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- 04/27/19--02:06: _Comedy club will ho...
- 04/27/19--03:08: _Sorry celebs, but c...
- 04/27/19--03:16: _Why you should abso...
- 04/27/19--04:07: _Unlucky cat Sophie ...
- 04/27/19--04:22: _Girl with rare cond...
- 04/27/19--04:51: _We hope you’re read...
- 04/27/19--05:09: _How to see Mauritiu...
- 04/27/19--05:39: _Switch off and reco...
- 04/27/19--06:12: _Little girl who dre...
- 04/27/19--06:20: _Bride-to-be asks we...
- 04/27/19--06:56: _Dancer with birthma...
- 04/27/19--07:05: _Couple celebrate th...
- 04/27/19--07:31: _How to tell the dif...
- 04/27/19--08:58: _Attention, people: ...
- 04/27/19--09:02: _Man dating woman 29...
- 04/27/19--09:12: _Will eating lots of...
- 04/27/19--09:53: _Seaweed water pouch...
- 04/27/19--21:06: _There’s nothing lik...
- 04/28/19--01:03: _You Don’t Look Sick...
- 04/28/19--01:41: _Woman branded ‘Dalm...
- 04/27/19--03:08: Sorry celebs, but criticism is an essential part of whatever you do
- 04/27/19--04:07: Unlucky cat Sophie is looking for a forever home
- 04/27/19--04:51: We hope you’re ready for the glitter suspenders trend
- 04/27/19--05:09: How to see Mauritius without breaking the bank
- 04/27/19--06:20: Bride-to-be asks wedding community if it’s rude to skip the open bar
- 04/27/19--08:58: Attention, people: The Mint Aero McFlurry is making a comeback
- 04/27/19--09:12: Will eating lots of pineapple bring on your period?
- Post-exertional malaise – a reduction in functioning and a severe worsening of symptoms after even minimal physical or cognitive exertion
- Orthostatic intolerance (OI) – the inability to correctly regulate blood pressure, cerebral blood flow and consciousness when upright
- Cognitive symptoms – confusion, difficulty retrieving words, poor working memory, spatial instability, and disorientation
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Pain in the muscles and joints
- Sensitivity to light, sound or vibration, taste, odor or touch
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or abdominal pain
- Muscle fatigability, weakness and fasciculation; poor coordination and ataxia
- Poor temperature regulation, cold or heat intolerance
- Immune symptoms such as tender lymph nodes, recurrent sore throats, fevers, or flu-like symptoms, and new food or chemical sensitivities
Sex Standing Up Comedy hosts a sex-positive event every month. This May it includes a special twist.
The evening will be themed to Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar observed by Muslims, and aims to tackle Muslim stereotypes as well as provide a healthy dose of laughs and sexy jokes.
Dubbed ‘MILF (M-is-for-Muslim) Edition’, the comedy night will feature award-winning Muslim and Arab comedians including Fatiha El-Ghorri, Mo Saffaf and Sadia Azmat, who will be ‘dishing the dirt about their sex lives and relationships’.
In keeping with their regular sex theme, founders and fellow comedians Ginnia Cheng and Laura Thomas have also put together a charity sex toy raffle with proceeds going to the Muslim Women’s Network.
‘Our mission is to make sure no one feels alone or isolated in their sexual experiences, whatever their background or sexuality,’ Ginnia, who also works as a tech PR specialist, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘It’s a shame that in this day and age, talking openly about sex or sexual health is still such a taboo – but every single human being has some sort of relationship with sex. It’s what makes us – literally.
‘Ramadan is a perfect time to explore themes pertinent to the Muslim community and beyond that are usually veiled by taboo, and celebrate how hard some of London’s finest Muslim and Arab comedians are working to break down barriers.
‘I also hope that it will serve as a reminder that whatever race, religion, sexuality or background – we all share the same human struggles when it comes to something as fundamental to humanity as sex.’
‘We’ve both felt isolated in our own sexual and personal experiences, so we wanted to build a sense of community and belonging through comedy,’ Laura added.
‘We hope to help people feel understood and more importantly, less alone, and have become known as a place of sanctuary where you can freely express who you are without judgements – whether you’re a comedian, or an audience member, with regular audience members from sex-positive communities. We recognise that – yes, life is hard. Yes, life hurts.
‘Yes, life has judged us – and no where more so than in our sexualities. But let’s laugh about it together.’
Sadia, who is due to perform at the event and also runs a BBC podcast called No Country For Young Women, talks about how comedy has helped her open up.
To her, comedy serves as a way to connect with others.
‘Comedy is truth and it has taught me to be really honest about myself and others,’ said Sadia.
‘We all have so much more in common than we would ever know. For me, comedy helps me to connect with humanity every single day – there’s beauty in failure and comedy helps us to reflect not just on the good but also the bad.’
MILF (M-is-for-Muslim) Edition will be held at Vauxhall Comedy Club on 11 May at 7.30pm.
Entry is free, unless you want to reserve seating – in which case tickets are £5.
Muslim comedy night
Being criticised isn’t much fun.
We’d all like to believe that we are wonderfully brilliant beings who never put a foot wrong. Whether it’s your mum saying that outfit doesn’t look quite right or strangers in comment sections telling you you’re a sh*t writer who should never be allowed to work again, also, you’re ugly, (thanks for that, Jeffrey!) it’s not a particularly enjoyable experience to have your lofty view of yourself torn down.
But criticism is not just important, it’s a vital part of everything you do – especially if you’re a mega celeb.
This week saw an influx of bad takes from famous people on the topic of critics, reviewers, and bloggers.
Following a negative review of her new album Cuz I Love You, Lizzo tweeted and deleted: ‘PEOPLE WHO ‘REVIEW’ ALBUMS AND DONT MAKE MUSIC THEMSELVES SHOULD BE UNEMPLOYED.’
Then, when her performance with Justin Bieber at Coachella was bashed, Ariana decided to be not angry, just disappointed, with bloggers at large, tweeting (and deleting):’People are so lost. one day everybody that works at all them blogs will realize how unfulfilled they are and purposeless what they’re doing is and hopefully shift their focus elsewhere. that’s gonna be a beautiful ass day for them! i can’t wait for them to feel lit inside.’
And then the final blogging bash to fill the trifecta. Angered by some light ribbing of her outfit, actress Olivia Munn went in on the Fug Girls of Go Fug Yourself, crafting an entire short essay (currently not deleted!) in which she calls the writers ‘nauseating’ and hypocritical.
Now, I’d be silly to suggest that Lizzo, Ariana, Justin, and Olivia are in the wrong for criticising critics for their criticism of them. I’ve just said criticism is important.
But they do get some things wrong in their lashing out, and thus I must respond with, um, more criticism. Sorry, celebs.
People who review albums, films, and all other creative works should not be unemployed, because they do something quite crucial: they analyse things, assess them, and then share their views with the wider public.
Why is that an important thing? Because creative works can’t exist in a vacuum. They need to be listened and responded to.
This helps to promote said creative work, potentially convincing people to give it a chance when they wouldn’t have otherwise, and often allows for better understanding of it. Think about all the times a review has pointed out a hidden detail that gives a piece loads more depth, or some context that makes a song suddenly click into place.
Sometimes those reviews are going to be negative, and that’s important too.
Imagine if people were allowed to just spunk out whatever they liked without a hint of criticism. They’d go around believing that everything they do is glorious, and while that might be great for their self-esteem, their work would suffer as a result.
Criticism pushes you to rethink, adjust, and try again. You need to be told when something isn’t quite right so you improve – but also so you’re aware that no, you’re not a godlike being of perfection, you can in fact make mistakes and missteps.
When you’re mega famous and wealthy, you need to know you’re not perfect. A world without criticism would do terrible things to a famous person’s ego – they’d be entirely out of touch with reality and able to wholeheartedly believe they are better than any other human in the world.
Yes, you can seethe when criticised. You don’t have to listen to all criticism and adjust yourself accordingly. It’s about assessing which criticism is worthwhile and which is nonsense, coming from a place of unnecessary cruelty.
The genuinely cruel, unthinking reviews and blogs, sure, be annoyed at them. The ones that take aim at people’s bodies, or who they are as people, rather than the work they put out for public consumption, are not okay.
But in the majority of cases, criticism is there to push for improvement, to make sure creativity isn’t a dictatorship but an ongoing discussion. Or it’s there to poke fun and remind us all not to take ourselves too seriously.
