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

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    Woman warns not to wash your salt lamp after she accidentally dissolves hers in the sink
    The dissolved salt lamp (Picture: Mrs Hinch Made Me Do It/Facebook)

    If you’ve spent loads on salt lamps to give you that Instagramable aesthetic, here is a horror story.

    A woman wanted to give hers a little wash, because like most things, they do get a little dusty.

    Removing the light fitting part and putting the salt part in the sink to soak, she walked away and went back to find it had completely dissolved.

    Posting on Facebook group Mrs Hinch Made Me Do It, she said: ‘Just putting it out there, don’t be stupid like me and think you can wash your Himalayan salt lamp like I thought. I come back and it’s gone.’

    People were pretty amused but luckily the poster took it on the chin.

    She added: ‘It was dusty. Rather than polishing it like a normal person, it went wrong. Oh well, I didn’t like it that much anyway lol.’

    Himalayan pink salt crystals lamp on the table in bedroom, therapy healthy.
    A not dissolved salt lamp (Picture: Getty)

    Luckily, she’s not the only one – someone else said they’d done the same thing and a few people said their friends had done something similar.

    Others said they’d had similar issues when using their salt lamps in the bath.

    If you want to get your lamps a wash, it’s pretty simple.

    Remove it from the power cloth and use a soft dry cloth or a very slightly damp cloth, squeezing as much water as possible.

    You can place the lamp in sunlight to dry it out.

    It’s best just to avoid using too much water or you will dissolve away some of salt.

    And remember, salt lamps can be dangerous to pets. Cats can be tempted to lick them, which can lead to sodium poisoning, which can cause pain, vomiting, seizures, and even death.

    So keep those large lumps of rock out of reach – and away from your sink.

    MORE: Couple born just hours apart in the same hospital wed 23 years later

    MORE: Greggs has a secret regional menu with 25 items you can only get in certain places


    Woman warns not to wash your salt lamp after she accidentally diWoman warns not to wash your salt lamp after she accidentally di

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    The plates in Macy's
    The plate in Macy’s showing different sized portions for different jean sizes (Picture: Alie Ward/Twitter)

    American department store Macy’s has been criticised for selling plates encouraging people to eat small portions to get into their skinny jeans.

    The range of plates feature three circles showing how much food you should eat – one is labelled ‘mom jeans’, one ‘favourite jeans’ and the smallest one as ‘skinny jeans’.

    Another plate shows a big circle labelled as ‘food coma’ and the inside circle as ‘foodie’.

    The plates were onsale at STORY at Macy’s – an instore concept shop – in their Manhattan flagship branch.

    Podcast host Alie Ward posted a picture of the plates on Twitter and said: ‘How can I get these plates from Macy’s banned in all 50 states.’

    People really weren’t happy with the design, saying it promoted eating disorders and body issues.

    One person said: ‘Imagine thinking a circle labelled “skinny jeans” big enough to hold like two chicken nuggets is demonstrating “healthy portion control”…. The only thing it’s teaching is body shaming, and nothing to do with health.’

    Another added: ‘This is a toxic message, promoting even greater women beauty standards and dangerous health habits. These expectations can actually kill someone, and I know someone it has.

    ‘Macy’s remove this from all of your stores and denounce the manufacturer.’

    Alie received a lot of messages from people saying that it wasn’t fair to remove them from all stores but the posted a poignant message explaining why she thought it was so important to remove them.

    She said: ‘I got an email from a Texas man this morning who lost his daughter at the age of 23 to an eating disorder and he told me he thought these plates were disgusting and exactly the type of thing that would have triggered a relapse in her.

    ‘That matters to me. We deserve better.’

    The department store chain comment on Alie’s tweet and explained that they would be removing the plates from all stores where they are available.

    They said: ‘We appreciate you sharing this with us and agree that we missed the mark on this product. It will be removed from all STORY at Macy’s locations.’

    We have contacted Macy’s for comment and will update the article accordingly.

    MORE: Woman accidentally dissolves her salt lamp after washing it in the sink

    MORE: Couple born just hours apart in the same hospital wed 23 years later


    PRI_76967535PRI_76967535

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    metro illustrations
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s pretty hot right now.

    Extremely hot, in fact.

    So hot that you’re probably struggling to sleep, struggling to work, and generally just want to lie in a bath of ice.

    All that can mean sex is off the table.

    But damnit, the desire’s still there. But so is the need to moan ‘please, do not touch me, I am so sweaty’.

    How do you go about having sex in hot weather without it becoming an unbearably irritable and overheated mess?

    We’ve asked some experts for you and compiled all the hot weather sex tips you need below. Stay cool out there.

    Ice cubes are your friend, but use with caution

    Don’t put ice cubes directly on your genitals, unless you want a painful tongue on a lamppost situation (trust us: you do not).

    But ice can be a lovely thing to use when it’s hot by running it over your and your partner’s skin, or holding an ice cube in your mouth during oral.

    Adam Lewis, co-founder and sex toy designer at Hot Octopuss, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Personally I can’t think of anything better than sweaty, hot steamy sex but if you need cooling down in the process introduce using ice cubes in sensitive places – enhances pleasure, sensations and cooling in the process.

    ‘The ‘put an ice cube in your mouth’ sex tip sounds like a massive cliché, but some clichés are there for a reason. Sensation play with ice cubes is one of the best ways to beat the summer heat.’

    Easy. Don’t forget to refill the ice tray when you’re done.

    Take it out of the bedroom

    Lelo sexpert Stu says that the bedroom tends to be one of the warmest spots in the home thanks to all that bedding and, if you live in a house rather than a flat, being elevated (heat rises, science fans).

    ‘Energetic sex is going to get stifling quickly,’ says Stu. ‘Take it to the kitchen instead, it’ll be cooler in there.’

    Now, I’m no fan of shower sex, but if you’ve got a bath mat that provides sufficient friction and you don’t mind getting your hair wet, having sex under cold water is probably a good shout.

    Make sure that if you use toys, they’re waterproof.

    couple in bed
    Now is not the time for ambitious positions and energetic thrusting (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Yes, you need to invest in a fan

    Get a proper standing fan, not just a rubbish plastic one you bought for a fiver on the way home from work.

    This is an obvious one, but too many people think ‘oh, I can get through the summer without one, I don’t really need a fan’, etc, etc.

    No. This is wrong. If you want to have sex while the weather is hot, do yourself a favour, get a fan, and point it full blast.

    The cold air on your butt is sensational.

    You can have sex outside

    If you take our advice and get a fan, you’ll be happier inside than out.

    But hey, some people like to use the hot weather as a chance to get outdoorsy.

    Just choose your location wisely and don’t make a scene.

    Stu explains: The UK’s law on this is ambiguous, but you can sum it up like this: if you have sex somewhere you can reasonably expect to remain undiscovered, you’ll be fine, even if you are discovered, as long as it’s not private property.

    ‘Your own garden should be perfect if you have one and it’s not overlooked. To quote the philosopher Baz Luhrmann: wear sunscreen.’

    Embrace your refreshed sex drive

    No matter how agitated you may feel in the heat, it’s likely that you’ll also have quite the sex drive going. Lean into it and have orgasms o’ plenty. You’ll feel far better, even the next day when you’re sweating on the central line.

    Anabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney, tells us: ‘It may not feel it when you are pouring with sweat trying to sleep at night but hot weather does increase libido.

    ‘Our bodies produce more Vitamin D when they are exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D increases testosterone levels.

    ‘Tests also showed men had 33% more testosterone flowing through bodies in June than in January. Men with more testosterone have more orgasms. In other words, more sun spells more and better sex.’

    Get lazy

    It’s hot. Don’t get fancy with wild positions and super energetic thrusting.

    Reserve your energy and take things slow.

    ‘Focus less on intercourse and more on lazy oral sex,’ says Anabelle. ‘As for sex positions, the less energetic the better. Try the lazy leg-over (pictured below). It provides intimate contact and satisfaction without discomfort.’

    lazy legover sex position
    Try the lazy leg-over (Picture: Lovehoney)

    ‘It starts with her going on top, then lying flat against her partner. She slides her right leg over his hip, raising her foot and resting her right knee on the bed.

    ‘He enters her from a slight sideways angle – this prevents deep thrusting and allows for full body contact, which makes it really snuggly and a great morning position.

    ‘You can enhance this sex position with a water-based lubricant. Even if she is wet to start with, it is always a good idea to keep things nice and slippery for maximum enjoyment!’

    Chill your sex toys

    No, don’t put vibrators in the freezer.

    But if you have sex toys that respond to temperature, such as a glass dildo, there’s no harm in popping it in the fridge to chill before use.

    MORE: You can now have sex with a drinks can thanks to a new Fleshlight collab

    MORE: What is the anaconda sex position Chris from Love Island says is his favourite?

    MORE: Marvel has learnt you can’t create a world where everyone is cisgender, heterosexual and white


    Why morning sex is actually brilliantWhy morning sex is actually brilliant

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  • 07/23/19--07:02: How to soothe insect bites
  • A girl with an insect bite on her arm
    Insect bites can be painful (Picture: Getty)

    Ok, we get it. It’s hot outside.

    Beyond the sweat soaked shirts and not being able to find a bag of ice in a five mile radius, the weather brings some other problems.

    In particular, tiny little insects. You never see them – but they always manage to leave a mark.

    Whether it’s from long afternoons in the park or just leaving your bedroom window open, getting bitten it usually nothing to worry about – but it is annoying when you can’t stop thinking about the throbbing lump on your arm that you’re desperate to scratch.

    You can probably find something to help at your local pharmacy or even in your kitchen cupboard but if you start to have difficulty breathing, feel faint or dizzy, start to swell or if your heartbeat starts to raise – you should call 999 immediately.

    Shamir Patel, leading pharmacist and founder of Chemist 4 U has some advice for how to treat the standard bite: ‘Most bites will cause mild irritation, the bitten area may be red and raised and is normally itchy.

    ‘Once you notice you’ve been bitten or stung, you should disinfect the area immediately. In the case that there is a stinger still in your skin, this should be removed as soon as possible with sterilised tweezers. If you don’t have a sterilising solution to hand, boiling water will kill most germs.

    ‘You should then wash the area again with soap and water and make sure not to cover it up.’

    For most bites or stings, a cool compress, like a damp flannel or an ice block wrapped in a towel can help.

    Shamir adds that there’s a few things you can get from the pharmacy to sooth itchiness. He says: ‘If it’s itchy, you can take an antihistamine to help reduce those symptoms.

    ‘After you’ve immediately cared for your bite or sting, you should apply hydrocortisone or a calamine lotion every day for a few days and this should help maintain symptoms and support the bite’s healing.’

    A woman scratching an insect bite on her arm
    Try not to scratch it (Picture: Getty)

    Remedies like raw honey or witch hazel rubbed on the bite can also reduce swelling and pain. Peppermint oil can also have a cooling effect to reduce irritation.

    Another home remedy to try is crushed up aspirin tablets. It contains acetylsalicylic acid which relieves pain. Just crumble two tablets into a small amount of water to create a paste. Rub it on the area and wash it off after a few minutes.

    Aloe vera plant is also great for summer – you can keep a plant on your window and cut the leaves open or buy it in tubes. It helps to reduce itchiness and pain with bites and is great for sun burn too.

    Of course, if you notice any signs of infection, you should stop treating it and see a doctor.

    How to prevent insect bites

    Preventing insect bites is better than treating them so take precautions to stop them happening again. Shamir has some more tips:

    • Use a repellent, you can pick these up for quite cheap so you can apply them liberally. Spray repellents have been known to work against insect bites and thus it’s worth using one throughout the summer. Repellents that contain 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide) are the best.
    • Avoid high-risk areas if you’re prone to getting bitten. Insects tend to gravitate to watery areas, such as lakes. Being around these kinds of places in the heat does increase your chance of getting bitten, so bear this in mind and maybe plan a different journey.
      Cover up vulnerable areas. Obviously, in the summer, you don’t want to be dressed head to toe in protective clothing, however, to alleviate the risk of getting bitten, it’s worth considering clothing that’ll cover up as much of your skin as possible. This will prevent insects from biting the exposed areas of your skin.
    • Avoid using products that will attract insects. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time outdoors, it’s probably best to lay off the perfumes. And if you have food or drink with you, keep it covered up and away from any insects.
    • Finally, when at home keep your windows closed when you can and make use of deterrents and nets. You can buy plug-in insect repellents that steer them away from your house. Sleeping with an insect-repellent bed net will also help keep you protected whilst sleeping. Citronella candles are also sworn-by for keeping insects away, so it might be worth investing in some for your home.

    MORE: How to have sex when the weather is unbearably hot

    MORE: Woman accidentally dissolves her salt lamp after washing it in the sink

    MORE: Couple born just hours apart in the same hospital wed 23 years later


    big mosquito bitebig mosquito bite

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    Let your dog express their political frustration with this Boris chew toy
    Complete with messy hair and an untucked tie – classique (Picture: dogaholic.co.uk)

    If you’re less than pleased at the news that Boris Johnson is now leader of the Tory party – and therefore our new Prime Minister – there are a few things you can do.

    The first thing is to get out there and attend a protest, such as the one happening in London’s Russell Square tomorrow. Or, you could join a different party and try to make your mark through working with them.

    Above and beyond that – and if you’re simply consumed with unspent rage – you could let your dog have at a mini BoJo chew toy.

    It’s not really a mature solution to sit with a gin and tonic and feel satisfied that Buster or Bella is going to town on a tiny blonde blabbermouth, but then neither is calling African people ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’.

    For the pleasure of seeing this, you’ll only need to pay £17.50 from Pet Hates Toys, and you’ll be shipped your very own Boris dog toy, complete with downy hair and a pained expression.

    Let your dog express their political frustration with this Boris chew toy
    It’s extremely realistic (Picture: dogaholic.co.uk)

    It’s also available from MenKind, Scribbler, and Dogaholic Online.

    The toy is equipped with a loud squeaker, that’ll hopefully drown out the news of what’s currently happening in the country. Makers do warn, however: ‘Boris is not indestructible, so carefully monitor play.’

    How right they are.

