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

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    Close-up photo of doctor applying blood plasma during PRP vampire facelift.
    The vampire facial is also known as a PRP facial (Picture: Getty)

    News broke this week that two people are believed to have contracted HIV after having vampire facials.

    The two people who have not been named visited the VIP Spas in Albuquerque for the facial, which was popularised by Kim Kardashian in 2013.

    According to reports, the therapist did not use fresh needles for the procedure, which led to them contracting the virus.

    The spa was closed last September over concerns on how it handed needles, and over 100 former clients have now been tested for blood-born illnesses by the New Mexico Department of Health.

    Are vampire facials safe, however? And what do they entail?

    Kim Kardashian after a vampire facial
    Kim Kardashian is a fan of the procedure (Picture: Instagram)

    What is a vampire facial?

    Vampire facial is a nickname for what is formally known as a PRP facial.

    For the procedure, a blood sample is taken from your arm or hand, and a centrafuge-type machine is used to spin the blood. Through this, it is separates the plasma from the red blood cells, with the technician using a small blade to put the plasma back into your face.

    This plasma is supposed to be full of platelets (stem cells) which help your skin heal and regenerate itself.

    People have vampire facials for anti-aging purposes, as well as so reduce the appearance of scars and lines and plump the skin. Check out our very own Ellen Scott’s experience of getting one.

    Is it safe?

    If done by a trained medical professional with clean equipment, it is safe.

    There are a whole range of risks associated with the procedure when done in an unsafe environment, however.

    As well as the risk of blood-born illnesses passed through needles and the blood preparation (such as hepatitis or HIV),

    London plastic surgeon Christopher Inglefield warns that attempting a vampire facial puts you at risk of ‘bleeding, severe infection, nerve injury, blindness, and tissue necrosis’.

    He also says: ‘‘This is a medical treatment which should only be performed by a trained medical practitioner or under supervision of a medical practitioner’..

    There may also be risks if you already have a blood disorder which affects clotting or platelets.

    If you plan to have one done, ensure that the person doing it has been qualified, and that they are using fresh equipment.

    MORE: Sex on the first date is the perfect dating filter

    MORE: Calling stylish brides: White sparkly wedding Crocs are now a thing


    Two people contract HIV \'after having vampire facials at rogue clinic\'Two people contract HIV \'after having vampire facials at rogue clinic\'

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    New drug combination could cure super-gonorrhea
    Could a cure for super-gonorrhoea be on the way? (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

    A drug combination that could cure super-gonorrhoea has been found by scientists.

    Super-gonorrhoea is a treatment-resistant sexually transmitted disease, and scientists have not been able to find a complete cure for it.

    But researchers believe that antibiotic gentamicin could act as a way to treat the disease, as there are fears that the resistance might become widespread.

    According to a study published in The Lancet journal, the drug, taken with azithromycin, worked almost as well as the current first-line treatment, ceftriaxone and azithromycin,

    However, gentamicin was less effective against throat or rectal gonorrhoea.

    Professor Jonathan Ross, chief investigator from the University of Birmingham, warned the existing treatment ‘is beginning to fail’.

    He said: ‘Experience with previous drugs strongly suggests that this could become a widespread problem.’

    Public Health England (PHE) said in January that two women had been infected with super-gonorrhoea, which was resistant to the first-choice treatment, while other cases have previously been reported.

    Gonorrhoea does not usually lead to complications, but if left untreated can cause serious health issues including pelvic inflammatory disease among women.

    In a trial at 14 sexual health clinics in England, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), 720 patients were given either the current antibiotic treatment of ceftriaxone or gentamicin.

    Both groups were also given an oral dose of azithromycin.

    A total of 98% of those given ceftriaxone had their gonorrhoea cured after two weeks, compared to 91% of those treated with gentamicin.

    The findings suggest gentamicin could offer an alternative for patients, if they do not respond to the first-choice treatment.

    The researchers said further work is needed to find alternative treatments, with antibiotic resistance a growing problem.

    MORE: Michaela Coel tweets from the sexual health clinic like a boss

    MORE: Sexual health services are at ‘breaking point after funding cuts’

    MORE: All dating apps should make promoting sexual health checkups a priority


    New drug combination could cure super-gonorrheaNew drug combination could cure super-gonorrhea

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    The first tattoo was a complete fail
    (Picture: Caters News)

    An Australian tourist who got a tattoo of her dog on holiday was mortified when it ended up looking like ‘male genitalia’.

    Kayla Robertson, adopted her pup Penny just over a year ago, and wanted to find the perfect way to show her love for her.

    The 26-year-old from Perth, Australia, said she decided that a small tattoo would be the most beautiful way to celebrate her adoration for her gorgeous 18-month-old Australian Shepherd.

    And during a relaxing holiday in Bali, Indonesia, the medical receptionist thought it would be the perfect time to finally get her beloved dog inked on her skin forever.

    After taking a recent photograph of Penny into a tattoo parlour located in the tourist hub of Kuta last week, Kayla forked out one million Rupiah (£54) to get a tattoo on her right forearm.

    But after less than thirty minutes under the needle, Kayla said she was ‘shocked’ after the tattoo artist suddenly said they were finished – despite her feeling that the piece was only ‘half-done’.

    Wanting to take some time to look at her new tattoo properly in the hope that she might get used to it, Kayla left the parlour without saying anything.

    The picture of Penny Kayla used
    (Picture: Caters News)

    But after showing her friends her new ink, Kayla realised Penny’s nose looked like a penis.

    She said: ‘I went to Bali for a wedding, and I wanted to get a tattoo while I was there.

    ‘I knew I wanted to get one of my dog Penny, so I bought a photo of her with me.

    ‘He did the outline of her face perfectly, so I was feeling good about it. But then he started doing the eyes and they looked all wrong.

    ‘I saw that the nose looked weird and a bit crooked, but I couldn’t really tell what is actually looked like at that point because it was upside down on my arm.

    ‘Then I noticed he wasn’t adding any shading or doing anything more to it. But I just thought, well he is the artist and he knows best.

    The first tattoo fail
    (Picture: Caters News)

    ‘But suddenly he just finished, and it looked half-done. I didn’t know what to say, I was in shock.

    ‘I thought it might just take some time, but after looking at it properly I knew I hated it.

    ‘Then I realised that Penny’s nose looked like male genitals, and then my friends all started telling me the same thing.

    ‘They started laughing about it, I can see the funny side of it now but at the time I was crying and panicking.

    ‘Poor Penny. It was just awful. I felt like I was in one of those tattoo nightmares shows.’

    In a desperate bid to fix the tattoo, Kayla appealed for help online and was pointed in the direction of a different tattoo studio which had lots of good reviews.

    And after forking out another one million Rupiah, Kayla breathed a sigh of relief after her beloved pooch Penny ‘actually looked like a dog’ – and no longer resembled ‘male genitalia’.

    The finished piece
    (Picture: Caters News)

    She said: ‘I knew I couldn’t leave Bali with this tattoo on my arm. It was just hideous.

    ‘I sought advice online for a good tattoo studio and was recommended another one nearby.

    ‘I visited them, and they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. But thankfully, they were able to fix it.

    ‘It was amazing seeing them transform this hideous tattoo into something I actually love.

    ‘I was so relieved, and even gave the tattoo artist a big hug when he was finished. My dog is my entire world, so I was so happy to have a tattoo that actually looks like her.

    ‘You really need to do research before getting a tattoo in Bali. It’s good to find an individual artist that you love instead of the studio.

    ‘It will make for a hilarious story when people ask about my tattoo. I’m really happy with it now.’

    MORE: A self-proclaimed Creme Egg addict has gone and got herself a Creme Egg tattoo

    MORE: A granddad has fallen in love with getting tattoos in his 70s


    Dog tattoo failDog tattoo fail

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    Rihanna's clapback at fan who asks for an album not bronzer Provider: Fenty Beauty Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvj-1Vvn31s/
    Fenty Beauty is finally coming to Boots (Picture: Fenty Beauty)

    Any announcement to do with Fenty Beauty causes ripples of excitement, but this one might be the most thrilling.

    Finally, Fenty Beauty is coming to Boots beauty counters.

    That’s right, pals. No longer shall you need to schlep to Harvey Nichols to get your Fenty fix. From 10 May, Fenty Beauty products will available from large Boots stores.

    The news was announced by Rihanna herself, on her Instagram. She also said she loves her ‘UK fans’ which we are of course taking as a personal shout-out and proclamation of adoration (especially as we work near a Boots. Coincidence? We think not).

    Rihanna wrote: ‘@fentybeauty is officially taking over the UK! I’m here to announce our brand new partnership with @BootsUK !! Look out for us at locations from MAY 10th !! I’m so excited, I love Boots and I love my UK fans!!! Get ready for #FENTYBEAUTYxBOOTS.’

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BxAAVNzhORD/

    That’s not the only exciting Fenty news to come today, mind you.

    We’ve also seen the launch of a bunch of new products, including a lip scrub and a lip balm.

    These are the first products from Fenty that count as skincare, not makeup, which could signal the launch of Fenty Skin is imminent.

    The lip balm, called the Pro Kiss’r Luscious Lip Balm, is made with shea and mango butters and offers a subtle gloss. The Pro Kiss’r Lip-Loving Scrubstick is – as the name suggests – a scrub in a stick form, made with apricot seeds that gently exfoliate the lips.

    Fenty Beauty announced the news on Instagram, writing: ‘We’re about to turn you into a #PROKISSR! Get ready for the ultimate lip prep’.

    The idea is that you use the products to prep your lips and make them plump, smooth, and moisturised so they’re the perfect base for Fenty lip colour, whether you opt for a Stunna lip paint or a matte lipstick.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw-IXbCnuXn/

    Also launching on 10 May is the Getting Hotter collection, just in time for summer.

