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

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    Another day, another viral challenge for you to try.

    We actually think this one might be better than the triangle dance craze or that iconic star pose.

    Behold the microwave challenge, the new task to attempt, master, and then show off on your social media.

    The idea is simple. Actually doing it is a little trickier.

    To complete the microwave challenge, you must film yourself slowly turning on the ground as if you were a meal being reheated on the plate of a microwave. Ideally, you must do this to the soundtrack of the song Slow Dancing in the Dark, by Joji, timed perfectly so you begin spinning at the microwave-esque ‘ding’.

    The trend appears to have started in February over on TikTok, when @djtaylortot uploaded a video of his microwave challenge and said others should give it a go.

    That being said, it’s worth noting that members of BTS appear to do the classic microwave spin in a video from 2017:

    The difficulty comes from making your spin as smooth as humanly possible – a tricky feat considering that the most common technique involves using one hand to turn yourself around.

    Your body must remain still and posed while you turn with grace. A slippery hardwood floor is highly recommended, as we don’t think attempting this on the carpet will achieve anything but a friction burn.

    Take a look at some examples of the trend below, analyse them closely, then attempt to master this challenge yourself. Make sure you get a friend to film you, because, as we know, if something isn’t posted on social media it didn’t really happen.

    Nailed it yet?

    MORE: Viral challenge #TrashTag encourages teens to pick up litter

    MORE: We tested the #VansChallenge and turns out it doesn’t work

    MORE: We tried the pineapple hack and it didn’t work


    microwave challenge-11fdmicrowave challenge-11fd

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    (Picture: Getty)

    The way you speak to your doctor is probably very different to the way you say things in everyday life.

    You’re more likely to use the words like ‘bowel movements’ ‘urine’ and ‘vomiting’ when talking to a medical professional.

    But according to the NHS, the language used to describe our problems or symptoms could make it more difficult to understand what is happening.

    A new guide has been released encouraged people writing or talking to us about our health to use words like poo instead of ‘stools’ or ‘bowel movements’.

    It adds that we should use ‘pee’ as well as ‘urine’ but drop phrases like ‘passing urine’.

    And it encourages people to use ‘feeling sick’ instead of ‘nausea’ and ‘being sick’ instead of ‘vomiting’.

    In a blog post, NHS content designer Sara Wilcox explained: ‘People come to the NHS website to get answers to their questions about health, so they need web pages that are easy to understand. The content designers who write our pages know that the words we use affect how well, and how quickly, people understand. And that affects their health.

    What it's really like to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘We research and choose the words that work best – and now we’ve published some of them in an A to Z list for people who write about health and the NHS. The list includes around 100 words and phrases and we’ll be adding more.

    ‘Many of our web pages are about medical conditions and treatments. We talk about body parts and how bodies work and sometimes that means talking about uncomfortable topics. That’s why our list includes the words pee and poo.’

    She added they do get complaints about how these words are ‘simplistic, dumbing down and patronising’ but overall, after examining over 10,000 response to their survey, people are positive about the language they use.

    Their tests showed most people preferred ‘poo’ to ‘bowel’ or ‘stool’ and people with a learning disability or dyslexia are slightly more likely to use simple words like ‘poo’.

    She explained they chose the word ‘pee’ over ‘wee’ because people who use voice recognition software might have problems with the word as it also means small.

    Sara said: ‘We think it’s important to use the language that’s most widely understood – by people of different ages and literacy levels.

    ‘We know some people think we shouldn’t use words like ‘pee’ and ‘poo’, but we haven’t seen anyone have problems knowing what we mean. Most importantly, if someone with poor literacy understands ‘blood in your poo’, it might just save their life.’

    MORE: Flora goes completely vegan and removes dairy from their entire spread range

    MORE: This guide from the 1940s explains how men should deal with female employees


    The NHS is encouraging people to say pooThe NHS is encouraging people to say poo

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    Rebecca Legon, a 38-year-old amputee, poses on a sofa
    Rebecca Legon hid her prosthetic leg for years out of shame. Now she’s done hiding. (Picture: Lisa Moore)

    Rebecca Legon (yes, she does know it’s a ‘funny coincidence’ to have that last name when she has one leg missing) was born with a rare limb deformity that caused her knee to grow out of her hip.

    In order to get fitted for a prosthetic, she had to have her leg amputated at eight years old.

    She went on to hide her leg for years, plagued by shame and low self-esteem.

    Now, she’s landed work as a model and shares her story on Instagram to inspire other amputees to love their bodies.

    ‘I still remember the bizarre phantom pain that I explerience by wiggling, or itching toes that were no longer part of my body,’ Rebecca tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘I always knew that I was different. Unlike today there wasn’t any awareness around disability.

    ‘I didn’t know any other disabled people, or even consider myself disabled.’

    Model Rebecca Legon sits on a table to show her prosthetic leg
    After years of self-hate and alcoholism, Rebecca has learned to embrace her body (Picture: Lisa Moore)

    Rebecca says it’s ‘very sad’ to look back on her teens and twenties as she couldn’t accept her body.

    She wore baggy clothes to hide her prosthetic leg and hated her body, which triggered an issue with alcohol.

    ‘Drinking gave me the confidence not to be bothered when people were looking,’ Rebecca explains. ‘I was extremely self-conscious and would dread being asked that question – “what’s wrong with your leg?”‘

    Recovery from alcoholism came in large part from acceptance. Rebecca had to embrace her body and what made her different, and work against the shame and self-hate she’d been battling for most of her life.

    Rebecca walking with her dog
    She works as a creative and shares her life online to inspire others (Picture: Isis Davidge)

    In 2008 she took part in Britain’s Missing Top Model, a reality show for disabled women designed to make the world of fashion more inclusive. This hammered home just how necessary it is for people to see those with disabilities proudly living their lives, and gave Rebecca the push she needed to do the same.

    ‘I hope that by showcasing myself [I will] inspire others and show that it is okay to be different,’ says Rebecca. ‘It is a tough journey but from my own personal experience, once you accept yourself and your imperfections, you can be truly happy.’

    Now 38, Rebecca works as an entrepreneur in creative design as well as doing PR and event management. She refuses to let being an amputee hold her back from doing anything she fancies, and regularly challenges herself to try new types of sport and exercise to make sure she’s at her physical peak.

    Rebecca dancing
    (Picture: Lisa Moore)

    ‘I work out every day and walk 5k most days with my Hungarian Vizsla Ralph up the Ashdown forest,’ Rebecca tells us. ‘It is my spiritual happy place and if I am feeling anxious of down after a walk I am much better.

    ‘Keeping fit mentally sees me through the week and I couldn’t live without it.

    ‘I also love to go skiing, swimming, horse riding and cycling — of course being a mother is also exercise, running around looking after my babies!

    ‘I have been an amputee all of my life and having been wearing a prosthetic leg since I was two years old, so I do not know any different.

    ‘I am fit and healthy physically and (now) mentally so it does not really affect my life, although by 8pm I am ready to take my leg off and relax.’

    (Picture: Rebecca Legon)

    Rebecca makes sure to share her life on Instagram to increase visibility of amputees, hoping that she’ll be able to help anyone else struggling with body image and low confidence.

    ‘I felt ashamed of my disability, which was mentally a lonely and isolating time,’ she says.

    ‘However, I was still strong-willed and determined and when I was told that I couldn’t do certain things, I would try to prove everybody wrong.

    ‘Now, after a long confidence battle I am happy to say that I have finally accepted my deformity and my true ‘body form’ — but it has been a long and tough journey!

    (Picture: Manon Ouimet)

    ‘I have always had a deep burning desire to do something positive with my life and to help people in similar situations, but until recently my confidence had stopped me.

    ‘I hope that through my life, I can help others to accept themselves for who they are.

    ‘It is impossible to define normal. Everybody is different, and this is totally okay. Whether it be a disability, mental anxiety, skin colour, religion, sexual preference, in this day and age any difference needs to be accepted.

    ‘I want to inspire others to accept their imperfections.’

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

    MORE: Model who suffered months of ‘horrific’ hair loss and seizures is inspiring people to embrace their differences

    MORE: Girl with ‘broken doll’ syndrome receives makeup for Christmas after having her face rebuilt


    rebecca legon featured image-2675rebecca legon featured image-2675

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    (Picture: Papa John’s)

    Papa John’s has joined forces with Marmite to develop a new Marmite pizza – and you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it.

    Available exclusively at Papa John’s, the new pizza features a crust stuffed with Marmite.

    It’s the first Marmite stuffed crust across pizza restaurants in the UK – and it’s bound to divide opinion.

    The pizzas feature soft dough hand-rolled under melted mozzarella topped with Marmite. So inside each crust you get Marmite-y cheese.

    The pizzas will be available on all Papa John’s existing pizzas nationwide and can be ordered online or in store from 25 March 2019 – but it’s for a limited time only, so you might want to be quick if to get your hands on one.

    Liz Williams, Managing Director for Papa John’s said: ‘Following the huge success of our Marmite Scrolls earlier this year, we’re extremely excited to spread the partnership beyond our side menu and into the crusts of our popular pizzas.

    (Picture: Papa John’s)

    ‘Ingredient innovation is at the core of our menu and we’re sure that the addition of Marmite to our cheesy crusts will be a huge hit.’

    This isn’t the first time Papa John’s has released a Marmite-y product.

    Back in January the brand announced Marmite and cheese scrolls would be coming to the UK.

    People in Australia had been enjoying the cheese scrolls for ages using Vegemite, but the pizza giant decided to bring it over here with Marmite instead.

