pencil case roll.
The French fashion house is set to offer the stationary for a jaw-dropping $900 (£682), rumoured to be released at the end of April.
We know what you’re thinking; who could possibly afford to splurge out this much on a bit of stationery? But we all know the answer; rich people and those looking to stunt.
We can’t blame them because the luxury design looks like a work of art.
The pencil case set, presented as a roll-up, comes in the signature Louis Vuitton brown leather motif and has 40 wooden pencils slotted inside, with a metal hardware fastening.
On the exterior are hand-painted circles showcasing all the colours inside, acting as a guide to where each pencil should be placed after use.
If you’re going for the tortured, starving artist look though, this one is probably not for you.
The luxurious design was revealed on Instagram page LVJ12 where other fashion intel is shared. Many a follower of the 31,000-strong account commented on the image of the case, captioning it ‘need’.
So the interest in the high-end stationery is strong.
‘I don’t know why I need this, but I do. Maybe just to be a badass and roll out all my coloured pencils at my next play date?’ wrote one. ‘Imagine taking out all the pencils and replacing them with makeup brushes,’ suggested another.
One person theorised that the cost of manufacture was pretty low: ‘I bet they just had some spare leather left over from making some new bags and didn’t want to waste it by chucking it out so they made this shit for YouTubers to make videos about.’
And of course, there were jokes about what other properties the case comes with: ‘These better have a button that auto-draws a $900 drawing and auto-hangs it in an art museum.’
If you’re in dire need of a pencil case roll but don’t have big bucks to splash (same) then, of course, there are cheaper alternatives online, such as on Etsy.
LV pencil caseLV pencil casefaimabakar1
Parents aren’t known to be great texters. And it’s not something we begrudge them for (who wants to see their mum or dad use internet slang?)
But if you’re trying to have a deep chat with your old man virtually then you probably want him to be responsive.
One Twitter user, however, noticed that her dad was doing the bare minimum when it came to conversing via text message.
Zena, a 19-year-old Twitter user from Chicago, U.S, posted a picture of a chat with her father, blanking out her side of the conversation but showing his messages, all of which simply read ‘ok’.
Plenty of others replied to the tweet showing how their dads also preferred this simple note without or adding so much as an emoji.
But if the alternative is chatting on the phone then most of us would probably be quite happy to stick to ‘ok’ messages.
While most laughed and offered their own little anecdotes, some users pointed out that dads were probably only writing ok because it’s something they can type quickly.
The post has received 30,000 likes online with plenty of other stories, one which showed the exact same interaction between another dad and daughter over a course of time.
‘The only reason I would talk to my dad was when he was picking me up from school,’ they wrote, showing an exchange saying ‘here’ and ‘okay’ on a daily basis around the same time.
One person who merely said hi to their dad was also met with the same chill response.
Though it has to be said that some of the dads on the post might’ve been prepped to say ok out of context.
Imtisaal (@imtisaalxo) February 24, 2019
And it seems granddads aren’t exactly prolific texters either as one user showed how her grandpa replied to an image of a newborn in the family.
He too replied saying, you guessed it, ok.
JewishMamba (@GoniHarNov) February 24, 2019
Here are a few more dads being dads:
🥤 (@ZainnnAK) February 24, 2019
kenna (@MakennaLeonard) February 25, 2019
Fidann (@Fidaannx) February 24, 2019
Deep convos with your dadDeep convos with your dadfaimabakar1
What shall we call this trend?
Unquestionably, it must be big vulva energy.
Take a look at Linda Cardellini emerging from cascading pink ruffles and tell me your first thought is not of labia.
Check out the delicate folds of Kiki Layne’s shoulder bow.
Even Sarah Paulson’s voluminous gown has the gentle folds of a set of labia majora, albeit in a far more striking colour than the average person’s set.
We have seen the rise of big dick energy and accepted it, but now is the time for big vulva energy – a proud reclamation of all things vulva-esque. It’s an embrace of the traditionally feminine – pink, ruffled, fussy – but with an unabashed boldness.
Massive voluminous skirts literally take up space, asserting the wearer’s right to be there, big bows threaten to whack bystanders in the face, and bright pink refuses to be ignored.
Forget the power suit, with its sharp lines and sleek silhouette. Big vulva energy – all ruffles and pink and frivolous detailing is the new power dressing, a bold statement that says clearly to the world: look at me, respect me, and think about the power of vaginas while you’re at it.
It makes sense that this is a trend to emerge on the red carpet in 2019.
