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

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    woman in wheelchair in one pic and a lesbian couple, featuring Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, on their wedding day
    Emily (left) the woman in the wheelchair who asked to see what disabled love looked like and on the right, one of the couples who replied (Picture: Emily Lanka/Jessica Kellgren-Fozard)

    Emily Lanka, an autism training consultant from Liverpool, has only been in a wheelchair for a month following a stroke last year.

    The 32-year-old also has Ehlers-Danlos syndromes and a functional neurological disorder which impacts her ‘like a cross between MS and epilepsy’.

    Unfortunately, while adjusting to life in a wheelchair, her partner left her for being ‘too disabled’.

    Unable to attend Pride over the weekend, Emily asked her Twitter followers to share images of what love while disabled looks like, with bonus points for LGBT folks. And the results poured in.

    ‘If you’re disabled and in a happy, loving relationship, would you mind sharing a photo of you and your partner with me?’ she wrote.

    ‘Brain is finding it so hard to imagine being loved in my chair.’

    Emily Lanka who tweeted about being hard to love while disabled pictured in a wheelchair.
    (Picture: Emily Lanka)

    Emily’s thread blew up on Twitter and she explained to Metro.co.uk why she decided to make it.

    ‘I was inspired by two things – in part, it was seeing all the photos from Pride and not seeing any disabled people on my feed there.

    ‘I want to go to my local pride at the end of the month but started to feel so worried about it. Starting to use my wheelchair has been a lot to process and it’s made me feel so unsexy and unattractive.

    ‘I was just having a really low night and feeling unloveable because of it and decided to tweet thinking I’d maybe get a couple of responses. And the second part is why I feel so unloveable.’

    Emily added that her low self-esteem came after a partner left her two weeks after she came out of hospital as it was too ‘stressful’ to take care of a disabled person.

    The health consultant was also housebound for three months with multiple seizures. But she says her condition is worse now and if someone struggled to love her then, it would be even harder now.

    ‘But this thread has taught me the issue isn’t me, it’s the person who said I was too hard to love,’ she added.

    Jessica Kellgren-Fozard with her wife pictured in a park while she sits on a wheelchair
    Jessica Kellgren-Fozard (left) is one of the women who commented on the Twitter thread with encouraging words (Picture: Jessica Kellgren-Fozard)

    One of the first couples to comment on the thread was YouTuber Jessica Kellgren-Fozard who wrote: ‘To the right person, you using a wheelchair is not something that they have to overlook, it’s something that they are thankful is around to help you.’

    Emily has been inundated with so many images and positive messages in a way that doesn’t serve disability porn.

    ‘The thing I’ve loved the most about all of the responses is how diverse they are and how joyful and that no one has talked about it being inspirational or about the non-disabled partners being amazing,’ she added.

    ‘It’s just love, in all of its amazing diverse beauty. There are older couples, gay couples, trans couples, polyamorous set ups.

    ‘People who’ve been together forever and people who’ve never met face to face but it’s just so pure and full of love.’

    MORE: Disabled people are sharing all the amazing ways their partners show love

    MORE: ‘Baby hears for the first time’ videos aren’t inspirational, they hide the reality of Deaf lives


    Woman asks people to share pics of disabled love, they deliverWoman asks people to share pics of disabled love, they deliver

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    First pub only selling low and no alcohol drinks
    The Clean Vic, which will exclusively sell low and no alcohol drinks (picture: Sainsbury’s)

    Alcohol and summer in Britain famously go hand-in-hand. At the merest rumour of the sun, many of us to head straight to the nearest pub and pay £5 a pint for the privilege of jostling for space on the pavement outside.

    But, as fun at is may be, getting drunk every time the temperature reaches a scorching 15 degrees can begin to take a toll on your health.

    Happily, there’s good news for people who don’t drink, and for the internal organs of the rest of us: this July, Sainsbury’s is launching ‘The Clean Vic’, a pop-up pub in central London which will exclusively serve no or low alcohol drinks.

    This means you can now partake in the classic British summertime experience — without suffering a horrible, sweaty hangover the next day.

    Opening on the 24 and 25 July, the pub will serve a range of 20 low or alcohol-free drinks, from craft beer Lucky Saint to Celtic Soul — a low-alcohol distillate with a flavor resembling whiskey.

    Entry costs £5, which includes two free drinks and bar snacks — which is certainly better value for money than your average London pub.

    If you want to delve a little deeper, you can take a mocktail-making master class (run by Millie Gooch, founder of the Sober Girl Society) or attend a beer-tasting session, both of which cost £12 and must be booked in advance.

    So why now? Well, with one quarter of British adults saying they want to reduce their alcohol intake and almost one third of 16-24 year olds not drinking at all, low or no alcohol drinks are becoming more popular than ever. Sainsbury’s have recorded a 31.8% increase in sales in the last twelve weeks alone.

    Grapefruit lemonade and cola glass with ice cubes and droplets.
    Alcohol-free cocktails (Picture: Vitalina/Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Anne Cooper, Buyer at Sainsbury’s, explains: ‘We’re seeing a really exciting spike in the no and low alcohol category, which has been growing since 2001.

    ‘With an increasing number of products now available,’ she continues, ‘those who want to hold off on alcoholic beverages don’t need to miss out on the experience of enjoying a beer with friends or even a mocktail made with a delicious non-alcoholic distillate.’

    If you’re not free for the weekend of The Clean Vic, or you don’t live in London, then don’t worry — you needn’t miss out on the sober fun. In recent years, a range of alcohol-free pubs have popped up across the U.K.

    Londoners has Redemption, an alcohol-free bar which encourages revelers to ‘spoil themselves without spoiling themselves.’ There are branches in Shoreditch and Notting Hill.

    Liverpool boasts its own low-alcohol cocktail bar and restaurant, Bar Brink, the profits of which go towards supporting people struggling with alcoholism. Bar Sobar in Nottingham, meanwhile, is also run by an alcohol charity; it serves food and hosts a range of events.

    MORE: Rescuers learn that the ‘exotic’ bird they found was actually a seagull covered in curry

    MORE: Woman whose partner left her for being ‘too disabled’ asks others to share stories of being loved in a wheelchair

    MORE: Krispy Kreme launches Party Ring biscuit doughnut


    First pub only selling low and no alcohol drinksFirst pub only selling low and no alcohol drinks

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    Some cheese on the conveyor belt from above
    So many cheese options (Picture: Pick & Cheese)

    A cheese board is great but it probably can’t carry 25 different types, as well as accompaniments.

    And there’s that moment where you can’t reach the really good brie at the other side, so you’re stuck eating the boring old cheddar.

    Enter, the cheese conveyor belt.

    Sit in one spot and watch as chunks of cheese come towards you, allowing you to pick and choose your favourites (or just have all of them).

    It’s like sushi but with cheese and chutney.

    The 40-metre conveyor belt is being launched at Pick & Cheese at the new KERB street food market in Seven Dials.

    There are 38 seats around the track, with each person waiting for the cheese to come to them.

    The restaurant will feature all-British farms and urban producers and each cheese will be paired with a different condiment.

    A close up of cheese on the conveyor belt
    Nothing like a plate of cheese coming towards you (Picture: Pick & Cheese)

    Combinations include coolea with hazelnut brittle and fresh ricotta with sherry-infused cherries, which sound delicious.

    And to help you figure out the price, each piece of cheese will be on a colour coded plate for different price brackets.

    There’s also charcuterie from Tottenham’s Blackhand Food and hot cheesy dishes, including grilled cheese sandwiches.

    And even dessert is cheese-inspired. They’ve created cheese-flavoured soft serve ice cream, using Baron Bigod brie and Beauvale Blue.

    Pick & Cheese will be one of 26 food traders at the new KERB Seven Dials Market. It opens in September inside a former banana storage building.

    And the creators do have a bit of history when it comes to creating a cheese-inspired business – they also created The Cheese Truck in 2014 and Camden’s Cheese Bar in 2017.

    MORE: Sick of summer drinking? Sainsbury’s is launching an alcohol-free pub

    MORE: Woman whose partner left her for being ‘too disabled’ asks others to share stories of being loved in a wheelchair


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    Aldi's seville orange and persian lime gin
    (Picture: Aldi)

    Next time you’re sipping on a citrusy gin after a quick trip to Aldi, you should know you’re drinking some award-winning stuff.

    The supermarket has triumphed once again, taking home three accolades at this year’s Spirits Business Gin Masters.

    It even managed to get the coveted ‘masters’ title, the highest award available for its Greyson’s Seville Orange & Persian Lime Gin.

    And it’s only £14.99. The alcoholic beverage beat off competition from bottles costing up to two times the price.

    Who said fancy stuff has to be expensive?

