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- 05/29/19--07:48: _Labrador who took i...
- 05/29/19--08:25: _You can strip off w...
- 05/29/19--09:09: _‘Love Island The Ex...
- 05/29/19--09:09: _Someone dyed the vo...
- 05/29/19--09:11: _Tesco has made its ...
- 05/29/19--10:01: _Photographers revea...
- 05/29/19--10:28: _Mum says this 17p c...
- 05/29/19--22:20: _Eight signs your pa...
- 05/29/19--22:30: _Why governments con...
- 05/29/19--23:46: _The best bathroom s...
- 05/29/19--23:55: _Fenty praised for n...
- 05/30/19--00:00: _Muslims Who Fast: S...
- 05/30/19--00:01: _My Label and Me: I ...
- 05/30/19--00:30: _Living with MS: Yes...
- 05/30/19--00:32: _Ultra-processed foo...
- 05/30/19--00:33: _Thousands of Amazon...
- 05/30/19--01:30: _When to stay friend...
- 05/30/19--01:33: _Where to enjoy a be...
- 05/30/19--01:40: _Cutting out meds, r...
- 05/30/19--02:01: _How I Save: The 33-...
- 05/29/19--09:09: Someone dyed the vomiting emoji on their hair
- 05/29/19--22:20: Eight signs your partner is cheating on you
- 05/29/19--22:30: Why governments continuing to clamp down on porn will never work
- 05/29/19--23:46: The best bathroom selfie spots in London
- 05/30/19--00:32: Ultra-processed food is linked to ‘early death’
- 05/30/19--01:30: When to stay friends with your ex’s mates and when to walk away
- 05/30/19--01:33: Where to enjoy a beach escape in the UK this summer
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Fred is a very good boy.
Last year, the golden labrador decided to become a stand-in parent for nine ducklings after their mother disappeared without a trace (it was suspected that she was attacked by a fox).
After his new-found fuzzy kids grew up and flew the coup, Fred stumbled across a second set of ducklings who needed his help.
The six birds were abandoned by their mother, a Muscovy duck, who walked off with six of their siblings.
That’s when Fred bravely stepped up, once again.
The 11-year-old dog noticed the ducklings huddled together and laid down next to them to keep them warm and safe.
Soon enough, the ducklings started to climb on top of his back and one brave bird even took a seat on Fred’s head.
‘He took to his role like a duck to water,’ said Jeremy Goldsmith, director of Mountfitchet Castle near Stansted, Essex, where Fred is the resident pet.
‘Fred has got an absolutely wonderful nature. They absolutely love him.’
‘Fred indicated straight away that there would be no ducking out of his duties as he settled in around them,’ said Jeremy.
‘Within minutes the ducklings accepted their odd looking new mum and were climbing all over him.’
Hopefully the ducklings’ mother will return soon to look after her young, but until then, Fred’s got them covered.
Such a good boy.
Fred the Labrador
Ever thought your pint would taste a lot nicer without the tight shirt round your neck or straining waistband on your trousers?
Well, now you can enjoy your drink completely naked.
Yes, London’s first official nudist pub is here.
The Coach and Horses in Soho is the first to be granted a licence to allow both customers and staff to strip off.
The pub has quite a history (it was opened in 1847) but they’ve been pushing forward with innovative ideas to keep people coming back.
Landlord Alistair Choat said they have been fighting to remain independent in recent years, even launching a petition to try to stop big chains taking over.
It was the first vegetarian pub in London and now they want to attract people who enjoy drinking in the nude too.
Please don’t just turn up without any clothes on though – nudity needs to be pre-arranged and consensual and will only be allowed on specific occasions.
Alistair told CNN Travel that they are hoping to plan their first date in June.
To celebrate, they’ve also launched a nude charity calendar featuring some of their regulars in the buff.
The Beauty and the Beasts of Soho calendar costs £20, with funds going to homelessness charity St Mungo’s.
Alastair Choat, independent landlord at the Coach and Horses said: ‘We were the first vegetarian pub in London and now we’re the first pub with a nudist licence.
‘Making the calendar has been great fun and all proceeds after cost will go towards our local charity, St Mungo’s.
‘We had to turn lots of people down due to the limitations of a calendar. However, it was a tough call so the calendar actually runs for 16 months not 12.
‘That’s four free months! At the heart of it the Coach is a community pub and this is just another example of creating new experiences for people.’
London pub is first to get a nudist license
Love Island is just a few days away.
If you applied for this year’s round but didn’t make it, or are just a massive fan of the show, we’ve got good news.
ITV and The Luna Cinema have just announced ‘Love Island The Experience’, a project that will see Madeira Drive on Brighton Beach and Chavasse Park in Liverpool One transformed into mini-villas.
In other words, put on your best swimwear, get some Love Island merchandise (the water bottle, of course) and get flirting.
Each site will mirror the setting you see on the show, with huge outdoor LED screens so you can watch the show at the same time, of course.
There are plenty of photo opportunities for the ‘Gram around the fire pit, the infamous bedroom and the Beach Hut diary room.
Guests can also pose with a giant replica of the aforementioned Love Island water bottle, before grabbing a drink at the Love Island cocktail bar.
What’s more, islanders who are booted off the show will also swing by on occasion for exclusive guest appearances.
‘Love Island continues to grow in popularity year on year and we’re delighted to be working with The Luna Cinema to create a brand-new event for fans this summer,’ said James Penfold, controller of partnerships at ITV.
‘Love Island The Experience will offer audiences the chance to engage with the show in a whole new way, with sharable photo backdrops, guest appearances and of course live screenings on a giant screen, all coming to two fantastic locations in Brighton and Liverpool.’
The event will be held in Brighton from 19 July until 29 July and in Liverpool from 23 July until 29 July.
‘Love Island has amassed an enormous cult following in recent years, and so we feel makes the perfect subject for a live event experience, where fans of the show can gather to not only enjoy the live episodes surrounded by like-minded people, but also get unique photo ops, sharable moments and really immerse themselves in the world of the villa,’ said George Wood, founder of The Luna Cinema.
Ticket prices start from £14.50.
A hair stylist has created the vomiting emoji on his client’s head, and it’s racking up thousands of likes on Instagram.
Melbourne-based hair artist Michael O’Halloran created the look after being inspired by another hair stylist, who mastered ’emoji hair’ a few years ago.
Michael has since been experimenting with painting emojis into hair, and recently he created the vomit emoji look, with rainbow-hair vomit.
He created the style on his friend Evan Fowler, who, while he doesn’t usually have his hair coloured, gets it shaved every couple of weeks – therefore he didn’t have to keep the style for very long.
Evan recently grew a mullet, and while he and Michael were taking photos of some wigs on models, they put ‘two and two together’ and decided that the mullet part of Evan’s hair would make a ‘beautiful 3-dimensional vomit like the emoji had eaten too many Skittles’.
The style features a yellow emoji painted onto Evan’s shaved head, with a frowning expression, vomiting onto rainbow hair.
Michael told Allure that he used a stencil to print the emoji and to make sure the placement of the head was in the right position, before using small nail brushes for the smaller details.
He said: ‘We had to pre-lighten the hair for an hour to get it nice and bright for the rainbow — I used both Manic Panic classic and Professional to achieve it.
‘Evan was very happy with the design and we’ve already planned the next emoji to go on his head.’
Michael shared the finished look onto his Instagram and it received more than 7,000 likes and loads of comments from people obsessed with the look, calling him ‘amazing’ and a ‘genius’.
He also posted a how-to video to show how he achieved the look.
Honestly, we’re not sure we’re brave enough to get an emoji inked onto our heads, but we commend Evan for totally committing to the process – and Michael for mastering it.
Vomiting emoji hair
Attention, halloumi fans: Tesco is now selling halloumi fries!
The supermarket tends to sell the halloumi fries at Christnas, but the store has decided to add them to its shelves full-time.
Kevs Snack Reviews recently shared a photo of the fries to its Instagram page, and it’s had over 700 likes already.
The halloumi fries come in packs of eight and need to be cooked for 10-12 minutes from chilled.
They’ve proved so popular that they’re already sold out online, so you’ll have to run down to your local store to get your hands on some (if there’s any left, that is).
Tesco says: ‘The halloumi fries were originally released for Christmas last year, and now have been repackaged to add to the permanent range at Tesco.’
According to the supermarket, the fries are made using medium fat hard cheese made with pasteurised cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk, and come coated in breadcrumbs.
Tesco isn’t the only store to launch halloumi fries. Aldi jumped on the trend last month.
Aldi’s Specially Selected Golden & Crispy Specially Selected Halloumi Fries were first launched back in May 2018, after the supermarket spotted how popular they were in Nando’s. They were selling for £1.99.
And now the store has relaunched them at a slightly higher proce of £2.29, and they can now be found down the frozen foods aisle.
Aldi says: ‘Inspired by a similar offering from popular Portuguese chicken eatery, Nando’s; Aldi’s Specially Selected Haloumi Fries are made with scrumptiously soft – and salty – halloumi cheese from Cyprus and a lightly seasoned crispy coating making them the perfect side or snack for sharing.
‘So, get the sauce ready, start dipping and say hallou to halloumi heaven!’
tesco halloumi fries
For most of us wildlife photography doesn’t go much further than snapping a cute picture of our cat.
But these pictures show some of the best photographs of wild animals across the world – and now the photographers have revealed how they took them for a book.
The Natural History Museum, London’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the most prestigious event of its kind in the world.
First awarded in 1964, there have been thousands of entries and each year a panel of judges chooses 100 winners.
Last year, there were over 40,000 photographs entered into the competition.
Now the people behind the award have put together a book showing some of the best photographs from across the years. Each photograph was either a winner or a specially commended image.
They have been taken by more than 50 award-winning photographers worldwide representing more than 20 countries.
Each photograph in the book comes with the story of how it was taken and why it is so important.
These are some of the images featured in the book:
Vole in a Hole – Danny Green
‘The drainage pipe seemed the perfect vole-sized hole, but it took the photographer very many days camped on the opposite side of the canal before he saw a water vole that thought the same.