    The scrolls are a part pizza and part pastry hybrid, with Marmite swirled into the dough base and covered with cheese.

    They’re then rolled up and baked, and they look delicious.

    Unfortunately, the scrolls were only launched for a limited time and so they’re no longer available – but hey, we can make do with the pizza, right?

    MORE: Mum measures baby’s age using pizza slices in cheesy photoshoots

    MORE: Does Dom the Domino’s Pizza tracker actually track your pizza?


    Marmite Stuffed Crust 2[1][1][1][3]-0487Marmite Stuffed Crust 2[1][1][1][3]-0487

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    Caucasian teenage girl organizing recycling bins
    (Picture: Getty)

    According to new research, parents are being called out by their own kids for their bad recycling practices.

    The research, conducted by The Midcounties Co-operative, found that one in six parents believe their kids know more about what can be recycled than they do.

    And four in 10 have incorrectly tried to throw something away, only to be caught out by one of their children.

    A quarter of kids even encourage their parents to bring their own bags at the supermarket and buy loose fruit and veg instead of those wrapped in plastic.

    Half of children remind their parent to bring a ‘bag for life’ rather than using single-use carriers when they go shopping.

    Two thirds of parents that responded to the survey confess to throwing something in the main bin because they can’t be bothered with the hassle of recycling or finding the correct bin.

    Luckily – it looks like the younger generation aren’t nearly as lazy or sneaky as some of these grown ups.

    ‘Reducing single-use plastic is a high priority for our 700,000 members, so we wanted to understand whether this desire was making its way to the next generation,’ says Mike Pickering from The Midcounties Co-operative.

    Boy putting waste into recycling bin
    (Picture: Getty)

    ‘Our results show, happily, that the mantle is also being passed down, with children showing real engagement in sustainable living – something we see regularly through our work with schools.’

    Three quarters of the parents included in the survey admit they ‘worry’ about the state of the world they will leave behind for their children. And 63% have made an active effort to cut down on their single-use plastic consumption in the last year.

    The figures come just after school children made headlines with enormous protests urging politicians to take climate change and other environmental issues seriously.

    We’re not sure what has made these kids so environmentally engaged, but it certainly bodes well for the future of the planet.

    MORE: People are masterfully sliding and spinning to nail the microwave challenge

    MORE: Woman with cancer stays positive by cosplaying as pop culture icons

    MORE: This French marathon allows runners to stop for wine and cheese


    Caucasian teenage girl organizing recycling binsCaucasian teenage girl organizing recycling bins

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    Editorial use only Mandatory Credit: Photo by Snap/REX/Shutterstock (390889jl) FILM STILLS OF 'LITTLE MERMAID' WITH 1989, ARIEL, JOHN / RON CLEMENTE MUSKER IN 1989 VARIOUS
    (Picture: Rex)

    Disney fans, rejoice: You can now learn to swim like The Little Mermaid as select Disney World hotels are now offering lessons

    According to Fox 35 Orlando, some Disney World resorts are offering the chance to ‘swim like a mermaid’ this year, and you’ll actually get to dress up like Ariel.

    Participants who join the Mermaid School will be fitted with an actual mermaid tail and taught to swim around with it, like a real-life mermaid.

    Of course, to get the real Ariel look you should opt for a green tail and purple bikini top – and you could go all out with a red wig, though it will probably get ruined in the water.

    But hey, imagine the Instagram photos!

    Each class will last an hour and will cost $50 (£37.72), according to the Disney Parks Blog.

    And you’ll be learning from experts, too – as the instructors come from The Mermaid Academy, an Orlando-based company that offers mermaid swimming lessons.

    Joe O’Rouke, owner of the company, said: ‘We’re a very small company compared to Disney — we never thought this would happen. We’re one of the lucky ones.’

    The classes will begin from this month, and will run until December across resorts including Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s Yacht, Beach Club resorts and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.

    MORE: Disney World’s mac and cheese truck is what dreams are made of

    AD FEATURE: 15 experiences you need to know about at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida


    You can now do mermaid classes at Disney WorldYou can now do mermaid classes at Disney World

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    Why imposter syndrome makes me feel like I'm faking my mental illness Mental health depression sad cry woman mask fake pills illness sick Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk
    (Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)

    There is rarely one reason why someone decides to take their own life, and often it is a result of problems building up to a point where someone can see no other way to cope.

    According to Samaritans, when a person reaches a point where they feel suicidal, they often lose sight of being able to work through their problems.

    Samaritans say: ‘They can feel completely consumed with hopelessness and often believe those around them will be better off if they are no longer here.

    ‘A suicidal crisis will pass – feeling this way often only last for a short period of time.’

    ‘Talking can really help a person to see a way through this and we would encourage anyone who is feeling low to reach out for help.’

    It can be very hard to tell whether a person is suicidal, and it can feel like an impossible topic to bring up. But inviting someone to open up could literally save their life.

    It’s not always possible to identify if a person is feeling suicidal, and there may be no signs at all. That’s why it’s important that no matter what, you make it clear that you are there to talk to. Even the person who seems happiest can be struggling.

    But some people may show signs of being suicidal. According to Samaritans, one of these signs is a change in behaviour – if someone starts acting out of the ordinary, for example by becoming very withdrawn or excessively animated, this may be a sign that something is wrong.

    Changes in routine, sleeping and eating habits, may also indicate a problem, as well as lacking energy and appearing particularly tired.

    Other indications could be drinking, smoking or using drugs more than usual, or finding it hard to cope with everyday things, including not wanting to do things they usually enjoy.

    Becoming withdrawn from friends and family and not wanting to talk is a warning sign, as well as becoming more tearful or appearing restless, agitated, nervous, irritable.

    A person feeling suicidal may also put themselves down a lot – either in a serious or jokey way, for instance mentioning things like ‘nobody loves me’ or saying that they are a ‘waste of space’.

    Symptoms may also include losing interest in their appearance, or not taking care of themselves.

    As mentioned, some people who feel suicidal don’t demonstrate any signs at all, but it is important to know the ones that you can look out for.

    A spokesperson for Samaritans told Metro.co.uk: ‘Every suicide is a tragedy.

    ‘Suicide is complex and each person’s circumstances are individual and influenced by different factors.

    ‘All threats of suicide should be taken seriously and it is important to remember there is help available for anyone who is struggling to cope, feeling suicidal, or is worried about someone they know.

    ‘Encouraging people to reach out early and talk about their problems, whether that is with loved ones or an organisation like Samaritans, has been shown to help people find a way through.’

    MORE: I had difficulty describing my mental health symptoms and it led to the wrong diagnosis

    MORE: Can changing your diet improve mental health problems?


    Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrations

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    (Picture: Amazon / Metro.co.uk)

    No one knows what you like better than yourself. Or at least that’s what you thought.

    One look at Amazon’s Bargain Finds page will tell you that there are hundreds of brilliant products out there that you didn’t even know you needed – until now.

    For example, you may have needed a blanket, but did you know that you specifically needed a mermaid tail blanket?

    Or how about a silicone case for your iPhone AirPods that comes with a strap that finally deals with the single biggest problem with the earphones – what to do with them when you have to take them out for a second.

    Below are those brilliant bargain finds and many more surprising must-haves we stumbled across on Amazon.

    Handmade Mermaid Tail Blanket, £14.99

    Handmade Mermaid Tail Blanket
    (Picture: Amazon)

    Say goodbye to cold feet with this mer-mazing and seriously comfortable mermaid tail blanket.

    It comes in two sizes and a range of colours that will make snuggling up in front of the TV extra cosy.

    You’ll be ready to mermaid and chill in a splash.

    Dreamiracle String Lights, £11.99

    Dreamiracle String Lights, £11.99
    (Picture: Amazon)

    These LED operated clip peg string lights are a great way to display your photos, doodles, or memos in an atmospheric and mood-enhancing way.

    They’d also be great way for decorating and brightening a wedding venue on a budget.

    Insect Brooch, £1.15

    Insect Brooch, £1.15
    (Picture: Amazon)

    You’d never know this beautiful bumble bee brooch costs just £1.15.

    The simplistically designed insect brooch is a perfect way to jazz up any outfit. And when someone asks you where it’s from, just say, ‘It’s an heirloom’ – they’ll be none the wiser.

    Silicone case for Apple iPhone AirPods, £9

    Silicone case for Apple iPhone AirPods
    (Picture: Amazon)

    How we didn’t know we needed this strap wire cable before now, we’ll never know.

    While AirPods are brilliant and have managed to make those pesky wires a thing of the past, they do make you realise that having a bit of wire, just enough to hang off your neck, may not be such a bad thing.

    Metal Flamingo Night Light, £5.46

    Metal Flamingo Night Light
    (Picture: Amazon)

    A cute, decorative light for under £6, we instantly love it.

    It’s really simple, but certainly adds some character to any room.

    Women’s Friends Hoodie, £9.99

    Women’s Friends Hoodie, £9.99
    (Picture: Amazon)

    Calling all Friends fans, this cropped hoodie is perfect for when you’re keeping things casual – like when you’re bingeing the first season of the hit TV show.

    And paired with your mermaid blanket, you’ve got yourself an ideal duvet day.

    Spectacles holder, £4.80

    Spectacles holder, £4.80
    (Picture: Amazon)

    Made from Indian Rosewood, this kooky design is quite literally eye-catching (pun intended) and is a huge hit with Amazon customers, averaging 4.3 out of 5 stars from over 500 reviews.

