Articles on this Page
- 07/16/19--23:01: _Daily Fitness Chall...
- 07/16/19--23:12: _Menstrual cups are ...
- 07/17/19--00:01: _Mixed Up: ‘Money an...
- 07/17/19--00:50: _You can order a poo...
- 07/17/19--01:06: _Mother-in-law wears...
- 07/17/19--01:37: _A free ‘unashamedly...
- 07/17/19--02:31: _Niksen is the new h...
- 07/17/19--02:32: _Couple who moved in...
- 07/17/19--02:36: _These are the top 1...
- 07/17/19--02:58: _If your partner nee...
- 07/17/19--02:58: _A self-service cock...
- 07/17/19--03:38: _Model spends £45,00...
- 07/17/19--03:50: _Healthy lifestyle c...
- 07/17/19--04:05: _Disabled lamb can f...
- 07/17/19--04:22: _Teen wore her mum’s...
- 07/17/19--04:31: _A frozen afternoon ...
- 07/17/19--04:56: _You can get a free ...
- 07/17/19--05:24: _Pip The Gentleman i...
- 07/17/19--07:35: _Why women are follo...
- 07/17/19--07:41: _Kent pub makes lunc...
- 07/16/19--23:12: Menstrual cups are as leakproof as tampons, says new research
- 07/17/19--00:50: You can order a poo emoji cake to celebrate World Emoji Day
- 07/17/19--02:31: Niksen is the new hygge: Why doing nothing is the next big thing
- 07/17/19--02:36: These are the top 10 most used emojis by online daters
- 07/17/19--02:58: If your partner needs a chore chart to get stuff done, dump him
- 07/17/19--02:58: A self-service cocktail bar has launched in London
- 07/17/19--04:22: Teen wore her mum’s 20-year-old wedding dress to prom to save money
- 07/17/19--04:31: A frozen afternoon tea experience has arrived
- Get an idea of who’s covering what in their speeches so you’re not repeating the thank yous on the big day
- Be wary of duration – around six minutes is ideal
- Don’t thank half the guests in the room – this isn’t an Oscar acceptance speech!
- Have a theme so you can tell a story. For example, are you a teacher? Talk about the lessons your other half has taught you (or perhaps the ones you’ll be teaching them)
- Make it funny – don’t let the men have all the laughs
- Easy on the romance – women’s speeches shouldn’t be any more soppy than the men’s
- Don’t be afraid to use cue cards
- Toast something meaningful to you both – it’s a great way to wrap up
We are setting daily fitness challenges to try at home, at the gym or in the park, as part of our Staying Active summer series.
Today’s fitness challenge is press-ups for time – how many can you do 30 seconds?
The aim is to get you active every day for six weeks over summer. And today’s challenge is a tough one that will send your heart-rate through the roof.
These daily challenges can be done in isolation, or you can include them in a larger workout – it’s completely up to you. As long as you’re moving, that’s what matters.
Check back every weekday to see what the next challenge is – you can even film your progress to make a record of how far you’ve come.
We know doing the same fitness routine every week can get really tedious, trying a new challenge every day will keep your fitness fresh and fun – and you might even learn some new moves.
How to do the perfect press-up
Starts in a high plank position – the aim is to get a full-range of motion, lowering your chest almost to the floor, before pushing back up to the start position.
You want your hands to be in line with your chest and a little wider than the body, to give yourself a sturdy base.
When you lower, your elbows should go backwards down the line of your body, rather than sticking out to the sides.
If it’s too challenging, start on your knees, with your pelvis tilted at a 45 degree angle.
Once you have nailed the move on your knees, work up towards completing a full press-up on your toes.
Make sure your neck and spine are aligned. This is really important for preventing injury to your spine and neck, but also to make sure you’re really getting the most out of the move.
I am Team GB
Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.
Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.
To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at: www.IAmTeamGB.com
Young toned female working out in gym
If you’ve been pondering swapping your tampons for a menstrual cup – whether to save money, the environment, or to avoid any bleached products in your vagina – here’s something to soothe any lingering concerns.
New research suggests that menstrual cups are just as effective and reliable as other sanitary products such as pads and tampons.
By reliable, we mean that menstrual cups are just as leakproof as using a tampon. There’s no need to worry about accidentally tipping out the contents while you’re sitting on someone’s sofa.
The research also states that menstrual cups are perfectly safe.
Scientists looked at 43 studies involving 3,319 participants in both low and middle income countries and 15 studies in high income countries.
As part of this, they compared the leakage between different sanitary products.
They found that levels of leaks were similar between menstrual cups and pads and tampons, with one study finding that leakage among menstrual cups was significantly less than with tampons and pads.
They also found that there was no increased risk of infection associated with using menstrual cups.
So what’s holding us back from hopping on the menstrual cup train?
A lack of awareness, in short.
Among 69 educational websites studied as part of the research, just 30% mentioned menstrual cups as an option, while 77% mentioned pads and 65% mentioned tampons.
If people going through puberty aren’t introduced to menstrual cups as an option, it’s no wonder they stick to pads and tampons.
Let’s recap the benefits of swapping to a menstrual cup.
First off, getting a cup instead of a monthly stash of tampons can save you money.
Researchers found that over ten years, a single menstrual cup could cost much less than using pads or tampons, with a cup costing roughly 5% or 7% of the cost of using 12 pads or tampons.
Using a menstrual cup reduces plastic waste, too, preventing you from chucking away single-use pads and tampons.
You also don’t have to change your menstrual cup as regularly, which is handy if you’re someone who forgets they’re wearing a tampon then has a panic after one has been in for six hours.
Commenting on the study, Dr Julie Hennegan from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: ‘For consumers purchasing menstrual products, the results highlight cups as a safe and cost-effective option.
‘Critically, findings indicate that menstrual education resources are not providing a comprehensive overview of products to support informed choices.’
Mixed Up is a weekly series that explores mixed-race identity in the UK today.
Being mixed-race can encompass endless combinations of ethnic heritages, it is so much bigger than simply black and white.
As Britain becomes more diverse, the mixed population is on the rise. In fact, mixed-race is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the UK.
Each week in this series we aim to go beyond the stereotypes to get to the heart of being mixed-race. The joys, conflicts and contradictions that come with straddling two or more ethnic groups.
Reformed party boy Stevie Thomas says that despite his privileged upbringing in West London he has always had to work harder than anyone else around him, simply because of the colour of his skin.
‘My bloodline reads like a formula; I am half welsh, a quarter Jamaican, an eighth Irish and an eighth Portuguese to be exact,’ Stevie tells Metro.co.uk.
‘My fathers’ side is white Welsh, and my mothers’ father is Jamaican-Irish and her mother is Jamaican-Portuguese.
‘My mother and father were born streets apart in Cardiff – two very different worlds came together to create my sister and I.
‘My Dad came from a strong working-class background, and my mother came from a privately educated background due to academic scholarships.
‘As my father’s success grew, we moved around the home-counties due to my mother’s shrewd eye on the property market. They now still live in the home-counties and both my sister and I live in West London.
