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

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    Michael Burton looks over his shoulder into the camera
    Losing his sight for a year taught Michael a lot of important lessons about friendship (Picture: Michael Burton)

    In December 2010, I became a medical mystery as I lost the majority of my sight in the space of two weeks.

    When I noticed a change in my left eye, I took myself to an opticians. The poor guy almost fainted when I told him I couldn’t see any of the letters he wanted me to read with my right eye covered. The next day I was admitted to hospital.

    It turned out my optic nerves had become swollen but no one knew exactly why.

    I sat and watched specialist after specialist stride into the room, shine a light into my eye, have a look, scratch their head and admit defeat.

    They tested me for anything they could think of that might be a cause. Clearly they were stumped by the situation. One morning a nurse was taking bloods and I asked what they were testing for.

    ‘Aids,’ she said.

    She shrugged, ‘You never know.’

    I was discharged with nothing but the knowledge that hospital food is actually better than student food.

    Returning back to my family home to watch my brothers open their presents, I was unsure if that was the last Christmas I’d see.

    Until then everything had felt surreal. I hadn’t panicked, as you might expect, but instead remained oddly calm. I was patient and polite with the nurses, I didn’t shout or lose my temper and I didn’t cry.

    But being back in familiar surroundings made it real. All the emotions came out at once – all the fear, all the sense of loss, all the pain. I sobbed for hours.

    By the new year, I was more or less blind.

    Refusing defeat

    I didn’t get a dog or a stick. I’m not sure why.

    Perhaps it was stubbornness or fear or a refusal to admit that the damage might be permanent.

    I was studying acting at drama school and didn’t want to give that up so I returned and somehow got on with it.

    It’s surprising just how many strangers say ‘Oh my god, that’s so crazy! How many fingers am I holding up?’ when they find out you have bad eyesight.

    The temptation to raise my middle finger to them and ask the same question was strong.

    In the first six months of blindness, some strange things happened.

    The first thing I noticed was that I developed an incredible memory.

    I was learning lines for a play – just before my vision reached its worst and I could still read if I held the book in front of my nose – and I read 40 pages of script, then re-read it for a second time.

    When I began to read it a third time when I realised I knew it by heart. The next day I went to rehearsal and didn’t miss a single word.

    They say your other senses improve when one becomes impaired and they’re right.

    My hearing in particular surprised me.

    I could name a song on someone’s headphones from the other side of the room which no one else could even hear.

    But blindness wasn’t without its funny side.

    I performed in Waiting for Godot and knocked over a tree, the only piece of set.

    I also played Macbeth and lost my dagger in the famous ‘Is this a dagger I see before me?’ scene.

    During rehearsals, I thought I could see someone sat, crying. I put my arm out to comfort them, asking if they were okay, only to discover that it wasn’t a person, it was a table.

    My classmates who saw me do that still won’t let me live it down.

    On a night out in Camden, I even danced with Amy Winehouse without realising until later on when she high fived me and said ‘nice dancing’.

    I walked into railings, got lost in parks, and stepped over shadows on the floor thinking they were objects.

    Most of the time I saw the funny side except one night when I walked into some railings outside a McDonald’s and hurt my knee.

    It was late at night and people were laughing at me because they thought I was drunk.

    People often thought I was drunk because my balance was bad and I didn’t walk in a straight line.

    It was infuriating and embarrassing.

    I would go through my day blind, navigating with the small amount of peripheral vision I had. Then, each night I would dream the day I’d just had, in its entirety, fully sighted.

    All the faces were there, all the colours, all the smiles. Waking up was hard.

    Stairs became my mortal enemy. Climbing them was manageable, going down was a different story. I narrowly escaped breaking my ankle at least once a week.

    My friends were a great help. They cooked, moved me out of the way of disaster and helped me shop.

    The best thing is they didn’t change towards me. They still made fun of me, played the odd trick (if I put a glass down they’d move it just a few inches away from where it was and watch my confusion as I tapped around trying to find it) and they continued to party with me.

    The help they offered was wonderful but those acts alone wouldn’t constitute friendship. A real signs of friendship, when someone goes through as dramatic a change as I did is a refusal to alter the fundamental way you relate to someone.

    I was scared of becoming a sympathy case and as long as we were making jokes about the situation, I knew that hadn’t happened.

    Dreams come true

    After over a year without being able to see, something changed.

    I was walking past a bank on the street when I read something for the first time – it was a sign in that bank’s window telling me that ‘there’s another cash machine inside’.

    I don’t even bank with them but my dreams had come true.

    A month after that, I sent my first text in almost 18 months. A month after that, I got a pair of glasses. From there it was a slow and steady recovery.

    Not only did I have to physically recover but psychologically too.

    My brain had to learn to trust my eyes again. Even with my vision returned, I could put a glass down and, when I came to pick it back up, not be able to see it until someone pointed it out to me.

    Once they did, the glass was fully visible again.

    Holding eye contact with people was unnerving for a while. It felt confrontational and exposing. I’ve always been confident and never felt like that before.

    Recovery was was extremely slow – to get to where my vision is at now took over three years.

    Every day I remained hopeful and counted every tiny improvement.

    At the same time, a lot of frustration kicked in.

    Having half my sight back made me act as if I could see but I couldn’t. I’d make silly mistakes or try to do things I wasn’t able to do yet and fly off the handle over them.

    Today my vision still isn’t perfect. The world looks to me a little bit like a badly tuned TV. I have tiny specs of green, red and blue all over my visual field.

    I don’t care though. I count myself lucky because I know how bad it could be and for that, I am forever grateful.

    When you lose your sight you also lose your limiting beliefs. There’s a freedom with having to imagine more and, while a silver lining of a very dark cloud, it still influences how I see the world (metaphorically) now.

    When you lose something you’ve never thought twice about, you never take it for granted again when it returns.

    MORE: My Label and Me: Being Brian Blessed’s daughter doesn’t automatically make me blessed

    MORE: My Label and Me: Call me plastic all you want, I’m more than how I look


    MicBurton-1df0MicBurton-1df0

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    You Don’t Look Sick is our weekly series about living with an invisible illness or hidden disability.

    Each week, we speak to someone about living with their condition and the judgements they face because you can’t always see that something is wrong

    Kelly Ephgrave, 38, from Fife, Scotland, has an eye condition called juvenile macular degeneration, which has led to sight loss.

    Macular degeneration means that the macula, which is at the back of the eye and helps you to see details, starts to breakdown.

    Affecting over 1.5 million people, it is the biggest cause of blindness in the UK.

    Kelly’s condition is an inherited genetic form, rather than the more common age-related version, which can happen later in life.

    Kelly Ephgrave who has Macular disease
    Kelly Ephgrave (Picture: Macular Society)

    She was diagnosed at eight years old, as she was tested because her mum and grandmother had the same condition.

    As it is a degenerative condition, Kelly’s sight loss has slowly got worse and she was registered as partially sighted in 2016.

    Kelly tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It had no impact on me when I was younger, as I just didn’t understand. I knew I had something wrong with my eyes but because I have always been able to see, it never bothered me – until a few years ago.

    ‘It was only when I started to notice real differences that it started to affect me. I just struggled with my central vision. I was trying to learn to knit and I couldn’t get the hang of it and other things just became more and more difficult, like cooking and making tea.

    ‘I went back to the doctor and at the time I was having driving lessons. But, the doctor told me to stop my driving lessons and said I wouldn’t qualify for a license with my vision.’

    There is no treatment or ways to slow down the degeneration and it will continue to get worse as she gets older.

    Kelly Ephgrave who is partially sighted
    Kelly says the condition now has a big impact on her day-to-day life (Picture: Kelly Ephgrave)

    The condition has forced her to give up jobs she loves, including as an air stewardess and as a dental nurse, and now has a big impact on her life.

    ‘When I make my morning cup of tea, I over or under fill the cup,’ she says.

    ‘In the shower, it’s hard to know what products to use because distinguishing between the bottles can be difficult. When I’m putting my makeup on, I have to go right up to the mirror.

    ‘Cooking is really hard. I have to try not to cut myself and don’t always put the right ingredients together. I once tried to fry an egg in cordial. I’ve had to cut back on cooking so much as it’s difficult and I have to rely more on pre-prepared things like chopped veggies.

