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

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    woman with curly hair taking a bath and looking relaxed
    Sorry, morning shower-ers (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

    Always struggling to nod off?

    Along with blasting your pillow with lavender spray and reading under the covers, there’s another scientifically backed trick that’s worth trying.

    Taking a bath or shower before bed an hour or so before bed helps you get better quality sleep, suggests a new study.

    Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin analysed 5,322 studies related to ‘water-based passive body heating’ (getting warm in some water, basically) and sleep.

    A key finding was that having a bath or shower between one and two hours before bedtime, in water of around 40 to 43 degrees celsius, can significantly improve sleep.

    As well as bettering the quality of sleep, a nice soothing bath or shower at this specific temperature and in this specific time window was found to speed up falling asleep by an average of 10 minutes. No more tossing and turning.

    The temperature of your bath water is pretty key in getting its snooze-inducing benefits, as body temperature also follows a circadian cycle (the cycle that determines sleep and wakefulness).

    The body likes to drop in temperature around an hour before bedtime, allowing it to be at its lowest during sleep. By warming up in the hours before bed, you create that cooling sensation just as you’re getting ready to bed, telling your body and mind that it’s time to rest and aiding the natural circadian process, resulting in an easier time drifting off and higher quality sleep. Clever, right?

    The timing of your bath is key, too, with researchers finding the optimal time to bathe is 90 minutes before bed. Aim for an hour or two before bed to give your body enough time to cool back down.

    We know the idea of a warm soak isn’t the most appealing in the midst of a sweltering summer, but it’s worth mentally bookmarking this for once the temperatures drop.

    Six easy ways to improve your sleep:

    • Give yourself a bedtime – and stick to it even at the weekends
    • Use the hour before bed as quiet, relaxing time free of technology
    • Stop drinking caffeine from around 4pm
    • Avoid alcohol before bed
    • Keep your phone on silent and away from your bed
    • Get outside and exercise during the day

    MORE: Maldives hotel lets you sleep on a net over the sea and under the stars

    MORE: The biggest sleep myths that Brits believe in – and why they’re wrong

    MORE: Inca the tapir celebrates her 21st birthday with a party and a birthday cake

     


    Take a bath exactly 90 mins before bed for better sleepTake a bath exactly 90 mins before bed for better sleep

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    Illustration of a woman
    I need to prove that my life from the moment I was cured is worthwhile (Picture: Phébe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

    As someone who survived acute lymphoblastic leukaemia as a child, the consequence of this trauma has unveiled itself in the form of pressure.

    Yes, there are some physical and mental scars, but the pressure – to be successful in all and everything that I do – is overwhelming.

    It isn’t pressure enforced by family members who lived through the experience with me, but an internal pressure. It’s a voice in the back of my head and my soul saying that I need to give a reason as to why I was one of the lucky ones who survived.

    I need to prove myself to life itself.

    Some say it sounds silly, dumb or ungrateful but most of these people have, fortunately, never suffered through a serious illness in their lives – and I hope they never will.

    However, I have, and having had my illness means that I now can’t give blood, donate my organs or donate marrow (which helped me tremendously) to the sick. This is a consequence of the disease that bothers me an insane amount in my adulthood.

    There are many people who refuse to give blood or donate their organs once they pass. This bothers me again, because these are the people are who don’t realise how much it could help, while those who can’t donate are the ones who desperately want to.

    It’s an agonising and vicious cycle to think about, so I try not to.

    As I’m unable to give back physically, I feel the forceful need to at least prove my right to existence in other ways – whether that means succeeding in the workplace or other personal areas of my life.

    For instance, if I go for an interview, there’s a huge amount of pressure on me to get the job because failure isn’t something I can easily accept.

    Albeit, no matter who I encounter or what task I do, I still find myself needing to do it at my utter best.

    I also feel a need to prove myself to all people I encounter in my life, whether I know them or not. This could be as small as passing by someone on the commute to work and giving them a smile or offering up my seat.

    Perhaps this stems from the past, when I was often seen as some kind of fragile being who was somewhat incapable, and different than everyone else, because I had been unwell.

    Yet I will never meet most of them and they will never know my story, but for those who do – I want to show them why I’m still here, even if they don’t care, as unkind as that may sound.

    And why should they care? I don’t expect them to, because it has no personal relevance to their lives and hopefully, no one will experience this illness.

    Albeit, no matter who I encounter or what task I do, I still find myself needing to do it at my utter best.

    The aftermath of having the disease as a child has affected my social skills too, and transformed me into an introvert – in comparison to the excited, loud little person that I used to be. It’s also affected my mathematical skills, due to months of missing crucial foundation lessons in school.

    Although I can laugh about these struggles now, there’s no doubt in my mind that part of my confidence and how I carry myself in daily life has been shattered.

    The label of ‘cancer survivor’ puts an indescribable amount of pressure on me. I associate being a survivor with needing to be successful, because if I’m not, then I haven’t been worthy of surviving in the first place.

    Yet I shouldn’t digress from the monumental achievement it is to have fate pick me and allow me to be one of the lucky ones to survive. I’ve lost other family members to cancer, and I know the impact it can have on the wider family to see someone they love deteriorate so quickly.

    As someone who has won the battle, I suppose I’m not just proving my existence to myself, but also family, friends, people who don’t even know me and don’t share these experiences, and also to people who do share these experiences.

    For everyone who has ever, and might ever, lose somebody they adore, I need to prove that my life from the moment I was cured is worthwhile.

    I don’t anticipate this pressure to leave me anytime soon, nor am I willingly trying to change how I feel about my existence.

    If anything, it’s a positive – I’m seeing the world through a new set of eyes, ones that have been enlightened and experienced a marvel of trauma early on and that can teach me about my own identity, but also teach me about how I should be treating other people.

    It would take a whole new milestone or monumental experience for me to believe I’ve proved myself, but until then, I’m happy to push on through this new journey of life.

    MORE: My wife’s cancer diagnosis has changed the way I love her

    MORE: MenTal(k) Health: ‘I didn’t know you could get penis cancer until I was diagnosed at 46’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I get told to take the stairs because I look healthy but I have stage four cancer’


    Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrations

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    Young woman with training partner preparing to lift barbell in gym
    It’s time we all got over our lifting hangups. (Picture: Getty)

    Many people, men and women, feel intimidated by the weights room in the gym.

    With testosterone flying around and sweat-drenched muscle-heads in tight vests emitting some seriously OTT grunts – it’s no wonder that so many of us avoid the free weights like the plague.

    If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, being faced with endless rows of dumbbells, kettlebells and barebells can be really daunting and off-putting.

    But weights and strength training should be an integral part of any workout – particularly for women. So it’s time we all got over our lifting hangups.

    Strength training doesn’t always mean lifting mega weights. Depending on your fitness level, ability and age, you can push your muscles using lighter weights or even just your own body weight.

    There are plenty of variations and modifications to make strength work accessible.

    Yanar Alkayat is a branded content editor at Hearst and self-professed health and fitness geek.

    She spent her 20s and 30s running religiously and only discovered weight lifting in her 40s. She says strength training has revolutionised her own relationship with her body and given her confidence she never knew she had.

    Yanar weightlifting with a barebell in a gym
    ‘I was determined to go into my 40s with a strong physique and say goodbye to my child-like body’ (Picture: Yanar Alkayat)

    ‘I’ve always been into fitness, ever since I was a child, and in my 20s and 30s I ran a lot but I’ve never been a strong girl,’ Yanar tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘I’ve always been light and slim, and I did a lot of cardio to keep the weight off. I was honestly, a bit of a weakling. 

    ‘In my mid-30s I realised I could smash out a four-hour marathon but didn’t have the strength to do a full push-up.

    ‘With the next decade just around the corner, I decided I had to lay stronger foundations for the future, especially with a family history of osteoporosis and knowing women’s muscle mass shrinks with age. 

    ‘I was determined to go into my 40s with a strong physique and say goodbye to my child-like body. The quest to build all-over body strength led me to Royal Docks CrossFit where I learnt how to move well with weight bearing and bodyweight exercises.’ 

    CrossFit is all about ‘constantly-varied, high intensity training’. It incorporates barbell and Olympic lifts, gymnastics skills and functional movement – Yanar fell in love with it. 

    ‘After just a few sessions I was hooked – not just on the adrenaline of heavy workouts – but on the systematic, thorough coaching that engaged my mind as well as body. It opened up a whole new world of training. 

    Yanar lifting a barebell onto her chest in a gym
    ‘It still amazes me today that I can do these things. I never forget where I started’ (Picture: Yanar Alkayat)

    ‘For the next few years I would wake up without hesitation at 5:30am, at least three times a week for class and train at the weekends.