‘I am so proud of both my parents for what they achieved as a mixed-race couple in the 70s, the journey they went through to achieve their goals is astounding.
‘I was born in Milton Keynes, into middle class bliss, but stained from the sacrifices my parents made to get us there. We were the only mixed-race family in the area, and still not much has changed 15 years on.
‘I would say I was raised and grown in West London, Notting Hill. This is where I first witnessed multiracial cultures mixing and interacting; where I saw boys, girls and adults the same colour as me. Moving here felt like home for the first time in my life.’
Growing up around select echelons of upper middle class society, Stevie was often the odd one out. At school he was one of two boys with black heritage, and that didn’t change much as he grew older and widened his friendship circles.
But for most of his youth Stevie rarely thought about race. It just never came up. And if it ever did, he would struggle to connect that to his own identity.
‘Only recently have I realised how much my race has been involved in my life. I had no idea I was playing up to a role that I was putting upon myself,’ he explains.
‘We were brought up to believe we could be anyone or anything we wanted to be, so it being a bad thing to be a person of colour never occurred to me, it gave me strength if anything.
‘It never held me back from dreaming big, or achieving my goals – I was blind to the criticism and racist jibes because I was so supported by my family, so consumed by work and achieving my own personal goals.
‘Race never became a factor until my later life, when I actually stopped and saw the difference in how I was treated in public if I didn’t wear a certain watch, comb my hair or wear the right shirt.
‘I would have flashbacks of back-handed jokes about my skin colour or height from the previous night out. I’d laugh the jokes off as banter, but in the cold light of day, it was affecting me on a deep level.’
Stevie spent his 20s partying in London’s most exclusive nightclubs, he was even on Channel 4 reality show Shipwrecked back in 2007.
But looking back, he isn’t sure how real any of that was – and he’s acutely aware that other people’s perception of him in those years was intrinsically influenced by his race.
‘Now in my mid-30s, I realise that my 20s were largely an act,’ Stevie tells us.
‘I would put on a bouncing act, almost playing a role of class-clown – a mask I would put on to kill my anxiety and fear of not being a part of the environment I was in.
‘I was “exotic” to most of the people I met. I stood out, and not just because I’m 6ft 6!
‘I was different from my friends. I wasn’t the average white, middle class kid, so I played up to being a fun, lively mixed-race dude.’
Following in the footsteps of his father’s hospitality empire, Stevie went on to become one of the original founders of Notting Hill’s iconic Rum Kitchen – a Caribbean inspired restaurant and bar. He says felt like an opportunity to connect to his roots.
‘I felt like I had found a missing piece of my heritage,’ explains Stevie.
‘Bringing back the Mangrove site, a true staple of Black history in Notting Hill, I felt true pride in our work at the Rum Kitchen, which echoed throughout my Jamaican family. It was as though we had blown off the cobwebs of an old history book and put it back on its shelf.
‘One of my proudest moments in my life was having my grandmother eat and enjoy her meal at the All Saints Road, Notting Hill branch. At 90 she even hit back a can or two of Red Stripe and got in the mood when some of her favourite songs came on.
‘I was the only founder with any Caribbean heritage; and living in Notting Hill meant I naturally connected with the original wave of customers and local community.
‘I was fully immersed in the culture. I ate it, listened to it, smoked it, drunk it, I was it – a walking, be-bopping, billboard for the brand.
‘I truly embodied what we were trying to achieve, the bridge between old and new Caribbean culture. Together, with the original team, we made the site legendary.’
Stevie’s ability to stand out in any crowd has been invaluable in his career – it draws people too him and allows him to feel comfortable among different kinds of people, in a way many of his peers can’t.
But Stevie’s conspicuousness has been a double-edged sword. It is only in recent years that he has been able to look back on some of the treatment he has received with a renewed sense of clarity.
And that began with a new understanding of his own family history.
‘It was only a few years ago that I realised the true story behind my heritage’ says Stevie.
‘When I would be pushed to explain my bloodline to strangers, I would skirt over the facts.
‘I would breeze over the European countries in my bloodline if I was ever asked, as it gets quite complicated explaining my linage – especially when the dark truth of being a great-great-grandson of slaves comes up. Not exactly dinner party material.
‘After a long, heartfelt talk with my mum I found out that my grandparents arrived in this country on a boat in 1953. And hearing about what their grandparents went through really puts life into perspective.
‘Having gained reasonable success off my own back and slowed down, I realise now how truly lucky I am to be where I am today.
‘I am proud of my story. The mountains my parents had to climb to give me the opportunities I had are unbelievable.
‘Everything I have been given I have cherished and been truly thankful for. Money and schooling may open doors, but it is down to your own strength in character to burst through and keep that door open for yourself.
‘Being mixed-race and privileged gave me an edge, but also ensured I had to work just as hard, if not harder, to prove I am worthy of whatever role I am in.’
The birth of the Royal baby, Archie, was a real catalyst in Stevie’s altered perspective. He saw himself in that child, and realised that he wasn’t OK with narratives in the media and among his own friends.
‘With the birth of Archie, the wind changed for me. The poor child being openly quizzed on what colour he is at just two days old put a lot into perspective for me,’ he says.
‘I couldn’t believe that this was still an issue, that in 2019, this was still happening. This child will have a huge number of hurdles to overcome, and being a few generations before him, being in a privileged position myself, I felt it was time to speak up.
‘I received a number of racist jokes from a friend that made my stomach churn. They wanted me to join in, mocking the race of the child as a member of the royal family.
‘It became this quiet in-joke between friends, and I need people to know that this behaviour is simply wrong. It must stop now. And the best way to stop it is to educate, not humiliate.
‘I explained why this was wrong, the emotions I felt for the newborn and why this material should never be shared.’
Stevie’s parents gave him every opportunity in life – with a comfortable upbringing and a fantastic education – but that doesn’t mean it has been easy.
‘I have always had a point to prove, whether it is to myself, to my family or peer group. This I feel is down to my race,’ says Stevie.
‘It’s almost like having this beautiful chip on my shoulder – I am an underdog from the get-go because of who I am, and it’s down to me to prove the naysayers wrong.
‘I have been told, “we don’t want people like you here”, by my own neighbours in Kensington. I’ve been looked down on countless times, there was even a period of time where I couldn’t catch a black cab home.
‘At times I have felt rejected by the black community too, being a light-skinned-brother sometimes puts you on your back foot in large groups, especially with a private school accent. But normally it doesn’t take long to warm up the crowd and get them onside.’
Despite Stevie’s ability to get people ‘onside’, he isn’t immune to racist abuse. He says that as an adult he will experience racism – usually in the form of drunken comments on public transport – every few months.
But it is the stuff that happened to him as a kid that really sticks with him.
‘One story I remember so vividly,’ says Stevie.
‘I was around 10 years old, possibly younger, and I was called a “jungle-bunny” by boys much older than me, almost grown men.
‘Not knowing this was racist I played along, hopping from seat to seat on the school bus, the older years in hysterics.
‘Over the next few weeks I was spat at, worse still, I wasn’t allowed to sit on a seat on the bus to or from school; muddying my uniform as I slipped around on the floor trying to hold myself still.