‘The canal in Derbyshire is disused, but has banks ideal for these large voles: steep but easy to burrow into, not overly shaded and with a rich mix of succulent grasses, sedges and flowering plants, together with aquatic plants, providing plentiful cover and food – and relatively shallow, still water to dive into as an escape route.
‘It was the perfect urban refuge. The only problem was a risk of burrows flooding when it rained heavily.
‘Water voles might favour living beside water, at least in England, and can swim, but they are not aquatic rodents.
‘They don’t have webbed feet, and their fur becomes waterlogged if they are forced to remain in the water for long.
‘Luckily for this population, the council lowers the water table if flooding is anticipated, not wanting the canal to overflow.
‘Elsewhere in Britain, however, the threats are great.
‘Rather than flooding, it is wetland drainage, dredging, river and stream canalization and the extension of arable cultivation and livestock grazing right to the river edge that have caused water voles to vanish from nearly 90 per cent of their former range – the most dramatic decline of any British mammal.
‘It’s a situation that has been compounded by predation by feral North American mink, which being semi-aquatic can catch voles if they try to escape into the water and, in the case of the smaller females, can even squeeze into their burrows.
‘So the water vole featured in this prize-winning portrait represents one of the few lucky populations in the UK, its canal site now protected as part of a reserve.’
Swish Mover – Tim Laman
‘This portrait of a male twelve-wired bird of paradise shows him not at his most spectacularly beautiful, but at the pinnacle of his spectacular performance, posed at the top of his dance pole, with the object of his desire in the frame.
‘With his back to the discerning female, he is mesmerizing her not just by the vivid yellow of his plumage but by swishing her face with the 12 wires that extend from the tips of his flank plumes.
‘He has already attracted her to the pole with singing and a full‑frontal display, exposing the metallic glint of his breast feathers and the startling emerald‑green of the inside of his beak. Now he is at the intimate stage, which may or may not result in her allowing him to mate with her – a brief affair, after which their liaison will end. It all hinges on her judgement of his fitness.
‘The pole itself is a tall dead tree in swamp forest on the island of New Guinea, which the male attends at dawn.
‘So to get the shot, the photographer also had to be in position before dawn in a tree at the same height as the dance pole, then wait in a hide, and repeat the process for however long it would take for the finale of the display to materialize – seven days, as it happened.
The extraordinary yellow of the male’s feathers needs to be topped up by eating certain types of fruit to keep the feathers from fading to white.
‘And the display itself needs to be practised and performed regularly if the male is to outperform his rivals, only possible because the forest provides plentiful, easily accessible fruit, leaving him with the time and energy to perfect his routine.
‘That this female finally chose him to mate with means that her sons should inherit his winning looks and energetic persistence and that her daughters should have her good taste in fit males.’
The Odd Couple – Mac Stone
‘To get going in the morning, reptiles need a sun boost. Good basking spots are in high demand, which can mean crowding up with others – or even risking sharing with a sunbather capable of eating you.
‘Here, in a blackwater creek in South Carolina’s Four Holes Swamp, a large female yellow‑bellied slider shares a cypress log with an American alligator.
‘It was a portrait that took time to set up. It involved finding a location with a log big enough for several animals to bask on and then mounting a camera on the log, timed to take a picture every 10 minutes.
‘It also relied on solitude, as the skittish sliders would slide into the water at the slightest unusual sound.
‘Warming-up took place in the morning, presumably to help the reptiles get moving after a cold night in the water, but warmth is also important for digestion and, in the case of a female terrapin like this one, for egg development – worth the risk of cohabiting on a log with a predator.
‘Alligators will eat sliders, especially the young ones, and a big alligator is capable of crunching even a big female.
‘But in a swamp rich in alternative alligator prey such as fish, crayfish and amphibians, the two species can live side by side.’
The Lichen Look – Pete Oxford
‘Sporting camouflage accessories, including lichen-like encrustations and moss‑like crinkled antennae, a male katydid poses on a twig that matches his ensemble perfectly.
‘Such exquisite camouflage means that only the most dedicated of nature photographers could locate it for portraiture.
‘The species is one of hundreds of katydids (bush crickets) to be found in the forests of South America.
‘This one is in Ecuador, in a cloud forest on the western slopes of the Andes. Most katydid species are expertly camouflaged among vegetation to avoid the multitude of predators, and many of them have yet to be identified.
‘The male here not only matches the colours of his background, but he has body parts masquerading as elements of moss and lichen that disrupt his outline.
‘He has also expertly positioned himself to perfect the disguise.
‘To find a female for procreation, a male needs to call her in, but to avoid detection by daytime predators, this katydid sings at night.
‘By rubbing together his forewings (one equipped with a scraper and the other a file) he can produce a range of captivating vibrations, with frequencies that can even extend into ultrasound – another way to try to avoid detection.
‘In the equatorial forests of Ecuador there are no seasons, and mating can occur year round.
‘But as typical weather in the Andes can involve prolonged cloud cover and frequent rain, the equatorial advantages are offset by the inevitable drop in night-time temperatures, which quickly cool a katydid’s ardour.
‘The big disadvantage of a hide-and‑seek lifestyle is, however, its extreme specialization.
‘Such niche-specific camouflage limits the places where these katydids can live. Also, if the humidity necessary for a rich moss and lichen fauna should decrease with a changing climate, these insects could be left high and dry.’
The Greeting – Karl Ammann
‘This is an intimate portrait of a reticulated giraffe calf, just a few weeks old, being greeted by, most probably, an aunt as its mother introduces it to the family herd in Samburu National Reserve, northern Kenya.
‘The aunt nuzzles it and rubs it with her head. Other females and young giraffes have also gathered to make its acquaintance.
‘The calf’s mother gave birth in a patch of savannah woodland not far from the group but with enough cover to keep the calf hidden while she moved away to feed.
‘In dappled light, the calf’s reticulated pattern – paler than an adult’s – will have helped hide it from lions and other predators.
‘And predators are the main reason that more than half of giraffe calves never reach adulthood.
‘When the mother gave birth, she was standing up. Having survived the long drop, the calf would, within 30 minutes, have been standing up, too, and suckling.
‘Already more than 1.8 metres (6 feet) tall, it will double its height in just a year and will continue growing until it’s at least four years old, reaching a height of more than 5 metres (16 feet 5 inches) if a male and more than 4 metres (13 feet) if a female – giraffes are the world’s tallest land mammals.
‘The calf’s tiny, tufted horns lie flat against its head but will slowly stand up as bone replaces cartilage.
‘It is art of a herd of females and young that are a sub-unit of a much larger community of groups spread out over a large range.
‘Young males form bachelor groups, but adult males tend to be solitary.
‘When they join the females, it will usually be to mate, but among each other, they will spar, using their long necks as weapons. Like elephants, giraffes use infrasound (low‑level sound beyond human hearing) to communicate, possibly keeping track of each other over large distances and at night.
‘It’s a connected community that the calf will be part of for life.’
Desert Striker – Thomas Dressler
‘Displayed in a characteristic S-shaped ambush posture, a Peringuey’s adder wriggles down into the sand.
‘A second longer, and only its eyes and the tip of its tail will be exposed.
‘Discovered by the photographer, hunting on the slip‑face of a dune in Namibia’s Namib Desert, it has chosen to submerge itself for safety but also in anticipation of prey.
‘With nostrils and eyes on top of its head – rather than at the side, as is usual in snakes – it can see and breathe while remaining hidden, and by bringing its tail close to its head, the tail tip can be wriggled like an emerging grub to bring a hunting lizard or a gecko within striking distance.
‘Not all desert adders have black tail tips, but a buff-coloured one seems to work just as well as a lure.
‘Depending on the season and temperature, the adder hunts on the surface by day as well as night, using a sidewinding technique that allows it to move surprisingly fast with, at any one moment, only part of its body in contact with the hot sand.
‘Its prey is mainly diurnal sand lizards and nocturnal geckos, from which it obtains food and moisture.
‘But like many animals and plants of the Namib, the snake’s survival is partly dependent on the fog that most nights rolls from the sea and over the dunes.
‘It also has a technique to catch the moisture, used especially in the hot summer.
‘At dawn, as the fog rolls in, it flattens its now cold body against the sand, increasing the surface area for condensation.
‘It then licks the droplets off its body, periodically raising its head to swallow the water – a drinking habit made possible only in the coastal strip of the Namib, where hot air from the desert meets cold air from the sea.’
Good Friends – Edwin Giesbers
‘This is a portrait of male and female friends, relaxing after lunch – and also of character.
‘The female (left) with the luxurious beard has furrowed her brows, giving a warning stare to someone not to violate her personal space.
‘Both express attitude. Both also have official names – as had the macaque commemorated on the plaque behind – given to them (along with microchips) by their government carers and to all of the 200 or so Barbary macaques living on the rock of Gibraltar, a British protectorate in the Mediterranean.
‘Gibraltar is the only place in Europe with free‑living monkeys – five troops of them in the Gibraltar Nature Reserve.
‘Their foraging is supplemented daily with fresh water, vegetables, fruit and seeds to manage their diet and to try to prevent them descending into town and stealing from tourists, who despite fines and warnings that macaques bite, still try to feed them.
‘Gibraltar’s macaques are related to both Moroccan and Algerian Barbary macaques, isolated and declining populations of which still exist mainly in the mountainous and forested regions of North Africa.
‘Macaques were possibly first brought to Gibraltar as pets by the ‘Moors’ (people of North African Berber and Arab descent) who invaded Iberia.
‘When most of Gibraltar’s monkeys died in an epidemic in the 1900s, more macaques were brought in from North Africa.
‘Barbary macaques live in mixed groups, and though males are bigger and more dominant, females still hold social power.
‘Their young take on the social status of their mother – though depending on their personalities, that status can change.
‘Males are also unusual among species of macaques in their interest in babies – indeed using them as social currency, even to diffuse conflicts.
‘The theory is that, as females are promiscuous, the males have no idea which are their offspring – their genetic inheritance – and so it pays to be nice to all babies, and exhibiting a caring nature might also gain them mating privileges with the mothers.’
The Watchful Pelican – Helmut Moik
‘With an almost human eye and pose, a head decked in finery, and a wing cloak of feathers masking its face, this remains an enigmatic portrait, even when given a name.
