Articles on this Page
- 04/02/19--02:31: _World Autism Awaren...
- 04/02/19--02:48: _You can now do a yo...
- 04/02/19--03:33: _Cute grandma buys m...
- 04/02/19--04:12: _Most of the 11 bill...
- 04/02/19--04:50: _Woman felt ‘like a ...
- 04/02/19--05:14: _Huda Kattan’s newes...
- 04/02/19--06:16: _Menstrual cups and ...
- 04/02/19--06:34: _People affected by ...
- 04/02/19--07:52: _You can buy an old ...
- 04/02/19--08:19: _Starbucks rolling o...
- 04/02/19--08:33: _Mum is trying to li...
- 04/02/19--09:19: _What is vaginal mes...
- 04/02/19--09:22: _Hunter the Shiba is...
- 04/02/19--09:31: _Summer is sorted – ...
- 04/02/19--10:09: _There’s a new blood...
- 04/03/19--00:20: _Why I refuse to wei...
- 04/03/19--00:24: _Tesco is testing a ...
- 04/03/19--00:30: _Mixed Up: ‘I want p...
- 04/03/19--00:38: _This train station ...
- 04/03/19--01:04: _Dive into the world...
- 04/02/19--02:31: World Autism Awareness Day quotes: ‘Different, not less’
- 04/02/19--02:48: You can now do a yoga class with lemurs
- 04/02/19--06:16: Menstrual cups and more: Sanitary wear that doesn’t cost the Earth
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
- A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your tummy
- 04/02/19--08:19: Starbucks rolling out scheme to pay UK staff’s tuition fees
- 04/02/19--09:19: What is vaginal mesh and what is it used for?
- 04/02/19--09:31: Summer is sorted – Aldi is selling a bargain £39 outdoor pizza oven
- Painful, heavy, or irregular periods
- Pain during or after sex
- Painful bowel movements
- 04/03/19--00:20: Why I refuse to weigh my children
- 04/03/19--01:04: Dive into the world’s deepest swimming pool opening in Poland
April 2 is the 12th annual World Autism Awareness Day.
Autism is a complex disorder which exists on a spectrum, and therefore can be difficult to understand and properly define.
It can manifest itself in different ways, often affecting how those with the disorder communicate with others, in ways that include but aren’t limited to; problems with speech, nonverbal communication, social skills, and repetitive behaviors.
Autism is said to affect one per cent of the world’s population – 700,000 people in the UK have autism spectrum disorder, which is more than 1 in 100.
With that high prevalence in mind, here’s a collection of quotes either about autism or from people with autism to remind us that what makes a person different doesn’t define them or make them less.
Haley Moss – author and attorney
‘I might hit developmental and societal milestones in a different order than my peers, but I am able to accomplish these small victories on my own time.’
Amy Schumer – comedian
‘My husband was diagnosed with what used to be called Asperger’s. He has autism spectrum disorder. He’s on the spectrum. And there were some signs early on.
‘Once he was diagnosed, it dawned on me how funny it was, because all of the characteristics that make it clear that he’s on the spectrum are all of the reasons that I fell madly in love with him.’
Kerry Magro – author
‘Autism can’t define me. I define autism.’
Evan Delaney Rodgers – politician
‘I wouldn’t be where I am today if I were neurotypical because I would have been interested in social things. Having a little autism helped me achieve my goals and not miss what most people thought I was missing out on.’
Dr. Temple Grandin – professor and inventor
‘I am different, not less.’
Kathleen Seidel – researcher and weblog publisher
‘Autism is as much a part of humanity as is the capacity to dream.’
Tony Attwood – clinical psychologist
‘I see people with Asperger’s syndrome as a bright thread in the rich tapestry of life.’
Forget yoga bunnies, you can now try yoga alongside a bunch of lemurs.
Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa in the Lake District has introduced ‘Lemoga’.
The hotel is beside the Lake District Wildlife Park, where the lemurs live.
Lemurs are primates who are pretty friendly and outgoing do they are great to practice your downward facing dog with.
The organisers claim the class will reduce stress, blood pressure and make you laugh – which is probably true because they are pretty cute.
The experience is part of the hotel’s ‘meet the wildlife’ wellness programme, which also includes walking with alpacas and meeting meerkats.
Carolyn Graves, owner of Armathwaite Hall, says: ‘As a wellness destination, we’re used to providing our guests with outdoor experiences which help relieve the symptoms of city living such as stress, sleep and pollution.
‘Lemoga offers our guests the chance to feel at one with nature, at the same time joining in with the lemurs’ play time.’
And if you need even more chill time, there’s a hotel spa, but don’t worry, you can do that without any furry friends.
Yogis can book the experience online.
The class is designed for people of all abilities but if you want to brush up on the best poses, we’ve got a list of the easiest ones for beginners.
And of course, there will be instructors to help you but it’s always important to stay safe when practicing yoga.
This woman is on track to become the absolute coolest grandma out there, after she decided to get matching outfits with her grandson.
After seeing 20-year-old Josh Levi wearing a full monochrome striped two-piece, she got in touch.
She texted him saying ‘Hey Josh. I just charged an outfit, like yours. We can be twins.’
‘I will face time you when I get home so you can see.
‘Much love, Grandma Barnes.’
Along with this came a photo of grandma Barnes in an amazing shirt and trousers combo that was just like Josh’s. Her selfie game was clearly poppin’, as was her outfit.
Josh tweeted a screenshot of the interaction, saying: ‘So my grandma really loved my outfit for seen it all promo and she went out today and bought her version of it and idk anything that could make me happier’.
His followers clearly agreed, and he’s now bagged over 1,200 likes, and plenty of positive comments.
Plenty of people were saying how sweet Josh’s g-ma was, and also how nice it was that he had a firm fan.
The Houston, Texas, singer then retweeted his post saying: ‘get you a grandma with TASTE’.
No purple rinses and cosy slippers for this pensioner thank you very much.
Grandma and grandson wear matching outfits
Put your hand in your coat pocket and you’ll probably find several crumpled up receipts.
With everything we buy, we get that tiny slip of white paper that we probably throw into our bags or pockets and never look at again.
We need a proof of purchase in case the goods are faulty but receipts have a massive environmental impact.
In a time when we’re becoming more conscious about the plastic we use, we need to consider receipts too.
Californian lawmakers are currently considering a bill to reduce paper receipts. If the bill passes, customers would still be able to request a paper receipt but they wouldn’t get one by default.
As they’re made from paper, you probably assume they are recyclable. It turns out lots of paper can’t be recycled because of what is put on it or added to it.
About 50% of receipts are printed on special thermal paper, which contains chemicals called Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS) – endocrine disruptors that have been classed as toxic to people and the environment by the EU. The chemicals have been linked to increasing the risk of cancer and infertility.
This means they can’t be recycled because of the risk of contaminating other products with these chemicals. You might have heard of BPA when buying a new reusable bottle. Most bottles are now labelled as BPA free as the substance was banned because of the risk it posed when it was consumed in large quantities.
The paper that most receipts are also made from more than one material, which makes them hard to recycle, even if they don’t use the chemicals.
Taking something back to the shop without being able to show you bought it there isn’t going to work, but we need to be more aware of the impact this has on the environment.
According to research by Flux (who admittedly do base their business of the idea of digital receipts), in the UK alone we print around 11.2 billion receipts each year, and 9.9 billion of these go unused.
That’s the equivalent of 53,000 trees going straight in the bin. And then there’s the millions of barrels of oil and water we need to produce the paper, we begin to realise the environmental impact.
Data from Eaternity.org estimates around 2.5kg CO2eq/kg of receipts is generated in carbon emissions – the equivalent of around 21km driven in a car.
We create about 7.5million kg of waste each year from receipts – it’s a pretty big problem.
So what can we do?
It’s difficult because we can’t eliminate them completely and even in shops where you don’t ask for a receipt, the till often automatically prints one. Just because you don’t take it doesn’t mean the waste is always reduced.