‘This happened every day for weeks. The bus driver ignored this abuse until I rose up and beat down the main bully.
‘Violence was not the answer, but going to my parents did not feel like an option at the time.
‘It was only when the boy’s father confronted my Dad, accusing me of being a bully (he came home with a black eye) that I opened up about the abuse I was receiving on the bus. My parents kicked off.
‘I learned in that moment that violence is the wrong path to take, and doing the right thing will pay dividends. Nearly 25 years later I still remember that day as if it were yesterday.’
Despite these visceral memories that no doubt stay with him for a lifetime, Stevie loves who he is. He loves his identity and embrace being different as best he can.
‘I absolutely love being mixed-race. I feel like I am different for all the right reasons. I truly believe we are special, we are the future,’ he explains.
‘I feel that I can understand both sides of the fence, and actively try and bridge the gap between both sides (should you see it that way). I can connect with almost anyone I encounter, and rarely find anyone that doesn’t genuinely like me for my character.
‘Being mixed-race has defined who I am. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
‘My culture has come through in my work, in my attitude to life; I have embraced all the cultures that run through my blood and I hope I have done my parents proud.’
The best of Mixed Up
Mixed Up is our weekly series that gets to the heart of what it means to be mixed-race in the UK today.
Lifestyle - Mixed Up 6 - Natalie Morris
Happy World Emoji Day. What better way to celebrate than with a cake that looks like a poo?
Handily enough, you don’t have to craft your own emoji themed treat to celebrate this wondrous occassion.
For one day only, 17 July, Deliveroo is allowing people to order a poop emoji cake for 90p. Bargain.
The cake is reassuringly chocolate flavour, and created by Deliveroo in partnership with food futurologist Robin Collective.
Each 12cm cake is filled with chocolate mousse, a layer of chocolate cake, and a shining ganache, complete with the swirls, eyes, and mouth of the poo emoji you know and love.
Deliveroo encourages you to order one for a pal having a sh*t day, but you could just as happily get your own or send the treat to someone you hate to send the subtle message of ‘eat sh*t’ (while also raising their blood sugar levels. Pure evil).
Just open up Deliveroo today, see if the Deliveroo Emoji Restaurant is an option in your area, then order a 90p poo emoji cake to your heart’s content.
If you fancy sticking to the emoji theme with the rest of your meals today, make sure to grab some avocado for breakfast and a few aubergines for dinner. If you can make your shopping list entirely in emoji, you’re winning this day.
Know someone who's had a crappy day_ Cheer them up with a limited edition Poop emoji cake, available for World Emoji Day on the Deliveroo app1-1b17
This week on wild mothers-in-law, here’s another one who wore white to their son’s wedding day.
While some brides don’t mind their mother-in-law turning up in pretty much the exact same outfit, others are understandably annoyed.
And one woman didn’t look too pleased when her mother-in-law not only turned up in a white lacy number but also did a dance with the groom.
In pictures shared by her uncle on Reddit, the bride could be seen with her hands on her hips as the groom and his mum danced away.
The uncle wrote that it was ‘creepy’ for the duo to be dancing so closely.
But he revealed to Redditors that the groom was being intimate with his biological mum after having grown up in foster care.
With his foster mum in the crowd, the groom probably just wanted a sweet moment with his biological mum.
The uncle, like other Redditors, wasn’t moved by the son and mother-in-law’s dance .
He wrote on subreddit r/JUSTNOMIL: ‘Mother-in-law wore a sheer white lace dress to the wedding.
‘(She) and groom had a creepy mother/son dance, and (she) latched onto the groom in an awkward hug.
‘I am so glad that they live 1,000 miles away from the in-laws.’
In the same vein, others wrote: ‘Jeez, I thought the newlyweds were dancing and the other woman in the wedding dress was the MIL.
‘How does he not feel icky? I feel icky.’
Others were also unforgiving, saying: ‘It’s kinda creepy that mum and son appear to have their foreheads touching.’
Another said: ‘Honestly, it’s one thing for a mum to cling to her son but another if he enables it.’
The uncle then replied: ‘He (the groom) was taken away from his mother when he was young and raised in foster care so he doesn’t really know bio mum all that well.
‘Foster mum was also at the wedding and was Just No MIL in her own right. Just less creepy.’
Groom's mother wears lacy white dress, does awkward back hug dance with him
Food waste is a serious issue.
Every year, 1.9million tonnes of food are wasted across the UK and of this amount, 250,000 tonnes is still edible, according to FareShare, a charity that distributes surplus food to charities so it can be given to those who need it most.
The problem occurs in households (with people throwing away food because it looks weird, even though it’s still good to eat or buying too much food and allowing it to rot, instead of using it), but the wider concern is within the food industry itself.
Many supermarkets and suppliers will disregard products such as vegetables and fruits that look less desirable because of their shape or colour, because they are concerned customers will be less inclined to buy these products.
It’s a global situation; a study from last year found that 50million tonnes of fresh produce is thrown away in Europe every year because it doesn’t meet supermarket standards.
Meanwhile, 10% of the world’s population is going hungry.
To highlight the food waste issue, Dash Water will be hosting an ‘unashamedly wonky picnic’ in London tomorrow.
People are welcome to come along and munch on treats such as curved cucumber sandwiches and citrus lemon meringue pavlova with wonky raspberries, as well as free Dash drinks from the entire range (which is infused with wonky fruits).
The event is free and will be hosted in Soho Square, where the brand will put together a ‘farm-like’ setting, which includes picnic blankets, deck chairs and hay bales.
There will also be a photo booth with farm props.
Go along and celebrate wonky foods.
And remember, looks aren’t everything.
Summer picnic spread on blanket with jam sandwiches, fruit and tea
When it comes to wellness trends it seems we rarely come up with our own ideas, looking instead to our European neighbours for inspiration.
First came hygge, the Danish word we adopted to make sitting at home and getting cosy cool again; then we borrowed lagom from the Swedes, seeking contentment and balance in everything we do; we even tried plogging, which involved running and picking up litter at the same time. Unsurprisingly we stole fika too, which is basically eating pastries at trendy coffee shops.
The new word in wellbeing town, though, is Niksen – a Dutch concept that means doing absolutely nothing, and it’s probably about to be all over your Insta feed. Brace yourselves.
What is Niksen?
In an age where we thrive on being always-on and busy, Niksen is the antidote – because it literally refers to ‘engaging in the valued art of doing nothing’, as Dutch-born psychologist Jan P. de Jonge of People Business Psychology tells Metro.co.uk.
‘In Holland, people still value their downtime,’ says Jan. ‘You could say “niksen” is what others might call practising mindfulness.’
Taken from the Dutch word ‘niks’ which means ‘nothing’, it’s the opposite of being productive with our time.
‘It allows people to turn off their mobile phones, shut their diaries and forget deadlines, and even all of the mundane chores and jobs for a little while.’