‘Without a glimpse of the beak –among the world’s biggest –it is hard to visualize this as a Dalmatian pelican, even though the waved silver-white feathers on its forehead and flamboyantly loose plumes on its head could belong to no other species.
‘Photographed at dawn, on an island in Romania’s Danube Delta, the bird is still in its sleeping position, with its head rotated 180 degrees and its beak resting on its back, buried in feathers.
‘Notoriously shy, Dalmatian pelicans are easily disturbed, and so it was necessary for the photographer to enter his hide before sunrise and wait for dawn.
‘The island and the marsh vegetation offer safety from predators, both for nesting –this population of pelicans migrates from the Mediterranean region to eastern Europe specifically to breed –and for sleeping.
‘But like many birds, a pelican sleeps with one eye open and only half its brain resting, and then only in snatches, adjusting how much of its brain is asleep by how open its eye is.
‘Its bill, with its huge pouch of skin, is a marvellous tool, not only for scooping up fish and holding a catch, but also for evaporation-cooling when it exposes and flutters the skin.
‘But on cold nights, with such a large area for heat loss, a huge beak can be a handicap –the reason for burying it in the feathers of its backrest, as the pelican inhales air warmed by its own body heat.
‘With that in mind, this image of a Dalmatian pelican could be said to be a most thought‑provoking portrait of Europe’s biggest fishing bird.’
Little Watcher – Cyril Ruoso
‘The photographer couldn’t have asked for a more perfect pose or a more photogenic sitter.
‘Though it was a cold, overcast morning in China’s Qinling Mountains, with frost on the ground under the forest canopy, the soft light was perfect for photography.
‘And for the young monkey, the fascination of the bipedal primate and his tripod and lens on a facing slope was irresistible.
‘Having left the warmth of its mother, it sat where it had the best view, perfectly balanced, tucking in its feet and hands for warmth.
‘The youngster was the photographer’s favourite in the troop of Qinling golden snub-nosed monkeys he was following.
‘Ever playful, this monkey was bolder than most, climbing up high, trapeze-swinging from branches or teasing its playmates, and if it felt the need of comfort, taking a hug from other troop members, who are highly protective.
‘Though the monkeys occasionally come to the ground, they mostly feed in the trees, on leaves, bark, buds and lichen –so little ones need to learn to be agile. For the smallest there is a risk of a swooping goshawk or, more rarely, a golden eagle. But the real danger for all races of snub‑nosed monkeys is deforestation, the spread of the human population and, in the past, hunting.
‘In the last millennium, golden snub‑nosed monkeys occurred in both lowland and upland areas across eastern, central and southern China. But today,fewer than 4,000 individuals remain, confined to a series of nature reserves in southern Shaanxi province.’
The Art of Relaxation – Jasper Doest
‘Though just a portion of the face is revealed and the subject’s eyes are closed, this is a portrait which encapsulates pure relaxation.
‘That we can interpret this is because the subject is a fellow primate, and we are attuned to the tiniest signals in a face so similar to our own. Indeed, the eyes rolled back under the translucent lids suggests a state of dreaming.
‘The dozing individual is a young Japanese macaque, once considered by the Japanese as a sacred mediator between humans and the gods.
‘Today it is a protected species, though its fate is mixed. In some places it is indulged, but elsewhere it is persecuted as a pest.
‘Here the youngster is with its large extended family group, soaking and socializing in a hot-spring pool – the famous Jigokudani monkey ‘hot tub’ in the volcanic mountains of Joshin’etsu‑kogen National Park, on the main island of Honshu.
‘The local Japanese macaques have been coming here to relax and warm up every winter since the 1960s, when a bold female, presumably having observed the pleasure exhibited by humans bathing in the pool, took advantage of the hot spring, and then brought her relatives.
‘Today the pool is kept just for the macaques, and in winter, a stream of them come to warm up, observed and photographed by a gaggle of human onlookers.
‘Now that the owners of the site put out food for them, the macaques come all year.
‘But on this occasion, it was winter. There had been a blizzard earlier, and the snow that had gathered on the youngster’s thick winter fur had melted into water drops.
‘Showing no fear of the nearby human presence, it had fallen asleep in front of the photographer, accompanied in the pool by 25 or more sleeping adults – a scene of pure tranquillity.’
A very sensitive beast – Larry Lynch
‘It was big, very big, and very full. Judging by its size –more than 3 metres (10 feet) – this American alligator was a male.
‘It had been gorging on fish trapped in pools as the river, in Florida’s Myakka River State Park, dried up.
‘Knowing that the giant was satiated and not about to move, the photographer set up his tripod at a respectful distance and waited until dusk.
‘Using flash at the lowest setting, he focused on the reptile’s eyes –the defining touch to a portrait of a nocturnal hunter.
‘Alligators are opportunistic freshwater predators.Their main prey is fish, along with turtles, snakes and small mammals, and they tend to hunt mostly at night, especially in the heat of summer.
‘That their eyes shine red is the result of light bouncing off the tapetum –a reflector system at the back of the eye –and back through the eye’s photo-receptor layer, enhancing the alligator’s ability to see in dim light.
‘The tapetum also adapts to the amount of light,depending on the time of day. That an alligator can find its way around in the dark and under water is partly due to another adaptation: multi‑sensory organs on the skin of its head and especially around the eyes and jaws, which give it a pressure sensitivity more acute than that of human fingertips.
‘This allows it to sense pressure waves caused by the smallest water movements and to help it detect prey in the dark. The ones around the mouth and teeth are also presumed to help it identify prey.
‘Despite its thick armour of scales and its sluggish looks, it therefore appears that southeastern USA’s biggest land predator is, when it comes to vision and touch, a very sensitive beast.’
Close Encounter – Tony Wu
‘This is a portrait of Scar, an unusually friendly sperm whale. His forehead appears enormous and is.
‘A sperm whale’s head, at nearly a third of its body length, contains both the world’s largest brain and the spermaceti organ, a huge waxy-liquid-filled cavity that could function either as a buoyancy-control device for deep dives in search of squid and fish or as part of its sonar-like echolocation system – or both.
‘When this portrait was taken, Scar was still a teenager – less than 15 years old – and little more than half his potential size of more than 18 metres (59 feet) long.
‘He also appears large because he is close to the photographer, having charged up to him, wanting to be rubbed. Scar has always been friendly.
‘He was born off Dominica in the Caribbean into a family group that has been studied by whale researchers since 2005.
‘It was after an attack by pilot whales that he first approached a boat, perhaps seeking comfort, having been gashed on his head and dorsal fin, the scars from which would give him his name.
‘He seemed to enjoy the contact with the couple sailing the boat, developing such a trust of humans that he would approach divers, inviting contact.
‘Scar left his natal unit not long after this picture was taken in 2010, and he will probably not be seen at the breeding grounds until he is in his late 20s.
‘But like elephants, sperm whales form lifelong relationships, and they communicate in their clan dialects over great distances.
‘Indeed, they live in a world of sound communication. And given that sperm whales are now seldom hunted, Scar may well be living in this world when he is 80 or 100 years old.’
Snowy Landing – Vincent Munier
‘Huge wings sweep around, feathers splayed, as a snowy owl prepares to touch down. Set against a snow‑grey sky, the owl displays both its precision‑landing technique and its grappling-hook talons.
‘The winter setting is typical – snow-covered tundra‑like grassland – but this is not the Arctic, rather a windswept prairie in Quebec, Canada, where the owl has set up a temporary hunting territory.
‘This is a young female – larger than a male and distinguished by her heavily barred plumage.
‘She has moved south of the Arctic Circle in search of ground with a snow depth of 30 centimetres (12 inches) or less, which she can pounce through.
‘With layers of feathers, including an undercoat of down, and thickly feathered feet, her plumage gives her insulation equivalent to that of an Arctic fox.
‘And being large – the snowy owl is North America’s heaviest owl, standing more than 60 centimetres (2 feet) tall – her reduced ratio of surface area to body size also helps her conserve heat.
‘Though she can catch prey as large as a hare or a sea duck, her normal diet is small rodents, mainly lemmings.
‘Lying on the snow, the photographer has been watching her use her sit‑and‑wait hunting technique, swivelling her head to scan the surroundings, listening with her acute hearing for rodents scurrying under the snow, then gliding and pouncing.
‘If the snow becomes too deep or the icy crust too thick to break through, she might prospect for hunting grounds farther south, returning north in spring to the Arctic Circle and increasing hours of daylight hunting.’
Cool Cat – Isak Pretorius
‘A head-on penetrating stare – the classic portrait of a predator. But the eye-level view and the frame of lush greenery makes this image uncomfortably different – as if the lion has been unexpectedly found drinking from a pond at the bottom of the garden.
‘The waterhole is, of course, in Africa, in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, and the photographer achieved his shot by anticipating that, after sleeping off a night feast of a buffalo kill, the lioness would need to drink, and he knew just where she would go.
‘So though there was an element of luck in being able to see the precise point where she emerged through the rainy-season grass, there was nothing lucky about the composition or the timing – catching both her forward glance and her lapping tongue.
‘The low angle was achieved by using a long lens from a vehicle positioned on the opposite side of the waterhole, making use of the early morning light to bring out the rich colours.
‘The result is a strikingly original portrait of one of the most photographed of all African animals.’
The Hunter – Konrad Wothe
‘Leopards are among the most popular portrait subjects for photographers. But since leopards normally sleep during the day, most portraits show them reclining, usually draped over a branch.
‘Rarely does a portrait reveal the fluid grace of a leopard in motion. To create such a shot required planning. The photographer stayed for more than a week in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and got to know the leopard’s hunting area and where she was likely to rest.
‘He also knew that she would climb down from her sleeping tree at dusk to begin hunting. This was in the days of film, the 1990s, when a picture could be taken after sundown only with the use of a low speed and a wide aperture to capture the last of the light.
‘Working with rather than against the inevitable grain that would result, the photographer enhanced the sense of movement by panning the camera along with the stride of the leopard, keeping the focus on her eye.
‘The result was a painterly representation and a prize‑winning picture that has stood the test of time.’
We love a cleaning hack – anything to make those tough jobs a little easier, without blowing the budget.