    Aldi's seville orange and persian lime gin
    Award-winning Greyson’s Seville Orange & Persian Lime Gin (Picture: Aldi)

    Clearly, the nation’s love of flavoured gins has yet to slow down, with 66 million bottles sold in 2018 alone.

    So it’s no wonder that the Aldi brand scored the nod of approval from the judges – receiving distinction level awards received for its spirits range.

    Aldi gin
    (Picture: Aldi)

    And it’s been a good year for the company as its spirits range has scooped 24 medals in 2019.

    Shoppers will also be glad to hear that the supermarket’s bestselling tipples; Harrison’s Gin (£15.99) and Passionfruit Gin Liqueur (£9.99) also took home gold and silver medals respectively.

    The move continues their winning streak, having already scooped both a silver and bronze medal at this year’s International Spirits Challenge.

    ‘It’s an incredible achievement to be recognised for our gin range at such a prestigious competition,’ said Julie Ashfield, from Aldi UK.

    ‘We’ve seen the trend for flavoured gins become increasingly popular over the last few years and we’re thrilled to see that the quality of our products makes them stand out from the crowd with both our loyal customers and gin connoisseurs alike.’

    MORE: Aldi is getting rid of plastic packaging for their toilet paper

    MORE: Aldi launched three new gins – including one that tastes like liquorice allsorts

    MORE: Sick of summer drinking? Sainsbury’s is launching an alcohol-free pub


    CALU_090419_SevilleOrangePersianLime02_PCM138025-0380CALU_090419_SevilleOrangePersianLime02_PCM138025-0380

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    Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson arriving for a Tory leadership hustings at the All Nations Centre in Cardiff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 6, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire
    If he does enter Number 10, I will be calling on Boris Johnson to deliver funding for English lessons (Picture: David Mirzoeff/ PA)

    I was surprised to hear Boris Johnson’s recent comments about how he would make all immigrants learn to speak English.

    Not because I don’t think people in the UK should be able to speak English, but because he didn’t seem to understand or be aware how hard it now is for refugees like me to be able to learn when we come to Britain.

    Over the last decade funding for English language classes has been cut by almost 60 per cent – from £212.3m in 2008 to £105m in 2018.

    New research by the charity Refugee Action reveals that services are so overstretched, refugees aren’t receiving enough hours of teaching, there are long waits to access classes and provision is so inadequate people don’t feel confident that their English is good enough to get a job.

    When I arrived in Birmingham from Syria I felt lost and isolated because I couldn’t communicate with anyone. Imagine coming to a country where you don’t understand anything. You can’t work, open a business or even get a bus.

    I was determined that I wanted to get back to my computing studies. The civil war tore my dreams apart, but safely in the UK I could now turn them into reality by going to university. I just needed to pass an advanced English exam first.

    I’m one of the lucky ones. I got access to English lessons soon after arriving. I used YouTube tutorials and library books to help me as well.

    I felt very nervous to speak to anyone. Even saying ‘hi’ for the first time in English to people was very difficult. But I studied hard and it’s paid off.

    I learnt this week that I’ve achieved a first in my Computer Science degree. My family are delighted and so am I, but without the support I received to learn the language of my new home, it just wouldn’t have been possible for me to have achieved this.

    DENVER, CO - MARCH 10: Instructor Tina Grandey smiles at her students as she leads a lesson concerning Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War during an intermediate class at the English Learning Center on March 10, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. The English Learning Center offers students five different levels of English language study, from beginning to advanced, and teaches students who come from a large variety of countries. The center was granted nonprofit status in 2015.
    Over the last decade funding for English language classes has been cut by almost 60 per cent (Picture: Anya Semenoff/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

    So many refugees have skills and expertise to offer but without being able to speak English they are being held back from integrating into their new communities.

    They are being denied the opportunity to fulfil their potential and become an active part of our society.

    Last week I attended a Westminster Hall debate led by Preet Kaur Gill MP. I heard from MPs from across the political divide call on the government to do more and invest the money so desperately needed.

    There are plenty of warm words from government about how learning English is the key to integration, but it must be matched by investment.

    I’ve started my own business which I hope will be as big as Microsoft one day. I am just so thankful to this country for giving me and my family sanctuary. I will achieve my dreams and goals, and I just want others to have the same opportunity to learn English so they can achieve theirs.

    Boris Johnson could be our prime minister in three weeks’ time. If so, it will be in his power to make this a priority and significantly increase funding for English classes.

    It will allow refugees and others to have the chance to learn so they can rebuild their lives and contribute to their new communities.

    If he does enter Number 10, I know I and others will be calling on him to deliver on this.

    MORE: Boris Johnson demands immigrants learn English to integrate

    MORE: Don’t let bullies outside Parliament persuade you we are living through civil war


    Tory leadership raceTory leadership race

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    Person holding phone looking at Twitter
    The easy thing would have been for me just to come off Twitter but I do not want to let the bullies win (Picture: Getty)

    Last week, I wrote about how children with learning disabilities can achieve anything, if only the government would support them.

    After my article was published, I found myself a target of online abuse just for speaking out as a person who has a learning disability.

    I had been on a real high after a brilliant week campaigning alongside the families who took the government to court over its inadequate funding of special educational needs support.

    I had never imagined that I’d protesting on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice, let alone doing live TV interviews. To have the opportunity to use my own experience of special educational needs support to help others who desperately need it felt so rewarding. I was proud to be part of a campaign to bring about change for parents and their children who have a learning disability like me.

    Then that pride turned to anger and upset when I saw a comment on Twitter underneath a link to the article I’d written for Metro. I won’t repeat what it said, but it was nasty and bigoted and it made me feel utterly miserable. There had been more comments but they had already been removed after being reported by other users. I dread to think what they said.

    Ciara Lawrence outside Royal Courts of Justice
    Pride about my campaigning turned to anger and upset when I saw an abusive comment on Twitter (Picture: Mencap)

    I have worked so hard to get to where I am today and to read those words was so hard. It brought back the awful memories of the name calling, mocking, and laughter that I experienced when I was at school. 

    I was bullied for having a learning disability. I was called names by my classmates and my teachers never stopped them or challenged their attitudes.

    My online abuser was using the same tactics – picking on me for being different. Like many abusers he just saw my disability, not me as a person, and said those words to hurt me.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I know that social media can be used for good, that it can help give those who are silenced a voice and connect people who might otherwise be all on their own.

    I’ve seen the power it has to challenge attitudes and bring about change through my job as a campaigns support officer at the learning disability charity Mencap.

    But it is also being used as a platform for bullying, harassment and hate. And this has to stop.

    The easy thing would have been for me just to come off Twitter but I do not want to let the bullies win by allowing myself to be silenced. I have a right to be on social media just like anyone else.

    I know that I am also one of the lucky ones. I have the full support of Mencap and my circle of friends who helped me to report it to Twitter and even publicly called on Twitter to take action.

    Ciara Lawrence outside the Royal Courts of Justice
    I had never imagined that I’d protesting on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice (Picture: Ciara Lawrence)

    Social media companies have a big role to play in safeguarding all of their users, but especially children and vulnerable adults. I know that if Twitter had put the right support in place from the beginning, it would have improved everyone’s experience of social media.

    There are a number of things the platform could do to achieve this: creating safety tips and a reporting guide in an easy read format, or better still, a “how to” video with clear subtitles. It can be hard for people – especially those with learning disabilities – to understand what the rules are and feel confident in how to report abusive messages.

    It would also make a difference if they were to change the reporting system to include a text field so that when people report they can explain the reason why they are reporting (currently it’s a check box system), and put people with specialist training in charge of moderating reported incidents of hate speech to make sure nothing is missed.

    Currently Twitter has not made its moderation process clear, which makes it hard to know what exactly they expect from users.

    And it’s not just Twitter – YouTube and Instagram have both recently come under fire for failing to properly address reports of abusive comments.

    We need to make sure that social media platforms are safe spaces for people who have a learning disability like me and that disability hate speech that can happen there is taken seriously. So I’ve asked Twitter to engage with me to discuss how they can change their policies for the better.

    I’m speaking out about what I went through not just for me, but for every person who has a learning disability who I know has experienced bullying, whether online or offline.

    MORE: Children with learning disabilities can achieve anything, if only government would support them

    MORE: My son’s life might have been saved if doctors were better trained to help patients with learning disabilities

    MORE: Harassment and abuse is making girls mentally unwell, not just social media


    Ciara Lawrence Royal Courts of Justice 2-ef78Ciara Lawrence Royal Courts of Justice 2-ef78

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    Just one of the many coconut postcards that are sent.
    Just one of the many coconut postcards that are sent (Picture: SWNS)

    Postcards might be nice to receive but they’re all a bit samey aren’t they: a beach, a landmark, photography that can be achieved on an iPhone.