Mindfulness, though, is about staying present and engaging with the moment you’re in, whether it’s mindful eating or doing a ‘body scan’ to centre your mind on the here and now. Niksen, on the other hand, is about letting go and having no purpose at all – something most people will find tough.
What are the benefits?
It stands to reason that taking time out to just be is going to be good for us, especially given that stress and anxiety is a modern epidemic.
‘Niksen promotes a sense of wellbeing, because it enables you to be calm, enjoy just being and possibly reflect and think about what ‘is’,’ agrees de Jonge.
Essentially, it’s taking a time out.
‘Our brains need to temporarily switch off sometimes, not just during sleep, but also during breaks whilst more awake. It makes us happier.’
Experts have suggested it could have similar benefits to meditation, helping to reduce stress at a time where burnout is now a recognised medical condition.
Early adopters believe it works. Jenny Holden, a communications expert and speaker at Chorus Comms, says she’d recommend the practice to anyone after adding it to her daily lunch breaks.
‘Just the very thought of doing nothing was once something that horrified me, until a Dutch friend of mine suggested that I slow down, take my foot off the wheel and take some time out to practise Niksen,’ Holden tells us.
‘This was something I was extremely sceptical about, especially because there’s always something to be done – whether that’s official work for my clients, checking social media, home admin, washing and ironing, getting stuff ready for the kids and so on. Every second of the day counts.’
It was during a short stay in hospital when her phone battery died and she had nothing else to do that Holden finally gave the idea a go.
She says: ‘Niksen forced me that day to tune into my head and body like I’d perhaps never done so before. It enabled me to deep breathe every breath, exhale the anxiety, and mentally slow-down.
‘Within ten minutes of doing nothing – literally just staring and listening to myself – my head began to clear and sort out my work and home ‘to do’ lists, it started to cultivate greater ideas to implement and developed new content subjects to share. And all without a digital device nearby.’
Proving all of our secondary school teachers wrong, being a daydreamer and taking a moment to ourselves could be the rest all of us need. Bupa’s Mental Health Nurse Adviser Thomas Jones says it is important for our minds to sit back.
Thomas tells us: ‘The Dutch concept of Niksen is definitely something we could all take inspiration from in today’s ever-busy, switched-on world. Allowing ourselves time to sit with our own thoughts, to truly relax and restore ourselves, is crucial for aiding stress relief and improving our mental wellbeing.’
How do you practise Niksen?
When was the last time you did absolutely nothing? Exactly. Niksen could simply be five minutes of sitting in a comfy chair (perhaps bought during your hygge phase – Scandi style is optional) or taking ten to just stare out of the window.
The aim of the game is in fact to be sitting or laying aimlessly and without purpose. We admit it doesn’t sound that riveting, but that’s kind of the point – just be still, and just be.
That said, adding it to your to-do list for the day would be somewhat counterproductive (and we can’t see our boss being impressed by ‘do nothing’ appearing in our schedules). In fact, being less regimented about how you plan your day is just as important.
‘Less is more,’ de Jonge tells me. ‘Building in flexibility of your diary, and how you let your time be claimed in the day has proven to reap rewards in productivity and creativity.’
It’s important to see it as guilt-free rest, too, as opposed to procrastinating or wasting time – else you may find yourself drifting into negative thoughts and cause more stress than you had in the first place.
It can’t hurt to try. After all, as de Jonge tells us: ‘Het kost nix’ (it costs nothing). Makes a change from all those soft grey cushions and pastries…
People tell us how their cat has helped their mental health
They say when you know, you know.
Shakeela and Jeremy Feterhoff, respectively from Illinois and Alabama, U.S, knew they were perfect for each other after one date.
The pair had been chatting on a dating app regularly before finally agreeing to meet.
Shakeela was 18 at the time while Jeremy, who works in security, was 24. After less than an hour of talking on the phone for the first time, Jeremy asked Shakeela to be his girlfriend.
And in the same spontaneous vein, the pair decided to move in together after their first date.
Now, Shakeela, 25, and Jeremy, 31, are married, have two children and are expecting their third.
Risks work out sometimes.
‘I thought he was a catfish at first because he was so attractive and he had professional pictures of himself on there,’ said Shakeela.
‘But after about 20 minutes of texting back and forth he called me and we spoke for about 30 minutes.
‘The next day he asked me to be his girlfriend.’
Jeremy said: ‘It was as if God put her in front of me and told me this is the one. And we’re still in love seven years later.’
Though now happily loved up, Shakeela and Jeremy had their challenges at first.
Shakeela had just graduated high school at the time when Jeremy courted her.
When she couldn’t pay for her phone bill to continue chatting to Jeremy, he offered to pay for her.
They then continued chatting and getting to know one another.
‘I wanted to meet someone who was serious, not just someone looking for sex,’ said Shakeela.
‘He said he loved me during the first week of us dating online and I told him that I felt the same.
‘He told me he would take care of me and that he couldn’t wait for us to be together, he said he saw a future together, we even talked about kids and what their names would be.
‘But we knew that in order for it to work one of us would have to move.’
Jeremy had just started a new job, so he asked if Shakeela would be willing to meet him and then move to Alabama so they could be together.
Less than one month later Shakeela was travelling to Mississippi with her life’s belongings, ready to elope.
Romantic as the gesture may have been, the pair were met with some reservations from their families.
‘I didn’t tell my dad, I knew he would try to talk me out of it, but I had made up my mind…he just thought I was packing for the trip to see my aunt,’ admitted Shakeela.
‘I didn’t know if Jeremy was a serial killer, or if he was abusive, but I felt confident that he was a good person, I was willing to take that risk because I was so in love.
‘I knew I wanted our relationship to work. I was sad to leave my family behind though, I’d never been away from them before.’
Shakeela’s dad was soon on board after having a stern talk with Jeremy.
Jeremy says being a father now, he understands the dad’s concerns. He added that he’s still smitten now as he was when they first spoke.
‘I could tell immediately that Shakeela was different from anyone I’d met before.
‘She has always been so loyal and faithful to me.
‘We love to communicate through music and if we have a little tiff we can never stay mad at each other for long.’
The couple have two sons, Edolie, five, and Ender, two. Their third baby is due in December this year.
Couple move in together after ONE date - have blissful marriage, two children and another baby on the way
Have you mastered the art of emoji flirting yet?
In 2019, words can sometimes seem superfluous, when you already have a library of carefully curated emojis that function as a universal language.
If you send a cheeky devil face to someone who lives on the other side of the globe, the intention is still pretty clear, especially if paired with a squirting water figure (for those not in the know, the innuendo refers to ejaculation).
It’s World Emoji Day and according to a new survey, there are certain characters that are more popular among online daters, compared to others.
Surprisingly, it’s not all dirty euphemisms and suggestive winks – though there is plenty of that too – with the winking kiss emoji topping the list.
Runner-up in ‘how to date via emoji’ is the crying while laughing face, followed by the happy smile with heart eyes in third place. These ‘smiley’ characters aren’t technically called emojis, but emoticons.
The survey was conducted by Seeking Arrangement, a dating site for people looking for a sugar daddy, among its 20 million members worldwide.
If you’re new to emoji flirting, start out slow.