    ‘Having something to work on and seeing improvements kept me there. Plus the workout changes daily so I never got bored. 

    ‘When I first started CrossFit four years ago I couldn’t even overhead press a 15kg empty barbell. Now I can deadlift 100kg, snatch over 40kg and squat clean 60kg, all at 55kg body weight.

    ‘But building strength and skills has been a long, gradual process. 

    ‘Coming from zero strength means I’m super proud of my journey and it still amazes me today that I can do these things. I never forget where I started.’

    The benefits of getting stronger haven’t been purely physical for Yanar – it has changed her perspective and supercharged her mental focus as well.

    Learning to train and lift – not just work out – has transformed my body and mind,’ explains Yanar.

    ‘I had no idea the gains would be mental as well as physical.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BvNH4Q3nNYc/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

    ‘In a nutshell, weight lifting has lent me super strong mental focus, an abundance of confidence and positivity (the IRL type not just on IG), the body acceptance I’d been lacking all my life, a sense of pride and satisfaction in what I can do, and the small wins to celebrate along the way, a healthy hobby that makes you feel naturally really good. 

    ‘I no longer have to wait for the weekend and go out to feel like I’m having a good time. I can just pick up a barbell and do a really good workout or training session.

    ‘The endorphins are through the roof.’ 

    How to feel confident in the weights room

    1) Find a great trainer who can not only give you guidance of what to do and how to do it, but can also help you feel more confident in a space they “own”.

    2) Train with a friend, so no matter how nervous you might be, you are in it together,

    3) Have a clear plan of what you are doing,

    4) There are literally thousands of women who have walked in your steps into the weights room before you. It is no longer a rare sight to see a woman lifting heavy.

    You have as much right to be there as anyone. Own it!

    Melissa Weldon, master trainer, Sweat It

    So what are the benefits of weight training? Yanar has found some serious joy in the weights room – but will it work for everyone?

    ‘Whether your goal is to get stronger, fitter, leaner, gain muscle mass or become more functionally active; weight training is an essential element to your training plan and is so versatile,’ says Melissa Weldon, master trainer at Sweat It London.

    ‘It can initially feel a little intimidating walking into the weights area of a gym; but the fitness industry has made great leaps towards making it more inclusive for all – especially with the emergencies of group training boutiques, which give you all the benefits of strength training with a trainer who can help you with your form, technique and give you the confidence to push much harder.’

    Five benefits of strength training

    1. Improved functional fitness, i.e. you will be able to move more efficiently.
    2. Reduced risk of injury. With an increase of muscle, your joints and ligaments will be supported in movement. This helps to reduce the risk of injury when performing higher impact movement; like running or HIIT.
    3. An increase of muscle mass, leads to a higher metabolism. If lowering your body fat is part of your fitness goals, this is a great advantage (it means you can eat more).
    4. Decreased risk of osteoporosis, also known as brittle done disease. One in three women and one in five men are affected by osteoporosis in later life. Weight training helps to increase bone density which can greatly reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
    5. Weight training can be a great mental release and helps to increase confidence as you become stronger.

    ‘The benefits of weight training tend to be pretty universal; except the osteoporosis benefit which effects almost double the number of women than men,’ explains Melissa.

    This is why it is so important for women to maintain and build on their strength as they age.

    Women are more at risk of osteoporosis than men, particularly if the menopause begins early, or if they’ve had their ovaries removed. It can cause significant weakness in the bones, making them much more likely to break.

    Why you should start weight lifting

    • Confidence: There is no better feeling than doing something you previously couldn’t do. Progress sometimes feels slow and gradual but there are many small wins and milestones to celebrate along the way so confidence is always topped up. 
    • A huge mental shift about my body: When my fitness journey became about what my body can do, not what it looked like, it became more than just a workout. My mental attitude towards my body is so much healthier now. The focus is no longer to stay slim and it’s not about achieving a certain aesthetic. My goals and objectives are all related to performance now. 
    • It’s a lot of fun: Having a purpose is one of the best ways to enjoy exercise. It’s never an effort getting up early or training after a hard day at work. 
    • Mental focus: I always have short term and long term goals – whether it’s hitting a certain weight on a lift or working towards a competition – and these keep me locked in. 
    • Future-proofing: While I work on my goals, I’m also building a stronger body for everyday life so I can lift, push and pull things without hurting myself, and building stronger bones for later years. This is hugely important too. 
    • The people: Being surrounded by people who are also working towards various fitness goals is hugely motivating and that kind of positive, determined, can-do attitude is contagious. So the cliche of surrounding yourself with the right people is not just a saying, it’s very true. 

    Yanar Alkayat

    Yanar wants other women to feel as empowered as she does when she walks into the gym. She says it’s normal to feel nervous – put if you can push past that, the rewards will be enormous.

    It might feel difficult or even awkward at first – I definitely spent the best part of my first six months at CrossFit having no idea how to move a barbell and feeling clumsy and weak – but eventually it clicked,’ she says.

    ‘Most CrossFit gyms are friendly and most weight lifting classes, especially ones for women, are full of the nicest people who are all there to support and cheer each other on. 

    ‘Don’t forget, everyone was a beginner at some point, so stick to it and keep practicing. The more energy, time and attention you give it, the more rewarding it is. 

    ‘Doing something you never expected your body could do will send your confidence soaring. It’s a natural and free happy pill. 

    I also want women to breakdown their own perceptions of what they think can do and achieve.

    ‘There are no limits – what is heavy or even impossible one day, will be normal some day in the future so don’t get too frustrated with what you can’t do. Focus on learning how to improve it.’

    I am Team GB

    Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.

    Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.

    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


    Yanar weightlifting WH lead-5839Yanar weightlifting WH lead-5839

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: A general view of a Gay Pride flag during Pride in London 2019 on July 06, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/Getty Images for Pride in London)
    Straight people need to do more to support LGBTQ+ communities (Picture: Getty Images)

    I am half of the UK’s biggest LGBTQ+ podcast, A Gay and A Nongay.

    I am not gay or part of the LGBTQ+ community – so I’ve never needed to ‘come out’.

    I’ve never felt unsafe walking down the road with my other half and I’ve never hidden my sexuality to protect myself from discrimination at work.

    I am not misgendered or stared at in the street and on Twitter people I’ve never met are not discussing if I ‘exist’ or not.

    I’m also fortunate to not have any mental health or alcohol/drug problems – which disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ people.

    I am also white, male and middle class – I have it easy.

    But since 2014, there’s been a 144 per cent surge in LGBT+ hate crimes in England and Wales, which include offences such as harassment, assault and stalking. The number of transphobic hate crimes specifically have tripled from 550 in 2014 to 1,650 in 2018. These numbers are staggering.

    It’s straight people that could stop  LGBTQ+ people in Northern Ireland from getting married.

    It’s straight people claiming science can ‘cure’ gay people when every major psychological body says it can’t and it’s straight people beating up girls on buses.

    It’s straight people in my home city of Birmingham protesting in the streets because a school wants to teach children that gay people exist.

    It’s straight people who are the reason half of the LGBTQ+ community are too afraid to hold hands in public.

    It’s straight people who want to organise ‘straight pride’ parades despite not needing one, now or ever.

    File photo dated 28/03/19 of parents, children and protestors demonstrating against the lessons about gay relationships and LGBT rights at the Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham. An injunction has been granted against the protesters who have been demonstrating for weeks outside the school. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday May 31, 2019. See PA story EDUCATION Anderton. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
    Straight people are protesting against a school in Birmingham that want to teach children about gay rights (Picture: PA)

    Enough is enough.

    It’s time for us straight people to step up and be the best allies we can be.

    And being an ally is incredibly simple.

    It’s as simple as correcting your straight friends when they say something misinformed.

    It’s as simple as using inclusive language and not assuming someone’s gender or sexuality.

    It’s as simple as having an LGBTQ+ book on your coffee table or desk at work to help create a climate where someone who is struggling with their sexuality feels comfortable coming to you.

    It’s as simple as not booking a holiday to any of the 12 countries in the world where the penalty for being gay is death.

    It’s as simple as reporting offensive language on social media or checking to see if your local MP voted against LGBT rights.

    It’s not difficult to turn up to your local Pride march and support your local LGBTQ+ community – whilst recognising that it isn’t for you.

    As Brits, we often feel uncomfortable calling people out in public. It’s much easier to ignore it and say nothing, right? But transphobia and homophobia deserve no place in society.

    It’s a lot more awkward for the LGBT couple getting beaten up or assaulted than it is for you. We all need to support them.

    Three years ago I started the podcast with my friend James Barr and our conversations opened my eyes to so many issues the LGBTQ+ community face that I was only vaguely aware of before. We are inundated with messages every week from LGBTQ+ people in every pocket of the UK telling us that life for them isn’t easy.

