Articles on this Page
- 05/11/19--07:14: _Mum claims breast m...
- 05/11/19--07:42: _Fibromyalgia sympto...
- 05/11/19--07:52: _The best functional...
- 05/12/19--00:00: _My Odd Job: I help ...
- 05/12/19--01:18: _When is Mother’s Da...
- 05/12/19--01:20: _You Don’t Look Sick...
- 05/12/19--01:24: _Nurses have the mos...
- 05/12/19--01:53: _Head to Tainan and ...
- 05/12/19--02:01: _Why you need to jet...
- 05/12/19--02:57: _Woman with cystic a...
- 05/12/19--03:00: _M&S is planning to ...
- 05/12/19--03:10: _What is National Ch...
- 05/12/19--03:37: _Boyfriend uses Snap...
- 05/12/19--03:53: _Groom wants the int...
- 05/12/19--05:11: _ASOS model shows of...
- 05/12/19--05:47: _Man buys a tarantul...
- 05/12/19--06:03: _Racist woman gets b...
- 05/12/19--06:56: _Student says abuse ...
- 05/12/19--07:05: _Single widowed mum ...
- 05/12/19--07:32: _Lidl is selling ama...
- 05/11/19--07:42: Fibromyalgia symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment
- 05/11/19--07:52: The best functional fitness leggings to wear in the gym
- 05/12/19--01:18: When is Mother’s Day in the UK and why is it different to the US?
- 05/12/19--01:20: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I had seven strokes in 24 hours when I was 20’
- Face: Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?
- Arms: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
- Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred?
- Time: If you see any of these three signs, it’s time tocall 999.
- Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, including legs, hands or feet.
- Difficulty finding words or speaking in clear sentences.
- Sudden blurred vision or loss of sight in one or both eyes.
- Sudden memory loss or confusion, and dizziness or a sudden fall.
- A sudden, severe headache.
- 05/12/19--02:01: Why you need to jet off to Corfu if you want to relax and recharge
The human body is an incredible thing – and this is particularly true for new mums.
One woman with a young baby has shared a photo that shows just how amazing mums’ bodies are, after her breast milk turned blue.
Jody Fisher posted a photo on Facebook showing off the unmistakable blue colour of her milk, and explained that the reason for the magical change was due to her baby having vaccinations.
She claimed that the milk turned blue because it was producing antibodies to help heal her little one after sensing traces of the illness left by the vaccination when her baby was feeding.
It sounds utterly miraculous – but Jody is convinced that’s the reason, and now she wants to persuade other mums about the power of breast feeding.
‘Nancy had her 1 year injections on Tuesday afternoon, the “normal” colour milk is from the day before she had them, the “blue” colour milk is from today – 2 days after she had them,’ she wrote on Facebook.
‘It’s blue from all the antibodies my body is producing as it thinks she’s sick with what she was vaccinated against!
‘When she feeds her saliva sends signals to my body to produce more milk with illness specific antibodies!
‘This is one of the reasons I’m still breastfeeding 13 months on….you don’t get all this goodness and nutrients from formula or cows milk! Way to go boobies.
‘This goes to show the vaccines are doing exactly what they are meant to do, and so is my daughters body and mine.’
Another mother posted a picture online and said that her breast milk seemed to have changed colour after her daughter was diagnosed with the flu.
‘The frozen milk on the left is from 2 weeks ago. The frozen milk on the right is from this past weekend when her swab came back positive. Notice the change in color?’ she asked of followers on Facebook.
‘My breast milk created antibodies to fight off any infections that Raina may have had. I never gave her Tamiflu.
‘THIS is why I breastfeed!’
The science isn’t consistent when it comes to this issue – and many scientists believe that a change in breast milk colour is usually down to the mother’s diet, not necessarily because of antibodies.
Breast feeding isn’t the only way, and for many mothers it just isn’t possible, but the NHS does say that breast milk ‘protects your baby from infections and diseases’, it can even protect against childhood leukaemia.
That sounds pretty miraculous to us.
METROGRAB Magical breast milk
This week, news broke that a diabetes drug called Metformin was found in tests to have alleviated pain in people who fibromyalgia.
The study – by researchers from University of Texas – saw that the pain relief caused by the drug, which is normally prescribed to normalise blood sugar levels, could mean that there’s a link between blood sugar and the condition.
Fibromyalgia is something that affects as many as 1 in 20 people to some degree, and celebrities like Lady Gaga and Lena Dunham who have it have raised awareness in recent years.
Here’s everything you need to know about the syndrome.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a long-term condition that can cause pain all over the body.
As well as chronic pain, those with it might also experience fatigue and muscle tenderness.
Other symptoms include problems with memory, concentration, and brain function, irritable bowel syndrome, and sleep problems.
What causes fibromyalgia
At present, there is no one cause that has been identified to suggest why and how people get fibromyalgia.
It’s thought that there may be something to do with chemical imbalances in the brain and problems with the way the nervous system processes pain messages.
Others have also asserted that it may be inherited, or that it can be triggered by traumatic events.
Because fibromyalgia affects people so uniquely, it can be a hard problem to diagnose.
Your doctor will likely give you a physical exam, as well as asking you questions about your symptoms, with the aim of ruling out other chronic conditions such as ME, MS, or rheumatoid arthiritis.
Normally, to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you will need to have severe pain in at least three different areas of your body, or mild pain in at least seven. This must have lasted for at least three months, and not be able to be ruled out by another condition.
Is fibromyalgia curable?
At present, no. Treatment will be tailored to you to lessen your symptoms as much as possible and improve your life.
This could mean a combination of medications, therapy, exercise, and monitoring.
What the current development (in regards to both the knowledge of the cause and the treatment) means, though, is that research could hopefully improve things for those with fibromyalgia in the near future.
If you’re worried you’re experiencing similar symptoms, speak to your GP.
Side view of woman having shoulder and neck pain
The gym legging is a staple of any fitness-fanatic’s wardrobe.
You’ve probably got millions of pairs – but a pair that feels great, looks great and performs really well is hard to come by.
We know what we don’t want when it comes to fitness leggings – we don’t want a saggy crotch, we don’t want them to go see-through when we bend over, we don’t want to be forever pulling them up, and we don’t want them to give us extra love handles.
Looking and feeling great in the gym is really empowering. When you don’t have to think about what you’re wearing, you can focus on performing at your best.
We tested out some of the best in the business and came up with a list of all our favourite leggings that are flattering and functional.
Because we need them to be both.
The power leggings are great for running, spinning or hiit class – they have sweat wicking and they’re quick drying.
All of Sweaty Betty’s leggings have thick, squat-proof material – that definitely won’t go translucent, and the thick waste band is flattering on the hips.
The Eaze Tights are super stretchy, which makes them really comfortable for yoga – or anything where you have to move a lot.
They have an ergonomic design and soft waistband with mesh at the back of the knees for extra ventilation – they even have a cute little key pocket so you won’t lock yourself out when you go for a run.
We love these leggings for their comfort and breathability – they even have a zip at the back so you can get them on and off easily.
The super high waistband provides secure coverage even when you bend over.