The solution is digital receipts. An increasing number of stores are introducing the idea. Arcadia stores, for example, Dorothy Perkins and Topshop, offer customers an email receipt where details of their purchase are sent straight to their inbox. Of course, that is better for the environment and it also means it’s much easier to keep hold of your proof of purchase.
But some people may be reluctant to hand over their email address, especially if it also means they are automatically signed up to a newsletter. Giving over your email and spelling out each letter every time you buy something is also time consuming and is sure to increase queues.
Retailers are starting to move towards apps and programmes that allow consumers to collect details on all their purchases in one place.
Card reader company iZettle safely stores a customers email address so once it is used once, it will automatically be able to email a receipt anytime the customer pays with an iZettle reader.
Flux is a service that you sign up to and every time you make a purchase with a card at an enabled retailer, a digital receipt appears either in their app or in your digital banking app.
Matty Cusden-Ross, founder and CEO of Flux explains why they are campaigning for change: ‘Until paper receipts receive the same level of attention and awareness as other single-use plastics, they’re going to continue to suck as much as straws.
While single-use straws have held the plastic-free limelight in recent years, experts are now calling on consumers and businesses to think about paper receipts in the same way.
‘Most of us don’t think about receipts. And we certainly don’t care about them.
‘Perhaps because they’ve not had much attention our side of the pond, most people are totally unaware of the problems of using paper receipts.
‘We’ve not benefited from national talk-show hosts championing the cause, nor policy-makers looking to pass legislation.
‘But it’s clear we need to do something. And fast. Because the impact on the environment is only going to mount.’
At the minute, the take up of digital receipts are slow, with five major retailers KFC, Pod, EAT, Itsu and Costa signed up to Flux, and it only deals with spending on cards.
Other apps include Receipt Tracker, which works through scanning QR codes in an app, which can be used in any transaction.
The onus is on retailers to sign up to these schemes so we can have the choice to use them everywhere – but we need to put pressure on them to make these things available.
With the launch of a petition to encourage retailers and decision makers to offer non-paper alternatives, be aware next time you take that tiny slip of paper about what impact it could have.
Matty has some tips for what you can do to avoid adding to the waste from paper receipts.
He says: ‘Do you really need a paper receipt for that coffee or this birthday card? Say the simple words ‘I don’t need a receipt’ before it’s printed. Only ask retailers for a receipt when you know you’ll need one.
‘If you have to have a receipt, think about digital alternatives. Ask whether the retailer can send it by email or via other methods like directly to an app like John Lewis Kitchen Drawer or your bank app like we do at Flux.
‘This helps cut down on the carbon footprint as digital has a far smaller impact than paper.
‘You can sign the Beat the Receipt petition calling upon retailers and policy makers to take
action and provide more digital alternatives. Consider email receipts or digital options like those provided through Flux.
‘From high-street fashion brands creating more environmentally conscious lines to supermarkets that provide more loose vegetables, we can all shop a little greener and celebrate the retailers who are leading the charge.
‘And don’t forget to think about other ways you can make sure your shopping is environmentally-friendly, too – tote bags and reusables are a great way to live a little greener.’
Woman escaping from tangled adding machine printout into sunshine
Laura Barnett, 45, used steroid creams to treat the sore skin around her eyes for nine years.
Doctors thought the had eczema, but she later found out it was an allergy to dust mites.
Concerned she was becoming resistant, she stopped using them 18 months ago.
But Laura didn’t realise her skin had become ‘addicted’ to the creams and giving them up meant experiencing terrible withdrawals.
The dental nurse, from Battersea, south west London said: ‘I didn’t know any of this at the start, but what I know now is that the longer you use steroid creams, the stronger the cream needs to be to get the same relief.
‘And when, 18 months ago, I stopped using them, within five days I started to see the withdrawal symptoms – which was something doctors never warned me about.
‘I got out of the bath one morning and the skin on my face had flared up. It was like a butterfly effect, spreading right across the middle of my face. It looked inflamed and felt very sore.
‘The irony is that, until this happened, I’d thought my skin was my best asset.’
Laura, who lives with her partner, Matthew, 44, a car service manager and their son, Beau, seven, researched her symptoms and found a Facebook support group.
It was for sufferers of Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) – also known as Red Skin Syndrome – which, despite thousands of people claiming they have it, is not, according to Laura, properly recognised by doctors.
‘There are now 9,900 members of the online group from around the world, all posting and answering questions about this condition, so finally, I had people who understood, who were suffering from the same symptoms and who could answer my questions,’ said Laura.
‘They were the only support who could relate to me and my condition, which I have had throughout this horrible journey and I don’t know what I would have done without them.’
The stress of managing her TSW has taken a huge emotional toll on both her family and work life, according to Laura.
She said she has suffered from anxiety as a result of the changes to the skin on her face, arms, breasts and hands, which she feels not only look ugly, but are sore and hard to manage.
She said: ‘I had just started a new job when I stopped using the steroid creams and was scared I would lose it because my symptoms were so bad, especially at night, I wasn’t sleeping and so I wasn’t as focused at work as I should have been.
‘I would have to get up at 4am every night to take a lukewarm bath and try to soothe the itching, which was so bad I would scratch until the skin – which is very fragile as a result of this condition – would bleed. I was stressed, anxious and not sleeping and so I was like a zombie at work.
‘Thankfully, when I finally told my boss what was happening, he was very understanding, but this has been hard on my partner and my son, too.
‘My partner has had to move out of our bed as he’s a very light sleeper and I was lying awake scratching all night. Plus, the skin sheds and bleeds in the night so it’s horrendous. I have to vacuum my bed every morning and I don’t know any relationship that wouldn’t suffer from having to sleep apart.’
Managing her TSW has also left her with less time to spend with her son.
Laura continued: ‘My son has suffered because I have to spend so much time managing my TSW with regular baths that, instead of spending time with him before and after school, I am dealing with this, and his dad has had to step in.’
With the help of the other members of the Topical Steroid Withdrawal and Red Skin Syndrome Facebook group, Laura is now managing her symptoms better.
She has fewer flare ups and when she does, they are less severe and do not last as long as they did when she first stopped using the steroid creams.
Despite the problems she has developed since stopping the creams, she has never gone back to using them.
She said: ‘I’d be terrified to even come into contact with a jar of those creams, because what I know now is that if you have to use them long term, they stop the skin from behaving normally and can cause steroid-induced eczema which is what I have suffered with.’
Now Laura hopes that by speaking out, she will encourage doctors to recognise TSW as a bona fide condition.
‘Doctors need to see that TSW is very real,” said Laura. “It certainly feels real when you’re suffering with it.’
Last year, the medical journal Dermatitis published the results of a three-year study of Australian patients presenting with TSW and acknowledged that it is often dismissed as being a result of over-use of steroids, or even steroid phobia.
And the British Association of Dermatologists accept that doctors still do not recognise this condition.
BAD spokesman, Dr Anton Alexandroff, said: ‘In rare circumstances, overuse of strong steroid can lead to thinning of the skin. This overuse doesn’t make the eczema worse, but it can sometimes trigger an acne-like problem, particularly on the face, which then flares up when steroids are stopped.
‘Some people refer to this as steroid withdrawal or steroid addiction, however, this isn’t something that is formally recognised by dermatologists.
‘The differing opinions come down to whether this skin reaction is caused by stopping steroid treatment, or by a flare-up of the underlying disease because the treatment has stopped suddenly. Dermatologists believe it is the latter.’
Dental nurse left feeling ?like a zombie? after ditching steroid creams sparked an agonising skin reaction
Huda Kattan is one of the biggest beauty influencers out there, and her brand, Huda Beauty, is one of the industry’s success stories.
She still gets online and gives us tutorials and reviews, though, which is likely what people relate to – as well as her love of a good beauty hack.
From using a toothbrush and toothpaste to get rid of blackheads to DIYing an empty drinks bottle for a salon-style blow-dry, there isn’t a home remedy she hasn’t tried.