    I have been honoured to meet some incredible people, such as Kurtis, whose friend was gay and died by suicide.

    I met Joshua, who doesn’t feel safe walking down the street and is an hour away from his nearest safe space.

    I have spoken to a journalist who went undercover to investigate gay conversion therapy in Liverpool where he was expected to starve himself for two days straight.

    There are so many incredible people in the LGBTQ+ community. They are brave, strong and powerful and I am in awe of them.

    Pride may only last for a month but that doesn’t mean our support goes out of the window when the last bit of glitter blows away.

    Join me in standing alongside the LGBTQ+ community all year round.

    A Gay And A Nongay are performing live at the Edinburgh Fringe 17th-25th August, and at the London Podcast Festival on September 7th. See gaynongay.com for details.

    MORE: Christian group threatens school with legal action for holding gay pride event

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

    MORE: ‘Racism is rife in LGBT spaces, that’s why we needed Black Pride’


    Pride In London 2019Pride In London 2019

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    Welcome to You Don’t Look Sick – a weekly series about people living with invisible illnesses and hidden disabilities.

    Each week, we discuss a different illness with someone who lives with it, talking about symptoms, treatments and their experiences of how people react to them because they don’t look ill.

    Andrew Stevens, from Scotland, has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – a mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

    He spent 10 years living with the condition, after he started to display symptoms when he left the army, but says he had no idea that there was a name for what he was experiencing.

    Andrew had a career in the armed forces as a painter and finisher but was made redundant in 2007.

    After coming out of the RAF, he got a job driving a bus but he found it difficult to adjust to civilian life.

    Shortly after starting the job, he got a cold but went into work. After seeing how unwell he was, he was sent home.

    But when he returned to work after a few days later, he was told about the procedures around taking days off, something he wasn’t used to in the army.

    He explains: ‘I became obsessive about making sure I was healthy all the time after that. I was obsessed with everything being clean.

    Andrew, who has OCD, with his family
    Andrew with his family (Picture: RAF Benevolent Fund)

    ‘I became anxious and depressed and quite quickly things spiralled out of control. I began to worry about everything, my finances, my family, about my new job, my home.’

    Andrew started to have compulsions to wash his hands, which gradually became worse.

    He explains: ‘Everyday was very long as pretty much every action had a routine to it. The worst was washing my hands or leaving the house.

    ‘I wouldn’t eat food if I thought anything was wrong with it. I was only eating food from one branch of Tesco.

    ‘I was checking the wrappers and binning it if there was any problems with the packaging. The reasons were bizarre but very real and justified to me at the time.

    ‘People think you’re weird but it doesn’t make a difference as your anxiety wouldn’t allow to try anything different.’

    His compulsions were having a real impact of every aspect of his life – including being a dad to his three children.

    He says: ‘When I got home I wouldn’t go near my children. I know it sounds crazy but I couldn’t risk touching them.

    ‘I was washing my hands four or five times and was still not happy.

    Andrew with his son Craig, when he was in the RAF
    Andrew with his son Craig, when he was in the RAF (Picture: Andrew Stevens)

    ‘I would make the bed and if it didn’t look exactly how I wanted it, I would start it all over again.

    ‘I began to avoid certain parts of the house and then eventually stopped going out too. I would spend hours of time in the shower, trying to get clean.

    ‘I wouldn’t touch my food and I would pace around the house checking I had locked everything.’

    These symptoms continued for 10 years before Andrew finally got help, after his wife suggested going to the GP.

    He explains: ‘My wife Claire booked me an appointment and insisted I must go. The doctor quickly decided I had severe OCD.’

    Andrew was signed off work and referred for counselling on the NHS, but he was told the waiting list was at least three to six months long.

    Andrew in his RAF uniform
    Andrew in the RAF (Picture: Andrew Stevens)

    He called the RAF Benevolent Fund, a charity set up to help ex-service personnel. They enrolled him in a listening and counselling service within weeks, allowing him to return to work within three months.

    This helped Andrew to start to learn how to deal with his compulsions

    He explains: ‘I wasn’t the sort of person to share my problems in a group. This meant talking on the phone to specialist doing CBT therapy was my best option.

    ‘The reason I talk about it now is to let others know you can get through this. I don’t want others to suffer as long as I did.

    ‘What really sticks with me is the speed in which the Fund stepped in and offered support. I wouldn’t be here without them. I was close to ending things.

    ‘I started realising I could get better and there was a future.’

    After starting to deal with his mental health, Andrew was more open with friends and family about what he had been experiencing, after years of hiding his symptoms, and most said they had no idea that anything was wrong.

    What are the symptoms of OCD?

    Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) affects people differently, but usually causes a particular pattern of thoughts and behaviours.

    This pattern has 4 main steps:

    1. Obsession – where an unwanted, intrusive and often distressing thought, image or urge repeatedly enters your mind.
    2. Anxiety – the obsession provokes a feeling of intense anxiety or distress.
    3. Compulsion – repetitive behaviours or mental acts that you feel driven to perform as a result of the anxiety and distress caused by the obsession.
    4. Temporary relief – the compulsive behaviour temporarily relieves the anxiety, but the obsession and anxiety soon returns, causing the cycle to begin again.

    NHS

    He adds: ‘Once I was diagnosed everyone said “I never knew. You worked hard and had a laugh in the group”

    ‘When you feel like I did, you make excuses not to go to family event or out with your friends and that’s very easy when you work a lot of shifts.

    ‘My life became eat, sleep, work, repeat as I thought a had control then.

    ‘After months of therapy, I started seeing people again and they would ask where I had been. When I told them, they would say “You wouldn’t have guessed there was anything wrong as you always seemed fine.”’

    ‘I could hide it pretty well so that no one knew. People wouldn’t understand as I looked fine.

    ‘Only the people very close to you can see you’re not ok but you don’t want them to worry so you just get on with life.’

    Andrew Stevens who has OCD in a military uniform when he was in the RAF
    Andrew returned to civilian life after a long career in the military and struggled to adjust (Picture: Andrew Stevens)

    Andrew also feels there is a lack of understanding because people have started to misuse the term OCD to mean they are very particular or like to be clean.

    He says: ‘“I’m OCD” is something people say all the time just because they like to keep things tidy.

    ‘I want people to understand how severe OCD can be. It is a type of anxiety and if you truly have to do that routine then you may need a little help.’

    Andrew’s mental health has improved and he says he is now able to enjoy life again.

    ‘I am now a year and a half after it all, my kids have got their father back, I’ve got a lovely wife, I live in a great part of Scotland. We’re doing things that we’ve never done for years.’

    He’s recently set up his own business Courage2Explore, combining corporate team building with military style training. He’s also working with young adults in schools.

    ‘I really try not to let it hold me back or stop me achieving what I want in life. It’s important for me to strive to live as much of a normal life as possible; I am living independently, holding down a full time job and now have my own family.’

    How to get involved with You Don't Look Sick

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

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

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

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I was born with half a heart but it won’t hold me back’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘People forget that I am visually impaired’

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

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

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.


    Andrew Stevens-e9d2Andrew Stevens-e9d2

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    Kickstarter campaigns nobody asked for
    (Picture: Andy Frazer/ Duncan Shotton/Wieslaw Mlynarczy)

    Shia LaBeouf once told us – well, howled at us – to ‘Not let your dreams, be dreams. JUST DO IT.’ Imagine Kickstarter.com as the canyon where we are all welcome to scream a resounding: ‘Look, I’m doing it!’

    It’s the site where creative visions become reality, where the inventions of tomorrow are given much-needed financial backing. It’s also a place where dreams can die, and will.

    Scrolling through Kickstarter, there are plenty of campaigns to fund innovative, useful ideas like cooking stones and a café for rescue cats. There are also non-essentials that still bear relevance and imaginably will have quite a market, for example, vegan pork scratching, a Brexit card game, and this nifty bottle-cutting tool.

    Then there are the others. These are the ideas and the inventions that beg the question: does Kickstarter have any kind of vetting process?

    A coin sack with a deeply medieval energy

    The coin sack on kickstarter
    The pouch for medieval bad boys. (Picture: Wieslaw Mlynarczyk)

    Enter a dystopian future where wallets, pockets and your couch’s sunken place are things of the past. One inexplicably successful campaign, ‘Sacco’, managed to raise £8,785 in 2013 to create what can only be described as coin sacks for medieval bad boys.

    It appears well-made, durable and perfect for anyone who resembles Friar Tuck, but surely there are enough items out there for the coin-purse carrying minority who jingle among us.