This time last year we were right in the pit of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, prompting celebrities to wear all black on the red carpet in protest of sexual harassment and the unfair treatment of women in the entertainment industry.
It was a powerful gesture thanks to its unity. A sea of black dresses in place of the usual glitz and glam was instantly sobering, exactly as it should have been. It was a reminder that no matter how fun and exciting an awards ceremony may be, it can’t distract from the very real issues of gender inequality and sexual abuse.
Now, one year on, women are done with silent protests and blending into the background. The work continues, but women are ready to shout loud and proud, to stake their claim for space and power, and to refuse to accept the idea that you have to act more like men to get ahead.
Red carpet style is a tiny part of that, of course, but the emergence of big vulva energy as a trend sums up the mood perfectly.
It started with Janelle Monáe’s pussy pants in the music video for Pynk. Then we saw Villanelle in that pink organza creation in Killing Eve. The trend hasn’t slowed down: The vibe right now is wearing anything evocative of labia, but with the exact opposite of subtlety.
Be loud, be proud, be pink and ruffled. Display your big vulva energy with confidence.
Big vulva energy fashion trendBig vulva energy fashion trendellencscottBig vulva energy fashion trendLinda Cardellini (Picture: Wireimage/Getty)Kiki Layne (Picture: AFP/Getty)Angela Bassett (Picture: AFP/Getty)Awkwafina (Picture: REUTERS)Kacey Musgraves (Picture: AFP/Getty)Helen Mirren (Picture: REUTERS)Marie Kondo (Picture: AFP/Getty)Gemma Chan (Picture: AFP/Getty)Maya Rudolph (Picture: REUTERS)Killing Eve season 2 promises more fashion moments Provider: BBC Pictures Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7016936/characters/nm3069650?ref_=tt_cl_t1
Good news, fashion fans. Department store Selfridges has announced it will no longer sell exotic skins to keep up with ethical standards.
The department store said it will phase out the skins, such as python, alligator, crocodile and lizard.
From February 2020 will only sell leather from agricultural livestock including cow or calf, sheep, pig, goat, water buffalo and lamb.
They banned the sale of real fur in 2005 but have continued to sell handbags, shoes and other items made from exotic skins.
But the fashion world is now also moving away from the use of exotic skins. In December last year, Chanel became the first luxury fashion house in the world to stop using exotic animal skins.
Selfridges’ buying director Sebastian Manes said: ‘I am proud to confirm that exotic skins will no longer be available to purchase at Selfridges as of February 2020.
‘We will continue in our ambition to inspire our brands and customers through thoughtful, ethical and transparent buying strategies.’
Humane Society International executive director Claire Bass said: ‘It is wonderful to see Selfridges end the sale of exotic skins, a move that will save countless crocodiles and snakes from losing their lives.
‘When Selfridges went fur-free more than a decade ago, it positioned itself as a retailer at the forefront of compassionate fashion.
‘Banning exotic skins in recognition of the serious animal welfare issues that exist in this industry is a natural next step for a responsible retailer.’
Selfridges' White Christmas 2011 collectionSelfridges' White Christmas 2011 collectionlauraabernethy6Undated file photo of Selfridges on Oxford Street, central London who has announced it is to stop selling exotic skins such as python, alligator, crocodile and lizard. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 26, 2019. The department store said it will phase out the skins and from February 2020 will only sell leather from agricultural livestock including cow or calf, sheep, pig, goat, water buffalo and lamb. See PA story CONSUMER Skins. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA WireRETRANSMISSION - PLEASE NOTE THAT IN LIGHT OF NEW INFORMATION FROM SELFRIDGES', THIS BAG IS PRICED AT 8,995 NOT 18,000 AS PREVIOUSLY STATED. PLEASE AMEND. A one-off white crocodile skin handbag by Victoria Beckham, including a hand written note from Victoria, priced at 8,995, which makes up part of the Selfridges' White Christmas 2011 collection, available from August 2011.
We all store food differently, but a general rule to go by is: if it’s stored a certain way in the store, it’s best to store it the same at home.
For instance, keeping butter in the fridge and crisps in the cupboard – though the cheap cartons of juice are an exception.
But what about bread? Supermarkets keep it on shelves, at room temperature, but many people tend to store it into the fridge or freezer – thinking it will make it last longer.
But apparently, the counter is actually the best place to keep your bread. Or a bread bin, of course.
According to StillTasty, if you store your bread in the fridge, it will dry out a lot quicker and become stale faster than bread kept at room temperature.