    Getting Hotter introduces seven new super-pigmented lipsticks, called Poutsicles, with classic Fenty names including Purpsicle, Sun Snatched, Alpha Doll, Go Deep, Tropic Tantrum, Motorboat, and Hot Blooded.

    The colours are all pretty punchy, ranging from light blue to bubblegum pink, and all have a satin finish.

    The collection also includes three eyeliner trios; Baewatch, Baeside, and Baecay (we’re sensing a theme), which Rihanna has been sneakily wearing for a few weeks.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw-h9o0ByDE/

    The liners are liquid, super bright, and have an extra fine precision brush so you can create a cat eye sharp enough to kill.

    With all of this launching and Fenty’s arrival in Boots, we fully anticipate handing all our money over to Rihanna in the next few days. Damn it.

    At least we’ll look glorious while we live on lentils for the rest of summer.

    MORE: Makeup allows me to be the most genuine version of myself

    MORE: Fenty Beauty pulls ‘Geisha Chic’ highlighter after fans call it racist

    MORE: Makeup artist answers the most common questions about concealer


    SEI_59469077SEI_59469077

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    Summer style can be a minefield for men. British blokes are either too fast to whip out a pair of shorts so old they could have worn them for PE or misread the weather completely and spend all day a little hot and bothered.

    So, let’s make ’19 the year we nail summer style. And the key to all of this? To feel confident AND comfortable; nobody needs to be wandering around feeling out of sorts.

    Thankfully, Primark have teamed up with TV’s cheeky chappy Kem Cetinay to create a new collection for when the weather warms up.

    From holiday packing to party pieces and how to accessorise, we have rounded up some amazing ways for you to overhaul your wardrobe – without blowing the bank!

    Keep it light and bright

    It’s that time of year when your social life kicks into overdrive; barbecues, Bank Holidays, parties, pub gardens, holidays – you name it, you’ll need an outfit for it.

    But nobody should be feeling the heat when the weather warms up, so try to avoid heavy fabrics such as wool. It’s best to stick to lighter items in bright colours – as darker ones absorb the heat.

    Best way to do this is with a colourful short-sleeved shirt. Primark Man x Kem’s range boasts an array of numbers perfect for any occasion – from a smart al fresco meal (try the yellow Oxford shirt, £9) or a pool party (opt for a Cuban collared summer shirt in pink, £9).

    Be brave, be bold

    It’s 2019 – no one needs to be stuck in the past, especially stylistically, so take chances and have fun with fashion.

    One of the best way to do this if by shaking up your summer wardrobe; why not take a matching set on your holiday or go for a different style of short than the same old black you have for the last decade?

    Primark Man x Kem includes several co-ords that are bound to turn heads, whether you wear them to the beach or the bar.

    The best bit about these matching sets (£14 for shirt and shorts combo) is that they can be changed up and swapped around – giving you even more outfit options.

    After all, summer is all about living it up!

    Shorts worth stepping out in

    As a man, getting your legs out is one of the best parts of the summer. And after six months stuck behind a wall of jeans and suits – your pins will be pleased to see the sun!

    So, you might as well show them off properly. This season, shorter shorts are in vogue over longer styles like surfer or Bermudas – and the Primark Man x Kem collection have some serious winners in the fashion stakes.

    Combine the sporty, Seventies-esque striped shorts (in navy and white, both £9) with a plain tee or a patterned shirt to look instantly party ready. For your holiday essentials, make sure you pack the seersucker red striped swimming shorts (£5) to make a splash on the beach or by the pool.

    Accessorise wisely

    As you have fewer options with your ensembles (mainly because you’re wearing fewer clothes!), it’s great to add a touch of flair to your fashions with some trusty accessories.

    Firstly, every man needs a great pair of glasses; the Primark Man x Kem range has two styles to choose from, including an uber-cool circular, blue-hued pair (£4) or, for the more classic among us, the Marshall mirror glasses (£9).

    Not forgetting footwear, choose something simple and stylish. A classic pair of plain white trainers works wonders with most outfits or try out a pair of sliders (£6) – but NO socks please, we’re British.

    The big no-no’s

    Now we’ve told you how to overhaul your wardrobe for the better weather, we have a word of warning: these are the Big Don’ts when it comes to summer style for men.

    Going shirtless: Unless you’re in your garden or at the beach, keep it on.

    Sunglasses indoors: It’s a no from us.

    Cargo shorts: No man needs 3/4 lengths in his life.

    Leather jackets: Niagara Falls beckons.

    Sandals and socks: No explanation needed.

    Unkempt feet: Always have a pamper session before exposing them to the public.

    Kem's summer essentials with Primark

    TV cheeky chappy, style icon and TV legend – Kem Certinay has certainly made his mark in his two years in the spotlight.

    So it’s no wonder Primark decided to choose him as their first ever male ambassador. Working together on a 16-piece, exclusive collection, Primark Man x Kem offers shoppers the chance to dress in the casually cool, fun fashion the man himself does.

    Kem says: ‘I’m so excited to have the chance to work with Primark, I have been going into the stores with my family since I was a young boy. To join this family orientated brand is a dream come true.’

    The brand new range is in stores HERE so check it out here or head to your local Primark store.

     


    Screen-Shot-2019-05-02-at-17.33.00-b864-d2ddScreen-Shot-2019-05-02-at-17.33.00-b864-d2dd

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    Cava-battered fried chicken and chips
    Who knew this was the perfect pairing? (Picture: Freixenet/Mother Clucker)

    We’ve all heard of beer-battered fish and chips.

    But have you heard of its boujie brother – Cava-battered chicken and chips? It’s an indulgence perfect for the more upmarket fried food enthusiasts.

    For the next month, you can order the luxurious, limited-edition chicken from Deliveroo – and we cannot wait to try it.

    Freixenet has partnered with fried chicken connoisseurs Mother Clucker, to combine two of 2019’s hottest foodie trends – alternative sparkling wines and decadent fried food.

    And the best news is that you’ll get a complimentary 20cl bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro with every purchase of Cava-battered Signature Strips, while stocks last.

    So, why Cava? Well, our love-affair with Prosecco is finally waning and, as a nation we are looking for the next big thing to satisfy our sparkly cravings. Cava could be the answer.

    Cava-battered fried chicken and chips
    There’s a free mini bottle of bubbles with every order (Picture: Freixenet/Mother Clucker)

    Cava is well-known in the wine industry for being an excellent pairing alongside savoury food, and fried chicken is said to be its perfect match.

    According to the experts, the ‘notes of Mediterranean fruits’ in Cordon Negro keep the palate crisp and clean with ‘the acidity in the bubbles delicately slicing through the batter’, making the meal feel lighter.

    It sounds genuinely delicious.

    Cava-battered fried chicken and chips
    You can also order the dish at the Mother Clucker’s restaurant (Picture: Freixenet/Mother Clucker)

    Who wouldn’t want to bit in to a crispy Cava-infused batter, coating salty and succulent chicken strips? It is quite the upgrade from the, frankly, basic beer-battered fish and chips.

    The Cava-battered chicken will be available exclusively through Deliveroo Editions: Whitechapel, from the 2nd – 31st May.

    Freixenet Cordon Negro will also be listed in Mother Clucker’s restaurant in Clerkenwell, available to purchase as a combination meal alongside Mother Clucker’s signature strips.

    MORE: Fenty Beauty is coming to Boots in the UK

    MORE: Woman who was insulted because of her dress on Tinder is made an ASOS model

    MORE: Adorable four-year-old rings ‘clear of cancer’ bell dressed as a Stormtrooper


    Cava-battered fried chicken and chipsCava-battered fried chicken and chips

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    Preventative Botox: Here's everything you need to know
    (Picture: Getty)

    Despite the conflicting opinions, Botox and cosmetic injectables are by no means on their way out.

    Whether you want to embrace your natural beauty, or not, we shouldn’t be embarrassed about our wrinkles, nor be embarrassed to go under the needle. Botox is all about choice.

    Botox is a muscle relaxant, and can be used as a preventative measure to help preserve the skin and stop lines from developing. We’re not talking about frozen foreheads (AKA bad Botox), because if administered correctly and in moderation, Botox can look great without looking overdone.

    That being said there are undoubtedly a lot of questions you might have before you undergo the procedure. We spoke to Nurse Alice Jenkins at Harley Injectables in Mayfair, on how to avoid looking permanently surprised, who you can trust with your face, the risks and how soon, is too soon.

    Here’s what you need to know…

    Botox is just a brand name

    ‘Asking to have Botox done, is the equivalent of calling Pantene shampoo,’ Nurse Alice Jenkins tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Botox was the first brand that came out 40 odd years ago, but the actual drug itself is called botulinum toxin.’

    ‘There’s lots of different brands out there; there’s Discord, Azzalure, Bocouture, but they’re cheaper brands and they do not necessarily have very nice side effects – they can make people look quite shiny for instance.’

    Know what’s being injected

    Nurse Alice Jenkins stresses how important it is to do your research and understand what’s being injected into your face before going under the needle: ‘Some clinics advertise Botox on their website, but they won’t be injecting Botox, they’ll say it’s like Botox, when in fact it’s Discord.’ she said.

    ‘But these brands spread more. With Botox you can be very definite of where your going to get a result, it spreads a centimeter from injection site, whereas the other brands spread two centimeters. So your more likely to get something called parotitis, which is where your eyebrow droops, or you’ll look permanently surprised.’

    ‘I’d always ask to see the bottles of things. Which is sad because you should trust what the person is giving you is what they said they’re giving you, but always ask to see packets.’