These base layer leggings are essentially a second skin.
Ridiculously comfortable, the elastic seamless knitted texture controls the flow of air and adapts to breathing and movement. They also really cool.
These are absolutely fantastic on the bum. There’s a ruched seam at the back that just gives that extra lift and perk to your behind.
They also sport a secure silicone waistband that won’t slip, no matter how hard you work out.
These leggings mean serious business. Made for runners, the material provides your muscles with added support to help with endurance.
They also provide some compression, which helps to improve blood flow and essentially get your legs to work more efficiently.
These navy leggings are the perfect staple pair – they go with anything and you can wear them for any kind of exercise.
The technical performance fabric sculpts the body to help you feel confident in movement.
As well as the super adorable pattern, these leggings are incredibly functional with high compression to hold you in, even when you’re doing burpees.
They also have useful hidden pockets and are fully chafe resistant.
Most people know what a birth doula is, but not many have heard of an end of life doula.
Sometimes we’re called death doulas, death midwives, end of life companions or soul midwives. While a birth doula provides support and guidance to mothers at the start of life, an end of life doula provides practical and emotional support at life’s end.
Often I’m called in at diagnosis when there’s an element of disbelief and panic but sometimes it’s at the last minute when someone is actively dying. Their needs can change, too – someone who doesn’t require much support in the beginning can need a lot more assistance as their illness progresses.
No two days are ever the same. One day I might be going to hospital appointments with someone I’m working with or advocating on their behalf with their medical team. Another day I might be helping children say goodbye to their mum or dad. Some days I’ll be attending funerals.
There’s a very practical side to my job. I might help someone write an Advance Directive, a will or a do not resuscitate order (DNR), and help anyone thinking about appointing a lasting power of attorney.
Disbelief often accompanies a life-limiting diagnosis. Often, in the stiflingly small consultant’s office, any words spoken after a devastating prognosis fall onto ears that are powerless to hear any more. I take extensive notes in consultants’ appointments because I know my clients will be too distressed to process it all.
One client I worked with had an amazing medical team, an incredibly supportive and present family and a big group of friends.
She contacted me because she needed someone to offload to without making her amazing support network feel inadequate or unappreciated. She wanted someone she didn’t feel she had to protect from the harsh realities of her illness and her feelings about it.
They never knew she’d sought extra help. I only found out she’d died from an online obituary.
Yet some people don’t have family and friends who can help them, or who can’t take time off from jobs that pay the bills.
Illness can also drive our friends and family away. These losses can be isolating and frightening at a time when you most need company and reassurance.
At 17, I found myself standing at the graveside of one of my nearest and dearest friends. Despite being ill for a long time, we didn’t know that he’d been diagnosed with an incurable cancer.
He knew he was going to die but didn’t feel able to tell us any of us. There was a stark clarity to sitting in that packed congregation knowing he was barely out of their teens. His death shaped my life and his silence made me decide that I wanted to help people at the end of their lives.
When I first meet people we’ll talk about what a good life looks like to them and what they would consider to be intolerable.
They’ll set out boundaries around what they consider will be the limit of their suffering, and as their illness progresses, those boundaries almost always shift.
People have described their illness as being like a huge magnifying glass, augmenting what matters most and sometimes allowing them to let go of things they realise don’t really matter.
Others have described to me the lucidity that can come with a short prognosis, how things taste and look different when you know you’ll only ever get to eat or see them a few more times. Of course, this isn’t always the case, and depression can go hand in hand with being physically unwell.
With some clients it’s more important to acknowledge just how sh*t the situation is. There’s no fix for end of life. There’s no cure. Sometimes all someone needs you to do is acknowledge how unfair what’s happening is. The most fundamental part of my job is listening: to really hear what life is like for someone, to bear witness to their pain, to sit with them in their darkest moments and to be there.
That said, I am always amazed at how people are able to find humour in the darkest of situations.
I once helped a young woman say goodbye to her father. She hadn’t been able to get to see him before he died and I accompanied her to the funeral directors.
She was distraught. She’d told me that he had always been a joker and while his lame jokes drove her to distraction during his life, they would be one of the things she’d miss most.
She started crying so I handed her a box of tissues, which she dropped. She then bent down to get it, stood up too soon and knocked his coffin, rocking him like a dingy on a rough sea. I looked up in concerned horror to find her giggling hysterically. She said he’d have loved the sitcom silliness of the moment and felt they’d shared one last laugh.
That people can smile despite, in spite, of all they are facing, that family and friends can demonstrate and show a love that’s pure and deep, is humbling to bear witness to.
I don’t really believe in the idea of a ‘good death’. Describing death as ‘good’ makes me feel I’m doing a disservice to life, to loss and to grief. My job is about helping people live a good life and that ‘living’ includes dying.
The dying, we all hope, will be as gentle and as painless as possible but it’s the living of a good life right up until your last breath, that what it’s all about.
Talk to your children about life and death, dying and grief – it is as important as talking to our children about sex and relationships. And do it now. It’s so much easier to have those conversations when everyone is well. Every adult should write a will, we should all have an Advance Directive, appoint a lasting power of attorney and sign a DNR.
I have regular supervision and therapy to help me do this job. I take time out, and I would prefer to work with fewer people and do an excellent job than take on too much and buckle under the emotional weight.
Hanging out with my three daughters and walking our silly one-eyed dog helps me keep my emotions in check. Gelato helps a lot too.
Anna Lyons is the co-fouder of Life. Death. Whatever., and initiative that aims to redesign the dialogue around death and dying. For more information about their Five Things project, visit lifedeathwhatever.com
Anna Lyons - Death Doula
Some of us in the UK have started panicking as happy Mother Day messages start to appear on social media, but don’t worry as it is not being celebrated in the UK today.
Instead mum’s in the US, Australia, Germany, China, Greece and various other countries are being celebrated.
It is a day that is observed in countries across the world, but it happens on various different dates throughout the year.
Here is everything that you need to know about when we celebrate Mother’s Day and why it is different to other countries.
When is Mother’s Day?
This year Mother’s Day was celebrated on Sunday 31 March, which means we’ve already had our celebration this year.
The next Mother’s Day celebration in the UK will be on Sunday 22 March 2020, so you still have plenty of time to get your cards, flowers and presents.
We only share this date with a few other areas – Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Ireland and Nigeria.
Why is it a different date to America?
Mother’s Day in the UK is always held on the fourth Sunday of Lent, because this was Christians would visit their ‘mother church’, which is also why we often refer to it as Mothering Sunday.
Other countries like the US specifically refer to the day as Mother’s Day and theirs wasn’t founded through religion.
Some Catholic countries based the day on Virgin Mary Day, while other’s hold there’s on International Women’s Day.
Various countries followed the same date as the United States, and the time that they celebrate is one of the most common around the world.
Handmade Mother's Day bouquet with pink roses and gift in rustic setting
If you are standing in a crowd of people, there’s probably someone with an invisible illness – a condition that causes debilitating symptoms but you can’t usually see it at first glance.
You Don’t Look Sick is a series looking at those hidden conditions.
