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

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    Spill It: How much a 25-year-old SEO drinks in a week Picture: Getty
    Rum, rum, and more rum (Picture: Getty)

    Most people would rather watch Game of Thrones sex scenes with their parents in the room than talk about how much they drink.

    There’s a fine line between social drinker and outright liability, and your public perception can quickly go from absolute legend to pitied problem child.

    The brave people of Spill It, however, join our series to stick a big two fingers up to the secretive culture around drinking. Whether they feel good or bad about it, they lay bare every sambuca and sauvignon, so people reading can feel less alone.

    This week, we spoke to 25-year-old SEO (it’s a Google thing) executive, Tara, who did her diary while on a fairly boozy holiday.

    Thursday

    I’m currently on holiday, which means the drinking habits you’re about to see (all inclusive) are wildly out of control. I promise I’m not normally a worrisome drinker.

    This morning we’re on a catamaran cruise, and I have a bottle of Banks beer by the dock before we head off. Once we’re on the boat I have a mimosa followed by two rum punches. I’m drinking lots of water and eating in-between so don’t feel tipsy.

    When we get back to the hotel I end up having three strawberry daiquiris by the beach before dinner. At dinner I have a rum punch that’s super strong, followed by a glass of wine. I can’t finish that, though, as I’m so full of delicious food.

    Units: 14.4 

    Friday

    Up at 5am for a breakfast party, where I watch the sun come up with a mimosa. Roughly five champagnes follow that – all before lunchtime.

    I get back for a nap before we go to dinner, and when I get up we go for a walk around a local food and drink market where I have something called a tamarind ball and a beer. While we eat I have a half pint.

    We’re taking part in a carnival tonight, which goes from 10.30pm to 8am. I would say I probably had around ten rums along the way. Ouch.

    Units: 27 

    Saturday

    I sleep for most of the day, but am aware I need a hair of the dog if I’m going to survive the night. I have three Banks’ over the course of the evening party we go to, but honestly I just want my bed at this point.

    Units: 4.5 

    Sunday

    Off for another morning party, which you can probably guess means more mimosas. These parties tend to be all inclusive so it feels rude not to. We decide to do two shots of vodka to perk us up, alongside around five glasses of champagne and orange.

    At lunch I refrain from booze, but at the party later that night I have six glasses of champagne. This all sounds a lot, but it’s so warm and you sweat so much, none of us seem to be getting drunk. There’s also a whole load of food going around to soak things up.

    Units: 18.5

    Monday

    It’s the final full day of our holiday, and we’re out and about for most of the day. I have another perk-me-up shot of coconut rum, but stick to beers for the rest of it. I have about five of those.

    Back at the hotel I have a strawberry daiquiri, a rum and lemonade, and a glass of wine with dinner.

    Units: 14.4 

    Tuesday

    The vibe is considerably sadder as we’re leaving today, but the barman gives us goodbye shots with rum and Bailey’s in them.

    Although the drinks are free on the plane, I’m at work as soon as I get home so I opt for softies instead.

    Units: 2.3

    Wednesday

    Back to reality today, and although I load up with coffees, I steer clear of anything alcoholic. It’s all about rehydration and recovery right now.

    Units: 0 

    Total units this week: 81.1

    Total units in a week recommended by the NHS: 14 units (for anybody regardless of gender).

    Spill It is a weekly series out every Friday. To get involved email jessica.lindsay@metro.co.uk.

    MORE: Tesco launches vegan battered Brussels sprouts for Christmas

    MORE: Classroom full of names including Trapper, Zerachiel and Brantley is being mocked


    Spill It: How much a 25-year-old SEO drinks in a weekSpill It: How much a 25-year-old SEO drinks in a week

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    metro illustrations
    Millennials are missing out on watching their loved ones walk down the aisle (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    It seems millennials – also known as Generation Rent – are having to turn down the weddings of loved ones because they simply cannot afford it.

    A new survey, conducted by popular renting website SpareRoom, has found that a third of renters say they can’t afford to attend their friends’ weddings.

    The worrying findings don’t stop there.

    A staggering 31% of millennial renters said they were falling into debt from attending the nuptials of friends.

    The study, which polled 1,000 renters, also revealed that 15% of millennials have had to move out of their homes because they spent too much money attending weddings and couldn’t keep up with their rent.

    Alongside this, one in ten stated they had been forced to sell possessions to meet the costs, while one in seven had to move back in with their parents.

    What’s more, 62% of millennials admitted to losing friendships because they had turned down wedding invites, due to money issues.