    Anyway, we have to find laughter in these times, otherwise we may just cry. For impartiality reasons, though, it’s worth noting that Pet Hates also make a Jeremy Corbyn, a Donald Trump (which has sold out on many sites due to popularity) and a Theresa May – which is actually on sale as she departs Number 10.

    According to their website, there’s a Nigel Farage coming too. Just don’t spill any milkshakes on it, or you could end up in trouble.

    MORE: How to have sex when the weather is unbearably hot

    MORE: Birds will be suffering in the heat too so here’s how you can help


    Let your dog express their political frustration with this Boris chew toyLet your dog express their political frustration with this Boris chew toy

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    The Fashion Nova jeans
    These jeans look difficult to take off (Picture: Fashion Nova)

    Fashion Nova has released some new jeans which look just as hard to get on as they do to get off.

    The Irina Buckle Pants, which come in black and white, are super skinny jeans with buckles all up the side – and no, it doesn’t look as though you can wear underwear with them.

    The jeans have 14 buckles up each leg, and while they are very eye catching, we couldn’t think of anything worse to wear on a night out – just imagine trying to take them off as you stumble around drunk trying to eat the remains of your kebab.

    No thank you.

    The jeans are currently half price, costing $24.98 (£20) down from $59.99 (£48).

    The buckle jeans
    We’ll pass on these (Picture: Fashion Nova)

    The Fashion Nova website describes them as being high rise with ‘slit sides’ (that’s an understatement), with a back zipper and skinny leg.

    Oh, and just for extra stretch, they’re made with 5% Spandex.

    So far, the jeans have had two five star reviews on the website – however people on Instagram haven’t been as kind, mocking them a fair bit for the buckle detail.

    One person said: ‘The tan lines on these pants would just be over the top.’

    Another said: ‘Take two hours to take it back off’.

    Some people have been a lot nicer – calling the jeans ‘cute’.

    And honestly, yes, they are okay to look at – but come on, imagine wearing these in a heatwave? We’ll pass.

    MORE: Couple born just hours apart in the same hospital wed 23 years later

    MORE: What I Rent: Matthew and Charles, £2,230 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Chelsea


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    The new RuPaul pjs
    The new pyjamas are super cute (Picture: Primark)

    If you’re a RuPaul fan, you’ll be overjoyed to know that Primark has just released some new pyjamas inspired by your favourite Drag Queen.

    The new pyjamas feature a red vest top with the famous words: ‘Don’t be sorry, be fierce’ and white shorts with ‘RuPaul’ scribbled all over them in red.

    The pyjamas cost just £6 and were recently showcased on Primark’s Instagram, alongside the caption: ‘Shantay you slaaay’.

    The post has so far received nearly 46,000 likes and plenty of comments from excited shoppers.

    One person said: ‘Will definitely have to pick this beauty up!’

    Primark Is Selling RuPaul Pyjamas For Just £6
    The pyjama set (Picture: Primark)

    Others tagged their friends, and suggested they get matching pairs.

    Honestly, what sounds better than a sleepover wearing RuPaul pyjamas binge watching RuPaul’s Drag Race? Nothing, that’s what.

    The new pyjamas come after the release of its RuPaul’s Drag Race tshirts.

    The t-shirts are white and feature RuPaul absolutely slaying alongside the phrase ‘Condragulations’.

    Primark also launched a grey Mama Ru shirt, with bright pink writing across the front.

    In true Primark style, both shirts were super cheap at just £8 each.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B0I0Vt6nqqt/

    In other Primark news, the store has also added to its Disney range, with new Minnie Mouse products.

    This includes a Minnie Mouse backpack, a bumbag and a cap.

    They’re all super cute with black and white spots and red glittery bows, with prices starting at just £5.

    And yes, we need it all.

    MORE: Couple born just hours apart in the same hospital wed 23 years later

    MORE: Primark’s Manchester store opens new beauty studio and barbershop


    Primark Is Selling RuPaul Pyjamas For Just £6Primark Is Selling RuPaul Pyjamas For Just £6

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    A selection of cooling products on Amazon
    You’re going to own this heatwave, sweaty. (Picture: Amazon)

    This week, temperatures are set to soar above 36.7C in the UK. In other terms, you have been warmly welcomed into the buttcrack of Satan himself.

    If you’ve tried the usual trio of cool showers, a trusty desk fan and sacrificing your children to your chosen god of rain, it’s time to get a little more creative with how you manage your cooling affairs.

    Deep within Amazon’s pile of niche gizmos is a pair of slippers more chill than any you’ve owned before. These are the freezable slip-ons, and they are £29.99.

    The gel based slippers on Amazon
    Become daddy cool with these fresh slides (Picture: Amazon)

    The gel-based product targets the bottom of the feet, and are meant to cool you down, aid relaxation, assist with healing inflammation and obviously be responsible for defining your new look as daddy cool.

    Two to 12 hours in the freezer will prepare these frosty fellas, or just one minute in your ex-lover’s heart.

    The slippers are also good in winter, when you can place them in boiling water or the microwave and wear them for heat therapy. Mmmmm, foot sauna.

    If you’re hoping to achieve full body chill, or perhaps you’re known in the fashion circles as a co-ord queen, here are some of Amazon’s other body cooling items.

    The chill-ow (£7.99)

    The chill pillow from Amazon
    The chill-ow. (Picture: Amazon)

    This no-freeze item draws heat from your neck and head using a gel technology. The pad can be slipped right into your favourite pillow case for a night of blissful slumber.

    Refreshing mattress topper (£35.95)

    The refreshing mattress topper
    A refreshing new mattress. (Picture: Amazon)

    This one’s a similar gem, but for the whole body. It’s said to work well if you’re struggling with sunburn, the flu or hot flushes during menopause.

    A gherkin girl’s best friend (£12.90)

    A chilling face mask
    Get gherkined. (Picture: Amazon)

    Spend the night dreaming of cucumber gin cocktails with this gel-filled mask that needs only one to two hours in the fridge.

    Crisp little vest (£80)

    The chilling vest on Amazon
    Icy boi ahead. (Picture: Amazon)

    If you’re part of the elite league of humans who can confidently saunter about in a vest, this garment of 96 pure water ice cubes is for you.

    The pooch vest (£11.99)

    The chilling dog vest on Amazon
    Cool downs for your best friend. (Picture: Amazon)

    If your number one good boy can also rock it, treat them with this cooling vest jacket.

    Doggy bandana (£8.85)

    The chilling ice bandana on Amazon
    For pooches with serious BDE. (Picture: Amazon)

    For pooches with serious BDE (big dawg energy), give the ice bandana a whirl.

    Chilly pup mat (£15.99)

    The chilly puppy mat on Amazon
    Check out these summer dreamboats. (Picture: Amazon)

    Requiring no water, refrigeration, or electricity, this cooling mat will keep your pets as happy as these sweetlings in the completely un-photoshopped image above.

    MORE: UK could be about to get heatwave power cuts as thunderstorms roll in

    MORE: Woman accidentally dissolves her salt lamp after washing it in the sink

    MORE: Greggs has a secret regional menu with 25 items you can only get in certain places


    Amazon cooling productsAmazon cooling products

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    Belly Bandit boob sweat liner
    Just pop it under your bra, and never worry about boob sweat again (Picture: Belly Bandit)

    Hello boob sweat my old friend.

