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

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    One of Keira's tarantulas (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    A nursing assistant has turned her two-bedroom house into a haven for her seven tarantulas and two snakes.

    31-year-old Keira Jarvis, who lives in Chester with her girlfriend, loves spiders and snakes.

    She said: ‘Forget cute and fluffy creatures, I had lizards and exotic fish as a child, but my mum would never allow me to have something like a spider or snake.

    ‘She was completely against it, however my dad was never bothered by the idea, as he loved more unusual creatures, like iguanas, and taught me how to love all animals, not just cats and dogs.

    ‘I never felt I needed to have a cuddly puppy. Instead, I was fascinated by tarantulas and how they act in nature – doing things like shedding their outer skin and getting bigger every time.

    ‘A King Charles Spaniel can’t do that.’

    Though she can’t take her spiders or snakes on a walk, Keira still plays with them and enjoys their company.

    She continued: ‘With the snakes, I get them out every day for about half an hour just so they get used to it. I stroke them and speak to them like any other pet.

    Keira with one of her tarantulas (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    ‘I only get the tarantulas out when I’m doing maintenance to their tanks. The tarantulas have sensitive hairs and can’t be stroked and it can make them feel threatened.’

    When Keira stopped living with her parents two years ago, she had the freedom to keep any pet she wanted.

    First she bought two tarantulas from The Spider Shop online for £10 each – which sends spiders hem to customers in secure plastic pots with air holes and tight sealing.

    But within two years of moving in to her new home, her collection had grown to seven, after her girlfriend Catherine bought her a ‘mystery spider box’ online for £30 for her birthday, on 1 August last year.

    ‘I said I was desperate to have more, so Catherine went back to the online shop, which send five mystery tarantulas in a box,’ explained Keira.

    ‘I knew she was getting me another tarantula, but I never expected to open the box and see five running around!

    ‘They come in the post, which terrifies a lot of people.

    ‘I wonder how the postman would feel if he knew what he was handling when he gave it to me that day.’

    Keira with one of her snakes (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    Now Keira is the proud owner of a colony of tarantulas, including a cobalt blue, named Nebula, a pinktoe, called Demi, a Brazilian black named Nyx, Miri, a Chilean gold burst, Orion, a Mexican Red Knee, Indi, a curly hair, and Cas, a purple bloom bird eater – which will grow to be at least 6 inches wide.

    Keira said: ‘The cobalt blue has venom that could potentially cause anaphylactic shock if you’re allergic to bee stings, but luckily I don’t have those allergies so I feel confident I’m ok.

    ‘I can recognise when they don’t want to be handled, like when Nebula rears up and puts his legs in the air. He shows his teeth and I know I shouldn’t interact with him.’

    As well as the tarantulas, which all live separately in their own tanks, Keira also has two snakes: Humbug, a black and white king snake and Wiggle, an orange, black and white milk snake, both 16 inches long.

    Both cost £40 – one from a pet shop in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in September 2018 and the other from a private seller in London in January 2019.

    The pets all live in her spare bedroom, where the snakes are kept warm by a lightbulb inside the tank during the day and a heated mat at night.

    While Catherine does not mind the snakes, Keira remembers a time when she was terrified of tarantulas.

    She recalled: ‘We’ve been together for three years and I told her very early on that I’d love to have tarantulas.

    ‘She seemed fairly okay about it, but she made it extremely clear that they wouldn’t be allowed near her!

    ‘She still never really deals with them and only tolerates them for me. She has drawn the line at having seven, but I know one day I’ll convince her to let me have more.’

    Keira added that many of her friends find them scary, too.

    She said: ‘I’m always questioned about them and why I would want them, but I don’t mind at all. I like to educate people and let them know that these kind of creatures aren’t as dangerous or aggressive as you might think from watching TV shows.’

    Keira has had better luck with her parents, who agreed to look after her spiders for a month in March 2018 while she and Catherine went travelling to Thailand.

    She said: ‘My dad came and picked them up from my house and we drove them for two hours to Aberystwyth, in Wales, where they now live.

    ‘I had one tank between my feet and one in the back seat. My dad didn’t seem to mind, and I tried not to worry about any accidents!’

    Keira's tarantula (PA Real Life/Collect)
    (Picture: PA Real Life)

    According to Keira, her mum locked them in a spare room and refused to be around them – leaving her dad to look after them.

    Still, despite other people’s reservations, Keira insists that tarantulas make excellent pets, as they do not need much care – only requiring food once every two weeks as well as needing water and for their uneaten mealworms to be cleared away.

    She said: ‘I feed them mealworms and crickets and make sure to keep their water topped up in their tanks.

    ‘I put soil in their tanks and small logs to replicate the environment they would have in the wild.

    ‘Meanwhile, for the snakes, I feed them two mice every five days, which I buy from a pet shop, for £20 for 100, and give them jungle scenery in their tanks which I bought as a big sheet and cut out to size – almost like wallpaper for them.

    ‘I suppose the only downside is when Catherine has to walk into the kitchen and see frozen mice defrosting on the side ready to be eaten!’

    Now Keira, who loves handling her snakes and doing photoshoots with her spiders, is determined to convince others that they make perfect pets.

    She said: ‘Everyone who thinks they’re an expert tries to claim that some of the tarantula species I own, like the cobalt blue, are aggressive, but the reality is that I have never been bitten or attacked by any of my pets.

    ‘I want to get more of these exotic animals and show everyone how they can be just as fulfilling and exciting as any other pet.’

    MORE: Disabled duck finally learns to walk using a special tiny wheelchair

    MORE: Selfridges will stop selling things made from exotic python, alligator, crocodile and lizard skins


    Nursing assistant turns two-bedroom house into a haven for her seven tarantulas and two snakesNursing assistant turns two-bedroom house into a haven for her seven tarantulas and two snakeshattiegladwellmetroOne of Keira's tarantulas (PA Real Life/Collect)Keira with one of her tarantulas (PA Real Life/Collect)Keira with one of her snakes (PA Real Life/Collect)Keira's tarantula (PA Real Life/Collect)Nursing assistant turns two-bedroom house into a haven for her seven tarantulas and two snakesNursing assistant turns two-bedroom house into a haven for her seven tarantulas and two snakeshattiegladwellmetroOne of Keira's tarantulas (PA Real Life/Collect)Keira with one of her tarantulas (PA Real Life/Collect)Keira with one of her snakes (PA Real Life/Collect)Keira's tarantula (PA Real Life/Collect)

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    (Picture: SWNS)

    A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage people to drop their smartphones and engage with the world.

    The video follows a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by.

    A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies.

    But then reality sets in, and the same guy is seen glued to his phone, so much so that he doesn’t even notice the girl.

    We then find out that the whole romantic connection was nothing but a fantasy.

    The video was created by Amir Zakeri, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time.

    ‘I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,’ said Amir, who stars in the video.

    ‘Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time.

    Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker, and lives in Oahu, Hawaii, continued: ‘I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.

    A montage shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone. See SWNS story SWNYaddict; A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage us to drop our smartphones and engage with the people around us. The video depicts a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by. A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone, so intensely that he doesn?t even notice the girl. Viewers then discover that the entire romantic connection was only a fantasy. The idea was conceived by Amir Zakeri, a Kansas City native, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time. ?I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,? said Amir, who stars in the video. ?Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time,? added Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. ?I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.
    (Picture: Amir Zakeri / SWNS)

    ‘They were so interesting and I came away feeling incredibly uplifted. It made me so thankful that my phone had died that day.

    ‘Then I started thinking, what about all the times I was travelling and my phone didn’t die, how many thousands of missed connections were there?

    ‘Then I started getting worried, thinking ‘oh my gosh, have I missed out on the love of my life just through being on my phone?”

    From that day forward Amir vowed to wean himself off his smartphone addiction and spend more time communicating with people in the real world.

    A montage shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone. See SWNS story SWNYaddict; A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage us to drop our smartphones and engage with the people around us. The video depicts a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by. A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone, so intensely that he doesn?t even notice the girl. Viewers then discover that the entire romantic connection was only a fantasy. The idea was conceived by Amir Zakeri, a Kansas City native, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time. ?I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,? said Amir, who stars in the video. ?Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time,? added Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. ?I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.
    (Picture: Amir Zakeri / SWNS)

    ‘I have noticed such a positive difference,’ said Amir, who is yet to meet the love of his life.

    ‘I’ve had loads more interactions with people of all ages, men, women, kids.

    ‘I haven’t met the love of my life yet, but I’ve definitely spoken with a lot more people, but sometimes they look at me like ‘why are you talking to me?’

    ‘Because these days everyone is on their phone so much, they’re shocked if someone tries to talk with them.

    A montage shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone. See SWNS story SWNYaddict; A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage us to drop our smartphones and engage with the people around us. The video depicts a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by. A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone, so intensely that he doesn?t even notice the girl. Viewers then discover that the entire romantic connection was only a fantasy. The idea was conceived by Amir Zakeri, a Kansas City native, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time. ?I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,? said Amir, who stars in the video. ?Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time,? added Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. ?I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.
    (Picture: Amir Zakeri / SWNS)

    ‘We get so caught up in social media and on our phones that we don’t realise what we have in front of us.

    ‘Social media only makes us aware of what we don’t have.’

    The video was shot in Alberta, Canada earlier this month. Amir’s brother Alexander Zakeri, 25, created the music and his love interest is played by a friend Eva Gutowski.

    ‘I love Alberta, it’s so beautiful and it’s one of few places in the world where people have a real connection with nature and with each other, on a human level,’ said Amir.

    MORE: Four-year-old twins become fashion designers and create their own clothes for Target

    MORE: A £13.49 Lidl whisky has been voted the best Scotch in the world


    SMARTPHONE ADDICT - A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage people to drop their smartphones - and engage with the worldSMARTPHONE ADDICT - A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage people to drop their smartphones - and engage with the worldhattiegladwellmetroA montage shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone. See SWNS story SWNYaddict; A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage us to drop our smartphones and engage with the people around us. The video depicts a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by. A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone, so intensely that he doesn?t even notice the girl. Viewers then discover that the entire romantic connection was only a fantasy. The idea was conceived by Amir Zakeri, a Kansas City native, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time. ?I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,? said Amir, who stars in the video. ?Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time,? added Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. ?I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.A montage shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone. See SWNS story SWNYaddict; A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage us to drop our smartphones and engage with the people around us. The video depicts a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by. A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone, so intensely that he doesn?t even notice the girl. Viewers then discover that the entire romantic connection was only a fantasy. The idea was conceived by Amir Zakeri, a Kansas City native, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time. ?I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,? said Amir, who stars in the video. ?Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time,? added Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. ?I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.A montage shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone. See SWNS story SWNYaddict; A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage us to drop our smartphones and engage with the people around us. The video depicts a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by. A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone, so intensely that he doesn?t even notice the girl. Viewers then discover that the entire romantic connection was only a fantasy. The idea was conceived by Amir Zakeri, a Kansas City native, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time. ?I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,? said Amir, who stars in the video. ?Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time,? added Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. ?I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.SMARTPHONE ADDICT - A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage people to drop their smartphones - and engage with the worldSMARTPHONE ADDICT - A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage people to drop their smartphones - and engage with the worldhattiegladwellmetroA montage shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone. See SWNS story SWNYaddict; A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage us to drop our smartphones and engage with the people around us. The video depicts a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by. A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone, so intensely that he doesn?t even notice the girl. Viewers then discover that the entire romantic connection was only a fantasy. The idea was conceived by Amir Zakeri, a Kansas City native, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time. ?I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,? said Amir, who stars in the video. ?Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time,? added Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. ?I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.A montage shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone. See SWNS story SWNYaddict; A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage us to drop our smartphones and engage with the people around us. The video depicts a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by. A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone, so intensely that he doesn?t even notice the girl. Viewers then discover that the entire romantic connection was only a fantasy. The idea was conceived by Amir Zakeri, a Kansas City native, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time. ?I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,? said Amir, who stars in the video. ?Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time,? added Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. ?I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.A montage shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone. See SWNS story SWNYaddict; A 22-year-old man has made an inspiring video to encourage us to drop our smartphones and engage with the people around us. The video depicts a young man who catches the eye of a pretty girl as she is walking by. A montage then shows the couple enjoying their lives together, amid the scenic vistas of the Canadian Rockies. But bleak reality comes crashing down at the end, when the same man is pictured glued to his smartphone, so intensely that he doesn?t even notice the girl. Viewers then discover that the entire romantic connection was only a fantasy. The idea was conceived by Amir Zakeri, a Kansas City native, whose personal experience led him to suddenly become fearful of how many connections he might have missed because of his excessive screen time. ?I was taking a long bus journey in Japan last November when my phone battery died,? said Amir, who stars in the video. ?Normally I would have spent the whole bus journey on my phone, working, trying to be productive, but when it died I had no choice but to find another way to kill the time,? added Amir, who works as an independent filmmaker and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. ?I ended up talking with this old couple for hours and it was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.

    0 0

    (Picture: Rezma Rahman/ Faima Bakar)

    We all want to travel. If you’re lucky, you might get the time off work, save just enough money to book that much-needed adventure to a distant sunny land.

    But then, a crisis hits: your travel buddies pull out.

    So what do you do? Do you embark on the journey alone or curse your friends and close the Skyscanner website because you don’t want to be alone?

    As women especially, we might find the prospect of travelling solo daunting. After all, the horror stories of women being killed abroad and lists of the most dangerous places to visit if you’re a woman hardly inspire confidence.

    But if you push away the fears and book a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go to, you’ll find just how liberating solo travel can be.

    Solo travelling is something I ventured a few years ago, starting off small in Switzerland, Europe.

    I then decided to go full YOLO and travel to Japan by myself. I chose to stop waiting around for my friends and do something for myself. And it was brilliant.