Each week, we speak to someone with a different condition about the judgement they face because they look ‘healthy’ to the outside world.
Last year, Luna Jarvis suffered a series of seven strokes in 24 hours last year at just 20 years old, which destroyed 20% of her brain.
She now struggles with numbness down one side of her body, cognitive issues and extreme fatigue.
The University of Lincoln student spent months learning to walk again and how to move her hands and still struggles day to day but because she looks young, she says strangers aren’t always kind.
‘People usually say things like “At least you’re all better now and working again” and that’s COMPLETLEY not the case,’ she says.
‘My brain is dead and that is never coming back, I think that in itself is quite tricky for people to grasp.
‘I got shouted at the other day by an old woman for using the disabled loo.
‘The stigma of ‘I look fine therefore I am fine’ is incredibly annoying when mobility wise I feel like an old woman but I’m in the body of a 21 year old so people don’t see that.
‘Just because someone looks fine doesn’t mean they are and age should not be a factor in how you are treated or perceived.’
On 7 February 2018, Luna, now 21, was on a university trip to London. She left Lincoln at 5am on a coach.
At 10am, she started to feel the side of her face go tingly.
She explains: ‘It was like pins and needles except at the same time, it was nothing like that at all.
‘I couldn’t move my tongue properly either, so I turned to my friend beside me in panic and attempted to speak. It came out like “Robyn, helphh, my fahce isn’t workingg”.
‘Robyn flagged down the member of staff for the event and she said “Well, you’re too young to be having a stroke, and anyway if you were having a stroke your face wouldn’t be working. Yours is working, just not very well.”
Luna continued to feel ill, her face was drooping and the pins and needles started to spread down her left arm.
She found three paramedics at the event she was attending but they told her she probably had an ear infection.
What are the symptoms of a stroke?
The idea is think FAST
The FAST test helps to spot the three most common symptoms of stroke. But there are other signs that you should always take seriously. These include:
Really, Luna was having a series of TIAs, or mini strokes.
She says: ‘I got back on the coach to leave at 5pm, and I just slept all the way back to Lincoln because I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t want to deal with what was happening.
‘Robyn somehow got me home. Whilst she was relaying the day and my condition to my flatmates, I went to the bathroom.
‘When I went to leave, everything started to go wrong.
‘My entire world just span. Everything was moving backwards. In an urgent panic I manage to grab the door lock and pull it back whilst sweating profusely in panic.
‘My flatmates made me call 111. I kept hanging up because I was adamant I didn’t need any help.
‘When I eventually stopped being stubborn and called, they said they weren’t sure what was wrong so they were sending an ambulance just in case, but I wasn’t a priority so they would be there in a couple of hours.’
Two hours later, still waiting on the ambulance, Luna tried to go to the bathroom again but was again overcome with dizziness.
She fell backwards, hitting her head on the kitchen floor. Realising she was getting worse, her flatmates called the ambulance again.
Eventually, paramedics arrived. Luna had come round and they thought she was ok but agreed to take her to A&E to be checked over.
She says: ‘My flatmate Louie came with me in the ambulance and all the while I was having TIA’s but the paramedics didn’t notice.
‘As soon as we get to the hospital they put us in A & E for four hours. After all of that time, the doctor finally came out and said my name.
‘As if that’s the trigger, I felt the entire left side of my body drain away through my feet, then I was gone and fell on the floor, freshly paralysed.
‘The doctor looked at my friend and said “When she’s finished doing what she’s doing, pick her up, put her in a chair and wheel her into my room.”’
Luna says she was sent back to A&E for another two hours because doctors thought she was drunk.
Eventually she was sent for a CT scan and doctors realised that she had actually had a series of stroke, with the biggest one happening in hospital.
‘The next thing I remember is I was in a bed with paper trousers on and a nurse came in to tell me I’d had a severe stroke,’ Luna says.
‘I didn’t believe it at all. I was told all day that I was way too young and I couldn’t understand why I was there.
‘I wasn’t a pensioner. Were they sure? Being half paralysed and having all of your independence taken away from you is soul destroying.’
Throughout the day, Luna had had a total of seven strokes. It left her brain damaged and she spent months recovering.
Now, over a year on, Luna’s life is still impacted by what happened.
She says: ‘20% of my brain is now dead, so that comes with a lot of challenges.
‘I am still half numb so I can’t feel any of my left side, which is hard as I am left handed so I can’t really hold a pen or fork very well.
‘I am on medication for life. I have to take blood thinners every day to prevent more strokes. I am not organised so I forget a lot.
‘A really common thing after having a stroke is major fatigue.
‘I have cognitive issues so I can’t really translate the noises people say into words very well and I find my brain giving me words I didn’t want to say when I speak.
‘On a bad day I stutter a lot and I can’t understand people. I have to sacrifice a day to have a day.’
Luna took six months off university but is now focusing on trying to finish her degree.
She adds: ‘I hate to say it but I cope because I don’t really have a choice. This is me now and I just have to accept it.
‘I worked incredibly hard to be able to walk again and move my arm and fingers in a way that looks naturally animated.
‘If you didn’t know I had a stroke you wouldn’t know, unless I’m forgetting that I’m holding a cup in my numb hand and dropping it everywhere.’
Luna is working with the Stroke Association as part of their Rebuilding Lives campaign, which advocates that, with the right support, stroke survivors can make the best possible recovery.
She wants to talk about the symptoms to help people understand that anyone can have a stroke.
How to get involved with You Don't Look Sick
You Don’t Look Sick is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that discusses invisible illness and disabilities.
If you have an invisible illness or disability and fancy taking part, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ll need to be happy to share pictures that show how your condition affects you, and have some time to have some pictures taken.
The day before my dad died, I stood outside his bedroom listening to him shriek with laughter.
His nurse, Cheryl had a way of making him laugh that made it impossible to believe he had very little time left.
By then I had been a nurse myself for many years. But it was as a relative, on the other side of the fence, that I began to appreciate the true importance of my profession.
Nursing is so much more than holding a person’s hand, even during their darkest hours.
Cheryl, like all registered nurses, was an expert, a leader, an advocate and a rigorous academic who had studied and gained experience, skills and knowledge in all manner of specialties through her nursing career: biology, anatomy, chemistry, pharmacology, physics, math, psychology, anthropology and sociology, as well as art and humanities, law, literature, poetry, history, and politics.
Nursing is sometimes social work, research, teaching and even police work. They are detectives, gathering clues in order to understand the puzzle of a patient’s life, understanding that their illness is just one small piece.
It is the balance of head and heart, critical thinking and creative compassion that is unique, essential and often misunderstood.
Cheryl’s excellent nursing skills meant that my dad died with dignity, peace and even humour.
He was himself until the very end, a death that we all deserve.
Nurses are there with us before we are born and once we have died, and will often go to their patients’ funerals. Cheryl even came to my dad’s funeral, and pops by to visit my mum seven years later.
So it was after my dad died that I realised that what I did every day, what all nurses do, is perhaps the most important job in the world.
It was this realisation that compelled me to write The Language of Kindness, about my 20 years nursing.