    The flat-sharing website found that the biggest wedding expense was ‘finding the perfect outfit’, followed by gifts and places to stay.

    Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom, said: ‘To hear that some renters have had to move out of their home and move back in with their parents as a result of spending too much money attending weddings is quite shocking.

    ‘If you decide you can’t afford to attend a friend’s wedding, meet up face to face and have a conversation with them about the reasons why – the likelihood is they’ll understand and you can move forward with your friendship, rather than lose it.’

    MORE: Brilliant tool calculates the chance of rain on your wedding day

    MORE: Woman does chores in her wedding dress to ‘get her money’s worth’

    MORE: You can now win a rooftop wedding for your dog


    ILLO REQUEST: The Last Six weeks, pre wedding run-up feature.ILLO REQUEST: The Last Six weeks, pre wedding run-up feature.

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    The cookie dough munchies
    These look amazing (Picture: Nestle/Getty)

    Just a few days ago, we announced that Poundland is now selling chocolate fudge brownie flavoured Munchies, which, according to customers, taste absolutely amazing.

    The new additions don’t stop there, as Nestle has also released a cooike dough flavour.

    These are the first two Munchies products launched since 1996, and we’ve got to give it to Nestle, they nailed the flavours.

    The cookie dough flavour can be found in Tesco, Booker and One Stop Stores for £1.50 a bag, while the chocolate fudge brownie versions are only available in Poundland as of right now.

    The cookie dough munchies
    You can find them in Tesco (Picture: Nestle)

    Both flavours have been created at Nestlé’s confectionery sites in York and Newcastle, and have been selected following research carried out by the brand, which found that chocolate fudge brownie and cookie dough were the two flavours most enjoyed by fans.

    Brand manager Cat Mews said: ‘We are thrilled to bring these tasty new flavours to our Munchies family.

    ‘Our teams in York and Fawdon have worked tirelessly over the last six months to bring these new flavours to our loyal Munchies fans.

    ‘It’s a real delight to see (and taste) the results of our hard work, reaction so far has been amazing and we can’t wait to see what’s next for Munchies.’

    MORE: Munchies launches chocolate fudge brownie flavour for just £1

    MORE: Attention, chocolate lovers: You can now get boxes of Galaxy Truffles


    Munchies Has Released A Brand-New Cookie Dough Flavour And We Know Where You Can Get Your Hands On A BagMunchies Has Released A Brand-New Cookie Dough Flavour And We Know Where You Can Get Your Hands On A Bag

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    A few years back I attended a wedding in which the groom, who was white, gave a speech ending with a racist impression of ‘an African person’.

    As the crowd burst into peals of delighted laughter, I sat there glaring at the person who’d taken me there as a plus-one, in an attempt to telepathically communicate the message: why have you brought me to this terrible place, to be among these terrible people?

    Naturally, I spent the next fortnight bitching about this to anyone who would listen. What I didn’t do was take to a Facebook wedding shaming group, largely because I wasn’t aware they existed.

    These days, an increasing number of people respond to terrible wedding experiences by venting online – and the shaming doesn’t stop there.

    A quick search of Facebook finds a bewildering array of shaming groups. There’s ‘that’s it, I’m wedding shaming,’ ‘that’s it, I’m nail-shaming,’ ‘that’s it, I’m mother-in-law-shaming’ (admin: Bernard Manning), and, my personal favourite, the extremely niche ‘Disney shaming and cringeposting’.

    What’s the appeal of these groups? And what does it say about society that so many people enjoy being mean online?

    some nails which were considered worthy of shaming (picture: Facebook)
    Some nails which were considered worthy of shaming (Picture: That’s it, I’m nail shaming/Facebook)

    The admins of ‘That’s it I’m wedding shaming’ and ‘That’s it I’m nail shaming’, AKA the two big dogs, both responded to my polite request for an interview by expelling me from their respective groups.

    This isn’t altogether surprising. Despite having tens of thousands of followers each, both groups operate with a degree of ruthless, cult-like secrecy.

    Any application to join has to be approved by the mods; you have to answer a series of questions in order to be admitted entry, and many of the groups have a strict ‘no screenshotting’ policy. There seems to be the idea that press attention might spoil the fun.

    Despite the reticence of the admins, I did find one regular contributor of ‘that’s it, I’m nail shaming’ who was willing to chat about her involvement.

    As well as being a member, Amber, 27, is a professional nail artist herself.

    So what’s the appeal?