Send your lover a suggestive winking face (number four on the list) and see if they send you a thumbs up, before working your way up to the aubergine+peach+squirty water+devil conversations.
The top 10 most used emojis by online daters, in order of popularity
Is there an emoji missing that you feel you desperately need?
You can submit ideas to the Unicode Consortium, the non-profit organisation that selects and creates emojis, via its website. There are new characters added every year.
This autumn, a new set will be introduced including a flamingo (we can’t wait to see how daters will make this one dirty) and a ‘small penis’ emoji.
If all else fails, just stick to the good, old regular form of texting – with words.
Online daters' most used emojis
Behold, the worst thing on the internet today: ‘Daddy’s Sticker Chart’.
‘Daddy’s Sticker Chart’ is the name of a piece of paper that provides tasks for a ‘daddy’ to do in exchange for rewards.
If he washes the dishes six times, for example, daddy gets a 12-pack of beer.
If he puts the toilet seat down six times, there will be ‘no nagging for a week’.
If he cleans the kids’ vomit six times, he gets a blowjob from his wife. Interestingly enough, it’s the vomit task daddy has completed the most.
This is awful for a whole host of reasons, beyond the mysterious message of ‘baby sideburns’ in the bottom right corner.
The idea that a man would need a sticker chart to do simple requirements of parenting, such as packing children’s lunches or bathing the kids, is appalling.
I had to fucking see this now you do too pic.twitter.com/a5vtvXZCz4
— a NEW Phoenecian Thanker (@ChrisTweetsLLC) July 16, 2019
Surely when a woman decides to start a family with a man, she should be able to rely on him for some of the work parenting requires. Surely she should be able to expect that her partner might deign to help raise the children he agreed to have, and he will wash the dishes and change nappies not in exchange for treats, but because he knows these are adult responsibilities he signed up for.
Being an adult means having very basic responsibilities. You have to clean and feed yourself. You need to turn up to your job on time.
When you get in a relationship, you get some new responsibilities and you share some others. You vow to be there for each other, to be kind and caring, to consider their feelings. It shouldn’t be the case that all of your adult responsibilities get shifted on to your significant other, because you’re still supposed to be an adult.
And yet all too many times, when a man gets in a relationship with a woman, he becomes her responsibility. It’s her job to make him a better man, to ‘provide’ for him in terms of domestic tasks such as cooking and cleaning (because these are the women’s jobs, right?), to make sure he’s still existing as an adult.
It shouldn’t be this way because that’s not equality. And it’s simply not fair – how can a woman keep looking after herself when she’s expected to spend all her energy on a man?
When kids come along, even more responsibilities get added to each person’s load. Too often the majority of those go on to one parent… usually the woman.
But we have to remember that just getting men to pick up tasks isn’t success. If their wife or girlfriend has to spend time and emotional labour giving them nudges, asking them again and again, explaining why it’s so important, showing them how to do things, fixing them when they’re done incorrectly, or providing rewards, the scales are still uneven.
Men don’t deserve stickers and blowjobs for being decent human beings.
If your partner needs to be nagged, promised rewards, or given stickers so they’ll do basic tasks, you’re not dating a man – you’re dating an overgrown child who simply doesn’t care about your needs.
The same applies if your boyfriend or husband needs you to do things for them because they ‘don’t know how’ (and, strangely enough, can’t be bothered to learn) or requires a load of effort from you in order to be able to run an errand – like needing you to hunt down images of everything on your shopping list.
And frankly, you need to dump him.
Needing and expecting to be mothered is a form of sexism. It’s the idea that women have to be the nurturing, caring ones in a partnership, taking care of the man so that he can go ahead and do manly things, which relies on the assumption that women have nothing better to do than drag a manchild into adulthood at the expense of their own emotional wellbeing.
Dressing up that mothering with a fun chart doesn’t make it any better. Neither do fun rewards, because a man shouldn’t need the promise of blowjobs or beer or no nagging* for a day to get stuff done – he should do it because he knows it’s the right thing to do.
*Don’t get me started on the sexism of ‘nagging’. Notice how it’s only ever applied to women?
We have to stop letting men get away with being big kids. We have to stop thinking it’s funny that our male partners can’t or refuse to do basic tasks.
Our time is valuable, and too often we waste it doing things men are perfectly capable of, or dressing up our emotional labour in a cute little bow… which requires even more of our time and effort.
Women, reclaim your time. Rip up daddy’s sticker sheet, tell him what needs doing, and ditch him if he can’t be bothered to comply. Men don’t deserve stickers and blowjobs for being decent human beings.
If standing in a packed venue, angrily staring at the bartenders and willing them to serve you next doesn’t appeal, you’ll love this new bar.
Liquorette, which has just opened in Fitzrovia, claims to be London’s first-ever self-service cocktail bar.
Before you get too excited about finally getting the chance to test out your flaring skills, there are some limits to the do-it-yourself drink pouring.
Guests will not be able to mix their own drinks (that would be illegal) but rather, will be able to choose from pre-mixed fresh bottled cocktails, beers and wine from a special deli counter, as well as pour their own drinks from six taps.
After selecting your cocktail, take it to your table and simply settle up when you leave.
Team members will also circulate throughout the venue to clear tables and offer their assistance if needed.
While Liquorette might be the first cocktail bar of this kind, it’s not the first venue to introduce it within the drinks industry.
Vagabond Wines offered a similar option in 2010, where guests could choose from six barrels of wine.
If cocktails are more your thing, there’s plenty to choose from – and you don’t just get to decide the flavour, but also the type of glass, garnish and any further accessories.
Another area that often frustrates cocktail aficionados is how much ice is put into their drink. No problem – at Liquorette, you’re in charge.
If you want to improve your bartending skills, there are also master classes available to book.
As for what you can drink, the fresh cocktails are changed on a daily basis and feature tasty tipples such as Rhubarb Negroni and a Blood Orange Cosmo.
Meanwhile, the tap options will be swapped out every four months and currently include quirky choices like Glazed and Confused, Emico2, Vetiver + Ting, Nordic Spritz, Room 1 and Monkey See.
‘The idea of true access at a bar (self-serve alcohol being one of the programming pieces to support that idea) started in New York as an experimental version of Liquorette,’ said Kristina O’Neal, the founding partner of AvroKO, the design company behind Liquorette.
‘Our goal was to make a public space feel more like being at a house party rather than at a bar.
‘People really latched on to it as a concept because it felt like the bar was theirs; that the place was free for them to own.
‘What would happen if we turned traditional cocktail culture on its head – doing away with the long waits for bespoke cocktails from white jacketed-bartenders with perfectly quaffed-moustaches and moving to a more democratic drinking culture where alcohol was directly accessible to the guest?’
Liquorette is open seven days per week, from noon each day.
Liquorette Self Service 654-7702
Amanda Lovelie wants to be the most surgically enhanced woman in Britain – and she’s right on track to get there, having recently spent £45,000 on a bum lift.
Mum-of-four Amanda, 40, once vowed to have the biggest boobs in Britain, but now has a new target after her bum lift was the ‘best money’ she ever spent.