The most recent could save you a fortune, as Huda has swapped fancy cleansers for some budget men’s shaving cream.
Taking off her makeup in a Facebook video titled ‘Siri, remove my makeup 🤪 I WISH it was that easy 😂😂😂’ she uses L’Oreal Men Expert shaving cream and a hand towel to effectively remove her foundation and eyeshadow, before following with toner and various serums.
Huda isn’t the first to try the unconventional skincare technique, but with the reach she has there’s a good chance it could now catch on.
Like with any products used on the skin, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, some people may find the ingredients too harsh for sensitive skin, or that they need a creamier cleanser to keep themselves hydrated.
It could be a very good trick for when you’re staying elsewhere and have forgotten your toiletry bag, though. Never wake up after a hook-up with panda eyes again.
Just raid your date’s bathroom cabinet, and make sure you rinse all the shaving cream off before going back to bed with a fluffy white moustache.
Huda Beauty shaving foam
As a freelancer living in London I worry about two major issues: how to pay my rent and how much plastic I use.
I often jam purchases in coat pockets or carry them home precariously because I’d rather do that than cave in and buy a plastic bag when I’ve left my canvas one at home.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, laughs at my one-woman attempt to save the planet. After all, what difference does the odd carrier bag make?
However, as Haley Joel Osment proved in Pay It Forward, one person can have a big impact.
Which brings me on to sanitary wear (seamless link, I know).
It’s not something that had crossed my mind until recently, but once it did, I couldn’t go back.
FACT: Anything made with plastic, like pads, applicators, liners will be sitting in landfills a lot longer than any of us will be alive (500-800 years, to be precise).
Yet an average person will use 11,000 disposable period products in their lifetime.
The guilt of using a disposable product that is convenient for me and not for the environment bothers me. A lot.
As it should do their manufacturer.
So I put the word out and found some companies who, like me, are trying to change things up for the better.
I then put them to the test.
There are so many and yet only so many days in a period, so I had to spread the experiment over two months.
Of course, everyone’s period is different. Personally, I haven’t used the pill since my mid 20s. My periods normally last around six days, start light, go straight to medium-heavy (but rarely crazy heavy, like I know some of my girlfriends have) and then peter off towards the last couple of days. I also have something called Vaginismus, which basically means by body likes to reject foreign objects as if they’re the Antichrist.
Now you know my nether regions better than my boyfriend does, let’s get cracking with the eco-friendly alternatives to sanitary wear I tried.
My flow: Light-mid
What is it?
Period-proof underwear. Pants with four clever layers – one for softness, one to trap odours and fight bad bacteria, one to absorb and one that keeps the moisture in.
Thinx have been around since 2014 in the USA but have only landed recently in the UK.
They come in six different styles in the classic range and three styles in the organic cotton range. The pants hold anything from a half to two tampons worth of blood, depending on the absorbency you go for.
Wow. Just WOW. It’s not just a sales gimmick, these pants really do look and feel just like any other pants. Except, wearing them, I felt like super woman. To the touch, they’re thicker and less flimsy than normal pants – perhaps more like support underwear. I wore all day and night – so comfy, no leaks, no worries, no hassle. I couldn’t believe it.
And they’re super easy to care for – a quick rinse (I jumped in the shower with mine) and then popped them in a normal cold wash, along with the rest of my laundry.
Which style you pick will determine which flow they suit. I wore the Hiphugger (which can hold up to two tampons worth of blood) and Sport (holds up to one and a half tampons worth) and was MIGHTILY impressed.
Converted, I am.
How are they eco?
Thinx say the lifespan for a Thinx pair of pants is up to two years, providing you take good care of them (keep bleach and fabric softener far, far away). You can also recycle the cloth (minus the PUL gusset) when done.
And the cardboard and plastic pocket that the pants come in are both recyclable and biodegradable.
Plus they’re involved in a bunch of charitable programmes, from period education right through to period pants donations. Like, in 2018, they launched a special edition underwear. For every pair they sold, they donated $5 to Girls Inc. At the end of the campaign, the organisation received $40,000.
It’s not just period projects they support – anything from emergency relief to homelessness. All in all, they’re a feelgood company in more ways than one.
Where can I get my hands on them?
You can buy online here, plus they have just launched in Selfridges on Oxford Street. Prices start from £19.47 per pair which isn’t cheap.
But in their own words: ‘Thinx can actually save the consumer money in the long run. The average person with a period spends up to $350 (£270) a year on pads and tampons, whereas a cycle-set of three pairs is roughly $100 (£78).’
If each pair lasts up to two years, it’s hard to argue with the numbers.
My flow: Mid-light
What is it?
A tampon and a pantyliner in one, aptly called the ‘tampliner’. It’s a subscription-only service and you can mix ‘n’ match as you please with a selection of regular, super, and super plus.
I’m not the biggest tampon fan purely because I don’t like corking myself up. However, I did really like the idea behind this. Leakage is, after all, a huge concern. But it didn’t go well. First of all, my body was constantly trying to push it out so I had to throw one out and start again. And then when I went to the loo everything got wet. It does say in the instructions that, if this happens, try leaning forward when you wee.
But I was in a loo on the go, far from home and opted to instead use an organic sanitary towel to ease my worries, rather than try for a third time.
Back in the comfort of my home I tried again one night. It leaked, which may have been because I picked the wrong strength for my flow, but again everything got wet when I went to the loo, so I guess these just aren’t for me.
How are they eco?
Asides from being made from 100% organic cotton, the great thing about Callaly is that they really take their impact seriously, from their product to their packaging.
For instance, although packaging may bear the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo, meaning it is sourced responsibly, often the film that is then used to coat the packaging undoes a lot of the good work because it then takes the biodegradable timeline from five months to five years. Which sucks, right?
Callaly don’t use this. Instead they use an ecofilm matte laminate which breaks down in 18-24 months.
They’ve written a really good explanation of all this, which I recommend reading, here.
Where can I get my hands on them?
Online and delivered straight to your door, you can try your first Callaly box for £3.50. It then starts from £8 per month and you can cancel any time.
3: Eco Femme
My flow: Light
What is it?
A washable and reusable sanitary towel, with a PUL layer to stop it from leaking. (Though they call it a ‘cloth pad’.) They come in various sizes: day, day plus, night, and pantyliner. And which one suits you is, like with most things, a case of trial and error.
I’ve only just realised in writing this that I wore the pad the wrong way round. Note to self: it’s pattern side down and plain side up. However, despite my blunder, nothing leaked, the pad was comfortable, and I wore it all day and night, like I did the Thinx, though my period was lighter by this stage. (They recommend changing it every four to six hours.)
You simply secure the wings under your underwear with a press button and I didn’t feel it all. In fact, because it’s made of cloth – and therefore more like your knickers – I noticed it less than I would a ‘normal’ sanitary towel. When you’re done with it, it can be folded in on itself and secured to keep things discreet. I’m not sure what you’d pop it in or do about the smell when you’re out and about – nothing came with the pads. A biodegradable nappy bag would do the trick – make sure you don’t buy non-biodegradable: standard plastic bags take around 400 years to degrade.
The only thing that I find unrealistic for me is that you need to soak it for 30 mins in cold water before you chuck in the wash to avoid blood stains then tumble dry or dry in sunlight to kill the bad bacteria, which, for someone living in a London flat with no outdoor space doesn’t really work.
And they also say to wash it before your first use, just like you would new underwear. But who has the time?
How are they eco?
They estimate you need four to eight pads to give you enough for your cycle. Each pad lasts roughly 75 washes before the PUL (polyurethane laminate) layer that keeps it leak-proof breaks down. That’s between three to five years. So one Eco Femme pad can do the work of hundreds of disposables. And, once done, the cotton and metal can be recycled.
Where can I get my hands on them?
They come in all shapes and sizes and patterns (including block colours with zero pattern), so there’s one for every type of flow and person. You can get yours through online eco-friendly store Acala. Prices start from £8.75.