    At the risk of sounding like inspirational words on a tote bag, you’re braver than you think, and you can do it too.

    Ladies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Credit: Faima Bakar
    I randomly booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia recently and loved it (Picture: Faima Bakar)

    If you’re the kind of person who enjoys their own company, solo travelling is for you. If you’re the kind of person who worries about being alone, solo travelling is for you, too. Because by the end of the trip, you’ll be so accustomed to marching to the beat of your own drum and doing whatever the hell you like, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

    Travel connoisseur Rezma Rahman, who left her BBC job at the age of 21 to travel through Asia (and then the rest of the world) met so many great people, she ended up opening her own hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam.

    Ladies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel?
    Rezma met backpackers Lily and Stu and opened up their own hostel – See you at Lily’s (Picture: Rezma Rahman)

    ‘I have met some of my best friends on the road,’ she told Metro.co.uk.

    ‘I’ve done things I normally wouldn’t have ever done, even little things like eating jellyfish in Indonesia or eating bugs in Thailand! When you travel solo you have a chance to fully immerse yourself into the cultures.

    ‘I wasn’t too scared, I think people who had barely travelled put more fear into me than everything.

    ‘I was anxious about meeting new people, making friends. Would I get lonely? Would I enjoy my own company?

    ‘But that’s what’s so special and important about travelling solo – you figure out all those things and you figure out that you might like to spend your mornings by yourself and with others later in the afternoon to explore.

    ‘Stories and experiences you have with local people [are what] I value most when I travel. Jumping on the back of someone’s moped and having them take you around their small town, showing you their favourite food, meeting their friends and so on, it’s so special.’

    Travel connoisseur Rezma Rahman has been travelling solo for six years
    Rezma has been travelling solo for the last six years (Picture Rezma Rahman)

    But of course, travelling alone as a woman has its dark side. For women of colour, like black women, it can be especially difficult.

    Rezma has had her fair share of scary experiences.

    ‘Terrible things have happened but you get past it. I’ve been spiked twice, in western bars.

    ‘I had a guy follow me into the bathroom and refused to move away from the door and let me out.

    ‘Luckily both times I was at a hostel bar and the bar had it on CCTV. I rarely leave my drink alone now.’

    Rezma adds that after a certain point, you learn to become travel savvy, picking up tips and learning about your preferences and abilities.

    I learned that my sense of location was better than I thought – I could navigate myself back to my hotel whether on foot or by public transport without needing to use a map.

    Ladies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Credit: Faima Bakar
    When you’re alone, people might try to rip you off, but Googgle is your friend, use it for the best ways to get to tourist attractions. I paid under £2 for this attraction (Picture: Faima Bakar)

    In some places being a woman of colour can also help you go incognito if you look like the locals or speak the language.

    You can make life easy for yourself by downloading all the right apps and reading plenty of travel blogs to see the best way to save money and find luscious spots. YouTube videos also help if you want to visualise where you’re going.

    If you think you’ll need the internet, you can buy a sim with data at the airport or buy your own pocket wifi.

    Top ten places for female solo travel

    These are some long-haul trips that have been deemed safe and fun by various online communities:

    1. Canada
    2. New Zealand
    3. America
    4. Japan (most peaceful)
    5. Australia
    6. Uruguay (low crime rates)
    7. Chile (low crime rates)
    8. Singapore
    9. Malaysia
    10. Indonesia

    Rezma recommends joining Facebook groups too, such as Girls Love Travel, for advice, recommendations or a pep talk. She also encourages using currency and taxi apps to get around. Apps such as Citymapper, Meetup, and MINDBODY can also help to get by and find things to do in your community and find like-minded individuals.

    If you want to see what’s on offer in your vicinity, you can also use Klook to see excursions available.

    Ladies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Credit: rezma rahman
    If you’ve done solo trips to nearby places, it might be time to make the jump to long-haul trips (Picture: Rezma Rahman)

    And if you’re the kind of person who needs Insta worthy pics (like me) remember that strangers are infinite. If one of them does a terrible job of getting your angles (and they will) wait for them to disappear and the next most friendly looking person to appear (it helps if you guide them a little too).

    Offer to take pics of people struggling to take theirs and more often than not, they will return the favour.

    Once you decide on a place, you’ll be so busy planning it, you’ll probably end up being too busy to be scared by it. Once you get there, it’s all about knowing your next move, or not if you want a super chill holiday.

    The point is, you’re in charge. You control how many friends you want to make, who to talk to, where to go and how long to spend there.

    And the best part? You get to choose who you want to be, whether that’s a hermit or a badass b*tch with no regard for rest or visiting museums.

    So go on, open that Skyscanner app.

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘I am a survivor of things that are known to break other people’

    MORE: TripAdvisor’s best hotel in the world lets you go on walks with sloths in Costa Rica

    MORE: Why so many influencers are getting therapy


    Ladies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel?Ladies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel?faimabakar1Ladies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Credit: Faima BakarLadies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Travel connoisseur Rezma Rahman has been travelling solo for six yearsLadies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Credit: Faima BakarLadies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Credit: rezma rahmanLadies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel?Ladies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel?faimabakar1Ladies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Credit: Faima BakarLadies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Travel connoisseur Rezma Rahman has been travelling solo for six yearsLadies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Credit: Faima BakarLadies, why are we so afraid of long-haul solo travel? Credit: rezma rahman

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    (Picture: ASOS/SplashNews)

    You might remember the Duchess of Cambrdige’s stunning Alexander McQueen dress at the Baftas.

    The white asymmetrical dress was beautiful – but it cost thousands.

    Let’s face it, most of us can’t afford that sort of price tag.

    But now you can recreate that look for just £65.

    Online store ASOS is selling a flowing gown with a one shoulder design in a variety of shapes and fits.

    The dress comes in mink, navy or blue.

    There’s a tall, petite and curve version so everyone has the chance to recreate the Duchess of Cambridge’s look.

    With a one shoulder effect, tulle skirt and waist band, it’s pretty similar to Kate’s dress.

    Asos is selling a ??65 dupe of Kate Middleton's BAFTA dress https://www.asos.com/search/?page=1&q=one%20shoulder%20tulle%20maxi&scrollTo=product-9228230
    (Picture: ASOS)

    Although missing a flower on the shoulder, you could add a flower in a similar colour for a true copycat design.

    According to ASOS, the dress has an open back and pleated design.

    They added that you can ‘be the best-dressed guest’ and said it’s ‘perfect for twirling.’

    Kate accessorised with court shoes, a white clutch bag and a pair of earrings that once belonged to her mother-in-law Princess Diana.

    You can either keep in simple like the Duchess or go for something a bit more unique.

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    ASOS Kate BAFTAASOS Kate BAFTAlauraabernethy6Asos is selling a ??65 dupe of Kate Middleton's BAFTA dress https://www.asos.com/search/?page=1&q=one%20shoulder%20tulle%20maxi&scrollTo=product-9228230ASOS Kate BAFTAASOS Kate BAFTAlauraabernethy6Asos is selling a ??65 dupe of Kate Middleton's BAFTA dress https://www.asos.com/search/?page=1&q=one%20shoulder%20tulle%20maxi&scrollTo=product-9228230

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra is promoting period positivity on Instagram. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / Laurie Marie
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Laurie Marie)

    Sex and story coach Demetra Nyx, 26, spent years being embarrassed of menstruating.

    Now, she loves her period. So much that she likes to smear her menstrual fluids over her face to help her connect with her body.

    Demetra wants to show everyone that periods are ‘beautiful’ and ‘powerful’, and does so by sharing photos of her body and face covered in period blood.

    But let’s go back to the beginning.

    Warning: The below images do indeed show period blood, so you may not wish to scroll onwards if you are of a delicate disposition. 

    Demetra had her first period at 12. Throughout her teens she viewed menstruating as something disgusting and embarrassing, hiding her period from her boyfriends and often worrying about period stains.

    At 20 years old Demetra had a copper IUD fitted for contraceptive purposes. She began to experience painful, heavy periods that would leave her confined to her bed for the first two days of every cycle. That’s not an experience that will leave you feeling particularly ‘period positive’.

    A year later she had the IUD removed and started to track her cycle and use condoms while ovulating instead.

    This helped her to feel more in tune with her body and start to embrace her period as a wonderful thing.

    Using menstrual cups, Demetra started to explore her menstrual fluids after collecting them. Soon she was applying the blood to her body and face, and sharing photos online to encourage others to embrace their periods.

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra with her blood on her face. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx)

    Demetra says: ‘Our society teaches us that periods are dirty and inconvenient. Ads about menstrual products talk about smelling ‘fresh’ or making us cleaner, implying that our bodies’ natural functions are gross.

    ‘Women who complain about cramps are seen as weak and pathetic, even sometimes by other women – we’re expected to suck it up and basically pretend it doesn’t exist.

    ‘In the US, we have a president who negatively described a woman as having ‘blood coming out of her whatever.’ It’s a belief that’s forced upon us.

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra no longer wants women to feel ashamed of their periods. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx)

    ‘My work as a sex coach largely focuses on where we hold our stories in our bodies. What society taught us about ourselves, what we learned about being women, assaults we may have experienced, what we learned our bodies are capable of during sex.

    ‘We hold so much shame in our bodies, and most of us do not realise it until we intentionally explore it. Our periods are an incredibly magical time of month that holds immense power, and our society keeps us away from that as much as possible.

    ‘Sharing pictures of blood on my face and body was just an impulse – I was creating a series to help women connect with their menstrual cycle, and I thought it would be fun.

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra wants to show women that their periods are beautiful. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx)

    ‘We can also do things like paint with it or pour it into the earth. I believe it’s a beautiful thing to get comfortable with touching your own blood.’

    The response to Demetra’s period blood photos has been mixed.

    Some have thanked her for breaking the taboo of periods, while others have compared her acts to wiping faeces on her face.

    Thankfully, Demetra isn’t bothered by the negative comments, instead seeing them as further proof of the need for open conversation around human bodies.

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra creates art inspired by her period using her blood. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx
    Demetra also creates paintings using her blood (Picture: MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx)

    She says: ‘There is a tremendous amount of power in learning that we can experience pleasure from the parts of our bodies we deem in society as ‘disgusting’.

    ‘If we can love the unlovable, all of life opens up to us. We spend a lot of time learning to control our bodies; instead I believe in learning from our bodies.

    ‘My blood to me has become fun, beautiful, and powerful, and playing with it brings me closer to myself.

    ‘Something I get a lot is women saying, ‘I was so triggered by your period posts at first, but eventually I became inspired, and now I love my cycle too’. I receive a lot of DMs on Instagram of women with their blood all over themselves. They just don’t feel as comfortable to share it publicly.

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra makes sure she honours her period. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx)

    ‘A really common comment I get is, ‘oh, you should just wipe poop all over your face then, it’s the same thing’. I also heard from friends and family that it was ‘weird’ and ‘disgusting’, and some people didn’t talk to me because of it.

    ‘That encourages me to keep posting them – if it wasn’t having a necessary impact, people wouldn’t be so bothered by it.

    ‘I receive way more positive comments than negative. I think women are at a point where we really want to be able to love our bodies and bring these taboo topics out into the light. It amazes me how uncomfortable we are with sharing our full selves with the world, and I want to be a messenger for that.’

    To anyone self-conscious about their period, Demetra has some words of wisdom.

    ‘I think it begins by recognising that our disgust towards our bodies is not innate – it is a learned societal behaviour,’ she explains.

    ‘Our bodies want to protect us, and when we learn that having a certain view might get us rejected socially, we do everything we can to prevent that from happening. But since it’s learned, we can unlearn it.

    ‘It can begin with just tracking your cycle or using a menstrual cup to collect your blood. No one has to put their blood on their face, though it’s seemed pretty liberating for women who have.’

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    Period Blood PridePeriod Blood PrideellencscottLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra is promoting period positivity on Instagram. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / Laurie MarieLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra with her blood on her face. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyxLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra no longer wants women to feel ashamed of their periods. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyxLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra wants to show women that their periods are beautiful. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyxLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra creates art inspired by her period using her blood. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyxLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra makes sure she honours her period. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyxPeriod Blood PridePeriod Blood PrideellencscottLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra is promoting period positivity on Instagram. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / Laurie MarieLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra with her blood on her face. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyxLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra no longer wants women to feel ashamed of their periods. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyxLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra wants to show women that their periods are beautiful. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyxLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra creates art inspired by her period using her blood. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyxLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA: Demetra makes sure she honours her period. THIS WOMAN spent years being embarrassed of her period but now sees it as a ???magical??? time to connect with herself and shares pictures of her menstrual blood smeared over her FACE AND BODY to show that periods are ???beautiful??? and ???powerful??? even though some people have compared it to ???poop??? and stopped speaking to her because of it. Sex and story coach, Demetra Nyx (26) from Los Angeles, California, USA, had her first period when she was 12-years-old but never experienced pain with it until her twenties. Through her teens Demetra felt embarrassed of her time of the month, something which she viewed as disgusting, and would try to hide it from boyfriends whilst being paranoid that blood would stain through her clothes or onto sheets when she was sleeping. When she was 20, Demetra had the copper IUD fitted for contraception purposes as the pill wasn???t suitable for her after it gave her panic attacks and reduced her libido. After it was fitted, Demetra started to experience very painful, heavy periods that would leave her bed bound for the first two days of her cycle. A year later, she had the IUD removed after partially pulling it out whilst using a menstrual cup and started to track her cycle using fertility awareness methods and using condoms whilst ovulating instead. Demetra started to feel more in tune with her cycle and grew to love her period and started to play with and explore her blood after collecting it, something she says has helped her become closer to herself by being able to love something that society considers disgusting. Since this, Demetra has been inspiring women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods by posting inspirational pictures of her blood smeared over her face and body to show that menstruation is a thing of beauty and power that should be honoured and celebrated. MDWfeatures / @demetra_nyx

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    Cadbury hiring hocolate tasters A woman eats a piece of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate at a store in London, U.K., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. Kraft Foods Inc., the world's second-largest food maker, may have to increase its 9.8 billion-pound ($16 billion) bid for confectioner Cadbury Plc by today's deadline to keep its takeover attempt alive, investors said. Photographer: Frantzesco Kangaris/Bloomberg
    (Picture: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

    If you love chocolate, this could be your dream job.