She has previously had three breast enhancements and has spent £200,000 on beauty treatments.
She plans to get further bum implants in October.
Amanda says: ‘I had my BBL done in April and I love it – it’s the best money I ever spent – not only does it give you a nice booty, but it also gives you an hourglass figure as the liposuction takes the fat from your belly and waist and transfers it to your bum, making it a win-win.
‘Before my bum was nasty and I couldn’t see it and always hid it.
‘Now I’ve finally got a booty! I’m glad, it is so much better now.
‘Recovery was a bit sore but that’s to be expected with a major operation. Dr Plovier and all his amazing staff at the Be-clinic in Brussels are amazing – I can’t recommend and praise them enough.
‘I love my bigger bum and I’m actually going back in October for bum implants.’
Amanda says that a major factor in her decision to get further surgery was the cruel comments she received online.
‘My bum was so flat before and everyone on social media was trolling me,’ says Amanda.
‘The trolls told me to stop getting boob jobs and spend money on my bum instead – well now that I have, they will just find something else to troll me for.
‘I don’t care what the trolls say anyway, because I’m on my journey with my passion for plastic perfection and no one is going to stop me. ‘
Alongside bum implants, Amanda plans to continue to grow her breasts with further surgery, despite them now being a 2600cc cup size.
Before surgery Amanda had 30B size breasts, and chose to transform her looks in an attempt to become a glamour model.
Since then, Amanda has spent around £270,000 on beauty treatments, including botox injections and fillers every few weeks
She thinks that the bigger her breasts are, the better, and wants to look like a real-life Barbie so she can continue to make cash from glamour modelling.
‘As soon as I see a wrinkle, even if it’s on my hands, I need to get it fixed,’ says Amanda.
‘I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever be able to stop because I’m always going to want to look my absolute best.’
Most enhanced woman in UK
Regular exercise, a balanced diet, not smoking and a low alcohol intake can reduce the risk of dementia, even if it runs in your family, according to a new study.
Some people have genes that put them more at risk of the condition but this research shows that everyone can lower the risk by leading a healthy lifestyle.
The study, led by researchers at the University of Exeter, was revealed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
They collected data over eight years from almost 196,383 adults of European ancestry aged 60 and over in the UK. The participants were asked about their lifestyles and their DNA was tested to see who carried the genes that mean they are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
They found that among the people who had the genes, only about 11 in every 1,000 with healthier lifestyles developed the condition, compared to 18 in every 1,000 with unhealthy lifestyles.
They looked at four key factors that were previously associated with reducing dementia risk: getting enough exercise, not smoking, eating from multiple food groups with little processed meat and lots of fruit and fish, and drinking one or fewer standard alcoholic drinks a day for women and two or fewer for men.
Everyone was then given a score to show how healthy their lifestyle is and the participants were tracked for eight years.
Joint lead author Dr Elżbieta Kuźma, at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: ‘This is the first study to analyse the extent to which you may offset your genetic risk of dementia by living a healthy lifestyle.
‘Our findings are exciting as they show that we can take action to try to offset our genetic risk for dementia. Sticking to a healthy lifestyle was associated with a reduced risk of dementia, regardless of the genetic risk.’
The study was led by the University of Exeter in collaboration with researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Oxford, and the University of South Australia.
There are some limitations as some cases of dementia could have been missed – the researches relied on hospital inpatient records and death certificates – but they say the research is promising.
Developing dementia in your 60s is also at the younger end of old age but the researchers plan to continue following the group as they get older.
Joint lead author Dr David Llewellyn, from the University of Exeter Medical School and the Alan Turing Institute, said: ‘This research delivers a really important message that undermines a fatalistic view of dementia.
‘Some people believe it’s inevitable they’ll develop dementia because of their genetics. However it appears that you may be able to substantially reduce your dementia risk by living a healthy lifestyle.’
A portrait of an active senior man with earphones outdoors in nature. Copy space.
This adorable video shows a disabled lamb walking with homemade bionic legs.
Blossom, a three-year-old sheep nicknamed ‘Bionic Blossom’ by her owner, was abandoned by her mum shortly after she was born.
She had been hand reared since she was one month old after developing nephrosis.
It meant Blossom was unable to suckle milk, so her owner, Rachel Challoner, 42, had to bottle feed her.
Rachel runs a croft on tiny Fair Isle, Shetland – which is so small that it doesn’t have a vet.
She had to use her ingenuity to come up with homemade supports for Blossom’s front legs – which are made out of drain piping and metal rods.
She posted videos on Twitter of Blossom walking with the fabricated supports – with one video getting more than 23,000 views.
Former music teacher Rachel, who works as an admin assistant, primary school relief cook and volunteers as a chapel organist on the island, said: ‘One day I went down to feed the ewes and her front legs wouldn’t work.
‘We’re a very remote island and don’t have a vet, but one of my friend’s sons is a vet so I sent him pics and videos and he said it looks like spinal nerve damage.
‘He recommended steroids and a course of injections.
‘During that time she improved from not using her legs at all to stand up, but because she’s not been using them her muscles have really weakened.
‘Once the treatment ended there was nothing more we could do from a medical point of view.’
With few options left, a friend of Rachel’s, who is the island nurse, stepped in to lend a hand in finding a solution to Blossom’s leg problems.
After seeing the struggling lamb, Rachel’s friend’s husband came up with the idea of the makeshift leg supports.
Rachel said: ‘One day after work Vicky came over to have a look.
‘She used her medical experience and knowledge and said we need something that’s going to do “X, Y and Z”.
‘Her husband Bob, who is an incredible handyman, came up with the first pair of splints, like callipers, that were pipe lagging with wooden dowel rods, which worked fine.
‘We made sure she could still lie down and get back up.
‘But when she lay down one day she snapped one of the dowel rods and I asked if there was anything we could do.
‘Bob found thin metal rods and that was her “mark II” legs which have done a fantastic job.
‘Those legs worked fine for a while and we were taking them off every couple of days to make sure Blossom wasn’t getting any sores and her right leg started to really improve.
‘Now she’s getting around ever so well and I’ve watched her running across the ground.’
But while Blossom’s right legs continued to strengthen, her left leg remained weak, so the homemade leg supports were tweaked, with extra holes drilled, to make them slightly more flexible.
Rachel, who has close to 100 lambs and sheep on her land, said: ‘We had another look so she’s now got the “mark III” legs.
‘They’ve been working well. I put them on Blossom first thing in the morning and take them off her at night.
‘It’s really trying to help her function normally as a sheep and it’s really working.
‘She’s always been a healthy lamb apart from her legs.
‘Bionic Blossom, it’s quite cute.’
Despite the possibility of Blossom never bearing any lambs of her own, given her weak limbs, Rachel isn’t worried and is happy to keep her regardless.
It means she might avoid the fateful boat trip to the market in Shetland.
She said: ‘I’d never put an ewe through the strain of birth for the purpose of having lambs so it’ll depend on how well she comes.
‘I’m not business minded enough as a crofter to say she’s no good.