    ‘Basically, it confirms that I’m the best nail artist and everyone else sucks,’ she jokes.

    ‘Nah,’ she continues, ‘for me, it’s more about shaming the work of people who are my competition, and might charge more than me. It makes me feel good that people would actively pay, say, £50 for sh*t nails.

    ‘There’s a difference between shaming someone who is actually awful with terrible technique or someone who’s just started out.’

    In this case, the shaming groups seem to function as a sort of intra-profession standards body. Maybe, in this context, ‘shaming’ is something approaching fair criticism.

    Some bridesmaids at a wedding wearing purple dresses (picture:: Dean Noroozi/ Facebook group 'That's It, I'm Wedding Shaming)
    A particularly mean-spirited post from ‘That’s It, I’m Wedding Shaming’ (Picture: That’s It, I’m Wedding Shaming/Facebook)

    The snappily titled ‘That’s it, I’m wedding shaming (non ban-happy edition) w/ better mods’ group was created after the founders became, in their own words, ‘disgusted’ by the content of the originals.

    ‘There was racism, classism, body-shaming,’ they tell Metro.co.uk, ‘and the mods would approve offensive posts about traditional wedding ceremonies from cultures different from their own, in an effort to “reverse shame” the original poster – even though this clearly upset many members.

    ‘We formed this group in protest – half-expecting it to fail in the first week or so – but then others joined us and brought their friends with them.’

    Although formed on the same basic principle, there are some differences between the groups.

    The moderators say: ‘We try to keep things far lighter and less vicious. We have a hard-and-fast rule of no people shaming whatsoever. You can shame things or actions but people are off limits. Ultimately though, people want to be entertained and enjoy a bit of juicy gossip and drama.’

    The moderators believe that the success of their group depends on the worthiness of the targets and the feel-good quality of the posts, rather than the pleasure of being cruel.

    ‘Everyone’s favourite stories seem to be the Cinderella-esque stories where love or common sense triumphs in the end,’ they say. ‘We’ve heard a few stories where LGBTQ people were shut out from their families, only to build a new and supportive one with the love of their life. We will shame the family that didn’t show up and celebrate their love story.’

    ‘Some posts are just cathartic, maybe it’s a vendor or best mate venting out pure exhaustion after being abused by an overly demanding bride or groom.’

    It might be a stretch to say that this form of shaming is positive – that would run contrary to the entire ethos – but it doesn’t feel so much like bullying. The founders seem entirely sincere in their intentions to build a less toxic online community.

    the cover photo for the Facebook group 'Disney shaming and cringeposting' (photo:Facebook)
    The cover photo for the Facebook group ‘Disney shaming and cringeposting’ (Picture: Facebook)

    Of all the shaming groups I looked at, ‘Disney shaming and cringeposting’ is the strangest by some distance. Despite having now spent literally hours of my life on there (for, uh, ‘research’), I still find the concept baffling.

    It’s not clear whether, for the most part, the members are people who hate Disney outright, or people who like Disney and are therefore embarrassed by the tackiness of their fellow fans.

    The group is notionally left-leaning: its rules ban any kind of discrimination and some members even embarked on an organised trolling of a rival group ‘I love Disney AND Support President Trump.’ But there is still a strong vein of bitchiness. The posts are mean-spirited, snide, and often, I’m ashamed to say, very funny.

    One mainstay is the mockery of weak attempts at ‘Disneybounding’ – a trend in which people pay tribute to their favourite Disney characters with subtle, supposedly fashionable outfits, rather than outright costumes. Many of these attempts just consist of, like, a yellow dress – which does not go down well in the group.

    The biggest question this group raises is simply: why do they care so much?  None of the admins responded to my request for comment, but I did manage to coax a member into being interviewed.

    Becky says: ‘I joined thinking it’d be a lot more lighthearted than it is. But there’s a nasty undertone I don’t like, and I was just thinking this morning that I’m going to leave it.’

    Why would she be surprised that a shaming group would have a ‘nasty undertone’? Isn’t that the whole point?

    ‘I’m in a few “shaming” groups, because I enjoy indulging in the petty side of myself,’ Becky explains. ‘But it’s usually for actually shameful things — bad makeup or whatever. And people shame it, but good-naturedly.’

    So how does the Disney one differ?

    Becky says: ‘It’s particularly nasty. They post pretty much anything Disney-related and sh*t on people who like it. It’s one thing to cringe over a badly-done full back tattoo of the Disney princesses… it’s another to post a mural in a child’s bedroom and just rip on someone for enjoying something.