    So one Hawaiian post office is upping their game.

    Instead of a glossy little card, the Hoolehua Post Office on the island of Molokai decorates coconuts and sends it out to people all over the world.

    They’ve called the concept ‘post-a-nut’ and it’s very popular with tourists.

    Wouldn’t you love to receive a nut?

    The branch’s unique programme has historical significance too.

    Just one of the many coconut postcards you can send from the Hoolehua Post Office on the island of Molokai
    Imagine receiving one of these (Picture: SWNS)

    It was launched in 1991 by then-Post Master Margaret Leary who needed to generate revenue to keep the Hoolehua and Kualapuu post offices open.

    Now around 3,000 coconuts each year are mailed from the tiny PO, to all corners of the world, except for New Zealand and Australia, whose governments have stricter regulations on foreign produce imports.

    Just one of the many coconut postcards that are sent.
    We could look at them all day (Picture: SWNS)

    Customers are encouraged to find a suitable nut to make the journey, and locals often donate fallen ones they find on their properties.

    ‘Look for a nice outer surface, then wipe and dust them down,’ advises Roxanne Tancyo, Post Master at the Hoolehua Post Office.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given Roxanne an official certification to be an inspector for the nuts – to make sure they are safe to send in the mail.

    ‘I look for bug holes and growths,’ she adds.

    ‘If there are no bug holes and nothing sprouting out of the coconut then it’s good to go go.’

    Once the inspection is complete the nuts are stamped with a USDA confirmation and customers can decorate them as they please.

    ‘People don’t usually like to spend time in the post office, but people seem to really enjoy hanging out at ours,’ said Roxanne.

    ‘Give them a coconut and some marker pens they will stay for hours sometimes.

    ‘Then we place the variety of stamps on the coconut to make them fit. It’s an authentic bit of Molokai to send to their friends.’

    Just one of the many coconut postcards that are sent from Hoolehua Post Office on the island of Molokai
    Take us to Hawaii, stat(Picture: SWNS)

    But with great, quirky gifts comes great prices.

    The cost of posting a nut depends on its weight, starting from $14.20 (£11.35) USD for the USA and escalating to about $64 (£43.17) for farther flung lands.

    In the 28 years since Post-a-Nut began, tens of thousands of coconuts have been shipped around the world.

    We would certainly love to receive one.

    MORE: Can you really solo travel to Bali as a woman and how safe is it?

    MORE: Why do millennials hate going to the Post Office?


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    What did you get up to before you started school? Watch a bit of Dora the Explorer? Annoy your parents and eat your own boogers?

    Toddler Jaxon Krzysik is unlike most of us, as he has climbed three of the highest mountains in Britain, all at the tender age of three.

    The intrepid nursery school pupil is putting us all to shame, having done the Three Peaks Challenge – which includes Mount Snowdon in Wales (1085m high), Scafell Pike (England, 978m) and Ben Nevis (Scotland, 1345m).

    The wee lad did it in the memory of his best pal Ralph who died aged two in 2017.

    Little Jaxon Krzysik pictured on his climb of Scafell Pike in England.
    Little Jaxon Krzysik pictured on his climb of Scafell Pike in England (Picture: Cal Krzysik / SWNS)

    Jaxon completed 20 hours of walking and was not carried a single step of the 23 miles, during which he climbed a total of 10,052ft.

    Proud dad Cal, a recruiter from Burnley, Lancashire, said: ‘What he has done is unbelievable and I’m so proud of him.

    ‘I can hand-on-heart say I didn’t have to carry him or help him at all. It’s a big challenge for anyone, never mind for a three-year-old.

    ‘Of course, he found it hard in places and I had to encourage him, but he really enjoyed it, he just loves the mountains.

    ‘I could not be more chuffed with him. He’s a superstar. Jaxon thinks Ralph is in the sky and he still asks about him.

    ‘He knows what happened and knows we climbed the mountains for Ralph.’

    Little Jaxon Krzysik pictured on his climb of Ben Nevis, in Scotland, sticking his tongue out
    (Picture: Cal Krzysik / SWNS)

    Best mate Ralph was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at two weeks old after his mum Jade Smith experienced difficulties during birth.

    He suffered brain damage and was completely paralysed and unable to talk. But that didn’t stop Jaxon from forming an instant bond.

    Little Jaxon Krzysik pictured on his climb of Snowdon in Wales with dad Cal. See SWNS story SWTPmountains. A toddler has become the youngest person to ever complete the Three Peaks Challenge - climbing Britain?s three highest mountains. Jaxon Krzysik, three, hasn't even started school but managed to summit Scafell Pike, in the Lake District, Ben Nevis, in Scotland and Snowdon, in Wales. The nursery school pupil took on the challenge with his dad, Cal, 29, to raise money in memory of his best pal Ralph Rowlands, who died aged two in May 2017. He completed the final peak on Saturday, becoming the youngest walker to do the entire 23 mile challenge, hiking up 10,052ft.
    The toddler with dad on his climb of Snowdon in Wales (Picture: Cal Krzysik / SWNS)

    Since the age of two Jaxon has enjoyed long walks with his dad, and the pair have already scaled some of the biggest peaks in the Lake District and Yorkshire.

    All together Jaxon managed to walk 23 miles (37km) up 3,064 metres (10,052ft) worth of mountainous footpaths.

    Many people who take on the challenge do so with the aim of conquering all three peaks on the same day.

    Jaxon broke the record set by Lucas Lawrenson, six, who managed to climb all three mountains within 24 hours in May.

    Little Jaxon Krzysik pictured on his climb of Scafell Pike in England.
    The wee lad did it for his pal Ralph who died aged two (Picture: Cal Krzysik / SWNS)

    ‘Scafell Pike was by far the most difficult. The conditions were terrible,’ added dad Cal.

    ‘He only has little legs so it does take him a lot longer than most people to climb. But he genuinely does enjoy it.

    ‘We have to make sure we keep safe of course and he did know how dangerous the mountains are.

    ‘But he was in his element. He loves the rocks and being outdoors and he did a great job without any help.’

    Little Jaxon Krzysik pictured on his climb of Ben Nevis, in Scotland.
    The gang at Ben Nevis in Scotland (Picture: Cal Krzysik / SWNS)

    Ralph’s mum Jade also appreciated the gesture, saying: ‘I burst into tears when I found out what Jaxon was doing for Ralph. It’s just amazing, it really pulled on my heartstrings.

    ‘It’s an incredible way to pay tribute to him. For someone so young to do something so amazing is fantastic.’

    The youngster has raised more than £800 for Cerebra, a charity for brain injured children.

    You can check out his campaign through JustGiving.

    MORE: Stray dog climbs 24,000-ft mountain

    MORE: Woman who lost her leg at 17 leads other amputees up Kilimanjaro

    MORE: Toddler pushes over £45,000 piece of art knocking its wings off


    Toddler has become the youngest person to ever to climb Britain?s three highest mountains aged just THREE.Toddler has become the youngest person to ever to climb Britain?s three highest mountains aged just THREE.

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    There is a shazam for plants and animals Provider: iNaturalist
    Seek is like Shazam for plants and animals (Photo:iNaturalist)

    Nature lovers, rejoice.

    A new app can tell you what species a plant or animal is – just by looking at it.

    Are you human, plant, or Theresa May? Time to find out.

    Seek, free on iPhone and Android, uses your phone’s camera to identify organisms.

    Keen to put Seek to the test, I sneakily papped the rest of the Lifestyle desk. It immediately decided that SEO reporter Aidan was a mammal. So far, so accurate.

    After about 30 seconds of wondering whether she was actually a squirrel in disguise, Seek finally decided that Aidan is human. Apparently, so am I.

    Phew – I don’t think the world is ready for Ghostbusters 3.

    Keen for a new test, I moved onto Lifestyle editor Ellen’s petite armada of potted plants.

    First up was her fave – a Chinese money plant. Seek did not find. A total failure. Maybe the app prefers dollars.

    Ellen doesn’t have any Chinese money, so the plant was pretty useless anyway.

    Seek pinned down her peace lily with a stalkerish ability that MI5, or that friend who spends their life on Instagram, would be proud of. It even offered a link to the Wikipedia page.

    Did you know that the peace lily is an evergreen herbaceous perennial plant with large leaves 12-65cm long? You do now, thanks to Seek.

    Addicted, I decided this wasn’t enough.

    I decided to use Seek for a whole new purpose, one it had never been designed for. I decided to use it on species that had never been formally classified.

    I was fantastically successful, making many new discoveries.

    The dragon from ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is actually an Australian green tree frog according to Seek.

    In awe of my new tool, I couldn’t stop. I guess with great power comes great irresponsibility.

    Pikachu is a domestic guinea pig.

    Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc and the Loch Ness Monster are both birds.

    Seek didn’t say which birds, but I reckon I’ve already done enough to bag Blue Planet once David Attenborough nods off.

    WUHAN, CHINA - DECEMBER 05: (CHINA OUT) Mike Wazowski is on display at CapitaMall 1818 on December 5, 2015 in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. Disney Characters exhibition was held in the Wuhan CapitMall 1818. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
    Mike Wazowski on display in China at an exhibition. Apparently he looks like a bird. (Picture: VCG/ Getty Images)

    There was only one disappointment.

    Mark Zuckerberg is not classified as our reptilian overlord. He is, apparently, a human.

    After the success Seek has brought me, how can I doubt it?

    The app can be downloaded for iPhone or for Android

    Seek was launched by iNaturalist.org, an online community where nature junkies can compare their discoveries with each other.

    iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.

    MORE: Millennials love plants because we have nothing else

    MORE: Pets of Pride: 13 animals in their rainbow kit


    METROGRAB There is a shazam for plants and animalsMETROGRAB There is a shazam for plants and animals

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    parma violets lambrini
    Yum (Picture: Morrisons)

    Good news for people who like alcohol that doesn’t taste like alcohol: Liverpool-based brand Lambrini has released a new Parma Violet-flavoured perry.

    Joining a pantheon of flavours which includes cherry, strawberry and peach (sadly discontinued but forever in our hearts, RIP), the drink takes its inspiration from the classic British sweet ⁠— despite the fact that Parma Violets have been voted the least popular confectionery among millennials.

    Perhaps this is because they have the texture of chalk and taste like hand soap from a 1950’s bed & breakfast.

    It’s hard to imagine the target audience for this drink: you would think that the Venn diagram between people who like Parma Violets (e.g. your gran) and those who drink Lambrini (e.g. your fifteen year old sister with a fake I.D) would be small.

    But plenty of people took to Twitter to express their excitement at the product’s release.

    Currently sold exclusively at Morrisons, the drink is available in 185 stores across the country. With an ABV of 5%, a 75cl bottle will set you back the princely sum of £2.50. Lambrini describe it as ‘a nod to the 90s with a favourite old school flavour.’

    If this isn’t enough to sate your thirst for violet-flavoured alcohol, you’ll be pleased to learn you can also buy a range of gin and liqueurs which have that distinctive floral taste.

    MORE: Sick of summer drinking? Sainsbury’s is launching an alcohol-free pub

    MORE: Ditching alcohol and not working in an office are the keys to happiness, says survey


    Purple parma violet lambriniPurple parma violet lambrini

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    illustration of woman holding hand up with 'No' written on it
    I can be maternal, I just really don’t want to and I won’t apologise if that’s confusing for you (Picture: Ella Byworth/Metro.co.uk)

    As an unmarried (another rant for another time), childfree, 30-year-old woman in a long-term relationship, I’m viewed by many as a bit of a mystery – kind of like Brexit or the dark web.

    Cisgendered females are widely assumed to be mothers at some point in their lives and will actively want to be mothers, of course. Parenthood isn’t an optional extra we might decide to take up one day, like cross stitch or kettlebells, it’s a given.

    So to push against the norm can, in my experience, be utterly perplexing to people. ‘How can you NOT want children? Wonderful, magnificent, angelic, innocent children?!’

    My answer: pretty easily.

    Not being a parent has never been a conscious ‘choice’, more something I’ve always inherently known. It’s like asking someone to cite precisely when they decided not to like tonic water or olives. They didn’t consciously elect to hate the taste of them, they just do.

    Similarly, producing offspring is something I’ve always been sure I didn’t want any part of. But that’s simply not enough for some.

    Motherhood and womanhood seemingly go hand-in-hand, we possess the means to reproduce, so that’s exactly what we should be doing. But more than that, society still dictates it should be at the top of a woman’s priority list all times, starting the very moment we’re born.

    We push toy prams around before we’ve even uttered out first words. We play mummies and daddies in the playground before we’re taught how babies are actually made. The significance of 13-year-old me being asked my favourite baby names doesn’t escape me. Then when we do become adults, our parents pine for the grandchildren we’ll ‘give’ them one day.

    If anything, it’s quite a miracle I’ve managed to emerge from it all with such a strong anti-birthing mindset. It’s been far from easy.

    Like any childfree person (also called voluntary childlessness), I’ve been questioned tougher than a thief under police caution by many people, some who know me well and some who don’t know me at all. Starting with…

    ‘You just don’t have maternal instincts!’ *rolls eyes continuously for 35 years*

    The thing about instincts is, we all have them in varying severities – they’re called instincts, after all. Just like how most of us possess tonsils and ear lobes, it doesn’t mean we have to put them to good use at all times.

    Translation: I can be maternal, I just really don’t want to and I won’t apologise if that’s confusing for you.

    Illustration of baby
    We push toy prams around before we’ve even uttered out first words (Picture: Erin Aniker/Metro.co.uk)

    Second in play is always the ‘I get it, you’re more of a career woman’ speech because obviously, the world of babies and the world of work sit at two opposite ends of a spectrum, and I must be hiding at one extreme to avoid the other.

    I don’t have a job to get me out of being a parent, I have a job because we live in a capitalist society that demands productivity in order to survive. Motherhood has nothing to do with it. In fact, 4.9million women in the UK with dependent children were in employment in 2018, accounting for 74 per cent of all mothers.

    In some more extreme situations, I’ve been told I’m not doing what I was put on this earth to do and have even been faced with the existential dilemma: ‘But what will you do with your life?’

    Keep scrawling down angry rants and possibly buy a super yacht? Not too sure yet if I’m honest. And don’t even get me started on ‘you’ll change your mind one day!’. Funnily enough, my boyfriend never gets his childfree standpoint queried in the same way.

    Of course, they’re all inaccurate assumptions used to fit our lives into society’s limited blueprint of womanhood. If we’re plonked in the non-maternal career woman box, it’s a neat and tidy justification of our existence, rather than the messier, ‘I just don’t’.

    Whatever someone’s reason for not reproducing, they don’t owe the world an explanation. Whether it’s for environmental, mental or physical health motives, or simply because they just don’t want to, respect that they will always know their mind better than you do.

    For me, it’s as simple as this: I don’t hate children. I just don’t want them.

    MORE: Asking women when they’re going to have a baby can be triggering

    MORE: Stop asking me when I’m getting married

    MORE: It’s okay to want sex after pregnancy loss


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    Three cheers for this granddad, who made his grandchildren’s dreams come true by building them a magnificent treehouse in his back garden.

    This isn’t your average shack in some branches.

    Terry Meredith, 65, spent £8,000 and plenty of his precious time crafting a treehouse that’s five metres above ground and seats ten people inside.

    The treehouse also has its own BBQ, and is completely hidden from view when you’re on the ground – making it the perfect hideout when family members are being annoying.

    The mini home sits on four trees that provide views out over the Welsh Hills, Cotswolds, and the Malvern Hills.

    Pic by Michael Scott/Caters News - (PICTURED: Terry Meredith, 65, enjoys a summer evening in his treehouse in Uley, Gloucestershire. Pic taken: 04/07/2019) A creative granddad has fulfilled every kids dream by building this incredible tree house in his back garden - and it has better views than most country homes. Terry Meredith, 65, from Uley, Gloucestershire, has the perfect hide out that is completely hidden from view from the ground - but five metres above the ground is his own personal paradise that seats 10 people, with two beds and a central BBQ. SEE CATERS COPY
    Terry built the treehouse all by himself (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)

    Terry originally planned to cut down his large willow tree in 2016, but was blown away by the views from the top. That’s what inspired him to craft a treehouse for his children.

    ‘The willow tree at the end of my garden had grown so big that it was blocking the sunset,’ said Terry.

    ‘I was going to reduce the tree by cutting half of it down but when I climbed up, my jaw dropped, I couldn’t believe the incredible view was just 50 metres away from my house.

    ‘I was wowed by the welsh mountains, Cotswold escarpment and a stone age fortress Uley Berry.

    Pic from Terry Meredith/Caters News - (Pictured: Terry Merediths treehouse in 2014) - A creative granddad has fulfilled every kids dream by building this incredible tree house in his back garden - and it has better views than most country homes. Terry Meredith, 65, from Uley, Gloucestershire, has the perfect hide out that is completely hidden from view from the ground - but five metres above the ground is his own personal paradise that seats 10 people, with two beds and a central BBQ. SEE CATERS COPY
    The house back in 2014 (Picture: Terry Meredith/Caters News)

    ‘I wanted to share this amazing view with my family and friends, and now six years on, even strangers come in to take a peek.

    ‘I was an electrician but I am good at carpentry, so it wasn’t too hard for me to build the tree house.