My flow: Light
What is it?
TOTM make many organic and eco-friendly period products, but I tried their pads and pantyliners.
Yeah. Just like wearing my usual non-environmentally friendly pad, it did everything I needed it to. I soon forgot I was wearing the pad and the pantyliner actually felt softer and more comfortable than ones I’ve tried in the past. I used both products throughout this testing period as a back-up in case I got caught out or something went wrong and they really didn’t let me down.
How are they eco?
They use 100% organic cotton which is good for you and good for the environment. Good for your vajayjay because they don’t use chemicals and nasties on a product which you’re putting in or near a somewhat sensitive area. Good for the planet because farming organic cotton produces nearly 94% less greenhouse gas emissions, while wasting way less water and even helping to remove CO2. Not to mention helping to reduce the levels of harmful chemicals being put into the land.
Their packaging isn’t an afterthought either, as they use biodegradable cardboard tampon applicators and pad wrappers.
Where can I get my hands on them?
Online here or in Tesco. Prices start from £3.25.
My flow: Mid-heavy
What is it?
A menstrual cup, also known widely as a Mooncup, though Mooncup is a brand name. They come in two sizes and which one is right for you depends on your age and whether you’ve had babies.
Yes and no. Once in, it was a dream – my body was way less aware of it than it is when wearing a tampon. In fact, it wasn’t really aware of it at all. But getting it in and out was no mean feat. As soon as I started to insert it my body continually popped it back out. Then it leaked because I hadn’t put it in far enough or in the right position. And, at the end of the day, I couldn’t find the thing and I freaked out.
After several attempts and some advice from the founder via lengthy emails late at night, I found myself squatting in the bath, mirror underneath me, birthing a piece of plastic. It could have been a scene out of Alien. It was also uncomfortable to remove on that first attempt.
However, it was very neat – no spillage. And there’s no odour until you take it out because the blood is not getting oxidised until it meets the air.
I’ve spoken to various friends who absolutely swear by them and all have had varying experiences. Essentially, it can take a few attempts to nail it but, once you do, you’re off and running. I think it’s a great alternative for regular tampon users.
Bloody Heaven say the menstrual cup will give you up to 12 hours of protection but this really depends on your flow. If it’s heavier you need to empty it more and if it’s lighter you don’t. They recommend checking every four hours the first time you wear it.
When you’ve inserted it correctly (which I didn’t manage at first), it forms a seal and that stops any leakage. It’s also supposed to be great because it doesn’t absorb anything from your body (like a tampon might) so your vaginal PH remains all good.
How are they eco?
A menstrual cup is one purchase that you can use again and again. Each one can last for up to ten years, saving you a tonne of money and hassle, as well as the lesser environmental impact. Signs it needs replacing are tears, holes or other signs of deterioration.
And, when it’s ready to go to Mooncup heaven, it can be recycled.
Where can I get my hands on them?
You can get yours here for the grand price of only £12.99. 10% of which goes towards women’s causes.
My flow: Mid-heavy
What is it?
A menstrual cup.
Like the Bloody Heaven cup, they come in different sizes and which is right for you is down to a combination of age and childbirth. However, this one also comes with a spare, an applicator (much like a tampon) and a steriliser box. Handy.
Also, the medical-grade silicone seems more malleable in this instance. Again, this wasn’t the easiest of experiences for me – I ended up forgoing the applicator and just doing it by hand and, although taking it out was easier because I’d now had some practice, it still came out like a breached baby and it was a messy business.
But the spare cup and box is certainly great if you’re out and about when you need to change cups in public loos.
I also put this one to the swimming test and, despite my fears of leaving a Jaws-like trail in the pool, the cup worked as it should and kept what was left of my dignity intact.
How are they eco?
A menstrual cup is one purchase that you can use again and again and each one can last for up to ten years (according to their website). Enna says theirs will give you protection for between eight to ten hours but, again, this really depends on your flow. If it’s heavier you need to empty it more and if it’s lighter you don’t. And the cup itself is 100% recyclable.
Where can I get my hands on them?
This one costs £24.95 and can be bought from Healthy2U here.
My flow: Mid
What is it?
Organic tampons that come in regular, super, and super plus sizes.
Felt just like a non-organic tampon, except for the extra dose of smugness knowing that I’m being better to both my body and the environment.
How are they eco?
Natra were the first fully-certified 100% organic tampons available in the world. Without the presence or residue of chemicals, and being made from organic cotton and plant cellulose, means these tampons will disappear in 18-24 months.
Where can I get my hands on them?
At £2.60 for 20, they’re a great price. You can buy them from Waitrose, Amazon or from independent stockists like Beauty Naturals here.
Bowel Cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer.
But it shouldn’t be.
It is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.
People are still afraid to talk about what’s going on with their poo and put off going to the doctor.
Younger people believe they are too young to get the cancer as it is much more common in people over 50 but more than 2,500 people under 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK every year.
Knowing the symptoms, talking about them to your GP and asking if it could be bowel cancer could mean it is discovered quickly and treated.
As part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, people living with cancer, people who have survived the disease and people who have lost loved ones have come together for the #ThisIsBowelCancer photoshoot to show that it can happen to anyone.
What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK said: ‘These incredible images is a beautiful homage to those affected by bowel cancer. Young, old, female or male – it can affect us all.
‘Around 268,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer. But it doesn’t just impact the person with the disease.
‘It touches their families, friends and colleagues, doctors and nurses, scientists and researchers. That’s millions of people right across the UK. We need more people affected by bowel cancer to come together and take action to create a future where nobody dies of this disease.’
Photographer Sophie Mayanne said: ‘My grandad had bowel cancer in his final years, so it is a topic that hits close to home for me.
‘It’s important to show the different angles of living with cancer – as each person’s journey is as unique, as it is emotional. I think the most important thing people can take away from these images is that life doesn’t stop when you are diagnosed with cancer.
‘My grandad was still my grandad when he was diagnosed, as are mothers still mothers, partners still partners and family still family.’
Deborah James, 37 from London was diagnosed with bowel cancer just before Christmas 2016. She presents award-winning BBC Five Live podcast, ‘You Me and The Big C’.
She said: ‘Bowel cancer can happen to anyone of us. Any age, race – you are never too young, fit or ugly! It tears lives apart. We lose loved ones and it robs us of futures. Together more people can stop people dying of bowel cancer.’
Richard Bingham, 40, from East Sussex was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2016. He lives in Rye with his partner Bekky. Since his diagnosis he has undergone bowel and liver surgery, radiotherapy and is currently having chemotherapy.
‘Bowel cancer – indeed any cancer – is so often unseen, with the patient appearing entirely normal while the disease is on the rampage on the inside, and comes in so many different shapes and forms that it is vital people understand this, especially to allow for early diagnosis,’ he said.
‘The photo shoot was an amazing experience, which left both Bekky and I feeling emotional, part of a community and privileged to be involved in such an awesome and meaningful campaign.’
Katy Bruce Jaja, 34 from Essex was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer six months ago in 2018, after her symptoms were missed whilst she was pregnant with her youngest son. Katy is married and a mum of two boys. She is currently in treatment and has just finished chemotherapy.
She said: ‘My life completely changed a few months ago. Bowel cancer was not something that I ever thought about. As a young woman I was aware of things like breast and cervical cancer checks but I always associated bowel cancer with being a lot older. I’m 34.
‘Unfortunately being young doesn’t make you immune. More awareness needs to be raised. If you’re experiencing symptoms go to see your GP, the earlier the better.’
Barbara Hibbert, 61 from Harrogate was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2014. A former teacher she is a mother to two daughters and a grandmother. Barbara has undergone bowel surgery and lost her hair as a result of chemotherapy, which is quite rare for people with bowel cancer.
‘I want to show that a stage 4, doesn’t mean that you stop living – you just have to live faster because you have less time! A terminal diagnosis isn’t a good thing to receive, but it does give you time to prepare and to make the most of the time you have left.