    Introduced by a Hull-based inventor as the ‘first coin sack on Kickstarter’, it is also noted that Sacco can hold not just money but dice, tobacco and ‘realm coins’ – so the contents of any good woman’s purse.

    Chicken dinosaurs of the future

    The chicken dinosaurs on kickstarter
    Novosaurs are 100% happening… (Credit: Andy Frazer)

    An A5-sized book that visually imagines dinosaurs of the future, ‘novosaurs’, somehow raised more than £10,000 in 30 hours. The book reveals that dinosaurs might one day be genetically modified, domesticated, chicken-sized and easily purchasable. (Because there aren’t currently enough genetically modified animals for us to toss a penny at.)

    The page reads: ‘The dinosaurs of our future won’t live in theme parks: they’ll live in your backyard, your garden, your house, your apartment.’ Is that a threat?

    The pool glass

    The pool glass on Kickstarter
    The pool glass not allowed near pools.(Picture: Duncan Shotton)

    Inspired by a ‘micro-trend’ in the art world, a Bristol-based designer created the ‘pool glass’, an 8cm glass with blue on it (water) and a ladder. The funding goal was set at a lofty £25,000, and reached £6,066 by the deadline, which is both impressive and perplexing.

    The cup is said to give ‘the positive feeling that comes with summertime, all year round’, as if rain and a winter of misery are no reasonable match for a piece of glass.

    The campaign page also advises that the pool glass is not intended to be used near the pool, because of the risk of breakage. Now that’s summer fun!

    The ‘Whoopi’ cushion

    A whoopee cushion with Whoopi Goldberg on it? Ground-breaking. Luckily, this campaign was all a bit of fun and stakes were low (£50). So are whoopee cushions still a thing? Aren’t we all mature enough to put our authentic farts out there?

    Anti-zombie soap

    A Leeds–based creator dreamed up an anti-zombie soap because they ‘felt out of place in Lush’. The Kickstarter page for the soap is a highly frenetic sequence of words – drifting from the 5,000 year history of soap to the surprising cost of soap moulds – and interestingly avoids discussing the zombie element too much.

    Bonus: Ostrich pillow

    Here’s one more Kickstarter that nobody asked for, but actually sounds pretty revolutionary.

    Ever wondered if you could take a nap, uninterrupted, while looking like a live-action Squidward or the little octopus boy in Love Actually? You’d better believe you can!

    The ‘ostrich pillow’ lets you power nap on the go thanks to the ‘micro environment’ which encases your head and hands. Their company slogan? ‘Dreams happen anywhere’. Sounds like something Mr LaBeouf himself might say.

    MORE: Bask in the glory of these crème brûlée crepe cones

    MORE: You can sleep in a 27 foot-long Wienermobile, if you so choose

    MORE: Unknown Christian community in Sussex lives without electricity, possessions or debt


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    Picture, the English and creative writing student rapped his dissertation and received a first-class degree
    English and creative writing student rapped his dissertation and received a first-class degree (Picture: (SWNS)

    The week before our dissertations were due, most of us were busy actually writing it.

    English and creative writing student Nicholas Uzoka, however, spent the time rehearsing it.

    That’s because the 22-year-old from the University of East Anglia decided to rap his entire 10,000-word dissertation.

    Nicholas created a 21-track album, containing nine rap tracks and 12 poetry skits under his performing name Zoka the Author.

    And clearly his professors are down with the times as they loved it so much, they gave Nicholas a first.

    If only some of us who wrote their dissertations on Shakespeare knew it was possible to rap about the Bard and get a first.

    Student holding his degree certificate on graduation day
    (Picture: @zoka_the_author/Instagram)

    Nicholas’ thesis, titled The First Stone: An Oratorio, was an exploration of his relationship with God through the metaphor of relationships with women.

    ‘I am a rapper, that’s my best form of artistic expression and the uni was kind enough to allow me to accommodate my particular style of poetry, into their course,’ said Nicholas.

    The musician said the oratory style allowed him to express himself in his favoured form of artistic expression as his life is all about music.

    Nicholas believes rap was a suitable media form for his dissertation as he wanted to fully integrate his passion, and hopefully future career, into his degree.

    He said his plan now is to give the music industry his absolute all.

    His module leader was also enthusiastic about the creative idea. Nicholas thanked supervisor Dr Sandy Pool, ‘for pushing me to extend my ideas further than I ever could imagine’.

    If you’re curious about what he’s rapping about, here are some of the words he could be heard spitting:

    ‘There’s a blemish in the mirror and I like it like that, I work hard to be the winner and I like it like that.

    ‘I ain’t black or white or grey, there’s more colours that I am filled with, can’t be painted with precision and I like it like that.

    ‘Yeah I have made some wrong decisions, but I like it like that. I was made to be a sinner and I like it like that.

    ‘When I fail, I fail up, paint my pain and paint my pleasure. I am a work of art in progress and I like it like that.’

    You can also enjoy the album on Spotify and iTunes.

    MORE: Student creates chair to put an end to manspreading

    MORE: Student creates adaptive fashion range for people with physical disabilities

    MORE: Student creates wristband which alerts bar staff when someone is being harassed


    METRO GRAB - English and creative writing student rapped his dissertation and received a first class degreeMETRO GRAB - English and creative writing student rapped his dissertation and received a first class degree

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    A slug on a plant
    Slugs can be a pest in the garden (Picture: Getty)

    You’ve filled your garden and managed to keep everything alive – then along comes the pests.

    Suddenly your leaves are covered in holes and you’re left with nothing but a withered stem.

    We need insects in the garden to help things thrive – bees are incredible pollinators, for example.

    But slugs, snails, ants and caterpillars aren’t so great for your plants. Of course, they’re just trying to get by so using harsh chemicals doesn’t seem fair.

    There are plenty of more humane ways to discourage pests from eating everything.

    Freddie Blackett, CEO and Co-Founder of Patch says: ‘There are some plants – and very nice ones too! – that can deter unwanted bugs.

    Plants in the garden with holes in the leaves from pests
    No one wants to see this in the garden (Picture: Getty)

    ‘Aphids and ants aren’t very keen on mint, chives or basil, so putting some of those around your outdoor space can help keep them away from other plants.  With the added benefit of providing a bounty of cooking ingredients.

    ‘You might also try putting aluminium foil around the base of your plants as the reflected light can help to shoo aphids away from the underside of your leaves.

    ‘Slugs are one of the most annoying garden intruders and can easily decimate entire plants. There are several ways to reduce their numbers, without resorting to killing them. They’re another intruder that doesn’t like mint. You could also try making a humane trap.

    ‘Slugs are attracted to dark, moist areas, so put some foods they love – fruit peels or cabbage leaves – under an upturned large flowerpot and check daily to see if you’ve trapped any. Hopefully they should prefer this easy meal to your prized lilies.’

    A plant pot with copper tape around it to deter slugs
    Copper tape around your plant pots can help (Picture: Getty)

    Another tip for slugs and snails is to try copper tape, which can be bought in rolls and either placed in the soil around your plants or around the edge of pots.

    Apparently the metal causes a reaction with their mucusy bodies that they really don’t like.

    And Freddie has another slightly obscure tip to reuse your own hair to deter them.

    Freddie adds: ‘A lot less attractive, and slightly creepy, is using human hair (pulled off a hairbrush; don’t shave your head) spread around your plants to make an uncomfortable surface for them to crawl over.’

    You can uses essential oils to discourage other insects – peppermint or eucalyptus oil, mixed with water in a spray bottle discourages ants and other invaders from nibbling on your plants, plus it smells lovely.

    If you happen to have the space (unlikely if you live in a city), build a pond.

    Freddie says: ‘Frogs, toads and other pond wildlife will feed on bugs and are a lot more pleasant to share your space with.

    ‘Not enough room for that? Try putting up some bird boxes. They’ll polish off a few of those irksome slugs and you’ll be helping more loveable wildlife to thrive.’

    MORE: What to plant in your garden if you’re a renter

    MORE: How to grow plants when you don’t have any outdoor space


    Spotted Leopard Slug (Limax maximus)Spotted Leopard Slug (Limax maximus)

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    Aysha Khan Miss England Finalist holding up her sash
    Aysha Khan is currently Miss Lancashire (Picture: Aysha Khan/Facebook)

    Miss England contestant Aysha Khan has eschewed the bikini tradition and opted to wear a full-body length swimsuit.

    The finalist in the contest has said Miss England is about showing off each individual personality.

    The 21-year-old from Blackburn felt that covering up was just part of her own Muslim faith.

    Aysha, the current Miss Lancashire, is considered to be the first contender of the title to not wear a bikini.