‘I’d love for her to make a complete and full recovery and go on and have her own lambs but if I think it’ll put too much pressure on her body she’ll just be a companion animal so we’ll just see.’
Prom dresses can come with hefty price tags and although you want to look great, you’ll probably only want to wear the dress once.
One teenager had a smart idea to save money and wear something completely unique – her mum’s wedding dress.
Grace Jeyes, 18, decided not to buy a new dress and instead she chose the sentimental outfit, saving the money she would have spent for driving lessons.
The white dress with buttons down the front, petal sleeves and jagged hem that mum Dawn wore when she got married in 1998 was pretty unconventional back then and Grace had always loved it.
Grace, from Melton Mowbray, Leics, said: ‘I didn’t see the point in buying a new dress that I will only ever wear once so I had a look in my wardrobe and then mum’s.
‘I found her stunning wedding dress and I fell in love with it – it fitted perfectly, and I knew this is the one.’
Grace even kept it secret until the night before her prom as a surprise for her mum and dad David, 49.
Grace adds: ‘When she saw me in it, she was so happy.
‘The dress means so much to my parents which made it even more special for me.
‘My friends and teachers were all complimenting me on my dress as it was different from the rest but nobody believed it was once a wedding dress.’
Dawn, who is a business owner said: ‘Grace told me she already had a prom dress and didn’t want to shop for another one.
‘I assumed it was going to be one of her many dresses in her wardrobe, so when she came down in my wedding dress, I was so shocked.
‘I was extremely flattered and felt like I must have decent dress sense for her to wear it 20 years later.
‘She has always liked my wedding dress, but I didn’t think she would ever wear it out.
‘I am biased, but I thought she looked the best – she likes to be different from the rest.
‘Grace is very wise with money and thinks before she spends so rather than buying a new prom dress, we put the money towards driving lessons instead.’
Teen wore her MUM\'s wedding dress to Prom
There’s no shortage of quirky afternoon teas in London.
The classic scone, cucumber sandwich and hot tea option is still going strong, but if you’d like to try something new, there’s a new heatwave-suitable experience.
Halo Top Creamery, a US-based ice cream company, has partnered with Bluebird Café in Chelsea to launch a ‘frozen afternoon tea’, where guests can munch on goodies that are made by ‘fusing unique ice cream flavours with classic puddings’.
Swap your regular scone for a red velvet flavour, nibble on a Strawberry Cheesecake Stick or Cinnamon Roll Royale, and finish off with a Candy Bar Macaron – an ice cream sandwich filled with, er, ice cream. Wash it all down with the Cookies and Cream Freak Shake or boozy iced tea.
‘I loved the challenge of bringing this idea to life and putting a unique twist on a British staple, combining Halo Top standout flavours with classic cakes and confections,’ said Curtis Poole, head pastry chef at Bluebird Café.
‘Creating a playful frozen afternoon tea inspired by the ice cream was certainly a first for me but I think it is a great way of bringing two popular brands together with the end result being an assortment of cakes fusing nostalgic flavours with classic puddings.’
‘We really enjoy finding new and innovative ways to eat more ice cream so couldn’t be more excited to pair Halo Top ice cream creations with afternoon tea,’ said Doug Bouton, president and COO at Halo Top Creamery.
‘Having the chance to put a Halo Top twist on a British classic feels like the perfect way to celebrate National Ice Cream Month with our UK fans.’
The pop-up launched on 4 July and will run until Saturday 27 July.
It’s on offer every Thursday to Saturday from 3pm to 4.30pm, and costs £21.50 per person.
If you want to add prosecco, it’ll cost you £10 more.
HaloTop Bluebird 001-b5d5
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.
Yes, the 1927 song is now a reality as Cadbury is touring the country offering free Flake 99 ice creams for anyone who can make enough noise.
You have to scream into their iScream machine and if it reaches high enough on the scream-o-meter, you get a free cone with a delicious Flake on top, of course.
It’s all to celebrate the 99th birthday of the chocolate bar used in the 99.
The Cadbury Flake was developed in 1920, after a Cadbury employee noticed the chocolate falling off the production line created a stream of delicate, crumbly and delicious folded chocolate during the chocolate making process.
Cadbury Flake 99s were created shortly after using a smaller version of the classic Cadbury Flake as the perfect accompaniment to an ice-cream and the iconic British summer treat was born.
The iScream machine will tour seaside locations this summer.
The machine starts in Brighton today and will be in Weston-Super-Mare this weekend, with more locations to be decided – so keep an eye out in your town.
Seana Fitzgerald, Junior Brand Manager at Cadbury, says: ‘We are very excited to announce the tour of this exciting I-Scream machine to celebrate 99 years of Cadbury Flake.
‘This intense chocolatey bar has been a staple favourite for almost 100 years due to a secret in the chocolate process that no other brand has managed to crack; Cadbury Flake 99s can withstand the heat and maintain their delicate flavour better than other chocolate, and not melt or break too easily.
‘We’re so excited to spread the joy of Cadbury Flake even further by bringing them to Britain’s most-loved beach destinations.’
You can get a free 99 ice cream if you scream loud enough
Philip Pip is incredibly cool.
The 54-year-old isn’t your average older gentleman. When he was 50 he became a model.
Tatted up and rocking a hipster beard, Philip, from Huddersfield, was headhunted for his looks.
The teacher, who works with young people on the Prince’s Trust Program, was approached by two university fashion students.
They wanted to create a magazine aimed at middle-aged gentlemen who are into fashion.
And Philip, who goes by Pip The Gentleman, fit the bill.
‘I have been modelling for five years,’ Philip tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Just before my 50th I was approached by two students from the University of Huddersfield and asked to model for their project.
‘I agreed reluctantly and it took off following me posting the images on Facebook.
‘I was approached by an agency, PurplePort, in London.
‘They saw the images and I agreed to sign for them. I have always been relaxed about it and as it’s not my main income so I do not worry about getting work.
‘I see it as an opportunity to have fun, be creative and earn some spending money.’
Philip tells us there aren’t many in his age group in the modelling industry but he has managed to find some pals.
When he tells his students about his moonlighting career, they are suitably impressed.
‘When my students find out I am a model they love it and think it’s pretty cool having a teacher who models,’ he says. ‘It’s a good ice breaker. My family and friends are proud of my work too.
‘Everyone says I am a gentleman and that’s how I got the name.
‘I dress dapper and this image is why I was asked to model.
‘I look after myself physically and mentally. I do this by walking my dogs, cycling and going to the gym. I try to eat healthily but do however like my real ale.’
Philip has been involved in various shoots and cites The Red String of Fate project by photographer Nick Walton as one of his favourites.
Understandably people have been thirsting over Philip’s images on social media.
But sorry folks, Philip is happily married to wife of 20 years, Alison, and has two children.
That’s always the way, isn’t it?
Here are some more glorious pictures of Pip The Gentleman:
pip the gentleman comp
Step aside, grooms; it’s time for brides to have their say.
Wedding speeches have traditionally been a man’s job, with the groom, father of the bride and the best man usually taking a stand to tell tales and (hopefully) make the crowd laugh.