    Kelly Ephgrave at a table
    She has received a lot of support from family and friends (Picture: Kelly Ephgrave)

    ‘I trip over on the walk to school and I need my boys to help out sometimes to make sure we’re getting on the right bus or train.

    ‘I don’t often go out at night as my vision is worse then.’

    Although being partially sighted means simple tasks are much more difficult, Kelly feels that because she doesn’t use aids to help, people don’t recognise that she is disabled.

    She says: ‘I’ve been asked on the train why I have a pass for someone who is visually impaired as “I look ok”. People forget that I am visually impaired.

    ‘Personally I find that sometimes it can make me anxious as I think that others think that I come across rude as I don’t see them in the street or passing in their cars. I don’t really recognise most people until they are about a metre away from me.

    ‘It can be frustrating as sometimes I need more time than others to pay for things, check menus, bus times and general things that you need to look at.’

    Kelly Ephgrave who has Macular disease, standing outside
    She says she tried not to think about the future and remains positive (Picture: Kelly Ephgrave)

    Kelly uses technology to help, which has meant she has been able to continue with her psychology degree with the Open University.

    Although these adaptations have helped, the deterioration in her sight over the last few years has been hard and she has needed a lot of support.

    ‘I use magnifying glasses, phone apps, large screens and I have a machine that reads my uni books out for me,’ she says.

    ‘My family are a huge support and there are a number of groups on social media of other people who have the same or similar conditions.

    ‘In these groups everyone shares different hacks of making day to day life easier. I plan my routes in advance and if I am going somewhere different I will research it beforehand, for example if I’m going to a restaurant, I look at the menus before I go.’

    Kelly Ephgrave walking behind her three boys
    Kelly with her three boys (Picture: Macular Society)

    As Kelly’s condition is genetic, she knew that there was a 50/50 possibility that any of her children could have the condition.

    She has three sons, who were all tested when they were younger. Her oldest and youngest sons where both diagnosed with the condition.

    Now aged eight and four, Kelly says the condition has not affected them much yet but their dad Oliver is a pilot and Kelly finds it difficult knowing that her boys won’t be able to do the same thing because of their eyesight.

    She says: ‘At present they have good eyesight but as it is a degenerative condition there is every possibility that it will get worse.

    ‘They were diagnosed a couple of years ago when my youngest was only 18 months. It was really upsetting to get the news, but we have a positive outlook on life.

    ‘I try not to dwell on the future, but I have to be realistic that their eyesight will be affected one day.’

    Kelly hopes that by talking openly about her condition, she can make people more aware of invisible illnesses and hidden disabilities – and make things easier for her boys in the future.

    She explains: ‘Invisible illnesses should be discussed more openly in the media and social media to raise awareness.

    ‘People who have an invisible illness should also not be ashamed or embarrassed to tell others of their illness and be confident enough to ask for help when it’s needed.’

    Kelly is also supported by the Macular Society. You can find out more information online or call them on 0300 3030 111.

    How to get involved with You Don't Look Sick

    You Don’t Look Sick is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that discusses invisible illness and disabilities.

    If you have an invisible illness or disability and fancy taking part, please email youdontlooksick@metro.co.uk.

    You’ll need to be happy to share pictures that show how your condition affects you, and have some time to have some pictures taken.

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘Don’t tell me my mental health condition is just attention seeking’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I vomit almost every time I eat but people just assume I’ve been drinking’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I thought I was clumsy, forgetful, lazy and stupid until I was diagnosed with dyspraxia’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘When I collapse in public, people tell me to stop being dramatic’


    Kelly and family-b098Kelly and family-b098

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    Before and after weight loss photos are never acceptable
    Celebrate yourself in all your glory and respect the people quite happily living their lives as your ‘before’ photo (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Visit any social media platform right now and you are guaranteed to see sad looking plus-sized women, posing sideways in baggy leggings and sweatshirts, juxtoposed by smiling gym bunnies flexing their abs in string bikinis.

    Awkward teenage men alongside Adonis like jawlines and rippling muscles in tiny vests. This summer the before and after pictures are plentiful my friends.

    I know that I’m not entirely alone when I say that not once has my first thought on seeing a before and after image been ‘Oh this is great, I’m really happy for you, I can’t wait to see more.’ In the past my immediate, raw, very human response would have been jealousy, the kind of all encompansing toxic envy that forces a ‘looking gr8 hun’ comment, hours of comparison, culminating in extreme self loathing.

    Does that make me a terrible person? Quite possibly (definitely) but it doesn’t sit well with me that I should feel a failure in my own body just because it represents somebody else’s ‘before.’

    Because ultimately, whatever you *think* you’re saying when you post a before and after weight loss picture, what you’re *actually* saying is that you believe the body you have now holds greater value than the body you had previously – a body similar to that which thousands of other people still have.

    I recently saw a (now deleted) before and after tweet from a well known, yo-yo dieting celebrity. The comments below were a mix of ‘I wish I could do this,’ ‘such a great role model,’ plus a few very insincere ‘looking gr8 hun’s because I’m not the only terrible person in the world.

    The majority of people seeing this tweet will have read it on face value, they’ll be thinking ‘If she can do it, anyone can do it.’ Except they can’t, because they’re not being paid to work out all day, nor do they have a personal chef. Instead, they are taught, via the power of social media to feel failure, worthlessness and shame.

    It will never fail to break my cold, cold heart to see wonderful, bright people full of potential putting their lives on hold for something as irrelevant as dress size.

    I am VERY aware that I sound cynical here but I’m perpetually in awe of ex-plus size celebrities, whose initial popularity is generally based on portraying the stereotypical ‘fat funny chick’ role, throwing not only themselves but everyone they represented under the bus to sell a weight loss plan/book/DVD/shakes. It’s commercialism at its absolute finest.

    Reinforcing the view that X body = good, and Y body = bad buys into everything that the diet industry are selling us. With that in mind, I completely understand why so many people feel that weight loss is something to be celebrated. They feel it because everything around them is screaming that this is the case, day after day we are told that in order to deserve respect you must be slim, white and able-bodied.

    It will never fail to break my cold, cold heart to see wonderful, bright people full of potential putting their lives on hold for something as irrelevant as dress size. The existing narrative that you can only be happy when you look a certain way is pure nonsense.

    I know because I’m living it. My life is fabulous. I’m fulfilled. I have fun, I do the things I want to, I love and am loved. The size of my body doesn’t come into it.

    So why do I care? Why don’t I just avoid these images, curate my social media into a magical wonderland full of plus size women and those who respect us, almost as if we are humans deserving of such a thing..? I care because I want fatphobia to become a think of the past.

    I want fat women to be able to exist with self respect, adequate health care and the ability to navigate life without the constant abuse they currently receive.

    At no point have I – nor will I be – adverse to people making the decision to lose weight. Just do it for YOU, and if you’re tempted to post a before and after, stop and ask yourself why you feel the need to do it.

    Have pride in the person you are now, celebrate yourself in all your glory. Go for it. BUT respect the people quite happily living their lives as your ‘before’ photo.

    And if you really can’t bring yourself to do that, respect the person YOU have been at every stage, because these stages are what have led you to the ‘after’ you are so proud of.

    MORE: The body positivity movement is not for slim bodies already accepted by society

    MORE: Billie’s body hair razor advert isn’t contradictory – it’s a reminder women have a choice

    MORE: Plus-size woman branded a ‘whale’ by trolls refuses to stop celebrating her body in bikinis


    Before and after weight loss photos are never acceptableBefore and after weight loss photos are never acceptable

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    Picture of the bottom part of a broken car door but looks like a dark night at the beach
    It’s not what you think it is (Picture: Twitter/nxyxm)

    Viral images like that dress, those shoes and Laurel/Yanny make us realise that we all see and hear differently to one another.

    The latest picture to divide the internet is one of a broken car door. Except, lots of people are seeing something else entirely.

    They’re seeing a stormy shore at night, with waves coming in. And once they see that, it’s hard to see it for what it really is – the bottom of a car door.

    One Twitter user Nayem shared the ‘trippy’ picture online saying ‘if you can see a beach, ocean sky, rocks and stars then you are an artist.’

    So, what do you see?

    nayem's tweet showing the bottom part of a broken car door but looks like a dark night at the beach
    Car door or stormy shore? (Picture: Twitter/nxyxm)

    The image did the rounds on Reddit too with users saying even though they knew what it was, they were having trouble seeing it.