Since publication, I’ve been lucky enough to travel throughout the UK and further afield, meeting the cobweb of nurses who are largely invisible.
Despite this, they care for our most vulnerable – in prisons, police custody centres, schools, detention centres, care homes, hospices, primary care settings, homeless health teams, mental health and learning disability settings and everywhere else you can think of.
Because nurses touch us all at some stage in our lives. Each and every one of us.
Today marks International Nurses’ Day 2019. Nurses and midwives are working harder than ever before, leading compassionate and evidence-based healthcare for an increasingly complex population of patients.
Research says that the NHS will be 42,000 nurses short by 2020 – exhausted nurses are being driven out of our overstretched health service.
A recruitment drive is planned for tens of thousands of foreign nurses to fill the gaps. Meanwhile, as the current political mess is costing billions, almost 5000 European nurses and midwives have left the NHS in the last two years.
Nurses in England have had their training bursary completely removed, in a move that the Royal College of Nursing have told ministers has been a ‘total disaster’, causing a drop in applications by a third.
It’s more important than ever to say thank you to nurses for all they do. I hope you join me today in celebrating the incredible nursing profession and look after those who look after us.
Today, and every day, there is much to celebrate, despite the enormous challenges. I cannot think of a more varied, rewarding and challenging career to be proud of, a job that makes so much difference to many people’s lives.
Let’s remind nurses, society and politicians how much we value their expert care.
Let’s celebrate, eat cake, raise a glass and join the biggest nurses’ party of the year. Thank a nurse, hug them, cook them dinner.
Ask a nursing friend or family if they need help or support. Contact your local MP about the nursing bursary, about nurses’ pay and conditions and ask how they are addressing the issues and supporting nurses.
Nursing needs us. And we need our nurses.
Taipei is always the first port of call for first-time visitors to Taiwan – and rightly so, given that it’s the capital.
But if you really want to delve into Taiwanese culture, heritage and explore the lesser known parts of the island, you need to head south.
I decided on Tainan, the former capital, as my first port of call.
On the train down, I spotted an article on some of the craftsmen in the city – that’s how I ended up at Tainan Kuang Tsai Embroidery Shop.
Mr Lin, who’s owned the shop for decades, creates these incredible embroidered pieces for everything from Chinese opera costumes and wedding outfits to decorations for temples.
They can takes months or even years to complete, and costs thousands of Taiwanese dollars each.
Taiwan’s many richly decorated Buddhist and Taoist temples still provide much of the work for craftsmen such as Mr Lin.
On Shennong Road, for example, is an unmarked wood carving workshop that makes sedan chairs for the temple gods – and there are small workshops like these all over the city that you can visit for free – the craftsmen would be happy to show you round.
Tainan also offers an insight into Taiwan’s past as a colony; it was briefly occupied by the Dutch and then later by the Japanese.
Most visitors flock to the district of Anping to see landmarks such as Anping Old Fort (Fort Zeelandia) and the very Instagrammable Anping Tree House.
The former was a military and trading port occupied by the Dutch in the 17th century while the latter was a warehouse of British-owned salt-trader Tait & Co in the 19th century.
In the city centre, there are landmarks like the Dutch fort Chihkan Tower; and Koxinga Museum, which is dedicated to the man who ultimately fought off the Dutch.
Taiwan was also occupied by the Japanese until 1945 and many of the buildings in Tainan still date back to that period.
The historic Hayashi Department Store, for example, was one of the first buildings to feature a lift at that time. It’s still working today and leads up to a hidden rooftop shrine and a great view of the city.
Where to eat and drink in Tainan:
Tainan is steeped in history, there are trendy pockets all over town.
A friend introduced me to Yu Lee, owner of Instagram-favourite NINAO, who makes some incredible gelato and soft serve ice cream in his two outlets.
The talented ice cream maker recently took home the crown for Glenfiddich’s World’s Most Experimental Bartender Award along with Johnny Tsai from Bar TCRC – another top spot in the city.
There, you can even order BBQ food from around the corner when you’re sitting at the bar.
Yu took me on a walking tour of his neighbourhood, which was filled with little stalls that have been there for years. You can find everything from fish jerky and beef soup to ice tea and faux offal. There was even a restaurant hidden inside a clothing market – you just have to discover it.
And if you head to Anping too, order a bowl of fresh tofu from one the restaurants – the area is well known for it. The delicate treat has the texture of a set custard and can be sweet or savoury and served hot or cold.
After Tainan, I headed to Alishan – Taiwan’s most famous mountain.
It’s home to the Tsou people, one of the indigenous tribes of Taiwan, who have their own visitor attraction, Yuyupas.
But while touristy and fun, the two essential things to do in Alishan are actually tea tasting and watching the sun rise.
It’s hard to define what’s so special about the sun rise until you get there.
There’s a train that takes you up to a viewing platform where you, and perhaps a couple of hundred other people, huddle together for the first light.
And as touristy as it is, after getting up at 3am, squeezing onto the train and bracing yourself in the cold, the first warming rays of dawn feels amazing.
The tea is similarly revelatory.
Thanks to its relative high altitude, Alishan produces some incredible teas.
You can see tea bushes all over the mountainside and, if you go in the right season, the tea merchants will be drying their wares right on the side of the road.
Pop into one of these merchants and they would be more than happy for you to see how the freshly picked leaves are processed into tea and you can even taste the finished product.
At one such merchant’s shop, I drank cups and cups of fresh and fragrant tea by the end of which I’ve been invited to join them for dinner and maybe even come tea picking next time I’m in Alishan.
That’s the thing I loved about this part of Taiwan – people, even strangers, seem to have so much more time to show you round and give you a taste of their life.
And even in the most touristy of places, the experience felt so authentic.
Things to do in Taipei:
If you don’t have time to head south, there are plenty of cultural things you can do in Taipei too.
The Taiwan National Palace Museum and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall are both considered must-visit landmarks. However, it’s also worth getting out of the city.
There’s Yangmingshan National Park, which is well known for its sulphur springs – and many hotels have their own.
Here, there are lots of little towns and villages to explore here and some good nature hikes.
It also makes a good base for a visit to Tamsui, a charming fishing village with so much street food options around that it’s impossible to leave hungry.
Or on the other side of Taipei, there’s Shen Keng, known for its firm tofu. In fact, there’s a whole street dedicated to it where every single restaurant serves the stuff.
Where to stay in Tainan and Alishan and how to get there:
I travelled with Edison Tours on a bespoke six-night itinerary around Taiwan.
Priced from £1,350pp based on two people sharing, the trip includes a one-night hotel stay at the four-star Landis Hotel Yangmingshan or similar, two nights at the five-star Tainan Tayih Landis Hotel or similar, two nights at the four-star Alishan House, one night at the five-star Sherwood Hotel Taipei or similar.
It also includes daily breakfast, tour insurance, private transfers and an English speaking guide throughout but excludes flights and activities.
There’s nothing quite so lovely as an aquamarine stretch of coastline – so still that hardly a wave breaks, and so quiet that you feel like you have the entire world to yourself.
I imagine that’s probably what Jackie O enjoyed when she holidayed at the Onassis family’s hotel in Corfu.