    ‘But I do enjoy seeing badly executed tattoos, interior design, acrylic nails, fashion, whatever — it’s mildly entertaining to see it and think oof, what a disaster.’

    ‘There’s a very fine line between fair and honest criticism and cyber abuse,’ says Christopher Hand, a psychologist at Glasgow Caledonian University who researches, among other things, social networking and cyber-harassment.

    ‘A lot of these places are set up as spaces for people to share their personal experiences. But what seems to happen is that, as they grow in popularity, they may attract problematic internet users who are going to push an agenda based on body image or race or sexual identity.’

    Although these groups insist on anonymity, some of the efforts made to anonymise individuals are laughably insufficient (two tiny white circles over someone’s eyes, for instance), which often has real world consequences.

    ‘It often doesn’t take too much digging to identify who is being referred to,’ says Chris. ‘You can have all the rules you want but all it takes is one person to breach them. People have been undone for this type of thing before.’

    Obviously, not everyone who partakes in shaming groups is doing so in a malicious way, but it’s worth considering the motivations behind it.

    ‘It could be a form of catharsis where you’re really upset by something that’s happened,’ Chris says, ‘and you get this release by going online to vent about it.

    ‘It’s also about the idea of community – you’ve got liked-minded  people giving you validation for your opinion, people backing you up and agreeing with you. I don’t think you can underestimate that. It’s a way for people to form a network and make themselves feel better.’

    But there are healthier ways of achieving this.

    ‘I think people involved in shaming groups should really ask themselves why they are doing this in the first place and then think about alternatives that could give them the same outcome. If it’s to rant and vent and feel better, is there a more appropriate way to do that? Maybe face-to-face? I’m not sure if there’s any real psychological benefit to participating in these groups.’

    At heart, the popularity of online shaming seems to be rooted in the age-old desire to feel superior to other people. There’s also a sense of camaraderie, a bonding that comes through bitching, and the shared sense that, unlike that schmuck who wore shorts to his wedding, at least we have good taste.

    This may not be particularly admirable, but it’s hardly a new impulse.

    Anyway, if you need me, I’ll be guiltily laughing at a poorly-drawn Lion King mural on a child’s bedroom.

    MORE: Groom wears shorts that make him look like a ‘toddler’ on his wedding day

    MORE: Bride chose purple jumpsuits for her bridemaids – but people say they ‘look like vulvas’

    MORE: Bride’s ‘coffee-stained’ wedding dress doesn’t go down well


    PRC_78798029PRC_78798029

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    Comet after going to the vets
    Little Comet was trapped in the washing machine (Picture: Vets Now /SWNS.COM)

    A sleepy little kitten is lucky to be alive after his owner put her washing machine on without knowing that he was curled up asleep inside.

    Comet the kitten was stuck on a hot wash for several minutes after his owner Naomi Thompson got up in the middle of the night to put the washing machine on without noticing he was asleep in the drum.

    The five-month old nearly died after being tossed around in hot temperatures until Naomi heard his desperate mews.

    His quick thinking owners saved Comet from the drum and performed CPR.

    Comet the kitten
    Perry gave him CPR (Picture: Vets Now /SWNS.COM)

    Naomi, from Gillingham, only realised she had accidentally shut the door on the sleeping kitten when he started meowing loudly – from the middle of the spinning, water-filled machine.

    Despite managing to rip off the locked door with her bare hands, Naomi could not find Comet in the soapy laundry.

    Her husband Perry woke to the sound of Naomi’s screaming and rushed downstairs, fearing someone was trying to break into the house.

    Perry said: ‘She said Comet was in the washing machine but I couldn’t see anything.

    ‘I put my hand into the water and felt his tail in among the clothes right at the bottom of the big drum.

    ‘He wasn’t breathing and his eyes were wide open.

    Comet with a cone around his neck
    Luckily he’s doing okay now (Picture: Vets Now /SWNS.COM)

    ‘I honestly thought he was gone.’

    Comet twitched, and Perry put him on the kitchen floor and started doing CPR.

    He added: ‘It was the only thing I could think of to try to bring him back to life.

    ‘I was pumping his chest and breathing into his mouth and, thankfully, he came round.’

    Emergency vet Vets Now treated the young kitten.

    Vet nurse Victoria Camburn said: ‘Comet was in a pretty bad way when he came in.

    ‘He was disoriented and wheezing, so we put him straight into an oxygen tent and vet Nuria gave him fluid therapy.