That’s the case for fashion. There’s a big difference between bashing a person’s outfit on the street to make them cringe and saying a celebrity’s clothing choices aren’t the best.
Celebrities have access to stylists, designer clothes, and red carpets just for the purpose of showing off their wardrobe. Pointing out the humour of their ridiculous dresses is punching up, never down, and it’s a way for us non-famous people to discuss fashion instead of feeling it is entirely inaccessible to us.
Taking some jokes about your outfit to heart isn’t the fault of the person making the jokes, but a reflection of a celebs’ own self-worth.
You are not your clothes. You are not your one performance at Coachella. Your identity does not depend on one single person’s review of an otherwise celebrated album.
Just as I’m able to ignore my boyfriend if he says my lipstick looks weird (what does he know?), but can take in an editor’s suggestions on cutting down an article, celebrities have to be able to understand the difference between misplaced bashing and genuine criticism that could give them the nudge they need to a better place.
And, as is so often the case, they need to be mindful of their position of power.
A blogger or reviewer is rarely punching down. They’re assessing creative work, likely for far, far less money than the actual artist is making and with significantly less influence. It’s vital that they are able to be negative without being torn apart, because otherwise people with immense power and influence can get away with anything they like.
That’s fine if ‘anything they like’ is just a dodgy single or a crap outfit, but what if that morphs into a fashion line that drastically overcharges eager consumers, a tour that takes fans’ money but offers them little in return, or damaging views expressed without question.
Asking for a world free of criticism is expecting to have your power unchecked and able to run rampant, and that’s simply not a healthy way forward.
Celebs, I urge you: accept the decent criticism when it comes, listen to it, and judge for yourself if it’s worth changing as a result.
When the nonsensical stuff comes your way, have the strength to ignore it. Don’t declare that all reviews and blogs and negative opinions are thus evil and must be outlawed – that only makes you look like a mad emperor who wants control over all things. Not a good look.
Criticism is vital, no matter what you do
People don’t give much thought to everyday beauty items.
Many of us focus our energy on the big stuff, and simply let the hair accumulate on our hairbrushes, forget to replace toothbrushes even though half the bristles are missing and continue to use makeup that has long ago passed its best by date.
Eventually, we realise it’s time to fix the brush, take care of our teeth and replace our favourite foundation.
But then there are those beauty areas that rarely – if ever – get any attention, such as making sure your makeup brushes are up to scratch.
According to a recent survey by Cosmetify, one in four British women (26%) have never cleaned their makeup brushes, with a further 14% admitting they only do so once a year.
In fact, out of 2,000 participants, only 4% claimed to wash their brushes on a weekly basis (which is the recommended time frame).
It seems a lack of knowledge is the culprit for why women don’t take care of their makeup tools, as 39% said they simply didn’t realise that the brushes require cleaning – or because the brushes don’t look dirty (28%).
So, we’re going to explain exactly why your makeup brushes deserve a regular wash.
Don’t get bacteria build-up
You can’t see it with the naked eye, but you’re slowly building up bacteria on the brushes.
Think about it – your face is constantly exposed to dirt and grime in the air, so when you’re innocently topping up your makeup throughout the day, you’re transferring this dirt onto your brushes. You’re essentially reapplying microbes that exist on your skin, and it’ll only be more severe during hot summer days when the atmosphere is moist and you add sweat into the mix.
Unless you keep the brushes in an airtight vacuum container – and really, who dpes – they’re also constantly exposed to dust and other bacteria in the surroundings.
Do you generally have quite good skin, but still can’t seem to get rid of bumps and pimples that appear on certain areas of your skin every week?
If you don’t wash your brushes, the bacteria, natural oil and dirt can block your pores or exacerbate existing skin problems. Keep using the filthy tools and you could potentially end up with a rash.
Skin problems are individual and washing your brushes isn’t a guarantee that these issues will disappear, but the odds are much better.
Avoid serious health problems
Out of the women surveyed by Cosmetify, 68% also admitted to having shared their makeup brushes with other people, and 82% did so with their friends.
Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to makeup brushes – at least unless you wash them between turns, and that could turn into a time-consuming habit.
Imagine your skin as a delicate ecosystem; by letting someone else use your brushes, you’re introducing their ‘foreign’ microbes into your environment.
If harmful bacteria makes it onto your skin, you could end up with staphylococcus, streptococcus and E. Coli. A few years ago, a story emerged of a young mum in Australia who developed a staph infection after using her friend’s makeup brush and was left paralysed in her arms and legs.
In other words, tell your pals you love them but to bring their own makeup – or have an extra, clean brush lying around for them to use.
It’s a lovely home for creepy crawlers
If the idea of dirt and diseases isn’t enough to encourage you into giving your makeup brushes a wash, perhaps this will.
Filthy environments are a safe haven for mites.
Sure, you can’t see them without a microscope but just imagine them crawling around on your skin next time you apply your blusher.
Don’t ruin the quality of your brushes
Good makeup brushes are expensive.
Make them last longer by taking good care of the brushes and washing them regularly.
You’ll save money and your skin will thank you for it.
Fancy pink eye?
It’s not just skin that is affected – your fragile eyes are also at risk.
In addition to keeping those brushes in tip top shape, get a new mascara every three months and clean the skin every night before you go to bed.
Eyelash curlers also need to be cleaned and changed out regularly so you don’t pull out lashes.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wrinkles, but if you’d like to avoid getting them – wash your brushes.
The build-up on the brushes can cause oxidative stress (imbalance) of the skin, which in turn can lead to loss of collagen and elastin, giving you premature wrinkles.
Have we convinced you yet?
Clean your brushes weekly to avoid all of the above.
If you’re at a loss as to how to clean makeup brushes, we’ve put together some helpful tips. Or just ask a staff member at the makeup counter next time you pick up a fresh set of tools.
1 in 4 women doesn't clean makeup brushes
Poor cat Sophie has had a run of bad luck.
She first arrived at Cats Protection’s Halesowen branch in December 2017 after her owner passed away.
She was adopted in January 2018, but her owner had to return her a month later as Sophie didn’t get on with the cat they already had.
Sophie was adopted again, but went missing two weeks after being adopted in April 2018. Six months later she was found, but in the meantime her owner had adopted another cat and couldn’t take Sophie back in.
So back to the shelter she went – and now Sophie is looking for a forever home to end her unlucky streak.
Chairman of Cats Protection Halesowen Sue Widdows said: ‘We all hunted high and low for Sophie for weeks, but there was no sign of her. We’d given up hope that she’d ever be found.
‘Six months later, out of the blue, we received a call from a lady who had found a thin and very hungry cat in her garden.
‘We asked her to take the cat to a vet to see if it was microchipped so the owners could be traced, which she did – and it was Sophie! We think she’d been living outside and fending for herself.
‘We think Sophie’s the unluckiest cat in the West Midlands – but we really hope her luck is about to change.’
Eight-year-old Sophie needs a quiet home with no young children or other pets, as she can be a bit fussy. She has a lovely nature, though, and deserves a load of love.
If you live in the West Midlands and are interested in adopting Sophie, call branch welfare co-ordinator Dave Widdows on 07913 301788.
Send us your cat stories!
As the media partners of CatFest, coming to London on 29 June, we're excited to share loads of stories about brilliant cats.
All cats are wonderful, of course, but if you have a story of a truly exceptional kitty, we want to hear it.
We're talking about lifesaving cats, cats who've overcome challenges, kitties who've changed things for the better.
If you've got a story to share, send us an email at email@example.com with the details and pictures.
To book your tickets to CatFest, do head over to Eventbrite.
A girl with a rare condition which makes it impossible for her to breathe unaided has signed to a modelling agency.
10-year-old Maddison Sherward has always dreamed of modelling but thought she’d never be able to due to her disability.
Maddison, from East Leake, Nottinghamshire, has been using a wheelchair since the age of two.
She can’t breathe unaided and needs 24-hour care due to her rare muscle and respiratory condition, known as spinal muscular atrophy with respiratory distress type 1 (SMARD1).
Two weeks ago the theatre-loving schoolgirl successfully auditioned to be the latest model to join Zebedee Management, an agency specialising in representing disabled people.
She’s already had her first paid job – although the details are currently under wraps.
Maddison’s mum Lidia Sherwood, 33, said: ‘She loves it. She’s a real girly girl and loves her hair things but because of her disability she never thought it would come to anything.
‘It’s like a dream come true for her.’