    One happy customer wrote: ‘It’s brilliant and surprisingly well made and the perfect place to keep your glasses over night. I gave this to my husband and he keeps it on his bedside table.’

    We love this novelty fella – he’s practically perfect in every way.

    Cute Cat Decorative Throw Pillow Case Cushion Cover, £2.99

    Cute Cat Decorative Throw Pillow Case Cushion Cover, £2.99
    (Picture: Amazon)

    This cat print cushion cover makes for the perfect gift for cat lovers.

    It currently has an impressive 5/5 star rating on Amazon, with reviewers praising everything from the material to its price.

    One reviewer noted its social interaction powers, writing: ‘Fun cushion cover…..makes a talking point.’

    Large Hot Water Bottle with Chunky Knitted Cover, £7.20

    Large Hot Water Bottle with Chunky Knitted Cover, £7.20
    (Picture: Amazon)

    These two-litre hot water bottles are guaranteed to keep you extra cosy during cold and windy nights.

    They currently hold a 4/5 star rating on Amazon, with one customer commenting: ‘We received the purple knitted cover for our hot water bottle, any would have done they are lovely colours.

    ‘The colour is more pastel, with the poms poms this looks great. It works a treat and we could not be happier with this product or price.’

    Plant Transparent Vase on a Hydroponic Wooden Frame, £7.65

    Plant Transparent Vase on a Hydroponic Wooden Frame, £7.65
    (Picture: Amazon)

    Looking for a funky vase?

    Well, we love this really interesting take on a flower vase and it’s under a tenner.

    This glass bottle would look great on any shelf or coffee table.

    Sausage Dog Cushion Cover, £3.99

    Sausage Dog Cushion Cover, £3.99
    (Picture: Amazon)

    If your current sofa cushions are in need of an upgrade, how about this cute sausage dog cushion cover?

    It’s stylish, low-cost and not to mention pretty darn cute.

    Amazon wins 2019 Retail Week Awards

    There’s never been a better time to bag yourself a bargain, as today Amazon are saying thank you to customers for naming it the UK’s favourite retailer at the 2019 Retail Week Awards, by offering £5 off selected orders of £25 or more placed today.

    This deal can be redeemed by entering the promo code BIGTHANKS at checkout.

    MORE: Instagram now lets you buy stuff directly through the app

    MORE: You can now learn to swim like The Little Mermaid at Disney World resorts

    MORE: Amputee who hid her leg for years out of shame now inspires others to embrace their differences


    The Amazon Bargain buys you didn?t know you neededThe Amazon Bargain buys you didn?t know you needed

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    Arriving at Samantha’s 30th birthday party, her guests were expecting a great night.

    But they had no idea they were about to celebrate her wedding day.

    Samantha and her fiance James Allan, 32, got married in an intimate ceremony with just friends and family the day before – and they made sure no one else knew.

    So as the party got underway on 9 March, legal secretary Samanthas mum took to the dancefloor to make a speech about her daughter – with a shock twist at the end.

    As she asked everyone to turn to look at the back of the room, she introduced the new Mr and Mrs Allan as the bride and groom walked through the door in their wedding attire.

    The emotional moment was caught on camera as guests had the sudden realisation that they were in the middle of their wedding reception.

    Samantha, from St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It all went perfectly on the day. I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding day and all for about £1500.

    ‘This was exactly how I wanted it. No fuss, no hassle and simple.

    ‘I married the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, with my closest family there to witness and had the most amazing day, both days. I even got to wear my dress twice.

    ‘The reaction from the guests was amazing they all thought it was the most amazing surprise and no one had any idea that it was about to unfold. They said it would be a hard surprise to top.’

    Samantha Allan turned her 30th birthday party into her surprise wedding PICS SUPPLIED VIA Laura Abernethy
    Samantha and James (front) and their guests at the ceremony (Picture: Samantha Allan)

    When they got engaged in August last year, the couple, who had been together for seven years, had no plans to marry so soon.

    But they had lost a baby in March 2018, and after a difficult time, they decided wanted to have something positive to look forward to this year.

    And somehow their idea for a surprise wedding fell into place.

    ‘I don’t like to be the centre of attention and usually like to fade into the background at big events.

    ‘My 30th though was a huge deal and I didn’t want it to go past as just another day so I had decided on a party for that.

    ‘I never really considered a huge white wedding because it’s just not who I am.

    Samantha Allan turned her 30th birthday party into her surprise wedding PICS SUPPLIED VIA Laura Abernethy
    Samantha and her sister at the ceremony (Picture: Samantha Allan)

    ‘I would much rather put a large sum of money (because let’s face it if you say wedding, there seems to be an extra zero or two added to the prices) towards a house for my family than on one day for my wedding.’

    After a chance conversation in work, Samantha decided she wanted to combine the two events, but she didn’t want most of her guests to know.

    She adds: ‘I was discussing getting married in work one day when my Practice Manager Lorraine, who is also like a second mum to me, said to me that someone she knew got married  with just him and his wife, grabbing two random witnesses and they announced it at a party later on that day.

    ‘I thought what a great idea. I discussed it with James and said we should just do it ourselves but I did want our closest family there.

    ‘From that moment on in September 2018, we started planning. I spoke to my mum and sister who said go for it.

    ‘I planned like any normal bride for six months. I went dress shopping, did bridesmaid/flowergirl gift bags, planned my favours, place names etc. but I just didn’t tell all the guests.’

    Initially, the couple only told Samantha’s mum and sister and three close friends. At Christmas time she told her auntie and uncle as they live in Spain and she knew she wanted them to come.

    Samantha Allan turned her 30th birthday party into her surprise wedding PICS SUPPLIED VIA Laura Abernethy
    Samantha in her birthday outfit before the surprise (Picture: Samantha Allan)

    One week before the big day, she told her grandma. She laughs: ‘She thought I was joking. She was so happy for us though.’

    Samantha then told her dad and finally, the night before her wedding she told their four-year-old daughter Novah and nephews Lucas, 10 and Nathan, seven.

    She says: ‘In the beginning it was easy to keep the secret. The closer it got to the day, the harder it become and I had to tell myself to not talk about matters concerning my birthday in case I put my foot in it.

    ‘Somehow we managed to pull it off and no one slipped up before the announcement.’

    On 8 March, the couple and their chosen few guests had their wedding at the Registry office in Kirkcaldy, with Samantha’s dad walking her down the aisle, before they went to a local hotel to have a meal.

    Samantha Allan turned her 30th birthday party into her surprise wedding PICS SUPPLIED VIA Laura Abernethy
    Samantha and her guests after the big reveal (Picture: Samantha Allan)

    ‘It was just as beautiful as having a big wedding,’ she says. ‘After the wedding meal we had a lovely night of just chatting, playing music on our phones using Spotify and the children were dancing and having a good time.’

    The next morning was Samantha’s 30th birthday and after a morning of opening presents, they went to a local hall they had hired and decorated it with birthday decorations.

    Around 9pm, the party started and Samantha, dressed in a black jumpsuit, welcomed the guests to the party, still not giving anything away.

    They had a birthday cake and served food and while their guests were tucking in, the couple, Samantha’s sister, who was a bridesmaid, and her daughter, who was a flowergirl, left the room to change into their wedding clothes.

    Samantha says: ‘While we were getting dressed I had my two best friends, who were at the wedding and in on the secret, make sure everyone had returned back to the hall. They checked outside and in the toilets.

    ‘My mum took to the floor and made a speech.

    ‘She then advised everyone that I wanted to celebrate with everyone and to turn towards the doors at the back of the room, this happened yesterday and to please welcome the new Mr and Mrs Allan. We walked into the room, followed by bridesmaid and flower girl.

    ‘The whole room erupted to cheers and clapping (shock from some people) and there was not a single dry eye in the room.

    ‘We took to the floor for our first dance. Unfortunately we never really got that first dance as most people took to the floor to congratulate us. Everyone was so thrilled for us and said it was a fantastic surprise and lovely way to have a wedding.’

    MORE: You can now learn to swim like The Little Mermaid at Disney World resorts

    MORE: Papa John’s is launching a Marmite stuffed crust pizza

    MORE: Amputee who hid her leg for years out of shame now inspires others to embrace their differences


    Samantha Allan weddingSamantha Allan wedding

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    Animation history meets Lego Ideas
    Animation history meets Lego Ideas

    The latest Lego Ideas set is a recreation of Mickey Mouse’s first ever appearance, complete with authentic black & white minifigures.

    The Lego Ideas sets are unique amongst all Lego products because they’re originally suggested by, and designed, by fans.

    Kids and adults from around the world upload their creations to the Lego Ideas site and then they’re voted on by the community. Lego then comes along and judges any that get over 10,000 votes and considers whether they can turn them into an actual set.

    Even if the idea involves a licence that Lego doesn’t currently have, like the recent Flintstones set, they can still get made, but there are already plenty of Lego Disney sets… just none quite like this.

    The original design was created by Máté Szabó from Budapest, Hungary and although Lego’s own designers always change some aspects, to ensure the model is as robust as possible, it’s still basically the same concept and Szabó will receive a share of the profits from every sale.

    The set’s release comes just after the 90th anniversary of the Steamboat Willie cartoon and Mickey and Minnie Mouse themselves.

    The boat has a working crane, steam pipes, and spinning paddle wheels and there’s lots of little details to please animation fans, including Minnie Mouse’s guitar and her music sheet from the original 1928 animation.