‘I put off getting my symptoms checked and that delay meant that when my cancer was found it was already severe. It’s very easy to persuade yourself that you shouldn’t bother the busy doctor or be one of the ‘worried well’ clogging up the surgery, but it’s so important to get yourself checked, even if you are overweight, drink too much, don’t take much exercise and are menopausal – all excuses for not taking action in my case,’ she said.
Margaret Chung, 66 from Buckinghamshire lost her daughter Annabel to bowel cancer in 2016 at just 36, seven months after she was diagnosed with the disease.
She said: ‘There isn’t a word in the dictionary that can express just how awful it was to lose Annabel. Especially knowing that if her symptoms had been taken seriously earlier, she might still be with us.
‘When she was here Annabel touched so many people’s lives so knowing that through this, she has contributed and is still helping people, is a life saver for me. I just wish she was here.’
Gemma Savoury, 34, from West Midlands was initially diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer in 2014, but unfortunately three years later it spread to her lungs (stage four). Gemma lives with her husband. Since being diagnosed she has had chemotherapy, lung surgery, abdominoperineal resection surgery and now has a permanent stoma bag and is on dialysis.
She said: ‘It’s really important to show that anyone, at any age can be affected by bowel cancer. Cancer doesn’t pick an age, colour or gender, it’s indiscriminate and it is life-changing. This shoot gave me the opportunity to embrace my scars, gain some much needed confidence and feel proud of how far I’ve come.’
Reginald Bull, 84, from Hampshire was diagnosed with stage one bowel cancer when he was 53. Though he was given the all clear, the fear of the cancer coming back and the trauma he went through left him with chronic depression. With the support of his wife, Maureen, Reginald sought help and is a stronger person.
He said: ‘Taking part made me feel that in some small way I might help others who one day may have to face all the traumas associated with being diagnosed with bowel cancer and for that I am very grateful.’
Jaimin Patel, 35 from London was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer in 2013, three years later he found out it was incurable. Jaimin is married with a young son and has a stoma following bowel surgery.
‘I want people to see that although I might be young(ish), having bowel cancer doesn’t mean that life is over,’ he said.
‘I hope that getting the picture of normality out to those suffering with this cancer will encourage them to try different things and not feel restricted in their life, because if I can lead as normal a life as possible, by being positive and trying new things, you can give yourself a better chance of making the most of the time you are living and not worry about the time after.’
Seraphine Uwimana, 49 from London lost her husband, Antoine, in 2016 after he died from bowel cancer. The couple had been together for 26 years and had three children together.
She said: ‘What I wish, is that if anyone has those symptoms then they go to the doctor as soon as they see them. Antoine didn’t and maybe if he did, they would have caught it sooner and he would still be here now. The thing I found hardest about losing Antoine wasn’t losing my husband, it was losing my counsellor, advisor and best friend. I don’t want anyone else to go through that.’
Photo series shows the impact of bowel cancer Bowel Cancer UK/Sophie Mayanne
Remember when you left school and you spent days getting everyone to sign your shirt?
Once completed you probably threw it in a drawer and never looked at it again.
Well, you better dig it out because it’s back in fashion.
Vetements is selling a shirt in that exact style for £790, complete with ‘Class of 2029’ scribbled across the back (even if that is a full 10 years away, which makes it a shirt for eight year olds).
It includes names, jokes and words of encouragement for the future in both Georgian and English, inspired by designer Demna Gvasalia’s Georgian heritage.
Gvasalia is currently the creative head at Balenciaga.
The shirt is available in sizes XS-L but the medium and large have already sold out. People are really keen to relive their schooldays.
The website says: ‘Crafted in Italy, this white cotton design is shaped into an oversized version of a classic shirting silhouette. Dad sneakers and plaid shorts will complete this look, as seen on the runway.’
Of course, if you can’t quite afford the designer version and you discover your old shirt is long gone, you could recreate your own with just a white shirt and some markers.
Get your friends involved and just hope you don’t end up with a penis drawn over the back.
It’s not the only quirky designer piece we’ve spotted recently.
Last week, we brought you this £3,025 skirt made from denim waistbands.
The Junya Watanabe Indigo Denim Mix Panelled Skirt is just a bunch of legs from different shades of jeans sewn together into an A-line skirt.
What a time to be alive.
You can buy your scribbled on school leavers shirt for ?790
Staff working at UK branches of Starbucks could get a pretty amazing opportunity very soon, as the coffee chain is starting a new scheme to pay tuition fees.
Staff will be able to apply to online courses run by a US university and study on Starbucks’ buck – while still putting a few hours a week as a barista.
The company already has a similar scheme over in America, where around 18,000 students have benefited, and are now opening up 100 spaces for employees over here (with scope for more in the future).
The courses are run by Arizona State University, and include roughly 40 degree subjects, including economics, IT, political science and accounting.
Staff have to have worked for Starbucks for three months and not already have an undergraduate degree. Study is to be taken part-time, outside of working hours, and on top of a regular job at the coffee shop.
Given that some university fees are upwards of £9,000 a year, you could be saving a whole load of cash with this scheme.
A spokeswoman for the brand told the BBC that staff were asked about ‘what matters most to them… And many expressed how difficult the financial strains can be to obtain a university degree’.
Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University added that this would be a step towards providing ‘an education to all who desire to learn’.
The scheme starts in October this year, and if it’s successful it could follow in the footsteps of the American counterpart and allow thousands of wannabe students to get their degrees.
Starbucks rolling out scheme to pay UK staff tuition fees
When she was a little girl, mum-of-two Jenny Cahill picked up tips on saving the planet from Blue Peter.
Now 34, she’s still on a mission to live a greener life.
Jeweller Jenny, who lives in Exeter, Devon, with her husband Simon, 44, a supermarket general assistant, and their children, Leonor, three, and Torben, one-and-a-half, said: ‘I’m not preachy about this greener way of life.
‘But I am interested in finding things that are cheaper, better for the planet and which make my life easier, so I’m always on the lookout for new ideas.
‘In India and Nepal, they use soap nuts to wash their clothes. This works because the nuts contain saponins, which is similar to the compound you find in washing detergents. Actually, though, conkers have the same saponins, so they work just as well.
‘But you don’t just chuck the dirty conkers in with the washing. You have to smash them up to release the soapy contents and pop them in a small muslin pouch so you don’t get bits of smashed conker spinning around.’
Jenny, keeps her long, dark shiny hair in tip top condition by going what she calls ‘No ‘Poo’ which means not using shampoo or conditioner.
Instead, she uses apple vinegar, which she makes using old apple cores and peelings, mixed with water and sugar, then applying it as conditioner to her hair, which she first washes with bicarbonate of soda.
Jenny said: ‘I love finding creative alternatives to chemicals and packaging and I can honestly say I’m happier when I do. I don’t have a cupboard full of products under my sink – so I’ve got more space for saucepans and other things. And I’m not throwing out things that may not be able to be recycled.’
First learning about the importance of recycling and doing her bit to save the planet from watching Blue Peter as a child, Jenny, who studied 3D design at University in Brighton, is now on a mission to change people’s habits.
She said: ‘Take detergents – they’re harmful to the planet both in terms of the real cost of their production, with the packaging they come in and for the polluting chemicals they contain that end up in the washing machine’s water waste.
‘People forget water itself is a solvent and so if you set your machine to an eco-setting with extra agitation you may find you can clean your clothes with no detergent at all.’
Her husband, Simon, keenly embraces her experimental ways and is happy for her to decorate their home with things other people have dumped.
And their daughter, Leonor, is already becoming an expert at spotting useful trash that her mum might be able to turn into something pretty or useful in the home.
Jenny said: ‘Leonor already has a keen eye and points to colourful oddments and old pots and things we could reuse.
‘And I’m always looking out for stuff, like the old dress mirror I picked up on the pavement the other day, that has just a tiny crack in the corner, which I’m going to make into a broken mirror mosaic.