    ‘I still don’t know. I can only see the beach. Someone help?’ asked one person.

    Someone else added: ‘Am I tripping? Because I really see the beach.’

    One person commented on its likeness to the shore: ‘I live by the beach and this s**t looks like the beach.’

    What you see may actually depend on whether you’re more dominant on the right side of your brain or the left.

    The left part performs logical tasks, such as in science and mathematics, whereas the right completes tasks that have to do with creativity and the arts.

    And as with any psychological viral thing, some users got all sciency and said you may only see the shore due to confirmation bias.

    This is when your brain favours previously existing beliefs or biases. So the first few words of the tweet are: ‘If you can see a beach, ocean sky, rocks and stars then you are an artist,’ which are affirming words therefore making you believe the message.

    Simples.

    And of course, many Redditors made jokes about the person who took the picture of the car and whether they saw the beach too.

    Though, most guessed that some drugs may have been involved.

    MORE: What do you call the game when you knock on someone’s door then run away?

    MORE: Man behind ‘Yanny/Laurel’ viral clip reveals what he actually said


    METROGRAB Optical illusionMETROGRAB Optical illusion

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    Outside view of The Trending Store - the first ever AI powered store, stocking only what is trending online in real time.
    Westfield London launches The Trending Store – the first ever AI-powered shop (Picture: PA)

    Social media is a great way to see what people are wearing, eating, and doing.

    So one whole fashion store is planning to sell only the things popular on the ‘Gram’ and the like.

    Aptly named The Trending Store, it will stock 100 of the most ubiquitous items on social media at a pop-up at London’s Westfield using AI technology.

    Each day, shoppers can gander through the most well-liked pieces before a whole new bunch of items are bought in the next day.

    And it’s all for a good cause as the proceeds go to charity Save the Children.

    Women shopping at The Trending store
    It’s all for charity (Picture: PA)

    Sadly though there won’t be items based on viral trends, such as fidget spinners or a Tangle Teezer hairbrush, as it’s only based on fashion items.

    Using the power of artificial intelligence, Next Atlas will track over 400,000 fashion influencers in 1,000 cities to figure out what items of clothing and accessories are popular that day.

    Then, from the stores available at Westfield, a team of stylists will go on the search for the top 100 items.

    So we imagine a lot of folks will be sifting through Zara aisles looking for that polka dot dress.

    A customer shops at The Trending Store,
    The pop up is only based on fashion items (Picture: Isabel Infantes/PA)

    Westfield’s marketing chief Myf Ryan explained: ‘Online, shoppers are inspired by influencers and used to being guided by AI, with products served to them based on their behaviour.

    ‘Usually, this guidance does not translate to a physical retail space, however, working with data analysts, NextAtlas, we are able to bring our shoppers products that are trending in real time – a true reflection of social conversation brought to life in a physical space.’

    You can also try out The Trending Store’s vending machine by donating £5/£10/£20 to Save the Children in return for a top trending prize valued up to £100.

    Trendy and rewarding.

    MORE: Sustainable fashion just got a new cool makeover

    MORE: Fashion website removes ‘offensive’ mini skirts with Allah written on them

    MORE: Big vulva energy is the hottest new fashion trend


    The Trending StoreThe Trending Store

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    The mansion bought for 460K by seven friends in china in the suburbs of Guangzhou, south-eastern Guangdong province
    Grab your mates, save £460k and *maybe* this could be you (Picture: YouTube/Yitiao)

    While some (most) of us struggle to organise a group getaway, these seven Asian mates have managed to buy a house together.

    Putting us all to shame, the best friends from China forked out £460,000 (4 million yuan) to renovate a home to live in until their old age.

    They first spotted the property in the suburbs of Guangzhou, the south-eastern Guangdong province, in 2018 and decided to make it their retirement home.

    The three-storey mansion, which is next to paddy fields boasts floor-to-ceiling glass windows, a tea pavilion, a massive open kitchen and a swimming pool.

    It’s the ultimate squad goals.

    Image of mansion in the suburbs of Guangzhou, south-eastern Guangdong province
    Okay fine, so it’s unlikely that this will be you and your mates’ (Picture: YouTube/Yitiao)

    The group of friends have known each other for 20 years and decided in 2008 that they would love to live together one day.

    Making their dreams a reality, the ladies who met at work now own a luxury 7,535-square-foot house, situated in a quaint village away from the city centre, with a private bedroom for each lucky lady, according to Yitiao in a report.

    And because they’re like-minded friends, the gal pals, now in their 30s, decided to make a tea pavilion in the middle of the field, connected by a bamboo walkway, as they are all tea lovers.

    ‘At first, it was just a joke,’ one of the friends named Jin Du told Yitiao. ‘We said we would get together when we were 60 and live the retired life together.’

    ‘We’ll cook, have barbecues in the fields, sing and collect food form the village.’

    Black and white image of chinese friends who bought a mansion together
    The friends met at work 20 years ago and made a pact to buy a house one day and live in it (Picture: YouTube/Yitiao)

    And to ensure maximum efficiency in the upkeep of the house, the friends have promised to master a skill that will be beneficial to them all.

    Some of these include cooking, traditional Chinese medicine, growing vegetables and playing music (someone needs to bring the entertainment after all).

    ‘We’re all independent individuals but we can communicate and rely on each other at the same time,’ added Jin.

    ‘Ten years later our children would have all grown up. So we hope we can be together again in 10 years.’

    Anyway, some of us are off to find six more friends.

    MORE: Mum writes hilarious list of rules for son’s lads’ trip to Magaluf

    MORE: Friends of colourblind classmate give her corrective glasses so she can pursue dream job

    MORE: Why are young people afraid of making friends?


    Seven best friends buy a mansion and spend 460K renovating it inSeven best friends buy a mansion and spend 460K renovating it in

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    Francesca Harris with her art - paintings of carious dicks
    Fine Art student Francesca Harris did the unthinkable by asking strange men for d*ck pics (Picture: SWNS)

    Ladies, you’ve probably been sent an unsolicited d*ck pic or two but unlike most of us, this student has purposely asked strange men to send her the risque images.

    Francesca Harris used a dating app to receive as many pictures as possible to make an art project out of it.

    And of course, the men of Tinder obliged, out of the kindness of their heart (or whatever kick they get out of sending nudes).

    The 21-year-old Fine Art student, from Nottingham, was met with 300 responses, with some pretty strange requests, as you can imagine.

    But she laid all the cards on the table, putting on her Tinder bio that she was on the hunt for x-rated snaps for her project The Modern Man.

    Annoyingly for her, some of them replied with ‘tits first’.

    One guy sent her 25 of pics of himself. Charming.

    An artwork of dicks
    A variety of d*cks (Picture: SWNS)

    After finding a match, the third-year student led the conversation with ‘dick pic?’ but says the reaction she received has varied.

    Francessa matched with 600 men but found almost a third of them asked what they would get in return.

    As expected, many quipped that their body parts would be ‘too big’ to fit on the 6ft canvas that she later painted each image on.

    Tinder chat with a match who sent a picture of Donald Trump instead of a dick pic
    Fair enough response (Picture: SWNS)

    Francessa was sent a total of 300 snaps and whittled them down to 140 before she began painting them onto the canvas.

    ‘It’s such a prominent thing in the world of modern dating,’ she said.

    ‘I can’t remember a time when people weren’t sending me these sort of pictures.

    ‘It must have started in my early teens – it happens to everyone I know. It’s become the norm.

    ‘Sometimes you can be having a conversation with somebody and bam, they get it in their head that you’re after a picture of their penis and they send it through.’

    Paintings of dicks
    A wall of d*cks (Picture: SWNS)

    She added that while she had no issues with men sending images to consenting women, she abhors the idea of unsolicited ones.

    Personally, she doesn’t enjoy receiving them unless she has a special connection to the person.

    The student also added that she was entertained by some of the responses to her message, though disgusted by many.

    ‘There were a few who sent professional looking shots and one of them even went to the trouble of sending 25 to me.

    ‘One guy just replied with “pour curry on my willy” which I just found extremely weird.

    ‘I was still shocked by the number of guys who did it though, even though I was expecting it.

    ‘I had to turn my notifications as it kept crashing my phone.’