    Mondelēz International, the company that owns Cadbury, Oreo, Green & Blacks and Milka, is looking for chocolate tasters.

    Four successful applicants will be paid £10.75 to eat chocolate all day at their base in Wokingham, Berkshire.

    The job advertisement, posted on their website, says candidates must have a few essential skills.

    What skills do you need to become a chocolate taster?

    Apparently, no experience is required as ‘full training will be provided to develop your taste buds and the specific vocabulary required to communicate your opinions’ but they have asked for a few things:

    • A passion for confectionary and taste buds for detection
    • Honesty when it comes to giving opinion
    • Eager to try new inventive products
    • A communicative personality to build great relationships with your panel
    • A firm grasp of the English Language
    • They add that you will be required to test products that contain gluten, nuts and dairy so if you are intolerant to any of those things, this won’t be the job for you.
    Cadbury hiring hocolate tasters BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: A general view of the main entrance at the Cadbury's Bournville production plant on December 15, 2009 in Birmingham, England. The historic confectioner is facing a hostile bid from food company Kraft. Workers and members of the union Unite held a meeting today and urged shareholders to resist selling up and to keep the company in British hands. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
    (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    What does being a chocolate taster involve?

    Successful applicants will work alongside the team of 11 other tasters and a panel leader, sharing opinions and collaborating with others to reach an agreement on taste.

    It is a part-time position with tasters working shifts of either 7.5 hours Tuesday-Thursday 12.15pm-2.45pm; 8 hours Monday-Thursday 3pm-5pm or 8 hours Monday-Thursday 10am-12pm on a weekly ongoing basis.

    Responsibilities include tasting products and giving honest feedback, sharing your opinions and working with the team to agree on the taste, and knowing the ethical and legal compliance responsibilities of the position.

    As well as a daily supply of chocolate, the company offers benefits like a bonus scheme, contributory pension, life assurance, generous holiday allowance and a flexible benefits programme.

    But they are expecting a high number of applicants so if you think it’s the job for you, get your application in quickly.

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    Bars of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Ahead of the Kraft BidBars of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Ahead of the Kraft Bidlauraabernethy6Cadbury hiring hocolate tasters A woman eats a piece of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate at a store in London, U.K., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. Kraft Foods Inc., the world's second-largest food maker, may have to increase its 9.8 billion-pound ($16 billion) bid for confectioner Cadbury Plc by today's deadline to keep its takeover attempt alive, investors said. Photographer: Frantzesco Kangaris/BloombergCadbury hiring hocolate tasters BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: A general view of the main entrance at the Cadbury's Bournville production plant on December 15, 2009 in Birmingham, England. The historic confectioner is facing a hostile bid from food company Kraft. Workers and members of the union Unite held a meeting today and urged shareholders to resist selling up and to keep the company in British hands. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)Bars of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Ahead of the Kraft BidBars of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Ahead of the Kraft Bidlauraabernethy6Cadbury hiring hocolate tasters A woman eats a piece of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate at a store in London, U.K., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. Kraft Foods Inc., the world's second-largest food maker, may have to increase its 9.8 billion-pound ($16 billion) bid for confectioner Cadbury Plc by today's deadline to keep its takeover attempt alive, investors said. Photographer: Frantzesco Kangaris/BloombergCadbury hiring hocolate tasters BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: A general view of the main entrance at the Cadbury's Bournville production plant on December 15, 2009 in Birmingham, England. The historic confectioner is facing a hostile bid from food company Kraft. Workers and members of the union Unite held a meeting today and urged shareholders to resist selling up and to keep the company in British hands. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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    (Picture: Getty)

    You could earn £500 an hour telling millionaires how to spend their money. Yes, really.

    A website dubbed ‘Amazon for millionaires’ has launched the world’s first millionaire concierge service for member of the public who become extreme wealthy very quickly.

    The service is launching after it was announced the National Lottery would be making 40 people in the UK ‘millionaires’ during this Friday’s Euromillions draw.

    The draw will be making 40 UK residents guaranteed millionaires, regardless of whether their numbers come up.

    The company is also looking for members of the public to add to its roster of concierges.

    HushHush.com is aiming the service at people who get rich fast, either through inheritance, sudden fame, or winning the lottery.

    Cropped shot of a customer making a card payment in a coffee shop
    (Picture: Getty)

    The job of the concierge will be to ‘hand-hold’ newly made millionaires through the initial stages of coming into the money.

    You’ll have to be on-call to help millionaires with whatever problems arise after they gain access to their money.

    You’ll also need to advise them on where to keep their money, and give guidance on investments, as well as what things they should buy first – such as a house or a car.

    As well as this, the person who gets the job will also have to advise on how to avoid freeloaders and gold diggers, and how to adjust to such a big lifestyle change.

    For each of the 40 Brits who become millionaires on Friday 1 March, HushHush.com is offering the service for free – in order to give all of them the best chance of making the most of their money.

    However, for ‘normal’ millionaires who need guidance on how to spend their money, the service is priced at around £1,000 per two hour consultation, meaning that for approved concierges, they could be earning up to £5,000 a day, dependent on how many clients they have.

    Man in a cafe shopping online with credit card
    (Picture: Getty)

    People interested in becoming a millionaire concierge will need to go through a rigorous selection process, and will be required to take part in a concierge guidance program, which will teach normal members of the public how to be a Millionaire Concierge.

    Aaron Harpin, HushHush.com founder said: ‘Too often we’ve seen people who come into extreme wealth waste it, and sometimes even find themselves in a worse position than they were before they earned their money. However, we’re hoping that with our service launch this won’t happen again.

    ‘When we saw the news that they were making 40 people in the UK millionaires on the 1 March we knew that we needed to do something to help the winners, who will inevitably face numerous challenges when they get their hands on their money.

    ‘When you come into wealth there are people from all walks of your life, old and new, who would love to be involved, and the job of our concierges is simply to make sure that each of those 40 people, and other millionaires from across the globe, make the right decisions.’

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    Earn ?50Earn £500 an hour telling millionaires how to spend their money0 an hour telling millionaires how to spend their moneyEarn ?50Earn £500 an hour telling millionaires how to spend their money0 an hour telling millionaires how to spend their moneyhattiegladwellmetroCropped shot of a customer making a card payment in a coffee shopMan in a cafe shopping online with credit cardEarn ?50Earn £500 an hour telling millionaires how to spend their money0 an hour telling millionaires how to spend their moneyEarn ?50Earn £500 an hour telling millionaires how to spend their money0 an hour telling millionaires how to spend their moneyhattiegladwellmetroCropped shot of a customer making a card payment in a coffee shopMan in a cafe shopping online with credit card

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    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    Content warning: the following article includes discussion on eating disorders, mental health illnesses and suicide.

    Last week, a story emerged of a woman who claims to have treated her anxiety by adopting a new diet as a fruitarian, as well as choosing to no longer drink water (side note: please keep drinking water).

    It raises interesting questions around the relationship between food and mental health, and how the two are connected – and whether it’s possible to improve symptoms by changing one’s diet.

    According to Deborah Colson, who is a cognitive nutritional therapist at Re:Cognition Health and a specialist in this area, there is ‘scientific evidence’ that your diet can influence neurological conditions.

    Adding essential brain foods can help lower inflammation and in turn, potentially improve mental health.

    ‘Many people lack the key essential fatty acid omega-3, which is a key component of the brain,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Along with omega-3, deficiencies of vitamin D are very common and both of these nutrients are highly anti-inflammatory. A clear link has emerged between raised levels of inflammation and mental health conditions including depression and anxiety.’

    Do note that while depression has been linked to those with a vitamin D deficiency, researchers have presented a conflicting view on anxiety disorders. Lack of nutrients such as magnesium and zinc have also been studied in relation to depression, and it’s suggested these may affect mental health.

    A report by the Mental Health Foundation called Feeding Minds, which looks at ‘the impact of food on mental health’ reflects Colson’s comments regarding fats and amino acids.

    The brain and its functions are built up directly by food, and the organ will respond to what you put in your body.

    According to the research, the so-called ‘dry weight’ of the brain comprises of 60% fat, meaning that the type of fats you choose to ingest will affect the brain’s structure and the cell membranes.

    What is cognitive fog/cognitive fatigue and how can you deal with it?
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Fatty acids, like those found in fish, nuts and plant oils, facilitate communication in brain neurons and are considered vital because these compounds aren’t produced by the human body – and make up 20% of the brain.

    It’s also perhaps the reason your parents encouraged you to drink a spoonful of fish oil every day when you were young.

    But it’s not just the brain you should look after.

    ‘Your state of mind is also closely linked to your gut as they use many of the same chemicals, meaning they communicate,’ Arun Thiyagarajan, medical director at Bupa Health Clinics, tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Wholegrains, vegetables, bananas, fresh fruit and green leafy vegetables are healthy gut foods containing vital nutrients that can positively impact your mood and feelings of anxiety, irritability and stress.

    ‘Improving your diet can help you feel more positive and energetic, while bringing clearer thinking and calmness – meaning a poor diet can have the opposite effect.

    ‘Think about how often you get your five a day; whether you’re eating good fats found in oily fish, yoghurt and milk; and whether you’re getting enough protein found in lean meats, eggs, cheese and soya products.’

    Which foods are linked to improved mental health?

    • N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: fish, fish oil, sea vegetables, flaxseed and walnuts
    • B vitamins particularly folate: dark green vegetables, liver, yeast extract
    • Vitamin D: full fat dairy, oily fish, eggs
    • Zinc: seafood, meat, legumes, nuts and seeds

    Source: Ghazal Abrishamchi

    For those of you who rely on caffeine to get through a busy work day, it’s worth noting that there are negative links between excessive intake of caffeine and anxiety and depression, too.

    ‘Caffeine is a common stimulant well-known for leading to poor quality sleep and feelings of anxiety and depression if it is relied upon too much’, said Arun.

    ‘As well as coffee and energy drinks, you find high amounts of caffeine in chocolate, so be wary of your intake.’

    However, there is some conflicting research in this area – a study from 2010 claims that lower levels of caffeine (under six cups per day) could have the opposite effect and provide ‘less depressive symptoms, fewer cognitive failures, and lower risk of suicide’.

    The mind’s relationship to food isn’t purely about what you eat.

    For people with eating disorders especially, the act of eating food can bring on anxiety in itself and these two illnesses are often interlinked.

    Similarly, people with emotionally charged eating habits such as binge eating or emotional overeating have a complex relationship with food that influences negative mind patterns.

    Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, lists depression and anxiety among psychological signs of overeating.

    Returning to foods, rather than eating in itself, registered nutritionist Ghazal Abrishamchi (who also owns a meditation studio) tells Metro.co.uk that there are some ingredients in particular thought to boost moods.

    Many of these contain tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin (also known as the ‘happiness hormone’).

    Good sources of tryptophan and Vitamin B6

    • Chicken
    • Tuna
    • Salmon
    • Shrimp
    • Beef liver
    • Dairy products
    • Lentils
    • Beans
    • Spinach
    • Carrots
    • Brown rice
    • Bran
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Wheat germ

    ‘The amino acid tryptophan is the building block of serotonin,’ Ghazal explains.

    ‘Presence of an enzyme, derived from vitamin B6 is critical to allow for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.

    ‘As such, both vitamin B6 and tryptophan are critical for serotonin synthesis and lack of tryptophan and B6 in the diet has been linked to depression.

    ‘Interestingly, a positive side-effect of consuming a tryptophan-rich diet is enhanced satiety and better quality sleep.’

    Evidently, there’s a strong connection between food and mental health, and there are ways to attempt to improve how you feel.

    However, do bare in mind that there are many factors that cause mental disorders and psychological stress – don’t rely purely on a new diet.

    As always, it’s best to talk to a medical or mental health professional before making significant lifestyle changes in relation to health.

    Need support?

    If you need support with mental health issues, you can contact Mind on 0300 123 3393 or alternatively call the Samaritans helpline on 116 123.

    For help or information on eating disorders, contact Beat on 0800 801 0677.

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    Chronic illness studyChronic illness studyallieabgarianWhat is cognitive fog/cognitive fatigue and how can you deal with it?Chronic illness studyChronic illness studyallieabgarianWhat is cognitive fog/cognitive fatigue and how can you deal with it?

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    (Picture: SWNS)

    A plot of land with planning permission to create Britain’s largest new home has gone on the market.

    St Johns House could one day be a 68,000ft mega-mansion with more than 80 rooms and the equivalent floor space as 60 average family houses.

    It will feature an enormous master suite occupying the entire top floor, a grand ballroom and even an underground car museum to house 50 cars.

    But at the moment it is just a plot of land with a large stone barn on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.

    CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. See SWNS story SWBRmansion; A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK???s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ???St Johns House??? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    Following a decade of work, planning permission was granted for the Palladian-style country house, which was designed by the world-renowned architect Robert Adam.

    The indoor sports complex will have a swimming pool, gym which overlooks the ballroom, leisure room, prep kitchen, bowling alley and a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.

    There will also be a formal dining room, music room, formal living room and a games room, all on an entertainment floor called the ‘Piano Nobile’.

    As well as this, there will also be two gate houses, a self-contained guest gazebo, guest lodge and five bay garage.

    CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK?s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ?St Johns House? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    Outside, the estate, which looks towards the Cotswolds, will have landscaped gardens, a tennis court and a second swimming pool.

    Savills is now looking for a buyer to snap up the land and build the country home or another similarly-sized mansion.

    The estate agent won’t reveal the price of the site, but it is thought to be available for around £20 million.

    Charles Elsmore-Wickens, from Savills, said: ‘I am not sure if there is anything else currently like this with consent in the UK.

    CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. See SWNS story SWBRmansion; A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK???s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ???St Johns House??? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘It is in an elevated position with far-reaching views across the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

    ‘The house has been designed by a renowned architect, Robert Adam, who has created something unique and with a global appeal.

    ‘It will be a stunning home to entertain in and you could keep a fleet of classic and supercars in the on-site museum.

    ‘You could land your private jet at Oxford airport and then take a short helicopter ride the house. This really is an outstanding opportunity for someone to build the house of their dreams.’

    CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. See SWNS story SWBRmansion; A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK???s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ???St Johns House??? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘Finding a site like this and getting planning permission is very rare and it would be difficult to replicate it. It will be an extraordinary modern country house.’

    When completed, a house of this size and grandeur in a stunning rural location could potentially sell for £60-70 million.

    However, if the site is bought by an owner occupier, they will pay £2.3 million in tax based on a potential £20 million price. They would also be exempt from paying VAT on building materials because it is a new build.

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    A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK?s largest and grandest new homeA plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK?s largest and grandest new homehattiegladwellmetroCGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. See SWNS story SWBRmansion; A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK???s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ???St Johns House??? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK?s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ?St Johns House? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. See SWNS story SWBRmansion; A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK???s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ???St Johns House??? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. See SWNS story SWBRmansion; A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK???s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ???St Johns House??? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK?s largest and grandest new homeA plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK?s largest and grandest new homehattiegladwellmetroCGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. See SWNS story SWBRmansion; A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK???s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ???St Johns House??? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK?s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ?St Johns House? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. See SWNS story SWBRmansion; A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK???s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ???St Johns House??? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.CGI model of the grand new home planned to be built in Ramsden in Oxfordshire. See SWNS story SWBRmansion; A plot of land in rolling English countryside is set to be transformed into the UK???s largest and grandest new home. With wide-ranging views towards the Cotswolds, ???St Johns House??? could one day be a 68,000 sq/ft mega-home the equivalent size of 60 family houses. It will have an incredible ballroom along with an underground car museum with space for 50 exotic motors. But at the moment it is just fields, with a number of outbuildings, on the edge of the village of Ramsden in Oxfordshire.

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    Have you ever looked at a wine bottle and really though about how it’s simply not very practical?

    Probably not, but it’s true. Circular bottles take up a lot of room.

    One company has found a solution, which doesn’t just mean you can get wine posted through your letter box (the dream, right?) but if everyone switched to these bottles, it could reduce carbon emissions.

    Garcon Wines, who produce the bottles, have produced a box that will hold 10 flat bottles – eight vertically and two horizontally – but the same box would only hold four round bottles of wine.

    This has been achievable as the Garçon Wines slimline bottle was specially designed so eight bottles in total width are the same length as one bottle tall and the width & depth of a single bottle is the same as the area around the bottleneck.

    This space saving per case means that a pallet loaded with 10 flat bottle cases could carry 1,040 bottles of wine in comparison with a standard pallet with 6 round, glass bottle
    cases which would carry just 456 bottles of wine.

    Flat wine bottles can save the planet Credit: Gar?on Wines
    (Picture: Garcon wines)

    They say that if the UK were to switch even half of their annual UK wine consumption of between 1.5 to 1.8 billion bottles to the new format flat wine bottles and flat bottle cases, we would use 85,000 fewer HGVs per year.

    Santiago Navarro, CEO & Co-Founder of Garçon Wines commented: ‘Current wine transit cases used to transport 6 or 12 bottles of wine are inefficient and ineffective resulting in unnecessarily costly logistics, excessive packaging, wasted resources and a grotesque carbon footprint.

    ‘This is because the bottles being used are not fit for purpose in a 21st century world of e-commerce, complex supply chains, a global world, and most importantly, climate change.

    ‘The problems stemming from an unsuitable primary pack – a 19th century wine bottle – are amplified into secondary packaging that is equally, or arguably excessively, unsuitable.

    ‘Excessive use of packaging at a time when we need to be more resource efficient is unsustainable. Furthermore, mitigating against climate change has become an existential necessity. Wine is a uniquely engaging product with a high emotional connection.

    ‘It, therefore, provides a unique platform from where to communicate a change in the way we do things to help mitigate against a climate change catastrophe and create a more sustainable economy.

    ‘The launch of our 10 Flat Bottle Case, to go with our multi award-winning flat wine bottle, will offer reductions in CO2 emissions and business costs never seen before.

    The impact of the flat wine bottle

    On an example consignment of 50,000 bottles of wine, the Garçon Wines flat wine bottle and accompanying 10 Flat Bottle Case would cut packaging costs for the case in half – from 10
    to 5p per bottle, saving over £2,600.

    From a transport perspective and for a consignment of the same size, the 10 Flat Bottle Case would significantly reduce the need for HGVs (heavy
    good vehicles which take a standard 24 pallets) from 5 HGVs to just 2.

    Reducing the need from 5 to 2 HGVs has a direct, positive impact on the reduction in carbon emissions and costs by at least 150%.

    Using data from a Loughborough University paper stating that a single HGV on average emits 1.5kgs of CO2/km, then the removal of 3 HGVs would cut 4.5kgs of CO2/km

    ‘It will make the industry more sustainable – creating a healthier planet, wealthier industry and happier world.

    ‘It will also hopefully inspire and motivate other industries to follow suit. In light of this, we are honoured to bring this ground-breaking innovation to the wine and packaging industries.’

    Garçon Wines’ flat wine bottles, made of 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) PET in the UK by RPC M&H Plastics, are 40% more spatially efficient than round, glass bottles when packed
    next to each other.

    The bottles are also 87% lighter than the average glass wine bottle, which could also help to reduce emissions from air travel.

    The 10 flat bottle case is being launched at Packaging Innovations Birmingham 2019 at the NEC on 27-28 February.

    MORE: Uber driver offers menu to let his customers choose what sort of trip they have

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    MORE: You could be paid £10.75 an hour to taste Cadbury and Oreo products


    Flat wine bottles can save the planetFlat wine bottles can save the planetlauraabernethy6Flat wine bottles can save the planet Credit: Gar?on WinesFlat wine bottles can save the planetFlat wine bottles can save the planetlauraabernethy6Flat wine bottles can save the planet Credit: Gar?on Wines

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    (Picture: Asda)

    Pancake day is next week, so it’s time to start planning: we’ll be going for the traditional lemon and sugar, but Nutella and banana is also a winner.

    But if you want to make your pancakes a little fun, Asda has released a pancake pan with a pug etched into it so you can create pug pancakes. We know, amazing.

    Following on from the sell-out unicorn and flamingo designs which were launched last year, Asda had teamed up with Tefal to bring us the pug version.

    ASDA Is Selling A Pug Frying Pan For Pancake Day And It's Flippin' Cute https://direct.asda.com/george/home-garden/pots-pans/tefal-puppy-dog-25cm-pancake-pan/050596768,default,pd.html?awc=2925_1551264128_1d63a5358c29981a6bc4bfc05717176c&awin_aff=78888_Skimlinks_Skimlinks_Sub+Networks&cgid=D26M08G08C12&cm_mmc=GEOR-aff-_-awin-_-Skimlinks-_-78888&cmpid=afc-_-GEOR-_-awin-_-78888-_%20-generic&cwc=afc&cwd=geo&cwf=pm&dclid=CKvU35rd2-ACFU3N3goduzYKUQ&promotype=Sub+Networks&source=2925
    (Picture: George/Asda)

    The pug design on the inside of the pan acts as a stencil so that you can shape your pancakes into a pup while they cook.

    The 25cm pancake pan costs £12 and features Tefal’s unique Thermospot system, turning red when the pan is at ideal temperature to start cooking your pancakes.

    And don’t worry about making a mess, as the pan is super easy to clean thanks to its Powerglide coating.

    ASDA Is Selling A Pug Frying Pan For Pancake Day And It's Flippin' Cute https://direct.asda.com/george/home-garden/pots-pans/tefal-puppy-dog-25cm-pancake-pan/050596768,default,pd.html?awc=2925_1551264128_1d63a5358c29981a6bc4bfc05717176c&awin_aff=78888_Skimlinks_Skimlinks_Sub+Networks&cgid=D26M08G08C12&cm_mmc=GEOR-aff-_-awin-_-Skimlinks-_-78888&cmpid=afc-_-GEOR-_-awin-_-78888-_%20-generic&cwc=afc&cwd=geo&cwf=pm&dclid=CKvU35rd2-ACFU3N3goduzYKUQ&promotype=Sub+Networks&source=2925
    (Picture: George/Asda)

    The product description reads: ‘This funny decorative pancake pan combines advanced features with an exclusive decor.

    ‘The Thermo-Spot system lets you know the ideal temperature to start cooking, for perfect results with total ease while the new easy-cleaning Powerglide coating provides longer extra glide.

    ‘Tefal Graphics is the perfect pancake pan to cook delicious golden pancakes with your children while having fun.’

    MORE: When is pancake day UK and why is it called Shrove Tuesday?

    MORE: Can changing your diet improve mental health problems?


    Pug panPug panhattiegladwellmetroASDA Is Selling A Pug Frying Pan For Pancake Day And It's Flippin' Cute https://direct.asda.com/george/home-garden/pots-pans/tefal-puppy-dog-25cm-pancake-pan/050596768,default,pd.html?awc=2925_1551264128_1d63a5358c29981a6bc4bfc05717176c&awin_aff=78888_Skimlinks_Skimlinks_Sub+Networks&cgid=D26M08G08C12&cm_mmc=GEOR-aff-_-awin-_-Skimlinks-_-78888&cmpid=afc-_-GEOR-_-awin-_-78888-_%20-generic&cwc=afc&cwd=geo&cwf=pm&dclid=CKvU35rd2-ACFU3N3goduzYKUQ&promotype=Sub+Networks&source=2925ASDA Is Selling A Pug Frying Pan For Pancake Day And It's Flippin' Cute https://direct.asda.com/george/home-garden/pots-pans/tefal-puppy-dog-25cm-pancake-pan/050596768,default,pd.html?awc=2925_1551264128_1d63a5358c29981a6bc4bfc05717176c&awin_aff=78888_Skimlinks_Skimlinks_Sub+Networks&cgid=D26M08G08C12&cm_mmc=GEOR-aff-_-awin-_-Skimlinks-_-78888&cmpid=afc-_-GEOR-_-awin-_-78888-_%20-generic&cwc=afc&cwd=geo&cwf=pm&dclid=CKvU35rd2-ACFU3N3goduzYKUQ&promotype=Sub+Networks&source=2925Pug panPug panhattiegladwellmetroASDA Is Selling A Pug Frying Pan For Pancake Day And It's Flippin' Cute https://direct.asda.com/george/home-garden/pots-pans/tefal-puppy-dog-25cm-pancake-pan/050596768,default,pd.html?awc=2925_1551264128_1d63a5358c29981a6bc4bfc05717176c&awin_aff=78888_Skimlinks_Skimlinks_Sub+Networks&cgid=D26M08G08C12&cm_mmc=GEOR-aff-_-awin-_-Skimlinks-_-78888&cmpid=afc-_-GEOR-_-awin-_-78888-_%20-generic&cwc=afc&cwd=geo&cwf=pm&dclid=CKvU35rd2-ACFU3N3goduzYKUQ&promotype=Sub+Networks&source=2925ASDA Is Selling A Pug Frying Pan For Pancake Day And It's Flippin' Cute https://direct.asda.com/george/home-garden/pots-pans/tefal-puppy-dog-25cm-pancake-pan/050596768,default,pd.html?awc=2925_1551264128_1d63a5358c29981a6bc4bfc05717176c&awin_aff=78888_Skimlinks_Skimlinks_Sub+Networks&cgid=D26M08G08C12&cm_mmc=GEOR-aff-_-awin-_-Skimlinks-_-78888&cmpid=afc-_-GEOR-_-awin-_-78888-_%20-generic&cwc=afc&cwd=geo&cwf=pm&dclid=CKvU35rd2-ACFU3N3goduzYKUQ&promotype=Sub+Networks&source=2925

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    Should we be worried about the unseasonably warm weather
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Record-breaking temperatures during winter months usually mean two things.

    Firstly, it’s all but a guarantee that Brits across the country will flock outside to catch some rays in a desperate attempt to collectively pretend they don’t live in the country known for its cold, miserable weather.

    Secondly, it raises concerns about the environment.

    Although we appreciate 20 degrees in late February as much as the next person, it’s important to explore where this unseasonably toasty weather has come from – and why.

    According to the Met Office, this particular temperature shift is likely influenced by something known as the ‘Foehn effect’, which is ‘a change from wet and cold conditions on one side of a mountain, to warmer and drier conditions on the other (leeward) side’.

    However, scientists offer up another potential reason: climate change.

    ‘The question of change in weather is two-fold – are we experiencing this change because of climate change now and what might we expect in the future,’ professor Justin Sheffield, professor of hydrology and remote sensing, geography and environmental science at the University of Southampton, tells Metro.co.uk

    ‘The expectation is that the weather will change with climate change, because a warmer world means there’s more moisture in the atmosphere and the hydraulic cycle will accelerate, which leads to more intense rainstorms and more longer periods of droughts.

    ‘There will also be changes in the atmospheric circulation, which leads to changes in weather patterns, too.

    ‘It’s generally difficult to tell whether the weather is changing because of climate change, because weather in itself is unpredictable, but if you look at enough records of heavy rain and droughts in some places, you can see that it’s getting more intense.