    ‘And if you see something that’s too good to be true, it usually is. If it’s quite cheap, it’s not Botox – there’s no way it’s Botox.’

    Botox is a preventative, it’s not a cure

    In short, ‘If a wrinkle has already occurred these will always be permanent.’

    Nurse Alice Jenkins said it’s a common misconception and that ‘people will often wait until they get wrinkles, then they will come into the clinic and say “this wrinkle is really annoying me and I want Botox” but unfortunately by that stage it’s too late.’

    ‘That’s not to stay it’s too late to start getting Botox, because it will stop those wrinkles getting worse – it stops more from forming. But ideally you want to get Botox before your wrinkles occur.’ she continued.

    Preventative Botox: Here's everything you need to know
    (Picture: Getty)

    There are two types of wrinkles and three main injection sites

    ‘There are two types; static wrinkles that are present when you’re relaxing your face and dynamic wrinkles that form when you make facial expressions,’ says Alice.

    These dynamic wrinkles will eventually become static, this is why many use Botox as a preventative.

    She adds: ‘There are lots of areas Botox can be injected. But the three main areas are; between the eyebrows, your forehead and crows feet.’

    There are other ways to help prevent wrinkles

    Nurse Alice says: ‘The best thing you can do to prevent wrinkles is by using sunscreen, not smoking and Botox.

    ‘I do like prescriptive ranges of skincare that have amounts of retinol, vitamin C, hydroquinone, that will help with thing likes pigmentation, acne scarring, sun damage. But they’re not going to do anything for wrinkles.

    ‘I would love it if there was something you could smear on your face to help prevent wrinkles, but Botox wouldn’t exist if that was the case.’

    Botox and filler are not the same

    ‘Fillers are completely different to Botox,’ explains Alice.

    ‘Filler is a non-prescription treatment, whereas Botox is a prescription drug. And that’s why many beauty therapists train to administer filler.

    ‘Filler which is essentially hyaluronic acid, is for plumping and rejuvenating – it’s not anti-wrinkle. It can be injected into folds of skin; nasolabial folds (AKA smile lines), jowls, tear trough, thin lips and can be used to contour the nose, chin and jaw.’

    But you need to be aware of the potential complications when considering this treatment: ‘Filler it’s controversial, because filler is a lot more dangerous than Botox,’ says Alice.

    ‘It can cause blindness, articular vascular occlusion, which can only be reserved with a prescriptive drug called hyaluronidase.’

    ‘So if a beauty therapist was to do it and then ran into a problem, they wouldn’t be able to dissolve it, like a doctor or a nurse could.’

    Botox will not (necessarily) leave you looking like Spock

    Over the last few years we’ve seen the rise of more tailored, natural-looking results, but ‘Botox has a bit of a stigma attached to it and still gets a bad rep.’

    Nurse Alice Jenkins explained that: ‘When people’s faces tend to look a little scary, it’s more likely down to badly administered filler, as it changes the way you look, whereas Botox doesn’t.’

    To avoid these unwanted complications ensure your practitioner is well-practiced: ‘You can get bad Botox if someone doesn’t know what muscles to inject in. You can get a really weird Spock look, but you have to be very inexperienced to do that.’

    There isn’t really an ideal age for preventative Botox

    ‘Mid-twenties tends to be the most common time patients start getting preventative Botox.’

    However, ‘Saying that, I have had 24-year-old clients with really strong muscles and in rare cases, have static wrinkles already forming. I wouldn’t really want to treat anyone this age unless it was one of those exceptional cases.’ Nurse Alice Jenkins said.

    ‘And with fillers even though the legal age is 18, I don’t treat anyone over 21, just because I think it’s too young.’

    It won’t take effect straight away

    Botox results will not appear instantly, in fact, ‘it takes up to two weeks to work. You will start noticing a difference within two or three days. But it does work in small increments up until two weeks.’

    ‘Botox typically lasts three months, and generally you will get your next dose around this time.’

    ‘That’s not to say it hasn’t completely worn off. But you don’t want the effects to completely wear off, because then it’s kind of pointless getting it done. Because you will be doing all that movement and causing wrinkles.’

    Follow the aftercare advice

    There is a lot of aftercare advice on the world wide web, but Nurse Alice Jenkins recommends the below to allow the Botox to work optimally in the target muscle:

    • No makeup for at least four hours.
    • Do not rub the injection site.
    • Do not exercise for 24 hours.
    • Don’t lie down for four to six hours.
    • No facials in the areas you get Botox done for two weeks.

    Chances are no one will notice

    Nurse Alice Jenkins explained how Botox has come a long way since the 90s: ‘You’ll still have movement in your face. Some would call this baby Botox, natural Botox.’

    And as for when people get the treatment, she said: ‘It’s a fairly straightforward procedure, people come in on their lunch-break and get it done.’

    ‘I think the most common fear I hear is “my husband or my friend might notice and judge me”. No one will notice. people notice fillers, people don’t notice botox.’

    And remember: Be consistent

    ‘Generally every three months is when people get their Botox,’ says Alice.

    However after a few years, Nurse Alice Jenkins explains, injections would become less frequent: ‘Your muscles have memory. You can train your muscles to frown without realising – particularly if you have a strong forehead muscle. So similarly, Botox, overtime trains your muscles to relax.’

    But Nurse Alice Jenkins highlighted that everyone is different and four times a year, every three months, is ideal as ‘you can build up a resistance to Botox.’

    MORE: Makeup artist answers the most common questions about concealer

    MORE: Huda Beauty N.Y.M.P.H liquid highlighter will give you the glow of your life


    Man holding needle by young woman's templeMan holding needle by young woman's temple

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    Picture: Texas Hill Country Events People are hiring beer burros for their weddings
    People are hiring beer burros for their weddings (Picture: Texas Hill Country Events)

    We’ve come a long way since the days of the wedding horse and carriage.

    Now, it seems that people are opting for a less attractive mule to have a starring role on their special day.

    Enter the ‘beer burros’, small donkeys tasked with serving drinks at weddings.

    The donkeys will be the first thing people see as they leave the ceremony and head to the reception for drinks and speeches.

    But where did ‘beer burros’ come from?

    In the US ‘burros’ is a southwestern term for pack donkeys, and couples in Texas and California are hiring them to serve drinks (or snacks) to guests.

    An event planning company called Texas Hill Country Events, run by Alisha Randig, provides the beer burros from out of Texas and gets them to travel across the state for events, too.

    Naturally, most businesses start when there is a demand, and it all began with calls of enquiry from a BBQ joint in Texas.

    Alisha told Insider: ‘They called me knowing I had a ranch, and asked if I’d be interested in doing it.

    Picture: Texas Hill Country Events People are hiring beer burros for their weddings
    The little donkeys serve drinks to guests from their baskets (Picture: Texas Hill Country Events)

    ‘There was one venue in Wimberley that started doing it a long time ago, I had seen it before but it never crossed my mind to do it.’

    Her first two donkeys are called John Wayne and Annie Oakley.

    She continued: ‘We went to pick up John and saw Annie and fell in love with her.

    ‘They didn’t realize Annie was pregnant at the time — and their herd has now grown to eight.’

    According to Annie, the ‘burros’ arrive at an event to greet guests and “mix and mingle,” passing out drinks or snacks, giving the wedding an extra quirk.

    Their pack saddles are custom-made and come up to the waist and have baskets attached. They’re not too heavy as it’s ‘more for the aesthetic’.

    The fee for getting the donkeys is $575 (£442) with an additional cost if the event is more that 30 miles away from the Texan ranch.

    So, if you’re vying for a more eccentric wedding experience – getting yourself a donkey might be the way to go.

    MORE: Calling stylish brides: White sparkly wedding Crocs are now a thing

    MORE: Hidden horrors of donkeys and camels forced to carry tourists around

    MORE: Comic Relief 2019 raises total of over £63 million after Four Weddings sequel and Bodyguard special


    People are hiring beer burros for their weddingsPeople are hiring beer burros for their weddings

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    PEEK INSIDE the beautiful seven-bed country house located in a picturesque part of Jersey which could be yours for ??8.95m. Incredible images show the tree-lined driveway, the striking exterior with a pool in the garden and the light-filled conservatory to enjoy the Jersey sun. Other stunning pictures show the huge modern kitchen, spacious living areas and large bedrooms as well as sleek bathrooms and a cinema room. Mon Bel is located in St Peter, Jersey and is currently listed by Fine and Country for ??8.95m. mediadrumimages / Fine and Country
    (Picture: mediadrumimages / Fine and Country)

    A stunning seven-bed country house in Jersy is selling for £8.95 million.

    Beautiful photos show the tree-lined driveway, striking exterior with a pool in the garden and the light-filled conservatory.

    The country home also has a huge modern kitchen, spacious living areas and large bedrooms – as well as sleek bathrooms and even a cinema room.

    Mon Bel is located in St Peter, Jersey and is currently listed by Fine and Country for £8.95m.

    PEEK INSIDE the beautiful seven-bed country house located in a picturesque part of Jersey which could be yours for ??8.95m. Incredible images show the tree-lined driveway, the striking exterior with a pool in the garden and the light-filled conservatory to enjoy the Jersey sun. Other stunning pictures show the huge modern kitchen, spacious living areas and large bedrooms as well as sleek bathrooms and a cinema room. Mon Bel is located in St Peter, Jersey and is currently listed by Fine and Country for ??8.95m. mediadrumimages / Fine and Country
    (Picture: mediadrumimages / Fine and Country)

    ‘Mon Bel is a magnificent country home that combines the beauty of traditional Jersey architecture with contemporary living,’ states the listing.