‘And last year, we grew our strawberries in an old corrugated plastic pipe we found at the dump. It’s fun and it’s creative.
‘People think it’s difficult to live more sustainably, but it’s really just about getting into new habits. Even if you just get into the habit of taking a reusable bag to the supermarket you’re making a difference.’
One of the biggest challenges for a mum with toddlers, according to Jenny, is finding alternatives to disposable nappies, which take years to biodegrade.
She explained how she and Simon have adopted a technique called ‘elimination communication,’ saying: ‘The idea is based on baby-led potty training.
‘You pick up the signals when your baby is hungry or needs to sleep and this is no different, you just learn to look out for the signal they need the toilet.
‘We do use cloth nappies as well, but at home, this system has worked really well for us. You get the odd accident, of course, but my son was using a potty at the age of 15 months.’
Rather than nagging people into making more sustainable choices, or making them feel guilty, Jenny sets out to inspire them with creative solutions, which will make them want to have a go themselves. She posts on Instagram to try to encourage others to do things in a greener way.
She said: ‘My top tip is always to look at what’s in your rubbish bin and then to think about what rubbish you can stop coming into the house in the first place and what you can reuse.
‘But my main advice is to look for things you can do that are less effort for you and more effective.
‘I’m happy because I know my choices are better for the planet, they make life easier for me, I have fewer products in the house and fewer things to buy on my shopping list.’
Eco-friendly mum on a mission to save the planet reveals how she washes clothes with conkers and her hair with vinegar
Vaginal mesh, which has led to debilitating complications in many of those who have had it implanted, is the subject of new official guidelines that have not impressed campaigners against its use.Justin Bieber 'didn't mean to be insensitive' as he apologises for April Fools' prank
Owen Smith, a Labour MP and the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group concerning surgical mesh has said: ‘I am deeply disappointed that the updated guidelines appear to disregard mesh-injured women’s experiences by stating that there is no long-term evidence of adverse effects.
‘Thousands of women have faced life-changing injuries following mesh surgery and they must not be ignored.’
Indeed, vaginal mesh has been linked to painful and life-changing side-effects, and even deaths in some of those who have had mesh implanted.
So what exactly is vaginal mesh, why has it caused so many terrible health problems for people?
Vaginal mesh explained
Vaginal mesh is a plastic implant which is used to treat incontinence, and to support the vagina, bowel, uterus, bladder or urethra if they have been damaged during childbirth.
While many of those who have had the implant procedure haven’t reported any side-effects, there have been a great deal of those who report life-changing, and in some cases, life-threatening complications.
As Greenway described it: ‘Mesh has a very nasty characteristic: it can become brittle and erode, and its sharp, exposed edges can quickly slice through nearby organs.’
Women all over the world have been left unable to walk due to the mesh in their body.
Some have reported nerve damage, organ erosion and others, like mum-of-two Cat Lee, have reported an an inability to have sex.
There have also been those, like anti-mesh campaigner Chrissy Brajcic, who died from complications which were triggered by her own mesh implant. In Crajcic’s case, it was sepsis.
According to new official guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), surgery to implant vaginal mesh should now only be used as a last resort – with potential patients having to opt-in after being told of all the risks.
NICE recognises the ‘public concern about mesh procedures’, and has also said that patients should only be offered the procedure as an option if all other non-surgical methods have either failed or been rejected.
However, many campaigners are not impressed with these new guidelines.
Kath Sansom, who works with campaign group Sling the Mesh, is quoted in the Guardian saying: ‘We are appalled that despite political campaigns and the obvious suffering of many women, these guidelines are no different from what was published in 2003. They are so weak, they clear the way for the next generation of women to be harmed. We told our stories and Nice ignored us.’
Greenway said in her article last year that she: ‘will not shut up or put up until there is a complete ban on an implant that is designed to be permanent and has proved, in far too many cases, to be unstable with severe flaws that can cause life-changing conditions to those affected and their families.’
Serious safety concerns over vaginal mesh
We’ve met some very good doggos in our time.
But this is one very talented one.
Hunter, a cute Shiba Inu, is a professional painter who has made thousands.
He creates amazing works at his home in Alberta, Canada, having been taught by his owners, Kenny Au and his wife, Denise Lo.
They sell the works on his Etsy store and so far they’ve made more than £3,800 from 150 paintings.
Kenny said: ‘One thing that we are always impressed with is how unique each painting is.
‘He can get pretty creative with his brush strokes depending on his mood.
‘We see lots of dabs and checkmarks with the heavier brushes and then some loops and flicks with the lighter brushes.’
Hunter started painting in March 2017 as his owners wanted to give him some mental enrichment.
Kenny and Denise decided to teach him how to paint so they would have some artwork for the walls.
Amazed at how well the initial paintings turned out, the couple decided to continue working with their dog to create more works.
Each painting session take between 10 to 15 minutes, the couple said, and the final works sell for around £43 each.
They are hoping to donate some of Hunter’s work for sale by rescue organisations.
Kenny added: ‘We’ve seen a lot of support for Hunter from everyone over the past couple of years.
‘We love seeing the memes and reading the fan mail that Hunter gets.
‘We feel that Hunter’s work relates to a lot of people, especially now with everything being online.
‘Many people who enjoy Hunter’s work are animal lovers or, some more specifically, Shiba lovers.’
Painting Dog Materpieces
It feels like quite a marker of wealth to have your very own pizza oven, particular given that they tend to cost thousands.
This Aldi version will only set you back £39, though, and apparently measures up to some pretty pricey competitors.
As the countdown to summer begins, the prospect of making your pals perfectly crisp pizzas outside is quite tempting, and now isn’t completely detached from reality.
The oven attaches to your regular gas or charcoal barbecue, and has a steel exterior with a ceramic stone to char the bottom of your pizza.
It’ll cook pizzas of up to 12 inches in as little as ten minutes, and can also be used for searing meat and fish in a less messy way compared to usual BBQ fare.
Jamie Oliver’s outdoor pizza oven has drawn comparisons, but with a price difference of over £1,700, this one gives you a lot more money left over for pepperoni and mozzarella.
Forget even having to go to the ‘middle aisle of wonders’ in your local Aldi, as the oven is on pre-order at the moment on their site. Plus, it’s free delivery on all orders over £20, so you can save on that too.
If you’d rather test it out for real, it’ll be in stores from 4 April, which is right on time for when temperatures are supposed to start heating up.
According to Aldi’s website, over 100 people purchased the item in the last hour, so you might want to be quick if your family and friends are pizza fiends.
It’s less than the cost of few large meat feasts from a chain takeaway, and you can make them for the whole gang.
Summer is sorted, as Aldi are selling their bargain £39 outdoor pizza oven
On average, women seven years after they start to experience symptoms to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
The condition means the lining of the womb grows elsewhere including on the fallopian tubes and bladder.
It can cause extreme pain and problems with infertility.
But many people wait years before they are officially diagnosed – and therefore, they face a long time without any treatment.
Until now, the only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis has been via laparoscopy – a type of keyhole surgery where a camera is inserted into the pelvis to look at internal organs.
But thanks to a new blood test developed by MDNA Life Sciences and experts at the University of Oxford, women could be diagnosed through a simple blood test, receiving the results a few days later.
They hope the test will be available privately in the next nine months at a cost of £250 but it could be available on the NHS in the future.
The Mitomic Endometriosis Test, which was developed at MDNA’s Newcastle lab, looks for biomarkers of endometriosis in the blood through the close examination of mutations in mitochondrial DNA.
A study published in the journal Biomarkers in Medicine found that these newly-identified biomarkers can accurately detect endometriosis in blood samples in up to nine out of 10 cases, even in the early stages of the condition.
The group are creating test kits for laborites across the UK, similar to the ones they have already created for prostate cancer.
They are releasing blood tests for ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer and hope to develop tests for lung, liver, and stomach cancers could by 2021.