As well as modelling, Maddison also enjoys acting and has previously taken part in Stagecoach pantomimes.
Most recently she auditioned for a new American Netflix series which called for a little girl in a wheelchair.
Lidia said: ‘She was shortlisted. She got down to the last 10 but didn’t get it in the end.
‘I think it’s good to have these little knock backs. It’s good life experience to understand you can’t always get what you want she always keeps trying.’
Last summer Lidia set up a YouTube channel to showcase how her daughter lives the life of any other little girl and raise awareness of children with other conditions.
A spokeswoman from Zebedee Management said: ‘We are delighted to have Maddison on board.
‘She is a beautiful and charismatic girl and we are confident she will do well. Zebedee is a specialist agency who represent models with disabilities or visible differences.
‘We are working hard to increase the representation of these groups in fashion and the media.’
A girl with a rare condition that makes it impossible for her to breathe unaided has signed to a modelling agency
Will there ever be a point when we look at what we have done and say ‘okay, we’ve gone too far with the glitter thing’?
We allowed glitter to be inflicted on our bums, our boobs, even our vaginas (please don’t put glitter in your vagina). If we sat back and let all of that happen, there appears to be no limit to the madness.
We must instead accept each ridiculous sparkly trend comes our way, and embrace it while we can.
With this in mind we present the latest festival trend: glitter suspenders.
This is when you apply glitter and gems around your thigh in a band, so they replicate the top part of suspended stockings.
It’s a simple idea really, but it’s bound to take off as people look for more uses for that multipack of bejewelling tools they bought to last the entire festival season.
Plus, glitter suspenders pair wonderfully with janties.
As with most ridiculous glitter application techniques, the trend comes from the Instagram page of GoGetGlitter, who sell all sorts of bedazzling products.
The handy thing is that you don’t have to painstakingly apply your design entirely by hand. Most places selling face gems will have more intricate designs available in one long bit of plastic. Just take one designed for another part of your body and apply it around your thigh. Easy.
There don’t appear to be any further rules for glitter suspenders, so you can really adapt the trend however you fancy.
If it’s nippy outside, apply your glitter suspenders on top of your jeans instead of straight on your skin. If you want more glitter, throw in some glitter kneecaps or anklets too.
Go wild and be as creative as you choose. Glitter is meant to be played with.
There are some destinations that just sound expensive.
You hear the name and think, ‘Oh, isn’t that where such and such with the yacht went last summer? I’m not sure that’s in my budget.’
Mauritius is one of those places, and with good reason: beaches, mountains, waterfalls and enough luxury resorts to host a gathering of Hollywood A-listers.
But if your bank account isn’t quite in-line with your dream destination, you needn’t fear — your own slice of Indian Ocean paradise is within reach.
Far from a millionaire’s playground, Mauritius has plenty to offer to those unwilling to part with a kidney or their firstborn. Here’s how to see it all without giving up either…
It’s not every day you find yourself on an island like Mauritius. While many tropical destinations will have beaches to die for, how many have a national park with mountains and waterfalls to boot?
If you’re after one of the best views on the island without putting in too much work, it’s hard to beat the Gorges viewpoint. After taking in the sublime view, the spot is great for a packed lunch and some souvenir shopping from the market sellers nearby. If you’re lucky you might even spot a macaque monkey.
Entry to Black River Gorges National Park is free, making the only barrier to entry actually getting there. Since the park is in the south-western part of the island, visitors making the journey from elsewhere should consider pairing the trek with a trip to Chamarel’s local rum distillery (but more on that later).
If you’re keen to do more than just take in the views consider a guided hike to Tamarind Falls where you discover the waterfalls of Tamarind. At £25 per person (lunch not included) the hike is one of the best value activities on the island and an amazing way to explore the dense tropical forests.
True thrillseekers and people with an aversion to sleep should definitely consider a hiking trip to Le Morne mountain. Not too far from Chamarel and down the coast from Tamarin, Le Morne is one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites on the island (the second being Aapravasi Ghat in Port Louis).
If you’re not staying nearby you might find yourself missing out on this experience unless you’re willing to get up in the middle of the night. Hikes can start at 6am depending on the season and you need to arrive on time and ready to climb with water and probably a snack (ask your hotel if they’ll prepare a breakfast box for you).
While you will be cursing your adventurous nature in the taxi ride there, once you see the sun start to rise you will know you made the right decision.
The hike can be challenging if, like this writer, your exercise routine consists of climbing escalators at train stations, but the sense of accomplishment you feel and the views you see more than make up for the tired legs you have for the rest of the day.
Become one with the sea
If you prefer to stay a bit closer to sea level you can always swap mountains and waterfalls for paddleboarding and surfing to get your kick of adrenaline.
Staying at the Veranda Tamarin we had easy access to the Tamarin Bay Surf School which has everything you need to transform into Patrick Swayze from Point Break (minus all the bank robbery).
Those in pursuit of a more serene (and dry) experience should try a stand-up paddleboard trip up and down Riviere Tamarin. The water is so calm beginners should find it easy to find their balance and confidence on the board before braving the waves and wind of the sea.
If you’ve always wanted to give surfing a try it’s hard to pick a better spot than Tamarin, one of Mauritius’ best locations for catching waves. For around £30 you can get a one hour beginner’s lesson (including board rental). Just make sure you’re prepared to fall in and drink a lot of sea water as you do.
It’s hard work pulling yourself up on the board in the Mauritian heat (expect to have a hell of a tan along with tired abs and arms) but after nearly an hour of being fish food you catch your first wave and the bug.
Indulge your taste buds
If you do decide to make the journey to Black River Gorges National Park it is essential to visit the local rum distillery, Rhumerie de Chamarel.
A tour will set you back around £9 and includes plenty of rum tasting — make sure you don’t have plans for operating heavy machinery after. The real gem, however, is the restaurant.
From the palm heart salad to the pork braised with (you guessed it) Chamarel rum, the £32 a la carte menu offers great value for the quality and flavour on offer. We only wish more Mauritian inspiration was present in what were predominantly European dishes.
Should you fancy sampling the local rum there are plenty of cocktails available for no more than £2 each which makes them all the more tempting. Be warned, these aren’t your one shot and lots of ice beverages — they are poured high and strong.
Souvenir shoppers should take advantage of the gift shop, while there is plenty of rum you will also find lots of local herbs, spices and jams that have eye-watering prices in the departure lounge home (so take advantage while you can).
Voted one of the best cities for street food, capital Port Louis is a hotbed of flavour with influences from India, China, Africa and France. Expect fresh seafood, rotis and as much spice as you’re willing to handle. Tours (including all the food) can be booked for £33 each and are a superb way of getting a taste of the island’s capital.
If you’re looking for something a bit closer to home, the Veranda Tamarin offers classes in traditional Mauritian cooking — you even get a certificate at the end
Where to stay in Mauritius and how to get there
If you seek a chilled spot not too far away from the action it would be tough to find a more suitable location than the Veranda Tamarin, on Mauritius’ west coast.
With the hotel practically on the beach itself, transitioning from sandy and sun-kissed to showered and sipping something strong takes no time at all.
Keen surfers will know the spot from the 1974 surfing documentary The Forgotten Island of Santosha, but if you’re new to the scene the local surf school offers lessons at reasonable prices.
Nearby, Flic En Flac offers more bars and restaurants than you could possibly need, but be prepared to sacrifice Tamarin’s authentic vibe. It is possible to walk but those less energetic can take a quick taxi to save roasting in the sun.
For those looking for more adventure, Le Morne mountain and Black River Gorges National Park are 30-45 minutes by car.
With an almost beach hut design, the journey from the beach to your room is almost seamless.
Rates at the Veranda Tamarin start at £70.00 per person per night, based on two sharing a Comfort Room on a Bed & Breakfast basis. Privilege Rooms start at £125.00 per person per night on a Bed & Breakfast basis.
For reservations, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +230 483 3100 or visit https://www.veranda-resorts.com/en/mauritius-hotel-tamarin
Although getting to Mauritius takes some time (12 hours direct, 15-18 hours if you stop over in Dubai), you can save a bit if you fly direct. Air Mauritius fly direct non-stop from London Heathrow, with economy fares starting from £729 per person. The airline will be introducing new Airbus A330-900neo aircraft into their fleet to make the journey that little bit more comfortable.
For more information: Go to www.airmauritius.com / Call 0207 434 4375 or see your Tour Operator or Travel Agent.