    ‘It is a rare opportunity to purchase a brand new house with its timeless and elegant facades, spacious interiors and impeccable specification, together with almost 25 Vergees of agricultural land.

    PEEK INSIDE the beautiful seven-bed country house located in a picturesque part of Jersey which could be yours for ??8.95m. Incredible images show the tree-lined driveway, the striking exterior with a pool in the garden and the light-filled conservatory to enjoy the Jersey sun. Other stunning pictures show the huge modern kitchen, spacious living areas and large bedrooms as well as sleek bathrooms and a cinema room. Mon Bel is located in St Peter, Jersey and is currently listed by Fine and Country for ??8.95m. mediadrumimages / Fine and Country
    (Picture: mediadrumimages / Fine and Country)

    ‘The large kitchen and dining area are extended with a beautiful period style orangery that opens out to a huge terrace, swimming pool and landscaped gardens. There is a range of additional reception rooms, a home cinema and gym.

    PEEK INSIDE the beautiful seven-bed country house located in a picturesque part of Jersey which could be yours for ??8.95m. Incredible images show the tree-lined driveway, the striking exterior with a pool in the garden and the light-filled conservatory to enjoy the Jersey sun. Other stunning pictures show the huge modern kitchen, spacious living areas and large bedrooms as well as sleek bathrooms and a cinema room. Mon Bel is located in St Peter, Jersey and is currently listed by Fine and Country for ??8.95m. mediadrumimages / Fine and Country
    (Picture: mediadrumimages / Fine and Country)

    ‘The home’s five bedroom suites ensure plenty of space for all the family, while a self contained two bedroom unit with kitchen and bathroom facilities meet the needs for staff or guests.

    ‘Access to the property is through a gated entrance and a long 1/4 mile tree lined drive. Considerable landscaping has been undertaken around the property and many trees were planted. Provisions have been made to extend into the 7,000 square feet attic space.’

    MORE: The UK’s ‘most haunted’ pub is on the market for £450,000

    MORE: Attention, fashion lovers: Laura Ashley’s former mansion is on the market


    Stunning £8.95m Jersey home for sale with own in-house cinemaStunning £8.95m Jersey home for sale with own in-house cinema

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    Stunning views in Santorini are well worth the trip

    Time is limited, so it’s no surprise that we’re always looking for the best way to spend it along with our hard earned pennies. That’s why, picking fulfilling holidays can be so challenging – you need the right vibe and you need to make sure you’re getting the best possible value.

    Deciding where to go on a short break can be difficult. Do you want a city break or do you want a rich cultural escape in the sun? A hectic schedule can often be what you’re trying to get away from, and city breaks can sometimes make you feel like you need a holiday after your holiday, especially when you’ve crammed in tens of thousands of steps each day and tried to see as much as you can. But you want to visit more places than a short break allows? What if you could experience a whole region on a short break?

    There’s a way to do it all, so you can have the best of both worlds with the best Greek islands that have been handpicked for you?

    With Celestyal Cruises, you can hop on to a 3 or 4 night Iconic Aegean cruise. Combine the jaw-dropping landscapes and architecture of Santorini with the vibrant vibes of Mykonos and more, with a little taste of life on these Greek islands and the vast blue oceans. How many people say they get to hit these dreamy destinations in one holiday? Not many, especially as the bigger cruise ships can’t get to some of these islands.

    To make sure you soak up every opportunity as well as the Grecian sun, the itinerary has already been built for you. Instead of putting yourself through hours of travel guides and price-comparison sites, as with Celestyal Cruises all inclusive doesn’t just mean food and drinks, it also means that many of the best and most essential excursions are included.

    There are also many additional optional excursions ready for you to snap up as and when you please.

    The tour to see the Acropolis of Lindos and the Citadel of the Knights is a half day well spent, with no extra cost, which takes you through the heart of Rhodes on the 4 night cruise. Unlock the centuries of history and discover the breathtaking Gothic architecture of the Grand Master’s Palace.

    Ephesus in Izmir, Turkey, was an ancient Greek city

    The Ancient Ephesus tour is one not to be missed as it uncovers the history of the ancient Greek city, which shaped civilisations to come over 3,000 years ago. Ephesus is one of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the Mediterranean and is near to the revered Temple of Artemis, which is one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

    Despite the stunning white buildings, Santorini isn’t just a photo opp, guests are invited to discover at their own pace (or by booking a guided tour on board) the romance of the Greek island in the village of Oia. Learn the history of the island, and talk to locals as you immerse yourself in the picturesque streets. You’ll no doubt get your perfect shot as you travel through the breathtaking villages of Firostefani, Imerovigli, the ‘balcony to the Aegean’, and Megalochori. The tour bus will even stop for the photos so that you can relive every moment when you get home. These are just a few of the excursions on offer.

    While you might be stretching the limbs as you wander from shop to shops, there’ll certainly be enough to see; if you fancy working up a sweat, you can hit the gym onboard or even book yourself into a dance lesson and get those feet moving.

    Food is a very important part of Greek culture, with mouth-watering moussaka, cooling tzatziki and souvlaki making up some of the tasty traditional dishes. Exploring the destinations allows you to sample some of the more-ish bites and even compare how they vary across the islands. But, on Celestyal Cruises you won’t have to worry about budgeting for meals as it’s all included on board the ship, meaning you can just concentrate on relaxing and also take part in the authentic Greek night onboard.

    Celestyal Cruises allows you to get the best of all worlds

    If you’re keen to pick up a little more about the culture, language lessons are also offered onboard. Less formal than school days, getting to learn Greek from locals will enable you to manage a basic conversation and ask important questions – like ‘can I have a beer?’ Or perhaps, to give you a stronger chance at a good deal when it comes to bartering in the local markets.

    If that all sounds a bit too much like hard work, never mind, as there’s plenty on board to help you unwind including a spa for treatments and a pool to take a dip as you sail to your next destination.

    Or, if you can’t get enough, there are seven-night cruises available for longer breaks, allowing you more time in your favourite spots with both a night in Mykonos and Santorini as well as gala night and an authentic Greek experience onboard.

    Cruising is the option you never knew you had that can help you get your city break and beach holiday, all in one.

    Celestyal Cruises - Iconic Aegean

    Leave your worries behind and feel the wind in your hair as you soak up the rays in the Med as you literally cruise from one dream destination to another. Dazzling emerald water, bright blue skies and tasty cuisine will greet you in the ancient cities at every destination, where you can immerse yourself as the picture perfect scenes come to life.

    The three or four day all-inclusive cruise is available from March to November.

    Three night cruise:

    Mykonos (Greece), Kusadasi (Turkey), Patmos (Greece), Heraklion (Greece), Santorini (Greece) & Piraeus (Greece)

    Excursions included are: Minoan Palace (Crete, Greece) Ephesus (Kusadasi, Turkey)

    Four night cruise:

    Mykonos (Greece), Kusadasi (Turkey), Patmos (Greece), Rhodes (Greece), Heraklion (Greece), Santorini (Greece) & Piraeus (Greece)

    Excursions included are: Acropolis of Lindos/Citadel of the Knights (Rhodes, Greece), Ephesus (Kusadasi, Turkey)

    For more information about Celesytal Cruises – click here.


    Blue sea in summer, greek islands, SantoriniBlue sea in summer, greek islands, Santorini

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    STOCK IMAGE Cheese Food. (Photo by: MediaForMedical/UIG via Getty Images)
    Could cheeseslaw be the next big lunch item? (Picture: MediaForMedical/UIG via Getty Images)

    We might have a revolution on our hands.

    Coleslaw as we know it might be at complete risk of change as its key ingredient, cabbage, might be sidelined for – wait for it – cheese, in a new foodie rebellion dividing the internet.

    ‘Cheeseslaw’ has begun to make a ripple across the net from down-under, as it has come to knowledge that a small town near Adelaide, Australia has it as its staple dish, taking the role of both side and sandwich filler.

    But…cheeseslaw?

    The word ‘Cheeseslaw’ has just been immortalised in the Macquerie Dictionary, the dictionary of Australian English, after it was submitted by epidemiologist Margaret Lesjak in March.

    Typically, coleslaw is a happy mixture of cabbage (red or white), carrots and mayonnaise swirled together in a blissful or, depending on your taste buds, horrific, mix that we are familiar with at most family gatherings, parties or as an appendage to salads.

    Cheeseslaw though is, you guessed it, coleslaw but with cheddar cheese instead of cabbage.

    The townsfolk of Broken Hill, a community of roughly 17,000 north-east of Adelaide, claim this as a local dish that can be seen quite commonly in takeaways.

    However it is doubtful that this is the result of culinary genius, but more of environmental necessity, as they just don’t have enough rain to grow cabbages.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BjdTyInAv70/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

    Broken Hill is located in a dusty patch of Australia with a hot desert climate. Winters are mild and dry, and summers are hot and dry with the occasional dust storms and very little rain, and so at some point in time someone decided that cheeselaw was the next best thing.

    The dish goes with practically everything: sandwiches, burgers, toast – you name it, it goes with it.

    A versatile dish, this could be the talk of your next dinner party, or cause for concern from your work colleagues.

    Some people even eat it ‘raw’ from the tub. Wonderful.

    MORE: You can now order food from Disney World Resort to be sent to your house

    MORE: Sudanese-Australian writer uses fiction to work through the trauma of Islamophobia

    MORE: Nicole Scherzinger confirms her role as the new Australia’s Got Talent judge one year after X Factor ‘axe’


    CheeseslawCheeseslaw

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    Delayed rail passengers can claim free gin this bank holiday weekend
    The coupons will be valid at Stonegate Pubs (Pictures: Getty/Shutterstock)

    Travelling on a bank holiday weekend is notoriously nasty.