One mum discovered a really cheap way of getting greasy stains out of her kid’s clothes – something that is usually quite difficult.
Now, coming home covered in oily marks doesn’t mean you have to throw things away.
Clare Hen posted on the Cleaning Hacks Facebook group about how she used cheap coca cola to make her son’s hoody look good as new.
She explained: ‘My son was helping his dad change the clutch on a car at the weekend and got a fairly new jacket covered in grease. I’ve read a lot of times about coke getting rid of oil on driveways etc so I thought I’d try it on his jacket.
‘I put it in a bucket with two bottles of 17p Asda cola and soaked it overnight then put it in the washing machine on a normal cycle. It’s come up as good as new. Well chuffed.’
She posted a series of pictures showing how the hoody went from being covered in dark stains to completely clean as it dried on the washing line.
Apparently the carbonic and phosphoric acid in the drink helps to break down grease in the wash.
People were impressed with the hack and how easy it was.
One said: ‘Wow, I had never heard of that before, but thanks!!!’
Others tagged friends, encouraging them to take note of the tip.
Clare said she used the cheap cola to keep costs down but you could use whatever type you have if you don’t want to buy more.
You might even have enough left to sit back with a nice drink while you wait for the hack to work its magic.
Mum\'s 17p coke cleaning hack gets greasey stains out of clothes
There are no two ways about it: Being cheated on sucks.
But sometimes, you can have suspicions about being cheated on without actually knowing whether it’s even happening or not.
Asking your partner whether they’re cheating on you is a difficult thing to do – and so is identifying whether it’s something you need to bring up or not.
We spoke to Celia Schweyer, a dating and relationships expert at DatingScout, about the signs you should look out for if you think your partner is cheating on you.
It turns out there are lots of signs that you might not have thought to look for.
Below are eight signs that your partner could quite possibly be cheating on you.
You suddenly can’t contact them
When your partner’s job makes it hard for you to contact them, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are cheating on you.
However, it can be a clear sign that your partner may be cheating on you if they suddenly can’t be reached, and you have had no trouble doing that before. If the problem persists, it may be time to take some action.
Connection and intimacy start to fade
Celia says: ‘Intimacy and proper connection are some of the factors that determine strong relationships.
‘Once you feel like they are slowly building a wall between the two of you, you need to start finding out what’s happening.
‘It often begins with lesser communication, unwillingness to go on dates, feeling easily irritated when you’re initiating sweet gestures. They might have shifted their focus and have found someone who they can be more intimate with than you.’
Your sex life has either increased or decreased
Has your sex life drastically changed? Perhaps you’re having way more or way less sex? If so, this could be a red flag.
Sure, a lack of sex can signal there’s something wrong – as a lower libido could mean they’re getting it somewhere else.
But Celia suggested more sex could be a bad sign too – as sometimes people can be filled with so much guilt that they try to ‘make up’ for their cheating by being more active in your bed.
They keep their phones within reach at ALL times
Another sign there could be something going on is if your partner suddenly starts guarding their phone all the time.
Maybe they tense up when their phone vibrates or they take their calls away from you.
There are even more subtle signs, such as reading a message but not replying to it until you’re no longer around.
They become more secretive
Phone calls aren’t the only thing they’re secretive about. Other red flags could be if they’ve suddenly stopped letting you touch their phone, or if they’ve changed their passcode to something you don’t know, when they were happy to tell you it before.
They may also change their passwords to other things such as their laptops and social media accounts. Or, they may create a whole new social media account entirely without you knowing.
You no longer go on dates together
Celia tells us: ‘You’ll know they’re still in love with you when they always make time for romantic dates. No one is ever “too busy” to go spend time with someone they love unless they have fallen out of love or have found someone else.
‘The moment they start making excuses whenever you ask them for a quality time together, something is probably wrong.’
Rumours are going around about your relationship
Rumours can be just that: rumours. But sometimes there is a little truth in them. If your friends have started talking, telling you there’s something going on, or if they’ve heard things about your partner doing things they’re not supposed to, don’t just ignore them. Speak to your partner about this. Don’t just brush them off as rumours, because often your friends have your best interests at heart.
They make an effort to look their best when you’re not around
Couples, especially the ones who have been together for quite a while, are already comfortable with each other to the point that is sometimes looking their absolute best is not required anymore.
If you already have reached that point in your relationship, and your partner suddenly ‘goes out with his friends’ wearing the most fragrant perfume they have, or when there’s a sudden change in their lifestyle and the way they clothe themselves, then it might be that there’s someone else they want to impress.
Of course, experiencing just one of these signs doesn’t mean your partner is cheating. But if all of them or at least a few are happening, you might want to sit your partner down and talk about what’s going on. Identifying a cheater isn’t as easy as simply catching them in the act – but if you have your suspicions, it’s important that you confront them.
Remember that you deserve someone who is honest with you. Someone who respects you. And most importantly, someone who loves you, and would never hurt you.
And if your partner isn’t doing these things for you, then it might be time to call it quits.
ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Don’t do it! XX people share their horrifying and cautionary stories of sex with their ex (Bibi Lynch)
Forget Incognito mode or deleting your browser history – in a few weeks time your viewing habits and your name will be on record. From 15 July 2019, all online pornographic content will be mediated via age-verification, and the delayed UK ‘porn ban’ comes into effect. This is the first intervention of this nature in the world.
The ban comes as part of the UK Government’s Digital Economy Act, and has been proposed as a means of preventing children from accessing and being harmed by the viewing of explicit content. Proponents have said they want the UK to be the safest place in the world for young people to be online.
In practical terms, this means that any viewer who wants to watch porn online will have to prove their age first. Though this will be monitored by the BBFC, the onus will be on sites themselves to have an iron-clad verification system that meets requirements.
The particulars of age verification remain to be seen but could involve consumers handing over their email address, credit card details or driving license, face-scanning or to verify their age. You may even have to buy an age verification card in a shop.
The non-profit, Open Rights Group, advocates for privacy, rights and free speech in digital spaces. They’ve been one of the most vocal critics of the Government’s plans, citing a lack of safeguards around privacy and problems with proposed Age Verification tools. They describe the ban as an act tantamount to the censorship of legal content, while providing few safeguards for users who hand over their data. Ultimately, they consider the ban as a ‘disproportionate technical response to a complex social issue’.
Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, who specialises in sexual liberties advocacy and pornography-related issues has similar concerns. He believes that the ban will be simple to obviate using readily available software.
He believes there is likely to be ‘black market’ for false age verification cards, and that it will be ineffective as young people would even be able to circumvent the restrictions with their parent’s credit card details.
The Government is a slow-moving machine; the internet is not.
Implementing age verification will only drive people to come up with a novel solution. If people want something, they will get it, and given how many people consume adult content daily, you can bet there are already those working on a solution.
There is considerable privacy concern. Users will have to hand over their personal information to access content, leading many to express alarm over a potential UK porn-users database, where viewing preferences are held alongside identity documentation. This is an accident waiting to happen.
In July 2015 hackers stole the data of Ashley Madison users and released their names online. This led to relationship breakdowns, job losses, extortion and a number of unverified suicides.
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It is ultimately a risk to use age verification as there is always the potential for that information being used your detriment.
Plus, let’s not forget how our online behaviour follows us around the Internet. Specific ads targeting users based on preferences, interests and habits are the norm now. Vast amounts of data on who watches what porn would be an easy sell.
All in, there’s plenty of reason to predict that users will do what they can to step around the process that means handing over money and breaching their personal privacy. And that’s before you consider the basic psychological principle: forbidden fruit.
There is much psychological evidence to suggest that prohibition actually has the opposite intended effect. The efficacy of prohibition is known to be lacking. Looking beyond porn, to alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, policies designed to restrict access do not meaningfully reduce consumption.
Instead of acting as a deterrent, this intervention will simply push the behaviour into the shadows. Young people will still look for and access porn – they’ll just be doing it in spaces that are harder to track.
Given how the internet functions, as a network that facilitates open sharing, content blocks will be easy to circumvent with fairly basic technical skills. VPNs and Proxy Servers to mask locations and the Tor browser will become the norm. Those that don’t know how to access things create a market ripe for exploitation. Some will see this as an opportunity to make money out of selling a workaround – others out of scamming those unable to discern a phoney age verification request.
What’s more, sites like Twitter, Reddit and Imgur will be exempted from administering the scheme as a third of the site’s content must be pornographic in order for it to fit the act’s definition. Given how much pornographic content there is on these sites, and how easy it is to find, then you have a pretty big loophole to exploit. Porn providers can theoretically pad out their sites with non-porn content like blogs and reviews to get round the ban. Similarly, users can find a wealth of adult content on sites that are exempted.
Myles Jackman stresses the unintended consequences of the ban will see women who run ‘ethical’ porn sites for a living losing out, as the ban forces them to capitulate and close their sites. Given the likely cost of implementing the required verification system, small-scale producers who are keen to change the industry are likely to suffer, leaving the large mega-aggregators to continue to monopolise the types of content people have access to. Porn is unlikely to go away any time soon, and the ban will disincentivise those who want to create change by producing alternative content.
The Government should take heed: if they’re serious about protecting young people, banning access to this content might actually make things worse.
The Future Of Everything
This piece is part of Metro.co.uk's series The Future Of Everything.
From OBEs to CEOs, professors to futurologists, economists to social theorists, politicians to multi-award winning academics, we think we've got the future covered, away from the doom mongering or easy Minority Report references.
Every weekday, we're explaining what's likely (or not likely) to happen.
Talk to us using the hashtag #futureofeverything If you think you can predict the future better than we can or you think there's something we should cover we might have missed, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org or Alex.Hudson@metro.co.uk
In the age of Instagram, restaurants are all vying for your attention with photo-worthy interiors.
But forget taking snaps of your food and the stylish surrounds, you need to head to the toilet, because the bathroom selfie is the latest Instagram obsession you should know about.
No one does loos like London. From the pretty pink powder room of Annabel’s to the space style pods at Sketch, these throne rooms have become destinations in their own right.
The Ned’s Banking Hall bathroom
The Ned, 27 Poultry, City of London.
The Ned’s Grand Banking Hall is a vast, impressive space that takes you back to the building’s 1920s glory days.