If you keep your bread on the counter, you can expect to keep it fresh for up to a week – as long as you keep the packaging closed so that it can’t dry up.
Obviously some people don’t like to keep the bread out on the counter, as it can make the kitchen look a little messy – but it’s the best thing to do if you want to make the most of your food.
Or, to keep your kitchen in order, invest in a bread bin.
If you’re wanting to make your bread last even longer than a week – say, at least three months – all you have to do is freeze it.
Sure, the defrosting part can be a little annoying (unless you want toast), but it will save you counter space, and it’ll save you money.
To make sure you keep it in best quality – wrap the bread tightly in cling film and in foil or freezer paper.
And then, write the date on the bread before putting in the freezer and use within six months.
It’s cost effective, quick and easy and saves you kitchen space. Lovely.
Should you refrigerate breadShould you refrigerate breadhattiegladwellmetro
If you’re under 35 and have ever tried talking to your parents about your relationship status, you’ll know fine well that there’s a huge generational divide.
The ambiguity around what different terms mean at the start of a relationship can almost make you want to go back to the days when your only logistical option was to court (and then marry) your closest viable neighbour.
Dating doesn’t just mean dating anymore, and exclusivity doesn’t come without a fight – or at least a few terse ‘what are we?’ messages.
During BBC dating show Eating With My Ex, couples who had been regularly on dates for upwards of half a year were still having conversations about whether that meant they were together. For those of you who have been in relationships for any length of time, this will seem absolutely wild, but – as Emily Thornberry says – ‘there we are’.
The game playing you may experience cannot be deciphered, since it’ll be dependent on the player you’re dating. What we can look at, though, are the different dating stages, and the terms used to describe them in the year of our lord 2019.
Buckle up, folks, as there’s a lot to take in, and a lot of overlap.
You’ve matched (in real life, or on a dating app) and are texting and calling without any real direction on what might happen next.
You’re establishing whether there’s any banter between you both, and making sure they don’t casually drop into conversation that they enjoy fox hunting or watch Mrs Brown’s Boys.
While this tentative stage can be frustrating before you’ve locked down a physical meeting, the beauty in it is the ability with which you can cut it off if the pairing isn’t for you.
Hanging out can happen with friends, colleagues – you can even hang out with your granny.
The term comes into its own, however, when used in a romantic way. Although it can be used by those already in a relationship, it’s more commonly something that refers to the stage before dating.
This is when you’ve been on a date or two, seeing where it goes, but not in the territory where you’d ever consider yourself inextricably linked as people. If you parted ways at this point, you wouldn’t consider each other exes; rather two people who met a few times.
Friends with benefits
Hanging out can branch into dating or an FWB situation. If you become friends with benefits, you will be in a situation where you’re having sex without any commitment.
You may also still hang out (here’s where the overlapping and confusion starts) but you can sleep with others with no need to communicate that this may be happening – except in a sexual health sense.
Friends with benefits is a wonderful situation as long as both you definitely don’t have romantic feelings for each other. For example, there may be spooning, but the spooning is the type that happens between you and your best friend after you’ve been crying at All Bar One and eaten a whole KFC bucket (still crying). It represents care for your happiness, but not the kind of care that will ever prompt you to change your Facebook status. And that’s something you need to be aware of throughout.
So although FWBs are having sex without commitment and dating is a step up, if you’re dating you may still be having sex without commitment.
Dating can refer to people who’ve been going on dates for a few weeks to a few years, and can be both exclusive or casual.
You need to read into the tone of how dating is said to understand its exact meaning, as well as whether it’s prefaced with anything else.
If it hasn’t been defined as friends with benefits, but you’re past the hanging out stage you’re dating. Just don’t expect that the other person isn’t also dating others too.
Ah, exclusivity. What once was a given in any relationship now has to be explicitly said before you can count on it.
Yes, New York gave us bagels and Joan Rivers, but it also gave us the rigid dating rules that the Sex and the City girls abided by – and absolutely hated.
To be casually dating essentially means that there are no strings attached – but not in the obvious FWB way. If you want to bring that into something exclusive, the ‘what are we?’ chat mentioned previously will need to be deployed.
Seeing each other/Going out
These two can be interchangeable, and mean that this person is a bonafide part of your life.
Ghosting at this point is completely unacceptable, and you may have met their pals, even if it was an in awkward and unofficial way when you left their flat wearing yesterday’s fake eyelashes.
Annoyingly, exclusivity still isn’t a given here, so once again you will still need to have an actual adult conversation. Gross, but necessary.