    Aysha Khan Miss England Finalist posing in her wet suit with a surf board
    The 21-year-old is thought to be the first contestant to not wear a bikini (Picture: Aysha Khan/Mauritius Tourism)

    ‘I don’t really show much skin, because that’s what makes me feel comfortable,’ she told The Sun.

    ‘I knew the round was optional but I didn’t want to miss out. I wanted to compete but without wearing a bikini or swimsuit and without showing my legs or body.

    ‘So I wore a wetsuit because it’s my personal choice.

    Aysha Khan Miss England Finalist at the beach in a wet suit
    (Picture: Aysha Khan/Facebook)

    She was automatically entered into the Miss England contest when she won Miss Lancashire as a student.

    Not only was it Aysha’s first beauty pageant, it was also the first time an Asian person had been crowned Miss Lancashire.

    But winning also came with some downsides, namely racist abuse, telling her to ‘go back’ where she came from.

    Aysha tries not to focus too much on it though: ‘In comparison to the positive, the negative has been very little, so I just try not to focus on it too much.’

    As part of the competition, Aysha is doing some charity work.

    All the rounds in the competition are optional but the more a contestant enters, the higher their chance of being winning the title.

    The winners will be announced 1 August, automatically sending the victor to the Miss World contest in London in December.

    MORE: Muslim student is the first hijab beauty queen in the Miss England final

    MORE: The far right won’t help the white working class but Muslims can

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


    Miss England finalist ?proud of staying true to herself? after wearing a wetsuit instead of a bikini for the Beach Beauty roundMiss England finalist ?proud of staying true to herself? after wearing a wetsuit instead of a bikini for the Beach Beauty round

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    A woman stood in front of an argos store with a Can't Wait card from Crohn's and Colitis UK
    You can now access the staff toilets in Argos (Picture: Crohn’s & Colitis UK)

    If you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, sometimes you need to get to the toilet fast.

    The bowel condition can cause sudden diarrhea and stomach pain.

    But with the number of public toilets falling, it can be hard to find somewhere when you really need to go.

    High street retailer Argos has signed up to a scheme with charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK to allow people with the conditions to use their staff toilets in over 800 stores.

    People with the Can’t Wait card – available for members of the charity – can show it in any store and use the toilet. Membership costs £1.25 and includes a range of other benefits.

    The card displays a message which says: ‘The holder of this card has inflammatory bowel disease and needs to use your toilet facilities urgently.’

    Posting on Twitter, the charity said: ‘Great news: Retail giant  @Argos_Online is recognising invisible diseases such as Crohns and Colitis, by allowing members with our Cant Wait Card to access staff toilets in 800 UK stores.’

    Supporters of the charity said it was a great step forward as they’d not been able to use the facilities when they asked in other stores.

    The new Argos logo is display outside a store operated
    The retailer signed up to the Can’t Wait scheme to allow people to use staff bathrooms (Picture: Getty)

    One said: ‘This is such a great idea. A positive step that hopefully will be followed by many more stores. For people who suffer from Crohns and Colitis it can be so stressful when out shopping with no in-store toilets.’

    Another posted on Facebook about how she had already been helped in one of their stores: ‘ I had to use mine in Argos the other day I showed them and they were amazing. They showed me straight to the toilet.’

    The announcement comes after the charity launched the Not Every Disability is Visible campaign, to raise awareness of people with invisible illnesses using disabled toilets.

    A survey showed that 93% of people would challenge someone who looks healthy with they see them using an accessible toilet because they think they are ‘standing up’ for the rights of disabled people.

    61% of people with the disease said they faced abuse and around two thirds said they had been refused when they asked to jump the toilet queue.

    Asking to use an in store toilet can be scary when people don’t understand the condition so hopefully schemes like these will help.

    MORE: Muslim Miss England contestant becomes first to wear wetsuit instead of bikini

    MORE: Hacks to deal with slugs, snails and insects in the garden in a humane way


    Argos is letting people with bowel conditions use staff toilets in stores if they can't waitArgos is letting people with bowel conditions use staff toilets in stores if they can't wait

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    METRO GRAB - Shoe device lets you hold heels https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lunaandroxly/my-shoe-baetm-the-worlds-best-high-heel-holding-accessory/description
    (Picture: Luna and Roxly/Kickstarter)

    You know that sweet feeling of taking off a killer pair of high heels after wearing them for hours?

    The trouble is, you have to lug them around until you’re home.

    Enter, My Shoe Bae. No, it’s not a whole human who carries your kicks for you – it’s a new handsfree device that hooks onto a bag and attaches shoes to it.

    Before you rush to add it to cart, the device is just a prototype at this stage. An American Kickstarter is attempting to bring the thing to life once they raise enough funds for it.

    We certainly hope they reach their target, ’cause we need this on our commutes and nights out ASAP.

    The Shoe device lets you hold heels
    So simple. So genius (Picture: Luna and Roxly/Kickstarter)

    My Shoe Bae is the size of a keyring which comes up with a locket that opens.

    Within it is a pair of strings that come out. You simply attach it to the strap of the heel and then fasten the string back into the locket and shut it.

    And then you’re free to spend the rest of your day or night without having to stumble in heels.

    But for the product to be available to the public, a total of £15,800 needs to be raised.

    Those keen on the stuff may want to hurry as the deadline is in 40 days.

    Up close shot of Shoe device that lets you hold heels
    And up close (Picture: Luna and Roxly/Kickstarter)

    The genius idea was the brainchild of mum Julie Richardson who spent 18 months perfecting it.

    The mum-of-one balanced raising a child while researching and planning the product.

    ‘I was in the pit at a Britney Spears concert and after two hours standing in line and then 45 minutes of dancing, my feet were killing me,’ she explained on the Kickstarter.

    ‘I dug around in my purse to find two hair ties and a couple of bobby pins, and in less than a minute, I used those to secure my heels to my crossbody bag.

    ‘Upon returning home, the inspiration for My Shoe Bae was in full force and the rest is history.’

    The good news is, if My Shoe Bae reaches its goals, they’ll be shipping to the UK for £20 if you back their campaign.

    And they’ll list you as a BAE on their product website.

    Fun.

    MORE: You can now recycle beauty products at John Lewis – and get a £5 voucher for taking part

    MORE: Parents, you can buy a £6.99 ‘pee cup’ so your kids can go anywhere without mess

    MORE: Designer creates jumpsuits you can easily pee in without getting totally naked


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    Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju picture together, the lawyers who worked against LGBT laws in India
    Power Couple (Picture: Getty, @arundhatikatju/Twitter)

    Two lawyers who fought to end Indian laws that criminalised same-sex relations have come out as a couple.

    Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju successfully challenged Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which punishes LGBTQ+ relations.

    The Supreme Court lawyers opposed the draconian laws which were introduced during the British rule of India.

    The law criminalised homosexual acts as an ‘unnatural offence’ and has been heavily contested in the last few decades.

    They worked together on the landmark case in 2018 when the Supreme Court of India ruled that Section 377 no longer applies to consensual gay sex between adults.

    Speaking on a TV show hosted by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, the lawyers spoke about their work to scrap the rule and it bought them closer together.

    Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju picture together, the lawyers who worked against LGBT laws in India
    Menaka and Arundhati worked together on the landmark case in India that decriminalised homosexual acts (Picture: @arundhatikatju/Twitter)

    They chuckled and confirmed to Zakaria that they were, in fact, a couple.

    On the show, Menaka argued against the archaic laws, saying they should have never been added in during colonial times.

    She said: ‘For queer folks in all these post-colonial countries, our governments have to have a sense that these are not our laws, these were never our cultures.

    ‘And why have we not been more proactive in bringing forth law reform and expanding freedom? Surely, independence and decolonisation must mean that?’

    Though they were successful in repealing the law in 2018, their efforts to do so in 2013 had failed where they had also worked together.

    After their landmark victory, the duo received international acclaim, going onto being named by TIME magazine as two of the 100 most influential people of 2019.

    Speaking about losing the case in 2013, Menaka said: ‘The loss was a loss as lawyers, a loss as citizens. It was a personal loss.

    ‘It is not nice to be a “criminal” who has to go back to court as a lawyer to argue other cases.’

    Arundhati added: ‘We had a court where we practised as lawyers and this court had just told us that gay people were second class citizens.’

    Since they came out as a couple, social media users have been praising them.

    After the interview with Zakaria went viral, people showed their support.

    One person wrote: ‘What a beautiful and stunning picture to wake up to!

    ‘This gives hope that battles are worth fighting for. You guys are so defending me when I get hauled up to the Supreme Court.’

    MORE: Lesbian couple with 37-year age gap get married

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    METRO GRAB - female lawyers who fought against LGBT laws in India come out as a coupleMETRO GRAB - female lawyers who fought against LGBT laws in India come out as a couple

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    A picture of a shot glass with the Mumsnet post
    (Picture: Mumsnet, Getty)

    Your wedding is meant to be the most memorable day of your life. Unless you get too sh*tfaced.