    With cancellations, disruptions and delays, your fun weekend away can quickly turn into the journey from hell.

    But never fear, your travel woe could be transformed into a travel win with free gin on offer for anyone who has experienced a train delay.

    Yes, you read that correctly. Gordon’s gin will be rewarding delayed rail passengers with the chance to claim two gin and tonics for the price of one.

    The popular brand’s #YayDelay service has officially relaunched across the country today, and will last the entire weekend.

    The hashtag #YayDelay monitors news, social chatter and real-time train delays in order to unlock the two-for-one Gordon’s gin and tonics offer for frustrated travellers.

    A bottle of Gordon's gin
    Keep an eye on Gordon’s social media to know when the offer is valid (Picture: Gordons)

    All passengers have to do is keep their eyes on Gordon’s gin social channels across the bank holiday weekend to see if the volume of train delay chatter triggers the special offer.

    When the offer is triggered, a G&T coupon can then be claimed via the Gordon’s gin Facebook Messenger chatbot and redeemed at Stonegate Pubs, including Slug & Lettuce, Yates, Proper Pubs and Walkabout outlets across England and Wales.

    It could provide the perfect lubrication to take the edge of lengthy delays. Gin is always a good way to keep spirits high – particularly when those spirits are free.

    The popular gin brand has relaunched this bank holiday initiative following the success of last year, and with train punctuality plummeting to a 13-year low in the UK, there couldn’t be a better time to ply angry passengers with alcohol.

    MORE: Newlyweds are hiring donkeys to serve beer at weddings

    MORE: You can now buy the UK’s first ever Cava-battered chicken

    MORE: Fenty Beauty is coming to Boots in the UK


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    Spill it: how much a 27-year-old vegan drinks in a week
    Rosie enjoys ale, beer and rum. (Picture: Getty)

    Spill it is the series where we get people to anonymously tell us about their drinking habits.

    We’re talking to men and women from all over the world about how much they really drink.

    Not how much they tell their doctor they drink, or a rough guesstimate, but the unvarnished boozy truth. This week we’re hearing from Rosie (not her real name) who is a 27-year-old from Gloucestershire, who runs a plant based catering business.

    Friday

    I work on Fridays, it’s like the beginning of the week for our business. My husband and I are always catering for a brewery or a wine cellar. I love my business, my husband is the food creative and I runt he other aspects of the business.

    This evening we probably have around 3 pints along with hefty portions of curry.

    My drinking is affected by my job-  we drink to connect and socialise with our customers (and because we love craft beer).

    Saturday

    I wake up, not hung over, ready for another day of fun! Helping my husband prep food for private Sunday events and trying out some rum for cake – what a great excuse!

    Had maybe six shots each. Felt a bit sickly after it, but we decided to make some lentils and rice, which helped going to bed clear headed!

    Sunday

    Wake up at 7am, not hung over, leave to cater for our event. Everything goes well, we have a couple of pints each. We come back home, clean and go to bed around 12am.

    Monday

    I started a new job at the beginning of the year in order to support our business. It’s not ideal, it is so tiring and sometimes as I have to work around animal corpses being cooked (I do not eat animals) – and being around death creates so much negative energy.

    The positive side of it is that I cater every Monday to Wednesday for a nursery, baking vegan cakes and making veggie food.

    I feel tired by noon, because of all the weekend drinking I guess. But this is a usual Monday for me so I get over it quickly. No drinks.

    Tuesday

    Second day at the nursery, I finish by 2pm. I am happy to go home and work on the business marketing.

    My husband makes tea and I sit down and plan the weekend, beautiful mushroom pasta that I demolish! I respond to emails and work on our website. No drinks.

    Wednesday

    I finish work around 2pm. Wednesday is our fire starter! It’s all about making sure all the orders are in for the next day and all the accounts have been done. No drinks.

    Thursday

    We deliver our recipe boxes as soon as we come back from our half-day jobs. Husband goes for a run; I email recipe cards to our subscribers! We have 1 pint each at the local brewery.

    Friday

    It’s Friday again. What we drank in the week is pretty usual, and I don’t feel any different. Will probably have a couple of pints each tonight.

    Tomorrow we have to cater for a wedding, so we will be staying up and preparing for it!

    Units drunk: 15.6

    Units recommended by the NHS: 14

    MORE: Spill It: What a 29-year-old trader from London drinks in a week

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    MORE: Spill it: What a 22-year-old student drinks in a week


    Spill it: CarlaSpill it: Carla

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    The stunning lounge
    Fatboy slim lives in the neighbourhood (Picture: Hamptons International)

    Have you ever fancied being neighbours with Fatboy Slim? Well, now you can, as Four Western Esplanade, on Millionaire’s Row in Hove, is on the market.

    The four bedroom house is one of 12 exclusive houses with their own private stretch of coastline.

    Set in a secluded location with seafront views, the house features a lovely living room, snug, dining and kitchen area all running through what is essentially one big open-plan room.

    This room is stunning
    The view is dreamy (Picture: Hamptons International)

    The living room has lots of lovely decor, including a salvaged wooden coffee table and a pebble rug.

    The house also has amazing floor-to-ceiling windows offering beautiful sea views, with the master bedroom boasting a balcony to make the most of the beach.

    Even the bath comes with a view, and large candles surrounding it for a relaxing soak.

    The gorgeous bedroom
    The bedroom is chic and stylish (Picture: Hamptons International)

    And if you’re a major fan of the water, you’ll be delighted to know the property even comes with its own private plunge pool, and steps down to the beach.

    Hamptons International is selling the house, with offers in excess of £2,995,000.

    You even get your own pool
    Look at the pool! (Picture: Hamptons International)

    Alongside Fatboy Slim, other famous people to live at the address include Adele and Paul McCartney.

    So yes, you will be buying alongside some celebrity royalty.

    Sure, it’s a lot of money, but if you’re looking for a new home and fancy some celeb neighbours – this is the property for you.

    MORE: The UK’s ‘most haunted’ pub is on the market for £450,000

    MORE: Attention, fashion lovers: Laura Ashley’s former mansion is on the market


    Fancy living next door to Fatboy Slim? You?ll want to put an offer in right here, right nowFancy living next door to Fatboy Slim? You?ll want to put an offer in right here, right now

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    Zizzi has hired an instagrammer to take photos of the food
    James has turned his Instagram into a career (Picture: Tom Nicholson/PinPep/WENN.com)

    The world’s most millennial job is here: An ‘Instagrammer in residence’.

    Italian restaurant Zizzi has hired the nation’s first resident Instagrammer, to create their first online photography portfolio in a bid to help diners discover the ‘real stories behind the restaurants’.

    The new role will see James Thompson – better known to his 150,000 followers as Food Feels – pitch up in Zizzi restaurants across the country throughout May to tell the stories behind the Instagram filters of diners, food and staff.

    The stories will be told through an online photography portfolio on Zizzi’s website and Instagram – inspired by the US viral hit ‘Humans of New York’ – and will document moments around the table as well as the ‘behind the scenes’ tales of the dishes and the staff who serve it.

    Head of Marketing at Zizzi, Rachel Hendry, said: ‘We know that every day people get together at Zizzi for all sorts of celebrations and catch ups and that our diners and staff have rich, interesting and surprising stories to tell.

    James taking photos of the food
    He goes around taking pictures of all the food (Picture: Tom Nicholson/PinPep/WENN.com)

    ‘We know that our diners want to not only enjoy the food they’re eating but to also understand where that food has come from and the personalities behind the people who cook it which is why we’re launching our first ‘Discover More Zizzi’ online gallery.

    ‘We’re big fans of James’ food photography so are delighted to be working with him on this exciting project and can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

    James started working with Zizzi after the team were impressed by his Instagram page.

    James, who is now based in London, started Food Feels in 2014 as a hobby, sharing his passion for food photography, restaurants and travel. He now has 150,000 followers.

    James Thompson said: ‘I’m really excited to be working with Zizzi on this project. I’m a big fan of Humans of New York so I love the idea of getting behind the scenes to find out about people, the food they’re eating and then to tell these stories through my photography.

    ‘There’s no better place to get to know a whole cross-section of society than a busy restaurant and it’s going to be so interesting travelling across the country to discover what people are really talking about round the dinner table in 2019.’

    James’ Top Tips for Taking the Perfect Instagram Food Shot

    1. Lighting – natural light is key when taking pictures of food. Avoid when you can as it takes away the detail and colour. If you’re eating out – ask for a window seat!

    2. Background – think about where you are and what you want your backdrop to be. Keep it fun and keep it exciting.

    3. Editing – it’s easy to lose the quality of food if you use too many filters, try and focus on the brightness, contrast and sharpen options on Instagram.

    4. Experiment – I don’t like to stick to one particular angle. Move around and take a range of shots from different angles and see what works for you. Some plates look great at a birds eye, such as pizza while others you might want to get up close

    MORE: Could cheeseslaw be the new coleslaw?

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    Zizii Hires First Instagrammer in ResidenceZizii Hires First Instagrammer in Residence

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    Blossom is selling the dress on Facebook
    Blossom decided to sell the dress online (Picture: Kennedy News)

    A bride is selling her wedding dress in a sarcastic advert after she found photos of her husband cuddling up to another woman in the back of a car, ten days after they split up.

    Blossom Duff listed the size 10-12 £150 white gown as being ‘in excellent condition, unlike my marriage’ along with a picture of her in it on a Facebook selling page last week.

    The decision to list the full-length strapless gown online was fuelled after seeing a photo of her ex Mark Duff cuddling a girl, believed to be his new girlfriend, in the back of a car.

    The white dress, which features a sweetheart-style neckline, is listed for £30 and advertised as an option to wear while washing dishes, catching the train or at the pub for sympathy drinks.