Veranda Tamarin Paddleboard
We know that time spent in nature is deeply relaxing.
In Japan – a culture so attuned to the relationship between humans and their surroundings that cherry blossom appreciation has its own word, hanami – the practice of immersing oneself in nature is called shinrin-yoku, or nature bathing.
Accompanied by avid walker and breath coach Julie Ann Horrox, I am wandering mindfully in the Somerset countryside, not far from Glastonbury.
Last time I set foot on Castle Cary station, I was mud-caked and festival-addled. This time, I am here to heal under the guidance of Fiona Arrigo.
A psychotherapist and biodynamic psychologist, Fiona Arrigo has over 30 years of experience in emotional and physical recalibration, running programmes here in the UK as well as in India and Spain. A team of specialists in fields such as acupuncture, breath and homeopathy support her work.
New this year are series of four-day retreats, for which I’ve escaped London by train. As the landscape shifts from cookie-cutter suburbia to gently rolling fields, the laptop screen in front of me can’t hold my attention and I let my gaze take in blurs of cow-dotted green. Nature is already proving to be a potent ‘off’ switch.
Dubbed Back to Nurture, these retreats allow guests to disconnect, to reconnect, to rest, to let go.
According to Arrigo and her team, modern life has left us deeply exhausted, struggling to care for ourselves, let alone all of the other people and tasks we must attend to. Surrounded by nature, we will instinctively realign with our natural rhythm, our inner wild… or so the retreats promise.
Comfort is by no means neglected. We stay in luxurious safari tents, warmed by wood burning stoves; chilly nights are further staved off by heavy duvets and hot water bottles, with the optional addition of electric blankets. The individual bathrooms – no grotty shower blocks here – are centrally heated and stocked with indulgent products and thick white towels. Alcohol is banned but I’m so absorbed in the richness of my surroundings and the programme elements that juniper-based thoughts scarcely cross my mind.
Striding over fields and along bridleways, Julie Ann asks us to turn inwards and walk in silence. Earlier in the stay, she had encouraged us to look for relatable motifs in nature – those clustered knots of foliage in otherwise bare branches, for example, may remind us of balls of tension throughout our body.
Accustomed, as I am, to thinking that the natural world soothes by way of its vastness, reminding us how insignificant we and our problems are, this seems counterintuitive. Julie Ann tells me reassuringly to acknowledge such thoughts without judgement.
It takes some mental wrestling but before long I’m honing in on details. Those bug-munch-riddled leaves are me, nourishing others but depleted in the process; that naked tree, housing a sturdy nest high in its boughs, is a visual symbol of everything I’ve stripped from my own life in order to prioritise home and family.
There’s a remarkable absence of self-pity as we discuss such feelings, but it’s certainly emotional. Over the four days, our tears flow as freely as our laughter bubbles.
This precious time, complete with the gentle confiscation of our devices, allows us to tune in to deeper impulses that are so often muted by the busyness of our ‘stuffocated’ lives. Held in the safety of the retreat, we convene several times daily in a womb-like yurt, upon which sheepskins, cushions, candles and bundles of wildflowers are lavished.
With strips of fabric, we weave intentions on a loom.
Around an altar of natural objects, we craft drums from supple deerskin and circles of ash.
We breathe deeply, sing loudly and dance wildly.
We hum, allowing sound and sensation to vibrate through our bodies.
We stand barefoot on the grass.
At a late night fire ceremony, accompanied by the hypnotic beat of drums and the rhythmic music of rattles, we release, by way of letters, mementoes and contemplation, our hurt, anguish and grief into the blaze.
Even I am taken aback when, crouched before the flames, I suddenly hear myself roaring primally into the heat, before collapsing, sobbing and emptied, on to the shoulder of the presiding Wild Woman.
Every aspect of the stay is wonderfully restorative, from the Arrigo Angel (as the members of Fiona’s team are called) who wakes me each morning with hot water and lemon, to the hearty and largely plant-based meals we’re served, to the giving of space and silent support when someone needs time alone.
My achingly tight body is soothed by acupuncture and massage, while frequent herbal teas feel like they cleanse me from the inside out. On our final afternoon, we return to the yurt to find our duvets arranged in a circle and snuggle down to the lullabies of musician Ruth Blake, whose angelic voice is accompanied by a symphony of deep breathing.
The calibration with natural rhythms has brought unexpected periods on in at least three of us and the Angels deftly and unobtrusively stock the bathrooms where required.
‘I feel reborn,’ my cabinmate says to me. I know exactly what she means, but I’m also faintly terrified by the prospect of returning to real life, a fact that Fiona, boundlessly wise, warm and intuitive, is instinctively aware of; over the following weeks we continue to be held in her Mother Earth embrace with supportive messages, visual cues and reminders to breathe.
It’s Fiona’s instinctual knowledge and her ability to share it with and foster it in us that makes Back to Nurture so joyfully worthwhile: nothing I’ve learned will cease to be practicable in the real world.
There’s no vow of silence, no endless yoga, no miniscule food portions, no requirement that we should never shop in Selfridges again. It is, quite simply, one of the most profound and strengthening experiences I have ever had.
On the crowded tube, watching the taut necks of Londoners hunched over their phones, I want to cry out to them: ‘Sing with me!’ My inner wildling isn’t brave enough yet, but I am, at least, inwardly humming, letting that resonance reach and recharge every one of my exhausted cells.
For other Arrigo events and programmes, visit A Place to Heal.
Lily Fogels has always wanted to be an astronaut.
She’s been in love with all things to do with space since she can remember, and dreams of living at the international space station when she grows up.
While she waits until she’s old enough to be an astronaut, Lily fills her room with planet posters, a miniature solar system, and any on-theme decorations she can find.
She’d also quite like to wear space themed clothing, and was disappointed to find that her local department store, Target, only stocked Nasa T-shirts in boys’ sizes in the boys’ section. When she looked in the girls’ section, no Nasa tops were to be found.
That was the first time Lily pondered the idea that Space could be a ‘boys’ thing’ and not something for her to enjoy.
She decided to buy a boys’ shirt anyway, but was left frustrated by the discovery. So she set about writing a letter to ask Target to sort things out.
Lily wrote: ‘I am very upset right now because all your NASA clothing is only in the boys area in my Target and I am a girl.
‘I want NASA clothes in the girls area because girls like space too. It doesn’t need to be different styles just move some from the boys.
‘From Lily a girl who loves space.’
Target hasn’t responded yet.
Lily said: ‘I don’t know why I started getting interested in space, it was a long time ago. I love that the universe grows and changes and there is always more to learn.
‘I would like to be an astronaut and I hope that I can have my own room in the international space station.
‘I hope one day I will walk on the moon. My back up job is an astrophysicist and I hope I will find life in space.
‘It’s really unfair that Target didn’t have any Nasa clothes for girls.
‘If a girl who really likes space only shops in the girl’s section, she may not know she can have a Nasa shirt if it’s only in the boy’s area.
‘I was really upset that they didn’t put Nasa clothes in the girl’s section, so my mum told me I could write a letter.
‘Girls like space too and I hope there will be more female astronauts in the future.’
Lily’s mum, Suzi Fogels, 37, says Target’s failure to stock Nasa clothes in the girls’ section holds up the idea that jobs in space are only for men, not women.
She hopes that her daughter’s letter will help to provoke change.
Social researcher Suzi said: ‘The message from Target to my daughter is that Nasa isn’t for you.
‘It may not be what they meant, it may be based on a financial decision, but at the end of the day it is the message they are sending.
‘I don’t think being an astronaut is still seen as a ‘man’s job’, but I think men and boys are more encouraged than girls to aim for these jobs, even in subtle ways.
‘Target not having Nasa clothing in the girl’s section is an example of this.
‘If girls aren’t exposed to Nasa or other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics related jobs, they won’t know they can aim for them.
‘The Target issue has been an ongoing thing. Last year we went to our local target looking for clothes for Lily’s brother and there was a Nasa shirt.
‘Lily was super excited, so she went to the ‘girls’ section to find one but there wasn’t any. So, we bought the one from the boy’s section.
‘The sizing was different, but it was fine. Then earlier this month we went looking for sleepwear and again found Nasa pyjamas but only in the area that was clearly targeting boys.
‘I think Lily was more confused to start with, it makes no sense to her that boys would be provided with Nasa clothes that fit and she isn’t.