    It’s meltingly hot outside, and the week is only getting hotter, which means those of us with larger breasts are in for a real treat.

    Forget every other type of sweat (even sweat under the shelf your bum creates where it joins the top of your thighs). Boob sweat is the worst, because it leave you with obvious stains in a place you can’t hide them, and gets your bras all gross – which we know can be pretty horrifying.

    A nifty bra liner, however, should get rid of the underboob sweat fear, and also keep you comfortable and avoid chafing. Summer is uncancelled.

    They’re made by UK maternity company, Belly Bandit, and are designed to be worn under your bra with your breasts perched on top.

    Made of a breathable bamboo material, the liner helps wick sweat and keep your skin dry and without irritation.

    Belly Bandit Underboob sweat guard
    Easy as one, two, three (Picture: Belly Bandit)

    They’re one-size-fits-all, because they don’t wrap around your ribs, so you also won’t have to worry about the dreaded bra size question. Simply slot it under the bra, and there are no hooks or straps.

    Plus they come in taupe, black, or pink, so you can have an arsenal of them at your mercy while this heatwave persists.

    On Amazon, they’re currently a maternity number one bestseller, and have four stars average reviews. One says: ‘Without exaggerating, it has been a life – changer. Now, I no longer have to change my bra several times a day, but just change the bra liner.’

    Another claimed: ‘The Belly Bandit, or as I would call it, The Boob Sweat Catcher, is everything a woman could dream of in the summer heat, or anytime if she is experiencing menopause. It wicks moisture away from your body and stores it in its core, whilst simultaneously softening the feel of bra underwires digging into you.

    ‘I guess I will have to get a few more, because I don’t intend to use a bra without a Belly Bandit ever again.’

    High praise indeed. If you’d like to get your hands on one, they’re currently sold out on the Belly Bandit website, but are available on Amazon for £21.95.

    MORE: Amazon is selling freezer slippers and other unlikely body cooling items

    MORE: These Fashion Nova buckle jeans look like a nightmare to take off after a night out

     


    Underboob sweat guardUnderboob sweat guard

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    Man packing sweater into suitcase
    Are you a talented holiday packer? (Picture: Getty)

    Are you great at packing for a holiday? Well, you can now use your talents for actual money, as a new pro holiday packer service has launched.

    The new service has been launched for those who want to earn money to help holiday-goers over the summer months, to relieve stress from packing and other admin.

    Or, of course, you could use the service to get your case packed for you instead.

    The ‘professional holiday packer and planner’ service enables members of the public to both get paid and pay to take care of holiday packing. holiday planning and admin.

    Holiday packers can earn £45 an hour to take care of all the holiday admin and packing, which includes buying the essentials (of course not with your own money), packing suitcases, preparing instructions to pack properly when travelling home, organising all admin so that all paperwork is in the order they need it and if you fancy it, you could even offer a personal shopping service for holiday clothing.

    In 2017, UK residents apparently  took 72.8 million trips overseas in total. It’s said that the stress of holiday packing and planning can impact overall enjoyment of the trip.

    Interracial couple packing suitcase, with tablet computer, books, cloths, and 35mm camera.
    (Picture: Getty)

    According to a study, more than 80% of people find the holiday season to be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ stressful.

    After analysing category demand data from the past five years, Bark.com realised that demand for house-sitting, pet-sitting, gardening and cleaning more than doubles during July and August, indicating that consumers outsource chores and hire professionals for holiday services during the summer period.

    In response, the company has launched the professional holiday packer and planning service, whereby members of the public can use this service to relieve their ‘packing anxieties’.

    The professional holiday packer and planner will help to ease the holiday pressure and ensure that holiday goers have an enjoyable holiday.

    Customers will be asked questions such as: Size of the suitcase? Type of holiday? Length of stay? To ensure the professional packers are fully equipped.

    Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com, said: ‘I think we can all agree that packing and planning for a holiday is incredibly stressful, time consuming and overwhelming. I myself dread packing my suitcase for a holiday and often leave it until the last minute.

    ‘This service removes the stresses and anxieties involved with packing and planning for a trip away. After all, holidays should be full of excitement, not dread. At Bark.com we love providing people with new and exciting ways to earn, and this service is ideal for anyone who is organised!’

    MORE: How to have sex when the weather is unbearably hot

    MORE: What to do if you see someone collapse in the heat


    Interracial couple packing suitcaseInterracial couple packing suitcase

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    The Stranger Things x Nike shoes
    Stranger Things x Nike serves up another lewk. (Picture: BAIT)

    Since season three of Stranger Things launched earlier this month, it has been viewed by more than 40 million household accounts.

    A line of series-related merch from brands including Coca Cola, Polaroid, and Hasbro soon followed, and now there’s another tantalising piece of the Netflix puzzle.

    Following an initial release of Stranger Things x Nike apparel feature the Hawkins High School branding, a new shoe has been revealed at San Diego Comic Con. And true fans will be setting them on fire.

    The re-imagined Nike Tailwind 79 shoe features a shabby grey fabric which can be burned away to uncover hidden messages.

    Someone burning the Stranger Things x Nike shoes with a lighter
    The latest creation from Stranger Things x Nike. (Picture: BAIT)

    The rest of the shoe also features ‘secret’ elements that reference the covert underground Russian base working to re-open access to the Upside Down.

    Hiding beneath the insoles, in English and Russian, is the code deciphered by Steve (Joe Keery), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Robin (Maya Hawke) in the hit Netflix series.

    The hidden code in the Stranger Things x Nike trainers
    The hidden code in the Stranger Things x Nike trainers (Picture: BAIT)

    The shoes were launched over the weekend with none other than a scavenger hunt. A few select winners were then chosen to receive the ultra-limited edition trainers, but they will be more widely available on 21 August from BAIT.

    And if you miss out, season four of Stranger Things is rumoured to be in the works, with many more plot lines to transform into merch.

    MORE: Amazon is selling freezer slippers and other unlikely body cooling items

    MORE: Let your dog express their political frustration with this Boris chew toy

    MORE: Dog almost died after overheating in UK heatwave while walking in park


    Stranger Things x Nike Picture: Nike METROGRABStranger Things x Nike Picture: Nike METROGRABStranger Things x Nike Picture: Nike METROGRABStranger Things x Nike Picture: Nike METROGRAB

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    Some of the animals at London zoo
    London Zoo animals cooling off with ice lollies. (Picture: ZSL London Zoo)

    Think your local giant Galapagos tortoise has it easy because they don’t need to commute on the sweltering tube? You’d best think again.

    It’s been a busy few days at ZSL London Zoo, as zookeepers have been working round the clock to ensure animals keep cool during the heatwave.

    ‘All the animals have had cooling treats every day as the temperatures have risen: Meerkats Liam and Roo have been frozen pea-bobbing to keep them cool, while Ande the llama had a shower first thing this morning while his paddock was being mucked out,’ zookeeper Veronica Heldt said.

    ‘Keepers have been giving out ice lollies made of frozen fruit tea or sugar free cordial, with nuts and seeds, to our primates, which is great enrichment for our animals as well as a cooling treat.’