That same hotel, after a few upgrades and changes of ownership, is now the luxurious Domes Miramare where I’ve checked in for a couple of days of rest and respite.
Situated in Moraitika, to the south of this Greek island, the hotel is laid out like a resort with rooms that sprawl along the coast – right next to Miramare’s own private beach.
While I was staying there, all the other guests seemed to stay crowded around the pool, which meant that the entire private stretch of beach was basically my own playground.
It might have had something to do with the pool-side service; you hardly have to lift a finger and the drinks will appear – but equally, there are sun loungers on the beach, barely a second away, where you can get drinks service.
Compared to the cramped environs of London, this was paradise. Even more so with the sun beaming its warm rays down while I floated on the surface of the water.
The rooms here are lovely too. To one side of the main lobby are the standard rooms while to the other are mini suites, all either facing the pool, the garden or the sea.
The beds are super comfy and there’s a spacious bathroom too.
If, like me, you have a first floor room, you get a little private balcony – perfect for an early morning coffee, before everyone else has hit the pool.
But if I’m honest, as lovely as it was, you probably won’t be spending much time in your room.
I’d recommend heading over to the spa to get some of those knots worked out of your shoulders and to thoroughly melt into the holiday pace of life – slow and steady. You’ll need it if you want to properly relax into that sun lounger, after all.
Food-wise, there’s Makris, the main restaurant at the hotel where the food is all about the Med. It’s open all day so you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Though, of course, if you don’t want to move an inch from the pool during the day, you can order food to your lounger too.
In the evening, The Raw Bar upstairs is also open, serving up re-imagined sushi.
Afterwards, you’ll probably want to head to The Blu Bar, which has apparently entertained royals and celebrities – back in the Onassis days. You can either sit at the bar for cocktails, or rest easy on one of the sofas. It, too, is open from day to night.
But mostly, for me, it was about being by the sea.
Between dipping into the salty water and drying out in the sun, I put my phone down and read a little. I had day-time naps and sipped on ice cold cocktails.
And for this one weekend at least, in this place where time seems to have stood still, I could escape all the stresses and burdens of living in a city.
What to do in Corfu:
It would be so easy to spend a whole weekend at Miramare and unwind – but if you do want to see a little bit of Corfu too, the concierge can arrange it.
True to its glamourous history, Miramare has a yacht of its own – the Miramaretta.
It will take you into Corfu town in a little over 20 minutes and the entire journey traces the stunning coastline. Crack open a bottle of bubbly on board and you’ll soon feel like a million dollars in no time.
In town, I’d recommend you go to Patounis’ Soap Factory.
They do a free tour of the factory every day and you can learn how all-natural olive oil soap is made. And if you’re lucky, they’ll even let you stamp one or two bars.
How to get to Corfu and where to stay:
Sovereign Luxury Travel has a seven night holiday to the five star Domes Miramare on a B&B basis from £989 per person.
The package includes a complimentary yoga class, cocktails mixology class, a romantic dinner, an early booking discount, UK airport security fast passes and access to N°1 Lounges, private resort transfers and return flights from London Gatwick with Norwegian Airlines.
Based on departures 10 May 2019.
Sales advisor and criminology student, Abigail Collins, 19, from Glasgow, Scotland, was only 10 when she started noticing breakouts on her face.
Over the years her occasional breakouts became more frequent, and by 2014 Abigail was dealing with severe cystic acne – a form where the pores in the skin are blocked, leading to inflammation and infection.
When she was at school, getting ready took over two hours as she spent so long doing her makeup to ensure that her acne was completely covered.
She explains: ‘I was often late because I had to make sure everything was covered, so it would take me one or two hours to get ready.
‘Growing up, it was very difficult to accept my skin and do normal teenage things. In school I felt as if nobody wanted to associate themselves with me because of the way I looked, this meant I had very few friends and a poor social life at this point in my life.
‘I tried to avoid school sometimes as I felt ugly and like the elephant in the room, which took its toll on me socially as I struggled to make friends since I wasn’t always there. Even now I struggle to make friends as I’m self-conscious over the way they see me.’
Abigail endured years of cruel taunts, negative comments and frequent staring due to the severity of her acne.
Being the only person she knew of with acne made Abigail feel like the ‘elephant in the room’ and her low self-confidence made it difficult to make friends.
She admits she avoids dating because she doesn’t want people to think she’s hiding her true appearance.
She said: ‘I’ve struggled to get into relationships as I was so self-conscious about my skin and how it looked, especially to someone romantically, so I tried, and still do, to avoid this.
‘I don’t date purely because I don’t want anyone to think I’m a catfish or that I’m not being honest about the way I look. It’s so difficult to understand and see how another person interprets you.
‘I was bullied for years about my skin and the way I looked, mainly because nobody else looked the same as me.
‘My friends sometimes had negative things to say and would use my skin against me, which has left me with major trust issues when it comes to meeting new people.’
Abigail tried a few acne remedies, but nothing helped heal her skin that well, so she continued to cover it with makeup regularly. Abigail currently uses a gel called Treclin, which is a form of Accutane, to help with her acne.
When she first started studying Criminology at the University of West Scotland, Abigail skipped lectures because she didn’t want to leave the house, but over time she became more comfortable as she realised that nobody cared how she looked.
As a student, Abigail had less time to spend doing her makeup and eventually started leaving the house without any makeup at all. Now, it’s rare that Abigail wears any makeup to university as she prefers to save it for going out.
‘I struggled with the concept of having to move away for university as I was scared I would get a bad reaction from people I would be living with. I was very self-conscious at first and skipped lectures when my skin was bad, but when I went into second year, I realised nobody cared,’ said Abigail.
‘I realised that none of the people around me noticed my skin to a great extent. Also, being a student doesn’t leave you with a huge amount of time to get ready in the mornings either, so I made myself skip makeup some mornings and then it became more frequent. Now, it’s rare I wear any to university.
‘If I’m going out somewhere nice with friends or family, then I will wear makeup, but if it’s just to do something casual like going to the supermarket, then I will skip it.
‘Going out bare faced doesn’t bother me too much anymore. For the most part, I can decide if I want to go somewhere and just go without having to do my makeup and cover my back with my hair.’
Abigail began sharing her journey on Instagram because she felt underrepresented in the media and this created a way to connect with others going through the same thing. After years of feeling ugly and unworthy because of her blemished skin, Abigail wants to show others that acne doesn’t define them and that they aren’t alone, as she once believed.
She said :’I have a few close friends from school who support me unconditionally and help me in any way they can, but I still often feel alone as I don’t know anybody first hand who has similar experiences to me or who looks like me. This made my self-acceptance difficult.
‘Instagram has helped me so much as I’ve seen so many other people who look like me and made me feel less alone. It’s nice to be able to chat to people about how I’m feeling or how our skin is doing that day, which is something you can’t discuss with most people.
‘I hope to show others that acne doesn’t define you and that you’re never as alone as you feel. There are always people out there who can relate and understand what you are going through and can support you.’
UK Undateable Acne
Marks & Spencer isn’t just selling any old sandwich, they’re selling a kebab one.