Downstairs is this intimate toilet, with chequered floors that cry out for a shoefie, and a plush three-person kissing seat just waiting for a girl squad selfie.
Annabel’s Powder Room
Annabel’s, 46 Berkeley Square, Mayfair.
If you #havethisthingwithpink then Annabel’s top floor powder room was made for you. This rose-hued heaven is an Instagram dream, with pink onyx shell shaped sinks, pink floral wallpaper and a pink silk rose ceiling.
Sketch, 9 Conduit St, Mayfair.
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported into some Kubrick-esque film set when entering Sketch’s Eggloos.
These white egg cubicles sit in a bright white room under a rainbow disco floor, all set to a backing track of birdsong.
Park Chinois’ Bathroom
Park Chinois, 17 Berkeley St, Mayfair.
The golden swan taps get all the Instagram love in Park Chinois’ bathroom. They sit on opulent jade sinks surrounded by a 1930s Shanghai-inspired room of rich burgundy and gold.
The Ritz’s Palm Court Bathroom
The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, St. James’s.
You can’t expect anything less from The Ritz. Their Palm Court powder room is a sophisticated haven of pink marble, pale pink walls, a water lily mural and a plush pink sofa.
Rihanna’s new clothing line Fenty has been applauded for not retouching models on its website and in advertising campaigns.
An image used to advertise one of the line’s statement earrings features a stunning model who has some slight scarring on her cheek.
Customers were quick to applaud the decision to not retouch the model’s skin in the advert, they said it was refreshing to see ‘imperfections’ and that it was challenging the impossible beauty standards so often set by the fashion industry.
In a tweet that highlighted the picture, user @xfarahalyx said; ‘I love that the images used on fenty are not retouched, and that the models skin is not perfect by societal standards.’
The tweet has attracted almost 9,000 likes and dozens of comments. One woman said the image was particularly important to her as she also has facial scarring.
‘Wow! As a girl with scars, this really touches my heart. I’ve never had any reason to feel less terrible about my scars until seeing this,’ she said.
i love that the images used on fenty are not retouched, and that the models skin is not perfect by societal standards pic.twitter.com/8iDQ9BgUz0
— Farah | فرح (@xfarahalyx) May 29, 2019
‘Real is rare so that’s perfection. Go
#Rihanna,’ added another.
‘This looks really good. More companies should start doing this,’ said a third.
Seeing the earring on the model really turned me on even more. I liked the design but seeing it on...whew— Litty McGuire (@JamiceOfCourse) May 29, 2019
It’s good to see imperfections that make us perfect. Great advert. I have some similar earring designs I bought many years ago from an antique market - will be digging them out!— Askmollybeauty (@askmollybeauty) May 29, 2019
acne scar representation— ali (@alijandrox) May 29, 2019
Rihanna released her first collection last week – it’s a collaboration with luxury retailer LMVH. There are 18 pieces in the line featuring structured denim, luxe streetwear and utilitarian touches.
As with the pop star’s beauty line, there are fans lining up to get their hands on the hottest items – but luxury clothes still come with a luxury price point, so you might need to do some saving up.
‘Nice, but real people can’t afford the merchandise…’ said one Twitter user in response to the advert.
Fenty un-retouched models
Welcome back to Muslims Who Fast – our mini-series looking at what Ramadan means to Muslims and all the trimmings that come with it which make it a yearly delight.
So far, we’ve shared iftar with a fitness trainer, a woman who organises mass iftars, a Mancunian who lives away from home, and today we meet Sumaya Ali.
Sumaya is a plus size model showing off modest fashion – that means clothes that are deemed to be in line with Islamic standards.
When she’s not modelling, the 25-year-old, from Somalia, works in her family business, providing care to vulnerable people in their homes.
She’s become quite the influencer in her community and regularly shares fashion and beauty updates on her Instagram and YouTube channel.
Today, she sits down on the floor of her London home and breaks fast with her family.
Let’s see what the Ali family had for iftar:
Tell us more about yourself:
I am a plus size modest fashion and beauty influencer, I create modest look-books and beauty looks for the everyday curvy girl looking for fashion inspo.
I am also signed with Modest Visions which is the UK’s first Muslim digital management agency, they work on ensuring there is a representation of the modern, millennial Muslim in mainstream media.
What have you prepared for iftar?
I have prepared some Somali delicacies such as samosas and bajiiya. For our main, we have rice with chicken sauce, fried chicken wrap and chapati. We also have chopped fruits to eat after. Drinks are so important in our house, so we have a virgin mint mojito.
As a plus-size model, how is your diet affected during Ramadan?
Diet is important to maintain during Ramadan. You don’t want to eat too much or too little. I usually tend to keep a balanced diet, but there are times where I do stuff my face.
What’s difficult about fasting?
I work and model during Ramadan and attend events. The hardest bit is when there’s a sudden heatwave and you’re sweating buckets. It’s difficult because you just want to drink a gallon of water.
How old were you when you first began fasting?
I started fasting properly when I was 13.
Is there anything you crave when you fast?
I crave everything!!!! From burgers to even salad. But when it’s time to eat, I hardly eat. I always remember the foods that I never finished. The half eaten Nando’s/ chips etc and I always regret it.
What does Ramadan mean to you?
Ramadan enables me to find peace and cleanse my soul. Through prayer and worship I feel closer to God spiritually, I am able to spend more time with my loved ones as everyday life means we don’t get to spend much time together.
Ramadan is a time of reflection for me, so I appreciate the life I have. It reminds me of the less fortunate people around me so my family and I try to feed our community weekly and give to charity.
Our aim is to cleanse our soul and increase our spiritual activities and ask for forgiveness.
Any fond memories?
My favourite memories in Ramadan is seeing old friends and family eating and praying together. My second favourite memory is when it is the last night of Ramadan, and it has been confirmed that Eid is the next day. Everyone celebrates and showers each other with hugs and kisses.
Do you have any rituals/traditions?
My family reads/ listens to the Quran and also prays together daily. It is a month of mercy and forgiveness, so it is important that we raise money for the less fortunate.
After we break our fasts, we go across the street and set up our community centre for Taraweeh (night prayers). As our area doesn’t have a mosque, the community rents out the local hall and we place around 100 prayer mats before people arrive.
I also like looking at hashtags like #Ramadan2019 and #Monthofgood on Instagram to see how Muslims around the world are celebrating Ramadan. It makes the global Muslim community feel so much closer to home.
On the weekends, we cook and serve free iftar for the community so that we can break our fasts altogether.
After we finish, we come home and eat suhoor (pre-dawn meal). It’s a meal we eat before the sun rises to prepare us for the next day’s fast. We pray and then we go to sleep. We do this every day until Eid.
Muslims Who Fast: Sumaya Ali
I may be an ex-offender but my past criminality and the fact I have been in prison doesn’t define me as a person.
It’s my past and it’s no longer a reflection of who I am. I’m a reformed character and project myself differently these days.
Yet I am still labelled as a criminal when I do interviews with the media. Even as a prison reform campaigner, society chooses to define me by who I used to be.
In many ways, I’ve come to terms with being introduced this way on the news and radio, but I would be lying if I said this tag didn’t impact me in my day-to-day life.
The most noticeable way in which it does this is when I apply for jobs. Every time I apply I have to check the box that asks if I have spent or unspent convictions.
It is the first thing that employees see and I know it has stopped me gaining employment in the two years that I’ve been out of prison.
I’ve been in prison three times for witness intimidation, threatening my sister’s ex-boyfriend after he severely beat her up, and an assault on police.
I was involved in serious organised crime, gangs and the criminal underworld. I’ve been arrested a stupid amount of times for everything from offensive weapons to GBH.
I didn’t want to be a criminal, I was simply a product of my environment and a victim of my own life.
This is a label that follows me everywhere, like a ball and chain. I’ve been many things in my life, yet this is the label that has stuck.
People look down on you if you’d been in prison, as you’re something they have stood in. I’m seen as untrustworthy and unreliable all because of something I did in the past.
As a down to earth Manchester lad, I don’t judge or pigeonhole people, even before I was given this label, I believe in taking people as I find them.
If people are nice to me, I am nice to them.
Fortunately, my friends knew I would never commit another crime and didn’t treat me any differently, but sadly we do live in a society where we do slap labels on people, and it’s wrong.
If people can’t see beyond the tag, what is the point in me changing my criminal behaviour?
The truth is that before many ‘offenders’ were ever offenders, they were victims. It’s common that people who have been involved in criminal activity were raised in care, had behavioural problems, were sexually abused, have parents who were addicts, were physically abused, or battled mental health issues.
Society seems obsessed with seeing the crimes and defining people by that, rather than looking at the root cause of offending.
I am a human being, not a ‘criminal’ or any other label, and I would like to be seen as one.
I am now reformed and project myself differently. I speak at schools and universities talking about my own experience, I have a YouTube channel where I focus on prison reform and I have been asked to comment for news stories, radio and documentaries.
I truly believe, if I was without labels, I would be in employment. At the moment, even after applying for lots and lots of jobs, I can’t even get through the door for an interview.
I’m fortunate in that I know that my criminal past doesn’t define me as a person, but is it surprising that England has a re-offending rate of over 60 per cent for those serving short term sentences?
I think this could change if people stopped evaluating others by their past actions and the labels given to them.
Imagine being defined by the person you used to be, or something you did in the past. People are capable of change, so why are we so willing to see that in others but not ex-offenders.
You may know someone’s name, but you don’t know their story. Don’t judge anyone until you have walked a day in their shoes.
We’ve paid for our crimes without liberty, now let us prove ourselves by becoming productive members of society.
Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity — positively or negatively — and what the label means to them.
If you would like to get involved please email email@example.com
I was diagnosed with the relapsing form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) last year, aged 20. The condition damages nerves in your body and makes it harder to do everyday things, like walk, talk, eat and think. It can be painful and often exhausting, and there isn’t a cure so I quickly had to realise that my life was going to change.
To the untrained eye though, nothing is really different. So one of the trickiest things is helping others understand what I’m going through.
One thing I’ve noticed since being diagnosed is that people have a completely warped idea of what disability looks like. I’ve even lost touch with friends who kept having a go at me for not going out, saying I looked OK in pictures.