    A cheeky squirrel monkey enjoys an with ice lolly at London Zoo
    A cheeky squirrel monkey enjoys an with ice lolly (Picture: ZSL London Zoo)

    Veronica, who joined ZSL London Zoo as a zookeeper in 2005, has had her fair share of summers with the animals.

    ‘The tigers have their own pool to swim in, the lions have a moat to dip their paws in and there are plenty of shaded areas in all our animals’ homes if they want to take a break from basking in the sun.’

    Sumatran tiger Asim makes a splash at ZSL London Zoo at London Zoo
    Sumatran tiger Asim makes a splash at ZSL London Zoo. (Picture: Tony Margiocchi)

    Some of the critters aren’t too phased by the heat, with species from tropical locations making the most of the change in temperature.

    ‘Our Humboldt penguin colony are from South America and are used to warm weather, so they can be spotted splashing around the water in Penguin Beach just like any other day.

    ‘Likewise, our giant Galapagos tortoises, who are used to the high temperatures on the Galapagos islands, have been super active this morning – exploring the grassy outdoors of their home and cooling off in their pond.’

    Penguins enjoying frozen fish lollies at London Zoo
    Penguins enjoying frozen fish lollies (Picture: ZSL London Zoo)

    Veronica notes that some animals are naturally equipped with ‘amazing adaptations’ making them perfectly capable in the heat.

    Those quirky little meerkats, for example, have been blessed with ‘natural sunglasses’, black patches around their eyes which deflect sunlight. Even hippos bring their own summer survival flair by secreting their own ‘sunscreen’ through their pores. Just imagine if the average Brit could do that.

    Studies have shown that uncomfortably hot weather causes humans to become more irritated and aggressive, but when it comes to animals, how is their mood affected? Well it so happens that we have more in common with our swine pals than we care to admit.

    Silverback gorilla Kumbuka enjoys frozen cucumber at the zoo at London Zoo
    Silverback gorilla Kumbuka enjoys frozen cucumber at the zoo (Picture: ZSL London Zoo)

    ‘Like humans, some of the animals at ZSL London Zoo do get lazier in the sun – the pigs have been wallowing lazily in the mud and the Asiatic lions have been spending their time stretched out, basking in the sun, or lying under the shady trees in Land of the Lions.’

    For more animal fun, head to next week’s opening of Animal Adventure, London Zoo’s new children’s zoo.

    MORE: Amazon is selling freezer slippers and other unlikely body cooling items

    MORE: Cat’s life saved by people pushing ice cubes through letterbox

    MORE: Let your dog express their political frustration with this Boris chew toy


    London Zoo animals cooling off with ice lolliesLondon Zoo animals cooling off with ice lollies

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    Papa John's Pizza
    Pizza, pizza, yes Papa (Picture: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

    Picnics are pretty much compulsory at this time of year, but it’s quite a faff having to go to the shops to buy all those tiny salad pots and dips.

    Plus, for those out there who aren’t partial to a scotch egg or a bit of quiche, it becomes something of a minefield.

    If you’ve ever thought how good it’d be to order food like pizzas while you’re in the middle of a park or beach, however, that dream is becoming a reality.

    Papa John’s new outdoor delivery service means you can get a tasty ‘za in over 150 UK public locations, with more to be added through the summer.

    In London right now, for example, you could have your food delivered to Green Park, Hyde Park, and Regents Park.

    Revellers in Victoria Park, Manchester, The Meadows in Edinburgh, Jesmond Dene in Newcastle are also on the list for al fresco margheritas.

    To use the new feature, customers should simply visit the Papa John’s mobile website or app, use the geotargeting tool to find their closest pick up point, and order as usual.

    ‘We’re excited to be the first UK delivery service to offer this unique service nationwide, with the weather heating up we want to give people more choice, and what better food to share with friends and family than pizza!’ says UK Marketing Director, Giles Codd.

    ‘We want to encourage people to take life a little slower and make the most of the longer evenings and warmer weekends, without having to rush home to enjoy their favourite pizza.’

    If you feel that your favourite outdoor hangout isn’t getting the love it deserves from big Papa, you can tweet them with the hashtag #PapaJohnsDeliverySpots with suggestions.

    MORE: You can burn the new Stranger Things x Nike shoe to reveal a hidden detail

    MORE: Are you great at packing for holidays? You can now get paid for it


    A Papa John's International Inc. Location Ahead Of Earnings FiguresA Papa John's International Inc. Location Ahead Of Earnings Figures

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    Early morning from Split, Croatia (Picture: Getty)

    Does the thought of trawling the internet for the best holiday deals make you feel stressed out? Are you fed up of throwing vacation options at your fussy pals? Picking the right holiday, that suits everyone, is a challenge. And let’s face it, most of us only get a set amount of holiday days each year so you’ve got to nail it. It’s almost a job in itself with so many alternatives available.

    So let us narrow your search down to just one fantastic location; Croatia. This beautiful country has risen in popularity in recent years and it’s not hard to see why. With some of the most Instagrammable spots in the world, stunning beaches, ancient towns and lush greenery, it’s no surprise it’s on so many wish lists.

    If you’re looking for a last minute getaway that has everything – sun, sea and breathtaking landscapes – then read on.

    Here’s why you should be heading to Croatia this summer:

    Sunshine

    Beach at Baška Voda, a tourist town on the Makarska Riviera (Picture: Getty)

    Just a two and a half hour flight from London, Croatia is home to cities like Split and Dubrovnik. Oh and it’s super hot.

    If you’re a sun seeker, you’ll be delighted to know that in July and August Croatia gets over 13 hours of sunshine a day, which is more than the likes of Corfu or Provence. And even later in the year, when it’s dark and gloomy in the UK, the sun continues to shine in Dubrovnik with average temperatures around 19C.

    So you can rely on warm days and balmy nights as well as a sun-kissed glow on your return home.

    Money

    The pound may have taken a blow against many currencies, making it seem more expensive to travel, but you can still find great value for money in Croatia. A pint of beer, for example, will cost you less than £2 in many bars in Hvar while a cappuccino is, on average, under £1.50 and a three-course meal for two people is around £30.

    Just think of all the new holiday swimwear you can buy with the money you’ll have left over. We’re sold.

    Stunning beaches

    The beautiful Pasjača Beach  (Picture: Zoran Jelaca / CNTB)

    These are beaches with a difference.

    Every spot is a contender as the ‘holy grail’ for enviable social media posts. As well as dreamy long stretches of white sand, Croatia is home to stunning, pebbled coastlines with azure waters. Zlatni Rat is one of the most photographed, making it a must-see location for many, but there are some exquisite hidden gems to be found if you take a bit of time to explore. Pasjača Beach was recently voted the best beach in Europe so is definitely worth a visit, while Gdinj on Hvar Island is set in a sweet village and despite its phenomenal beaches, it’s rarely busy. LOVRECINA is another sight you have to see with your own eyes, because you just won’t be able to believe the sea can be this blue.

    Nature

    Plitvice Lakes are a sight to behold (Picture: Croatia Tourist Board)
    Plitvice Lakes are a sight to behold (Picture: Luka Esenko / CNTB)

    Craving a bit of adventure? Then Croatia is perfect for those who want to get off the well-beaten tourist track and discover something new.

    There are eight national parks where you’ll find awe inspiring lakes and waterfalls, not to mention the Unesco-listed Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Park which should be on your Croatian bucket list if you’re looking to get back to nature.