    ‘It took about eight months to build and I did most of it on my own with some help from friends here and there.’

    Terry bought the materials and did all the crafting himself.

    Now, the treehouse serves as a hangout spot for friends and family.

    ‘It is the perfect place to watch the sunset, to hang out with family and have a laugh, I love it.

    Pic by Michael Scott/Caters News - (PICTURED: Terry Meredith, 65, enjoys a summer evening in his treehouse in Uley, Gloucestershire. Pic taken: 04/07/2019) A creative granddad has fulfilled every kids dream by building this incredible tree house in his back garden - and it has better views than most country homes. Terry Meredith, 65, from Uley, Gloucestershire, has the perfect hide out that is completely hidden from view from the ground - but five metres above the ground is his own personal paradise that seats 10 people, with two beds and a central BBQ. SEE CATERS COPY
    There’s a BBQ inside (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)

    ‘Once I received a message from a local lady who asked if she could celebrate her 40th birthday in the tree house with some friends.

    I was flattered and said ‘absolutely, as long as I can join’ we had a fantastic night, with a steak cooked on the BBQ and some drinks.

    ‘It was like a pop-up restaurant; it makes me happy that other people can enjoy my treehouse as much as I do.’

    The treehouse also acts as a rest spot for fundraisers taking part in the five-peak challenge.

    ‘I always open up the tree house for people who are raising money for charity Royal Navy Lifeboat Institution by running or walking through the peak mountains,’ says Terry.

    ‘I offer them a cup of tea and a rest, sometimes they donate £1 for using the tree house so I donate it to charity.

    ‘I absolutely love sharing the amazing views the tree house has to offer with everyone and anyone.’

    MORE: This stylish 84-year-old granddad’s Instagram game is stronger than yours

    MORE: Bride organises her wedding for just £1,320 so sick granddad can walk her down the aisle


    AMAZING BRITISH TREEHOUSEAMAZING BRITISH TREEHOUSE

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    Sam Renke at pride
    I’ve always loved the ethos behind Pride – for everyone to be proud of their body, sexuality and physical appearance (Picture: Sam Renke)

    This year marks 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots – a monumental moment in LGBTQ+ history, which kick-started the modern-day fight for equal rights.

    As a result, this year’s Pride, which took place in London this weekend, is especially poignant.

    Pride is a time for celebrating differences, remembering and honouring the resilience, perseverance and unity of the LGBTQ+ community and reflecting upon the progress that has been made towards creating an equal society.

    I have been involved in the LGBTQ+ community for many years, and consider myself an ally.

    Having moved to London seven years ago from rural Lancashire and knowing only one person in London – a childhood friends who was a proud and out gay man – my formative years in London were spent largely in Soho and Vauxhall, two iconic LGBTQ+ haunts.

    I befriended and became fascinated by the ‘club kids’, a group of most outrageous, creative and unique individuals. I loved to go and watch drag shows at the infamous Royal Vauxhall Tavern and most of all I loved the positive attention I received by others in the community who commented on my unique dress sense, my sassy personality and who, on some level, had empathy with me as a disabled woman, because many of them had experienced prejudice and discrimination for simply being themselves.

    I’ve always loved the ethos behind Pride – for everyone to be proud of their body, sexuality and physical appearance. However, while my experience has been largely positive, I think there is more that can be done to be inclusive of people with disabilities on the whole.

    London Pride celebrations
    The parade itself can be very overcrowded (Picture: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

    The parade itself can be very overcrowded, and while this may not be a huge issue for able-bodied people, I’ve struggled to navigate my wheelchair through the dense crowd, and litter that accumulates on the streets thought the day becomes a hazard.

    I’ve often found that once you are in the heart of Pride, it’s very difficult for you to exit. I once had a panic attack at the event and the stewards did not want to open the barricades for me to make a swift exit.

    Organisers clearly do try to be inclusive, welcoming assistance dogs, offering sign language interpreters and concessions for people on Personal Allowance. There are also sometimes ‘quiet zones’, which are incredibly useful for people with autism or sensory sensitivities.

    Nevertheless, there seem to still be gaping holes in access when toilets and bars and clubs are concerned.

    Shona Louise is a disability blogger. She says: ‘A lot of people assume that the LGBTQ+ community is super accessible and welcoming to disabled people because we’re both marginalised communities but quite often this isn’t the case.’

    She attended Pride this year, but she has a power-chair which rises and makes it easier. She says otherwise she would have struggled.

    Physical barriers are not the only issues disabled members face. Pride is about being comfortable about one’s sexuality yet disabled people are often viewed as non-sexual beings, incapable of having other identities other than being disabled.

    I spoke to avid Pride-goer Garreth Cummings, who is a trustee for the Brittle Bone Society. He agrees that most people believe that disabled people either can’t or don’t want to have sex, and adds that this view is amplified in the gay community.

    ‘The gay scene, and gay men in particular, can be very superficial. You have to fit into a particular type: bears, wolves, otters, or twinks. Being in a wheelchair can eliminate you from these perceived ideals,’ he says.

    Shona believes it’s this attitude which stopped her coming out as bisexual until she was 18.

    ‘I just didn’t see disabled LGBTQ+ people anywhere, it sounds silly but you start to wonder if they exist. Being online has really helped me to feel part of the community though as I see people like myself, but I’m still not seeing disabled LGBTQ+ people represented in the media,’ she says.

    There are LGBTQ+ people with disabilities who are fighting for change, such as the incredible Drag Syndrome, a group of drag queens who have Down Syndrome; or the phenomenal Aaron Phillips, a black trans model with cerebral palsy who has just been signed to a top modelling agency and is already making waves in the fashion industry.

    Ryan O’Connell, creator and star of Netflix series Special, a semi-autobiographical series depicting a gay man with mild cerebral palsy, is also pushing for better representation.

    He says: ‘Hollywood loves to profit off the pain of marginalised people without giving us any opportunities. For gay movies, [disability] is usually predicated on some sort of tragedy.’

    Many disabled members of the LGBTQ+ community want to be heard and invited into a much more welcoming space, both physically and attitudinally. This can be achieved by listening to disabled members rather than ignoring and isolating them.

    I would like to see more disabled speakers and performers on stage at Pride, more members of the pride board who have disabilities, and more LGBTQ+ youth organisations, encouraging young disabled people to feel proud of who they are no matter how they identify.

    That’s the only way our needs will be adequately considered, and disabled people will be able to truly feel welcome at Pride.

    MORE: EastEnders’ LGBTQI+ Pride episode was perfect television at a time when we need it most

    MORE: Having acne is hard for anyone but as a gay man it’s so much worse

    MORE: As a queer Muslim woman, falling in love is a political act


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     Nikki McCaig and her flat in Nottingham
    Nikki shares a one-bedroom flat in Nottingham with her boyfriend (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)

    This is going to shock you, but it turns out the cost of renting in London is high. Really high.

    When you compare rents in London to other spots in the UK, us Londoners look pretty silly. We’re paying £700 for a box room in a shared flat while people up north are getting entire three-bedroom homes for the same price.

    It’s painful to look at the comparisons, but we have to do it. That’s the only way we can make sense of renting in the UK.

    So our weekly series, What I Rent, looks inside people’s rented properties all over the nation, to take an honest look at what we’re getting for what we’re paying.

    This week we’re with Nikki, 23, a freelance marketer living in Nottingham and renting a flat with her boyfriend.

    The couple pay £550 a month between them
    The couple pay £550 a month between them (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)

    Hey, Nikki! How much do you pay to live here? 

    Rent is £550 a month, which my boyfriend and I split – so £275 each.

    I pay for my water, gas and electricity together at a flat monthly rate of £105.

    And what do you get for what you pay?

    My flat has one bedroom and one bathroom, which is en suite, plus a kitchen, living room, and balcony.

    Do you think you have a good deal?

    In some ways yes – my flat has some beautiful features such as a balcony and an en-suite bathroom, as well as being a really large and appealing space.

    I also like that I don’t have to worry about how much electricity/water, etc I use per month as I know that I’ll be paying the same regardless. However, in summer, it can definitely feel a little steep to pay £105 for your gas bill!

    You'll spot a lot of candles and reed diffusers
    You’ll spot a lot of candles and reed diffusers (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)

    How long have you lived here?

    I’ve lived in this flat for around 18 months. Initially I moved into my flat alone, but my boyfriend moved in about six months ago.

    Are you happy with the area? 

    My home is in the border of Mapperly and Nottingham City Centre, as I live about 10 minutes away from our largest shopping centre, Victoria Centre.

    The area surrounding my flat is a great location, it’s so close to the city centre but it’s tucked away in a really quiet and safe little community.