Following the supermarket’s introduction of a new chicken vindaloo sandwich claiming to be the ‘hottest in the world’, M&S has revealed plans for a doner meat sarnie – but people are not happy.
M&S’ plan to bring out the spiced mint lamb doner meat was met with criticism that it’s a bit downmarket.
Shoppers at the upmarket chain think it’s lowering the standards of its products.
The criticism began after M&S asked their Twitter followers to choose a new flavour between the kebab shop one and smokehouse chicken.
Instead of voting, some users commented saying the shop was losing its appeal by selling ‘gunk rubbish’.
Others said the sandwich was appropriating Turkish cuisine.
M&S tweeted: ‘We’re planning a sandwich showdown. Vote for our next flavour and only the winner will get its chance to shine on shelves.
‘What will you pick: Kebab Shop with spiced lamb or a BBQ classic, Smokehouse Chicken?’
But one customer led the criticism saying: ‘You continue to become down market,’ while another wrote: ‘Kebab shop! What are we? Treat us like the superior race we are or else.’
Another person echoed the sentiment, adding: ‘Typical M&S – they discontinue anything that’s popular and that people want to buy then they wonder why their trading falls and their profits go down the pan.
‘Listen more to your customers, and less to “experts”.’
Another customer added: ‘Neither get my vote – something delicious and vegetarian please! How hard can it be?’
One Twitter user said either choice will anger the people: ‘No doubt you will go out of your way to offend the Turkish and Aussies whichever is picked.’
An M&S spokesman said: ‘M&S offers over 70 different sandwich options, with favourite fillings such as prawn mayo, BLT and cheddar cheese ploughman’s dominating our bestsellers.
‘Each season we introduce new fillings to the range and for this summer we’re adding eight street food inspired sandwiches and wraps and are asking customers to help us choose the flavours they’d most like to see in store.’
If you don’t fancy any of these, you could always go for their new LGBTQ sandwich.
M&S branded 'downmarket' over kebab shop sandwich
Childhood is precious and should be protected.
That is the message that will be highlighted today National Children’s Day 2019, which takes place today (12 May).
Kids are growing up faster than ever and are often exposed to problems that should be reserved for adults to manage.
Recent findings show that school breaks aren’t long enough and could be ‘harming’ children’s social skills. Meanwhile, some kids are going hungry because their parents can’t afford to feed them and others are fighting for their future by attending climate change protests.
Today, the UK celebrates kids and their right to a happy childhood.
What is National Children’s Day 2019 and how is it celebrated in the UK?
The event is organised by the Save Childhood Movement (SCM), an organisation that according to its website aims to ‘unite people worldwide who want something better for their children and grandchildren – and that want to protect the generations yet to come’.
SCM’s annual Children’s Day campaign showcases the importance and right for every child to be happy and healthy while growing up.
In 2019, the theme revolves around technology, how screen time can impact on children’s health and why it’s imperative that they spend time outdoors too.
It's National Children's Day! #NCDUK2019 We want to draw attention to screen time & its dangers. Much as we have to embrace new technology, we need to ensure there is a balance & be acutely aware of continuing evidence about its impact on mental & physical health. #screentime pic.twitter.com/Hshy2SdA0p
— CHILDREN'S DAY UK (@NCDUK2019) May 12, 2019
Individuals and businesses are encouraged to take part in the movement.
Many companies launch child-focused initiatives for the occasion, while police departments and charities share information on how people can reach out for help if they know of children who are being abused or otherwise treated badly.
On a grassroots level, lots of clubs and companies host family-friendly events, many of which are free to ensure that all families can take part.
— HelplinesPartnership (@HelplinesUK) May 12, 2019
It's National Children's Day UK today. It's all about promoting a healthy, happy childhood. So bring yours down to the club today and get out there and play tennis with them in the sunshine!
The Club will be open from 1pm 🎾
— Elm Park Lawn Tennis Club (@elmparkltc) May 12, 2019
“There once was a child called Bert,
“You were worried he was getting hurt,
“You called us that day,
“Now he's safe and can play,
“Thank you for being alert.”#NationalLimerickDay #NCDUK2019
Please report any welfare concerns. For more on the signs visit https://t.co/dpU7PXw7VH pic.twitter.com/azovnkxVlr
— Cambs police (@CambsCops) May 12, 2019
Luckily, most of the country will enjoy spring-like weather today – the perfect excuse for taking the kids to the local park or just going for a stroll in the sunshine.
If you’re interested in seeing what else is on the agenda for today or fancy hosting your own event next year, visit the National Children’s Day 2019 website for more information.
Cute sisters jump roping at summer neighborhood block party in sunny street
If you’ve got Snapchat, you’ve probably tried the new gender-swap filter craze.
Most of us are having a laugh sending the hilarious or downright upsetting images of ourselves imagined as the opposite gender to our mates and partners.
But one man wanted to use the picture of the female version of himself to bravely trick his girlfriend into thinking he was cheating.
Ryan Hill, from Fife, Scotland, took a selfie with the filter, turning himself into a very convincing looking woman.
When the 22-year-old sent the picture to his girlfriend with the words ‘I have your boyfriend’s t-shirt on’, she was not happy.
Melissa Dunsmore, 19, was furious when she received the picture, failing to spot the resemblance to her boyfriend.
She demanded to know why another woman was wearing his clothes and told him not to bother coming home after work.
When Ryan explained that it was just him as a girl, Melissa was still not impressed with the prank.
Melissa said she wasn’t having any of it and warned him to stay away or risk a punch in the face.
Ryan says he is now suffering ‘major silent treatment’ but this has not stopped him sharing his prank on social media.
He wrote: ‘Snapchat has a filter that makes you look like a girl, so I thought it would be a good idea to wind my girlfriend up and send her this. She didn’t take it well.’
In the image, Ryan can be seen looking like an attractive woman with brunette hair, rosy cheeks, and flawless skin.
But Melissa didn’t appreciate the beauty. She replied to him saying: ‘Are you f****** serious? Don’t even bother coming here after work.
‘Why the f*** has another girl got your t-shirt on? You’re getting blocked.’
Trying to remedy his joke backfiring, Ryan told her: ‘That’s me, you idiot. Am sorry. I was winding you up. It’s a filter. Am being serious.’
Melissa said: ‘Awww aye whatever. F*** off’.
We’re not sure if Ryan and Melissa worked it out but we’re certain other couples will now be trying the prank out.
Boyfriend uses Snapchat filter and pretends to be cheating on his girlfriend
You might have heard it’s the Champions League final in a few weeks and it’a a pretty exciting one with two British teams in the final.
Although he’s a Manchester United fan, one man doesn’t want to miss such a historic match – the only problem is that it’s at the same time as his wedding.
Damien Hyde, 33, is due to tie the knot with his partner of five years Samantha O’Carrol, aged 31, on June 1 – the same day Liverpool go head to head with Tottenham Hotspur.
In a bid to convince Samantha to let him screen the game in the middle of their wedding reception, he’s asking the internet to decide.