    That was the case for one groom who had gotten so drunk, he passed out at the bridal suite during his wedding night.

    His wife wasn’t too pleased though.

    Writing on Mumsnet, the former bride wrote about her ‘selfish’ groom who continued to drink with his mates on the special day and forgot about her.

    Too drunk to be able to locate their hotel room, the groom wasn’t much help when it came to helping the bride change either.

    The kicker came when she asked him to remove the complicated dress and he looked at her ‘with disgust’.

    Charming.

    Bride cant forgive husband who got drunk on their wedding day writes on mumsnet
    ‘I don’t feel he truly gets it as he can never remember what he did!’ (Picture: Mumsnet)

    She wrote online that it’s been six weeks since the wedding and she’s still struggling to forgive him.

    The poster admitted that her partner can ‘get carried’ away when it comes to drinking but reminded him not to overdo it.

    ‘I didn’t see him much until it was time to leave and I then realised he’d clearly continued drinking,’ she explained.

    thumbnail for post ID 10434985Liverpool identify £18m-rated Philipp Max as competition for Andy Robertson

    ‘The taxi nearly refused to take him and he had to stick his head out the window for the whole journey.

    While most couples enjoy the first night as man and wife together, she was sad to reveal that her partner was barely there.

    ‘I had to struggle with millions of buttons on my dress while he passed out on the bed,

    ‘What was worse was the way he looked at me when I said I needed him to help, realistically I know it was the effort of the dress that he was thinking of but the look of disgust on his face at helping me won’t leave my mind.’

    ‘I was really looking forward to us having a drink in the room and talking about our day especially as we hadn’t seen each other much apart from photos.’

    Bride's post on mumsnet saying she cant forgive husband who got drunk on their wedding day
    ‘I’m struggling to forgive’ (Picture: Mumsnet)

    She added that she knows she can’t go back and change anything now but is unhappy that her wedding day has sour memories.

    ‘I spent my wedding night in tears on the sofa in our hotel room.  I’m struggling with this being the final memories of our wedding day.

    ‘The only thing that mattered to me was us spending the day together and I feel that for him the most important thing was getting drunk with his friends.’

    Other Mumsnet users could see where the poster was coming from, saying that he went ‘over the top’.

    ‘Don’t enable this behaviour from him ever again,’ wrote one person.

    ‘If he’s so drunk he needs to be dealt with like a toddler, walk away. Set your level of acceptance and stick to it for the sake of your sanity.’

    Others said it was harmless and the groom was just enjoying the most expensive party he’ll ever throw.

    What do you think?

    MORE: Lean on Me: Is it OK to be upset that I wasn’t invited to my best mate’s stag do?

    MORE: Should you ask your bridesmaid to pay for their own dress for your wedding day?

    MORE: Bride is fuming after guest brings two toddlers along to her child-free wedding


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    Winter being carried down the aisle and Laura and Danny walking out of the ceremnony
    They went from christening to wedding in minutes (Picture: MEN Media)

    Turning up to Winter Roberts christening, the guests had no idea they were about to see the seven-month-old’s parents get married too.

    Laura Djamalis and partner Danny Roberts secretly planned their big day without any of their 70 guests knowing.

    After Winter was baptised, Laura stepped out of Our Lady and St Joseph’s Parish in Heywood, Rochdale, donned a veil and came back in to the strains of Here Comes The Bride.

    The only people who knew about the wedding were Laura’s sister Nichola and her partner Luke, Danny’s uncle Paul Potter, and Laura’s parents Mike and Pat.

    The shocked guests clapped, cried and cheered as they watched the bride walk down the aisle, arm-in-arm with her proud dad.

    The 27-year-old school administrator, said: ‘It was really hard to keep it a secret. I’m the worst secret-keeper in the world. But no one suspected a thing.

    ‘After the christening had finished, we’d wet the baby’s head and had given her a big cheer.

    The guests at Laura and Danny's surprise wedding and christening
    Danny and Laura surprised all their guests (Picture: MEN MEDIA)

    ‘Then I said to my sister ‘can you help me change her bum?’ And I said to my dad ‘can you get my baby changing bag?’ (to get them out of the church) – No one had any idea what was going on.’

    Laura and Danny had been engaged for two years but only decided to get married about six weeks before the christening.

    Their plan was approved by the church and they organised everything in just a few weeks.

    After Winter was baptised, Laura was able to make a quick change as she was already wearing a cream dipped hem dress.

    She just had to put on a veil, and picked up a bouquet with a picture of her grandma and granddad attached.

    ‘Then Father Michael said (to the congregation) “can you all be seated, Danny and Laura have something else they would like to share with you”.

    ‘Then the organ played ‘Here Comes The Bride’.

    ‘My sister and Winter walked in front of us, and then as soon as I walked in behind them everyone cheered. Everyone was crying – they were like ‘I had no idea’.’

    Laura was worried she wouldn’t be able to enjoy the day due to her nerves, but said she was just really ‘excited’ when she was in the moment.

    Danny and Laura surprised guests by getting married at their daughter's christening
    The happy couple (Picture: MEN MEDIA)

    She said the couple were keen to make sure that the wedding didn’t overshadow Winter’s special day.

    ‘We didn’t want Winter to be the add-on, we wanted to be the add-on.

    ‘We wanted to make a quick gesture of our love and commitment. I’m so happy to marry Danny, he’s like my best friend. We pulled it off.’

    They held the reception at The Birch Hotel in Heywood, where they celebrated with a buffet, his and hers Connie and Colin The Caterpillar wedding cakes from Marks and Spencer, a candy kart, a disco and magician.

    The happy couple are going on a honeymoon to Cyprus next year with the whole family, and are planning a mini-moon in the near future.

    Father Michael Deas, from Our Lady and St Joseph’s Parish, added: ‘It was fun and special for them, it was like having to be an actor – I almost dropped them in it a few times.

    ‘People were so emotional and shocked, it was just beautiful. It was great to be a part of it. Winter was still the special one on the day.’

    MORE: Should you ask your bridesmaid to pay for their own dress for your wedding day?

    MORE: Teen wore her mum’s 20-year-old wedding dress to prom to save money


    Couple surprise guests at their baby\'s christening by getting marriedCouple surprise guests at their baby\'s christening by getting married

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    William laughing, and William with his mum Emma. William has Angelman syndrome
    William with his mum Emma (Picture: MDWfeatures)

    When William Goodson was three months old, his parents noticed that he was unusually happy and was always laughing.

    For most new parents, a happy baby would be something to enjoy – but something didn’t seem right for mum Emma and dad Andrew, from Colchester, Essex.

    When their son suffered a seizure at seven months old, Emma started doing some research and came across a rare condition called Angelman syndrom – a complex neurological condition caused by the deletion of chromosome 15. It can cause movement disorder, difficulty swallowing, slow brain wave patterns, small flat head, epilepsy, low muscle tone and breathing problems.

    Emma realised that William’s behaviour fitted many of the symptoms. She said: ‘My blood ran cold, he ticked every single box right down to loving water and being unusually happy. At that point I knew our lives would change forever.’

    Doctors initially told her that he was just delayed because he was ill after he was born – but a few months later, he was diagnosed with the condition.

    ‘I’d lost my first child during pregnancy in September 2015 and our second child was very much wanted,’ Emma said.

    ‘Six hours after he was born, he presented with noisy breathing and weird breathing patterns which we were told was likely to do with the birth process.

    ‘Very quickly we noticed he struggled to eat due to having tongue tie which was cut at ten days old. Also, he wasn’t sleeping for 15 hours sometimes and was in pain all the time.

    ‘At two and a half years old at the Colchester General Hospital he was diagnosed with paronychia which is infection around the nails, urine infection, severe oral and rectal thrush, GORD which causes acid in the stomach to leak into the gullet and laryngomalacia which causes a floppy larynx that collapses into the windpipe which causes sleep apnoea.

    ‘He came home and a day later he stopped breathing and turned blue. That was our first ambulance trip. It was all quite the shock as you can imagine.

    William and Emma swimming
    William loves to play in water (Picture: MDWfeatures / Emma Goodson)

    ‘When he was just three months old, he developed a squint, had odd body movements, was always happy and laughing once the reflux was well controlled with medication, even when other kids cried, feeding him took hours, his breathing sounded like Darth Vader, he took no interest in his toys, but absolutely loved water and some plastics.

    ‘Oh, and he could go 15 hours with no sleep. When he did sleep, I was petrified he’d stop breathing permanently because of his apnoea.