Have you been to somewhere that does latte art together and taken a picture of said latte art? Do you allow them to put their toothbrush in your holder (not a euphemism)? Have you farted in your sleep around them yet?
These are real milestones that boyfriends and girlfriends meet. Unless you’re poly (which you’d know by this point), you can also assume they aren’t sleeping with anyone else.
Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney, has some advice on how to know whether you’re boyfriend or girlfriend. She told Metro.co.uk: ‘The hope is that you will naturally evolve into this situation. You like each other so much you both want to tell your friends and family that you are an item. That is one of the nicest early stages of falling in love.
‘If there is some awkwardness about making that announcement – perhaps changing your status on Facebook or using the words ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ around other people – that would ring a few alarm bells with me because it is a sign that you are not communicating as well as you should and that you’re probably not on the same page.’
So basically, if you have to force it, it isn’t happening. If you do need to work out what stage you’re at, though, Annabelle can help.
How and when to define your relationship
Annabelle says, ‘The crunch time in a relationship where you both decide whether you are exclusive can happen any time from the first date to weeks later when you have been dating regularly but are both wary of commitment. No two couples are the same, and we all want different things at different times in our lives.
‘Forget about ‘three date rules’ or timeframes for commitment dictated by society and just do what you feel is right for you. Hopefully that conversation will evolve naturally between the both of you because you are having such a great time together, but if it doesn’t, here are some good tips about establishing healthy parameters and establishing exclusivity with a partner who might be more wary of settling down.
‘Rule number 1 – do it in person. Text or email is not the way to communicate what is a vital step in your relationship. All tone is lost over text and crucial non-verbal cues will be missed. Text also leaves lots of room for misinterpretation.
‘Rule number 2 – frame the conversation in a way that makes you feel comfortable. You don’t have to go in all guns blazing, laying a clear plan about how you see the relationship developing. But do be honest about how you feel and what you want from your partner as things develop.
‘Rule number 3 – go in with a good idea of what you are hoping to get out of it and, unless there’s a good reason don’t change your goal posts or lower your bar.
‘Rule number 4 – set your own time frame. You’ll know when you are ready to go exclusive but you have to appreciate that your partner may need to go at a different pace.’
What Annabelle also says is that you should be prepared to get ghosted, as some people can scare easily. If that does happen, though, it’s a perfect indication that they weren’t on your level. Better to be single than waiting for a sign that’s never going to come.
Metro IllustrationsMetro IllustrationsjessicacvlDating stages picture; Ella Byworth for metro.co.ukMeet the women who lie about their age on dating apps(Illustration: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
Meet Dream the corgi – she is a dog that really lives up to her name.
When her owner Nicky Logie’s cat died six days after giving birth to five little kittens, Dream really stepped up.
The orphaned kittens were still tiny and with no one to look after them, they were pretty vulnerable.
But Dream took them under her paw – licking and comforting them, helping them to thrive.
Nicky explained: ‘I immediately went to vet to get milk replacer and started feeding the five kittens but it was a struggle and they weren’t going to the toilet afterwards.
‘Dream was intrigued and watched the whole morning. Then she came over and pushed my arm and put herself between the kitten and me. She started licking the kitten and immediately he urinated.
‘I fed them every two hours and Dream was always there to lick them. They started to recognise her smell and got excited when she was near. She would also jump into their bed and lie with them, comforting them if they cried.
‘She helped with weaning them and cleaned them just like their mum would have.’
When the kittens were big enough to go to new homes, the Logies decided that they couldn’t let them all go and they should keep one, who they named Spruce.
Nicky added: ‘After all her hard work, we couldn’t let them all go so Dream got to keep a kitten! Her and Spruce still spend all their time together and sleep with each other.’
And although the kittens are now fully grown, Dream’s mothering instinct didn’t stop there.
Nicky also recently had a litter of puppies from one of her other dogs and as soon as the mum allowed Dream near them she was right in cleaning and cuddling the puppies.
Dream is now due to compete at Crufts next week from 7-10 March.
Nicky, who has been competing at the dog show event for over 20 years, and her daughter Erin hope that the judges will recognise how special she is.
Dog becomes mum to six kittensDog becomes mum to six kittenslauraabernethy6Dog becomes mum to six kittens Provider: Nicky LogieDog becomes mum to six kittens Provider: Nicky Logie
A duck who was born with a bad left leg can now waddle around thanks to a specially-tailored wheelchair.
Merlin, a domestic duck, was adopted by Goats of Anarchy Sanctuary in Annandale, New Jersey, in November 2018.