‘I told her, that it was an opportunity to try to create change so tell Target that you don’t support their position.
‘I think it is time for change. If we aren’t contributing to equality, then we are part of the problem.
‘Small decisions by large corporations can make long-lasting changes to our societal structures.
‘It is creating mixed messages. At home and school, we don’t tell children that what they can achieve is gender based, but slowly they get exposed to those inequalities.
‘I am always so proud of Lily. I think she is amazing.’
9-year-old who dreams of becoming an astronaut has penned a heartfelt letter to Target begging them to make NASA clothing for girls
Weddings are notoriously expensive.
Even if you keep the guest list short, costs still accumulate.
Some couples also throw more money into the wedding pot because they’re afraid of being shamed by friends and family for their choices.
And let’s not get started on wedding dress fiascos.
Many people also expect weddings to always have an open bar, especially if the event is held far away and guests are forced to cover their own travel expenses if they want to attend.
Unfortunately, this can be very costly, but on the other hand you could end up facing the wrath of displeased guests who thought there would be booze galore – it’s a tricky situation.
One bride-to-be is currently facing this dilemma and has reached out to a wedding community on Facebook to ask if she would be a ‘jerk’ if there isn’t an open bar.
The bride also mentions that neither she nor her husband drink alcohol, though they’re happy for guests to do so.
‘Would I be the jerk if we don’t have an open bar?,’ her post reads.
‘It’s a brunch wedding, the whole reception is at a small restaurant from 9:30am to 3:30pm. We’re having a full brunch, large dessert table, and all juice, sodas, and specialty coffees are provided. We’re talking about doing drink tickets, a toonie bar, and neither of us really want to do an open bar but we haven’t ruled it out.
‘Neither my fiancé or I drink alcohol at all for various reasons, don’t keep alcohol in the house. If we invited guests over for dinner at home or a celebration we provide all the food but we don’t serve alcohol, we’ve had guests bring their own before.
‘We never thought of a dry wedding, we don’t care if people drink. I don’t want an open bar and I think giving a few drink tickets are fine, but we’re still struggling to decide.’
As far as wedding etiquette goes, alcohol is a grey zone. In the Facebook group, fellow brides shared their advice on the matter.
One woman said that she and her fiancé have purposely chosen a venue that doesn’t permit alcohol being served, and ‘if people are mad because they feel entitled to alcohol, then they can leave and go find a bar’.
Another bride had similar views and said that guests who ‘feel entitled to get drunk on your dime’ usually aren’t people you want there anyway.
Others pointed out that since it’s a daytime wedding, alcohol isn’t required. Some suggested sticking to a ‘signature drink’ or cheaper brunch classics like mimosas. One bride also recommended having servers walk around with drink trays to help minimise alcohol consumption.
A cash bar could be considered rude, with a beer and wine only bar the preferred option for some couples (since spirits generally cost more).
If you’re very concerned, you could also try organising a discounted deal with the venue or a drinks supplier.
At the end of the day, you’ll be stuck with the bill – so choose carefully.
It’s worth remembering that weddings are meant to be joyous occasions. If you’re sat staring at the third glass of wine that uncle Nick is slurping down or the round of tequila shots that keep being poured for the loud table in the back, you won’t be able to enjoy yourself.
It’s your day, do it your way.
A dancer with a birthmark that covers a third of her body has learned to embrace her skin, as she now flaunts it in her routines.
26-year-old Whitney Casal was born with giant congenital melanocytic nevus, a skin condition that causes a patch of dark skin which spans at least 15 inches across.
She said: ‘It’s crossed my mind that maybe I didn’t get a job because of my skin.
‘But this is my body. This is my tool. This is who I am.
‘Of course there are days when I don’t feel super stellar and confident. Vulnerability is really scary and you do have to be ready for rejection.
‘But in my experience, practicing confidence when you don’t feel it, actually leads to real confidence.’
Whitney’s birthmark, known as a bathing trunk nevus, stretches from her knees to her waist and has a hairy, bumpy texture.
Her face, arms and legs are dotted with smaller birthmarks called satellites.
‘It goes from right above my knees, up my hips and torso, and curves up my back. It really is almost half of my body,’ she said.
The dancer, who grew up in Seattle, Washington, USA, but now lives in Pamplona, Spain, has learnt to love her markings and is happy to show them off in just a bikini.
Though she says over time she has had many different reactions from onlookers.
She said: ‘I’ve had every reaction from “ooh, you have chocolate on your face” to “what is that?”
‘It took me a few years to become comfortable in my body and I remember my teenage years were a turning point.
‘I felt most comfortable in college. This is my body, this is who I am. I am going to wear little shirts, I am going to wear bikinis.’
Giant congenital nevi is a rare condition and is thought to occur in only one in every 500,000 births.
Whitney was five years old when she first realized that not everyone had such a large birthmark.
She said: ‘I remember thinking that it was unique. It’s a different color, it’s a little raised and bumpy.
‘The skin itself is a bit thinner and it is quite hairy. I have smaller birthmarks on my arms, legs and face.’
People with the condition are more likely to develop skin cancer.
‘I was certainly extra careful about going out in the sun,’ she added.
‘I put on a lot of sun cream and as a kid, if I knew I was going to be out in the sunshine, I’d wear a particular swimsuit with sleeves and legs, a little like a wetsuit.’
Luckily Whitney rarely experienced cruel comments about her birthmark from her schoolmates.
She said: ‘I can’t remember any extreme bullying. I was always fortunate in that sense.
‘I am lucky that it is easy to cover my birthmark if I want to. I did get questions and reactions but I learnt a way to respond to them. I would say: ‘It’s a birthmark, I was born with it’.
‘I remember a kid in elementary school asked me if I had chocolate on my face and somebody else asking if it was mud.
‘It didn’t hurt my feelings because it was so innocent. I definitely got asked those questions at other times when I was a child.
‘It is people who stare at my birthmark that I found and still find the most difficult to deal with.
‘In a way, I’d rather they just came up and asked what it was.
‘Sometimes I can feel self conscious in shorts or a skirt when people are just staring at me.’
She credits conferences arranged by the nonprofit organization Nevus Outreach with helping her accept her appearance.
At the bi-annual gatherings, she met other children with similar birthmarks.
She said: ‘I would go to Nevus Outreach conferences and I grew up knowing a lot of other people with the condition.
‘I definitely battled internally with my comfort level.
‘I remember really clearly when I was 16, I was at one of these conferences, seeing all of these other people and one of my best friends was really comfortable with her nevus.
‘I thought: “I want to be like Audrey”.
‘I’m going to wear shirts, I’m going to wear bikinis, I was starting to figure it out and the shyness began to go away.’
Although she is generally confident, at times she still feels the desire to cover up.
She said: ‘Of course, like anybody, I still have moments of insecurity.
‘98% of the time I have no problem wearing my bikini and maybe 2 per cent of the time I think, ‘No, I’m not comfortable today’.
‘But most of the time it is fine.
‘For example, if I am going to be intimate with somebody, in the moment I might say something like, ‘Just so you know, this is something I have’.
‘Almost all of the time it goes over very well.
‘There was one instance when a person just said ‘Oh poor thing’ which sat strangely with me.
‘But I’ve never been in a situation when someone said that’s gross or disgusting.’
As a dancer, Whitney is determined that her nevus won’t hold her back.
A dancer with a hairy birthmark that covers a third of her body has learned to love her unusual feature
A hudband treated his wife to a nice date for their anniversary: a posh meal in the shop where they first met.
Or a Spar day, as he calls it.
Teaching assistant Dyfed Ellis Pritchard, 43, first met his wife Bethan 18 years ago, when they both worked at their local Spar convenience store.
The couple have now been married for 15 years and have three teenage children together.
Dyfed wanted to do something special to mark their crystal anniversary.
With the help of store owner Conrad Davies, Dyfed secretly organised a romantic three-course dinner in the Spar store in Pwllheli, north-west Wales,
Conrad helped by rolling out a red carpet for the couple and a special table and chairs were set up under the magazine counter.
Recalling the day he asked Bethan out almost two decades ago, Dyfed said: ‘One day, Bethan was a bit down when we were in the shop together.
‘So I bought her a Kinder Egg to cheer her up and plucked up the courage to asked her out. Ever since, I have bought her a Kinder Egg on every anniversary.
’18 years later, I thought I would take her back to the place we first met.’
Dyfed enlisted the help of the couple’s three children, Sophie, 16, Cai, 14, and Noah, 13, for the secret meal, all of whom acted as waiters during the evening.