    There are scientists who are using climate models to try and attribute those changes to climate change, but you’d need to look at the maps of the current weather to determine the exact links of the past few days.’

    Climate change
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Dr Simon Boxall from the University of Southampton at the National Oceanography Centre, offers similar views; he tells Metro.co.uk that although climate change isn’t the only factor for weather changes, the world is seeing more extremes (such as heatwaves in February) because of it.

    ‘The weather we have seen over the last few days has been abnormal, but climate change isn’t responsible for every weather event,’ he said.

    ‘However, we are getting more and more extremes in weather conditions – the strongest winds, the biggest snowfall, the warmest February, the wettest and driest summers.

    ‘None of these are particularly unique on their own, but the culmination of them all in a short period of years is one of the reasons scientists link them to climate change.

    ‘It is why they use the phrase rather than global warming, though the planet is warming.

    ‘This consistent fluctuation can be explained in part by pressure systems changing over the Arctic. We know that the ice caps are melting. I’ve worked up in the Arctic north pole for some years now, and we’ve been looking at the ice cover for 15 years – what you notice is that the ice is getting thinner, the cover less extensive and some winter cover is disappearing.

    ‘What does this mean?

    ‘Essentially, we have more open water but water doesn’t reflect energy back as well as snow does, and this accelerating process means the pressure systems change which directly impacts our weather.’

    But it’s not just the ice caps that are affecting the weather.

    Richard Millar, senior analyst of climate science for the Committee on Climate Change tells Metro.co.uk that unusually hot weather can’t be attributed purely to climate change, but we are certainly warming up the planet enough to see more shifts in the future.

    ‘Human activities have already warmed the climate by around 1C since the Industrial Revolution,’ said Millar.

    ‘Under the Paris Agreement, governments around the world have agreed to work together to keep total warming to below 2C.

    ‘Reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide, and trying to eliminate these emissions altogether, is ultimately what’s required to stop our planet warming, and to limit the changes that we’re seeing to weather patterns over the long-term.’

    Environmental improvements to help this process can also be made by individuals.

    According to Nigel Sizer, chief program officer at the Rainforest Alliance, what needs to be done to address climate change has been ‘clear for decades’, but one recent development that’s been discussed is food.

    More specifically what we eat and how the food is produced – beef in particular.

    ‘It’s a real win-win opportunity for people to be healthier and to protect the planet by reducing the amount of red meat that we eat, particularly beef.

    ‘Beef is overwhelmingly damaging to the climate because of methane emissions. People can also drive less and look at the type of car they’re driving.’

    So what’s next for UK weather – will the heatwave last?

    ‘You could find that in a couple of weeks we get really cold weather,’ said Dr Boxall.

    ‘The spring weather may not last and you might get another blast of cold.’

    In other words, don’t dig out the summer wardrobe just yet.

    Until then, do bask in the sunshine (just remember that it might be part of a much bigger problem).

    MORE: How the cleaning craze is damaging the environment

    MORE: Climate change is causing ecoanxiety and damaging our mental health – what can we do?


    Should we be worried about the unseasonably warm weatherShould we be worried about the unseasonably warm weatherallieabgarianShould we be worried about the unseasonably warm weatherClimate changeShould we be worried about the unseasonably warm weatherShould we be worried about the unseasonably warm weatherallieabgarianShould we be worried about the unseasonably warm weatherClimate change

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    (Picture: Serena Rose/Caters News)

    A mum got the shock of her life when she found her daughter sporting a mullet after cutting off all of her long hair by herself.

    Serena Rose, 28, was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and ‘went crazy’, transforming her long blonde hair into a mullet.

    Serena, from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her daughter off to her grandparents’ house for a sleepover but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different.

    Serena said Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred – and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughter’s hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.

    Pic by Serena Rose/Caters News - (Pictured: Alexis rose cut her own hair and ended up with a mullet. With mum Serena.) - A mortified mum got the shock of her life when her daughter ended up with a MULLET after cutting all her long blonde hair off. Mum-of-one Serena Rose said she was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and went crazy cutting off all her hair - transforming her long blonde locks into a chaotic mullet in a matter of minutes. The 28-year-old from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her cheeky tot off to her grandparents house for a sleepover back in November 2018 but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different. Serena said that Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred - and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughters hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.And now more than two months since the tots self-styling, Alexiss hair has grown into a pixie cut but still has a long way to go before it returns to the length it once was.SEE CATERS COPY.
    (Picture: Serena Rose/Caters News)

    Serena, who works at a zoo, said: ‘I’d just sent Alexis off to her grandparent’s house for the night for a sleepover.

    ‘The next morning, I got a call from them telling me that she had managed to cut all of her hair off.

    ‘I thought they were joking. But then I realised they weren’t, and it was really happening.

    ‘Apparently she had got a hold of a pair of scissors and just went crazy. It all happened in a matter of minutes.

    ‘There was blonde hair all over the house. They were shocked.

    Pic by Serena Rose/Caters News - (Pictured: Alexis rose cut her own hair and ended up with a mullet) - A mortified mum got the shock of her life when her daughter ended up with a MULLET after cutting all her long blonde hair off. Mum-of-one Serena Rose said she was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and went crazy cutting off all her hair - transforming her long blonde locks into a chaotic mullet in a matter of minutes. The 28-year-old from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her cheeky tot off to her grandparents house for a sleepover back in November 2018 but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different. Serena said that Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred - and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughters hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.And now more than two months since the tots self-styling, Alexiss hair has grown into a pixie cut but still has a long way to go before it returns to the length it once was.SEE CATERS COPY.
    (Picture: Serena Rose/Caters News)

    ‘At first, I thought it was funny, but then I was mad as she knows better than to do that. Then I felt heartbroken as we had been growing her hair for so long.

    ‘You can’t help but laugh though at the mullet. It’s quite a unique look.’

    Serena thinks Alexis may have gotten the idea after watching her mum getting her hair cut at the salon earlier that week.

    And while she has gotten used to her daughter’s new hairdo, the mum said it ‘still stings’ when she sees an old photograph of Alexis’s long blonde hair.

    Pic by Serena Rose/Caters News - (Pictured: Alexis rose cut her own hair and ended up with a mullet) - A mortified mum got the shock of her life when her daughter ended up with a MULLET after cutting all her long blonde hair off. Mum-of-one Serena Rose said she was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and went crazy cutting off all her hair - transforming her long blonde locks into a chaotic mullet in a matter of minutes. The 28-year-old from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her cheeky tot off to her grandparents house for a sleepover back in November 2018 but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different. Serena said that Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred - and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughters hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.And now more than two months since the tots self-styling, Alexiss hair has grown into a pixie cut but still has a long way to go before it returns to the length it once was.SEE CATERS COPY.
    (Picture: Serena Rose/Caters News)

    She said: ‘She had been sitting with me when I got my hair cut a few days beforehand, and I think she just wanted to play hairdresser too.

    ‘She was really upset when it happened and instantly regretted it. But we try and style her new short hair with hairbands and things like that.

    ‘I get quite sad when I see old pictures of her long hair, it was just so beautiful. It still stings.

    ‘I hope she has learnt a lesson from what happened and will not be doing anything like that again.

    ‘Of course, I still tell her she is beautiful no matter what she looks like. I just don’t think she suits a mullet.’

    MORE: Mum jokes she needs to get a ‘designer vagina’ after seeing daughter’s rude drawing

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    Mullet girlMullet girlhattiegladwellmetroPic by Serena Rose/Caters News - (Pictured: Alexis rose cut her own hair and ended up with a mullet. With mum Serena.) - A mortified mum got the shock of her life when her daughter ended up with a MULLET after cutting all her long blonde hair off. Mum-of-one Serena Rose said she was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and went crazy cutting off all her hair - transforming her long blonde locks into a chaotic mullet in a matter of minutes. The 28-year-old from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her cheeky tot off to her grandparents house for a sleepover back in November 2018 but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different. Serena said that Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred - and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughters hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.And now more than two months since the tots self-styling, Alexiss hair has grown into a pixie cut but still has a long way to go before it returns to the length it once was.SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Serena Rose/Caters News - (Pictured: Alexis rose cut her own hair and ended up with a mullet) - A mortified mum got the shock of her life when her daughter ended up with a MULLET after cutting all her long blonde hair off. Mum-of-one Serena Rose said she was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and went crazy cutting off all her hair - transforming her long blonde locks into a chaotic mullet in a matter of minutes. The 28-year-old from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her cheeky tot off to her grandparents house for a sleepover back in November 2018 but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different. Serena said that Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred - and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughters hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.And now more than two months since the tots self-styling, Alexiss hair has grown into a pixie cut but still has a long way to go before it returns to the length it once was.SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Serena Rose/Caters News - (Pictured: Alexis rose cut her own hair and ended up with a mullet) - A mortified mum got the shock of her life when her daughter ended up with a MULLET after cutting all her long blonde hair off. Mum-of-one Serena Rose said she was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and went crazy cutting off all her hair - transforming her long blonde locks into a chaotic mullet in a matter of minutes. The 28-year-old from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her cheeky tot off to her grandparents house for a sleepover back in November 2018 but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different. Serena said that Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred - and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughters hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.And now more than two months since the tots self-styling, Alexiss hair has grown into a pixie cut but still has a long way to go before it returns to the length it once was.SEE CATERS COPY.Mullet girlMullet girlhattiegladwellmetroPic by Serena Rose/Caters News - (Pictured: Alexis rose cut her own hair and ended up with a mullet. With mum Serena.) - A mortified mum got the shock of her life when her daughter ended up with a MULLET after cutting all her long blonde hair off. Mum-of-one Serena Rose said she was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and went crazy cutting off all her hair - transforming her long blonde locks into a chaotic mullet in a matter of minutes. The 28-year-old from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her cheeky tot off to her grandparents house for a sleepover back in November 2018 but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different. Serena said that Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred - and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughters hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.And now more than two months since the tots self-styling, Alexiss hair has grown into a pixie cut but still has a long way to go before it returns to the length it once was.SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Serena Rose/Caters News - (Pictured: Alexis rose cut her own hair and ended up with a mullet) - A mortified mum got the shock of her life when her daughter ended up with a MULLET after cutting all her long blonde hair off. Mum-of-one Serena Rose said she was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and went crazy cutting off all her hair - transforming her long blonde locks into a chaotic mullet in a matter of minutes. The 28-year-old from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her cheeky tot off to her grandparents house for a sleepover back in November 2018 but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different. Serena said that Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred - and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughters hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.And now more than two months since the tots self-styling, Alexiss hair has grown into a pixie cut but still has a long way to go before it returns to the length it once was.SEE CATERS COPY.Pic by Serena Rose/Caters News - (Pictured: Alexis rose cut her own hair and ended up with a mullet) - A mortified mum got the shock of her life when her daughter ended up with a MULLET after cutting all her long blonde hair off. Mum-of-one Serena Rose said she was devastated after her daughter Alexis, four, got hold of a pair of scissors and went crazy cutting off all her hair - transforming her long blonde locks into a chaotic mullet in a matter of minutes. The 28-year-old from Drenthe, Netherlands, had sent her cheeky tot off to her grandparents house for a sleepover back in November 2018 but never expected her to return the next morning looking completely different. Serena said that Alexis was only left alone for a few minutes when the incident occurred - and with no other choice, the mum decided to shave off her daughters hair completely in order to get rid of the mullet.And now more than two months since the tots self-styling, Alexiss hair has grown into a pixie cut but still has a long way to go before it returns to the length it once was.SEE CATERS COPY.

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    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)

    Depression is often described in terms of weight.

    She’s got a lot weighing on her shoulders. He’s experiencing a heavy bout of depression.

    That’s apt, because depression very often does feel like it’s weighing you down. It makes your legs heavy, keeps you in bed, and makes even the simplest tasks feel impossible.

    That’s a feeling Alison Crouse captures in her series, called Devastation Portraits.

    The photos show Alison face-down in public places, as a way to make the often invisible weight of anxiety and depression visible.

    Alison started the series while experience a bad patch in her own mental health.

    ‘I was interested in the ways that we tend to suffer our emotional pain privately, rarely giving ourselves permission to be vulnerable in public,’ Alison tells Metro.co.uk.

    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)

    ‘I looked back and asked myself how my experience might have been different if I’d been authentic in expressing some of my own struggles, and decided that I wanted to join a conversation around that.

    ‘So far, my contribution to that dialogue has been four months of photographs capturing performances of “devastation” that encourage the photographer, unsuspecting bystanders, and ultimately viewers to acknowledge despair in a very present way.’

    Each photograph documents Alison’s genuine experience of lying down in a public place, whether in a library or in the post office. So yes, bystanders’ reactions are genuine.

    The experience doubled as a performance piece or an experiment, seeing just how people responded to a woman giving up and lying down.

    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)

    She tells us: ‘Sometimes I am completely ignored. Sometimes people shake their heads or laugh as I get up.

    ‘Other times, and it’s the exception, people express alarm and rush over to help. This always impresses me because it indicates a level of concern, and though it is usually concern for my physical wellbeing, it gives me hope that someday we will get to a place where we can be equally compassionate for each other’s psychological pain.’

    Alison has struggled with anxiety and depression since her teens, and says that loneliness and isolation plays a big role. That’s why the photos have to show her alone but surrounded with people; to capture just how alone you feel when you’re depressed and everyone else seems fine.

    She saw the experience as a challenge to herself to be more open. What could be more open and honest than physically playing out how miserable you are in a public space?

    Taking the photos was healing, in a way.

    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)

    Alison says: ‘I feel a commitment to this series, and that commitment is holding me accountable, compelling me to think creatively, and forcing me to get out and make pictures.

    ‘In turn, the small accomplishment of even one photo makes me feel that despite everything, I am still capable of engaging in something I care about.