    ‘We were concerned about pneumonia, but thankfully the ultrasound scan showed there was no fluid on the lungs or in his abdomen.

    ‘The other diagnostic tests we did, however, did show issues with his breathing and an electrolyte imbalance, which we treated.’

    The kitten is now back on the mend and recovering with a bandage on his injured leg.

    MORE: You can now get packets of cookie dough flavoured Munchies in Tesco

    MORE: A third of millennial renters can’t afford to go their friends’ weddings, study shows


    PRC_80433189PRC_80433189

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    **ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** X mistakes I've already made while planning my wedding - 500 words (Abby)
    Some parts of the UK are pricier than others when it comes to weddings (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Getting married is not only an emotional commitment, but a financial commitment too.

    In fact, research shows the average cost of a UK wedding will set a couple back around £31,974 – a 54% increase since 2014.

    However, a new study has revealed that tying the knot in certain areas of the UK are significantly cheaper than others.

    The survey, carried out by wedding website Hitched, showed that London, unsurprisingly, topped the list for the most expensive place to get married in the UK, with the average wedding coming in at an eye-watering £39,763.

    Northern Ireland followed close behind in second place at £33,162, and South East England ranked third at £33,116. Scotland and the North East also made it into the top six expensive areas.

    The survey, which quizzed 2,800 couples on their 2019 weddings, also revealed the cheapest place in the UK to get married – the South West of England, coming in at £27,958.

    The North West was the second cheapest, with an average price tag of £28,166. Wales and the East Midlands also made it onto the least expensive list, at £29,097 and £29,242 respectively.

    Hitched also delved into specific wedding costs. It found that 42% of couples felt ‘under pressure’ to have an Instagram-worthy wedding and one in three couples stretched their budget to achieve this.

    A third of the couples also felt that Brexit had made their wedding more expensive.

    The most expensive places to get married, according to the data:

    The most expensive places to get married, according to the data

    1. London – £39,763
    2. Northern Ireland – £33,162
    3. South East – £33,116
    4. Scotland – £33,466
    5. North East – £31,217
    6. West Midlands – £30,029

    The least expensive places to get married, according to the data:

    The least expensive places to get married, according to data:

    1. South West – £27,958.
    2. North West – £28,166
    3. East of England – £28,814
    4. Wales – £29,097
    5. East Midlands – £29,242
    6. Yorkshire and Humberside – £29,784

    MORE: A third of millennial renters can’t afford to go their friends’ weddings, study shows

    MORE: Brilliant tool calculates the chance of rain on your wedding day

    MORE: Woman does chores in her wedding dress to ‘get her money’s worth’


    **ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** X mistakes I've already made while planning my wedding - 500 words (Abby)**ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** X mistakes I've already made while planning my wedding - 500 words (Abby)

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    A selection of some of the best rums on the market
    A selection of some of the best rums on the market (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

    Rum, along with tequila, is the only spirit which actually tastes nice.

    Quite frankly, whiskey, vodka and gin are not fit to lace up rum’s boots. They don’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.

    Is this merely the subjective opinion of one Metro.co.uk writer? Nope – it’s simple fact.

    And to prove it, because it’s National Rum day, here are some of the most delicious rums available to buy in the UK.

    Angostura Single Barrel Reserva

    A bottle of angostura rum (Picture: Collect)
    A bottle of Angostura rum (Picture:Collect)

    Made by the same Trinidadian and Tobagan company which produces Angosturra bitters, this is one of the oldest and most prestigious rums on the market.

    Aged in individual oak barrels, it has a mellow taste with hints of dried fruit.

    It would be an ideal drink for lounging on a deck chair in a ‘city beach’ in a British city, trying to ignore the fact that you’re basically just sitting on a patch of sand outside Boot’s, and it’s starting to drizzle.

     

    Sea Wolf White Rum

    A bottle of Sea Wolf (Picture: thewhiskyexchange.com)
    A bottle of Sea Wolf, featuring an illustration by Scottish artist  (Picture:thewhiskyexchange.com)

    When we think of rum, the azure skies and golden sands of the Caribbean are usually what spring to mind.

    We probably don’t think about rainy, wind-swept Scotland – but that’s exactly where Sea Wolf is distilled. Launched in 2016, the brand has already established itself as one of the most covetable boutique rums made in the UK.

    As co-founder Mike Aikman says: ‘Unlike gin, which we feel is reaching saturation point in the market, British rum is about to have its time in the spotlight.’