And, as is the couple’s tradition, the starter of their meal comprised of a Kinder Egg.
This was followed by a store-made pizza as the main course, and cakes for dessert made by 2016 winner of The Apprentice, Alana Spencer.
Dyfed met up with his wife, 39, in the local Wetherspoons across the road, and somehow managed to convince Bethan to put on a blindfold and follow him to the store.
Dyfed and Bethan were also serenaded by their musician friend, Fred Simpson.
Dyfed said: ‘It came as a massive shock to her, but a good one. It took a lot of organising, but I would like to thank everyone for helping out on the day.
‘Neuadd Dwyfor for lending us the table, Conrad for letting us take over his store and the kids for waiting on us.
‘It was quite a job to keep it quiet, but Bethan, who is originally from Cardiff, doesn’t speak Welsh, so I was able to do a lot of organising without her knowing what was being said.’
SPAR DAY - This is the hilarious moment a husband treated his wife to a 'Spar day' on their anniversary - a posh meal in the SHOP where they met
All good things are best had in moderation.
When it comes to sex however, it can be difficult to know when you’ve reached the point of too much shagging.
After all, having an active sex life is normal, so how can you tell if you’ve crossed the line into obsession?
The differences between having a high sex drive and having a sex addiction can feel vague, but the two are very different. While one is a natural healthy emotion, the other can have damaging effects on your physical and mental health.
According to one study, titled ‘Understanding and Managing Compulsive Sexual Behaviors’, sex addiction is similar to ‘substance use disorders, mood disorders, or impulse-control disorders’ in that there are varying levels of severity.
It’s also possible the person isn’t aware that they have a problem, and might only realise (or be told) they are exhibiting signs of sex addiction when seeking help for other issues.
Diagnosis is made even more difficult due to the ongoing dispute among health professionals on whether sex addiction is really a thing. Although the term exists, it’s lacks a proper definition within medical communities.
Chelsea Reynolds, Ph.D., an assistant professor who researches and teaches sexual communication at California State University, tells Metro.co.uk that although sex addiction isn’t recognised as a medical disorder, hypersexuality has been outlined.
Key symptoms include not being able to stop the behaviour and having sex to a degree where it’s considered harmful to either party involved.
‘The clinical criteria around hypersexuality and internet addiction mainly focus on harmful consequences of sexual behavior for the self and others, unsuccessful attempts to stop the concerning sexual behaviors, and greater sexual activity than intended,’ she said.
‘There’s debate in the field as to whether “sex addiction” functions the same as other addictive disorders – for instance alcoholism or opiate abuse – that involve physical dependence, tolerance, withdrawal, and relapse.
‘It’s important that people understand the difference between a physical addiction and a hypersexuality, which is problematic only when it causes harm to the self or others, and when it begins to cause negative social and professional consequences for the person affected.’
According to Relate, a relationship counselling service quoted on the NHS website, you have ventured into sex addiction when sexual activity feels ‘out of control’.
Unfortunately little else is offered in the way of concrete symptoms, however an article in Medical News Today presents a few more indicators such as ‘compulsive masturbation, persistent use of pornography, exhibitionism, voyeurism, extreme acts of lewd sex, and the failure to resist sexual impulses’.
Do bare in mind the difference between extreme behaviour and sexual preferences; enjoying unusual fetishes – which are often stigmatised – does not automatically mean you have a sex addiction.
Sex Addicts Anonymous UK (SAA UK) describes sex addiction in two ways: as being unable to stop and not being able to stay away, ‘no matter the consequences’, as well as often feeling ‘hurt, injured, demoralized, broke, despairing, and even suicidal’ afterwards.
Other signs include constantly thinking about sex (to an unhealthy degree), as well as using sex to avoid facing other emotions. In this scenario, sex becomes a crutch and a ‘drug’ with the person constantly chasing the high that it provides.
It’s also important to remember that anyone can get a sex addiction, regardless of sexual identity, gender or background.
Having a high sex drive on the other hand is completely healthy.
It’s perfectly fine to have a lot of sex, but you shouldn’t feel an obsessive need for it, i.e. you’re not forcing yourself to masturbate or f***.
Try to not compare your sex life to others’ either. You are not in competition with anyone; so long as you (and your sexual partner) are happy, that’s all that matters.
If you’re worried about your sexual habits and their frequency, talk to someone.
Have a chat with your local GP, but if you’d prefer to stay anonymous, you can also reach out to SAA UK or contact the Samaritans helpline on 116 123.
Mint chocolate fans, rejoice: McDonald’s is bringing back its much-loved Aero and mint Aero McFlurry, after both options disappeared four years ago.
Customers were gutted when the Aero McFlurry went missing all those years ago, and we’re super happy to know they’re finally making a comeback.
The two ice creams will be available from Monday 1 May, in both a regular size for £1.39 or a miniature version for 99p.
The McFlurrys are topped with chocolate pieces and either a chocolate or peppermint sauce depending on which one you pick.
Since customers found out about the launch, they’ve been getting very excited over on Twitter:
how am i meant to diet when maccies are bringing out aero mcflurry’s 😩😩
— darcey (@xdarceyjade) April 27, 2019
Mint aero McFlurry is COMING SOOOOOOOOOOOON. BITCHES DO U EveN KNOOOOW HOW MANY I AM GONNA BUY
— ♕katie♕ (@katiemcfly) April 26, 2019
oh god maccies is gonna sell aero mint mcflurry 😭❤
— boo boo the fool 🐝 (@CuirMustach) April 26, 2019
Cannot wait for the Aero Mint McFlurry 😍😋
— Kieran Rhodes (@kieranrhxdes) April 26, 2019
McDonalds are doing a mint aero mcflurry, never been more excited
— Luke (@ReAttachhh) April 19, 2019
Sadly, however, the ice creams won’t be a permanent addition to the menu. They’re only available until 25 June.
The new additions come as McDonald’s Monopoly closes for another year.
The game, which offers prizes and free food for those who peel stickers from their meals, finishes on Tuesday 30 April.
Ice creams definitely make up for the fact we won’t be able to get our hands on free sugar donuts and fruit bags (because let’s face it, that’s all you ever win).
In terms of nutritional value, the regular Aero McFlurry contains 349 calories and 46g of sugar, while the miniature version has 175 calories and 23g of sugar.
And, the regular mint version has 359 caloriesw and 45g of sugar, while the smaller size has 180 calories and 22g sugar.
But, considering the ice creams are only around for under two months, we aren’t too bothered about the nutritional value – we just want to get our hands on one while we can.
McDonald's Aero and mint Aero McFlurry ice creams are finally coming back
A young woman is engaged to her mother’s friend, who is 29 years older than her.
She says she’s excited to have children with him – despite familing calling him a ‘paedophile’.
20-year-old Kayla Pratt first met her future fiancé, Robert Longo Jr, 49, in March 2018 when she was asked by her mother to drop him back home after a friendly get-together at her house.
The pair found themselves falling in love as the drop-offs became more frequent.
After just five weeks of dating, Robert proposed to Kayla and the couple are set to be married exactly one year later, on 2 August 2019.
Despite family and friends disapproving of their love, dubbing Robert a ‘paedophile’ and Kayla ‘not a real woman’, the couple are excited for their future life together – with plans to buy a house and have children of their own.
Kayla, from Humboldt County, California, US, said: ‘We met through my mother because I would drive him home from the family house after he’d visit so he wouldn’t have to walk two miles.
‘At first, we were just friends and liked the fact we were both very non-judgmental – we weren’t even looking for a relationship at this time.
‘But after time we started falling for each other and when he took me out for my 20th birthday in July we decided to give dating a go.
‘It was a whirlwind from there and we quickly got engaged five weeks later, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
‘Even though we get rude comments from friends and family, and even random strangers, we want people to know that loving someone means so much more than just a number.’
Since starting their relationship, the pair claim that they regularly encounter rude comments from strangers as well as friends and family.
Kayla, who is currently looking for work, explains: ‘We have received a lot of rude comments, mostly from my family and a few other people.
‘Robert has been called him a pedophile and someone told him that I wasn’t “woman enough” for him.
‘We have been told our relationship is morally wrong and that there had to be something wrong with him for him to want to be with me.
‘Some people are really supportive and some aren’t supportive at all and some people are indifferent to it.
‘Robert has children who are 27 and 29, so older than me, and they are trying to come to terms with our relationship.