    ‘I am grateful for that touchstone when all other functionality feels lost, as it sometimes does.

    ‘Working on Devastation Portraits has required that I interact with the world, which is challenging for me when I’m not feeling my best.

    ‘Where my normal tendency might be to hermit away in my apartment watching a show, a creative outlet like this redirects my negative thoughts and asks me to participate in my community, albeit in an unusual way.’

    The photographer hopes that people won’t look at the Devastation Portraits and think she’s trying to represent all suffering – as that’s simply not the case.

    Instead she wants the pictures to resonate with however overwhelmed, tired, or sad a person is feeling, and to let her body on the ground for people to project their own experience.

    ‘The images are not uniformly devastating; they are also odd, absurd, and ridiculous,’ Alison explains. ‘That is the point – to make work that is open to interpretation, to allow humor to exist beside sadness, to acknowledge that our internal lives are complex, and to respect that we all have our own ways of coping with our human condition.’

    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)
    Devastation Credit: Alison Crouse
    (Picture: Alison Crouse)

    MORE: Can changing your diet improve mental health problems?

    MORE: Runner born a double amputee wants to show people they can do more than they think

    MORE: What I Rent: Charlotte and Chloe, £648 each for a one-bedroom flat in Arnos Grove


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    A river runs through it: Nell's rather unconventional approach to yoga trips keeps things fresh (Picture: Shelley Withers)
    A river runs through it: Nell’s rather unconventional approach to yoga trips keeps things fresh (Picture: Nachelle Crowther)

    The medina of Marrakech is not the first place that comes to mind for a quest for inner peace.

    With its bustling warren of streets, the explosion of smells, sights and sounds and the relentless swarms of scooters, bikes and donkeys jostling for position on the narrow alleyways, it seems the very antithesis of calm.

    But as the oasis offers refuge in the heat of a desert, peace is often found in the most unlikely of places.

    And, as I can enthusiastically attest after spending five days on a sublime yoga retreat in the middle of that mayhem, there’s plenty of it to be had in the Marrakech medina.

    My London life is lived at 100mph – like so many women I attempt to juggle a full-time job and a young child while attempting to stay fit and have a social life too. I never sit down – if I did, I would fall asleep.

    I was on a much-needed personal peace-finding mission when I signed up for the retreat, hosted by yoga teacher of 25 years Nell Lindsell, in a tiled riad – a characterful boutique hotel with traditional inner-courtyard that lay within the medina’s ochre walls.

    Relaxing: Early morning yoga on the rooftop of the riad, an oasis of calm in the centre of Marrakech's bustling Medina (Picture: Shelley Withers)
    Relaxing: Early morning yoga on the rooftop of the riad, an oasis of calm in the centre of Marrakech’s bustling Medina (Picture: Nachelle Crowther)

    The five-day retreat saw 12 women of varying ages (from a boundlessly energetic 21-year-old student to a feisty 68-year-old retired businesswoman, with a few super-fit high-flying forty-something mothers in the mix) unified on a journey towards yogic calm – or at the very least, some bending and stretching, some sun – and a good deal of shopping.

    Nell is a twinkly-eyed superwoman who has practised as a doula, is the founder of Yoga Bugs and braver of Dragons’ Den (see her website for the scoop), and last autumn raised £7,000 for Heads Together with yoga and gong baths (she’ll be doing another fundraiser this November).

    Add to that the fact she is mother to four children and you’ve got a pretty inspiring role model. How she manages to fit it all in and maintain a sense of humour will remain a mystery.

    Nell, who also holds regular retreats in the Spanish countryside and has five planned across various countries this year, says her reason for holding her first retreat in Marrakech was simply because she had ‘always wanted to visit’ – and that she had been pleasantly surprised at just how good a fit it turned out to be.

    ‘It has this mystique, as well as its ties with Eastern philosophy,’ she says. ‘I worried it might be chaos, with the bustle, the heat and the hassle – but it’s incredibly restful.

    ‘The riad is cool and calm. I’m delighted it’s so serene.’

    Evening yoga in the riad with the roof open (Picture: Shelley Withers)
    Evening yoga in the riad with the roof open (Picture: Nachelle Crowther)

    Indeed, the peaceful inner courtyard of the riad, a beautifully restored merchants’ house on a cool alleyway in the centre of the Medina, was where we would practise our two 90-minute yoga classes each day, one at 8am and one at 6pm, and where we would hear Nell’s daily readings of inspirational words and join in with meditation and chanting sessions.

    For our practice, the retractable roof of the riad was pulled back to reveal a deep blue sky where swallows would swoop and dive above us as we followed Nell’s classes, which were organised across a five-day programme that started at the feet and progressed up the body, taking in legs, stomach and heart en route to the head.

    On day one, as I lay on my mat looking up at the cloudless sky and the swallows, I felt the pressures of my London life creep a pace or two further away.

    By day five, I was all but lobotomised.

    In between our three hours of daily yoga Nell held her own practice – a high tempo yoga-to-the-beat class that anyone could join – though only the truly masochistic did: the punchy 45 minutes of fast-paced sequences to techno (yes, techno!) left all but Nell puffing like a steam train and glowing the colour of an overripe tomato.

    Nell Lindsell has a contagious joie de vivre that makes her the perfect yoga teacher and retreat leader (Picture: Shelley Withers)
    Nell Lindsell has a contagious joie de vivre that makes her the perfect yoga teacher and retreat leader (Picture: Nachelle Crowther)
    ...and did I mention her good humour and fondness for camels (Picture: Shelley Withers)
    …and did I mention her good humour and fondness for camels (Picture: Shelley Withers)

    Yoga to the beat aside, Nell was adamant that this should be a break: no one would be forced from the lounger to their yoga mat if they preferred to read in the sun.

    But really, we were all impossibly keen – and the effort certainly paid off. My hands, which on the first day I’d thrust pathetically towards my toes, now slipped under my feet with ease, my recalcitrant hamstrings finally realising resistance was futile.

    The stressed-out shallow breathing that ruled my life back in England segued imperceptibly into smooth, satisfying breaths.

    Outside of practice, if it was calm we came for it was available in spades.

    A beautiful rooftop terrace overlooking the skyline of Marrakech, with plunge pool, sun loungers and white canvas gazebo, offered a sunny sanctuary between the morning and evening yoga sessions.

    Stop, Camel time: Team Morocco perform a very photogenic yoga move (Picture: Shelley Withers)
    Stop, Camel time: Team Morocco perform a very photogenic yoga move (Picture: Shelley Withers)

    This was no ascetic retreat run by puritans either. Nell organised residential chefs who conjured up incredible tagines of lamb and dates; filo pies filled with lemon-scented chicken; sticky spiced sauces made sweet with slow-cooked figs.

    We had local wine, Moroccan beer – and even a night out fuelled by a lethal mix of mojitos and newly acquired yogic energy that saw the group racing around the Medina buying armfuls of leather slippers (Shelley), belly-dancing in bars (me) and befriending mules (Nell; Beth… don’t ask).

    A nearby spa (ask at your riad for a recommendation) provided treatments on tap – and was worth a visit for the relaxation area alone, lit by the dancing shapes from the intricate fretwork of dozens of traditional Moroccan lanterns.

    And when all the serenity, sunshine and spa treatments got too much, we simply opened the heavy wooden door to our riad and stepped out into the souk, a colourful, throbbing marketplace replete with local craftsmanship.

    Oddly enough, the souk, which in so many places can be the source of wearisome haggling and harassment, was itself a place of calm.

    Morocco was an absolute vision - and a feast for the eyes (Picture: Shelley Withers)
    Morocco was an absolute vision – and a feast for the eyes (Picture: Shelley Withers)

    Shady streets, each plying their own trade, were lined with dozens of shops festooned with their wares in a way that the pages of Elle Décor could never replicate.

    Thousands of lanterns cast pretty shadows from floor to ceiling along one street. Along another, a sea of colourful leather slippers lined the walls; bags in fuchsia or orange leather swung gently from hooks. Tiled whatnots; silver jewellery; harem pants; henna tattoos, tea glasses… We wanted it all (so much for the enlightened renouncement of all worldly goods).

    The ever-present scent of jasmine filled in the air, while every trip into the souk was an adventure filled with mint tea, drums, fresh orange juice, crumbling walls, creeping vines and donkeys laden with wares.

    The city was a feast for our jaded eyes, our ears – and our stomachs.

    Filmic: The colours and sights of the Medina (Picture: Shelley Withers)
    Filmic: The colours and sights of the Medina (Picture: Shelley Withers)

    With a new experience at every turn, it was hard to imagine ever tiring of this place.

    In fact, the constant cacophony was energising. Even the hypnotic, persistent call to prayer that punctuated the peace at 4.45am and four more times a day became familiar and comforting.

    By the end of the weekend, despite that early morning wake-up call, we all wore a gentle glow, whether from the yoga, the sun, or the food and chatter over lamp-lit suppers on the terrace at dusk.

    And if all the chanting and chatter had yet to bond us, then the boundary-crushing experience we shared at a very traditional Moroccan baths certainly did the trick.

    Stripped to our knickers and thrust together in a steamy underground room, we were thrown one by one over a bare-breasted woman’s lap and scrubbed with what felt like a Brillo pad until we glowed.

     

    MUSIC FROM THE MAT

    DOWNWARD DOG TIME:

    Om Nama Shivaya by Wah; Clouds ensoul from Cosmic Chill Lounge, Marta’s song, Deep Forest, Journey to Eternity Frank Borell, By Thy Grace and Ray Man by Snatam Kaur, Jai Ma by Wah, No Limit Code 14 by Atlantis Calling, Adious Ayer by Jose Padilla, Tatouage Bleu by Ben Onono

    FOR FAST-PACED YOGA TO THE BEAT:

    Poor People by Vybz Kartel, Amasiko by Brenda Ntombi, Aicha by Khaled, Mama do the Hump by the Rizzel Kicks, Brooklyn Styling Mongawa, This is Reggae Music by Zap Pow and Escudoro Fiesta Club Mongawa.

    CHANTING: Krishna Das from his Album Pilgrim Heart; Om Nama Shivaya; Govinder Hare.

    Twelve (sometimes) mature women were reduced to giggling schoolgirls – and memories were formed that will remain with us all for life (fortunately there is no photographic evidence of this part of the trip).

    The reluctant return home to London was surreal; like stepping into someone else’s life.

    But amid all the usual chaos of my real life that inevitably met me at the door like a tsunami, I was able to hold on to a fragment of my Moroccan oasis – and that five-day stay has been enough to effect huge change.

    A month has since gone by and I have practised yoga virtually every day.

    Nell’s daily readings – words of wisdom from the Dalai Lama or a thought-provoking poem – have stayed with me, and some of the words continue to flash into my mind.

    If pushed, I do have one gripe about this phenomenal, life-changing trip, as it happens: it was way too short.

    Five days? Five weeks would be more appropriate… No, wait. Make that five months.

    Nell’s next yoga retreats for 2019 are in Sri Lanka 15-24 March, Cyprus 30 April – 5 May, Spain 25-30 June and Southwold 19-22 September, followed by a yoga+tennis retreat in Greece 4-9 October. 

    Visit Nell’s website at yoga-forever.com/holidays for more details on the trips coming up for 2019 contact Nell.


    Yoga with Nell is always fun and interesting (Picture Shelley Withers)-4fd9Yoga with Nell is always fun and interesting (Picture Shelley Withers)-4fd9akismet-2fcb28243f975bb512a587b829a23dfdA river runs through it: Nell's rather unconventional approach to yoga trips keeps things fresh (Picture: Shelley Withers) Relaxing: Early morning yoga on the rooftop of the riad, an oasis of calm in the centre of Marrakech's bustling Medina (Picture: Shelley Withers) Evening yoga in the riad with the roof open (Picture: Shelley Withers) Nell Lindsell has a contagious joie de vivre that makes her the perfect yoga teacher and retreat leader (Picture: Shelley Withers)...and did I mention her good humour and fondness for camels (Picture: Shelley Withers)Stop, Camel time: Team Morocco perform a very photogenic yoga move (Picture: Shelley Withers) Morocco was an absolute vision - and a feast for the eyes (Picture: Shelley Withers)Filmic: The colours and sights of the Medina (Picture: Shelley Withers)Yoga with Nell is always fun and interesting (Picture Shelley Withers)-4fd9Yoga with Nell is always fun and interesting (Picture Shelley Withers)-4fd9akismet-2fcb28243f975bb512a587b829a23dfdA river runs through it: Nell's rather unconventional approach to yoga trips keeps things fresh (Picture: Shelley Withers) Relaxing: Early morning yoga on the rooftop of the riad, an oasis of calm in the centre of Marrakech's bustling Medina (Picture: Shelley Withers) Evening yoga in the riad with the roof open (Picture: Shelley Withers) Nell Lindsell has a contagious joie de vivre that makes her the perfect yoga teacher and retreat leader (Picture: Shelley Withers)...and did I mention her good humour and fondness for camels (Picture: Shelley Withers)Stop, Camel time: Team Morocco perform a very photogenic yoga move (Picture: Shelley Withers) Morocco was an absolute vision - and a feast for the eyes (Picture: Shelley Withers)Filmic: The colours and sights of the Medina (Picture: Shelley Withers)

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    Jess Evans loving life on her Big Fat Single Cruise (Picture: Jessica Evans)
    Jess Evans loving life on her Big Fat Single Cruise (Picture: Jessica Evans)

    Sitting alone at my candlelit table for two, I politely decline the restaurant photographer for the third time that evening, chew silently on my octopus and clap a little too enthusiastically at the cabaret singer belting out the last few bars of New York, New York.

    Looking over the sea of couples clinking champagne glasses, no doubt toasting their everlasting love, I slurp my white wine and think to myself: ‘How the feck did I end up here?’