    ‘April 23, 2017 when he was seven and a half months old, me and my husband were watching the London Marathon on the TV and William was napping upstairs. I could see him restless on the monitor so brought him downstairs with us. I had this sixth sense and we called an ambulance right away. Seconds later he went into a seizure that would last for three and half hours.

    ‘At the hospital he had an MRI, CT scan, EEG and lumber puncture and he didn’t even cry once. We were worried for a while as he didn’t laugh either, but then eventually the laughter came, and we were relieved.’

    After researching Angelman syndrome days after William was released, Emma took William back to the hospital and asked for more tests, but because the condition is so rare, it was months before they got answers.

    Emma said: ‘I asked him to be checked for Angelman syndrome. The doctor said I was doing our son a disservice and that he was behind just because he’d been so poorly, but the results came back two months later and we finally got a diagnosis.’

    William smiling. HE has Angelman syndrome
    His excessive laughter was a sign on the condition (Picture: MDWfeatures / Emma Goodson)

    Now almost three, William has some challenging behaviours, he can’t walk yet, he doesn’t sleep and can’t talk but he still communicates with others.

    He follows a ketogenic diet which means he no longer uses carbohydrates as an energy source but uses fat instead which can have a huge impact on seizures occurring.

    The family have gained a lot of support from charity organisations, family and friends.

    ‘William sometimes bites, pulls hair and pinches. Yes, he can’t walk yet, yes, he doesn’t sleep, yes, he can’t talk but he still communicates. He understands much more than people think he does,’ Emma said.

    ‘He might never say ‘I love you’ but he grabs our head, kisses us and looks at us with such love. We know that’s his way of saying it.

    ‘William is a bubbly and cheeky child who is loveable and gives us the best cuddles and kisses ever. We love watching other people fall in love with him when they work with him.

    ‘His giggle is infectious and he’s an outrageous flirt.

    William cuddling his mum before bed time. He has Angelman Syndrome
    William cuddling his mum before bed time (Picture: MDWfeatures / Emma Goodson)

    ‘We have received so much support from the children’s hospice and Angelman UK we can’t thank them enough.’

    The family remind others that William’s diagnosis doesn’t define him.

    ‘I always tell families who are waiting for diagnosis, or just recently diagnosed, to remember that your child is not defined by their condition, so they are still the same child you loved yesterday,’ said Emma.

    ‘Ignore the text books, our children do so and we are continually surprised by them every single day.

    ‘Non-verbal doesn’t mean unable to communicate. A look, a hug, a kiss all means ‘I love you’.

    ‘It’s a scary time and whatever you feel is valid, it’s OK to not be OK and it’s normal to grieve for the future you thought you and your family might have had. But let them surprise you, you’ll learn so much.’

    MORE: Couple surprised guests at their daughter’s christening – by getting married as well

    MORE: Bride can’t forgive ‘selfish’ groom who got so drunk on wedding day he passed out in bridal suite


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     Meet the military vet who overcame losing his leg THE DAY AFTER finishing military service
    Meet the military vet who overcame losing his leg the day after he finished service (Picture: Jam Press)

    American soldier James Marshall Ramsey bravely fought in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11.

    The 38-year-old from Portland, Oregon, was in the military for over six years.

    Managing to avoid serious injury on the battlefield, he finished his tour and was excited to head home to his family and begin the next chapter of his life.

    The day after enjoying the reunion, James decided to go for a bike ride. But it ended in disaster as James’ bike lost control and hit a corner.

    James ended up losing a leg and had to wear a prosthetic limb.

    But during his tumultuous life, James had a constant love of tattoos, having gotten inked during his first few years in the military.

    And now, he has found a new purpose in life as a tattoo model.

    James during military service with his comrades
    James pictured during his six-year military service (Picture: Jam Press)

    Rising to the rank of Sergeant, he was initially stationed at Fort Hood, a giant US Army base in Texas.

    Then he was deployed to the Gulf region with the U.S Army. His dad and granddad had also been in the army so re-enlisting after the September 11 attacks was a no-brainer.

    Later, he was sent to Iraq where we served for a year before being deployed to Afghanistan.

    When he finished that tour, he headed home but he day after he landed, tragedy struck.

    ‘I decided to take my bike for a spin. And in hindsight, it probably wasn’t a good idea,’ he said.

    James' amputated limb
    He lost a leg after finishing military service (Picture: Jam Press)

    ‘I didn’t realize that last ride was going to cost me so much. I was taking a corner a bit too fast and lost control.

    ‘After that, it went dark for me.’

    When he eventually came around, James was dazed and disoriented, with distraught family members at his bedside.

    James with an army friend
    He managed to work in the army without injury (Picture: Jam Press)

    ‘My mum told me I kept grabbing at my leg and mumbling “what the hell happened?”‘

    ‘They told me I had been in a very bad accident and my stomach dropped when I realised what that meant.’

    Picture of James topless with his tattoos
    He’s doing alright for himself now (Picture: Jam Press)

    James bought  a state-of-the-art prosthetic limb, started rehab and began moving on.

    And part of that involved showing off his sweet collection of tats.

    James modelling naked with a naked woman without arm
    James has now been a model for five years (Picture: Jam Press)

    He now has two full sleeves, arm, coverings, a full back piece, his throat and the sides of his neck and almost an entire torso covering.

    James has also decorated his remaining leg.

    ‘My favourite tattoo is definitely my back,’ he added.

    He has now been modelling for five years and makes money off advertising.

    James modelling naked with another naked model
    We wonder if they’re modelling pizza (Picture: Jam Press)

    The amputated leg has definitely helped, he said: ‘I’ve gained more exposure from being an amputee.’

    When asked what he misses the most about his time in the military, James joked: ‘My leg, I miss that sweet-ass leg.’

    MORE: Man born without legs walks 40km on prosthetics to raise money for his mum who has MND

    MORE: Stunning photoshoot features models with limb differences

    MORE: Toddler becomes youngest person to climb Britain’s three highest mountains


    Military vet overcame losing his leg by becoming an internationally published tattoo modelMilitary vet overcame losing his leg by becoming an internationally published tattoo model

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    Aldi Chilli chubbies
    These look delicious (Picture: Aldi)

    BBQ season is here and with the weather about to heat up, be prepared to get the grill out this week.

    To celebrate, Aldi has launched Chilli Chubbies – mini sausages infused with sriracha hot sauce or jalapeno and habenero, which are types of peppers.

    These sausages are hot.

    And best of all, they cost just £1.99 for a pack of 12.

    So you can feed these tasty little bites to all your friends.

    Each pack has four of each flavour.

    The habanero is likely to be the hottest as the chilli is between 100,000 and 350,000 on the Scoville heat scale, the measurement for spicy food.

    Jalapeno is between 2,500 and 5,000 SHU, which is still pretty spicy compared to zero SHU for a sweet bell pepper.

    It’s not the only sausage flavour we are excited for.

    The store launched mojito sausages last month so you can combine the tasty meat with your favourite cocktail.

    The six-pack costs £1.89 and according to the store, it’s a mix of fine British pork and smoked bacon, with a unique mix of mojito.

    And if you are looking for something to go with your sausages, Aldi is also offering specially selected brioche hot dog tolls  (£1.05 for a six-pack) with delicious relishes and salads from Aldi’s summer range.

    There’s also two types of pasta salad – Mediterranean vegetable and olive or spinach and pine nut – for £1.13.

    Couscous salads are also available in fruity Moroccan with feta (£1.39, 210g/220g). And vegetable dips in beetroot and mint or Moroccan butternut squash for a nifty price of 85p.

    MORE: Baby’s excessive laughter was actually a sign he had a rare condition

    MORE: Couple surprised guests at their daughter’s christening – by getting married as well


    PRI_76799376PRI_76799376

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    One of the best bits about taking off for a summer break is getting as far away from the day-to-day it all as possible.

    But you’ll be surprised how many wow-worthy holidays there are that will make you feel a million miles away, within just an hour or two closer to home.

    That’s because Airbnb has the keys to some of the most unique homes in Britain, like windmills with rustic interiors and cottages that were once functioning farm houses.

    Combined with some remarkable coastal and countryside destinations right here on our doorstep, your next summer staycation is sure to outshine any long-haul holiday.

    RUSTIC WINDMILL HOME

    Benenden, Kent

    Long weekends in the UK don’t come much more memorable than a stay at a 19th century windmill.

    In your own charming apartment at this restored mill in Kent you’ll find a light and modern cottage-style home, where much of the original machinery is still in place to truly blow you away.

    This home sleeps two so it’s perfect for a romantic retreat to the countryside, where you can reconnect in complete privacy.