    Culture to spare

    Cathedral of St. Domnius, Diocletian’s Palace and the waterfront (Picture: Getty)

    Television buffs will relish the chance to visit some of the Croatian locations used in their favourite shows, like the remains of Diocletian’s Palace in Split which was built in the fourth century and is now a must-see spot. Take a step back in time as you walk among the temples, ancient columns and explore the underground cellars. And why not make a day of it? As you’ll soon discover, there are a whole host of restaurants and bars where you can sample the local cuisine and enjoy a languorous, lazy lunch.

    In fact, Croatia is steeped in ancient history and is home to a wonderfully atmospheric Roman amphitheatre. Nestled in the port city of Pula in Istria, the first-century structure is considered one of the best preserved in the world and it still plays host to the arts, with screenings, concerts and even a film festival taking place inside its walls.

    Culinary delights

    Traditional Croatian dish of truffles and pljukanci (Picture: Croatian Tourist Board)
    Traditional Croatian dish of truffles and pljukanci (Picture: Maja Danica Pecanic / CNTB)

    The Istrian Peninsula is considered the gourmet capital of Croatia, with not only its famous truffles (which are said to be tastier and cheaper than its Italian counterparts) and olive oil, but also its delicious signature wines, attracting discerning foodies to the region. While you’re there why not treat yourself to a glass or two?

    Malvazija, is an easy-to-drink white that goes well with fresh seafood, while Teran, is a robust red which pairs well with traditional meat dishes such as boškarin and pršut.

    Places to stay

    Whether you’re after an eco-hotel and want to explore organic vineyards, or you fancy some exclusive luxury pampering, Croatia has got it all. And there’s good value to be found too. From sleepy fishing villages to stone houses in the national parks, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to gorgeous apartments, villas and hotels to suit every taste and budget.

    So if you’re booking a last minute trip and don’t want to break the bank, then look no further.

    Croatia’s natural beauty, affordability and mix of history and culture make it the ultimate spot for an unforgettable summer getaway.

    For more information on this fabulous holiday destination, visit https://feeds.croatia.hr/en/


    Sunrise from Split CroatiaSunrise from Split Croatia

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    Today’s fitness challenge is the high plank – how long can you hold it for?

    A high plank is similar to a regular plank – but you do it with straight arms which will help to fully engage your shoulders and upper body.

    Throughout this Staying Active summer series, fitness experts Elia and Amanda – both qualified instructors at Flykick – will be on hand to show you how to do each challenge and give you their top tips.

    Our daily challenges are perfect to try at home, at the gym or in the park. They are designed to get you moving every day.

    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.

    The aim is to be active every day for six weeks over summer. And today’s challenge is a tough one that will test your explosive strength and really work your core.

    These daily challenges can be done in isolation, or you can include them in larger workout – it’s totally up to you. As long as you’re moving, that’s what matters.

    Woman doing a plank with straight arms on a gym floor
    Keep your core engaged and don’t let your spine collapse (Picture: Getty)

    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 a high plank

    Start on your hands and knees on the ground. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart.

    Lift your knees off the ground and push your feet back, so that your legs are straight and you are resting on your toes.

    Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. But moving your feet closer together will make the exercise more challenging as you become more confident.

    Keeping a tight core is key here. You don’t want to let your spine collapse, or lift your bum into the air – as that makes the move less effective and puts pressure on your back.

    Hold this position for as long as you can – if you start to lose your form then put your knees down and have a rest.

    One minute is a good starting point to aim for.

    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


    She's at the gym 24/7She's at the gym 24/7

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    Real young mother with little son
    Yeah, Baby Nev isn’t as cute as this baby deserves (Picture: Getty)

    While names inspired by plants and royal babies are going strong, there are some baby names that aren’t so fashionable at the moment.

    In parents’ efforts to stay with the times and give their kiddos unusual names, they’ve abandoned some old classics.

    Mother and Baby created a list of the names that they say are at risk of going ‘extinct’ in 2019, as hardly anyone is interested in giving them to their children.

    Among those names are Sharon (we blame memes) and Wayne (Sorry, Mr Rooney).

    The baby names at risk of going 'extinct'

    • Elaine
    • Sharon
    • Doris
    • Sally
    • Paula
    • Geoffrey
    • Wayne
    • Neville
    • Malcolm
    • Clarence
    • Derek

    If you’re heartbroken by the name Neville dying out, there’s a simple solution: have a baby and give it that name.

    We reckon these will all be due a comeback in a couple of decades, though. Baby name trends go in cycles, and while now these ones may evoke images of grandparents and footballers, in years to come they’ll be trendy again, likely as part of a retro names revival.

    Evidence of this: earlier this year it was reported that a number of vintage baby names were on parents’ radars again, including Arthur, Atticus, and Audrey.

    Plus, Nameberry predicts that in 2028 some old-fashion names, such as Evelyn, Norah, and Theodore, will have made a comeback.

    See? No need to panic about the eternal loss of Paula.

    In case you were wondering about names that definitely aren’t at risk of disappearing, it’s probably worth going over the most popular baby names of 2019 thus far. They’re below for your perusal.

    Nameberry's most viewed girls' names of 2019 so far:

    1. Isla
    2. Olivia
    3. Aurora
    4. Ada
    5. Charlotte
    6. Amara
    7. Maeve
    8. Cora
    9. Amelia
    10. Posie
    11. Luna
    12. Ophelia
    13. Ava
    14. Rose
    15. Eleanor
    16. Genevieve
    17. Alice
    18. Elodie
    19. Lucy
    20. Ivy

    Nameberry's most viewed boys' names of 2019 so far:

    1. Archie
    2. Milo
    3. Asher
    4. Jasper
    5. Silas
    6. Theodore
    7. Atticus
    8. Jack
    9. Aarav
    10. Finn
    11. Oliver
    12. Felix
    13. Henry
    14. Wyatt
    15. Aryan
    16. Leo
    17. Oscar
    18. Levi
    19. Ethan
    20. James

    MORE: Daily Fitness Challenge: How long can you hold a high plank?

    MORE: I won’t take the iPad off my toddler, it’s a great parenting tool

    MORE: These are the most popular Disney inspired baby names in the UK


    Real young mother with little sonReal young mother with little son

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    People on Weymouth Beach in the hot weather
    The heatwave is set to ramp up a notch in the coming days (Picture: Rex Shutterstock)

    The heatwave we’ve been waiting for all summer is finally upon us, with temperatures set to skyrocket across the UK in the coming days.

    It’s already pretty darned hot out there folks – and with the mercury predicted to hit a searing 37 degrees celsius by Thursday, you can expect to get pretty hot and sweaty out there.

    All of which means you might just be a bit more tired than usual – because being in a heatwave can also prove exhausting.

    So just why do you get more weary after spending more time out in the sunshine – and how can you get your energy back?

    Here’s what could be causing that tiredness…

    You’re dehydrated

    Lying out in the sun might seem relaxing, but bear in mind the increased heat will cause you to sweat, meaning your body loses important fluids and salt. And it’s something you need to keep an eye on, as a slight dehydration is normal but it can get really serious.