    Example of a Tinder conversation with a match
    Francessa delved straight in with each match (Picture: SWNS)

    She added that some dudes refused to comply which gave her some hope.

    Francesca said: ‘I found the penises that were slightly unusual or particularly veiny took longer to paint.

    ‘A few were more purple than others were quite tricky.

    ‘I remember one had two cock rings on it and no matter how many attempts I made to paint it, it just didn’t look quite right.’

    One of Francesca Harris many messages.
    She received more than 300 pics (Picture: SWNS)

    Her project was shown at the University of Northampton’s Degree Show last month, and received a mix of reactions.

    ‘I think the most interesting reactions are from middle-aged women, who have all experienced similar behaviour when on dating apps,’ she continued.

    ‘Men have definitely been a lot more uncomfortable with it than the women though.

    One of Francesca Harris many messages.
    Some of the guys were supportive of the project (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘I want people to reflect and understand why they are so uncomfortable with seeing male genitalia.

    ‘If men could think twice about sending unsolicited dick pics that would be great.’

    The Modern Male will be debuting in at The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London on July 5-8.

    MORE: Ever fancied growing your own d*ck plant? Well, now you can

    MORE: Guy who was told he had the wrong number sends d*ck pic anyway

    MORE: Guy accidentally texts his boss telling her she doesn’t have a ‘d*ck appointment’


    Dick pic artDick pic art

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    Eleven's yellow shirt in Stranger Things and the shirt on sale from Levi's
    Want to own Eleven’s yellow shirt for yourself? Well you can (Picture: Netflix/Levi’s)

    Stranger Things fans the world over have been getting stuck into season three after it dropped on Netflix on Thursday.

    The new season not only continues the story in Hawkins, Indiana, in gruesome not to mention heartbreaking fashion – but it also gives us a healthy dose of pop culture as it brings the action forward to the summer of 1985.

    And even Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is not immune to the fashion of the day, as she gets a bit of a makeover, complete with some serious mid-80s stylings – including that yellow and black Aztec print shirt she wears in several pivotal scenes.

    As garments go, this one is peak 80s – but can you buy one for yourself?

    Here’s what you need to know if you want to channel your inner Stranger Things child…

    Where can you buy Eleven’s yellow top from Stranger Things season three?

    The good news is that if you want to bring your wardrobe bang up to date for, er, the 80s, you can indeed buy the yellow printed shirt that Eleven favours.

    The top is actually available as part of Levi’s X Stranger Things collection, costing £55.

    It’s proving popular, mind – when we checked the website it was out of stock online, although you can use the site’s store finder to see if it’s in stock at a Levi’s store near you.

    Oh, and in case you’re wondering that’s not the only Stranger Things fashion item you can snap up.

    Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin in Stranger Things
    You can also buy Dustin’s T-shirt (Picture: Netflix)

    The collection also includes the Camp Know Where T-shirt which is worn by Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) in the series, as well as assorted printed sweatshirts, jeans, jackets, caps and other items.

    Although if you want that full-on Eleven look for yourself, you can also snap up a pair of the pleated jeans she wears in the series for £100.

    Where can you watch Stranger Things season three?

    Stranger Things season three is now streaming on Netflix UK.

    MORE: The Stranger Things season 3 soundtrack is here – and it’s epic

    MORE: What was New Coke, as featured in Stranger Things season 3, and what happened to it?


    Where to buy Eleven\'s yellow top from Stranger ThingsWhere to buy Eleven\'s yellow top from Stranger Things

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    So you’ve been single for a while. And you’re tired of swiping right, swiping left, your friends setting you up with ‘that cute guy from work’, and all the existing sexual chemistry you had fizzling out.

    So what do you do when you just can’t meet anyone organically?

    You make your own website, of course.

    That’s exactly what Shahan, a 30-year-old IT man from Bristol, did. He created his own site Date Shahan to increases his chances of finding the one after a string of unsuccessful attempts to get on popular dating shows.

    The software and coding professional has tried his luck to get on Blind Date, First Dates, and Take Me Out a few times but hasn’t heard back.

    Picture of Shahan, the eponymous creator of Date.Shahan.com
    Shahan has made his own dating website (Picture: DateShahan.com)

    ‘I was mostly inspired by the Employ Adam website by Adam Pacitti from 2012 where he was looking to find a job,’ Shahan tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘As a fellow media graduate, I could feel his frustration, and I loved how his campaign went viral. Years later, and I have received his blessing to do my website.

    ‘Also, I was pretty much fed up with now what is seen as the “modern” way of trying to date; using apps, having a million to one chance of meeting someone on a night out, etc.

    ‘And I needed a new way to stand out and show my full personality!’

    Sadly, Shahan hasn’t had many hits with his site yet but it is early days he informs us.

    The 30-year-old adds that he has also had previous dates and flings that have led nowhere and now has long-term romantic aspirations.

    While he relied on TV shows to help him find love in the past, Shahan says that he is now over it.

    Man who created dating website for himself standing in a park
    The details (Picture: DateShahan.com)

    ‘I applied to be on First Date some years ago, but never heard back.

    ‘And also at around the same time, I got a call back from Blind Date but I said I’d only go on if I was the guy that could choose out of the three single ladies. They didn’t contact me back.

    ‘And many years ago, I applied for Take Me Out as a laugh, but I never heard back. Not sure if that’s a good thing now.

    ‘However, I have passed that phase of applying for dating TV shows as I have a better chance of looking for love myself.’

    One of the responses he’s received is from a Bristol resident who saw the website and contacted Shahan, saying it was nice to come across someone genuine who also doesn’t like dating apps.

    So who knows, maybe that will potentially lead to a bit of romance.

    If all this chat of dating has made you curious to check Shahan out, you can gander through his website.

    MORE: Why you keep dating people who are just like your ex, study reveals

    MORE: Student asks men of Tinder to send her d*ck pics for art, 300 of them come through

    MORE: Woman told to ‘eat a salad’ by fatphobic Tinder date loses 13 stone


    Man creates dating website for himselfMan creates dating website for himself

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    Bird's-eye-view of Seattle coastline with city
    Picture: Seattle has beautiful views and culture at every turn

    There is nothing quite like a city break. Discovering vibrant new cultures, checking out new neighbourhoods and – of course – trying lots of exciting new food.

    But an urban escape can be so much more than that – especially when you visit a place like Seattle. Situated on America’s Pacific coast, up near the border of Canada, this US gem has everything you need to up your getaway game – and it’s so easy to get to now thanks to daily direct flights with Virgin Atlantic.

    Culture by the bucket load

    Picture: Seattle Central Library is just one of the city’s cultural ‘must-sees’

    Obviously, it’s not a city break without a bit of cultural enlightenment – and Seattle has culture at every turn.

    From October’s Refract, a four-day, citywide festival featuring glass exhibitions, festive art parties, fascinating talks, tours, open studios and exclusive collector events, to Broadway theatre productions and foodie events, there is quite literally something for everyone all year round.

    And if you’re not trying your hand at a new skill or rocking out at a gig, there are plenty of museums, galleries and sites to check out too.

    History buffs can’t leave Seattle without checking out The Museum of History and Industry, which shows Seattle’s journey in becoming a leader in business innovation. From the city’s Native American roots to the hype of the Gold Rush, Seattle’s enthralling past is brought to life through interactive displays and events.

    Culture vultures, meanwhile, won’t want to miss the world-famous Chihuly Garden and Glass, displaying works by internationally renowned artist Dale Chihuly. His captivating artwork is displayed here in gardens and galleries, giving you the opportunity to slip into a colourful yet tranquil world away from the buzz of the city. It’s a truly breathtaking and inspiring experience.

    A paradise for foodies

    Chefs preparing food at Taste Washington
    Picture: Get a taste of Seattle by joining a food tour or attending one of its many foodie festivals, like Taste Washington

    One of the many things you can do is dive into Seattle’s eclectic foodie scene.

    The area has long been a hub of international influences; from Asia to Scandinavia, many different cultures have made their imprint on the city, and one of the many brilliant outcomes is the diverse cuisine.

    A good way to get a flavour for all this place has to offer is by visiting Taste Washington. Whether you’re a chocoholic, wine aficionado, lover of seafood or just plain adventurous with food, this single place offers samples from across 235 wineries and 65 restaurants, showcasing the talents of the region’s best chefs – it’s an absolute must.