    Its name is derived from a Native American term for killer whales, which is reflected in the elegant bottle design.

     

    Mount Gay

    A bottle of Mount Gay Rum (Picture: Collect)
    A bottle of Mount Gay Rum (Picture:Collect)

    Another Caribbean classic, Mount Gay is the oldest rum distillery in the world, having been around for a staggering 316 years. That’s older than the USA.

    Ironically, the rum, along with the area in which it was brewed, was originally owned by a guy called John Sober. Presumably John Piss-head was taken.

    The rum has a rich, complex flavor with hints of vanilla, apricot and banana. It’s a pretty traditional choice, but, no ‘best rums’ list would be complete without it.

     

    Dead Man’s Fingers – Hemp Rum

    A bottle of Dead Man's Fingers hemp-flavoured rum (picture: masterofmalt.com)
    A bottle of Dead Man’s Fingers hemp-flavoured rum (picture:masterofmalt.com)

    From the traditional to the unconventional. Based in St Ives, Cornwall (which, if not Caribbean, at least has a pirate-y vibe), Dead Man’s Fingers make a point of using unusual flavours, such as Cornish saffron cake and coffee.

    They have recently released a rum made with hemp and CBD.

    This won’t get you stoned (although CBD is said to have relaxing properties) but, with grassy, herbal notes, it does taste delicious. And it will get you drunk.

    Rather than being a pirate reference, ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’ actually refers to the gills inside of a crab. Mouth-watering stuff.

     

    Pirate’s Grog – Five Year Aged Rum

    A bottle of Hackney-based rum, Pirate's Grog (Picture: Collect)
    A bottle of Pirate’s Grog (Picture:Collect)

    Distilled in trendy Tottenham Hale (it’s the new Peckam, dontcha know) Pirate’s Grog is the brain child of two British travelers, inspired by their time spent in Roatán – an island off Honduras.

    Aged for five years in oak cask, Pirate’s Grog Five Year offers a fresh twist on traditional Caribbean rum, with notes of vanilla, butterscotch and raisin.

    As well as this, they distill a range of other boutique rums, including their recently released ‘Spiced’, and ‘Black Ei8ht Coffee Rum’.

    The Salford Rum Company

    The Salford Rum Company's special edition Gay Pride bottle (picture: salfordrum.com)
    The Salford Rum Company’s special edition Gay Pride bottle (picture:salfordrum.com)

    At first glance, Salford seems like an unlikely place in which to distill rum. It’s a city better suited to listening to Joy Division in the rain than sipping mojitos out of a coconut.

    But, actually, it kind of makes sense: the Salford Rum Company celebrates the city’s history as the third largest port in the UK, where many Caribbean rums and spices landed.

    The rum itself has notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, while the distinctive bottle illustration is drawn by Mancunian artist Dave Draws. This year, they released a limited edition gay pride rum.

    MORE: Spill It: How much a 25-year-old SEO executive drinks in a week

    MORE: How to ditch alcohol and keep your friends

    MORE: From weddings to Disney, why do people enjoy ‘shaming’ groups on Facebook?


    national rum day: best rumsnational rum day: best rums

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    Global citizen posters hanging in the Tate Moder
    ‘We need a new ideology which embraces our different backgrounds and is tolerant and respectful.’ (Picture: Carolyne Hill)

    ‘Where are you from?’ is a question that any person of colour living in the UK will hear over and over again.

    Often it is asked innocently enough – sparked by simple curiosity. But it can also be an incredibly loaded question.

    The implication of being asked where you’re from as a non-white person in the UK, is that you can’t possibly be from here. It asks people of colour to explain and justify their existence, their presence in this country – and it can be exhausting.

    A new poster series, exhibited at the Tate, aims to shed light on the complexity of this question and ask visitors to think deeper about their own heritage.

    Carolyne Hill is the creator of the series and is excited about the message it sends about global understanding.

    ‘I am from Brixton, London. I have English and Jamaican roots, I’ve travelled to many places and would like to know that I have the right to remain free in that respect.

    ‘I see myself as a Global Citizen.

    Carolyne Hill sits on a sofa in front of her posters
    ‘Often I feel that people cannot place me in the regular order of things because of the way I look.’ (Picture: Carolyne Hill)

    ‘With this installation I wanted to pose the question to the public – where are you from? It has been interesting to see the responses, the question means different things to different people who can make their own version of my posters and add it to the display.’

    Carolyne’s work has been heavily influenced by the current political climate and the struggles of British people of colour that she sees in her community.