    What to do: Keep a bottle of water handy (even more important if you’re facing sauna-like temperatures on public transport) to replace lost fluids and top up your salt levels with snacks. And if you start to feel really unwell then don’t hesitate to head down to A&E.

    Your body is working hard

    Your body goes through a lot of changes when the weather is this hot weather, from tanning and increased vitamin D, through to swelling and, er, the phenomenon of ‘summer penis’ – as the body tries hard to regulate its core temperature. And then there’s simply trying to keep cool in the heat, which in itself is enough to expend energy, and is of course going to require a lot more effort when it’s baking hot outside.

    What to do: Just take care of yourself basically, get plenty of rest and ensure you stay well fed and hydrated while the hot spell persists.

    You’re drinking more alcohol

    Pubs with an outside areas in Manchester city centre
    Heading to the pub is popular in hot weather – especially if it has outdoor tables (Picture: PA)

    With the increase in temperature comes an increase in trips to the pub as we attempt to cool down with a refreshingly cold cider or use it as an excuse to break out the Pimms.

    What to do: Once again hydration is key, so if the warm weather has seen you heading off to the pub more, drink plenty of water in between alcoholic drinks, and try to start as late as possible to avoid that mid-afternoon hangover.

    You’re doing more than usual

    People sit at the Peace Gardens in the City Center of Sheffield
    Even sitting around in the sunshine can ultimately prove tiring (Picture: Getty Images)

    With the better weather comes an increase in activity, as you swap the nights in front of the telly during the cold dark months of the year for all manner of outdoor activity, be it a spot of badminton in the park or an impromptu BBQ. All that extra rushing about is bound to take its toll.

    What to do: Not much, really – and given how much bleak grey drizzle we get in this country it’s only natural you want to make the most of the sun when it comes. Just make sure you’re looking after yourself through it all by eating and sleeping properly, and of course drinking enough water.

    You have low blood pressure

    Your blood pressure will naturally drop when it’s a bit on the hot side, meaning there is less blood reaching your brain, subsequently meaning it receives less oxygen – which will result in you feeling a bit washed out.

    What to do: There isn’t much you can do beyond the usual taking care of yourself, but keep an eye on things and see a doctor if you start getting headaches or nausea.

    MORE: How to work out in a heatwave – is it safe?


    Seasonal weather, Weymouth, Dorset, UK - 14 Jul 2019Seasonal weather, Weymouth, Dorset, UK - 14 Jul 2019

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    Illustration of cat-cow yoga pose
    The perfect after-work flow (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    This simple yoga workout is perfect to mobilise your spine after a long day slumped over a desk – and you can do it in your bedroom.

    Yoga is a brilliant way to build a healthier body and work towards a calmer mind. Taking a few minutes out of each day to unwind your muscles, stretch and think about your posture and breathing can do wonders for your energy, flexibility, strength and stress levels.

    And you don’t have to spend a fortune at fancy studios to become a yoga pro. It’s really simple to turn your bedroom or living room into a home yoga studio. All you need is a little bit of floor space and you can follow our expert tutorial.

    This week our yoga sequence is all about mobilising your spine and unlocking tight and sore back muscles. Becky Crepsley-Fox, instructor and studio coordinator at MoreYoga, walks us through her energising Mobilising flow.

    You can do it every morning or when you get home from work when your spine might be feeling the pressure of eight hours at a desk.

    ‘This sequence is great to do when you have been sitting at a desk all day,’ explains Becky.

    ‘Mobilising the spine is very important for overall body health and moving in this way can help to relieve any back or shoulder pain that has built up from sitting down.

    ‘You could even try this on your lunch break if there is suitable space where you work.’

    Start by interlacing the fingers behind your back and arch you back into a bend.

    Woman doing yoga pose on mat
    Extend your neck a you back bend (Picture: Metro grab)

    Exhale and fold forwards like a child’s pose – with your forehead towards the floor and your arms coming over your head. Inhale and return to the start position before repeating this move.

    Woman doing yoga pose on mat
    Reach your forehead toward the ground (Picture: Metro grab)

    Inhale and stretch back up to centre, then bring the right fingertips to the floor and stretch the left arm above the head. Exhale and lean up and over to the right.

    Woman doing yoga pose on mat
    Keep your shoulders relaxed, point your chest upwards (Picture: Metro grab)

    Hold this position and soften the shoulders, before exhaling and returning to centre and repeating the move stretching the other way.

    Woman doing yoga pose on mat
    Remember to keep breathing (Picture: Metro grab)

    Finally, return to centre and pull your right arm behind you – fingertips on the ground. Twist your spine and try to look behind you. Hold this position before returning to centre and repeating on the other side.

    Part of the appeal of yoga is its accessibility. You just need some open space and a mat, you can essentially do it anywhere.

    And with the growth of apps and online tutorials, more people than ever are opting to teach themselves the moves and practice yoga from the comfort of their living room.

    But it’s really important to do it safely – particularly if you’re unsupervised.

    How to practice yoga at home safely

    Always warm up

    Every yoga class starts with breathing, stretching and smaller postures that articulate the spine, create space in the body and stretch the fascia to prepare you for your practice.

    Start small

    There is no point jumping into inversions or some of the more ‘Instagram-able’ poses. Especially if you don’t have trained eyes keeping you safe.

    Nail the basics

    Some of the simplest postures are the most difficult to do, and the easiest to do incorrectly. It’s important to get the essentials correct before progressing to a more challenging practice.

    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


    Yoga poses for sexYoga poses for sex

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    Split image of pound coins on a green and purple background, along with the new wheelchair emoji
    While token gestures of inclusion and equality like a wheelchair user emoji is nice and all, that won’t make me feel like an equal member of society (Picture: Getty)

    Do you ever get the feeling you’re being ripped off?

    Paying over the odds is something every disabled person encounters. Time and time again, we are faced with eye-watering prices for ‘basic’ products and equipment that are labelled as ‘disability’ or ‘specialist’ but have a price tag that is often extortionate.

    On average, one in five disabled people incur extra costs of £583 per month, with almost 25 per cent looking at more than £1000 extra. This price tag is calculated after welfare payments designed to meet those costs have been taken into account.

    Society seems to be charging the disabled community for the right to be independent and participate fully.

    The attitude seems to be that we won’t spend billions to make the world a more accessible place to live, yet we will still charge you a premium and if you can’t afford it, well, tough luck.

    Bespoke wheelchairs start from £2,000 up to £20,000 and over for an electric chair. Add to that the maintenance; a new battery costs £600, while you have to shell out £15 for special cutlery and if you want some wheelchair gloves that’s another £20. Yet the same gloves, advertised as bike or riding gloves, are much cheaper.

    Planning a holiday?  Well, as someone with a disability you are deemed as ‘high risk, so insurance companies charge you more, sometimes exceeding the cost of your flight.

    Meanwhile, accessible hotel rooms are not very accessible at all, so you need to buy and transport your own hoist. Not to worry though, that will only set you back a couple of grand.

    Then there is the cost of travel.

    Forget using the underground – only 78 out of 270 tube stations have step-free access  – and even then you have to pray the lift isn’t out of service.

    If you aren’t battling buggies on buses for the wheelchair space or getting refused from Uber for having an assistance dog, you are left with the premium option of black cabs, which are all accessible, or your own accessible adapted vehicle, if you can find a wheelchair space to park it in, that is.