    The 25-year-old claimed ‘bad luck had been removed through expensive dry cleaning’ and that she is now ‘happier and more confident’.

    When contacted for comment, unemployed ex partner Mark, 25, said that marrying Blossom was ‘the biggest mistake of his life’.

    Blossom on her wedding day
    Blossom on her wedding day (Picture: Kennedy News)

    Mark described the girl pictured cuddling with him as ‘a friend’ – yet his social media account lists him as ‘in a relationship’ with what appears to be the same woman.

    Blossom, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said: ‘I put it on Facebook as I wanted to sell it.

    ‘I’d seen one woman sell her wedding dress that way with a funny post so I thought, “why not? Let’s give it a go and see what happens”.

    ‘I didn’t want it to go for free but I didn’t want it to be a stupid price.’

    The pair married on 12 February after dating for seven months, split up on 10 April, and Blossom claims she saw the loved-up photo just 10 days later on 20 April.

    Blossom said: ‘It’s been up and down [since the split] and he has a new girlfriend already.

    ‘I was sent a picture from a group chat of them cuddled up in the back of a car. I was devastated, it showed that he didn’t care about me.

    ‘I thought he was the one and it was going to be perfect.

    ‘I decided to get rid of everything and that’s when I decided to put the dress up for sale on Facebook.’

    The advert reads: ‘Wedding dress for sale £30 – worn once by mistake.

    The dress she's selling online
    The dress she’s selling online (Picture: Kennedy News)

    ‘Please help remove this beautiful dress from my life, looks stunning on, enough to distract you from the fact you’re entering a marriage with an a**hole.

    ‘Will fit someone size 10-12, the dress is in excellent condition unlike my marriage.

    ‘Bad luck has been removed through expensive dry cleaning, I know this for sure because when I got it dry cleaned post separation I became happier and more confident.

    ‘Not getting married? That’s okay this dress can be worn on many different occasions.

    ‘It would look great when you are washing dishes, catching a train and while standing in line at service NSW to do a name change because looking at the name you took on makes you feel sick and filled with more regret than a drunken one night stand in 07.

    ‘Wear to the pub and people will buy you celebration drinks or still fake cry and see the sympathy drinks pour in.’

    Blossom and Mark were introduced by friends, and apparently they had a ‘whirlwind romance’.

    Blossom said: ‘It was a whirlwind romance, we’d been dating about seven months before we got engaged.

    Blossom's post before selling on Facebook
    Blossom wrote a funny Facebook post (Picture: Kennedy News)

    ‘We met through a friend while hanging out at her house, he just happened to be there.

    ‘He’s just one of those lads that put the charm on. When I first saw him it gave me that teenage bubbling feeling inside like butterflies.

    ‘I’d moved into my new house and he was just coming round helping me do stuff. The first couple of nights we just cuddled and stuff and then decided to get together.

    ‘He proposed at my house. He put candles everywhere and said “I want to marry you because I know you’re the one”.’

    The couple had an intimate wedding ceremony at a registry office in March, Cambridgeshire, only attended by close family and friends.

    However cracks soon started to appear in the relationship and the couple argued daily, deciding to call it a day less than two months after they wed.

    Just 10 days after the split, a concerned friend showed Blossom a picture of Mark cuddling another woman, believed to be his new girlfriend, in the back of a car.

    Blossom has yet to sell the dress and is now considering donating it to a charity that makes dresses for stillborn babies.

    Blossom said: ‘I’ve still got the dress, but a woman got in touch and said she’d like the chance to make dresses for stillborn babies.

    ‘I’m thinking of it giving it to the charity because it’s an issue close to my heart – I went through a miscarriage myself at around 10 weeks in 2016.

    ‘I would rather it go to parents than can get their babies dressed in something really nice.

    ‘It’s a way of something good coming out of something really bad.

    ‘There’s no chance in hell I’m getting back with him. I made him pack his stuff that night and changed the locks – it was too toxic towards the end.’

    Mark Duff said: ‘Getting married [to Blossom] was the biggest mistake of my life.

    ‘My [new] relationship is better than my marriage ever was and I can assure you now the day I said ‘I do’ I should have said ‘I don’t’ – it wasn’t worth it.

    ‘We had daily arguments and we split up as it just wasn’t working.

    ‘When we first got together I paid for her carpets, bed and household furniture. I did hope for a civilised split but that obviously isn’t the way it has gone. I left her with everything, all I took was my clothes.

    ‘Yes, there was a picture of me and another person in the back of a car but I’m entitled to friends.’

    MORE: Could cheeseslaw be the new coleslaw?

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    Bride sells wedding dress 'worn once by mistake' after seeing husband in back of car with another womanBride sells wedding dress 'worn once by mistake' after seeing husband in back of car with another woman

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    The concept of a ‘strong woman’ is still stigmatised – and strength is still seen as an inherently masculine trait.

    But women, of any age, size, race and ability, can be strong, fit and love their bodies. We just have to remind them.

    A recent Sport England study found that 75% of women are put off from physical activity because of a fear of being judged.

    This series aims to change that, to redefine what it means to be a strong woman and to normalise diversity in female strength.

    Philippa Berry was obsessed with being thin. At university she had disordered eating and would miss meals to try to get as small as possible.

    Now, thanks in part to chronic fatigue syndrome, she has had to drastically change her approach to food and exercise.

    She is bigger than she has ever been, and so much happier for it.

    Philippa jumping in the park
    Philippa’s chronic fatigue means vigorous exercise can take a full day to recover from (Picture: Philippa Berry)

    Tell us about dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome

    I never really know where to start with chronic fatigue, it has affected my life in so many ways, and I am still learning daily how to manage it.

    I was diagnosed three and a half years ago, when I was in my final year of Uni, and after a year of learning to live with it at University, I then had to learn to live with it in the real world. It has been a struggle, to say the least.

    Until now I haven’t been able to hold down a job because I found full-time work too much, but I wasn’t in a position financially to work any less hours. I muddled through three different jobs until I got where I am now.

    Now I live with my boyfriend, who helps to support me in many ways, so I can afford to work part-time and keep some of my independence – which is very important to me – and life has been going okay. I still have my ups and down, but that’s normal for everyone, chronic fatigue or not.

    The main thing that has changed is how I look at fitness. My body isn’t able to handle exercise the way it used to. I can’t do lots of intense cardio or weight training now because it knocks me out completely the next day.

    My muscles and joints get sore insanely easy – I get a sore arm from drying my hair or grating cheese let alone doing anything more strenuous.

    I have to be very strategic in the way I exercise and keep myself fit.

    I think that’s one of many reasons why I have gained weight and struggled to lose it – I went from knowing how to exercise and keep myself fit, to not having a clue what I was doing. It has taken me a good two years to get to where I am now, learning how gradual exercise can help me keep fit.

    How do you work out now?

    My main source of exercise now is walking. I walk everywhere, partly because I don’t drive and partly because I enjoy it. It makes me feel free, like there is nothing I can’t accomplish.

    It’s also very good for my mental health, which I also struggle with daily, so the benefits are endless.

    On my days off I try and go outside so I get a little bit of exercise and fresh air, but for the days when I am not feeling up to it, I have also invested in a step machine for my living room.

    It can be difficult, because I’d love to just be able to go for a run or go to spin class. There’s nothing stopping me from doing those things, I do still go to Zumba every now and then because I enjoy it, I just have to deal with the consequences the next day.

    I usually need a full rest day following intense exercise, which can mess up my entire weekly schedule and mean something else that needs doing will get missed.

    Philippa Berry at university
    Philippa developed disordered eating at university (Picture: Philippa Berry/Metro.co.uk)

    How has your relationship with fitness changed?

    When I was a teen I was naturally very slim, so I didn’t see the appeal of it. My main purpose in working out wasn’t for fitness, it was to get thin. I was obsessed with being thin as a 19 and 20-year-old. It really took its toll on me.

    I feel that something in you changes when you realise working out and exercising isn’t actually about being a thin person, it’s about being healthy. And that is what I love about it now. I feel healthier, and my body thanks me when I exercise.

    It’s the same as with drinking water and eating vegetables – it may not be massively appealing to you – I would much rather a bar of chocolate or a glass of wine – but you can feel its effect almost instantly and your body feels more nourished and enriched.

    Do you remember when you first started to fixate on being thin?

    When I went to college at 16, I was meeting so many different people from different backgrounds and I just lost all my self-esteem.

    One of my friends had started calorie counting and cutting back on what they were eating, and it all seemed so normal and simple. It was easy – that’s what appealed to me the most. I started following in her footsteps. I would bargain with myself; ‘if I eat this for lunch then I will have to have something small for dinner’. I would skip meals that no one would notice.

    When I got to university and could finally live alone, things got very out of hand. I had no one looking over my shoulder. No one to notice that I hadn’t eaten all day.

    No one was suspicious and the pounds just flew off. At one point I was a size 6, and for a tall girl that’s pretty small. You could see all my bones protruding out of my skin. And some part of me just loved that! I could wear what I wanted, I felt like I looked amazing. But I couldn’t eat.

    Philippa Berry at university
    At university Philippa was obsessed with being thin (Picture: Philippa Berry)

    That’s why my boyfriend stepped in and started taking me to the gym. He was trying to show me that I could eat like a normal human being and still remain slim, by building up muscle and building up my metabolism.

    The only problem was that when I’d started eating like a normal person, I realised how much I loved food, and so started eating too much and not exercising enough.

    I managed to get myself into a place where I hated the sight of my body and didn’t know what to do about it. So, I did what I know – I starved myself.