But just because I can take a selfie every now and then, that doesn’t mean I can walk.
MS is an ‘invisible’ condition – meaning you can’t really tell what’s going on beneath the surface. Unfortunately the lack of understanding around invisible illnesses comes from the most unbelievable places – not just friends but colleagues and even in doctor’s surgeries!
At the doctor’s once the receptionist announced ‘you don’t look like you’ve got MS’, in front of all these people waiting. What exactly does it look like to have MS?!
People can be quite narrow minded when it comes to conditions that aren’t visible on the outside. Just like for anyone struggling with mental health issues – we all know you cannot see anxiety or depression – it’s the same for me.
You have to dig beyond the surface when it comes to certain things in life. People also don’t expect a young girl like me to have MS, thinking it’s an ‘old person’s disease’. But that’s far from true.
Aged 21, my life ahead of me has suddenly become unclear. There are a lot of things I’m unable to do now. I can’t go to work like I have done since the second my national insurance number arrived aged 16, and I was straight on the internet applying for all sorts of jobs. I’m very fatigued all the time, it doesn’t matter how much sleep I get I’m still drained. That combined with problems with my eyesight means it’s impossible for me to work.
I have so many symptoms you can’t see. In addition to the fatigue I’ve lost the use of my left arm, lost vision in my right eye, lost bladder control, and gained excruciating pins and needles and numbness, which mean I’m very uncoordinated and often unable to walk or move.
In spite of all this however, most of the time I’m very healthy looking. I still make an effort with my appearance – I’ve always been a girly girl who loves to do her hair and make-up. Some days it’s not possible, but I will never stop trying!
I went out recently and while getting ready with optic neuritis and no glasses, and bad spasms in my fingers, I still managed to put on a pair of false eyelashes and ensure my nails were painted. Let me tell you that was not an easy task!
Although I have MS, I am and always will be me. In truth, I believe this diagnosis has been the making of me. I started a blog in the hope of raising awareness of my condition, but if it makes people see any invisible illness in a better light that would be amazing. I want people to approach me if they need to talk things through, because I know how lonely this journey can feel.
Even though I have an amazing circle of people in my life, who understand me and constantly lift me up, there is still a minority who don’t. That’s when it can feel like you’re most alone because, the reality is, sometimes you just want people to understand.
I am ME, I am not MS.
Eating ‘ultra-processed’ foods could increase your risk of heart disease and death, according to new research.
Two separate studies, published in the British Medical Journal, highlight the potential link between eating lots of packaged snacks and ready meals, and harm to health.
The researchers said that we should try to eat fresh food where possible, but they did admit that more evidence is needed to understand the effect of highly-processed foods.
The first study, carried out by scientists from France and Brazil, included more than 105,000 French adults.
When ‘ultra-processed’ food was increased by 10%, there was a 12% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, 13% increase for coronary heart disease and 11% for cerebrovascular diseases, which affect the blood supply to the heart and brain.
In the second study, researchers from the University of Navarra in Spain analysed data from around 20,000 adults over 10 years.
They found that eating more than four servings of ‘ultra-processed’ food per day was linked with a 62% increased risk of death from any cause, compared with those who ate less than two servings.
Worryingly, each additional serving increased mortality risk by 18%.
‘Improving diet based on adherence to minimally processed food – a key aspect of the Mediterranean diet – has been shown to protect against chronic disease and all cause mortality,’ said researchers at the University of Navarra.
‘Discouraging the consumption of ultra-processed foods; targeting products, taxation, and marketing restrictions on ultra-processed products; and promotion of fresh or minimally processed foods should be considered part of important health policy to improve global public health.’
What are 'ultra-processed' foods?
A processed food is simply any food that has been altered in some way during preparation. So that includes milk, cheese, yoghurt and oil.
Some foods need processing to make them safe, like when milk is pasteurised. Other foods need processing to make them suitable for use, such as pressing seeds to make oil.
But a lot of processed foods contain high levels of salt, sugar and fat to make them taste better and extend their shelf lives. So that’s why so many processed foods are really bad for us.
And ultra-processed foods pose an even higher risk.
‘”Ultra-processed” foods are foods that have undergone several transformation processes including heating at high temperatures and include the presence of additives and emulsifiers.
‘These are added to enhance the flavour, taste and appearance.
‘Examples include sweet or savoury packaged snacks like crisps, packaged baked goods like cakes, cookies, frozen ready meals, reconstituted meat products, instant noodles, soups and soft drinks.
‘These foods tend to have a long list of ingredients and are high in sugar, salt, and low in vitamins, minerals and fibre.’
Sonal Shah, Nutritionist Resource member
‘The classification of “ultra-processed” foods used by the researchers is very broad and so there could be a number of reasons why these foods are being linked to increased risk to our health; for example, nutritional content, additives in food or other factors in a person’s life,’ said Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation.
‘Before we consider making any changes to advice or policy it is important to understand this thoroughly.
‘We already recommend people adopt a Mediterranean-style diet which also happens to include plenty of minimally or unprocessed foods such as fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds, beans, lentils and wholegrains.
‘This, along with exercising regularly and not smoking, has been shown to be beneficial for lowering risk of heart and circulatory disease.’
Chocolate tea Biscuit
From its ability to brighten your complexion to keeping your skin looking younger for longer, Vitamin C is hailed for its skincare benefits.
It works wonders when added to your routine on the regular and is touted as a must-have skincare product by dermatologists (aka skin specialists).
Vitamin C has a number of proven benefits; it boosts collagen production, reduces pesky brown spots and it’s also a potent antioxidant – so while vitamin C can’t protect like an SPF, it can block the damage caused by free radicals generated by pollution.
Enter Viola Skin’s Vitamin C serum, the serum Amazon shoppers have crowned as their favourite. It’s the number one best-seller in beauty and face serums.
With over 4,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, the vitamin C serum from Viola has achieved cult status in the skincare world.
And it’s not surprising, according to one shopper, they said goodbye to dark spots after just a few days of use: ‘I have used this for a week now and the brown mark over my eye is definitely going lighter, so I am delighted as you can imagine.’
Another said: ‘Seriously, when I was reading the reviews I thought people were making up. But now I’m on my second one. I just can’t now leave without it anymore – I wear it every morning.’
It also doesn’t go unnoticed that several customer reviews mention how they’ve repurchased the serum, because it’s just that good: ‘I absolutely love this product and have just purchased my third bottle.’
Some of those who have purchased the serum have shared seriously impressive before and after images of the anti-aging serum.
Viola Skin’s Vitamin C serum has a gel-like consistency and is completely clear, absorbing deeply into the skin and should be applied in the morning before sunscreen.
The concentrated serum also contains hyaluronic acid to plump and smooth and is has a lengthy free-from list including alcohol, parabens, sulphate and gluten.
Better yet, it’s £14.97, making it an affordable option for all skincare lovers.
Thousands of Amazon customers are obsessed with this vitamin C serum - and it\'s under ?15
When you break up with someone, there’s a lot of collateral loss.
Unless you have a terrifically amicable breakup, you will most likely lose your right to have coffee with your ex’s brilliant feminist mother; chat to their sweet, batty father; hang out with their delightful siblings and see their extended family at Christmas.
You’ll also probably get limited access to your ex’s group of friends, unless you can make the case that they belonged to you first. It can be a real shock, the sudden dissolution of so many lovely relationships.
But is it compulsory to never see your ex’s friends again, and is it non-negotiable? Can you ever really stay friends with your ex’s mates – even just a little bit?
Let’s talk it through.
Does my ex have first dibs on their friends?
Yes, your ex has first dibs on any old, dear friends they had in their life long before you got there. School friends, childhood friends, university friends, family friends. First and foremost, their loyalty belongs to your ex.
It’s one of the unspoken rules of friendship: when your mate goes through a breakup, you don’t rush to the brand new ex’s side. Especially if it was messy.
Just last week, I told one of my dearest friends that her ex-husband is ‘dead to me’. I’m still very angry with him for how he treated her and although I was friends with him too, I just can’t think of him lovingly anymore. He is cancelled, as far as I’m concerned.
If there’s any acrimony in your breakup, friends can get defensive and fierce. If you want to broach the idea of staying friends in such a tense situation, please, go in carefully.
How long do I have to wait to approach them?
You need to respect that their priority is probably going to be your ex.
At the very least, I’d give them the customary three to six months of relative silence that you might be giving your ex, to let the breakup settle and things go back to normal. After that cooling-off period, I tend to try and get on friendly terms with my ex, unless it’s impossible or against their wishes.
At around the same time, you could try and win back some of their friends, too. If your ex says they’re not cool with this, do not proceed. You are not entitled to friendship here, it would be a bonus takeaway from the breakup.
What’s the best way to reach out?
If you really want to keep some of your ex’s friends and it’s OK with them, be direct. You could send one of their friends a message saying you hope that one day you’ll be able to hang out again – but be respectful.
Tell them that you don’t mean to be presumptuous and you know they were your ex’s friend first, but you feel like you’ve become close and you’d like to have them in your life, in some capacity. If there was a genuine connection between you then it’s likely they’ll feel the same way.
They might need to check in with their friend, your ex, and see if they give their blessing. That has to be OK with you; it’s just how loyalty works.
Is it possible to remain friends with them?
If your breakup didn’t cause irrevocable damage you could absolutely maintain a friendship of sorts. However, you probably won’t get invited to the group hangs, birthdays or weddings – don’t expect to be granted full access to their friendship group.
And frankly, if you’re absolutely set on staying in their lives, you should ask yourself why. Is it because you haven’t fully let go of your ex and haven’t mourned the end of that relationship properly? Are you clinging to any remnants you can?
If you secretly want to hold onto your ex’s friends so you can be close to them, surreptitiously convince your ex to get back together, gossip about your ex or keep tabs on their life, then you need to have a big old think about what you’re doing.
If this is the case, cease and desist, try and move on.
What if it doesn’t work?
You’ll have a better chance of success by singling someone out and asking if it’d be cool to catch up one-on-one, rather than trying to co-opt your ex’s entire group but you’re still on your ex’s turf here, so tread lightly.