But, new stats suggest women are finally getting in on the act.
Professional speech-writing company Speechy has revealed that they’ve seen a 420% rise in the number of speech templates sold to women in the last year, with women making up an impressive 24% of their client base.
Founded by a former BBC scriptwriter, Heidi Ellert-McDermott, the service now says brides make up 16% of its business, with more and more women choosing to stand up and speak for themselves at their own nuptials – and we reckon it’s about time.
The trend comes after the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle spoke at her wedding to Prince Harry last year, with experts believing the change to be in part down to the rise in feminism – after all, in 2019, why should men do all the talking on the big day?
Despite usually being the one to do most of the ‘wedmin’ and planning beforehand, for years the main job of the bride has been to look their absolute best while the men do the hosting and speeches. Whether they’re the one tying the knot or heading down the aisle as bridesmaid, women have only ever been expected to sit and look pretty – but now it’s time to redress the balance.
That’s certainly Heidi’s approach. ‘We’re one of the few wedding speech writing services actively targeting female wedding speakers,’ says Heidi, who wrote her own wedding day speech as well as helping to write her husband’s.
So why are women deciding it’s time to speak for themselves?
Bride-to-be Anna, a 30-year-old journalist living in London, is getting married this summer and intends to make a speech of her own.
‘I’m doing it because otherwise I feel like there’s a gap in conveying our experience as a couple,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘When you skim over the usual wedding traditions, many are about men leading and talking and toasting who they like, while women are given away, seen and not heard.’
Anna isn’t getting too nervous about it – and hopes more women do the same.
She says: ‘If some average Barry can be best man and just pull speeches out of a bag, so can the majority of brides! Men often do mediocre speeches and get clapped, so I think women need to worry less.’
Not getting stressed certainly seems to be a theme among those who have done it, too. Self-confessed laid-back ‘bridechilla’ Becci, a 36-year-old beauty writer from Hertfordshire, says it was something she always planned to do – and so she did in 2015 when she married her now-husband Pete.
‘The last thing I wanted was for it to be all about me,’ says Becci.
‘It gave me a chance to thank the bridesmaids and all my friends for the hen, the people who had helped me with the wedding, a nod to my parents (and his) about how grateful I was for everything they’d done over the years, as well as a chance to talk about Pete and give him a shout out.’
Given that it’s still fairly uncommon, how well did it go down?
‘I did get as many laughs as Pete in his speech (if not more as I had free reign),’ Becci says.
‘Plus I’m not gushy or romantic so it was more rom-com than tearjerker. I think everyone enjoyed it. A few people said that they’d never seen the bride give a speech before and that it was a nice touch. I think Pete appreciated it, and it was a good segue between his and the best man’s speech. I was pretty nervous, but after the first line or two I found my stride and inner stand-up.’
How to nail your wedding speech
Don’t know where to start? Here are Heidi’s top tips
It’s not only the brides themselves who are stepping up to the mic, either, with many asking their bridal party to get involved and give the best man some healthy competition for the most laughs. Speechy currently has templates for brides and mothers of the bride, with a maid of honour version in the making.
So what happens when you’re asked to not just be a guest, but to make a speech? Nicola, 36, was maid of honour for a friend’s wedding.
She says: ‘I was asked to do one after the mother of the bride as her dad had passed away a few years earlier, and so he wasn’t able to do his. It was also in Sweden, where there’s a long tradition of having lots of speeches from lots of people.’
The brand consultant found it nerve-wracking, but since doing it she’s seen more female speeches at other friends’ weddings.
She adds: ‘I’ve done lots of public speaking before but always for work, never anything so personal. How do you strike the balance of funny, friendly but still sincere and full of love? I spent weeks practising! I had lots of people say after that they enjoyed it though so I hope I did the bride proud.’
Doing it once often means you’ll be asked next time, too, as Jenny Stallard, founder of Freelance Feels, has experienced, making a speech for both her sister and her best friend.
‘It felt unusual to be a woman speaking at a wedding (even though I wasn’t the only one at my sister’s) – like I was bucking a trend,’ 41-year-old Jenny says. ‘That felt exciting and groundbreaking, and I felt gave a speech more gravitas.’
Mixing up the speeches is not the only way that women are shunning outdated traditions in wedding etiquette, either, with cost-saving being as crucial as standing up for equality.
Trend forecasters suggest couples are ditching wedding favours and other unnecessary luxuries; meanwhile earlier this week one bride broke the mould by revealing she’d got married in a £35 wedding dress found in a charity shop – proving there’s no need to feel the pressure to spend thousands on something you’ll only wear once (and leading the way for sustainable bridal fashion too).
Becci says she switched up more than just the speech etiquette. ‘I didn’t follow all the traditional rules from start to finish. In the church we got the vicar to remove the line about my dad ‘giving’ me away like I’m some sort of object, we didn’t have a first dance or a cake (we had cake, just not a big showpiece because no one could tell me the relevance of it) and I kept my own name.’
With modern weddings, the rulebook is out the window – it’s time to pull a Markle and do it your way.
420% rise in the number of women wanting to do wedding speeches
Sitting in a beer garden sipping on Aperol Spritz is peak summer.
And while drinking away at the local might be your ideal Sunday, it can leave the kiddies feeling a bit bored. So the Fenn Bell Inn, in Rochester, Kent, has added a zoo to its pub.
While drinking a pint or a wine you can interact with over 100 animals, some of which have been rescued.
One of the only bars in the country to boast its own zoo, the pub has been named one of Britain’s most unusual.
You can expect to see the likes of lemurs, meerkats, marmosets, fishing cats, caracals, capuchins, racoons, monkeys, foxes, owls and goats.
As if pub lunches needed any improvement.
Parents looking for fun places for adults and children and can enjoy teaching their little ones about the circle of life too as there are lots of cute animal babies on show.
Meerkats and the stunning white foxes have recently become parents.
If you want to see all the creatures, a truck safari ride will take you around the site. Animal lovers can also have birthday parties at the zoo or enjoy events throughout the year.
Owners Andy and Kelly were granted a zoo licence for their property in 2017 and have since rescued and taken in animals from other zoos.
On their website, Andy explains how the endeavour started when he saw an advert to rehome two Kunekune pigs.
‘Me, my mum and daughter went down the following morning to see them, we followed her out of her back door and she shouted ‘Ginger, Spice!’ then two heads appeared and came running over,’ he says.
‘My heart melted and I fell in love with them. On the way home with Ginger and Spice I remember trying to think how we were going to explain these two to my wife!
‘Over the years this has happened on many occasions, I’ve promised not to take on any more and temptation has got the better of me.’
He explained that though people all over the country come to play with the animals, some do have concerns.
‘The most often asked question is “do we think it’s good to keep animals in enclosures?”
‘My answer would be no. I would love to see all animals free but the animals we keep here would not have the skills to live in the wild, they have been captivity bred.’
If you want to visit, just note that the zoo part of Fenn Bell Inn is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 10.30am – 6pm.
METRO GRAB - Fern Bell pub zoo