Dr Christian Becker, from the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Endometriosis not only causes enormous suffering to the affected women, but also brings a tremendous medical and economic burden to bear on society.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Symptoms vary from person to person but some of the most common include:
‘There is a long lag phase between the onset and diagnosis of the disease, mainly due to its non-specific symptoms and because it can only be diagnosed invasively by laparoscopy.
‘A specific, non-invasive test to aid diagnosis of endometriosis is certainly an unmet clinical need.’
Dr Andrew Harbottle, MDNA Life Sciences’ chief science officer, said: ‘Mutations in mitochondrial DNA act as ideal biomarkers, providing us with a unique and detailed diary of damage to the DNA and accurately detecting many difficult-to-diagnose diseases and conditions, such as endometriosis.’
Harry Smart, MDNA Life Sciences’ chairman said: “We are the only company to use mitochondrial DNA to detect diseases and have developed a library of 16,000 biomarkers to date.
‘Our groundbreaking test for endometriosis will fundamentally change the way this debilitating disease is detected and diagnosed.
‘We look forward to helping UK women get treatment sooner, reducing their pain and distress and providing cost savings to health services.’
Chronic illness study
There is, in my view, only one good reason to weigh a child, and that’s when a doctor needs to prescribe medication.
Although recent research by the University’s of Manchester and Oxford has suggested regular weigh-ins could help combat childhood obesity, I believe this could have a damaging impact on a child’s self-esteem. Poor self-image can be a contributing factor to weight gain, and besides, weight alone is not a good measure of health.
Getting a child on the scales, and using that result against a set of national averages, is a one-way ticket to body image anxiety. I know because I’ve been there.
I must have been about seven or eight years old when I was called to the nurse’s office as part of a regular school check. I remember looking down and seeing my blue checked summer dress grazing my knees, my legs disappearing into white ankle socks as I squinted at the analogue dial on the scales.
The needle pinged up with vigour, and the nurse made an odd noise – I felt like I’d failed a test but I didn’t know why. It wasn’t the first time I’d got on the weighing scales, but it was the first time I’d really noticed the process and wondered what it meant.
A few days later we got a letter from school, and my mum made an appointment to see our GP. At the appointment, Mum and the doctor said things like, ‘overweight’, ‘worried’, and ‘puppy fat’.
It was all very confusing, and even though the doctor wasn’t that concerned, the experience made me more aware of my body – should my thighs really spread like that on the car seat? Should there be a roll around my stomach when I sit down? At home I played with our puppy, she didn’t seem to have any fat at all.
To this day, I don’t know how much my children weigh. They have been weighed at the doctor’s surgery, but it’s a process I deliberately minimise.
The recommended changes were small – semi-skimmed milk, fruit salad instead of ice cream and low fat margarine. But I had already learned to view my value through the lens of weight.
Subsequently, my teenage years and early 20s were marked by self-imposed calorie counting, regular weigh-in sessions (up to three times a day) and avoidance of ‘fatty foods’ – including healthy foods such as nuts.
The adults in my life had long stopped worrying about my weight – I hit puberty young, age 10, and the remarkable changes to my body easily explained my earlier stockiness.
But thanks to the school nurse, the damage was done – and is not easily undone. My 20s were an exercise in dietary restriction, not nutritional understanding.
As soon as I had my first child 10 years ago, I made a decision that weight would not feature in my parenting style. I threw out my own set of scales and stopped attending those distressing weigh-in sessions for babies.
To this day, I don’t know how much my children weigh. They have been weighed at the doctor’s surgery, but it’s a process I deliberately minimise.
At home we place a high value on the nutrient level in food. We talk about ‘fuel’ and ‘energy’ rather than calories and fat. We talk about balance; protein, carbohydrates and starch.
My boys know what dietary fibre is. They know they need calcium and Omega 3s. They know if they eat too much sugar, including fructose, that it will give them a sudden energy boost followed by a drop.
At just seven and 10 years old, they make self-guided sensible decisions like, ‘I don’t need sugar right now’ or, ‘I had a pie for lunch so I should probably have some green veg at dinner’. It’s beautiful to see their understanding of nutrition and health develop at such a young age.
I’d hate to think anyone judged their physical or emotional health based on their weight. If a conversation like that ever arose I would shut it down with one simple statement: ‘They’ve got a great appetite, eat a good selection of foods, are very active, and happy. What more could you ask for?’
These are better measures of health than any set of scales.
Boy Standing on Scale
Tesco is trialing a new recycling scheme that will let customers return tricky-to-recycle plastics such as crisp packets, pet food pouches, and bread bags.
The scheme, in partnership with Recycling Technologies, is being launched in ten stores in Bristol and Swindon.
If the trial goes well, the scheme will be rolled out nationwide.
Customers will be able to drop off their plastic packaging in special collection bins in stores. The items will then be recycled through a process that will turn the plastic into an oil, called Plaxx, which will then be used to make new plastic. Smart.
This is handy, because many types of plastic can’t be recycled as part of your home bin collection.
Last year people sent old crisp packets to Walkers to protest the fact they couldn’t be easily recycled, leading to a collaboration with Terracycle and a plan to make all crisp packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025’.
Mars also teamed up with Terracycle to create drop-off points for empty pet food pouches, which can then be sorted, cleaned, shredded, and turned into plastic pellets to make items such as benches and construction essentials.
Those are both great moves, but Tesco’s trial could make recycling these items a load easier, allowing customers to drop off all their plastics in one place.
Sarah Bradbury, Tesco’s director of quality, said: ‘Reducing and recycling plastics is such an important issue for us, for customers and for the future of our planet,” Tesco director of quality Sarah Bradbury said.
‘Our trial with Recycling Technologies will make even more of our packaging recyclable and help us reach our target.
‘This technology could be the final piece of the jigsaw for the UK plastic recycling industry.’
Inside A Tesco Plc Supermarket As Retailer Announces Price Cuts And Store Closures
Mixed Up tells the under-heard narratives of the nuanced lived experiences of the mixed-race population.
There is nothing innate about being mixed-race that leads to confusion or conflict, but social perceptions and the desire to fit into a singular category can lead to a sense of isolation.
Being mixed-race can also be a huge source of joy. Exposure to multiple cultures can open up the world and spark empathy and understanding.
It is a strange phenomenon to not look like either one of your parents – to feel as though you exist in an in between space. But by telling our stories we can define our own narratives and carve out a comfortable place to exist in the world.
Naomi Yazmin is a student and fashion blogger. She is Ghanaian, Indian and white British, but she identifies as black.
‘I am “Black British” on forms, but my mix isn’t that simple. My dad’s mother is Ghanaian and my dad’s father is half Indian and half white. So my father is mixed-race as well. Both my mother’s parents are Ghanaian,’ Naomi tells Metro.co.uk.
‘My mother came to London from Ghana as a child to live with the rest of my family who had already moved here from Ghana, my father came here from Ghana as a young adult to work and then met my mother in London.
‘I was born in West London, in 1997. My father went to live in Ghana, so I was raised by my mother in London.’
Growing up in a multicultural city always makes it easier to fit in. The melting-pot of the Capital provided the perfect backdrop for Naomi’s confidence to flourish as she was growing up.
‘London is a city of diverse cultures, so I have always felt comfortable and proud to be mixed-race,’ says Naomi. ‘I have had a good understanding of other cultures from a young age. Growing up in London, there have always been mixed-race people around me, so I haven’t ever felt too different.
‘In the past two years, I have also met people who are the exact same mix as me, which is interesting.
‘I have always identified as black. I don’t really think about being mixed-race until it is brought up in conversation or until I am watching certain documentaries on the topic.’
For Naomi, having a lighter complexion has been both a blessing and a curse. The attention she often gets for being a light-skinned black girl is confusing – because while it can be flattering, she also suspects that she is being fetishised.
‘I feel like having light skin is glorified by many people in my generation, so I have never been ashamed of it,’ she says. ‘I have been made to feel special because of it. More special than others at times.
‘Rappers still mention “light skin” a lot in their music. They sing about being with a light-skinned girl and touching her “caramel skin”.