A breakup is usually the time to depend on your own friends. If you’re pining for the people who belong in your ex’s life, try getting back to the people who’ve always been in yours.
Remind yourself who you are in their company and let them help you remember who you are without your ex. If you really, truly have a healthy, wholesome desire to keep your ex’s friends in your life, be sensitive, polite and patient, but also it’s OK if it doesn’t work out.
Losing your ex’s mates is sometimes just an inevitable side effect of the breakup. Think about it while you’re grieving, mainlining ice cream and listening to sad songs on repeat.
This too shall pass.
About Lean On Me
Kate Leaver is the author of The Friendship Cure and she will be answering common friendship dilemmas in her Metro.co.uk column.
You can follow the discussion on Twitter #LeanOnMe.
KATE LEAVER: LEAN ON ME
We’ve already experienced the highest Easter temperatures on record across the UK, so we’re all out here hoping for a long, hot Summer.
That’s why holidaymakers are looking a little closer to home for their beach escapes. And with glorious white sand, colourful beach huts and charming heritage spots lining UK coastlines, you’ll wonder why you ever contended with flights, ferries and sleeper trains.
And staying at home for summer has never had more sense appeal. Air Wick’s new Beach Escape fragrances will help welcome a hint of summer into your living room, even when you’re not so close to the coast.
So, to make you feel closer to the warmer months, we have rounded up the best beach escapes in Britain that you can enjoy this year…
Shanklin, Isle of Wight
The traditional seaside town of Shanklin is believed to be one of the sunniest places in the UK. Boasting over 2,000 hours of sunshine throughout the year, it’s easy to see why this beach escape is popular with sun-seekers hoping for a holiday feeling that’s not so far away.
But don’t let the micro-climate deceive you, Shanklin is brimming with British charm. Seaside attractions like an amusement arcade, mini golf and tea gardens will take you back to your favourite childhood holidays.
Famous holidaymakers include Hollywood actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who has his very own home-away-from-home on the island, so you might just get those Malibu Beach & Hibiscus vibes, after all.
At the end of stone wall paths, decorated by seashells in every shape and size, you’ll find one of Broadstairs’ many glorious golden beaches.
A stone’s throw from the increasingly popular Margate – they say it’s like Shoreditch by the sea – Broadstairs has access to 15 sandy beaches that line the Thanet coast all the way to Ramsgate in the other direction.
What’s more, this Kent holiday destination will take you from bustling London into beach escape mode in under one hour, so all you need to decide is which beach to visit first?
With colourful beach huts backing onto the Southwold seascape, this national treasure is an Instagrammer’s paradise.
Aside from an award-winning Pier, a charming lighthouse on the horizon and a stretch of white sand, there’s a thriving market town in Southwold to experience life by the sea through the eyes of the charming locals.
Abersoch Beach, North Wales
Surfers’ paradise Abersoch is home to Wakestock and Glass Butter Beach festivals. For a slightly more active side to beach life, there’s a feast of music entertainment and watersports on offer every summer for a younger crowd.
And during sleepier times on the Welsh coastline, the Abersoch Main Beach benefits from a Mediterranean-style climate which will make you feel miles away from home.
And with so many surfers around, it may even take you on a Bali Blue Waters Beach Escape of your very own.
With Bamburgh Castle right on the coastline, it’s clear that there’s more to see than sea in Bamburgh. Steeped in history, this beach destination is also close to Hadrian’s Wall and The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, so the holiday itinerary practically writes itself.
When it comes to a sandy spot for the afternoon, there’s almost 30 miles of beaches to explore along the Northumberland coast. And, walled by large dunes, Bamburgh beach is so big you’ll be sure to find your own private spot when the sun comes out.
Lyme Regis, Charmouth
There’s plenty of buzz about Lyme Regis right now. Famous as the birthplace of Mary Anning, the Jurassic Coast is also soon to be the setting for a new Hollywood film. Actresses Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan are currently in town filming a biopic about the fossil hunter, so your getaway could be complete with a celeb sighting.
Sheltered south-facing beaches are also the perfect place for children to explore – and of course fossil hunt – while parents can follow the trail of some soon-to-be-famous filming locations.
Salcombe, North Devon
Harbour town Salcombe, the home of Jack Wills, is the perfect sleepy bubble away from the city, giving the impression of Newquay meets London’s Chelsea.
It’s an affluent town where the shops are boutiquey and the restaurants are boujee but the overall impression is one of calm. Take in the soothing sea air and take yourself to that happy, Mykonos White Sand And Sea Salt place in your mind.
Bring the beach escape to you with Air Wick
Air Wick have launched a new summer range which are all inspired by getting away to the seaside. The Beach Escapes range will instantly bring a burst of fresh, coastal air into any area of your house – and freshen up your spirit in the process. Here, are the three new amazing fragrances for you to choose from…
Bali Blue Waters
Escape to a pastel beach paradise with perfect pink sunsets. Take in the aroma of fresh coconut, exotic fruits and tropical blooms, and immerse your senses in the tranquillity of Bali blue waters.
Mykonos White Sand
Dip your toes in the sparkling waters along the white sandy beaches of Mykonos, while enjoying the fresh salty sea air, and the delightful scent of fragrant pink ﬂowers.
Malibu Beach & Hibiscus
Feel the cool ocean breeze and the warmth of the sun caressing your skin as you escape to your Malibu beach hideaway, feeling a beautiful blend of sweet cream and pretty petals.
All three of these 250ml refills are for Air Wick Freshmatic Max kits. They release bursts of fragrance to constantly freshen your home and neutralise odours for up to 60 days.
It couldn’t be easier to bring Beach Escapes to your home – click HERE to buy your Air Wick Freshmatic Max kit today…
Poverty is a word that often conjures up images of utter destitution and despair, and not one you’d likely attribute to people on your own doorstep.
However, according to findings by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, over one in five of the UK population is in poverty.
7% of the UK population is in persistent poverty (4.6 million people), with the highest rate among single parent families (24%).
Child poverty is on the rise, with 4.1 million children in the UK now living in poverty – 15% more than in 2011 to 2012.
The overall poverty figure includes 14.3 million people whose options are restricted by their circumstances, and four million people who are in work.
You can have a job and a roof over your head, and still be classed as living in poverty.
Not being able to afford essentials such as heating, prescriptions or nutritious food is the harsh reality for millions in the UK – and it could be affecting a neighbour, friend, or colleague without you even realising.
We spoke to three people who have struggled with everyday poverty.
Amanda, 56, Grimsby: ‘I fell into debt when my ex-husband refused to contribute financially for our son.’
‘I’d been married to my husband for eight years when we split. I moved out in 2006 with our son, and we divorced in 2008.
‘I had a full-time job when I moved out and when the divorce went through, but my partner wasn’t contributing, so it was a struggle. While my son was under 18, I was getting benefits, but once he left college, it was just my salary and that wasn’t enough.
”I got paid my wages weekly, and some weeks there wasn’t enough for food shopping. It was the benefits for my son that paid for the groceries, so when that stopped, it was a struggle.
‘At one point, I had just £12 to cover petrol and food for myself and my son for the week.
‘My son was walking around with holes in his shoes because I couldn’t afford to buy him new ones, but he appreciates that I did everything I could.
‘Often, I’d say to people, “Look, I’m on a low income – are there any discounts?” You have to swallow your pride and be humble.
‘I’d had a credit card for years but it got to the point where it was at its limit, so I made arrangements to pay it off – but they let me keep it and take out a second one.
‘At that point I had four credit cards and I was getting divorced and having to look after my son on a low income.
‘I just kept paying the minimum as that was all I could afford. And then it got to the point where I couldn’t afford the minimum, and that’s when alarm bells started ringing.
‘I took out a loan to try and clear the credit cards, but that didn’t work out as planned.
‘Four years ago I left my full-time job to temp, and that’s when I had problems because the work hasn’t been continuous.
‘Although I’ve had long-term placements, there have been periods with no work. Essentially, you’re excluded from benefits if you’re temping, and that became a problem.
‘I was receiving tax credits when I was working, and stopped those when I wasn’t to keep everything above board.
‘By the time I restarted work, they’d rolled out Universal Credit in my area so I applied for the working tax credit part of that. Eventually they decided after nine months that I wasn’t eligible, and closed my case.
‘This is despite the Job Centre telling me a figure that I was eligible for.
‘I approached Christians Against Poverty (CAP) in 2013, after not having much luck with other debt charities, who I felt treated me as a number and not as a person.
‘I was £30,000 in debt when I approached CAP, and £15,000 to £20,000 of that was arrears on my marital home, which I was addressing and my ex-husband wasn’t.
‘They took everything away from me, from the letters to the phone calls. They looked at my income and outgoings, worked out a budget and saw what was left.
‘CAP then negotiated with all the creditors so that they took a reduced payment and stopped all the interest and charges.
‘I’m still paying off my debt and I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to access some funds from a pension scheme that has paid a large lump sum off.
‘I’ve decided to sell the house that I’m living in and buy a smaller property which should allow me enough excess to pay off the rest of the balance.
‘Otherwise, I carry on paying with CAP for another six years and then I’m debt-free.
‘I’ll be so relieved when it’s over.’
If you’re struggling with debt, you can contact Christians Against Poverty. (You don’t have to be Christian to use their services.)
Sue*, 53, Manchester: ‘I save money on food by eating a lot of toast and packet soup.’
‘I’ve been out of work for over three years due to mental illness – I had a breakdown after my partner left me and I lost my job within the space of two days.
‘I was trying to hold it together as my daughter also has mental health issues, and I was looking after my mother who has Alzheimer’s (she’s since died) but it was all too much.
‘I became depressed and suicidal, and unable to work.
‘I’ve been looking for work ever since I felt well enough to but I’ve been unable to find another job as I keep being told my experience is no longer relevant.
‘I used to be a personal assistant but I can’t find anything similar as every employer seems to want someone younger in that role.
‘I was previously receiving ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) but because I live in a shared ownership apartment I only got help with some costs, not all.
‘My buildings charge was not covered, and mortgage help for endowment policy holders was discontinued last year.
‘Earlier this year my sick benefit was stopped after I attended a two and a half hour physical which came out inconclusive that I was really suicidally depressed.