    ‘Our identities are being questioned and an idea of fear is being implanted by politicians, with leaders pushing for separation and extremism rather than a positive future goal of unity and togetherness,’ she explains.

    ‘The hostile environment that came with the Windrush scandal, the throwaway racist comments and slogans from our current leader and the “go back home” message from Trump need to be challenged.

    ‘We need a new ideology which embraces our different backgrounds and is tolerant and respectful. We are all different, from different places with different skin colours and languages. And we are all human.

    ‘I feel it is important to celebrate our differences because in fact, we are all different and thus the same.’

    The exhausting reality of being constantly asked to explain herself is something that Carolyne feels is directly related to the fact that she is mixed-race.

    ‘”Where do you come from?” is nearly always the first question people ask me after what is your name. Is this the same for everyone? or is it just an expected question when you are of mixed heritage?

    ‘Often I feel that people cannot place me in the regular order of things because of the way I look, my complexion, hair type or the way I speak.

    ‘It feels like a loaded question because when I answer, I’m from Brixton, London, nearly always the answer is, “yeah but where are you really from?” which usually means they want to know my actual heritage.

    ‘I then explain that my mother is from Jamaica and my father is English.

    ‘Society constantly wants us to put each other in tick boxes, to categorise each other so we can be defined as one or the other, but increasingly this is a problem because that choice of who we are is a personal one, and not necessarily so easily defined.

    Global citizen poster
    ‘I know my background is both black and white, I know who I am and am proud of my heritage.’ (Picture: Carolyne Hill)

    ‘Some people even try to tell us – people who are mixed-race – what we should and shouldn’t be defining ourselves as.

    ‘I know my background is both black and white, I know who I am and am proud of my heritage. Being a Londoner speaks to me probably the loudest as that is where I was born, that is where I went to school, where I live, work and experience life.’

    Carolyne dreams of a golden, harmonious future – and she believes it is within our grasp if we all decide to work towards it.

    ‘It might sound all a bit dreamy, but I really do believe that if our leaders so decided, they could push for unity, tolerance and respect for each other and our environment, instead of putting up borders.

    ‘Why not be more open and appreciative of the help people need, the help they can give and contribution they have and will make to society?

    ‘Generations have worked hard to break down barriers and we can still, we do not need to be fooled by the racist and negative climate that is breeding again.

    ‘I wouldn’t want to dictate to anyone what they should or shouldn’t believe, just to question, learn and to look all around you. We have a choice for the future as we are all global citizens.’

    Visitors to the exhibition are invited to share where they are from or leave a statement about a being a global citizen.

    You can add your design to the wall to celebrate the different and vast array of places, countries and thoughts that make up our global citizenship. The exhibition is on display until Sunday 18th August.

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I never met my dad – my blackness became a sign of my otherness’

    MORE: Billboards aim to change stereotype that Afro hair is ‘unprofessional’

    MORE: What are the most effective forms of cardio? (Running isn’t on the list)


    Global-citizen-Posters-carolynehill-86a4Global-citizen-Posters-carolynehill-86a4

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    Love, Or Something Like It

    In Love, Or Something Like It, our new Metro.co.uk series, we’re on a quest to find true love.

    Covering everything from mating, dating and procreating to lust and loss, we’ll be looking at what love is and how to find it in the present day.

    As a young woman who’s grown up in a generation where love and relationships are so romanticised, I feel like my adult years have been centred around finding ‘the one’.

    Feel good rom-coms and Disney films fed me flawed ideas, like that no matter what happens, I’ll find my prince, or I’ll somehow stumble on the perfect guy who will fall head over heels for me.

    What nobody prepared me for was what happens when are trying to navigate love when you don’t fit within the Disney-fied romantic ideal.

    As a Christian, I decided in my teens that celibacy until marriage was the right thing for me.

    I was a sensitive girl who had the ability to crumble in ‘situation-ships’. I knew that whenever I chose to have sex it needed to be with someone who was 100 per cent committed to me.

    I never thought that being a virgin would be a deal-breaker for having a relationship.

    Dannielle Sadiq sitting on a zebra crossing at night
    At times, being what seems like the only virgin around is a hard pill to swallow (Picture: Dannielle Sadiq)

    Through a plethora of social media apps and blind dates, I’ve met lots of interesting men and almost every time, the topic of sex has come up.