‘When Facebook was thriving, getting comments on my pictures calling me “lighty”, by both males and females, became normal to me. I only realise how wrong it is now I am older.
‘I have had boys I don’t know approach me on the street and tell me I think I’m “too nice” because I’m light skin, I’ve also had boys message me to say I’m taking too long to respond because I’m light-skinned.
‘My skin colour has nothing to do with how long I take to reply to a text message.
‘At a time, it seemed light-skinned girls were the “in thing” or a “fetish” and it made me wonder if they were only seeing my skin and nothing else.’
It is so important for lighter-skinned mixed-race people to acknowledge the privilege that comes with a closer proximity to whiteness. But when you identify as black, it can be hard to feel as though in some situations you’re not quite black enough.
Naomi says: ‘When the melanin movement was born, I felt automatically excluded from the movement because of being light-skinned – despite it being something that is dedicated to the empowerment and growth of young black queens.
‘I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be involved, that I wasn’t dark enough, despite being black.
‘Sometimes it’s not clear where society wants you to fit in.
‘I want people to understand that there are different types of black and that I am a melanin queen too.’
Society is obsessed with labels. We want to know exactly ‘what’ everyone is. More often than not, people want to fit you into a neat, singular identity. For Naomi, the constant explanation and justification of who she is gets frustrating.
‘When I was born, my Asian features were more distinctive so the nurse instantly asked my mother if my father was Chinese,’ Naomi explains.
‘People have literally been trying to guess or assume my ethnicity since the day I was born. When I was a baby, people would stop my mum in supermarkets and say, “are you sure that is your baby?”
‘Whenever I begin to tell people where I am from, I get ready for the sea of shocked faces.
‘I start with Ghana, because I feel more Ghanaian than anything else and then I am instantly interrupted. “Are you sure you are just from Ghana because the texture of your hair is too curly for you to be just Ghanaian”, which is pure nonsense.
‘It is only when I tell people my full mix that they seem satisfied. I often get, “oh that makes sense”.
‘It’s really annoying when I tell people my mix and they don’t believe me, or instantly question everything about me.
‘I’ve always found it difficult to fill out forms when they ask about my ethnicity. I never really know what category to pick and I have often picked “Other” to save time. I never want to feel like I am shunning one side of me.’
As well as questions from the outside world, Naomi has her own questions about her family background – namely the large unknown Indian influence.
‘There is so much about my heritage that hasn’t been answered yet and that can be quite frustrating,’ says Naomi.
‘But I am extremely proud of my heritage and it has a huge impact on me. My mix makes me unique. I feel lucky and I am happy God made me this way.
‘I am a proud Ghanaian and I am excited to visit India one day and meet my family that live out there as I try to connect the dots and find out more about that side of me.’
She might not feel connected to India, but Ghana is in Naomi’s heart. Growing up with her Ghanaian mum forged a deep connection with her motherland.
‘From a very young age, my mum told me all about Ghana. I have always eaten Ghanaian food and listened to Ghanaian music, supported Ghana in the world cup and attended huge Ghanaian functions and events,’ Naomi tells us.
‘Growing up, I would go to my grandparents’ house in London every weekend. There, I would be taught Ghanaian traditions, such as the correct hand to shake hands and eat food with – Ghanaian society frowns on the use of the left hand.
‘I visited Ghana for the first time when I was two. I go to Ghana often to visit my father and I love it. I feel at home in Ghana. I love the culture. Everyone is friendly and things are a lot more relaxed. I understand Twi, but I cannot speak it fluently.
‘When I visit Ghana, people are always excited to meet me and speak to me because I am from London. Many are also interested in my complexion.
‘When I walk around in Ghana, I hear people call me “Oburoni”. Which is a word used in the Twi language literally meaning, “those who come from over the horizon”. It is often colloquially translated to “white person.”
‘It doesn’t offend me anymore because I have been called it so many times throughout my entire life. I guess I have learnt to ignore it.’
Growing up in the capital has shielded Naomi from the negative perceptions and stereotypes about ethnic minorities that are more commonly found in non-urban areas. But the abuse experienced by previous generations hasn’t been lost on her.
‘Thankfully, I have never experienced racism,’ she says. ‘My mum has told me about the racism she received growing up in London and hearing those stories makes me extremely sad and angry.
‘Attitudes towards race are improving but I do not think Brexit helps. It feels like people in this country are becoming increasingly comfortable being racist.
‘It is really interesting to see that major UK supermarkets now have world food isles and that you can now buy products for Afro and curly hair in Boots and Superdrug. I mean it is 2019, so it’s about time right?
‘I think society will continue to be more accepting of mixed-race people because there are so many of us – and we are only going to continue to grow.
‘The media still has a lot of work to do.
‘We need to hear more stories of people who have grown up with similar experiences to us. People need to know that there are highs and lows of being mixed-race – and we want to talk about both elements.’
Japan has many wondrous sights to see – but you probably don’t have a train station on your bucket list.
The Seiryu Miharashi Eki Station, which translates to Clear Stream Viewing Platform, is a station made solely for the purpose of seeing the scenery.
The station, located along the Nishiki River in Iwakuni, has no entrance or exit.
The only way to get there is – you guessed it – by train. You can stop, jump off, take in the views and take a selfie with the beautiful landscape behind you.
The station opened in March this year and has already won a tonne of praise on social media for its unique concept.
If you are adding it to your list of must-see attractions, just make sure you don’t miss the train heading back. Who knows when the next one will be?
With limited access, the station is the perfect spot to soak in the views and have some quiet time, away from the busyness of Japan’s cities.
You can head to the station via the Nishikigawa Seiryu Line from the Yamaguchi Prefecture’s Nishikigawa Railway.
When you arrive at the location, you’ll find there’s no ticket counter, stairs, or ramp, only a viewing deck.
You can expect to see lots of breathtaking mountains which make up 70% of Japan’s diverse geography.
Reports say the station is only open on certain days so be sure to check dates before you plan a day out.
It’s not the only train station to be open on a limited number of days. The Tsushimanomiya Station, in the Kagawa Prefecture, is open twice a year and coincides with the Great Summer Festival.
If you are heading to the Seiryu Miharashi Eki Station though, you might want to take something to sit on as there are no benches.
this train station in Japan is solely to see the views and the only way to get there is by train
You’ve seen everyone’s holiday scuba diving snaps. You want to brave the waters and deep dive into the ocean. But, quite rightly, you’re scared to take the plunge.
So the best thing might be to test the waters at a safe, controlled swimming pool where there is no current nor terrifying fish floating by.
Dor those that are interested in going deeper than the average depths, Poland is opening the world’s deepest pool.
The Deepspot pool will be 45 metres deep and has been created for professional and beginner divers alike.
For those who want to see all the action but don’t want to gear up, there’s also a glass tunnel for viewing purposes. You can amp yourself up watching other divers before you commit to the waters.
Viewers won’t be able to peer into the space below 20 meters, as the deepest part of the pool is encased in a submerged cylinder.
The entire thing will be filled with 8,000 cubic metres of water which is the same as 27 Olympic-size swimming pools.
If all that has got you excited, then don’t worry – there’s set to be an even deeper pool opening in the UK.
Located in Msxczonów, south of Poland’s capital Warsaw, Deepshot is set to open in Autumn of this year.
It takes the crown from Italy’s deepest pool which is submerged at 42 metres.
Neither of these are deep as Blue Abyss though, a 50m-deep pool, set to open in the UK in 2020.
Deepspot will hold the title of deepest pool for six months before Blue Abyss opens in Colchester.
Whether you want to dive or not, Deepspot has plenty to offer. There’s the underwater tunnel for spectators, conference, training, and hotel rooms with views of the pool.
There’s clearly a thirst for water-related attractions as Norway has also opened its first underwater restaurant.
The building is 111 feet long, and tips dramatically into the ocean, with the lower end of the building resting on the seabed.
All of these places need to be added to our ever-growing bucket lists.