‘I was asked to repeat the physical the following week, but this was cancelled. I then got a letter saying that as I hadn’t attended the (cancelled) second meeting, I was in some sort of breach of agreement, which is ridiculous.
‘I jumped through the usual hoops of writing to them explaining the situation, but then received a half torn letter which had been lost in the post, saying I had a deadline to respond, which I missed because the letter arrived late.
‘They wouldn’t accept the late letter package as proof I received it after the deadline, as they said it could have been for another letter.
‘I save money on food by eating a lot of toast and packet soup. My friends help me by getting me shopping from pound stores.
‘I used to use a food bank, but my daughter said she was ashamed so I stopped going. The food bank distribution place is near her house and she didn’t want people to see me there, as she was embarrassed.
‘To be honest, I was embarrassed asking for food bank vouchers, too.
‘I have one storage heater in my flat and I only had the heating on once last winter. Winter is hard as the flat gets so cold – I wear my coat and a beanie hat indoors.
‘I was given an electric throw but I only use it every now and then for an hour at a time because it costs too much to use, so I sleep in lots of clothes.
‘My home never feels warm, which affects my physical health – I’ve had pneumonia and pleurisy, and I have arthritis.
‘I really do want to work but I’ve been out of employment too long – it seems you’re only as good as what you currently contribute and not what you’ve done previously.
‘Job hunting is tough, and I’ve been so humiliated by the Job Centre in the past. I volunteer at an Alzheimer’s charity for something to do – they refund my travel fare, I get cups of hot tea there and it’s nice to feel like I’m working.
‘It’s also warm in their office, which makes a change from my home.
‘A lot of people don’t understand mental health issues like depression, and many of them say ‘get a job’ as if that’s never been my goal. This makes me feel isolated so I don’t really socialise any more.
‘My phone keeps me occupied – I used to have a joint contract with my daughter, who paid for it, but she’s stopped now so I won’t have it anymore.
‘Sometimes I feel so hopeless as I can’t see a way out of this situation. Some days are pretty bad, but I take every day as it comes.
‘It’s important that people realise that even though I’ve worked for 30 years anyone can end up like me.
‘The system is failing us.’
*Name has been changed
Diane, 54, Wales: ‘I was cutting out medication to make my tablets go a bit further.’
‘I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in October 2012, and suddenly found myself with prescriptions for numerous medications.
‘The doctors kept changing my tablets and doses, and as I lived in England at the time (where I had to pay for prescriptions), at £8.80 a time, all the new prescriptions soon added up.
‘I was paying for each item individually as no-one had told me about NHS pre-payment certificates. You get unlimited prescriptions for three months with a pre-paid certificate at £29.10, and one year with a pre-paid certificate for £104.
‘I didn’t find out for seven or eight months after diagnosis, when I found out by accident at my doctor’s pharmacy. When I asked why I hadn’t been told about it sooner, the pharmacist said it wasn’t their job to.
‘If I’d been told about it, I’d have saved hundreds.
‘Even with the pre-payment certificate, I was struggling. I was on sick pay at the same time, and after so long, your wage goes down to half and then a quarter.
‘When it went to a quarter I thought, “What am I going to do?” I’d make every little thing like food or toiletries last as long as I possibly could.
‘You have to prioritise bills, and it really worried me. My marriage had broken down and I wasn’t living in the marital home but was still contributing to the bills, which I felt an obligation to as my sons were living there with their dad.
‘I had to stop driving because of my condition, but couldn’t sell my car as there were issues with it that needed fixing.
‘I stopped going out as I couldn’t afford to go anywhere, and as I was living with a friend I didn’t feel comfortable inviting people into her home, so my social life suffered.
‘She was very understanding and said my friends were welcome, but I felt bad having people there when she came home from work as I didn’t want to impose.
‘At one point, I was even cutting out my medication to make my tablets go a bit further. When you have Parkinson’s it’s really important to take your medication at exactly the same time as the tablets can wear off.
‘I was once accused of being drunk in the supermarket when I was feeling unsteady, and I was mortified. A customer told me I was a disgrace and I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
‘I got the point where I almost had to ask my dad for money but luckily didn’t have to as I ended up moving to Wales – where luckily you get free prescriptions – with my new husband.
‘Dad would have helped me but I felt ashamed. There’s such a stigma around money and I have a lot of friends in the same position who are too embarrassed to talk about it.
‘People with other long-term conditions like diabetes and cancer get free prescriptions in England, but those with Parkinson’s don’t. It makes me angry as it’s not a nice condition to have.
‘I’m a real fighter but I’ve been struggling recently as I can see deterioration and it scares me. Worrying about finances on top of that isn’t helping my health.
‘I absolutely don’t begrudge any other condition on that list, of course they deserve it – but so do we. There are also other long-term conditions that should be on that list.’
For more information on Parkinson’s, visit Parkinson’s UK.
Need support? Contact the Samaritans
I was a male victim of domestic abuse
It’s easier to assume that those struggling are spending their money on silly things, rather than to question the entire infrastructure of our society’s view on finances.
In the UK we don’t receive financial education in school. Struggling to save money is a source of shame. House prices are high and wages aren’t rising to match. Most of us want to save and spend more wisely, but struggle to make it happen.
To explore the reality of how people really spend and save, without resorting to reductive stereotypes of millennials being poor because they waste all their money on avocado toast, we launched How I Save.
Each week we take a look at how a different person spends and saves their money, then get expert advice to help them (and us) save better.
This week we’re nosing around the finances of Rose (not her real name), a 33-year-old journalist living in London.
How Rose saves:
I earn £29,000 a year. In my savings account right now I have £1,141.
I’m not saving for anything in particular but it will end up being used for holidays or expenses such as tickets for concerts.
The main way I save is direct debit every month. I struggle to save because I’ve been paying off credit cards for all of my 20s and now I earn a decent wage I like to be able to just spend my cash where and when I want.
I use my debit card for nearly all my expenses but have just switched to Monzo in the hopes of utilising the feature that rounds up your purchases for savings.
I don’t do a regular weekly shop – I tend to do an online shop once every four to six weeks for frozen/dried/home items and then buy fresh as and when I need it.
How Rose spends:
A week of spending:
Thursday: I’m working the early shift this week so I have a car into work, and I take my breakfast and lunch in.
I eat yogurt and granola at my desk but mid-morning pop to the canteen for a pastry – £1.10.
I pop out to Marks’ to get my parents an anniversary card but luckily I already have stamps in my purse – £2.50.
Work through lunch and head home after work on the tube and then jump on the bus to save me the ten minute walk the other end – £3.
I eat my packed lunch for dinner, and then have a glass of wine and go to bed early.
Friday: Another 6am start, another bowl of yogurt and granola at my desk. Today’s mid-morning snack is a bagel for £1.
I have bought in lunch and then I go straight home (tube and bus £4.30) but then decide to pop into Sainbury’s for a frozen pizza, a bottle of wine and cookies – £8.80
Saturday: Make a last minute decision to head to my parents for a few days. The train costs £33.75 for a single (plus cashback).
Tube travel into work and to Paddington costs £6.70 and I get a bagel at work, £1.
I take out £30 cash for the few days away as I will need to use the bus and I don’t think they accept contactless. I spend £3.30 in Caffe Nero on a coffee so I have some change from the notes.
Get a taxi from the station to my parents’ house – £9 out of the cash.
Sunday: Very lazy day, treating my parents’ like an Airbnb as they are on holiday. No money spent.
Monday: I take my niece and nephew out for the day so spend £5 on a return bus fare and £13.90 on my card for lunch for the three of us.
I spend £4.90 on coffee for myself and cookies for them later in the day.
Tuesday: I take a day trip out to Glastonbury, £7 return on the bus.
I spent £9.10 to get into the Abbey but proceed to spend an hour sitting with my friend catching up and then walking around the grounds without actually looking at the Abbey.
My friend pays for lunch but I get some desserts for us from a local bakery for £4.10
I realise I don’t have a return ticket to London – oops – spend £12 on the coach ticket back (plus cashback!)
Pop into Tesco to get some food for the journey home, £2.85.
Tube and bus journey back to my house is £4.80.
How Rose could save:
We spoke to the experts over at money tracking app Cleo to find out how Rose could save better.
Note: the advice featured is specific to one individual and doesn’t constitute financial advice. Especially on a London budget.
I can picture the headline now: Millennials can’t afford mortgages because they’re wasting their money on contact lenses and anniversary cards for their mums!
At a quick scan you’ve not got many red flags (apart from paying for a museum you forgot to go into).
55% of your budget this week did go on travel, most of it impulse. We don’t all get to be the type of person who plans ahead, but you should probably have the foresight to know that a single isn’t going to get you back to London.
Kick the habit (by buying tickets earlier) and you could add £2k to a saving account each year. You know this. I know this. But you’re still going to be gleefully rocking up to the station brandishing your card for the train that leaves in 5 mins.
Where you’re going wrong
If saving isn’t a priority, then you aren’t likely to save. Pretty simple.
Your focus has been on getting clear of debt, and you’ve nailed it. Your priorities might shift when you’re finally at base camp zero. Let’s talk then.
For a whim-spender: round-ups, autosaving algorithms, or hiding money from yourself are your key weapons in the war against yourself. If you can forget you’ve paid £9 to walk around an Abbey, you can forget you’ve put £200 in a cash ISA.
Spending breakdown (after bills and monthly expenses)
Safe to Save: £200 a month
As soon as you’re clear of credit card fees, let’s double what you’re locking back. Set up a direct debit. This is secret money. You shall endeavour to forget it (we never spoke about this)
Safe to Spend: £90 a week / £360 a month
Food, fun, tube, cookies for your undoubtedly adorable nieces and nephews
Safe to Burn: £15 a week / £60 a month
This is your impulse trip fund. Unless you wake up with the foresight to plan trips in advance, this secures one last minute visit home. Or three planned ones.
Basically just using this space as a shout out for paying off your credit cards this month. You’re awesome 🙌
How I Save is a weekly series about how people spend and save, out every Thursday. If you’d like to anonymously share how you spend and save – and get some expert advice on how to sort out your finances – get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
How I Save: Rose