He posted a poll on Facebook asking ‘should my mrs allow me to watch the champions league final at wedding venu’.
The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations and contested by top-division European clubs.
And this year these two British teams are set to play each other in Madrid at 8pm – exactly the same time the couple have booked their evening reception for 80 guests.
But when the parents-of-two, a nine-year-old daughter named Chloe and three-year-old daughter called Teagan, booked the date two years ago, Damien ‘never dreamed’ it would be the night that two British football teams would play ‘such an important match’.
Damien said: ‘As soon as I heard that Liverpool and Tottenham were through I knew this was a match that I didn’t want to miss.
‘This is so rare that both teams would be playing against each other, especially as they both had such a come back.
‘And because our wedding reception is at a hotel, they are bound to be playing the match somewhere – and I don’t want people to leave the room to go and watch it.
‘The guests could come along, watch the match and then enjoy the buffet and dancing. It’s no big deal.’
But when Damien suggested to Samantha that a screen be erected at their wedding venue, the Holiday Inn East in Milton Keynes – the response from Samantha was ‘a firm no.’
Damien, who has been engaged to Samantha for two years, said: ‘I don’t see the problem with having a screen at the reception – people will be on their phones anyway trying to watch the match.
‘But Samantha obviously doesn’t agree, so I thought I should make a poll.
‘We’re not rowing about it or anything.
‘It’s just that we have different opinions. I think it’s okay to have a big football match shown on our wedding reception and Samantha doesn’t.
‘If the majority of people agree with me, maybe Samantha might change her mind. She’s not cross about the poll – she thinks it’s funny.’
Groom-to-be launches poll on whether to screen football match at his wedding
ASOS has had some fashion blunders that have tickled its shoppers, most notably the dress that looked like a bin bag.
Now the fashion retailer hasn’t so much amused its fans for its clothing but for a photo shoot of a model eating her dinner on a sunbed.
For reasons unknown to us, the model could be seen sat with a plate of a random assortment of foods such as noodles, baked beans, raw carrots, roast potatoes and a milky cup of tea to wash it all down.
While she showed off a rainbow tassel two-piece, people couldn’t get over the random meal.
The image, shared on ASOS’ Instagram account, amassed hundreds of comments wondering what the reasoning behind the set up was.
Maybe they were trying to be more relatable to the people?
Though none of us are eating noodles and tea, probably.
ASOS captioned the image with: ‘Serving us all the summer energy we need,’ and tagged model Sherrie Silver.
Though the look won tonnes of praise, garnering more than 22,000 likes, it was overshadowed by the focus on the plate.
One person said it could be on Facebook page Rate My Plate. Another wrote: ‘Baked beans with a roast potato and a raw carrot with a milky cup of tea.’
Another asked: ‘Beans and rice and noodles?’ while another wrote: ‘Nice bikini, an interesting collection of food?!’
Others were just confused: ‘Is she having a roast, Chinese or breakfast?’
We don’t know either.
If you were wowed by the bikini more than the food in the image then you can buy it on the ASOS website for £14 and it’s available in different colours.
Asos model shows off bikini but people are more concerned with what's on her plate
Getting on with your in-laws isn’t always easy.
Although you might be madly in love with your partner, it doesn’t mean you always take fondly to their family.
One man though clashed with his in-laws so much, he decided to buy a spider to stop them coming round.
Posting on Reddit, the man said that his in-laws are ‘insufferable.’
He explains: ‘Privacy means nothing to them, and my wife refuses to set boundaries.
‘They will come around every day unannounced to visit my wife/play with our kids. So not only do I never get a break from my mother in laws constant nagging, I have no privacy from them.’
He explained that after he noticed his mother-in-law is arachnophobic (afraid of spiders), he decided to use it to take drastic action.
He said: ‘A few months ago she went crazy after a (wolf?) spider was simply in the corner doing nothing. Panic attack and all.
‘So I got the idea to get a tarantula as a way to prevent her coming so often. It’s in a big enclosure in the living room.
‘Asked wife before hand if it’s okay, but didn’t tell her the motivation. Worked like a charm, the dad still comes but the mother can’t stand to be in the same house as it.’
Posting in the Am I The A*shole subreddit, he wanted to know if he was in the wrong for not telling his wife his true motivations for getting the pet
‘She’s continued to ignore my concerns about boundaries for years, I don’t think I had a choice. Plus the tarantula makes a cool pet,’ he said.
Most people agreed that it was fine because he had asked his wife about getting the spider first and she is aware of her mother’s phobia.
A few even suggested that maybe his wife backed the idea because she’s sick of her parents too but doesn’t want to admit it.
One person said: ‘It makes me think she really does want space from her mom, but doesn’t want the fallout of trying to get it.’
Another added: ‘I’m sure she’s aware of her mother’s arachnophobia and thought she could play dumb and have it be a win-win.’
Midsection Of Person Holding Tarantula
A woman attending her brother’s wedding wasn’t too pleased with the bride’s decision to have a black flower girl.
The racist woman wanted her own daughter to be a flower girl and kept complaining to her sister-in-law that the current flower girl wouldn’t match the wedding due to her hair.
She complained about black hairstyles and said would stand out and yet when it came to the wedding day, she turned up in ‘box braids’.
The bride was shocked and shared an image of the woman on a Facebook wedding shaming group.
She wrote: ‘The night before the wedding, my sister-in-law decides that she’ll do her hair in “box” braids because if the flower girl can, she can too (flower girl was not wearing them).’
The post has now been deleted from the page but not before other followers condemned the woman’s petty actions.
The bride captioned the images from the wedding saying: ‘So when my husband and I got married, my sister-in-law complained about the fact that I was going to have two flower girls.
‘The main problem was that her daughter and herself would not be the centre of attention.
‘She knew the other flower girl was black and kept telling me her hair would not match and would look bad in the photos (this was not in the presence of the little girl, if it was I would’ve ripped her a new one.’
The now-married woman added that she was surprised but glad to see the racist woman’s daughter getting along with the flower girl, saying her mum’s vile thoughts hadn’t rubbed off on the youngster.
She ended the post further highlighting the pettiness.
‘During the reception, she made an announcement that she and her husband would have a wedding next year to celebrate their twelfth anniversary.
‘The funny thing was, as we were planning our wedding, she kept telling us we were wasting our money because big weddings are dumb.
‘Now she’s trying to outspend us.’
She ended with: ‘I’m sure I’ll be sharing photos of her wedding’.
Racist sister-in-law gets box braids to outshine flower girl
Eleanor Hardie, 19, from Ascot, UK, was born with a port wine stain birthmark on her face but says she has never covered it up despite abuse from strangers in the street.
Eleanor was called ‘ugly’ because of her port wine stain by one girl, has since been shouted at when walking down the street on holiday in Croatia with a person driving by shouting, ‘what the f*** is on your face’ and has had people laugh at her on the train.
A port wine stain birthmark is a capillary malformation which is red or purple in colour. Most are permanent and may deepen in colour over time, they usually affect one side of the body and usually appear on the face, chest and back.
Having grown up with people noticing her for her birthmark, Eleanor has learnt to brush off the comments and defiantly never covers up with makeup as she loves her birthmark and is proud of it.