    Spend lazy summer nights reclining on the elevated outdoor deck overlooking the apple trees while the sun sets on the Kent countryside.

    A real unique find on Airbnb, this mind-blowing home is perfect for a holiday in the UK because it’s a stone’s throw from Camber Sands beach, famous for miles of glorious sand that rival many European destinations.

    Benenden is also within 10 miles of Rye, Hastings and Tunbridge Wells, meaning the holiday itinerary basically writes itself.

    RUSTIC FARM STAY

    Ashurst, West Sussex

    When you imagine waking up with the South Downs outside your window, you never would have thought you could be this submerged in the English countryside. Deep in the Sussex heartland, you’ll find a sweet little historic barn that has been lovingly brought back to life so you can holiday in the UK in a very unique way.

    Once a functioning farm building, this intimate hideaway is now a superb, self-contained home that’s ideal for a peaceful and private escape from the city. Aside from maximising on both style and comfort inside, with bean bags on the floor and a rustic hammock chair hanging from the beams, it’s kept the original period features like the hayloft ladder that maintain its character.

    And to complete the staycation of dreams, you’ll be perfectly situated between the coast, countryside and city. Within just two hours out of London, you’ll find yourself the land of long walks and cycle rides but still within reaching distance of Brighton seafront and a cluster of adorable market towns, making this a holiday home that truly has it all.

     

     

    HOLIDAY LIKE ROYALTY

    River Tweed, Scottish Borders

    A stay in an historic castle is the ultimate alternative romantic retreat where you’ll wake up feeling like a lord or a lady.

    And you’ll never believe this ancient home, overlooking the River Tweed, can be all yours for the weekend but this unconventional rental comes extremely highly-rated on Airbnb.

    Where Mary Queen of Scot once had a private chamber there is now an elegant apartment that still seems fit for royalty. Old-timey touches like the antique four-poster bed and a roll top bath guarantee a regal feeling.

    Though the home looks remote, set on the hillside away from any interruptions, it can be reached from Edinburgh airport in under the hour, and while you stay, the charming village of Peebles is only a two-minute drive.

    Here you’ll find plenty of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants so your dreams of an out-of-the-ordinary break are very much steeped in reality.

    Finding a unique stay on Airbnb is easier than you think…

    Inspired to take a break that’s a little bit kookier than usual? Airbnb makes it super-simple to hand-pick stays with a difference, using its dedicated Unique Homes filter.

    This narrows down your search to the most awe-inspiring properties, anywhere from secluded seaside spots to hidden corners of the countryside.

    Finally you can experience tiny-house living in one of the characterful compact homes that make the most of minimalism or go big on a boat – or a treehouse – for a taste of something different.

    After all, special occasions call for special stays, and there’s no end of quirky and original places to bring groups and families that will mark the start to a weekend full of wonderful memories.

    To discover the incredible homes across the country that offer a twist on the traditional staycation, simply tick the Unique Homes box on the More Filters menu when you visit the Airbnb website.

    You are sure to find your dream holiday home there.


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    The Iceland bananas with the cardboard band that has been scrapped
    The failed cardboard band (Picture: PA)

    Iceland, like many other supermarkets, announced plastic-free packing initiatives last year – but now they’ve had to go back on their plans.

    The paper band used to wrap bunches of bananas, instead of a plastic bag, has been withdrawn because it caused up to 20% shrinkage of the fruit and they would snap off or go rotten

    The store will now go back to using plastic packaging for bananas this summer – equating to 10 million plastic bags a year.

    Iceland also had to scrap a a plastic-free greengrocer trial that was running in Liverpool after just three months following a 20% plunge in sales.

    Managing director Richard Walker has said Iceland still has a “mountain to climb” but says they are still committed to eliminating plastic from own label products by 2023.

    They’re starting a new trial for plastic-free banana packaging this week, across 20 stores.

    It is also planning a new plastic-free greengrocer initiative that will run across more than 30 stores later this year, which will be focused on pre-packed produce rather than loose items in response to customer feedback from the failed trail.

    Mr Walker said: ‘This is all part of the process – we’ve got to keep experimenting.

    ‘It’s good to be upfront and open about the challenges.

    ‘We’ve still got a mountain to climb – and we’re still all on our own. No other supermarkets are following our lead.’

    But the group has still removed 1,500 tonnes of plastic a year, by eliminating things like plastic ready meal trays.

    ‘It’s damn hard work and it’s costing us a lot of money,’ admitted Mr Walker.

    ‘We can’t do anything that will endanger the success of the business, because there’s 25,000 jobs depending on it..

    ‘We serve five million customers a week and some only have £25 a week to spend on food – it’s very important our prices are sharp.’

    MORE: Aldi launches ‘Chilli Chubbies’ sausages infused with jalapeno, sriracha and habenero

    MORE: Military veteran becomes a tattoo model after losing a limb the day after he returned from war


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    A woman calling about a room to rent
    Do you somehow meet this incredible list of requirements? (Picture: iStockphoto)

    Renting in London is tough and when you find a cheap room without mould on every surface, you’re probably willing to make a few compromises on who you live with.

    But would you be willing to live with the people who wrote this ad?

    The post in a housing co-op group asks for someone who is preferably female, fine with nudity and who is doesn’t use deodorant.

    You might remember this baffling list of requirements for a flatmate that went viral last year – but this one goes beyond that.

    The advert, posted by Mollie Goodfellow on Twitter, is over 600 words long, going through everything from personal hygiene, to religion, to using headphones.

    It starts: ‘Who are we after? A conscious female, preferably (but males will be considered), in her late 20’s to late 40’s who is carving destiny for herself without being sold to a convenient, boring, short-sighted, consumerist life of the modern, civilised, city-dwelling techno-human who lives in the work-shop entertain rhythm (if you have a job in a fancy company, or a corporation, buy coffee and lunches daily, socialise in pubs and bars every weekend – we will not get on well together).’

    Perhaps one of the most niche requests is for someone who has ‘experience in living and working in a community in a countryside where money did not change hands.’

    Beyond that, there’s just the matter of having compassion for humanity and the realisation that ‘we are all in the same horrible fix’, but you can’t be interested in sports, politics, science, organised religion, conspiracy theories, or changing the world.

    Some of the requirements in the advert

    On where you work:

    ‘You will have a vision (or be praying for one), will know who you are, or will be working towards self-knowing either in the field of therapy, with its many facets, and/or spirituality, in the broadest sense of the word (think self-realisation, personal growth, tantra, healing plants, magic, circus, theatre, dance, movement, voice, pyschodramra, mask, encounter groups, esoterica…).

    ‘You will have recognised already that self-expression is crucial for a fulfilling life and you will be working in the field of arts, crafts, performance, healing, therapy, music, word, community creation, and so on and so forth, living on the fringes of the society, an idealist, a visionary, a dreamer, an outcast.’

    On body hygiene:

    ‘You will be fine with how you are, and how your body is, naturally (perfumes, hair sprays, deodorants and other chemical smells and products devised to mask the naturalness of the human body are not welcomed here), and this includes being fine with nudity, that of yours and that of those around you.’

    On where you shop:

    ‘You will be making ecological choices when it comes to food and clothing (this involves buying food directly from growers and producers, rather than in supermarkets, and second-hand clothing in charity shops, car-boot sales and vintage shops, rather than in high-street boutiques).’

    On what you cook:

    ‘You will be preparing your meals (versus living on take-always or eating out) and taking care of the whole household as and when needed (we haven’t and won’t have a rota, but instead count on awareness and generosity in keeping the place tidy, but not sterile).’

    On how you interact:

    ‘You will be confident and open and will not lock yourself away from the surrounding world in your room behind closed doors and drawn curtains.

    ‘You will be mature and think for yourself, rather than following ideologies of various – isms. You will live small, simply and modestly, not amassing objects that are supposed to make life easier.

    ‘You will value silence in which the calling of your heart can be heard, so if you kill time watching movies, reading pulp fiction, listening to podcasts or TED talks, if you use headphones in-or outdoors, excessively socialise in person or over the phone daily – we will not get on well.

    ‘Rather, we want to live with someone who takes time for reflection, contemplation, and meditation, who is in this world, but not from this world.’

    We have a lot of questions. Like who has lived there before to make them come up with these rules?

    What do they all do if they can’t watch anything, listen to anything, socialise or discuss this long list of topics?

    The screenshots are anonymous so we might never know.

    But hey, if this somehow sounds exactly like you, track them down and get your application in now.

    MORE: Bride can’t forgive ‘selfish’ groom who got so drunk on wedding day he passed out in bridal suite

    MORE: Couple surprised guests at their daughter’s christening – by getting married as well


    woman calling in front of \"Room for rent\" signwoman calling in front of \"Room for rent\" sign

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