‘I have a one-year-old daughter and Robert has acted as her father her whole life, so she doesn’t think anything of it.’
The couple plan on having children of their own together in the future.
Kayla said: ‘Despite raising my daughter as our child, we plan on having a few more children together biologically.
‘Once we get married in August this year, we are going to move into our own house together and then think about the future in terms of kids.
‘Although other people have negative opinions on our relationship, we are happy and don’t want anyone to jeopardise that.
‘We are both of legal age and in love, so we believe there’s nothing wrong with that.’
Pineapples are a controversial fruit.
Some people say that if you eat enough of it, your vagina will take on a fruity flavour (there is no scientific evidence to support this claim), while a well-known urban legend states that pineapple will give sperm a distinct piña colada tang.
It’s partially true; semen is naturally bitter, so eating a lot of pineapple (or other acidic fruits) could give it a somewhat sweeter flavour – but it will still very much taste like sperm.
The latest development in ‘pineapples: myth or fact?’ is the claim that it can bring on your period.
A woman recently announced in a private Facebook group that she had eaten an inordinate amount of the exotic fruit over several days and noticed her period came on earlier than usual.
She was ‘absolutely mystified’ by it – and she’s not the only one who is curious about the magical power of pineapples.
On the Q&A website, Quora, one woman said that she eats pineapple every month because she has ‘very irregular’ periods and the fruit helps regulate it.
Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain. The compound is used in medicine; it helps reduce swelling and can slow blood clotting, as well as increase red and white blood cells, thus improving blood flow.
With this in mind, it should technically be possible to bring on your period by eating pineapples. However while there is plenty of anecdotal evidence, there still isn’t much in the way of scientific proof.
It’s also claimed that you should consume pineapples during your period, as the bromelain – which is also used for muscle relaxation – acts as a natural remedy against cramps.
Another compound found in pineapples is manganese. A study was conducted with female participants by Dr. Phyllis Johnson at the Human Nutrition Research Center in the US, which revealed that small amounts of this mineral increased menstrual flow for 50% of the women, so munching on the fruit could help with discomfort.
And just think of all the pineapple-based cocktails you could comfort yourself with while you suffer through the monthly pain.
As for whether the fruit will bring on your period, the results are unfortunately inconclusive. It is feasible that pineapples could help with period flow, but more research is required in the area.
Not to worry, there are other ways to regulate your period – such as medication and birth control pills. If your period is very heavy, painful or causing you distress, chat to your GP who will be able to recommend alternative solutions.
Will eating pineapple bring on your period?
The London Marathon is a wonderful thing to behold, but in recent years there’s been a jarring aftermath.
Take a look at the route and after the buzz of seeing people overcome physical obstacles passes, you’ll be unsettled by just how much plastic is on the ground.
We can’t blame the runners. When you’re completing a marathon it’s vital to stay hydrated, so when you’re handed water you have to drink it. Once you’re done, you’re likely to chuck the container on the ground as it’s too tricky to run while carrying any rubbish.
Hence a load of plastic bottles and cups littering the ground after every major run.
This year will be different.
For the 2019 London Marathon, organisers are swapping bottles and cups of water for pouches crafted from seaweed.
The pouches of water, made by Skipping Rocks Lab, have a thin membrane holding the water that’s both edible and tasteless, meaning runners can bite a hole in the capsule, guzzle the water inside, then swallow the cover.
If runners don’t fancy eating their pouch, they can chuck it on the floor – the pods biodegrade within six weeks, which is far more environmentally friendly than plastic’s degrading time of hundreds of years.
When runners hit mile 23 they’ll be handed pods instead of a bottle, and energy drinks will be served in compostable cups at two drink stations.
The marathon won’t be entirely plastic-free, as at other spots along the route there will be water bottles available, but organisers have guaranteed that all water bottles handed out this year will be at least partially made of recycled plastic, and that all discarded bottles will be collected and recycled.
The total number of plastic bottles used for the race will go from 920,000 in 2018 down to 704,000 this year. A pretty decent decrease, we say – slow and steady wins the race.
Half marathon banned plastic bottles
My younger brother, Mathew, started to lose his sight shortly after graduating from university.
He was diagnosed with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy – a condition that causes sudden loss of central vision.
After his diagnosis, it was a very hard time for us as a family. We were not sure how he was going to react to the major changes in his life.
I was very worried at the start, but Mathew was so positive and got on with day-to-day life. He set about finding out how to make changes at his workplace, including special IT systems that would help him continue with his job.
The way he’s dealt with his condition is extremely inspirational to me.
Just over a year after being told he was losing his sight, Mathew asked if I would be his guide runner, someone to assist and be there alongside him during his runs.
He had just been accepted to run the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), who have supported Mathew and helped him to continue to live and work independently.
A guide runner is usually connected to the visually impaired runner with a bit of rope around the wrists or fingers. But, due to the fact Mathew has central vision loss, I only need to run alongside him.
While running, a guide runner describes the terrain and explains the route, for example, whether there is a hill ahead and how long the uphill portion is.
We also need to constantly keep an eye out for drains, pot holes, slower or injured runners on the road and also flag any sudden sharp corners.
A difficult part is also the water stations, which usually have used bottles discarded on the floor. I inform him to slow down and help him to pass by before we carry on running at our expected pace.
I’d always been a keen runner, but taking part in a marathon was something I’d been putting off. When Mathew asked me to run with him, there could be no other answer than yes.
To complete the marathon with a brother is a very special moment. It’s something we will never forget and will be talking about for years to come.
It was a completely new challenge for both of us. Mathew was new to running and I had never been a guide runner before. It took a few running sessions for us to adapt, but after a while it became second nature to the both of us.
Being a member of a running club for over 20 years I had taken part in a lot of 10ks and half marathons so I knew exactly what training we needed to do to run 26.2 miles.
We’re running again this year, and going into our second marathon we now have a better idea of what to expect during the weekend and the race.
The best part of running the London Marathon is the amazing support from the crowd, helping you around the course by cheering.
If you hit a difficult patch, this is a massive boost and really helps keep your momentum going.
My job on marathon day is to take all the stress off Mathew and make sure he gets around the course safely. During the run I try to encourage him as much as I can, warn him of any dangers and guide him around the route.
During the run I try to encourage him as much as possible. If he’s going through a bad patch I will just say ‘remember why you’re doing this and think of the reward of finishing’.
The hardest part for me is the other runners, as it’s a very crowded route.
I’ve previously taken part in races and it was a lot easier as I only had myself to think about.
Guide running is a completely different approach, as I’ve also got to think about Mathew and make sure he can get around other runners and any obstacles safely.
There was nothing like crossing the finish line though, and seeing how happy Mathew was to have completed such an iconic event.
He only started running around two years ago, so it’s a very big achievement for him.
Knowing I’m helping my brother makes it extra special. I feel incredibly proud running alongside him.
We are both feeling very good about this year’s London Marathon.
Both of us have been training very hard over the winter to make sure we can improve on our time from last year – fingers crossed it’s a little cooler!
To help Huw and Mathew reach their fundraising target and support RNIB, please donate at www.justgiving.com/mathewrowcliffe. To find out more about joining Team RNIB in 2020, visit www.rnib.org.uk/virgin-money-london-marathon.
Mathew and Huw Rowcliffe 2-281d
Over 13.9 million people living in the UK are disabled, but many people live with conditions that you can’t always see.
They struggle with symptoms every day but when you see them in the street, you would have no idea that anything is wrong.
You Don’t Look Sick is our weekly series about living with invisible illnesses and disabilities.
Each week, we speak to someone with a hidden condition to explore what it’s like to face judgement because they look ‘healthy’ to the outside world.
Jenny McGibbon, 24, from Stirlingshire has Myalgic Encephalomyelytis (ME), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
She is one of over 250,000 people in the UK living with the condition, which is caused by a dysfunction of the neurological, immune and endocrine systems as well as the metabolism.
It causes a range of symptoms, including extreme tiredness that gets worse with just a little bit of exertion.
Although her symptoms mean she struggles to leave the house, Jenny admits she feels uncomfortable using disabled facilities because of how she looks.
Jenny tells Metro.co.uk: ‘People often tell me I don’t look sick. I know these people mean well and their intentions are good but that doesn’t make it any easier. I know full well I look healthy when I’m out in public with makeup on and my hair washed.