    Our balcony opens up into the trees, so we get to hear birds every morning and it fills the flat with so much natural lighting. It’s a really calm, peaceful space to live in.

    Do you feel like you have enough space?

    I honestly feel like we have more than enough space! The flat is a converted school building, meaning the rooms are pretty big with high beamed ceilings.

    The small amount of furniture I originally moved in with seemed tiny at first, but I’ve gradually been able to fill it up.

    Nikki moved into the flat 18 months ago (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Nikki moved into the flat 18 months ago (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)

    How did you find this place?

    After graduating from university and separating from my then boyfriend, I needed to move into my own flat and I was looking for somewhere close to my work to save money on the commute.

    I looked around a couple of flats in Sherwood, but none of them felt right or they lacked character. I found this one and actually applied for it whilst stood in the kitchen on my first viewing. I loved the hardwood floors and bright open space and I knew I had to go for it!

    How have you made the flat feel like home?

    I think small touches like plants, prints and some of my own personal design style has helped to make my flat feel like home.

    I wanted to create a really relaxing and serene place to live in as I also work from home a lot, meaning that I needed a creative space too.

    I love having soft minimal decor and reed diffusers with my favourite scents in them to make the rooms smell fresh.

    Plus, a lot of Ikea storage units also come in handy!

    What’s it like living with your boyfriend?

    I love it, I’ve honestly found it so much fun living with him. We’re incredibly similar meaning we usually have a similar approach to cleaning and keeping the flat tidy, and we each have certain tasks we prefer to do. He does the washing up, I do the drying!

    We also have so much in common that we can spend hours just relaxing in the flat without feeling overwhelmed, eating dinner on the balcony or bingeing our favourite TV shows together. Plus it means I get to share the bills which is definitely an added bonus.

    Seriously, count the reed diffusers (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Seriously, count the reed diffusers (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)

    Are there any major issues with the house you have to put up with?

    Only a couple – it would be nice to have a toilet in the main flat, so that when we have guests they don’t have to walk through our bedroom just to use the bathroom.

    We also have quite bad water pressure, meaning that if someone else in the flat turns a tap on while you’re showering, you can be in for a bit of a cold shock.

    Are you planning to move again?

    We love living here, so hopefully we won’t be moving for a least another year. It’s perfectly situated for both of our jobs and it really does feel like our home.

    I think the next time we move we’ll be looking for a house or at least a place with two bedrooms.

    Have you considered buying a place?

    It’s something we’d definitely be interested in, perhaps later down the line.

    Being a freelancer, renting still feels like the safest option for me financially and I definitely feel too young to own a house right now.

    When the time comes though, I think I would like to buy a place further out of the city – mainly because it should lower the costs, but also to find somewhere to really settle down.

    Sounds dreamy. Shall we have a look around?

    **FAO Anas Chowdhury - What I Rent** Pic by Michael Scott/Caters News - (PICTURED: Nikki McCraig and her flat in Nottingham. Pic taken: 05/07/2019)
    The living room (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We don't think those flowers are real (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We don’t think those flowers are real (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    That's a big TV (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    That’s a big TV (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Some very neat remotes (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Some very neat remotes (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We like that little side table (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We like that little side table (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Nikki has to work from home, so a nice desk is essential (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Nikki has to work from home, so a nice desk is essential (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
     What I Rent nikki
    (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    There's a balcony (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    There’s a balcony (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Here's the kitchen (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Here’s the kitchen (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We appreciate a jar of pasta (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We appreciate a jar of pasta (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    A handy reminder by the kitchen sink (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    A handy reminder by the kitchen sink (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    And some more reminders on the mugs (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    And some more reminders on the mugs (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    The bedroom is lovely (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    The bedroom is lovely (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    what i rent nottingham
    (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Look at that laundry bag (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Look at that laundry bag (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Points for having a dressing table (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    Points for having a dressing table (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We should all sit on inspirational phrases (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We should all sit on inspirational phrases (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We hope you're still counting reed diffusers (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    We hope you’re still counting reed diffusers (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    What I Rent nottingham
    (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    The ensuite bathroom (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    The ensuite bathroom (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    And finally, a couple of toothbrushes (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)
    And finally, a couple of toothbrushes (Picture: Michael Scott/Caters News)

    What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property in London.

    How to get involved in What I Rent

    What I Rent is Metro.co.uk's weekly series that takes you inside the places in London people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what's normal and how much we should be paying.

    If you fancy taking part, please email whatirent@metro.co.uk.

    You'll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates!

    You'll also need to be okay with sharing how much you're paying for rent, as that's pretty important.

    MORE: What I Rent: Billie, £800 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Walthamstow

    MORE: What I Rent: Fiona and Alex, £650 a month for a two-bedroom house in Farnley, Leeds

    MORE: What I Rent: Fiona and Alex, £650 a month for a two-bedroom house in Farnley, Leeds

     


    WHAT I RENT - NIKKI MCCRAIGWHAT I RENT - NIKKI MCCRAIG

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    Munroe Bergdorf, for Bluebella's Love Yourself campaign
    Munroe has been vocal about her own journey to love herself (Picture: @munroebergdorf/Instagram)

    The idea of what comprises a beach body has long been dictated to us. According to advertisers, you’re supposed to be thin yet curvy, completely hair-free, and with no stretch marks or scars.

    Thankfully when you get to the beach, you tend to realise that this airbrushed view simply doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t stop the anxiety that comes with popping on your bikini and getting ready to step out.

    Model and activist Munroe Bergdorf had hit back at the tired beach body trope, with a new campaign designed to get us loving ourselves whatever skin we’re in.

    Writing on Instagram, Munroe said: ‘I know I’m not alone in saying that I’m someone who has had a complicated relationship with their body, especially during the summer. Advertising selling us the dream of the perfect beach body is damaging, especially when we as women come in an endless array of shapes, sizes, and abilities.’

    ‘Personally, the beach has always been a difficult space to navigate. I spent so much energy trying to hide my body, that I forgot I deserve to enjoy it… My weight fluctuates. I have self harm scars. I’m transgender. I get cellulite. But I deserve to feel the sun and sea on my skin during summer as much as anyone else! I refuse to let other people’s judgments of my body become how I see myself,’ she says, opening up about her own struggles to find body confidence.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BzpzkuQAwL6/

    Munroe has been vocal about her own journey to loving herself, as well advocating for the LGBTQ community and working on anti-racism campaigns. She appeared on this year’s Pride Power List, and has modelled for major brands such as Illamasqua.

    She’s now part of lingerie and swimwear brand Bluebella’s #LoveYourself campaign to empower other women to do the same.

    The 31-year-old began gender transitioning at 24 after describing her adolescence as growing up as a ‘very effeminate boy.’ She recently posted a picture of herself as an 11-year-old boy on Instagram – saying she wanted to give that ‘baby a big hug.’

    She has been working with Bluebella for the last year promoting its lingerie and swimwear because of its strong ethos empowering women.

    Bluebella founder and CEO Emily Bendell said: “We love seeing Munroe looking so confidently beautiful in Bluebella swim on her recent beach trip

    ‘As Munroe so eloquently tells us, all women, whatever their age, shape or gender identity, should celebrate self-love on the beach this summer. You don’t have to do anything to be beach body ready apart from getting to the beach. That is what #LoveYourself is all about.’

    Finishing off her Instagram caption, Munroe said, ‘As far as we are concerned there are just three things you need to have a “beach ready” body this summer. 1. A body. 2 a swimsuit and 3. a beach.’

    Hear, hear.

    MORE: Pride isn’t accessible enough for LGBTQ+ disabled people

    MORE: I don’t want children and I don’t owe you an explanation


    Transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf gets real about \'beach bodies\'Transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf gets real about \'beach bodies\'

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    Kat Neubran with her natural skin that has cystic acne
    Kat Neubran from California who developed acne in her 30s embraces her skin (Picture:MDWfeatures/Kat Neubrand)

    Dental administrator Kat Neubrand never had any problems with her skin in her teenage years nor her 20s but after she turned 30 she started breaking out.

    The 30-year-old from San Jose, California, U.S, developed painful cystic acne which broke out more frequently, and over time became bigger and more inflamed.

    Kat’s skin problem left her feeling depressed, alone and questioning why it was happening to her because she assumed she was too old for acne.

    So she hid behind heavy makeup and photo editing apps like Facetune when she uploaded pictures online.

    But now, she’s decided to embrace her natural face and eschew the filters on Instagram to avoid ‘catfishing’ people and promote skin positivity.

    Kat is proud of her skin and isn't afraid to show off her acne scars.
    Kat now posts images without makeup and filters on Instagram (Picture:MDWfeatures/Kat Neubrand)

    ‘I felt really depressed at first,’ she said. ‘I asked myself, “why is this happening to me? Aren’t I too old for acne?” I also felt really alone because none of my friends or family had or have cystic acne.