Unfortunately, he was immobile due to a birth defect in his leg.
The sanctuary contacted Walkin’ Pets, a business which designs and fits disabled pets with nifty wheelchairs in Amherst, New Hampshire.
Engineers worked to modify the company’s mini wheelchair model, usually used for cats and dogs, to help accommodate Merlin’s physique.
Now, Merlin can finally walk around with his own special wheelchair, and he couldn’t be happier.
Mark Robinson, who founded Walkin’ Pets in 2001, said: ‘I was thrilled my company was able to help a handicapped duck, our first one ever.’
Merlin was fitted with his new wheels on 8 February and the moment was captured on camera by Walkin’ Pets’ Social Media Coordinator Mikayla Feehan.
Mikayla said: ‘We took a road trip to New Jersey earlier this month to visit Goats of Anarchy, who rescue disabled animals.
‘Merlin was born with an injured leg and they reached out to us to fit him with a wheelchair.
‘We have never made one for a duck so one of our engineers adjusted a mini quad wheelchair just for him.
‘Watching him take his first steps was really cool.
‘Once he was all rigged up, it was truly amazing.
‘It’s not every day you get to see animals take their first steps.
‘The wheelchair can go into water we would just recommend avoiding salt water to keep the wheelchair in tip top shape.’
‘She added: ‘To see Merlin taking his first steps in that wheelchair really warmed my heart.’
Children’s capacity to love and accept everyone, in ways that adults sometimes forget, is surprising and humbling.
One little girl, only seven years old, who decided to learn sign language to be able to converse with deaf children has performed a whole song with her new skill.
Jessica Deegan wanted to be inclusive in a new talent show competition as part of her school in West Lothian, Scotland.
Jessica, who is not deaf and has been learning sign at school, performed uplifting song This is Me from the hit musical The Greatest Showman.
And she moved the audience and judges to tears so much that she ended up winning the competition.
Proud dad Michael Deegan, 28, posted the clip of his daughter on Twitter and received more than 1,700 retweets and 14,000 likes.
‘Jessica likes to play with everybody and include others in the group – it shows everyone how much of a caring child she is,’ he said.
‘She cares for everyone and wanted to involve something that includes other people and lets others enjoy something different.
‘She had been practising for a couple of weeks before she had to put her entry in.
‘She was really confident with no nerves and looked forward to it.
‘The family that went along knew what was happening but apart from that no one else knew.
‘Everyone was getting drawn into it and emotionally attached to it – the place went silent.
‘She only had a minute and a half then everybody jumped up in a roar.
‘One of the judges said it brought tears to their eyes while watching it. She’s had a lot of support and messages since.
Michael, a customer resolution analyst, hopes Jessica will continue to learn sign language, which he believes could benefit her further down the line.
He said: ‘I’m hoping she does keep it up, she’s enjoying it and I’m hoping the school continue to offer it.
‘But if they don’t then I will speak to her and if she wants to continue it I will try and find her a tutor.
‘I know myself it would be something very useful for her going into a working environment.’
Michael said the response from family, friends and online has been ‘overwhelming’.
We wonder what other songs Jessica will cover next.
Every so often one of these jobs-of-a-lifetime comes up. Get paid to eat Doritos and watch The Wire or Get paid to test hoverboards in Hawaii, for example.
With these, there’s always a catch – and rightly so given the brilliant perks you’ll get.
The most recent of these has a catch that could actually be the start of a brilliant friendship or love story, as a tour operator are paying two people to travel the world – just on the condition they’ve both never met before.
Tour Radar and Intrepid Travel are looking for a pair of people obsessed with wanderlust and who aren’t too worried about getting filmed as part of their promotional video.
The lucky two will get an all expenses paid trip of a lifetime, worth more than $22,000 per person in return. The trip will feature five different countries; each on a different continent, but the specifics are a surprise until you go.
It’ll take 50 days to complete your tour filled with all-inclusive experiences, so you and your new travel buddy will likely have made best pals by the time it comes to an end.
To be in with a chance, you have to send a 2-minute video application to the travel companies showing why you’re one of the people for the job.
On the website, Tour Radar state: ‘Serious bonus points will be awarded to anyone who manages to make themselves stand out from the crowd. We’re thinking: public places. A big spectacle. All the bells and whistles. It’s up to you. But the bigger your voice, the more we’d love to meet you.’
From there – and on the proviso that you have the biggest voice – your application will be judged by three travel experts who will make the final decision.
If you want to reply, you can check out the FAQs here. Just make sure you tell your family and friends before you pick up sticks.
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