    If you’re not in town for long, there are a few key districts you should make a beeline for. For easy yet outstanding comfort food, Queen Anne in the northwest is the go-to place for low-budget, high quality eateries. Or, if you’re looking to splash the cash, South Lake Union is where the region’s top chefs have set up shop, offering some of the finest steak, exquisite Italian-American meals and superb Mexican classics.

    The best of Seattle’s buzzing nightlife can be found concentrated in Capitol Hill, the city’s LGBT hub and home to a vast array of lively local bars hosting live music, clubs and fringe theatres. Alternatively, Pioneer Square has everything from art galleries to underground comedy clubs and a dizzying array of different pubs and saloons.

    Nature on the doorstep

    Picture: The stunning natural beauty of Mt. Rainier is only moments from the city

    What defines Seattle from many other city break destinations is its proximity to lush natural landscapes and wildlife.

    Parks, for example, are to be expected in most cities – but Seattle’s green spaces are on a whole other level. 

    Take Discovery Park, which is home to hundreds of acres of dense forest filled with bird song, dramatic sea cliffs and sandy tidal beaches – it’s basically a whole new land just moments away from the buzz of the city centre.

    Of course, for truly breathtaking scenes, you need to journey a little further from Seattle’s urbanscape. The wild side of Seattle is defined by magnificent mountain chains and beautiful meadows of flowers. And, if you’re lucky, you may spy all kinds of incredible animals while you’re out hiking in the hills of Washington State, from bald eagles to gentle white-tailed deer.

    The most spectacular wildlife-spotting opportunity in these parts has to be at Lime Kiln Point State Park, though. It’s earned the name ‘Whale Watch Park’ thanks to the orcas, minke whales and porpoises that make regular appearances. You can also spot cheeky sea otters and sea lions playing in the waters here too.

    It's never been easier to visit Seattle

    Fly daily to Seattle with Virgin Atlantic from £356* return. For more information and to book visit virginatlantic.com/Seattle

     

    *Terms & Conditions apply. Visit virginatlantic.com for full conditions. Fare quoted is based on a return to Seattle departing from London Heathrow only. Travel in Economy Light. Fares subject to availability and include all pre-paid taxes, fees and surcharges. Travel restrictions apply. Book before midnight on July 23, 2019.


    DJI_0433-0831DJI_0433-0831

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    Burger King releases a halloumi burger
    Yum (Picture: Burger King/Getty)

    For a long time, vegetarian fast food options have been pretty limited.

    You were pretty much just lumped with a patty of beans and veg or some chips.

    That’s changed in recent years. McDonald’s has introduced a veggie Happy Meal, Greggs released a vegan sausage roll, and KFC launched vegan chicken.

    And now, Burger King is expanding its veggie options with a halloumi burger.

    This is wondrous news, as veggies have long known the joy of halloumi. At a BBQ? No need for those fake patties. Just through some grilled halloumi on bread and we’ll be set.

    Now, finally, a halloumi sandwich will be readily available as a fast food option. Our dreams are coming true.

    The UK launch follows a successful trial in Sweden, which caused us to beg Burger King to bring the goodness to the UK. They listened to our cries and made our wishes come true.

    Burger King’s Halloumi Burger is pretty self-explanatory, but for clarity: it’s a buttery brioche bun with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and mayo, all tucked around crispy halloumi cheese from Cyprus.

    You can either go for a single halloumi slice (sad) or a double (rad), and get your burger alone or as a meal.

    Price-wise, we’re talking £3.99 for a single Halloumi Burger and £5.99 for a meal, or £5.49 for a Double Halloumi Burger, £7.49 for a meal – but Burger King does say prices vary between stores. Cool.

    If you’re not veggie, you can also hack the menu and get a bit of halloumi added to your meaty burger.

    Get ready to eat a lot of squeaky cheese.

    MORE: Iceland creates a burger patty made entirely of halloumi

    MORE: What’s actually in the vegan KFC Imposter Burger?

    MORE: A customer gave a restaurant a very detailed order to get the perfect burger for a dog


    EMBARGOED 9AM MONDAY 8TH: Halloumi burger comes to Burger KingEMBARGOED 9AM MONDAY 8TH: Halloumi burger comes to Burger King

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    Eammon Atkinson's quest to get his ring back
    With the help of the fire brigade, the ring was saved (Picture: Eammon Ashton Atkinson)

    If you fidget with your wedding ring, this is a cautionary tale.

    Eammon Ashton Atkinson, 32, was having dinner with a friend in Clapham, south London, last week when his ring ended up falling down a drain.

    The Australian TV reporter says he was playing with the ring when it fell off the table.

    He tried to fish it out with a crowbar but couldn’t quite reach.

    When the local council couldn’t send someone out to help until the next day, a local fire crew happened to stop on their way back from a job.

    But once they managed that, he was met with lots of pretty unpleasant sludge and water.

    Determined not to go home to his husband John without the ring, Eammon started to lift handfuls of sewage out to try and get the ring.

    Eammon getting his wedding ring from down the drain
    Eammon scooping the sludge out of the drain to find his ring (Picture: Eammon Ashton Atkinson)

    He said after about 30 handfuls, he saw the hint of gold and was able to get the ring.

    He tweeted: ‘Soooo… I lost my wedding ring down a drain but thanks to the amazing Green Watch boys at @LondonFire Clapham Station – we found it #sleepinginmybednotthedoghouse.’

    Eammon said: ‘I was out for dinner and it rolled off the table and I saw it fall down the drain. I went to the hardware store and got a crowbar to try and lift it and I tried hooking it but nothing was working.

    ‘The crew kindly stopped to help on their way back from a job. They got the drain open and gave me some chemical gloves to go through the sludge as it was disgusting. Then I found it and everyone cheered.

    ‘There was no way I was leaving that drain until I had it back. My husband is always telling me to stop taking my wedding ring off and playing with it as I’ll lose it. I’m always doing it out of habit.

    ‘I’d like to say thank you to the firefighters. They were so amazingly helpful and I know it’s not their responsibility to help me but they came and gave a hand anyway.’

    MORE: Seven best mates buy a mansion for £460k so they can live together and grow old

    MORE: Burger King is launching the halloumi burger vegetarians have been craving


    Determined husband delves into a drain filled with sewage to rescue his wedding ringDetermined husband delves into a drain filled with sewage to rescue his wedding ring

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    Illustration of a hand holding a pregnancy test and a woman sat at her laptop
    All the way through my medical treatment doctors talked to me about if, when and how I would like to try again (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    One of the questions that I’ve been asked a lot since my miscarriage is when I’m going to try to get pregnant again.

    Obviously that’s an inappropriate question, but there’s a magical quality about miscarriage which makes nice people with good intentions ask wholly inappropriate questions.

    While ‘when will you try again?’ is not something you should say to someone who recently miscarried, you can probably safely assume that it’s on their mind.

    All the way through my medical treatment doctors talked to me about if, when and how I would like to try again. They went to great pains to make sure that I knew I could get pregnant again if I wanted to, and that having had a miscarriage does not mean I will have another one, or that I will struggle to take a pregnancy to term.

    But how the f**k do you know when to start trying again?

    Doctors have told me over and over again that I do not have to wait to try again, that I might want to have one period because it makes dating a pregnancy easier (pregnancy is dated from the first day of your last period) but that any suggestion that your uterus needs to recover is unproven and untrue.

    Some women, from the messages I’ve had and the message boards I’ve read, want to try again as soon as humanly possible. There is a school of thought (though it’s not proven) that you’re very fertile after a miscarriage and likely to conceive very quickly.

    I’m in awe of those women. I think they’re amazing. As far as I can see that’s like surviving an attack in a war zone and then putting your uniform straight back on.

    When will I feel ready to put my uniform back on?

    Right now it’s all I can do to keep it together. I drink more wine than I should. I’ve gone back to smoking, which I quit the day I found out I was pregnant. I’ve gone back to everything I did before, actually. I keep hoping it will make me feel like the person I used to be. Sometimes it even works.

    Perhaps it’s different if you tried for a long time to conceive, if you’re on a clock. I’m 28. I’ve got time. I’ve got a full on career, lots of friends, very few who have children. I’ve got plenty to be getting on with without a family.