    The Steamboat Willie set (number 21317) has an RRP of £79.99 and will be on sale from 1 April, although it already has a listing on the Lego shop.

    It’s made up of 751 pieces and measures 15cm high and 26cm long.


    LEGOIdeas_SteamBoatWillie__79.99 - 3-52efLEGOIdeas_SteamBoatWillie__79.99 - 3-52ef

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    (Picture: McDonald’s)

    This year has been big for vegan fast food – there was the vegan happy meal and the Gregg’s sausage roll.

    Well now, there’s another vegan McDonald’s option – the vegan nuggets.

    Unfortunately, it is only available in Norway at the moment.

    The nuggets are a mix of mashed potato, chickpeas, onions, carrots and corn.

    They are then coated in breadcrumbs and friend until crispy.

    The nuggets are offered as a Happy Meal option and as a nine pack on the menu.

    It’s not the first vegan option by McDonald’s though.

    In 2017, the McVegan burger was launched in Finland – and when we tried it, it got a pretty positive review.

    Picture: McDonald's McDonald's vegan nuggets
    (Picture: McDonald’s)

    Earlier this year, McDonald’s in the UK launched the veggie Happy Meal containing a veggie wrap, made up of a red pesto goujon, tomato ketchup, and shredded lettuce, wrapped in a soft toasted tortilla.

    For grown-ups there’s a standalone wrap with two goujons.

    Although not labelled as vegan, animal products are not used in the making of the meal but the wraps do pass through the same toaster as the buns that contain milk and there is a risk of contamination.

    Mari Husby, Senior Marketing Manager at Food Folk Norway, who own McDonald’s in the Scandinavian country, says customers want more meat-free options.

    He explains: ‘We want to give our customers the best possible selection, and to listen to their wishes and needs.

    ‘We are committed to listen to our customers and offer products that suit everyone, including giving more variety to the choice of protein. By launching vegetarian nuggets in Happy Meal we give vegetarian alternatives to the youngest as well.

    ‘Some want to reduce or cut the intake of meat, while others see the value of getting more vegetables in the kids.

    ‘For us it is important that customers have some predictability when they come to us, a McDonald’s visit should be something to look forward to, and by offering a wider range of vegetarian products in all restaurants, it doesn’t matter which of our 72 restaurants you visiting.’

    There’s no sign of the vegan nuggets being launched in the UK but hopefully the fast food company will keep expanding the veggie and vegan options here too.

    MORE: Flora goes completely vegan and removes dairy from their entire spread range

    MORE: Husband tells vegan wife she should eat meat as she’s pregnant, ‘for the baby’s health’


    McVegan nuggets-b70cMcVegan nuggets-b70c

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    (Picture: SWNS)

    Jenny is a very lucky doggo.

    While she was out for a walk with her owner Joanna Hole, her lead got trapped in a car bumper and she was dragged 300m along the road.

    But miraculously, 11-year-old Jenny survived.

    Now she has been left with brightly coloured bandages on all four paws as they were worn down to the tendon as she remained on all fours.

    Joanna said: ‘I couldn’t do anything about it. The lead was wrenched out of my hand and my poor little dog was dragged down the road.

    ‘I thought she was going to die. It was awful to see. It tore off the bottom of her paws. Her paws were so badly hurt. Her front paws were worn down to the tendon.

    ‘I couldn’t believe she stayed upright. It was like she was water-skiing down the road.’

    Joanna, Fox Hill, Bath, said that a nearby cyclist saw what was happening and sped off after the car and the dog, weaving through traffic to catch up.

    The cyclist managed to get level with the car and motion to the unaware driver to stop immediately, just before the Hadley Arms pub – just yards from a roundabout.

    Joanna said: ‘She was in a hell of a mess. If they had not stopped the car, it would have driven over the roundabout and Jenny would have surely died.

    ‘The cyclist risked his life to get in front of the car and then bang on the roof to get the driver to stop.

    ‘So many people were screaming and shouting when they saw what was going on.

    Patterdale Terrier, Jenny who was dragged almost 300 metres along the road by a car, which left with brightly coloured bandages on all four paws, which were worn down to the tendon after she remained on all fours during the ordeal. Pictured with her owner Joanna. Bath, Somerset. March 18 2019. See SWNS story SWBRdog.A red line showing the distance that the Patterdale Terrier called Jenny was dragged by a car along North Road in Bath, wearing her paws down to the tendons.A dog had a miracle escape after its lead got trapped in a car bumper - dragging it 300m on the road.Joanna Hole took Patterdale Terrier called Jenny out for a walk but was horrified when Jenny's lead got caught on a car tow bar as they crossed a road.Joanna watched on helplessly as 11-year-old Jenny was wrenched out of her grasp, and dragged nearly 300 metres along North Road, near Bath Golf Club in Bath, Som.Little Jenny, who weighs just four kilograms, has been left with brightly coloured bandages on all four paws.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘A van driver stopped and directed the traffic, and lots of Ralph Allen pupils, who were amazing and so kind, came over to try to pet Jenny and calm her down.’

    Joanna added: ‘A lovely lady, called Shelley, then took us off to Rosemary Lodge Veterinary Hospital down the road to treat her injuries.

    ‘It was just horrific. I was sick with dread.’

    Jenny was kept at the vet hospital for two nights, and has had to return every day for bandage changes since she was discharged last Wednesday.

    She added: ‘This was a miracle from Rosemary Lodge. They have been fantastic, I cannot thank them enough.

    ‘They took Jenny out of my arms and straight into the operating theatre. The team was just remarkable.

    ‘There were really a number of exceptional people who helped out Jenny. The cyclist was amazing.

    ‘I was pretty shaken up, I didn’t cope with it very well. I keep reliving the whole thing. I feel a bit better now but I felt powerless then.’

    She said that she had no ill feeling towards the driver, who had no idea what was happening.

    Patterdale Terrier, Jenny who was dragged almost 300 metres along the road by a car, which left with brightly coloured bandages on all four paws, which were worn down to the tendon after she remained on all fours during the ordeal. Bath, Somerset, March 19 2019. See SWNS story SWBRdog.A red line showing the distance that the Patterdale Terrier called Jenny was dragged by a car along North Road in Bath, wearing her paws down to the tendons.A dog had a miracle escape after its lead got trapped in a car bumper - dragging it 300m on the road.Joanna Hole took Patterdale Terrier called Jenny out for a walk but was horrified when Jenny's lead got caught on a car tow bar as they crossed a road.Joanna watched on helplessly as 11-year-old Jenny was wrenched out of her grasp, and dragged nearly 300 metres along North Road, near Bath Golf Club in Bath, Som.Little Jenny, who weighs just four kilograms, has been left with brightly coloured bandages on all four paws.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘The poor man was in a more worried state than me. He was trembling and was very tearful,’ said Joanna.

    ‘He told me he was a dog owner as well and felt just dreadful. He did not know about it. It was just an unfortunate accident.’

    Joanna said that Jenny is still ‘very floppy’ after almost a week on morphine – but that her dog is ‘very, very lucky’.

    ‘The vet said it will be about five or six weeks until she can walk properly again. But she is a lot brighter, and she has started to totter around in her little bandage booties,’ Joanna said.

    ‘It could have been so much worse. If she had fallen over she would have started banging her head and that would have been a whole different set of injuries.’

    She added: ‘I just want to let everyone know Jenny did not die and to thank everyone who helped for everything they have done.’

    MORE: McDonald’s is introducing vegan McNuggets in Norway

    MORE: This guide from the 1940s explains how men should deal with female employees


    Patterdale terrier JennyPatterdale terrier Jenny

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    Joselyn Jones has embraced her brow. See SWNS story SWNYbrow; A woman who was called a WOLF by schoolyard bullies said finally embracing her unibrow has made her more confident than ever. Joselyn Jones, 23, was relentlessly teased by school bullies who would howl like wolves every time she passed them in the hallway. Joselyn, of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, grew up hating her unibrow and begged her mother Pamela Jones, 57, to allow Joselyn to wax or pluck her brow. When Joselyn was ten her parents finally relented and allowed her to pluck her brows which became a painstaking daily routine due to their thickness. For twelve years, the hairdresser plucked her unibrow every morning and spent $10 weekly to have her unruly brows professionally shaped. When Joselyn welcomed her son Jeremiah, five, her grooming routine began to stretch her tight finances and she worried about the impression of beauty she was imprinting on her young son. In November 2017, the mom set herself a one-month challenge to stop grooming her brows and relaxing her hair, which was costing $70 every six weeks.
    (Picture: Joselyn Jones SWNS)

    A woman who was called a ‘wolf’ and ‘Golden Arches’ by school bullies because of her monobrow says she now embraces it and is more confident than ever.

    23-year-old Joselyn Jones was bullied in school by children who would howl like wolves or compare her monobrow to the McDonald’s logo.

    She grew up hating her brows, and begged her mum to wax it.

    When she was ten her parents finally relented and allowed her to pluck her brows, which became a painstaking daily routine due to their thickness.

    For twelve years Joselyn groomed her brows every morning and spent £8 weekly to have them professionally shaped.

    When Joselyn, a hairdresser, welcomed her son Jeremiah, five, her grooming routine began to stretch her tight finances and she worried about the impression she was imprinting on her young son.

    In November 2017, she set herself a one-month challenge to stop grooming her brows and relaxing her hair, which was costing £50 every six weeks.