‘However, I don’t look well when I’m in my house, in the same pyjamas for three days, unshowered and half asleep. That’s the part people don’t see. Just because someone looks well doesn’t mean they feel it.
‘If anything I feel worse at the times I’m looking better because I’ve spent energy on getting out the house. I think that’s something more people need to remember.
‘If you’re just looking at a glance you’re not going to notice me limping, or wincing when I move.
‘You’re not going to notice me yawn every few minutes (no I’m not being rude when I do that).
‘The fear of judgement stops me using disabled facilities as much as I should. It’s something I’m aiming to do more of, because I know I’m entitled to do so.
‘I just need to get over the fear of it. I’ll almost always use a lift when I’m out because I struggle to get up a flight of stairs. I do get some looks sometimes. I think people assume because I’m young and I don’t use any sort of visible mobility aid that I must just be lazy.
‘I get funny looks sometimes when I park in a disabled space at college and then walk from my car to the entrance. I have a pass from college to be able to park there, but of course people don’t see that. They just see the girl who can move her legs.
‘I recently used a disabled bathroom for the first time in a restaurant. I had to ask my mum if she thought I’d get judged for walking to it. That sort of thing shouldn’t be going through my head, but it does. That was a big deal for me, just using that bathroom.’
Jenny was diagnosed in 2014 but has dealt with a range of health conditions throughout her life.
She was born with a birth defect called Gastroschisis, where the intestines grow on the outside of the body.
Although doctors were able to operate to place them inside her body, it meant she had short bowel syndrome, which means the body struggles to absorb food.
When she was 16, she developed chronic internal bleeding and iron deficiency. Three years later, Jenny’s health deteriorated and when treatments weren’t helping her to feel better, she realised something else was wrong.
As there isn’t a diagnostic test for ME, Jenny had to wait for doctors to exclude other conditions before she was told she has the condition.
She explains: ‘I had to fight with doctors to be taken seriously as they thought I was young and exaggerating. My hematologist at the time even told my Mum that I was fine and to stop dragging me around hospitals.
‘I found out about ME online and knew immediately within myself that this is what was wrong with me. Eventually I received the ME diagnosis from a specialist.
‘I initially felt relief to finally have a name for what I was dealing with. I could find other sufferers online and I felt less like a fraud now that I had a proper diagnosis.
‘However that initial relief quickly turned into frustration when I realised the severe lack of funding and understanding for the condition. I thought I would get help after a diagnosis.
‘I thought that would be the biggest hurdle and then a doctor would fix me. Unfortunately not.
‘ME sufferers are often left to their own devices, stumbling about in the dark. Research hasn’t caught up yet so even though I have an understanding GP, there isn’t all that much he can do for me.
‘There’s no current cure or treatment for ME, only symptom management (eg. painkillers). It feels like it’s up to me to “fix myself”. It can feel a bit like I’m having to do it on my own.’
Although some medication can help Jenny to manage her symptoms, her condition impacts every part of her life.
What are the symptoms of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)?
She is currently studying Visual Communication at college but has to do a lot of work from her bed as leaving the house makes her symptoms worse.
‘Day to day my whole life is run by my ME, it impacts every aspect,’ she explains.
‘I can’t shower, wash my hair, get dressed or make myself all my meals. I can wash my hair at most once a week. I always shower with a shower chair.
‘Normally I don’t leave my house more than one day a week and that’s usually to go to college. I end up having to do a lot of my work from my bed because I can’t physically make it to class. It’s a struggle.
‘To be honest my day to day life is normally difficult from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep.
‘I’ve gone weeks in the past without stepping over my front door. It varies all the time.
‘I get good days sometimes where I can go out, and I love to go for short walks when these days do occur. I miss being outside in the fresh air.
‘If someone were to see me on one of these walks they’d think I was healthy, albeit maybe a bit unfit with all my heavy breathing. If only they had any idea of what the rest of my life looks like.’
Even now, five years on from her diagnosis, Jenny sometimes struggle to accept living with a chronic illness.
She explains: ‘Coping with ME comes in waves I find. Sometimes I’ll have months where I feel like I’ve finally accepted it. I take it for what it is and try to move forward as best I can.
‘That’s how I feel at the moment but sometimes I have months where I’ll cry about it every day. It’s a rollercoaster but I think that’s the same for everyone in my situation.
‘If you’re dealing with it for long enough it’s bound to get to you sometimes.’
Jenny received a lot of support from her boyfriend, friends and family but says that the online communities of other people with ME have really helped her to come to terms with and understand her illness.
‘I’m lucky enough to have a supportive family and boyfriend. I have a couple close friends that have stayed around too,’ she says.
‘I’ve found the online community of other chronic illness sufferers to be a massive help. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have that. They bring me a lot of comfort.
‘My family all try to understand but it takes someone who’s been there to truly get it.
‘Organisations such as the ME Association have been a big help to me as well.
‘I think there’s a lot of people with invisible conditions doing amazing work online trying to raise awareness. We’re all doing our best to show what things are really like, to increase awareness and ultimately funding for research.
‘It’s just a shame it’s often left up to the sufferers and their loved ones to do so.
‘Every time someone reads, likes, comments or shares one of my online pieces from my blog This Thing They Call Recovery, I feel like we’re getting the word out there that bit more.
‘I think our healthy counterparts often feel like they can’t help us because they can’t “fix” our health problem. But really just by talking about it you’re helping. Getting the word out there will have a knock on effect.
‘That’s where we need to start. There can’t be a cure or treatment without research. There can’t be research without funding. And there will never be enough funding if people haven’t heard of ME, or even worse – have heard of it but don’t believe in it. Trust me, it’s so real.’
How to get involved with You Don't Look Sick
You Don’t Look Sick is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that discusses invisible illness and disabilities.
If you have an invisible illness or disability and fancy taking part, please email email@example.com.
You’ll need to be happy to share pictures that show how your condition affects you, and have some time to have some pictures taken.
You Don't Look Sick - Jenny McGibbon
A mum who was branded a ‘Dalmatian’ after being diagnosed with a rare skin condition has become a model.
Cheryl Shaw, 33, has spent her entire life being taunted for her skin condition, known as Congenital Melanocytic Nevus, which causes mole-like pigmentation across the body.
The mum-of-two has been subjected to cruel abuse from strangers who have branded her a ‘101 Dalmatian’ due to her skin tone.
But despite being left with no confidence due to the bullies, Cheryl set up an Instagram page earlier this year and began showcasing her imperfections.
She has since been scouted by Models of Diversity – a charity which campaigns for greater diversity in the modelling industry.
Cheryl couldn’t be more thrilled with her success so far and is now inspiring others to do the same.
The practice manager said: ‘I lacked confidence because of being bullied throughout my life for my skin tone.
‘The condition has caused patches of my skin to appear darker which gives them a mole-like appearance.
‘I would be called a ‘101 Dalmatian’ or that I look like a cookie or a leopard due to my darker spots.
‘Growing up I felt so abnormal but I’d always wanted to be a model even though I knew it was unlikely.
‘I used to call them beauty spots when I was younger but now I try and educate people by telling them that I have congenital melanocytic nevus.
‘I also enjoy showing my son’s, Javante, 11, and Vito, three, that it’s fine to have imperfections.
‘It has been a dream come true to be scouted by Models of Diversity who have put me in touch with huge brands, New Look and ASOS, who provided some amazing clothes for my photoshoot last week.
‘I attended by first fashion shoot last Friday and it was amazing, I had the time of my life.’
Cheryl now says she’s full of confidence after hating herself for years and now hopes to inspire others.
She added: ‘I really disliked what I saw in the mirror and I was so self-conscious.
‘But since setting up my Instagram page I have gained a lot more confidence due to the vast amount of supportive comments.
‘I couldn’t be more excited for the future now and modelling clothes loaned by New Look and ASOS was a dream come true.
‘I hope others read my story and seek hope from it and realise you can achieve your dreams no matter what you’ve been through.’
Angel Sinclair, founder of Models of Diversity, said: ‘Models of Diversity campaigns for the fashion and media industry to challenge conventional perceptions of beauty and show a greater representation of all areas of society.
‘That’s why we are so proud to support Cheryl, who has the skin condition Congenital Melanocytic Nevus in celebrating her diversity on her journey in to modelling.
‘We are grateful to ASOS and New Look who dressed Cheryl for our shoot and giving her the opportunity to not only look and feel beautiful but also to educate the public on this rare condition.’
DALMATION SKIN MODEL