    ‘As a family we get hit by extra costs at every turn,’ Garry Ratcliffe, a father of four – three of whom are disabled, told the disability charity, Scope.

    ‘Everything we do takes longer and costs more. Phoebe, our daughter who doesn’t have a disability, has a new bike. It cost £90.

    ‘Curtis had a new bike recently.  It was £600. Why? Special needs!

    ‘It is interesting to see the premium often put on toys and games if the words “special needs” are added to the description.’ 

    Many are turning to makeshift solutions to avoid obscene prices, but at what cost? I fear that some DIY attempts may put many at risks of injury.

    ‘A floor stand for my daughter’s communication aid is £658,’ Cara Devaney, whose daughter Lyla uses an eye gaze communication device, tells me on Twitter.

    ‘We are making do with our own set-up of a table and stacked books to get it to the right height!’

    Ironically, consumer culture and mass production has lowered the cost of some products, Helen Dolphin MBE, a disability transport consultant, tells me.

    Helen uses an adapted car – 20 years ago she payed a small fortune for adaptations such as key ignition to be replaced by a button, removing hand breaks to make the car electric and to have an electric boot system.

    The question then remains, how are disabled people supposed to live independently, safely and reach their full potential if devices and adaptive products are unattainable and leave many of us with financial burdens?

    Now, you can buy all of these features as standard.

    My own home is controlled by voice-activated equipment such as Alexa, who can turn on my television and lights for me. Nevertheless, my more bespoke home alterations cost over £14,000, as 93 per cent of homes in England do not meet basic access standards.

    Before society tells me I’ve never had it better and points out that we now even have our very own set of disabled emojis – which signifies how far we’ve come to acknowledging the existence of disabled people – let me politely remind you of something.

    While token gestures of inclusion and equality like a wheelchair user emoji is nice and all, that won’t make me feel like an equal member of society when my wheelchair is broken and the new parts are so expensive that I’m rendered housebound.

    However, at least the disabled community had benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and a near-full and inclusive employment record to be able to cover these extra costs…oh, wait.

    The question then remains, how are disabled people supposed to live independently, safely and reach their full potential if devices and adaptive products are unattainable and leave many of us with financial burdens?

    It seems that decision-makers in Britain are more concerned about corporate costs, so how can we, the disabled community, fight back and say enough is enough?

    The Extra Costs Commission, an independent inquiry set up by Scope in 2014, has suggested that disabled consumers and their families be ‘bold and loud’ and put pressure on businesses to remind them of the importance of the purple pound – the combined spending power of the disabled community, which is estimated at around £200billion per year. And thus, make businesses aware of our needs as consumers.

    It was also suggested that disability organisations should work collaboratively with one another to drive down extra costs, exchange knowledge and resources, as well as help develop and promote initiatives to empower disabled people as consumers.

    The Commission identified that company boards should act as champions for disabled consumers, ensuring that the businesses they represent have a clear focus on serving disabled consumers effectively, in order to help drive down extra costs for this group.

    But should so much responsibility land on the disabled community?

    Surely our government and, more specifically, our elusive Minister of State for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, should be fighting our battle?

    The bottom line is that the most vulnerable members of society, and I say this with all respect, are being taken advantage of and pushed further into financial hardship.

    MORE: Too many disabled people won’t leave the house, scared they’ll be bullied

    MORE: Disabled people want to work but so much is stopping us


    Adding the word disability changes the price tagAdding the word disability changes the price tag

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    Forever 21 has come under fire for including Atkins snack bars in their packaging for online orders
    Forever 21 has come under fire for including Atkins snack bars in their packaging for online orders (Picture: Jam Press)

    Forever 21 is facing criticism for sending out Atkins snack bars with online clothes orders.

    People have taken to Twitter to share their outrage upon opening an online order to find an Atkins lemon bar included in the package.

    Atkins is a low carb diet and weight loss program, and so many have raised concerns that the language associated with the product range could be triggering for those with body image issues or eating disorders.

    Chloe, 21, said: ‘It was honestly really shocking when I opened my package and saw the bar. I thought someone had dropped their snack in by mistake!

    ‘I feel like mixing the ongoing push of diet products with your fashion purchases can be really dangerous.

    Forever 21 under fire for sending DIET bars to plus size customers
    Customers opened their online orders to find Atkins lemon bars (Picture: Jam Press)

    ‘Online shopping is tricky because you can’t try anything on first, so chances are something isn’t going to fit.

    ‘I feel like having an Atkins bar sitting next to your pile of reject clothes can trigger something very negative and even dark in people’s heads.’

    Chloe worries about the effect the free snack bars could have on younger customers.

    ‘I’m 21 now but I’ve been shopping at Forever 21 since I was 13, I know they have a very large age range of customers,’ she explains.

    ‘So it’s really troubling to think of a young person, excited to receive new clothes, immediately feel like their body is not small enough for the company’s standards.

    an atkins lemon bar in a forever 21 order
    The brand has been called ‘fatphobic’ (Picture: Jam Press)

    ‘I’m not sure what other message they think they would be conveying other than one of shame.

    ‘I’ve seen a lot of tweets about it being in peoples orders of plus sized items, all of my clothes ordered were in the small to medium range. It seems like everyone’s orders are targeted.

    ‘I also think it’s really suspicious that there is no mentions of Atkins on Forever 21’s website, and I was not able to find any word of a partnership online. It seems like someone at the company knows that this was a bad idea.’

    On Twitter, Forever 21 has been accused of being ‘fatphobic’ and ‘harmful’.

    Forever 21 hasn’t responded to criticism on social media, but a spokesperson for the brand said: ‘From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders.

    ‘The freebie items in question were included in all online orders, across all sizes and categories, for a limited time and have since been removed.

    ‘This was an oversight on our part and we sincerely apologise for any offence this may have caused to our customers, as this was not our intention in any way.’

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    Forever 21 under fire for sending DIET bars to plus size customers! An international clothing brand popular amongst young people are sending out Atkins diet bars out to their internet customers.?  People eagerly awaiting their purchases are unwrapping their new garments to find the diet bars included in their packages.?  Angry online-shoppers have taken to Twitter to share their outrage at the body shaming message this appears to send out to anyone receiving one of these weight loss snacks. It seems people of all ages and sizes are receiving diet bars with their orders. Gigi, a student from New York who bought clothing from the plus size section tweeted \"I have received my order of 5 items from the plus section.....oh and this atkins? bar that slipped in there. I don\'t take kindly to people telling me how to live my life.Forever 21 under fire for sending DIET bars to plus size customers! An international clothing brand popular amongst young people are sending out Atkins diet bars out to their internet customers.? People eagerly awaiting their purchases are unwrapping their new garments to find the diet bars included in their packages.? Angry online-shoppers have taken to Twitter to share their outrage at the body shaming message this appears to send out to anyone receiving one of these weight loss snacks. It seems people of all ages and sizes are receiving diet bars with their orders. Gigi, a student from New York who bought clothing from the plus size section tweeted \"I have received my order of 5 items from the plus section.....oh and this atkins? bar that slipped in there. I don\'t take kindly to people telling me how to live my life.

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