    Joselyn Jones has embraced her brow. See SWNS story SWNYbrow; A woman who was called a WOLF by schoolyard bullies said finally embracing her unibrow has made her more confident than ever. Joselyn Jones, 23, was relentlessly teased by school bullies who would howl like wolves every time she passed them in the hallway. Joselyn, of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, grew up hating her unibrow and begged her mother Pamela Jones, 57, to allow Joselyn to wax or pluck her brow. When Joselyn was ten her parents finally relented and allowed her to pluck her brows which became a painstaking daily routine due to their thickness. For twelve years, the hairdresser plucked her unibrow every morning and spent $10 weekly to have her unruly brows professionally shaped. When Joselyn welcomed her son Jeremiah, five, her grooming routine began to stretch her tight finances and she worried about the impression of beauty she was imprinting on her young son. In November 2017, the mom set herself a one-month challenge to stop grooming her brows and relaxing her hair, which was costing $70 every six weeks.
    (Picture: Joselyn Jones / SWNS)

    After years of plucking, Joselyn, from Atlanta, Georgia, decided to grow out her brows and embrace her natural beauty.

    She said: ‘It’s interesting because ever since I’ve grown my eyebrows men are more interested in me.

    ‘I think men are so used to seeing women in a certain way, that to see someone looking different is attractive.’

    The mum said her confidence was elevated by the challenge and claims that embracing her monobrow has completely changed her outlook on life.

    Joselyn said: ‘When I was five years old I started noticing that everyone looked different to me.

    ‘It made me a little uncomfortable.They began to tease me in kindergarten. I would beg and beg my mum to cut my eyebrows but she would never let me.

    ‘In school when I would walk down the hallways older kids would make wolf sounds, like howling when I passed.

    ‘It made me feel terrible. They would call me McDonald’s because they said my eyebrows looked like the logo.

    ‘One day I came home from school crying and my dad just said: “Fine”. He said we could cut them.

    Joselyn Jones has embraced her brow. See SWNS story SWNYbrow; A woman who was called a WOLF by schoolyard bullies said finally embracing her unibrow has made her more confident than ever. Joselyn Jones, 23, was relentlessly teased by school bullies who would howl like wolves every time she passed them in the hallway. Joselyn, of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, grew up hating her unibrow and begged her mother Pamela Jones, 57, to allow Joselyn to wax or pluck her brow. When Joselyn was ten her parents finally relented and allowed her to pluck her brows which became a painstaking daily routine due to their thickness. For twelve years, the hairdresser plucked her unibrow every morning and spent $10 weekly to have her unruly brows professionally shaped. When Joselyn welcomed her son Jeremiah, five, her grooming routine began to stretch her tight finances and she worried about the impression of beauty she was imprinting on her young son. In November 2017, the mom set herself a one-month challenge to stop grooming her brows and relaxing her hair, which was costing $70 every six weeks.
    (Picture: Joselyn Jones / SWNS)

    ‘He got his beard clippers and separated my eyebrows right down the middle.

    ‘Finally people stopped talking about me.

    ‘It was emotional.

    ‘I started getting my course hair relaxed when I was nine or ten and everything changed.

    ‘I finally felt like I fit in with everyone else.

    ‘My eyebrows required so much maintenance.

    ‘I would pluck them in the center every morning and night and get them shaped professionally every week.

    ‘I spent ten dollars a week doing this from the age of ten until I was 23.

    ‘I spent $70 on relaxers for my hair every six weeks.

    ‘When I had my son, I was a single mum.

    ‘I was putting myself through hair school and I was meeting all kinds of different women.

    Joselyn Jones has embraced her brow. See SWNS story SWNYbrow; A woman who was called a WOLF by schoolyard bullies said finally embracing her unibrow has made her more confident than ever. Joselyn Jones, 23, was relentlessly teased by school bullies who would howl like wolves every time she passed them in the hallway. Joselyn, of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, grew up hating her unibrow and begged her mother Pamela Jones, 57, to allow Joselyn to wax or pluck her brow. When Joselyn was ten her parents finally relented and allowed her to pluck her brows which became a painstaking daily routine due to their thickness. For twelve years, the hairdresser plucked her unibrow every morning and spent $10 weekly to have her unruly brows professionally shaped. When Joselyn welcomed her son Jeremiah, five, her grooming routine began to stretch her tight finances and she worried about the impression of beauty she was imprinting on her young son. In November 2017, the mom set herself a one-month challenge to stop grooming her brows and relaxing her hair, which was costing $70 every six weeks.
    (Picture: Joselyn Jones / SWNS)

    ‘One day a little girl came in and she had eyebrows just like mine that joined in the middle and she hated them.

    ‘I told her they were beautiful and that a lot of people have to draw them in or tattoo their eyebrows, but she had them naturally.

    ‘She smiled when I said that and I felt a little hypocritical.

    ‘At the time I was going through hardship. I had three jobs, two in a restaurant and my own business, all while going to school to get my hair stylist license.

    ‘I quite literally stopped having time to look in the mirror.

    ‘I stopped touching my eyebrows and my hair. I was so tired of it.

    ‘I was sick of manipulating myself and my look to be a certain way to please other people.

    ‘I set myself a challenge that I wasn’t going to touch them or my hair for a whole month and save the money.

    ‘At first I was mortified when people would look at me. I felt like I was right back in school with those bullies.

    ‘But I soon realized if I didn’t love myself, nobody else would love me either.

    ‘Now I love myself and my look too, which I think makes a huge difference.’

    Joselyn acts in her spare time and said her natural look has boosted her career in Atlanta.

    She continued: ‘Ever since I’ve let my eyebrows grow I’ve had more interest in my work.

    ‘I’ve starred in a few short films and I’ve done some modeling.

    ‘It’s mind-blowing.’

    The mum-of-one said she hopes her message will have an impression on young girls and says women don’t need to ‘manipulate themselves to be beautiful.’

    Joselyn said: ‘I want young girls to learn from me and accept themselves. I want to be a resource for them.

    ‘You don’t have to manipulate yourself to be beautiful. You are beautiful as you are.

    ‘My son has the same eyebrows as me and I want him to grow up loving himself, but also to respect others who are brave enough to love themselves as they are. That’s true beauty.’

    MORE: Every model in this Radical Beauty photoshoot has Down’s Syndrome

    MORE: Nine beauty products you should try for a good night’s sleep


    SEI_57493462SEI_57493462

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    ONLINE VERSIONS - HIGHER RES PRINT VERSIONS WILL FOLLOW LATE MORNING, BUT THESE LOWER RES (WITH FAINT WATERMARK IN BOTTOM LEFT CORNER - SO PLEASE DON'T CROP) TO BE USED FOR ANY ONLINE EDITIONS. These cats appear to be pulling comical faces at the camera as they are photographed from underneath in a bizarre set of images. Many of the different breeds are sticking their tongues out or seem to be gurning as they pose on a sheet of glass against a colourful backdrop. The unique pictures were taken by animal photographer Andrius Burba, 26, at a cat show in Kaunas, Lithuania. He said: "This method of photographing animals always surprises with funny and cute results, which cannot be made any way other than taking the photos from underneath. SEE OUR COPY FOR DETAILS. Please byline: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News ? Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800
    (Picture: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency)

    Cats are wonderful, complex creatures.

    One minute they’re graceful hunters intent on catching a fake mouse, the next they’re deeply goofy beings rolling around and showing you their tummy.

    This photo series captures cats in one of their less elegant states.

    Andrius Burba, 26, gathered cats from a show in Kaunas, Lithuania, and placed them on glass tables. Then he set up his camera underneath the glass, to document cats from a fresh perspective.

    The resulting pictures are pretty glorious. Not only can you see the cats’ paws smushed up against the glass, but also their slightly puzzled expressions. Lovely.

    ‘This method of photographing animals always surprises with funny and cute results, which cannot be made any way other than taking the photos from underneath,’ explains Andrius.

    ‘I have a portable studio, which means that I can photograph anywhere, so the first thing that I do is build my studio.

    ‘I use a glass table, put the background up, prepare the lightning and put the camera on the ground, underneath the glass table, but connected to a computer so I can see the shots.

    ONLINE VERSIONS - HIGHER RES PRINT VERSIONS WILL FOLLOW LATE MORNING, BUT THESE LOWER RES (WITH FAINT WATERMARK IN BOTTOM LEFT CORNER - SO PLEASE DON'T CROP) TO BE USED FOR ANY ONLINE EDITIONS. These cats appear to be pulling comical faces at the camera as they are photographed from underneath in a bizarre set of images. Many of the different breeds are sticking their tongues out or seem to be gurning as they pose on a sheet of glass against a colourful backdrop. The unique pictures were taken by animal photographer Andrius Burba, 26, at a cat show in Kaunas, Lithuania. He said: "This method of photographing animals always surprises with funny and cute results, which cannot be made any way other than taking the photos from underneath. SEE OUR COPY FOR DETAILS. Please byline: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News ? Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800
    (Picture: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency)

    ‘I play with the cats, pet them and try to trick them into looking down.

    ‘Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but the final shots still look great in their own way.

    ‘I like to look at the shapes and weird poses that the animal can create on the glass.’

    The process takes time, as cats don’t always go along with the photographer’s needs, and Andrius ended up having to choose from a total of 3,840 photos.

    He said: ‘Some cats are easy to play around with and get interesting poses from, and others don’t care about my photography and it is difficult to make them focus on a toy or treat.

    ‘My job with the playful ones is to get as many poses as I can before they lose their interest and with shy cats I give them more time to adjust, pet them and hope they will feel more playful soon so that I could get a wider variety of shots.