From the ages of six months to 16-years-old Eleanor underwent 24 laser surgeries under general anaesthetic to prevent her birthmark from getting darker or any bigger.
Thanks to her birthmark, Eleanor has been the willing subject for her friend’s art project showcasing different aspects of beauty.
‘When I first started to notice it I mainly just wanted to know why I had it and why it was me that had it and no one else because I’d met very few people with one, especially on their face,’ said Eleanor.
‘My parents always taught me to love and accept it and just to never let it hold me back. I have been having laser treatment since I was a baby and so obviously I didn’t understand when I was really young what it was, but when I did they always said it was my decision and if I wanted to stop I could, and they never wanted to push anything on me.
‘Having treatment helped seeing other people with birthmarks because when I went to hospital, I saw other children with them and then also at the Birthmark Support Group, which is a charity running family days where lots of people with birthmarks would go and it would be quite a fun day out and definitely helped seeing others there, and it really helped with confidence knowing it wasn’t just me.
‘Laser treatment is meant to make the birthmark paler and reduce it from growing and getting darker. I had 24 treatments and because it’s fairly large and goes over my eye they had to do them with general anaesthetic, which I had between the age of six months to about 16 and then I stopped because of GCSEs and A-levels.’
Despite all the treatment, Eleanor said that growing up she didn’t feel different to other people.
‘When I was at primary school kids would ask me what it was but I never really had any issues with it, they would usually just ask what it was and move on.
‘Apart from one time when a girl in the year below said I was ugly with my birthmark and that was sort of the start of me realising that people would be mean and rude about it. Also, because I was young, I never really noticed people staring or making comments when I was out.
‘At secondary school I had no issues with it, and I think because it was an all girls school there wasn’t that pressure of boys or anything and so it was a really good way for me to develop my confidence.
‘It’s mainly when I’m out and in town or something that it’s more of an issue, for instance I was walking down the street with my friend on holiday and someone shouted out of their car at me, 2What the f*** is on your face?”
‘The main issue is actually adults who are ignorant and rude and it was rarely that children actually make comments because usually it’s just out of curiosity and intrigue if children ask or stare at me and if I explain then they just move on and accept it.’
Eleanor went on to talk about how she deals with negative remarks she has received and how she felt when her friend asked her to be the star of her art project.
‘Obviously it’s not nice to receive nasty comments about my birthmark and sometimes it can really affect me like one time I was on the train and saw two girls laughing and pointing at me and I could hear them talking about me and making horrible comments,” she said.
‘However because I’ve grown up with this and always noticed people staring I’ve developed almost a thicker skin and can brush it off quite easily because people can be horrible but if you let it affect you then they’re the ones who are winning and it’s way easier for self-confidence if you just move on.
‘They’re obviously someone who isn’t worth your time if they’re going to be rude.
‘When my friend asked if she could take photos of me I was really flattered because she was basing a large amount of her A-Level around different areas of beauty and the people who aren’t usually shown in the media and so it was getting more awareness out there.
‘It was really nice because she did all my makeup and then presented the whole project really well.’
Not everyone living with a birthmark shares Eleanor’s self-confidence, but she hopes that through sharing her story birthmarks will become normalised in society and will encourage others to be proud of theirs.
‘I think for someone who isn’t quite as confident then they should know that there’s no reason to be because actually it is fairly normal and if one in three babies are born with a birthmark then there’s a lot of people out there with one,” said Eleanor.
‘Also, if it’s because people have been rude and nasty in the past then it’s a lot easier for you to try and move on and be the bigger person because the people who are rude are not worth your time.
‘If more people are confident and show off their birthmark then the more normalised it will become and the more acceptable it will be in the media and mainstream society.
‘I guess the message I want to convey is one of trying to get people to accept their birthmark as much as they can and to try and get people with facial differences in the media more so that it can be normalised, so soon we can be able to see people with birthmark and facial differences in the media more because currently there are very few, perhaps almost none.’
A single mum who has been widowed twice has said that restaurants shouldn’t just allow children to eat for free per each paying adult as she’s the only grown up in the family.
That means Jessica Haslem-Bantoft, from Lancashire, can only get one of her children’s meals for free or at a discounted price but has to pay full price for her other two sons.
The mum-of-three posted on her Facebook blog To Widowhood and Beyond saying she wasn’t outraged by it but it irked her that the meal is only discounted for families with more than one adult.
‘I am a widow. I didn’t choose to be on my own with three children. I just want cheap food dammit,’ she wrote.
‘I can guarantee that money, or lack of it, is a massive reason that more single parents don’t eat out, so why aren’t we helping them to have new experiences?
‘Why are we rewarding families for having both parents but not the ones who have just the one?’ she asked earnestly.
Jessica told Metro.co.uk that restaurants don’t have to make it completely free for all subsequent children but allowing a discounted price would help her out greatly.
‘I think that it’s important for public establishments to be mindful of different types of families as running certain promotions can penalise people based on their circumstances,’ she said.
‘Assuming the “norm” is two parents and two children is ignorant – times have changed and there are 1.7million single-parent families in the UK.
‘Why should we be excluded from enjoying the same perks as two-parent families?
‘Few people choose to raise children alone, but it is still nice to enjoy the same things as other families, for example eating out or having days out.’
Jessica has been widowed twice when her first husband was electrocuted at work while she was pregnant with their third child.
She then met another partner, husband Tom who died of cancer in 2018.
For the past few years, she has been raising sons Toby, George, and Barnaby on her own. That means being their sole financial provider.
So she wanted to share a message to restaurant owners to help make her life a little easier.
She said: ‘This is aimed at all the chains that run promotions which require adults to eat to get free food for the kids…my husbands would have joined me…but their appetites aren’t what they used to be!’
Single widowed mum says restaurants that allow kids to eat free with every paying adult are unfair
It might not quite feel like it but summer is almost here.
And when the sunshine hits and the kids finished school, you want to be prepared.
This bargain from Lidl looks like an amazing way to keep everyone cool and entertained.
The Playtive Junior Kids’ Adventure Paddling Pool comes complete with slide, games and other fun activities to keep the kids occupied.
There’s two types – a jungle theme and a pirate theme.
The jungle version includes a slide, a hoop game, a ball game, and a snake archway.
The pirate ship version has a water sprayer, a steering wheel, cannon balls and inflatable swords.
Both come with safety valves for easy inflating and deflating and a repair patch in case of any punctures.
The jungle version is 2.97m long and the pirate ship is 3.4m so plenty of room to splash around.
You can pick up both paddling pools from next Sunday 19 May.
There’s also a 6.15m water slide in the same themes that you can connect up to your garden hose.
And there’s a foot pump for £5.99 to take the effort out of inflating it.
If you’re looking for a more basic paddling pool, or maybe just a kid-free one, you can also pick up this rectangular pool for £13.99 from Lidl.
It comes with a cup holder so perfect for sitting back and relaxing with a cocktail this summer.
Now we just need some of that sunshine…
Lidl is selling an amazing jungle or pirate ship adventure paddling pool for ?35