    ‘I decided that I need to stop hiding behind filters and Facetune and share my real face and story on Instagram.

    ‘My acne became so bad that I wasn’t able to hide it anymore, nor did I want to keep editing my photos. I felt like I was being a catfish on social media and I made the decision that enough is enough.

    ‘It was terrifying, but I received so much support that I knew this was the right thing to do.

    ‘Ever since then I’ve been posting unedited photos, sharing my struggles with acne, depression and anxiety in hopes that I can help someone else who struggles with those things.’

     Kat using a photo editing app (left) and unfiltered (right
    She used to Facetune her images before (Picture: MDWfeatures/Kat Neubrand)

    Kat can’t pinpoint why the condition started so late but since removing her contraceptive, some of her acne has cleared.

    She also has a gentle skincare routine that she uses to cleanse and moisturise her skin and she takes Spironolactone.

    Now she hopes others will learn to put down all the different makeup products and array of filters available.

    ‘You don’t need filters and photoshop to be beautiful,’ she added.

    Kat before her skin broke out
    Kat before her skin broke out (Picture:MDWfeatures/Kat Neubrand)

    ‘Just because that’s all we see on TV and in magazines, doesn’t make it realistic. We need to stop chasing unrealistic beauty ideals, just because society thinks they know what is supposed to be beautiful

    ‘Filters and photoshop only create more insecurities for us. They make us hide behind a mask because we don’t think we fit into society’s beauty mould.

    ‘Different is beautiful. Your imperfections make you beautiful.’

    What is cystic acne and how is it treated?

    Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that’s hot or painful to touch.

    Cystic acne is the most serious type. It develops when cysts form deep underneath your skin. This can result from a combination of bacteria, oil, and dry skin cells that get trapped in your pores.

    Cysts are large pus-filled lumps that look similar to boils and carry the greatest risk of causing permanent scarring.

    The cause of cysts is unclear but it’s linked to the male hormone androgen. Some women use birth control to manage acne by regulating their hormones.

    The hormones in combination birth control pills can help reduce acne. The pills decrease the circulation of androgens, which decreases the production of sebum (oil, which makes acne more susceptible).

    You should contact a dermatologist if you’re worried about your skin.

    MORE: Having acne is hard for anyone but as a gay man it’s so much worse

    MORE: Woman with cystic acne says she finally feels comfortable leaving the house without makeup

    MORE: Man secretly switches girlfriend’s vegan milk for dairy products to test if it really gives her acne


    woman who developed acne in her 30s embraces her skinwoman who developed acne in her 30s embraces her skin

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    We’ll all had that messy toothpaste tube, all dried up around the top.

    And if you have kids, it can be much worse as they don’t always know how much to squeeze out.

    One mum had a genius solution to make things tidier and to make sure her four-year-old daughter doesn’t use too much.

    She took the tube of toothpaste and squeeze it into a soap dispenser, before showing her daughter that one pump of the dispenser was the right amount to brush her teeth.

    Posting on the Kmart Australia Facebook Group, the woman said: ‘Sick of wasting toothpaste and the kid making a mess? Problem solved.’

    Others in the group said they couldn’t wait to try the idea for themselves as they were fed up with the mess their kids made with toothpaste.

    messy toothpaste bottles and a toothbrush
    Before: mess, everywhere (Picture: Facebook)

    One said: ‘This has saved my bathroom! Thank you.’

    ‘Great idea. I’m going to get onto this one tomorrow,’ someone else said.

    And another mum even offered some advice to give more control over the amount pumped out.

    She explained that by using a rubber band, you could stop the pump being pushed down as far to make sure kids take just a pea sized amount.

    ‘If you wrap a rubber band or hair tie around the white part you push down it stops it from going all the way down meaning less toothpaste comes out,’ she said.

    ‘Tie it around like your your putting your hair up,’ she said.

    MORE: Transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf gets real about ‘beach bodies’

    MORE: What I Rent: Nikki, £550 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Nottingham


    Toothpaste hackToothpaste hack

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    Jennie at some of the weddings and hen dos
    Jennie at some of the weddings and hen dos (Picture: PA Real Life)

    It’s wedding season, so if you are on your fifth wedding of the year and at the point where you never want to see a piece of confetti again, spare a thought for this woman.

    Jennie Thomson, 35, has had a decade long wedding season, attending 27 weddings and 14 hen dos, at an estimated cost of £22,000.

    The social media executive, of Loughton, east London, says she feels honoured to have been involved so many times.

    Jennie said: ‘I’ve worked out that I’ve spent about £500 per event – be that a hen do or wedding. Over 10 years, that’s added up to £22,000.

    ‘There were times when I thought to myself, “Oh God, I’m spending an awful lot on other people’s weddings.” But then I remember what an honour it is to be invited to someone’s special day, to catch up with old friends and celebrate.

    ‘Everyone has a period in their lives where it seems like all they do is go to weddings, and yes it’s busy, and yes it’s expensive – but it’s also important to enjoy it as you’ll never get it back.’

    Jennie on a hen do in Brighton (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Jennie on a hen do in Brighton (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    For Jennie the decade-long wedding season began back in 2009, with a hen do in Ibiza followed by the big day in Bedfordshire.

    Since then, she’s attended another 13 hen dos, 26 weddings and has been bridesmaid seven times.

    ‘The most I attended in one year was about seven or eight, in around 2012,’ she laughed. ‘I am very lucky that I have a big circle of friends.

    ‘I’ve got girl friends from all times of my life – home, school, university and work. They quickly add up.

    Jennie at a wedding in the UK (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Jennie at a wedding in the UK (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    ‘Other people would joke, saying I was constantly at weddings, and there were times when I just wanted a quiet weekend to myself, but on the other hand it’s so lovely to be invited that you never want to say no.’

    Hen dos have included destinations like Amsterdam, Marbella, Dublin and Disneyland Paris

    She continued: ‘I’ve done some great things on hen dos. The first one I went to was Ibiza, which was just epic.

    ‘Disneyland Paris was so fun, running around in fancy dress then having lunch in the Cinderella castle.

    ‘I honestly don’t begrudge the cost. It’s an honour to be asked, and the couple wants you there because you’re a significant part of their lives.

    ‘Plus, I love to travel – though you don’t always see all the cultural sights on a hen do.’

    But, while Jennie is all too happy to shell out to celebrate other people tying the knot, not everybody agrees.

    Jennie at a wedding in France (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Jennie at a wedding in France (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    A survey of just over 2,000 people by travel company Culture Trip in June 2019 revealed that 38 per cent of respondents had turned down an invitation to a destination wedding, sacrificing their relationship with the bride and groom in the process.

    Meanwhile, 21 per cent of people asked wished it was easier to turn down this kind of invite without offending the couple, according to the report, which found that Brits are spending an average of £1,463 per celebration  – more than ever – on weddings, hens and stags abroad.

    Jennie, who works for the company doing Culture Trip’s PR, continued: ‘It can be a really difficult conversation to have. I’ve never experienced this myself, but you do hear of people holding it against someone for not being able to afford to go to something.

    ‘Weddings do come with a certain amount of pressure, as it’s such a big day and such an honour to be asked.

    ‘At the end of the day you have to remain true to yourself. I am lucky that I earn well, but I’ve always lived within my means. It can be tough, but you just have to say no if you can’t afford something, then maybe look for another way to celebrate and spoil the bride and groom.

    Jennie on a hen do at Disneyland Paris (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Jennie on a hen do at Disneyland Paris (PA Real Life/Collect)

    ‘Once, I couldn’t go to a wedding as it clashed with another, so I made sure I took the couple out for dinner once they were back from honeymoon and made a fuss of them that way.’

    Of course, it is not  just the travel and accommodation that make weddings pricey – there are gifts and clothes too.

    But, a dab-hand by now, Jennie recycles her outfits, making sure she rotates them around different groups of friends.

    ‘I try to make sure I wear something that particular group of people haven’t seen before,’ she added. ‘With gifts, I prefer to give something personal rather than cash in an envelope.

    ‘A lot of people do think it’s slightly cheeky to ask for money when you’ve paid to be there, but if that’s what they want, I don’t mind at all.

    ‘You never know somebody’s personal circumstances. They may be totally spent out funding the wedding themselves and just want money to go towards a bit of a break, rather than a physical object as a gift.’

    Reflecting on the rising cost of being a wedding guest, Jennie, who has no upcoming nuptials in the diary, concluded: ‘I know £22,000 does sound like a lot to have spent and I can understand why some people may feel like, if they never get married, they may not get that back.

    ‘But at the end of the day, you don’t give to receive. I’m happy to spend this money to go and have a fantastic experience sharing a special day with somebody who means a lot to me.