    ‘For me, every photoshoot I do has one purpose – to see how the animals look from underneath.

    ‘I love how interesting the results always turn out to be.’

    ONLINE VERSIONS - HIGHER RES PRINT VERSIONS WILL FOLLOW LATE MORNING, BUT THESE LOWER RES (WITH FAINT WATERMARK IN BOTTOM LEFT CORNER - SO PLEASE DON'T CROP) TO BE USED FOR ANY ONLINE EDITIONS. These cats appear to be pulling comical faces at the camera as they are photographed from underneath in a bizarre set of images. Many of the different breeds are sticking their tongues out or seem to be gurning as they pose on a sheet of glass against a colourful backdrop. The unique pictures were taken by animal photographer Andrius Burba, 26, at a cat show in Kaunas, Lithuania. He said: "This method of photographing animals always surprises with funny and cute results, which cannot be made any way other than taking the photos from underneath. SEE OUR COPY FOR DETAILS. Please byline: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News ? Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800
    (Picture: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency)
    ONLINE VERSIONS - HIGHER RES PRINT VERSIONS WILL FOLLOW LATE MORNING, BUT THESE LOWER RES (WITH FAINT WATERMARK IN BOTTOM LEFT CORNER - SO PLEASE DON'T CROP) TO BE USED FOR ANY ONLINE EDITIONS. These cats appear to be pulling comical faces at the camera as they are photographed from underneath in a bizarre set of images. Many of the different breeds are sticking their tongues out or seem to be gurning as they pose on a sheet of glass against a colourful backdrop. The unique pictures were taken by animal photographer Andrius Burba, 26, at a cat show in Kaunas, Lithuania. He said: "This method of photographing animals always surprises with funny and cute results, which cannot be made any way other than taking the photos from underneath. SEE OUR COPY FOR DETAILS. Please byline: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News ? Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800
    (Picture: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency)
    ONLINE VERSIONS - HIGHER RES PRINT VERSIONS WILL FOLLOW LATE MORNING, BUT THESE LOWER RES (WITH FAINT WATERMARK IN BOTTOM LEFT CORNER - SO PLEASE DON'T CROP) TO BE USED FOR ANY ONLINE EDITIONS. These cats appear to be pulling comical faces at the camera as they are photographed from underneath in a bizarre set of images. Many of the different breeds are sticking their tongues out or seem to be gurning as they pose on a sheet of glass against a colourful backdrop. The unique pictures were taken by animal photographer Andrius Burba, 26, at a cat show in Kaunas, Lithuania. He said: "This method of photographing animals always surprises with funny and cute results, which cannot be made any way other than taking the photos from underneath. SEE OUR COPY FOR DETAILS. Please byline: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News ? Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800
    (Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency)
    ONLINE VERSIONS - HIGHER RES PRINT VERSIONS WILL FOLLOW LATE MORNING, BUT THESE LOWER RES (WITH FAINT WATERMARK IN BOTTOM LEFT CORNER - SO PLEASE DON'T CROP) TO BE USED FOR ANY ONLINE EDITIONS. These cats appear to be pulling comical faces at the camera as they are photographed from underneath in a bizarre set of images. Many of the different breeds are sticking their tongues out or seem to be gurning as they pose on a sheet of glass against a colourful backdrop. The unique pictures were taken by animal photographer Andrius Burba, 26, at a cat show in Kaunas, Lithuania. He said: "This method of photographing animals always surprises with funny and cute results, which cannot be made any way other than taking the photos from underneath. SEE OUR COPY FOR DETAILS. Please byline: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News ? Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800
    (Picture: Andrius Burba Studio/Solent News & Photo Agency)

    MORE: Woman takes beautiful portraits of strangers she meets on her daily commute

    MORE: Mother cat and kitten rescued after being dumped on a doorstep with a plate of crisps

    MORE: Is cutting a massive chunk out of your ears the next big body modification trend?


    Under catsUnder cats

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    McDonald's logo
    (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

    McDonald’s Monopoly returns this week with millions of prizes up for grabs.

    It has yet to be revealed what you can win this year, but the 2018 competition saw six MINI Cooper’s handed out as well as three £100k cash prizes.

    Along with the bigger prizes, many people were able to claim free food including big macs, coffees and mcflurrys.

    The event has raised some concerns after Labour MP Tom Watson said that it was an ‘appalling’ ploy that ‘encourages people to eat more unhealthy foods’.

    McDonald’s responded by explaining that this year will see ‘customers receive prize labels on carrot bags, salads and our Big Flavour Wraps range’.

    The amount of prizes labels available will also remain the same whether you have a medium or large meal.

    How to play McDonald’s Monopoly

    Any McDonald’s customers are able to play and take part in the event as the game piece stickers that you need to collect to win are available with most of the food at the restaurant.

    The stickers can be peeled off of the food packaging and you will then see if you’ve won a prize already or need to hold onto them.

    Usually the stickers are split into two types, with the first being part of a property colour set where you need to collect all of the matching ones to win the prize, which can vary from vouchers and wireless speakers, to a car or cash prize.

    The alternative is an instant win sticker which lets you claim free food such as a burger, salad or drink.

    Some of the stickers have prizes that can be collected in the restaurant, while others will need to be logged online.

    Menu items that featured Monopoly stickers last year

    Medium Fries
    Large Fries
    Medium Carbonated Soft Drink
    Large Carbonated Soft Drink
    Premium Salad (excluding Shaker Side Salad)
    Chicken Legend
    Chicken Legend with Bacon
    Chicken Selects – 3 or 5 Pieces
    Big Tasty
    Big Tasty with Bacon
    The Signature Collection
    Cadbury Creme Egg or Cadbury Caramel McFlurry
    Mozzarella Dippers
    Big Flavour Wrap
    Regular Iced Frappé/Iced Fruit Smoothie
    Large Iced Frappé/Iced Fruit Smoothie
    Shaker Side Salads
    Medium or large hot drinks or drinks served in a bottle or carton

    McDonald’s Monopoly 2019 starts on Wednesday 20 March from 11am.

    MORE: You can now buy a candle that smells just like a McDonald’s cheeseburger

    MORE: McDonalds Monopoly 2019 start date revealed and there isn’t long to wait


    Wales Daily LifeWales Daily Life

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    Caption: Pretty Little Things Size 8 dress only fits woman\’s leg julia magowan @_JuliaMagowan

    Another day, another frustrating fashion fail.

    Yet again, someone’s had an issue with sizing after ordering an item online.

    Julia Magowan, 21, ordered the £18 Black Mesh Ruched Dress from PrettyLittleThing in her usual size eight.

    She was shocked to find that the dress – in a size she usually wears – simply didn’t fit.

    The dress was so small, said Julia, that she couldn’t pull the dress over her thighs, and it instead fit just one of her legs.

    She wrote on Twitter: ‘PLT how do you expect me to fit my body into this supposed size 8 dress??

    ‘Can just about fit my left leg in it, what a joke!

    Pretty Little Things Size 8 dress only fits woman's leg julia magowan @_JuliaMagowan
    (Picture: @_JuliaMagowan)

    ‘Update: fits nicely around my leg.’

    We don’t think Julia wanted a dress just for her leg, so we can see why she’s a tad annoyed.

    Pretty Little Things Size 8 dress only fits woman's leg julia magowan @_JuliaMagowan
    (Picture: @_JuliaMagowan)

    On the PrettyLittleThing website, a 5ft 8 model is shown wearing the dress in a size six… and it seems to fit perfectly well.

    ‘Get ready for the weekend with your bestie,’ reads the product description, ‘featuring a nude material with a mesh overlay and ruched detailing. Style with barely-there strappy heels for that weekend worthy look.’

    We reached out to PrettyLittleThing for comment, but haven’t heard back yet.

    This isn’t the first time fashion brands have been called out for inconsistent sizing.

    Last week a woman shared a photo of size 12 jeans from different shops, showing just how wildly the measurements can vary.

    Back in February another customer said she could only fit one leg into a size 10 PrettyLittleThing dress.

    Boohoo has previously been called out for labeling size eight clothes as ‘large’.

    Clothes shopping is hard enough – trying to find stuff you can afford, that looks good, and that suits your style is tricky – but discrepancies in sizing throw in a massive challenge.

    How are we supposed to confidently buy clothes we like if a size that fits us in one store is teeny-tiny in another?

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    Pretty Little Things Size 8 dress only fits woman\'s leg julia magowan @_JuliaMagowanPretty Little Things Size 8 dress only fits woman\'s leg julia magowan @_JuliaMagowan

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    Picture: Lush)

    Attention vegans and fans of face masks: Lush is removing all eggs from their offerings.

    That’s right, from today onwards, Lush will be egg-free.

    If you didn’t know, a bunch of Lush’s face masks and hair treatments previously contained eggs, including their Brazened Honey mask and D’Fluff.

    Lush had previously used free range eggs only, but the brand has made the decision to go entirely egg-free to avoid animal suffering.

    Lush said: ‘Lush has always used free range eggs and gradually tried to go beyond just free range and switch to supplies that met and exceeded the organic free-range criteria.

    ‘Over the years the Buying team has visited many free-range chicken farms to see the chickens and check the standards.

    ‘What has become clear during this process is that there are some hard truths of egg production that are difficult to face up to – and which are almost impossible for the egg industry to show to company buyers or consumers of eggs.

    ‘We can visit the hens and see them living freely and eating good quality organic food, but what we cannot see, or film to show our customers, is the process before those hens arrive at the organic, free range farm.