    Had I gone slightly mad (madder)? Or… was this actually one of my smartest ideas yet?

    Let me say at this juncture, I don’t believe in the notion of Eat Pray Love-ing your life after getting dumped, where you magically heal yourself by eating copious amounts of pasta, visiting a religious landmark and having an oh-my-gahd-you’re-the-best-I’ve-ever-had fling.

    While there’s nothing wrong with this recipe for recovery, the idea of a ‘cultural quick-fix’ to find yourself, or lose yourself, or whatever the Instagram quotes are saying these days, has never appealed to me.

    But after my love life turned into a non-stop comedy sketch – from the guy who wouldn’t commit after eight months to the sociopath who wanted nothing but commitment after the first date, then brutally dumped me three months later – I had burnt myself out in the city with a high-pressured job, dating city wanker after city wanker on a tedious hamster wheel, cramming every possible social event into my calendar.

    Like a walking cliche, I was in the midst of a quarter-life crisis – I needed to get away and refocus.

    To this day I cannot answer exactly what possessed me to do this, but I decided that the solution to my frazzled state could just be a two-week cruise.

    On my own.

    Jess found she missed having friends to belly laugh with and share deep conversation beyond 'you enjoying the cruise hun?' (Picture: Jessica Evans)
    Jess found she missed having friends to belly laugh with and share deep conversation beyond ‘you enjoying the cruise hun?’ (Picture: Jessica Evans)

    Yep, a granny cruise, solo.

    The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. This was the absolute antidote to London life. No pretentious restaurants or bars. No pressure to have an ‘Instagram bum’ by the pool. Not a city suit wanker in a sight. No judgement from the waiter when I ignore the drink-of-the-moment on the menu and opted instead for a garish, umbrella-embellished pimped-out pina colada every, single, day.

    I’d get to see a number of different places without actually having to organise logistics myself – it was easy.

    A cruise sounded bloody ideal.

    My plan was to dedicate two weeks to my favourite things: Reading, writing, swimming, hiking and eating.

    The cruise was about rest and rediscovery, not reinvention.

    I wanted to reconnect with the things I used to do before I was in a relationship.

    And where better to do that than from the deck of a ship in the middle of the ocean, taking me on a tour of Florence, Rome, Monte Carlo and Murcia?

    I’m naturally an introvert so usually the idea of being alone excites me, rather than filling me with dread.

    But, having recently been through my bizarre little break-up, it was slightly daunting that I wouldn’t have my friends around me to talk me out of self-destructive, sad lulls.

    I had put myself on an official boy ban for the trip – the most boring ban of them all – which I’d hoped wouldn’t be too challenging, considering everyone on the cruise was either in a couple, over 45 (yep, my dating age bracket goes up to that age these days) or a minor.

    Jess Evans loving life on her Big Fat Single Cruise (Picture: Jessica Evans)
    Jess joined in on as many activities as she could to make sure she wasn’t lonely (Picture: Jessica Evans)

    In reality, the only action I came close to getting was when I got talking to a boy on a sun lounger about his 18th birthday party.

    With thoughts of dating pushed to the back of my mind, I was just happy someone was telling me a semi-amusing anecdote.

    In return, as if the cruise had transformed me into a fully fledged oldie, I began recalling my 18th birthday party nostalgically, like it were 50 years ago, instead of the eight it actually was.

    As I ended the anecdote, reminiscing about the good old days, this manchild asked me if I’d like to go for a drink.

    I had become the cruise ship cougar.

    Was this how Caroline Flack felt like when she got with Harry Styles?

    I told him I was washing my hair that night but, unperturbed, the spring chicken asked if I wanted to add him on Snapchat.

    Erm, I don’t think so. I declined. Good life decision for once, Jess.

    The only other sniff of romance I got was when the waiter around the poolside asked me on a daily basis if I’d like him to apply my suncream to my back.

    Safe to say I burnt my back a lot during the holiday.

    There was always a friendly group to eat with or join an activity (Picture: Jessica Evans)
    There was always a friendly group to eat with or join an activity (Picture: Jessica Evans)

    No regrets.

    When I wasn’t being chatted up by young men (who knew cruises were a pulling ground for 18-year-old youngsters?), I kept myself busy signing up to as many of the solo activities on board that I could.

    I found them to be a godsend.

    To be frank, I thought I’d be in company with widows and divorcees, but actually, mostly I was just with people who fancied doing something on their own.

    I decided to take the ship’s cookery classes (I can almost hear friends of mine cheering as I write that), run by the legendary French patissier and celebrity chef Eric Lanlard.

    Anyone who’s had the deep privilege of getting invited to one of my famous dinner parties will know I can’t cook for shit.

    It’s Mr Bean Christmas vibes.

    If you don’t get that reference, it’s basically a spread of a random assortment of 90s throwback party food like Twiglets.

    ‘Baking is good for the soul!’ said Eric, as I stood in an apron at my counter, feeling like a contestant on Bake Off.

    I dusted a bit of flour on my cheeks to look as if I’d been ‘slaving away with the rolling pin in the kitchen’, which made Eric laugh and give me brownie points.

    Little did he know that would be the only success I’d get all day, thanks to my horrendous kitchen skills.

    Ultimately though, Eric was right. A morning of kneading dough, licking the bowl and eating cakes was bliss.

    I also attended a six-course dinner hosted by Eric with my fellow solo mojos (a fun name I made up, like when singletons refer to themselves as ‘single Pringles’ when they’d really rather not be single), which was fantastic.

    A table full of strangers may be someone else’s nightmare but being on a table with people I don’t know anything about actually excites me.

    I love hearing people’s stories, finding out about their background and listening to their experiences in life.

    A must-do night for singles/solo mojos on a cruise.

    Pisa, one of the stop-offs on the cruise (Picture: Jess Evans)
    Pisa, one of the stop-offs on the cruise (Picture: Jess Evans)

    In between cruise activities and dossing about, I explored some of my favourite places, often finding different beautiful surroundings to work in. I also took a helicopter ride, ate my way around Italy and lay in a lot of pretty, public parks contemplating life.

    To my surprise, the cruise was becoming the most wonderful space to let my breakup aftermath unfold. It allowed me to gradually and gently come back to life and fall in love all over again with the things that bring me joy.

    I was far away from the bubble of any gossip that may have been happening back home and I took myself off social media so I wasn’t tempted to torture myself scrolling through his profile.

    There was a shift happening between my focus being firmly fixed on him to the focus being on me. I was looking after myself again.

    However, as much as being on my own felt liberating, as the bible simply puts it, it is not good for man to be alone.

    After so much ‘me’ time, I was hungry for human connection. I wanted raw conversation. I wanted to howl with someone until my stomach ached and my nose wrinkles were crinklier than a millennial getting out of a self-care bath.

    I wanted more than just ‘you enjoying the cruise, hun?’ moments or British small talk about shore excursions.

    Going solo for two weeks allowed Jess to remember what she loved doing
    Going solo for two weeks allowed Jess to remember what she loved doing (Picture: Jess Evans) 

    This feeling really surprised me.

    I thought the concept of being away from day-to-day life and dedicating time indulgently to whatever I chose to do was going to be a delicious slice of escapism and enjoyment.

    And it was, but only to an extent.

    I missed getting into conversation so wide and so deep you come away from it having learnt something or felt something.

    The truth was – and the solo mojos will hate me for this – I missed being with a partner, a friend, or a member family and sharing the incredible memories I was creating with them.

    I didn’t want to have all these memories just for myself.

    Like most things in life, it’s a balancing act. For me, that means a balance of time alone and time with others.

    Loneliness in the UK has hit new heights at a time when solo travel has never been more popular. While there is real beauty and joy in enjoying one’s own company, I discovered that for me, however tempting it may be, it’s important not to completely isolate myself, as I’d often had a tendency to do in the past.

    That meant I made sure I didn’t have too much time alone. If that meant feeling the fear of approaching a group of people in hopes they’d find me a hoot and give me a free pass of company, but doing it anyway – then so be it.

    On the trip, I didn’t find myself. I didn’t lose myself. I just was myself.

    In this age of wellness crystals, meditation apps fighting for our attention, silent retreats, glow bars and yoga-infused just about everything, this was my own little wellness gift to me  – two weeks out to be kind to myself and just rest.

    I had no eureka moments about what to do next in life, no Sliding Doors-style encounters with handsome strangers and no obscure countries that changed me.

    I came back home as an un-changed woman, and there is power in that.

     

    HOW TO GO ON YOUR OWN CRUISE, SOLO OR NOT

    Spain, Monaco and Italy, 14 nights, £1,746pp

    P&O Cruises is offering a 14 night cruise on Britannia (B923) from £1,746 per person for an inside cabin. Departing Aug 17, 2019 the price includes kids’ clubs, full board meals and entertainment on board.

    Departing from and returning to Southampton ports of call are Cadiz, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Florence and Pisa, Cartagena and Gibraltar.

    To book, visit pocruises.com, call 03453 555 111 or visit your local travel agent.


    Jess Evans on her Big Fat Solo CruiseJess Evans on her Big Fat Solo CruisejesshopeevansJess Evans loving life on her Big Fat Single Cruise (Picture: Jessica Evans) Jess found she missed having friends to belly laugh with and share deep conversation beyond 'you enjoying the cruise hun?' (Picture: Jessica Evans)Jess Evans loving life on her Big Fat Single Cruise (Picture: Jessica Evans)There was always a friendly group to eat with or join an activity (Picture: Jessica Evans)Pisa, one of the stop-offs on the cruise (Picture: Jess Evans) Going solo for two weeks allowed Jess to remember what she loved doingJess Evans on her Big Fat Solo CruiseJess Evans on her Big Fat Solo CruisejesshopeevansJess Evans loving life on her Big Fat Single Cruise (Picture: Jessica Evans) Jess found she missed having friends to belly laugh with and share deep conversation beyond 'you enjoying the cruise hun?' (Picture: Jessica Evans)Jess Evans loving life on her Big Fat Single Cruise (Picture: Jessica Evans)There was always a friendly group to eat with or join an activity (Picture: Jessica Evans)Pisa, one of the stop-offs on the cruise (Picture: Jess Evans) Going solo for two weeks allowed Jess to remember what she loved doing

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    Society is quick to call someone who puts themselves in harm’s way to help others a hero, but as a volunteer lifeboat crew member at Dunbar Lifeboat Station, I feel uncomfortable with that label.

    To me, true heroes are like the lifeboat crews of days gone by. The ones who, when tasked with saving someone’s life, would be faced with rowing a lifeboat out to sea in the middle of the night.

    So often they faced storms, weighed down by their sodden woolly jumpers and bulky lifejackets made of cork.

    Nowadays, lifeboat crew members have years of training and our first class boats are bristling with equipment to navigate and communicate.

    Henry aboard a life boat wearing his kit
    To me, true heroes are like the lifeboat crews of days gone by (Photo: The Bragdon Brothers/Metro.co.uk)

    It is for that reason I feel uneasy being called a hero in comparison.

    In fact, it makes me cringe. As well as being a volunteer crew member, I also work for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in their marketing and media team. My work mates like to wind me, the last time being when my colleague Ollie introduced me to a new member of our team saying, ‘This is Henry, you’ve probably heard of him, he’s a real life hero’.

    Even though I don’t like being called a hero and don’t see myself deserving of the label, to me all my colleagues are.

    Every shout, every rescue, is a team effort – not only by the lifeboat crew, but the army of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to make it possible for the crew to be at sea.

    Henry aboard a life boat
    As a team, we are heroic. I, in my role as lifeboat crew member, am not special (Photo: The Bragdon Brothers/Metro.co.uk)

    Am I any more heroic than someone who volunteers in an RNLI shop? Or the education officer who teaches children about water safety? Or the fundraiser who brings in the money? I don’t think so.

    As a team, we are heroic. I, in my role as lifeboat crew member, am not special.

    Every time we go out it’s a privilege to be part of such an experienced crew and to head out to sea feeling like we’re ready to handle anything that’s thrown at us.

    There’s no denying that when the pager goes off adrenalin starts to flow, it’s important to manage that, get to the station and get your head screwed on for what’s about to happen.

    Everyone musters at the station, a crew is picked by the coxswain (the person who is in command of the lifeboat) and we get the basic details of the job.

    Henry at the helm of the life boat
    Every time we go out it’s a privilege to be part of such an experienced crew (Photo: The Bragdon Brothers/Metro.co.uk)

    When afloat you might be required to go on deck to search for people in the water, helm the boat, care for casualties you take aboard, arrange a towline to a stricken boat or go aboard a casualty’s vessel.

    We train a lot, so once you get on the boat you get to your position and whatever your job – navigator, radio operator etc – we’re well drilled, so it’s pretty intuitive.

    One of the hardest situations I’ve ever had to deal with is when I took some unpaid leave from my RNLI role to volunteer with a search and rescue operation in the Aegean Sea during the refugee crisis at the end of 2015.

    One day, two of our ribs pulled over to help 500 people from the water and off a stricken vessel.

    We had to be careful not to be overwhelmed by the number of casualties desperately trying to get aboard our boat, so we relied on our translators to try and calm the situation.

    Henry in his kit in front of a life boat
    One day, two of our ribs pulled over to help 500 people from the water and off a stricken vessel (Photo: The Bragdon Brothers/Metro.co.uk)

    We were able to take 20-30 aboard our boat at a time. We loaded men, women, children of all ages and babies and tried to maintain calm amongst the chaos.

    Our nearest option to get them to safety was to beach our boat each time it was full of people, offload them to the medics and other helpers on the beach and then go back for the next lot.

    We were fortunate not to have to recover any bodies that day but many have not been so fortunate during the refugee crisis.

    I felt incredibly sad so see so many people in such tragic circumstances. But I felt proud to be part of such an effective and skilled team of people who were able to make a difference to a few people.