    ‘I think it’s important not to get into the politics of weddings and to just focus on all the enjoyment you can get out of them.

    ‘Yes, the costs can be staggering, but staying in the UK doesn’t necessarily make things cheaper than if you go abroad.

    ‘Weddings are an expensive game, but I wouldn’t change the amount I’ve spent for the world.’

    MORE: Mum’s hack to stop daughter taking too much toothpaste and making a mess

    MORE: Woman who developed cystic acne in her 30s abandons heavy makeup and camera filters


    Woman has spent ?22,000 on 27 weddings and 14 hen dos ? 10 of them abroad - in just a decadeWoman has spent ?22,000 on 27 weddings and 14 hen dos ? 10 of them abroad - in just a decade

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    A boiled egg and a tin of tuna on a green background
    Boiled eggs and tuna are not popular office choices (Picture: Getty)

    It’s lunch time and you probably can’t wait for the delicious salad or sandwich you’ve packed in your bag.

    And then it hits – the smell of microwaved fish. Enough to put you off your food.

    We’ve all been there when someone else’s lunch from home stinks out the whole office for the rest of the afternoon.

    Research from cleaning company SMC Premier Cleaning, showed that eating at your desk is becoming more popular.

    Of the 5,000 UK office workers surveyed, 26% of respondents say they eat at their desk at least 1-3 times per week. A quarter of office workers will eat 3-5 days and 4% eat lunch at their desk every day.

    And if you’re eating at your desk, those around you get to smell what you’re eating. If you are eating something with a strong scent, it might be time to consider stepping away.

    We asked some office workers about the big no nos in their office environment.

    Fish, as mentioned above, is not a popular choice, particularly tuna.

    Sarah said: ‘There was a fish pie incident in my office last week, stunk the whole place out.’

    ‘Anything with fish can be truly disgusting with a lingering odour,’ Fiona added.

    Boiled eggs are another one to avoid if you want to spare your colleagues from the smell – and their own embarrassment.

    Lu explained: ‘When I worked in a busy office, I had a colleague that kept eating boiled eggs. They reeked and the smell used to waft over to my desk all the time. Then I would have to deal with people coming over to my desk thinking that it was me with the eggy desk.’

    Another boiled egg horror story comes from Barbara: ‘I used to work with a guy who would eat boiled eggs and tinned sardines for breakfast. He would use the leg of the desk to tap the egg against to get the shell off. Had to ask him to stop when I was pregnant.’

    How do people spend their lunch break?

    According to a survey of 2,000 people by Glassdoor, people spend their lunch breaks doing these things:

    • Prefer to be on my own – 36%
    • Browsing internet – 28%
    • Lunch with colleagues – 26%
    • Eat at my desk to catch up on work – 23%
    • Social media – 20%
    • Admin/ errands – 17%
    • Shopping 16%
    • Exercise – 10%
    • Online gaming – 7%

    Some more unusual answers included Rebecca who said she can’t stand the crunching of apples and Jem who was particularly aghast at the idea of boiled cabbage.

    Pies, sausage rolls, sushi, leftover takeaways and pot noodles were some other things that people hate.

    Of course, we’re all entitled to eat what we want but if you are going to eat something with a bit of a stench, finding an area away from your desk means you can enjoy your lunch without worrying about annoying anyone else.

    ‘Working in a open plan office, It’s about respect. Respecting that your colleagues may not be as appreciative about your strong smelling lunch as you are. Smells linger and it’s about having a pleasant working environment for all,’ Sarah said.

    Others agreed that the problem was the culture of not taking a proper lunch break, rather than the food itself.

    A study by Glassdoor of 2000 office workers, found that 70% say that they take less than an hour for lunch, and the average lunch break across the UK lasts just 31 minutes.

    Most offices give at least an hour for lunch, although the legal entitlement is 20 minutes every six hours.

    What are your rights around breaks at work?

    Your rights to work breaks will be in your contract but there are some basic rules.

    • You are entitled to a 20 minute break if you work more than six hours.
    • The time of the break can be decided by your employer but it must be taken during your shift and not added to the start or end.
    • It can be taken in one go somewhere in the middle of the day.
    • It doesn’t count as a rest break if an employer says an employee should go back to work before their break is finished.
    • Workers are allowed to spend it away from their desk or workstation (ie away from where they actually work).

    It’s important to remember that most of the time, you aren’t paid for your break so you should take a full hour if you can.

    Breaking out of the cycle of sitting at your desk can make this easier. Studies show that taking even a short break can improve your ability to focus on a task over a longer period.

    There’s also evidence that eating while you are distracted can actually make you eat more than you need to.

    No matter what you’re planning for lunch, it’s good to get some time to clear your head and get some fresh air.

    Taking your boiled eggs to the park avoids the smell problem, but more importantly it means you get a proper break too.

    MORE: Woman admits she’s spent £22,000 attending a decade long wedding season

    MORE: Mum’s hack to stop daughter taking too much toothpaste and making a mess


    Which foods do people want banned from officesWhich foods do people want banned from offices

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    Liz Ayres and London marathon runners
    Speed is relative, we are all faster than someone and slower than others (Picture: Liz Ayres)

    You may remember my viral videos and photos – and the intense news coverage that followed – of London Marathon participants being sprayed as they navigated their way around course.

    In the video, you can also see that I have an intimidating, large orange cleaning vehicle right behind me covering me with goodness knows what.

    For seven and a half hours over 26.2 miles, the runners were told numerous times they were ‘too fat’ or ‘too slow’, dodged cleanup vehicles, received no water and were sprayed with water and detergents.

    It was completely demoralising and hurtful – so I blew the whistle on ‘everybody’s race’ and shared the videos on social media.

    As an official race pacer I am assigned a time to complete the course in and runners who have a specific finish time in mind will join me. We also try to motivate and support our group of runners to keep them going over the distance. I’m definitely not supposed to be abused or intimidated either.

    On race day many of my pace group were forced to fall further behind because of clean up vehicles blocking our way and separating us.

    Some of my group quit mid-race because the intense pressure and continuous abuse was too much for them and a few were injured by vehicles.

    They weren’t ‘too slow’, they weren’t being allowed to proceed unhindered!

    The abuse was heartbreaking and happened constantly. I began to get angry by everything going on and by halfway I was close to taking down my pacer flag and quitting the course.

    Every single one of those runners with me was still moving forward, they wanted to get to that finish line so I couldn’t leave them to face the problems alone.

    In the latter miles, timing mats were removed so no-one could track us and know where we were. Can you imagine how nerve-wracking that was for families who may now be worried something awful has happened? You see it in the news all the time about runners needing serious medical assistance.

    London Marathon investigated after my original online post went viral and apologies were made to the runners. The group has also been guaranteed a spot in next year’s marathon.

    I hope that this investigation will help address the issues we faced – such as bullying and fatphobia – and I look forward to seeing the proposed changes implemented. I’ll also be involved with the consultation group being set up to improve the experience at the back.

    The online vitriol towards the back runners since the issues hit the media was bad enough but now it’s worse that the runners have got places for next year. They are still being accused of being ‘too fat’ and ‘too slow’ yet they finished a marathon!

    Speed is relative, we are all faster than someone and slower than others. Sir Mo Farah is a huge advocate of getting people out and running regardless of age, pace or size.

    The vast majority of all runners at Virgin Money London Marathon 2019 made it to the finish within time, the cut off point London marathon events decided was good enough so that anyone could take part in ‘everybody’s race’.

    There is nothing in the rules that state you must run it all or that you must run it at a certain pace, you can even walk it if you feel like it, just make the cut-off.

    But why on earth does it matter what size these runners are or what pace they run?

    Liz Ayres on the marathon route
    Some of my group quit mid-race because of the intense pressure and continuous abuse (Picture: Liz Ayres)

    Those who are deemed ‘plus size’ are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Stay in doing nothing and they are ‘supposedly’ a drain on the NHS, yet if they go out and run they still get abused.

    Size and speed is not an indicator of whether you can run or not. Some of us don’t want to be elite runners… we run to be fitter, for our mental health, for enjoyment, we run because we can and we want to!

    Running 26.2 miles is far from easy no matter your speed and the back of the pack runners will be on their feet much longer than most, that takes an extraordinary amount of willpower and determination that cannot be rivalled.

    This is why I volunteered to pace at the back, to give these amazing runners support and maybe a little fun along the way, to show them they still count.

    Despite what you see on the TV during athletics season, runners come in all shapes and sizes.

    If you put on your trainers and go for a run then you’re a runner, why is that so hard for a lot of people to accept?

    MORE: London Marathon’s oldest runner slams organisers for not arranging taxi

    MORE: All the EastEnders stars running with Barbara Windsor’s husband for Dementia


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