    Picture: Lush, Getty Lush isn't doing any Black Friday deals, but they are selling new products
    (Picture: Lush)

    ‘The hatching of millions of eggs at commercial hatcheries, the sorting of the chicks into female to be sent on to farms to lay eggs and the male chicks to go straight to their deaths by methods so brutal that it would be impossible to present on our website.

    ‘We can no longer, in good conscience, use an ingredient that we are unable to be transparent about because the truth is so unpalatable.

    ‘The only solution therefore was to work to reformulate our products to take eggs out.

    ‘We are now at a stage where we can announced that we are ready to switch production to these new formulations and from now on Lush products will be completely egg-free.’

    Lush will be replacing eggs with ingredients such as chickpea aquafaba, tofu, soya yoghurt, and wheat gluten, so that the product quality will remain the same.

    But proceed with caution, plant-based pals, as this doesn’t mean all Lush products are entirely vegan.

    Many items still contain honey or lanolin, which some people following a vegan lifestyle refuse to consume or use.

    D’Fluff, however, is now vegan following the removal of eggs.

    It’s also worth noting that while products bought online will all be egg-free, some of the items in stores will be older versions until they’re all sold out – so double check the ingredients list before you stock up.

    MORE: Lush opens biggest store ever with a spa, florist, hair lab and perfume library inside

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    MORE: Flora goes completely vegan and removes dairy from their entire spread range


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    (Picture: Julie Wood)

    When mum Julie Wood lost her daughter Maisie to leukaemia, she decided to honour her little girl’s memory by hiding painted rocks in places they’d visited.

    Before Maisie died in September last year, just three months before her third birthday, she and Julie would paint vibrant colours on pebbles and hide them so people who stumbled upon them could have their day brightened.

    As a way of dealing with her grief, Julie, from Buckingham, decided to keep on painting them after Maisie’s death. She left them dotted around places the family had visited together.

    Some of them can be found in Cornwall, where the family went on holiday, and others were hidden in Sutton Coldfield and Warrington.

    Now Julie has decided to keep the tradition going. She’s asking people to join in by painting their own rocks and hiding them in spots where they live.

    Already people have drawn on and hidden rocks in Germany, Croatia, and Bulgaria, but Julie wants people from all around the world to join in, as a way to give Maisie the adventures she never had.

    She has set up a Facebook group, Maisie Rocks, for those involved to show off the creations they’ve made in Maisie’s memory.

    Mum who lost daughter to leukemia asks people to paint rocks and hide them in her honour Picture of Julie Wood and Daughter
    (Picture: Julie Wood)

    ‘Finding painted rocks that others had hidden was something that we enjoyed doing together,’ Julie told Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Suddenly I found myself with time and thinking of Maisie always so I started painting rocks that I thought she would have liked.

    ‘I started off just hiding a few locally but as the anniversary of her diagnosis and passing approached, friends got involved and so I could track where the rocks went, I created a Facebook group – Maisie Rocks – a few days ago.

    ‘I’ve been overwhelmed by the response so far. I would love for people to get involved by painting rocks and spreading Maisie love.’

    Mum who lost daughter to leukemia asks people to paint rocks and hide them in her honour Picture of Julie Wood's Daughter
    (Picture: Julie Wood)

    Julie is hiding the rest of the rocks in their hometown in Buckingham and the rest in Oxford where Maisie had a lot of her treatments.

    She has shared the images of Maisie and the rocks they put together on the Facebook page.

    Julie wrote a sweet tribute to her little girl on the group, saying: ‘I didn’t know how to get through these anniversaries and to make the sort of decisions that no parent should ever have to face, and all the while still trying to live my life as our little girl would have wanted me to – the same way she did, which was to enjoy every day, no matter what it brought.

    Mum who lost daughter to leukemia asks people to paint rocks and hide them in her honour Picture of Julie Wood's painted stones
    (Picture: Julie Wood)

    ‘So I had to do something, something that Maisie would have enjoyed. She taught us how to be positive and happy and I wanted to honour her strength, positivity, and happiness. So I painted rocks.’

    You can get involved and document where you’ve left your rocks for Maisie on the Facebook group.

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    Mum who lost daughter to leukemia asks people to paint rocks and hide them in her honourMum who lost daughter to leukemia asks people to paint rocks and hide them in her honour

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    Welcome to Mixed Up, a series that aims to elevate the under-heard narratives of mixed-race people.

    Each week we look at the highs, lows and unique experiences of being mixed-race and dig deeper into the nuanced realities of being part of this rapidly growing ethnic group.

    Alongside the numerous unique pleasures and benefits of being exposed to multiple cultures, being mixed can also come with complexities, conflicts and innate contradictions.

    There are endless of variations within the mixed diaspora – and, as a relatively new societal group, we are finally old enough to start telling our own stories.

    Billie Dee Gianfrancesco is half white and half black Caribbean.

    She spent her childhood hating and denying her blackness, until a total breakdown in her mid 20s forced her to reassess her identity.

    Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morris
    (Picture by Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘My mother was born in Hackney in London, my grandmother was a part of the Windrush generation and came to London from Dominica to be an NHS nurse,’ Billie tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘We aren’t sure who my grandfather is or where he came from, but DNA tests show that he was black and that he probably came from somewhere in the Caribbean.

    ‘My father is white Australian, and I was born in Sydney. My parents divorced when I was five and I moved to Norfolk in the UK in 1998 when I was eight, with my mother, Italian-Australian step-dad, and younger sister.

    ‘I spent my entire life, up until the last few years, really struggling with my identity.’

    Living in Australia as a child, Billie was made to feel starkly aware that she was different.

    ‘Aussies would come right out and make comments like, “you’re a funny looking critter aren’t you?” or, “do you think she’s Abbo, mate?”’ she tells us.

    ‘It made me feel almost sub-human, ashamed and dirty. I felt “less than” the other kids.

    ‘When I would spend weekends with my dad and his (white) girlfriend, people would ask if I was adopted. It gave me a lot of anxiety, and made me not want to be seen with them in public.’

    Billie’s mum is Trisha Goddard, host of iconic morning talk show, Trisha. But having a black mother in a prominent, influential position wasn’t enough to change Billie’s views on blackness.

    ‘My mum was known as the first black woman to appear on Australian television, Trisha was really popular in the UK, but aside from her, and Destiny’s Child, I didn’t see many positive examples of black people in the media.

    Billie with her sister Madi and mum Trisha
    Billie’s mum Trisha was the host of an iconic talk show (Picture: Billie Dee Gianfrancesco/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I always perceived my mum to be working very hard to fit in with white culture.

    ‘She would say to me, “How a white person sees you behave will affect the way they treat every black or brown person after you. Always set a good example.” My grandma was the same, she abandoned anything that tied her to West Indian culture and spoke in this strange, faux-british, Queen’s accent.

    ‘I think that for their generations, in order to survive in the more overtly racist times, they did what they felt they had to do to be safe and accepted.

    ‘Their generations believed that success looked like being embraced by white society.

    ‘The impact that this has on mixed children is a perpetual internal conflict, where they feel they have to deny or repress half of themselves – well, that’s how I felt anyway.’

    Looking different was a huge concern for Billie. Her afro hair made it impossible to disguise her difference from the other children.

    ‘My hair was a huge, unmanageable frizz, which attracted lots of stares, comments and unsolicited touching. You couldn’t buy black hair products in the shops back in the 90s where I lived.

    ‘You didn’t see any black hairstyles in magazines or on TV. So when I was seven or eight I begged my mum to let me get it chemically straightened. The chemicals burned my scalp badly and made it scab and bleed, but for the first time in my life, I felt beautiful, normal.

    ‘I never saw anyone like me in books or on TV, I didn’t identify with dolls or Barbies, nor could I relate to the blue-eyed Disney characters. But, when my hair was straightened I kind of felt like Princess Jasmine or Pocahontas. I felt slightly more acceptable in society.’

    Billie and her sister Madi
    Billie and her sister Madi straightened their hair for years (Picture: Billie Dee Gianfrancesco/Metro.co.uk)

    The result of this systematic marginalisation and racist tormenting by other children was that Billie wanted to hide who she was. She turned her back on her blackness, on the characteristics that were making her a target.

    ‘As I got older I realised that with straight hair and fairly light skin, I could get away with being ethnically androgynous. I have an Italian surname from my step-dad, so would pretend to be Italian, or Brazilian, or Arab. Anything but black.

    ‘As I child I would declare that I was in fact mixed-race, and not black.’

    It’s difficult to create an informed opinion about your heritage when the facts aren’t available to you. The chronic exclusion of non-white narratives from education curriculums left Billie with a skewed understanding of the history of her people.

    ‘My historical knowledge was very limited; I genuinely thought black people were simple savages running around naked and living in mud huts until they were tricked and rounded up and enslaved for hundreds of years, until white people finally decided slavery was wrong and set us free.

    ‘My access to black history was extremely limited and, as much as it pains me to say it now, growing up I felt deeply ashamed of my black heritage.’

    It took Billie until her mid-twenties to properly address this gap in her knowledge. A significant mental breakdown when she was 26 rocked Billie, but her recovery gave her the time to do some serious reading.

    ‘I couldn’t work or really leave the house for a couple of months. During this time, I stumbled across some black history-focused Instagram accounts and they prompted me to do some proper research into black history,’ explains Billie.

    ‘I felt overwhelmed by what I discovered.

    ‘I realised that there was an illustrious, incredible black history that had been whitewashed, edited and buried by the white West.