    I’m not fully sure how any woman goes back for round two, knowing exactly what she’s letting herself in for.

    But during the 10 weeks I thought I was having a baby – one quarter of a pregnancy – I rearranged my mental furniture. I made myself feel ready to be a mum. Then I undid all of that. Now the time is coming where, if we start trying again, I might have to re-do it.

    Since my miscarriage I’ve had reoccuring nightmares that I’m giving birth to a tiny, perfectly formed plastic doll covered in blood. Then plastic tubing and other random objects fall out of my vagina, also covered in blood.

    The dreams are bad enough. I don’t know how I’d face the reality of another brutal, agonising miscarriage.

    I didn’t want to lose my pregnancy before, but I didn’t know how it was going to be. I wasn’t expecting the pain, the gore and the misery of it. Now I know exactly how it feels.

    I’m not fully sure how any woman goes back for round two, knowing exactly what she’s letting herself in for.

    I don’t know how I’d handle another scan where an ashen faced medic tries to tell me in the kindest possible way that what was living inside me is now dead.

    How am I supposed to do it all over again, the pregnancy test, the morning sickness, the exhaustion, the hope?

    I want a baby. I want to be a mother. I want to be a family in the most conventional sense of the word.

    But I don’t want another miscarriage.

    Unfortunately, the only way that I get the happy ending I’m dreaming of is to take the risk, to be brave and to hope against hope that it doesn’t happen again.

    I am in awe of the women who got in touch with me to say that they had had two, three, four, even more miscarriages. I don’t know where they found the strength to pick themselves up and try again.

    When people ask me when I’ll try again, I say ‘I’m not sure’. Which I suppose is technically true. But what I really mean is ‘if and when I ever claw the strength together to attempt the whole thing again.’

    MORE: I had a miscarriage but I don’t regret telling people I was pregnant before 12 weeks

    MORE: Halsey reveals three miscarriage heartbreak: ‘I’m in pain everyday of my life’

    MORE: Miscarriage Association launches cards designed specifically for people who have lost babies


    Coping with infertility at workCoping with infertility at work

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    Audrey the cat and the post on Reddit
    Audrey the secretly friendly cat (Picture: Reddit/skeletoor)

    One minute your cat can be cuddling up to you, the next they’re scratching at your arm. Cats are complicated creatures.

    One person though was sick of her cat Audrey getting called unfriendly because of her aloof nature.

    Posting on Reddit, the person wrote a letter to their cat, saying that they knew she had a secret sweet side, where she secretly comes in during the night and snuggles.

    The post said: ‘Audrey when we found you, you were 1/2 dead and 100% feral. I’m glad you grew out of attacking everyone. Only took 4 years.

    ‘I’m glad you’ve learned to allow the occasional family friend to pet your head….only the head anywhere else and you bite and that took 8 years.

    ‘I’ve accepted that you don’t really like humans and are happy just doing your own thing. But can I tell you a secret? I know you come into my room at night and snuggle me.

    ‘You’re not exactly sly. First of all you weigh like 20lbs. You’re a fat cat. So I can feel when you walk all over me. Also girl you purr like a freight train when you’re happy. And you tend to drool on my face when you stare at me.

    ‘You always come in once you think I’m asleep and bail when I start to wake up. You’re not as sly as you think you but that’s okay. I love you very much and it makes me so happy you show me love in your own special way.’

    Audrey the cat, posted on Reddit
    Audrey is called ‘unfriendly’ but her owner knows she loves her (Picture: skeletoorr/REddit)

    People really fell in love with the description of Audrey and said it was something they could identify with.

    One said: ‘Amazing and wholesome. My grandma has rescued cat (Sadie) that was very unfriendly towards everyone except for her. Sadie would hiss at everyone that even glanced at her at first, but after some time got to where you could pet her and she would enjoy it until she realized you were touching her.

    ‘One day when I little I was taking a nap on the couch with Sadie’s favorite feather comforter, and I woke up to find her loafed up neatly on top of my legs. I was terrified at first but now it’s a happy warm memory for me. It always warms my heart to see people rehabilitating and nurturing “hard” animals.’

    Another added: ‘This is the best thing I’ve seen on the Internet all week. My mother’s formerly feral cat would do this too. Tough girl on the outside, total love bug as long as she thought I or my mother was asleep and no one was watching. She had a reputation to maintain after all of strong independent cat who don’t need no hooman.

    ‘Audrey loves you.’

    After seeing all the positive comments, the original poster updated the letter and said even Audrey was impressed with the reaction.

    The update said: ‘You guys I had no idea this would blow up and I’m so happy I could touch so many of you. I just love my little kitty and needed to get it off my chest. I’ve been reading her your comments. She seems pleased.’

    MORE: Seven best mates buy a mansion for £460k so they can live together and grow old

    MORE: What do you see in this image? A stormy beach or a car door?


    Unfriendly cat letterUnfriendly cat letter

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    Zoe can feel dizzy or collapse any moment. It doesn’t mater if she is in the street, at home or in her bed.

    But thanks to her medical detection dog Stowe, she now gets a warning and her life has changed for the better.

    Zoe has postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) – where she has an abnormal increase in heart rate just from standing or sitting up.

    What is POTS?

    POTS stands for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.

    It means the sufferer experiences an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing. It typically causes dizziness, fainting and other symptoms.

    Typical symptoms of POTS include:

    • dizziness or light-headedness
    • fainting
    • heart palpitations
    • shaking and sweating
    • weakness and fatigue
    • headaches
    • poor sleep
    • chest pain
    • feeling sick
    • shortness of breath

    Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/postural-tachycardia-syndrome/

    Stowe the medical detection dog
    Stowe the medical detection dog (Picture: Aaron Crowley/Metro.co.uk)

    Zoe was paired with Stowe through the organisation Medical Detection Dogs, who are based in Milton Keynes, but they help people all over England, Scotland and Wales.

    She says: ‘It took me quite a long time to even apply because I’d always thought I didn’t have the confidence to do it because I had convinced myself that I wasn’t suitable.

    ‘Then I met Deborah, one of the trainers, and I was given the encouragement to apply.’

    And the rest is history.

    Zoe had to fill out an application form so that the organisation could see that she was eligible for a dog and evaluate her needs.

    Once she was accepted, she was invited to the newly refurbished Medical Detection Dogs centre in Buckinghamshire for what is known as a ‘match day’.

    No it isn’t the world’s cutest Labrador five-aside teams fighting it out head-to-head for the championship title, but instead it allows clients eligible for for an assistance dog to meet their potential future paw-some pal.

    Zoe explains: ‘I met and worked with Stowe on a handling day and we were out in Morrisons. I had a collapse and the way he responded and stayed by me and was licking me.

    ‘It opened my eyes into what life could be like with having a medical detection dog.’

    Zoe, who has POTS
    Zoe, who has POTS (Picture: Aaron Crowley/Metro.co.uk)

    When Zoe found out she had been paired with a dog, she was in hospital. She didn’t know which detection dog she had been matched with, but she knew that she wanted the black Labrador that had stolen her heart on the handling day.

    Once she was discharged from hospital she was able to travel to the centre to find out. When Stowe came bounding through the door she could not have been happier.

    She says: ‘When I said I was happy to go ahead with Stowe I had him for a week to stay at home to see how he fitted into life at home, and then he entered his four week scent training.

    ‘Scent training is pretty much what it says on the tin. It is the process that allows dogs like Stowe to recognise the specific scent of the phenomenon that they have to alert to.

    ‘Prior to meeting Stowe, I had to collect samples every time I’d either have a faint or a pre-faint.

    ‘I had to collect breath samples and sweat samples so I’d get a cloth and then wipe it across my forehead and then freeze those and they trained Stowe to my specific POTS odour.’

    After four weeks, of intensive training and preparation, Stowe got to go to his fur-ever home.

    Zoe says: ‘From day one he was alerting, and I think it was something like the fourth day [of having Stowe] I had seven alerts in one day. Even out in public or in different environments, he will still always alert even on a free run when he is off the lead.’

    Being able to rely on Stowe has changed Zoe’s life.

    ‘He’s always by my side no matter where I am or what I am doing. If I get up to go anywhere, even if there are other people in the room, he will get up to follow me to see where I am. We have  become inseparable,’ she says.