    There have been many points in my life where I have turned to starvation instead of actual fitness in order to become thin. I felt incapable of loving myself when I was bigger, and whenever I would try the ‘normal’ way of losing weight – diet and exercise – the results would come on too slowly and I would give up.

    What people often don’t realise though, is the faster you lose weight, the faster you will put it back on once you start to slip. Which is why my journey seemed to go around in circles.

    In the last two years though, after taking another slip into over-eating and not really knowing what to do, I have been more successful in doing things the right way – and I am so glad I did.

    It is miserable being so hungry all the time, and even though I am now the biggest I have ever been size-wise, I am also the happiest and the healthiest. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

    Why do we need to redefine what it means to be a strong woman?

    I think the ‘strong’ women we see in the media are often women who are physically strong, or have done something of extreme significance. Women who have got to the top of their career ladder, or have run marathons, or won awards.

    However, I see strong women every day. Mothers who give their lives to look after their children. Nurses who take care their sick parents, sacrificing their own health. Women with disabilities and women of colour fighting for their rights and working hard in the face of adversity. These are the women the media really need to focus on more.

    We have come a long way as a society to diversify the way media portrays not just women, but people in general. However, we do still have a long way to go.

    I feel that women like me need to be empowered so they can go on and achieve their dreams. I’ve let my own insecurities hold me back for so long.

    Am I good enough? Will people like me? What if I fail?

    Now I am finally facing those fears so that when I have a little girl, she knows there is nothing holding her back from achieving everything she wants to.

    The main reason we need to change the view of strong women is so that we can empower the next generation of girls to be stronger than we were, and that’s such a beautiful thing when you think about it.

    Was it difficult to accept and love the way your body has changed?

    To be completely honest, it has taken me a long time to accept it. I loved being a size 6, in some twisted kind of way. I loved not having to worry about what I was wearing. I loved being this tiny person.

    It has taken me a long time to realise that it is not a realistic way to live (for me, I do know some people are naturally that thin, and that’s not a bad thing).

    I also think I have blocked out how truly miserable I was back then.

    I was always hungry, I had constant headaches, stomach aches and pains. I try to remind myself of that now any time the thought of reducing what I eat slips into my head. It isn’t a good way to live and it’s not worth it. I was obsessed.

    My main love is the confidence I have now. I never thought I would be able to say that, not in a million years.

    Philippa in the park
    Philippa is the happiest and healthiest she has ever been (Picture: Philippa Berry)

    Just being able to step outside in a comfortable outfit and not really care what other people think of it is so soothing for my soul.

    The thing about fitness when you’re a larger person is that it makes you love your body in a new way. I have all these lumps and bumps and wobbly bits, and I’m not exercising to get rid of them necessarily. I am exercising so that I can walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath, and so I don’t end up with heart problems when I’m old.

    I love every curve now, and I have worked hard for every part of me.

    Yes, I still have days when I hate my body and wish I could be thinner, but I only have to remind myself of what it really felt like when I was thin and starving myself to realise that where I am at right now is so much better.

    One day I may be thinner as a result of exercise and healthy eating – that kind of just happens. But that is no longer my goal. My goal is to be healthy, and that’s all that matters in life no matter what size you are.

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘My mum died so young – I needed to be healthy for my children’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘My life expectancy is tragically short, but I’m not bound by it’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘I woke up in hospital, paralysed – I had to learn to live again’


    Strong Women: Philippa - Chronic Fatigue SyndromeStrong Women: Philippa - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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    The theme for the Met Gala 2018 was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Kylie Jenner wore a plain black dress (James Devaney/GC Images)

    This Monday will see all of fashion’s elite gathering in their finery for the Met Gala.

    It’ll also see a bunch of celebs completely failing to stick to the bloody theme.

    It happens every year: a complex theme will be announced, making us all ponder how those famous people will interpret it, and then on the day there are the inevitable smattering of celebs who’ve ignored the message entirely and just come in the same sparkly dress they’d wear for any other occasion.

    Take Kylie Jenner, rocking up to last year’s Met Gala – the theme of which was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination – in a black bodycon dress with some Matrix-style glasses.

    Or Miranda Kerr, wearing an Oscar de La Renta ballgown when the theme was Rei Kawakubo.

    These celebs are absolute spoilsports – especially as they have the money and means to go big on any fashion theme.

    But they also represent a certain type of person that’s far more prevalent than the uber-rich: the person who refuses to stick to a party’s theme, also known as a person who absolutely sucks.

    These are the people who turn up to a Halloween party wearing a slinky black dress that makes them look incredible, knowing that everyone else will look a bit silly in their DIY mummy costumes and scary witch wigs.

    They’re the ones who, when asked why they look so great when the theme was ‘bad memories of the 80s’ will pretend that the fact their dress is backless makes it fit the tone. It doesn’t, friend. That’s why we’re all wearing neon, acid wash jeans, and leotards.

    The person who doesn’t stick to the theme is a terrible person, because they know full well a themed party is an easy win for them to show off how great they look. They go in with the knowledge that everyone else will be tugging the hemline of an awkward costume or wearing ridiculously unflattering blue eyeshadow, and use that to sweep the competition.

    This person is an evil mastermind, knowing full well how easy it is to look the best when you’re not being restricted by a theme. They decide that actually, their general hotness is far more important than any carefully thought out dress code for a party. They are rude.

    A party theme is not something that should be so easily dismissed.

    It indicates that the party thrower has a distinct vision for their event and, having put effort into coming up with a decent vibe, requests attendees put effort into what they wear. That’s a small ask, when you think about it, and it’s just plain social decency to do as the host’s invite – whether with the formality of the Met Gala or through a Facebook event with an artfully selected screenshot from The Simple Life as the cover photo – demands.

    You wouldn’t turn up to a wedding without a gift, or a potluck without a dish. To wear whatever you please to a fancy dress party is a crime and should be treated as such.

    The person who doesn’t stick to the theme deserves to be rushed into a room and given the most unflattering unclaimed props to wear as punishment.

    Oh, you showed up to my ’07 party wearing a cute bodycon dress? Here, put on these bootcut jeans and a ‘fun’ spaghetti strap top.

    You turn up to the Met Gala wearing a spangly gold D&G gown? You’re either not coming in or you have to wear this massive cardboard box with the theme written on the front. It’s what you deserve.

    Choosing to ignore a theme – or refuse to commit to it entirely, in the manner of wearing one piece of jewellery or pointing at your lipstick choice as though that’s enough – states to all that you believe you are above the ritual embarrassment of a costume party. It declares that you are too good to look less than perfect, whether that’s wearing something oversized that doesn’t show off your rocking bod or throwing on a costume that is more scary than sexy.

    It’s deeply disrespectful to all those involved who have risked looking silly, and who have spent time and effort making sure they meet the requirements for attending said party.

    People who don’t stick to party themes are awful, and we must all promise to never, ever be one.

    Be the Rihanna of the Met Gala, never the Kylie Jenner.

    MORE: Harry Styles to host 2019 Met Gala with Lady Gaga and Serena Williams – and the theme is ‘camp’

    MORE: Zayn Malik says he was ‘swayed’ into going to the Met Gala: ‘I’d rather be sitting in my house’


    Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala - Street SightingsHeavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala - Street Sightings

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    This is Bear, a kitten that does actually look quite a bit like Yoda. He already has a home, though Picture: Cats Protection)
    This is Bear, a kitten that does actually look quite a bit like Yoda. He already has a home, though (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Today, 4 May (May the fourth be with you), is Star Wars Day.

    What better time to meet some cats who look like characters from the iconic films?

    We say ‘look like’, but, um, it’s really more of a passing resemblance.

    Does fluffy boy Charlie really look just like Luke Skywalker? No. He’s a white cat. He doesn’t even have a lightsaber.

    But why should that matter? These cats need homes, it’s Star Wars Day, let’s wedge them into this theme so we can find them the loving families they deserve. Okay? Okay.

    Charlie, Luke Skywalker

    Charlie the cat looks like Luke Skywalker... sort of
    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Charlie is best described as a ‘big bundle of fun’. He’s extremely playful and affectionate – a real character who will guarantee to brighten up your day with his crazy antics. He can sometimes be a little over-enthusiastic when playing, so a home with very young children may not be ideal, however Charlie can also be very affectionate and loves a fuss.

    If you live on or close to the Isle of Wight and would like to enquire about adopting Charlie, please contact Cats Protection’s Isle of Wight Adoption Centre on 03000 120 251 or via their website.

     

    Snowy, Princess Leia

    Snowy
    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Snowy is a beautiful and sweet older lady who also values her alone time. She is looking for a home with her good friend Smudge, who is a little younger and enjoys a good fuss.

    If you live in the Tyneside area and think Snowy and Smudge might be for you, please contact Cats Protection’s Tyneside Adoption Centre on 0191 653 1052 or email tyneside@cats.org.uk.

     

    Salem, Darth Vader

    Salem, Darth Vader
    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Salem is a large, handsome and relaxed 15-year-old boy who loves his human friends with whom he communicates – crooning when he is talking, deep purring when he is curled up next to you and a loud miaow if he is calling you. He is black with a very small white patch on his chest.

    Salem is curious and playful, running after ribbons and jumping for the cat wands. He enjoys his food, being combed and loves a sunny spot looking into the garden. Salem is in need of a loving home with outdoor access for his senior years and would be best suited to someone who is at home much of the time. In return he will prove a very loyal and rewarding companion.

    Anyone in the Bracknell or Wokingham areas who is interested in offering Salem a home can contact Cats Protection’s Bracknell & Wokingham Districts Branch on 03453 714 212 or email info@bracknell.cats.org.uk.