    At the time you just concentrate on your job, working as a team and being as efficient as you can. You know it’s not the time or place to become emotionally involved or reflect on your feelings.

    Henry aboard a life boat wearing his kit
    I am incredibly proud to be on a crew with such a long history (Photo: The Bragdon Brothers/Metro.co.uk)

    It’s important to do that after the event, debrief as a team and process those feelings. Remembering that whatever happened, you did all that you could and to forgive yourself if you felt you could have been that bit better or seconds faster.

    For me, this, and the team effort behind any rescue – rather than an individual – is what is described as heroic.

    I am incredibly proud to be on a crew with such a long history (there’s been a lifeboat station here at Dunbar since 1808), and there have been many amazing rescues over the years.

    A few years back, before I joined the crew, our coxswain received a medal for gallantry after he risked his life to help rescue two Swedish sailors.

    The crew braved 30-45ft waves and force nine gales to rescue the pair from their stricken yacht 37 miles out to sea. It was an incredible rescue in horrendous conditions.

    Nothing could be more heroic.

    With 238 lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland and lifeguards on over 249 beaches, the RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Visit RNLI.org to find out more.

    [/metro-fact-box]

    Labels

    Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity  positively or negatively  and what the label means to them.

    If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

    MORE: My Label and Me: Being pansexual in the real world is complicated

    MORE: My Label and Me: I’m not tired and lazy, I have ME

    MORE: My Label and Me: I am privileged to be able to call myself a witch


    Labels: HeroLabels: HerojessrubyaustinHenry aboard a life boat wearing his kit Henry aboard a life boat Henry at the helm of the life boatHenry in his kit in front of a life boatHenry aboard a life boat wearing his kitLabels: HeroLabels: HerojessrubyaustinHenry aboard a life boat wearing his kit Henry aboard a life boat Henry at the helm of the life boatHenry in his kit in front of a life boatHenry aboard a life boat wearing his kit

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    (Picture: Ella Byworth/Metro.co.uk)

    If you’re constantly working late and picking up extra shifts, let this be a reminder of just how important it is to give yourself a break.

    New research suggests that women who work long hours are at a higher risk of depression – more so than men who work for the same amount of time – and that working weekends could be a contributor to mental health issues too.

    An analysis of data from 20,000 employees found that women who worked ‘extra-long’ hours, meaning more than 55 hours a week, were found to have 7.3% more depressive symptoms than women who worked a standard week of between 35 and 40 hours.

    Researchers at UCL and Queen Mary University of London noted that working weekends was linked to a higher risk of depression among men and women, as women who worked most weekends reported 4.6% more depressive symptoms than weekday warriors, while men showed 3.4% more signs of depression if they worked weekends.

    Symptoms listed included feeling worthless or incapable.

    Researchers note that the relationship between weekend working and depression may be because those who work weekends tend to also be in low-paid service jobs, where depression is also more prevalent.

    Dissatisfaction with a job could also contribute to feelings of low mood.

    Gill Weston, the study’s lead author, said: ‘This is an observational study, so although we cannot establish the exact causes, we do know many women face the additional burden of doing a larger share of domestic labour than men, leading to extensive total work hours, added time pressures and overwhelming responsibilities.

    ‘Independent of their working patterns, we also found that workers with the most depressive symptoms were older, on lower incomes, smokers, in physically demanding jobs, and who were dissatisfied at work.

    ‘We hope our findings will encourage employers and policy-makers to think about how to reduce the burdens and increase support for women who work long or irregular hours – without restricting their ability to work when they wish to.’

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

    MORE: Photographer’s Devastation Portraits capture just how overwhelming anxiety and depression can be

    MORE: Can changing your diet improve mental health problems?

    MORE: My daughter is an adult but I’m still her best ally against her eating disorder


    work spouse-5715work spouse-5715ellencscottwork spouse-5715work spouse-5715ellencscott

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    Metro Illustrations Muslim men explain why it's so difficult to find a partner to marry Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    It’s a truth universally acknowledged that dating sucks.

    But not all communities date. Muslims, for example, often get to know potential suitors with the aim of getting married as soon as possible, predominantly to avoid premarital sex.

    No matter what your preferences, the dating pool might not scream talent. But when you add religion to the mix – particularly if you are trying to find someone on the same religious level as you – the pool becomes smaller.

    Recently, we wrote about why Muslim women find it difficult to find a partner. A lot of the women said the issue came down to men not meeting them at their level.

    But Muslim men also face challenges in finding someone to spend their lives with.

    After all, Muslim men, like any group, are not a monolith – not all are mollycoddled and sheltered individuals, unable to reach the standards of Muslim women.

    We spoke to five different Muslims based in the UK, US, and Canada to find out where dating is going wrong for them.

    Mustafa, 27, UK

    Muslim dating apps are shit and the time it takes to communicate with someone is a turn off.

    Because it’s a Muslim dating app, you feel like you are stepping on eggshells when it comes to flirting. Some don’t reciprocate, which turns you off from flirting at all.

    Some women have a long list of things they want in a man. Some are so expansive, it’s not surprising they’re still single.

    And I hear that the men on Muslim dating apps are either boring or just trash.

    I think both sexes don’t know how to be themselves on dating apps. We are all either scared of the unknown or we fear being judged.

    If you’re not meeting people on apps, meeting someone in real life is awkward – especially if they bring someone with them (a chaperone, for example a relative or family friend, to make the situation more ‘halal’ or just for guidance). It’s quite normal for first meetings but not everyone will tell you whether they’re bringing someone.

    Another thing I find is that a lot of girls don’t have confidence and don’t show off their personality on the first meeting.

    Don, 28

    The biggest challenge in preparing myself for marriage lies in the economic barriers to success. With housing prices so high and enormous competition for high salaried positions, it feels like if you haven’t met a set of arbitrary, sometimes unreachable goals, you’re not worthy of the long term investment needed for a marriage.

    The persistent idea that you are measured against your salary and how much you’ve achieved by a certain time in your life can leave you feeling inadequate.

    In addition, having been raised Muslim but not necessarily having dated Muslim women, it can often feel like my value set isn’t sought after in a culture that seemingly rewards excess or wealth.

    It makes the search for someone special considerably [difficult] and has proven itself a likely pitfall for heartache when values inevitably clash in a long term relationship.

    (Picture: MMuffin for Metro.co.uk)

    Nahid, 34, U.S

    At a certain age (over 30) it becomes easier for men to find partners than it is for women. This doesn’t seem unique to Muslim or South Asian culture.

    I assume it’s because women tend to want to settle down at an earlier age as being single after a certain age is still somewhat frowned upon. Women are more willing at an older age to settle or work out the differences. They don’t want to be outside of societal norms.

    But in some ways, I find that men of my age, ethnic and religious background in the West have to work harder to find a suitable partner, especially if we’re limiting ourselves to partners of a similar background.

    That’s because most of the backlash against Muslims is geared towards Muslim men. Women, in general, are viewed as victims of male oppression.

    So it becomes our burden to prove that we’re not the oppressor and work harder to prove that.

    Our understanding of success in Muslim or Asian culture pivots around the notion that we’ll get married and settle down with kids.

    Men’s goals and aspirations don’t usually stop there but women’s goals and aspirations are usually limited after marriage. A large part of female success is therefore defined by finding the right partner.

    I wouldn’t say women are inherently less ambitious, but their ambitions are not directed towards what a capitalist part of the world would call success.

    Also, women from a Muslim background have culturally been financially dependent on men.

    Not only am I fighting Islamophobia, at the same time I’m fighting to liberate women from male dependency. These all take a mental toll and make it harder to marry.

    Jamil, 26, UK

    I don’t think it’s actually that hard to find a partner when you’re a Muslim man.

    I know loads of people (male and female) who are finding partners and getting married.

    However, I do think marriage feels like a huge deal in the Asian Muslim community, so when people of a marriageable age start thinking about it, it feels like a huge pressure to find someone that they’re compatible with, especially when it’s something they may have neglected while they were pursuing other things like education, career, or travelling.

    Also, I think people feel like they have to be the finished package before they are ready to spend their life with someone as opposed to growing as an individual with someone. It can cause them to delay or neglect meeting people.

    It doesn’t help that Asian weddings can be very expensive, so before considering getting married, many need to make sure they’ve got healthy bank balances.

    Aden, 33, Canada

    I spent a large part of my youth chasing the wrong things and neglecting my responsibilities. I think the family dynamic in my household – and many other Muslim households – has caused us as youth to make up our own ideals of how a wife or husband should be.

    I personally would like to apologise to all the young Muslim women who have worked hard to help their families and educate themselves while some young Muslim men have got lost chasing the wrong things in life. We men have done a great dishonour to our Muslim women and our responsibilities as Muslim men.

    Most guys don’t get themselves together until they hit their 30s, that’s if they ever get it together, and by that time most guys will look to marry younger girls, which in my opinion is wrong.

    Muslim men need to take inspiration from the husband of Somali-American politician Ilhan Omar. He stands by his wife and elevates her by supporting her.

    My recommendation to Muslim women who are single and looking for marriage is to be positive at all costs while also practising sabr (patience) and remember that God tests the ones he loves with the greatest tests so be patient and your reward will be great.

    MORE: Muslims who date in the age of Minder

    MORE: Shisha lounges are important community spaces that are uniquely welcoming for Muslims and other minorities

    MORE: Islamophobia has crept into the Conservative party and trickled down to its voters


    ella byworthella byworthfaimabakar1Metro Illustrations Muslim men explain why it's so difficult to find a partner to marry Ella Byworth for Metro.co.ukella byworthella byworthfaimabakar1Metro Illustrations Muslim men explain why it's so difficult to find a partner to marry Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk

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    Welcome to London! The loneliest city in the world (Photo: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Welcome to Lean On Me – a weekly agony aunt style column from Metro.co.uk where Kate Leaver answers your friendship woes.

    Dear Kate,

    I’ve just moved to London from America. I know you’ve moved here from Sydney. How did you make new friends? How can I go about making new friends and meeting new people?

    Nicole, 27

    Vegan food at festivals
    If you like someone and think you could be friends, be brave and actually ask them out for brunch or a walk or a wine (Photo: Erin Aniker)

    Dear Nicole,

    Welcome to London! The loneliest city in the world, according to one grim survey. A place that’s notoriously difficult to make friends, a place that can make you feel small and alone. Do not let it. This sprawling, grey city can feel like home, if you make it so.

    Here’s your welcome pack from me: a friendly to-do list for meeting new people and making connections now that you’re here.

    Get a starter friend

    When I first moved 12,500km from home, I had a cheeky head start in making friends. My mum’s friend’s son lived here, and he picked me up from Heathrow with a toy squirrel and a sign with my name on it. Do you have a connection you can exploit for friendship purposes?

    The daughter of your mother’s friend from work? Your sister’s boyfriend’s cousin’s friend? An ex-colleague or an old school acquaintance or someone you met one time at a party, anyone who’s moved here? Any connection, even a tenuous one, helps. It’s comforting to know one person when you land.

    Use social media 

    I searched for other female journalists in the London area on Twitter, followed a whole bunch and started interacting with them. If someone followed me back and talked to me, I’d DM them, tell them I was new to town and ask them for a coffee or a wine.

    I know people who’ve used Instagram in a similar way. It is entirely possible and in fact quite delightful to meet people using social media. Obviously be respectful and tactful.

    Join a club

    I joined an all-lady book club and immediately got a brand new group of friends. It’s a very efficient way of upping your friendship numbers and getting that lovely cohesive feeling of belonging to a group.

    Find a book club, join a netball team, go to a yoga class regularly or sign up to your local Women’s Institute. Get into extra-curricular activities through work, online or through community initiatives in your area.

    Talk to your neighbours

    My boyfriend grew up in a small English village so it was natural to him, when we moved in together, to speak to our neighbours. He introduced himself and took round cookies. We got really involved in our annual street party and it’s been a revelation to me.

    Almost every time I walk down our street, I have a cute little chat with someone and it gives me such a lovely feeling of belonging and safety. Ask your neighbours over for a cuppa and get to know them. You might make some unexpected, utterly lovely connections.

    Ask people out

    If you like someone and think you could be friends, be brave and actually ask them out for brunch or a walk or a wine. We let so many friendship opportunities pass us by out of fear or complacency.

    Choose not to do that. Make it a personal policy to follow through if you feel chemistry with someone. One of my closest friends likes to remind me of the time I simply said: ‘Do you want to be my friend?’

    Download apps

    If you simply cannot face the idea of approaching someone in person to ask them for a friendship date, go online. If someone is on a friendship app, then they’re obviously open to making new friends, which should reduce your fear of rejection a little.

    Bumble have a BFF option for making friends. You could also try Hey Vina, Pal, Skout, Real and Friender.

    Go well, Nicole. Hopefully you’ll be down the pub for a roast on Sunday with your new friends in no time.

    About Lean On Me

    Kate Leaver is the author of The Friendship Cure and she will be answering your friendship woes in her weekly Metro.co.uk column.

    If you’d like to submit a question or problem, email LeanOnMe@metro.co.uk with ‘Lean on me’ in the subject line.

    Submissions are anonymous and you can follow the discussion on Twitter #LeanOnMe.

    MORE: Lean On Me: I’m on maternity leave and lonely. How do I make mum friends?

    MORE: Lean On Me: How do I make meaningful friendships?

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


    how we can make cinema more inclusive for those who are deaf or hard of hearing (Amanda Keats)how we can make cinema more inclusive for those who are deaf or hard of hearing (Amanda Keats)kateleaverVegan food at festivalshow we can make cinema more inclusive for those who are deaf or hard of hearing (Amanda Keats)how we can make cinema more inclusive for those who are deaf or hard of hearing (Amanda Keats)kateleaverVegan food at festivals

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