    Stowe the medical detection dog
    Stowe can detect when Zoe is feeling unwell (Picture: Aaron Crowley/Metro.co.uk)

    And it’s not just confidence in managing her chronic illness that Stowe has given Zoe.

    ‘Since having Stowe he has helped me make sure that I am out everyday so at the very least I’m going for a walk and even talking to people in the woods about dogs,’ she says.

    ‘It has built up my confidence. If we’re out and about at shops people say “oh what are medical detection dogs?” so it’s got me talking to people.

    ‘Any situation that I am nervous in I know I have that reassurance as well that if he’s there I am OK. It’s not just to do with the episodes, it’s that comfort with him being there.’

    The pair seem like kindred spirits who have known one-and-other an entire lifetime, but in reality they will have only been paired together a year on the 1st August.

    Zoe says: ‘I can’t imagine life without him now and I’d be lost without him now. Not just because of POTS because of everything else that he has helped me with.’

    Zoe demonstrating how Stowe helps her as a medical detection dog
    Zoe demonstrating how Stowe helps her (Picture: Aaron Crowley/Metro.co.uk)

    How does Zoe know when Stowe is giving her a warning?

    Even though Stowe is your typical mischievous lab, he is still a hard-working professional.

    All of Medical Detection Dogs assistance animals still get time to be a dog, which means that when they aren’t picking up on a medical alert, they are free to roll around, play fetch and get all of the snacks and tummy tickles that they can.

    But once Stowe senses that Zoe needs him, he can do a few things to let her know it’s time to act.

    She explains: ‘If I’m sat down, he will tend to put his paws up on my lap and he can get a bit vocal and he will lick my face.

    ‘If I am walking or stood up he will spring up and get to head height and stop me from walking any further. If I haven’t acknowledged it and have carried on he will get more pushy and keep bouncing up and stand in front of me to stop me going any further.’

    Following an alert, Zoe has only a few minute to find somewhere to rest or sit down before she feels ‘POTS-y’.

    ‘If I have passed out he will lick me to help me come round and he will stay close by and keep an eye on me,’ she adds.

    Stowe the medical detection dog playing with a ball
    Stowe still gets plenty of time to play (Picture: Aaron Crowley/Metro.co.uk)

    How did Medical Detection Dogs get started?

    The charity now boasts the Duchess of Cornwall as a patron, but it started more than 15 years ago when CEO Claire Guest witnessed something remarkable happen.

    Claire’s friend had a dog who licked and fussed over a mole on it’s owner’s calf so relentlessly that she went to the doctor to have the blemish examined. It turns out that the dog had detected a malignant melanoma.

    From there, Claire started her journey into finding out how dogs could smell cancer and how she could utilise this incredible skill to help people.

    And her work no longer looks at just cancer, her charity looks at training dogs to detect ‘every disease you can think of’.

    Claire says: ‘To train a good cancer detection dog we have to teach it to only alert to the cancer. But what we started to find was that whenever dogs came across a new disease they were interested in it and they could clearly smell a difference.

    ‘We then started to feel that perhaps as an opportunity to use this incredible ability that has come to train the dogs to work and assistant along side individuals who have life threatening medical conditions, seeing if they could alert them to an oncoming emergency.’

    Daisy's story

    Claire’s dog Daisy not only saved other people’s lives but also her own.

    ‘This work has affected my life in ways that I could never have imagined. It’s an incredible privilege working in this individual area where dogs through these fantastic things for people and saving lives.

    ‘I trained the first dogs and was working the dog, Daisy, who sadly passed away last year.

    ‘She lived with me and she was always by my side. She was a bladder and prostate cancer detection dog.

    ‘One day she seemed a bit wary of me almost like she was a bit upset about something I couldn’t really work out why. A few days later we go for a walk, I lift up the back of the car to let her out, and play with the others.

    ‘But she wouldn’t go. She kept staring at me and looking at me and staring and nudging at a specific area.

    ‘I said, “What’s the matter Daisy. Go and have a run around.”

    ‘But then when I examined the area she was nudging I felt a small lump.

    ‘To cut a long story short, I was actually diagnosed subsequently with early stage breast cancer.

    ‘I was told by my consultant that because it was a very deep seated cancer that had my attention not being drawn to it my prognosis could have been incredibly different.

    ‘So I had Daisy to thank for my saving my life, I may not have been here without her.’

    Since its conception, the charity has gone from strength to strength and this year opened a newly renovated centre.

    Their expansion means the dogs now have space to test out samples, train to detect, as well as space for dogs to meet, work and train with their clients and a large space for the detection dogs to play and relax, as all dogs should.

    What can Claire’s dogs currently detect?

    As Claire said, you can train a dog to detect all sorts of diseases. She has a canine calvary that currently live and work with her to help provide essential detection services to those in need.

    • Asha – Parkinson’s detection
    • Florin – Prostate cancer detection
    • Tara – Bio-detection dog in training, they are still working out which disease Tara responds best to.

    How can you help?

    Stowe and Zoe were matched through the Medical Detection Dog charity
    Stowe and Zoe were matched through the Medical Detection Dog charity (Picture: Aaron Crowley/Metro.co.uk)

    There are lots of way to get involved.

    Claire explains: ‘We’re still relatively young charity, just 10 years old, so one way you can tell just by spreading the word and telling people about the amazing things that we are going to do and the way in which they save lives.

    ‘You can also sponsor a puppy. You’ll be able to go to the training that puppy and you’ll be able to track that puppy’s progress throughout his live to moment he becomes a Medical Detection Dog.

    ‘You can get involved in local community fundraising. You can help organise your own event and you can also get involved in some of the bigger events that we run.’

    Dogs with Jobs

    Dogs are amazing, aren’t they? They’re adorable, they love a cuddle and they are man’s best friend.

    But they are so much more than that.

    Our new series, Dogs with Jobs, explores the roles of working dogs and looks at the impact they have on both society and the people they help

    From Guide Dogs to Nuclear Detection Dogs, we will be meeting so many incredible dogs from all walkies of life.

    Check our Facebook each Monday for a new Dogs with Jobs.

    MORE: Dogs with Jobs: What’s involved in training a police dog?


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    The Morrisons vegan cornish pastry
    The Corn-ish pasty (Picture: Morrisons)

    We’re already seen some great vegan alternatives this year.

    The Greggs sausage roll, the Ikea meatless meatballs and KFC’s vegan chicken burger are just a few of the examples.

    Now, Morrisons is launching a vegan version of the Cornish party.

    They say they were the first supermarket to do so.

    The Morrisons ‘Corn-ish’ pasty will be handmade in Cornwall with a recipe that stays as close as possible to the famous original.

    It’s been created using a vegan mince, a traditional seasoned mix of potato, swede and onion carefully wrapped within a crimped rough-puff flaky pastry.

    Morrisons Pasty Buyer, Steve Halford, said: ‘Some of our customers want to cut down on their red meat intake, so we wanted to offer a pasty that’s meat-free and as delicious as the original.’

    It launches across Morrisons stores today and will be available at Pie Shop counters.

    It will be £1.75 for one or you can get two for £2.

    Morrisons vegan offering also includes Vegan Sausage Rolls, which will cost £1 each or available as part of a 2 for £1.50 offer.

    What does the Corn-ish pasty taste like?

    With the filling all mixed together, it’s hard to tell it’s vegan.

    It’s meaty, packed with veg, warm and comforting.

    The pastry is crisp and tasty around the edge.

    It’s really a pretty good vegan version so if you’re missing the pasty since going plant-based, this is some excellent news.

    Other vegan pasties do exist but being able to pick one up from your local supermarket is exciting.

    In other vegan news, someone has deep-fried a vegan Magnum and it looks incredible.

    Milky Lane cafe in Sydney is responsible for this act of genius.

    If travelling the whole way to Australia seems a bit too far, you could try making it at home – it’s a dairy-free almond Magnum, covered in maple syrup, biscuit crumbs, coconut milk cream and cornflakes, all fried until it’s crispy and golden.

    What a dream.

    MORE: Woman writes letter to her ‘unfriendly’ cat to tell the world about her sweet side

    MORE: Burger King is launching the halloumi burger vegetarians have been craving


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    Aubergines at various stages of growth
    (Picture: Getty)

    Ever have a strangely sexual dream about someone you have a platonic relationship with?