     

    Twiglet, Chewbacca

    Twiglet looks like Chewbacca
    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Twiglet is a delightful puss who is more than ready to start the next chapter in her life. Twiglet has spent the past 12 months or so living outside so would love a new home in a rural location where she can enjoy her freedom, but she’s keen to have a warm and loving home to come back to with some friendly people to give her a good fuss.

    If you live in the York area and would like to offer Twiglet a home please contact Cats Protection’s York Adoption Centre on 01904 760 356 or via their website.

     

    Shadow, Darth Maul

    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Shadow is an 11-year-old female. She would suit an indoor home and would be fine in a family with children and other pets. She is currently overweight so will need an owner who will keep an eye on this and help her slim down.

    Anyone in the South Ayrshire area who would like to enquire about adopting Shadow can contact Cats Protection’s South Ayrshire Branch on 0345 371 4216.

     

    Foxy, Qui-Gon Jinn

    Foxy the cat
    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Foxy came into care when his previous owner sadly passed away. He is a little unsettled at present, however he is a friendly chap who enjoys human company and is happy to be stroked. Foxy can also be independent and likes time to spend doing his own thing. He also has his playful moments and his favourite toy is his fishing rod. Foxy has a low grade heart murmur, which is common in cats, and doesn’t require any treatment but means he would benefit from a calm new home. He will require regular daily grooming to keep his long coat in good condition.

    If you live in the Ferndown area and would like to enquire about adopting Foxy please contact Cats Protection’s Ferndown Homing Centre on 03000 120 175 or email ferndown@cats.org.uk.

     

    Ronnie, Grand Moff Tarkin

    ronnie grand moff tarkin
    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Ronnie and his brother Reggie came into care due to their owner moving somewhere they could not take the cats. They are a great pair of older boys who love each other dearly.

    They have lived with a dog before but they would mainly keep out its way but occasionally cuddle up to it when they were tired. They didn’t particularly like the other cats in their previous home so would prefer to be the only ones in the household.

    Ronnie is the more affectionate one and loves to sit on laps. They have come from a busy home with lots of children so would be happy to be part of a family again.

    If you live in the Exeter area and would like to offer Ronnie and Reggie a home please contact Cats Protection’s Exeter Axhayes Adoption Centre on 01395 232 377 or email exeteraxhayes@cats.org.uk.

     

    Suke, Jar Jar Binks

    Suke - Jar Jar Binks - Mitcham-f91a
    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Handsome Siamese Suke is seeking a new home together with his friend Samson. Both are a little wary of strangers but have endearing and unique characters. They are 13 and 14 years old so are looking for a loving home for their twilight years. If you want a pair of felines with personality then these boys may be for you. They would suit a large indoor only home or a home with a secure outdoor space.

    If you live in the Mitcham area and would like to offer Suke and Sampson a home, please contact Cats Protection’s Mitcham Homing Centre on 03000 120 285 or email mitcham@cats.org.uk.

     

    Maddie and Bella, Ewoks

    Maddie - Ewok - IOW-9798
    Maddie (Picture: Cats Protection)
    Bella - Ewok - IOW-0f0f
    Bella (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Maddie and Bella are very quiet, friendly girls and are still rather shy. They came into care as they were overwhelmed by the arrival of a new baby in their home. They are very gentle cats and it is hoped that over time they will to gain confidence. These beautiful ladies may need a little help keeping their gorgeous long-haired fluffy coats in perfect condition, but they’re definitely worth it.

    If you live on the Isle of Wight and would like to enquire about adopting Maddie and Bella, please contact Cats Protection’s Isle of Wight Adoption Centre on 03000 120 251 or via their website.

     

    Annie, Stormtrooper

    Annie - Stormtrooper - Gwent-254c
    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Annie came into care as a stray and is thought to be between 11 and 15 years old. She was in a bad way when she was found. She was anaemic, underweight and had an infection and also had to have her ears removed due to cancer. It’s thankfully all behind her now and in spite of everything she has been through, she’s a very friendly and loving cat. She’d be an ideal pet for a single person or adult-only home.

    If you live in the Gwent area and would like to adopt Annie please call Cats Protection’s Gwent Branch on 0345 371 2747.

     

    Mr Bojangles and Molly, generic Jedis (?)

    Mr Bojangles - Jedi - NCAC-726e
    (Picture: Cats Protection)
    (Picture: Cats Protection)

    Mr Bojangles and Molly are 13 years old and their distinctive colouring gives them a jedi-like appearance (or so Cats Protection claims). Mr Bojangles is very affectionate and he loves human attention, while Molly is a little shy but likes a fuss once she gets to know you. They are a very close pair who love curling up together and sleeping in the top of their fort. They may be able to live with other pets, as long as they are introduced slowly, and could also potentially be ok in a household with children.

    If you live in the Sussex area and are interested in adopting this lovely pair of cats, please contact Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre on 01825 741 330 or email cattery.reception@cats.org.uk.

    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 ellen.scott@metro.co.uk with the details and pictures.

    To book your tickets to CatFest, do head over to Eventbrite.

    MORE: Kitten smaller than a toothbrush is found under an L.A home with her umbilical cord still attached

    MORE: Gorgeous endangered ocelot kittens are so cute they look like cartoon animals


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

    Navigating your colleagues’ personalities is hell at the best of times, isn’t it.

    Listening to Graham’s ‘hilarious’ kitchen ‘banter’, putting up with ‘today’s coworker!!!!!!’ baby/cat/slipper pictures from Karen every Work From Home Friday, and doing all the work on a group project because the rest of your team are bone idle. Man, jobs are fun.

    But, there is (of course) a huge difference between being bone idle, and being clinically depressed and unmotivated.

    As a depressed person who sometimes has a job (and bad kitchen banter), I can vouch for the fact that many people find it excruciatingly difficult to tell anyone at work that they’re struggling, for fear that their mental illness might be taken as a sign of weakness or incapability. If you have a colleague who has told you or a coworker about their mental struggles, or who you think might not actually be very OK, there are ways you can work with them supportively and kindly and still get your job done.

    Depression affects everybody differently. It’s a bit like a big, sad, despairing snowflake; no two versions are the same. If you think a colleague is struggling and want to help them (which, presumably you do because you’re reading this and are thus A Lovely Person), the more specific you can be, the better. Talking to them about it in a space where they’re comfortable, a space that’s private (please don’t ask them in a group meeting), and in a way that doesn’t feel like an interrogation, is key.

    It’s unlikely that you’re qualified to actually diagnose somebody, so never assume anything, of course, but even if it turns out that someone is actually just being a lazy git, it can’t hurt to be kind.

    Psychotherapist and counsellor Amanda Perl has some good advice. She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘What helps people who feel sad is a sense of connection, and you can provide support when offering kindness, warmth and, setting aside your own prejudices, positive non-judgmental regard for your colleague’s feelings.

    ‘Instead of ‘Hi’ or ‘You ok?,’ try asking direct questions to show empathetic understanding, such as ‘How are you feeling?’ or ‘What’s troubling you?’ Or even ‘What support do you have when you’re feeling sad?’ and signposting to an Employee Assistance Programme or private therapy, illustrating that you genuinely care about helping your colleague to feel less isolated, safe and supported at work.’

    What does the ideal healthy working day look like?
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Personally, I’d enjoy a ‘how can I be there for you when your brain’s on fire?’, and for me, it would be to understand if I need to work from home, but otherwise to carry on as normal and ignore it (which I’m not sure is super healthy, but it helps).

    For Alison*, she needs to have a thorough debrief after anything at work that may have been more challenging than usual. ‘I need to know that [my colleagues] know I’m competent, despite a mental illness,’ she tells us. ‘Also I’ll need to have days off sometimes – just as I would if I had the flu – and not be made to feel guilty about it.’

    I think this is the key here, recognising that mental illness is just that; an illness.

    If your tonsilitis was flaring up and you couldn’t concentrate, you’d be better off at home. Likewise, if your brain’s flaring up and you can’t think straight, it’s better to be left to come back to a piece of work later.

    This all comes down to being an understanding colleague who’s not rolling your eyes when someone’s seemingly not pulling their weight, but instead maybe taking them aside for a chat to ask what’s happening, ask how you can help or what they need, and above all to just show that you’re there for them.

    Depression makes you feel worthless, and having disgruntled co-workers thinking you’re only good for that spreadsheet (or whatever people do in jobs these days) won’t help.

    The biggest thing here is that working environments are often a little fake anyway; people are putting on their ‘work face’ or ‘work mode’ and not entirely acting as they would at home or with real-life-friends. This makes it harder for us all to be honest about how we’re feeling, and does nothing to help the stigmas that still surround depression. I can’t speak for everyone (alas), but I know I was definitely worried about being ‘revealed’ to have depression for years, before I started just wanging on about it on the internet (hi, thanks for reading).

    Amanda’s work has led her to recognise that those with depression can often ‘send out non-verbal cues suggesting that colleagues keep their distance.’ She adds: ‘Stigma around mental health may contribute to your colleague’s depression making them fear that they will lose their job if ‘found out’.’

    Marian agrees: ‘The biggest thing is misunderstanding what depression is and how it operates. The stigma attached to it can mean people think you are lazy or just a miserable person, when in fact it is an illness.’

    Look, we’re all a bit messed up in some ways, and the world is already on fire as it is. Be supportive and understanding, and ask questions sensitively where you can.

    Show that you’re not annoyed, but that you’d rather help. If they don’t want to talk about it or don’t want to accept help, knowing that you’re there for them when they’re ready is huge. Well done you. Now back to that group project.

    *Name changed 

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

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

    MORE: How to be a good friend to someone who has depression

    MORE: How to go on holiday with someone who has depression

    MORE: How to break up with someone who has depression


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