    ‘I felt empowered by this new knowledge. But suddenly, I also became incredibly angry. I realised that I had been a victim of institutionalised racism, and that I had directed that racism against myself.

    ‘My self-worth and self-esteem had been so, so low, because I had been spoon-fed this racist narrative and believed that white people were somehow superior.

    ‘I realised how it had negatively affected my behaviour, my sense of pride, my dignity. I realised, that I had become enmeshed in a system designed by white society to keep black people down. It was a life-changing awakening.

    ‘My cultural identity did a 360. I no longer felt comfortable or proud being associated with the immoralities I now associated with whiteness. I felt overwhelmingly that I wanted to reject my whiteness and embrace my blackness, in its entirety.

    ‘I stopped straightening my hair immediately, and now I have braids. I want people to see me and know, without question, that I am black.’

    Mum, dad and baby Billie
    Little Billie with her parents (Picture: Billie Dee Gianfrancesco/Metro.co.uk)

    Unfortunately for Billie, internally making peace with her blackness wasn’t enough for the outside world. Despite identifying as black, she isn’t always perceived as such in black communities.

    ‘I moved to Stratford in London when I was 22 and I was excited to see all the black hairdressers,’ says Billie. ‘There were none at all in the areas I grew up in.

    ‘I called up my mixed-race girl friend, and we were excited to go and get our hair done.

    ‘We walked into the first black hair salon and the entire place fell silent. Everyone was staring at us. It was uncomfortable.

    ‘My friend asked how much to get a weave put in and the woman running the salon literally kissed her teeth and quoted her double what was on the price list.

    ‘When I questioned this, we were told, “that’s the price for black people. It’s more expensive for you, because you are white.” My jaw literally hit the floor.

    ‘I had been so excited to be around “my” people and to have my hair done by “my” people, and now, for the first time in my life I was being told that I was white. It was a lot to take in.’

    In the workplace this sense of duality is stark for Billie. She often feels acutely aware that she is ticking a box while still being on the palatable scale of blackness for white employers.

    ‘In a professional context, I think it is very interesting being mixed-race,’ expains Billie.

    ‘Employers see me as an ideal way to reach their diversity quota – outwardly I look diverse, but culturally, I’m no different from them. I’m privately educated and come from a highly privileged background.

    ‘I think the hardest thing about being mixed is the lack of any sort of community. You are on your own. You have no culture. You don’t belong anywhere. People, all people, ask, “what are you? Where are you really from?”

    ‘I have always been drawn to other mixed-race people because there is just a desperate need to be understood.

    ‘My best friend is mixed, pretty much all of my ex-boyfriends have been mixed. It’s hard to feel understood and at ease without building your own little community.

    Billie attributes some of her identity struggles to the complex relationship she had with her white father. She spent a large portion of her childhood feeling abandoned by him, she knows that has had an effect.

    Billie and her dad
    Billie felt abandoned by her father as a child (Picture: Billie Dee Gianfrancesco/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I never had much a relationship with my white father,’ explains Billie.

    ‘Thankfully, now we are on great terms, but growing up I felt a lot of resentment.

    ‘I also had a very fraught relationship with my white step-father, whose parenting tactics were very strict and oppressive.

    ‘These experiences certainly influenced me to reject my whiteness and become more afrocentric as I got older. Especially where white men are concerned.

    ‘Unless it was someone very, very special, I don’t think I could have a romantic relationship with a white man.’

    Having a mum in the public eye was tricky for Billie – particularly when it came to matters of race. Trisha was seen as fair game for public ridicule.

    ‘The media plays a huge role in how racism is perpetuated in society,’ says Billie.

    ‘My mum was born and raised in England, privately educated and very well-spoken, but on comedy spoof show Bo Selecta she was imitated with a Jamaican accent, portrayed as stupid, with this massive nose, lips and booty.

    ‘It makes me physically shudder to think how wrong that was. It was on primetime TV, on Channel 4.

    ‘Suddenly kids at school were shouting, “rice and pea! Rice and pea!” and “bumbaclart!” in my face, and speaking to me in pretend Jamaican accents, and everyone was fine with that, because a famous white guy did it on TV.

    ‘It was flagrant, horrendous racism, but I felt compelled to laugh along – or else be labelled as a sensitive spoilsport. Looking back I cannot believe this was allowed to happen. It was hugely traumatic.

    ‘These days, the racism is more subtle but just as detrimental.’

    Billie with her sister, mum and step-dad
    Billie with her sister, mum and step-dad (Picture: Billie Dee Gianfrancesco/Metro.co.uk)

    Representation is important. It helps you understand where you fit in the world, inspires you to believe in what the future can hold for you.

    A lack of mixed-race role models affected Billie’s self-confidence and led her down a dangerous path.

    ‘Growing up, I felt so alone,’ Billie tells us.

    ‘I became obsessed with musicians like Etta James and Bob Marley, who were both mixed-race and abandoned by their white fathers, because I could identify with the conflicts they faced, both internally and in society.

    ‘But both artists struggled with alcohol or drug abuse, and they were my role models.

    ‘I went down the same path as them, smoked weed every day and nearly drank myself to death. I made excuses and normalised it because that what my role models did.

    ‘Thankfully, I’m now in recovery and doing really well. But if there were more mixed-race stories and role models out there, perhaps I wouldn’t have believed this behaviour was so acceptable in my youth.’

    So what of the future? Is the growth of the mixed-race population a positive sign for the planet? Billie would like to hope so.

    When she was a baby, Nelson Mandela held her in his arms and called her the ‘future of the world’ – it’s a moment she will never forget.

    ‘He was on tour after being released from prison in October 1990, and my mum was interviewing him – she took me along to meet him.

    ‘He said he hadn’t held a baby in 27 years and asked to hold me.

    ‘He asked my mum if I was mixed race, and said I was “the future”. That I was a symbol of peace and unity.

    ‘I still have his autograph framed on my bedside table, and I remind myself of this whenever I’m feeling hopeless or low.’

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I have been accepted by black people and distanced by white people’

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I would ask my parents multiple times to prove that I wasn’t adopted’

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Saying you love mixed-race babies is creepy’


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    A Jewish family celebrates Purim in Israel
    Happy Purim everybody! (Picture: Getty Images)

    Jewish people around the world are preparing to celebrate the festival of Purim, which begins at sundown on Wednesday night.

    The festival is one of the most celebratory in the Jewish calendar, with parties, fancy dress and gift-giving all part of the fun.

    At its centre though is the Biblical story of Queen Esther – and how she saved her people from destruction.

    Here’s what you need to know about Purim, and how people will be celebrating.

    What is the story of Purim?

    The festival centres around the story of Queen Esther, who marries the Persian king Ahasuerus after his previous wife, Vashti, was banished from the kingdom for refusing to obey him.

    According to the story Esther is chosen for her beauty, but has more than just being the king’s wife to contend with after his chief advisor, Haman, seeks permission from the leader to have all the Jews in the kingdom killed after one of them, Mordecai, refuses to bow down to him.

    Jewish people celebrating purim in Israel
    You’ll want to have your fancy dress costume ready (Picture: Getty Images)

    Unfortunately for Haman, Esther is Jewish (a fact not known to the king) and Mordecai is her cousin

    She sets about trying to foil his plot, eventually succeeding as she exposes his plan at a royal banquet – and Haman is subsequently executed, while Mordecai is made the king’s advisor.

    The festival takes place on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Adar – which is the date in the story when Haman’s plan to have the Jews killed was supposed to go into effect.

    Instead it became the day when the Jewish people fought back against their enemies as the plan was reversed.

    How long does the festival last?

    The festival begins at sundown on Wednesday night and lasts for just 24 fun-filled hours.

    How is the festival celebrated?

    Unlike some of the other Jewish festivals such as Passover and Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Purim is regarded as a more ‘minor’ festival in that work and other normal activities are permitted.

    However that doesn’t necessarily stop the celebrations – and there are plenty of those.

    It’s customary to go to synagogue on the evening of Purim to hear the story of Esther read – which is known as the Megillah.

    Purim celebrations
    It’s a festival like no other (Picture: Getty Images)

    The service will be a loud one however, as it’s also customary to blot out the name of the villainous Haman every time it’s read, by making as much noise as possible.

    Traditionally this is done by using a special rattle or noisemaker known as a ‘gragger’ – but you can shout, stamp your feet, use a musical instrument to make noise – whatever takes your fancy.

    There are even phone apps that’ll make the noise for you at the touch of a button.

    What are the other customs?

    One of the main traditions on Purim is to wear fancy dress.

    There are several reasons given for this – among them the fact that the miracle which occurred over Purim (the saving of the Jews) was disguised by natural events, and also to mark the point in the story when Mordecai was honoured by the king and dressed in his garments.

    The celebratory nature of the festival also means it’s a good time for food and drink – and getting drunk is customary, to the point of, as the holy book the Talmud suggests, being unable to tell the difference between cursing Haman and blessing Mordecai.

    Hamantaschen which are eaten on the Jewish festival of Purim
    Hamantaschen anyone? (Picture: Getty Images)

    As for food, you can expect to be eating a lot of triangular pastries known as Hamantaschen – which are shaped in the manner of the triangular hat that Haman is purported to have worn.

    These are traditionally filled with poppy seeds but are also often filled with prunes, jam or chocolate.

    It’s also customary to exchange food parcels or baskets – known as Mishloach Manot – among friends. And Jewish people don’t forget others in need on Purim either – as it’s traditional to donate to charity during the festival.


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