    Or even if you’re romantically involved with someone, it’s always interesting to wake up and suddenly feel a lot closer to them because your subconscious has stored sexual chemistry between the two of you.

    While we may associate sexy dreams with men a lot more than we do women, it seems the latter is having more of the saucy stuff than we think.

    In fact, women now are having three times more sex dreams than those from 50 years ago.

    A study from the University of Freiburg in Germany found that a fifth of women under 30 had erotic thoughts.

    We stan a sex-positive queen.

    Flowers at various stages from budding to wiltering
    That’s meant to represent a vagina by the way (Picture: Getty)

    An erotic dream is defined as having ‘sexually motivated’ activity which includes flirting and kissing.

    The researchers asked 2,907 16 to 92-year-olds about the nature of their dreams and found the highest levels of eroticism in those aged 16-30.

    One in five also admitted to playing out their fantasies in late-night thoughts before snoozing off which could explain the ideas being transferred into dreams.

    While women now are enjoying more titillating content than before, men still top the board, with 25.3% of them having sexual dreams compared to 22.1% for women.

    But both sexes are also enjoying more wet dreams, with 83.8% admitting to such.

    Both figures were much lower in 1966 and 1998 when previous research was carried out in the area.

    During the latter, fewer than 4% of women and 12% of men confessed to having dirty dreams.

    It could also be a result of the highly sexualised times we live in and access to porn.

    But hey, if you’re getting it in your dreams, good for you.

    MORE: Why do you fart during sex?

    MORE: Man who dated a cockroach for a year and had sex dreams about it says humans aren’t as attractive

    MORE: Student asks men of Tinder to send her d*ck pics for art, 300 of them come through


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    A picture of four Krispy Kreme doughnuts on a background
    There are three new types of doughnuts (Picture: Krispy Kreme)

    Do you remember party rings? Brightly coloured, sugar coated biscuits you got at every birthday party as a kid.

    Now you can relive those days as Krispy Kreme has released a doughnut version.

    The Throw Back Party Range goes on sale today.

    As well as the Party Ring, there’s three other 90s inspired new treats for you to try – the Chocolate Jazzle, filled with chocolate brownie batter, hand dipped in chocolate icing and finished with hundreds and thousands, and the Cookies & Kreme – decorated with vanilla frosting and smothered in crunchy cookie pieces.

    Krispy Kreme is also bringing out a new slushie and shake range including Tropical, Apple flavor slushies and an Oreo Kreme shake to tie in with the nostalgic theme.

    The range is limited edition and only available until 25 August so get in there quick.

    The Party Ring doughnut will cost £1.75, and the Jazzie and Cookies and Kreme are on sale for £1.90.

    Krispy Kreme launch doughnuts that taste like party ring biscuits
    The Throwback collection (Picture: Krispy Kreme)

    The Apple and Tropical Slushy costs £3.10 and the Oreo Shake is £3.30.

    To celebrate the launch, Krispy Kreme is offering chance to buy any Throw Back Party doughnut and get another Throw Back Party doughnut free on 10 July.

    And with the weather heating up, you can also try the Krispy Kreme Original Glazed flavour ice cream.

    The cold treat went on sale earlier in the summer.

    The ice cream costs £1.95 but you can add either caramel or chocolate sauce and doughnut bites for another £1.

    If you want to go all out, you can combine a doughnut and the ice cream together – with a load of ice cream piled on top of a glazed doughnut, for £3.50.

    MORE: Burger King is launching the halloumi burger vegetarians have been craving

    MORE: Morrisons launches vegan ‘Corn-ish’ pasty

    MORE: Young women are having more sex dreams now than 50 years ago


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    American cop trying the viral Bottle Cap Challenge
    (Picture: @Zmiller_/Twitter)

    The Bottle Cap Challenge is showing us that opening your drink with your hands is so last week – now, it’s all about kicking it open.

    If you’ve been on the internet recently then you’ve probably noticed the challenge that even stars like Mariah Carey, Ellie Goulding, Ryan Reynolds, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and more have been attempting.

    The move is all about loosening the bottle cap and kicking it open (won’t work on an empty bottle for obvious reasons) while a mate patiently records you in slow motion.

    It started after Taekwondo fighter and instructor Farabi Davletchin posted his skilled fly kick.

    And as such, a viral trend was born.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BzI2JYKA–E/

    Actor and avid stuntman Jason Statham also got involved showing us how it’s done and making it look easy after being nominated by John Mayer.

    Martial arts actor Donnie Yen even did it blindfolded.

    It’s not just fit celebs getting involved either, regular folks have also been kicking their bottles in style.

    Some have even taken to opening up to three bottles at a time. We even clocked one child who managed to open it with a kick of a football.

    So how do you do the Bottle Cap Challenge?

    Place a bottle in front of you, lower than chest height (or lower, depending on your ability to kick), loosen the lid but with a few twists left – otherwise, the lid will just fall off.

    Using a circular martial arts kick called a roundhouse, attempt to get the sole of your foot to untwist the top.

    And of course, get someone to record all the attempts, only to upload the one successful finish.

    Which celebrities have done the Bottle Cap Challenge?

    Mariah Carey was said to have ‘won’ the challenge by opening the bottle without even making any contact.

    The singer posted a video of her preparing to seemingly kick the bottle cap by warming up with some martial arts-esque moves.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BznxfkQgU13/?utm_source=ig_embed

    But instead, she used her piercing vocals to send the lid flying off. Skills. Meanwhile, Justin Beiber dared wife Hailey Baldwin and also Tom Cruise to do it.

    DJ Diplo challenged himself to do it, nailed it, and passed it onto Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BzWjwKfHwsD/?utm_source=ig_embed

    Though, we imagine the Royals are unlikely to get involved any time soon.

    So go forth, people, and enjoy kicking your drinks.

    Here are some people who mastered it:

    MORE: Justin Bieber keeps Tom Cruise battle alive as he does Bottle Cap Challenge

    MORE: We learned how to do the triangle dance and here’s how you can do it too

    MORE: Viral challenge #TrashTag encourages teens to pick up litter


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    vet carrying"bright orange" bird that was rescued by concerned members of the public turned out to be a seagull covered in curry
    (Picture: Jefff Moore)

    A bright orange bird who was found on on the side of an A41 road near the motorway was spotted for its unusual look.

    After someone called it in, folks at the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Aylesbury took the tropical-looking bird in, not knowing where it flew in from and assumed it was exotic.

    But a quick wash later, they realised that it was just a seagull, covered in curry and turmeric. Fittingly they called him Vinny, after a vindaloo.

    And it’s not the first time the incident has happened as another seagull fell into a vat of chicken tikka masala in 2016 in Wales.

    So at least if your late night benders end covered in last night’s curry then don’t worry you’re not the only one.

    Vinny the orange seagull being rescued by vets from Tiggywinkles hospital
    Oh, Vinny, what are you like? (Picture: Jefff Moore)

    Rescuers found that the Vinny had somehow managed to dip into a curry and get it all over his white feathers.

    But thankfully, the curious seagull wasn’t harmed or injured, but just temporarily unable to fly.

    ‘We have no idea how he got into this predicament but thankfully, apart from the vibrant colour and pungent smell, he was healthy,’ Tiggywinkles Hospital wrote on their Facebook page.

    ‘This bright-orange herring gull was rescued by kind members of the public who spotted him at the side of the A41.

    ‘When they called to say they had picked up an orange bird, we had no idea what to expect – and would never have guessed at this.

    ‘This is one of the strangest casualty circumstances we have seen in a while.’

    Vinny having a bath
    Before pic (Picture: Jefff Moore)

    After a quick scrub which mildly annoyed the bird, he will soon be ready to be released back into the wild.

    ‘Our veterinary team bravely bathed the gull to clean off his feathers,’ they added. ‘He managed to cover them in curry water but eventually did let us scrub him clean.

    Vinny the seagull orange no more
    And after (Picture: Jefff Moore)

    ‘He is now looking much better and should be able to go for release very soon.’

    Followers of the page joked that perhaps Vinny always longed to be a Golden Eagle and thanked the team for their swift rescue.

    Let’s hope Vinny doesn’t go for another Indian any time soon.

    MORE: Real life angry bird looks grumpy as it waits to be fed

    MORE: Photo series captures the wonder of cats standing on their back legs

    MORE: Why do cats love boxes?


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