    Whether it’s a guy who initially seems nice but then randomly messages saying: ‘Let’s not beat around the bush, I wanna have sex tonight, are you up?’ or the guy who unmatched me after asking if I was up for sex even though we had only been talking for three days, sex dominates the conversation.

    I was seeing one man for a few months and while he appeared to be quite sexual, we got on really well so I continued to see him.

    I eventually told him that I was celibate and before our next date, he asked if we would ever have sex. I told him (again) that I was waiting.

    After that, his behaviour and tone changed and when I challenged him, he said ‘I didn’t expect that you were really not willing to have sex.’

    It can feel like I’m setting myself up, knowing that once I put the celibacy card on the table, the date won’t materialize to anything else.

    We went round in circles as he asked me ‘How far I was willing to go.’ When I said I was completely standing with my celibacy, he stopped texting and calling.

    Another male acquaintance told me, ‘I wouldn’t really want to be with a virgin. They get mad clingy.’ I really wish I’d had the courage to call him out but I think I was too embarrassed to say anything.

    At times, being what seems like the only virgin around is a hard pill to swallow. When I think back to all the unfair assumptions I’ve heard about virgins, it feels like I’m being objectified for what I choose to do with my body.

    Dating has left me drained – I want to be honest about the fact I am waiting but it can feel like I’m setting myself up, knowing that once I put the celibacy card on the table, the date won’t materialize to anything else.

    It often feels like we live in a society that is fixated on having sex and unrealistic ideas of love dominate our lives.

    When talking to other friends, I’ve realised that they’ve often judged a potential life partner by their sexual experiences with them. It’s easy to see being with inexperienced women as a disadvantage and I think the discussions men have between themselves about their sexual experiences don’t always paint women in a good light.

    Dannielle Sadiq wearing a stripey headband and blue shirt
    By being celibate, I’m able to see who’s willing to put the work in (Picture: Dannielle Sadiq)

    Without sex clouding my mind, I have time, space and energy to devote to understanding who, and what, I am really waiting for.

    It’s so easy to think you’re in love when you’re having sex straight away, especially when you’re having really amazing sex with someone. Once you’re in the mindset of ‘this is the best I’ve ever had’ it’s only a matter of time until you start believing the person you’re having it with is your ‘true love’.

    I hope that my true love will be willing to wait. By being celibate, I’m able to see who’s willing to put the work in and who’s ready to vacate as soon as they don’t get what they want.

    It’s taught me that there’s more to a person than their physicality and I believe that people’s best qualities can go by unnoticed when sex becomes the main objective.

    True love, when it comes to me, will feel comfortable and safe, and be something that continues to blossom into something beautiful over time.

    I only want to have sex with someone I am truly in love with, which means someone who can see beyond the flaws I think I have, who encourages me to fulfil my full potential and supports me whatever life throws my way.

    Until then, I am allowed to honour my celibacy without feeling guilt or pressure. I may not know what the future holds for me but, I do know that the most important relationship I have is with myself.

    The right person will add to an already completed version of me.

    Last week in Love, Or Something Like It: What heartbreak taught me about love

    Write for Love, Or Something Like It

    Love, Or Something Like It is a brand new series for Metro.co.uk, published every Saturday. If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

    MORE: Dating as a recovering alcoholic presents a whole new set of challenges

    MORE: Online dating can be fun as a widow

    MORE: Dating in the countryside takes an acquired sense of humour


    Illo request for Ella - Love Or Something Like It Dannielle Sadiq: Dating as a virgin (copy)Illo request for Ella - Love Or Something Like It Dannielle Sadiq: Dating as a virgin (copy)

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    The best budget fitness trackers that won't break the bank
    Fancy fitness kit at a price you can probably handle. (Pictures: Amazon/Getty)

    A wearable fitness device could be just the thing you need to keep your health goals on track.

    No longer just for your rich, healthy mates with fancy gym memberships, the growth of the fitness tracker market means there are more affordable options than ever before.

    But beware – some of them are pretty rubbish. Because you get what you pay for right?

    This week we have already found the best fitness trackers for kids, now we’ve done the hard work for you and figured out which budget devices are actually worth your time.

    Huawei Honor Band 4 Fitness Tracker, £21.97

    Huawei fitness tracker
    We like the look of this one. (Picture: Huawei)

    This ridiculously cheap device is waterproof, monitors your heart rate and step count, and it looks pretty decent too.

    The sleek design puts it up there with the best on the market, so only you need to know you paid a third of the price.

    Garmin Vivofit 4 Activity Tracker, £59.79

    Garmin fitness tracker
    Get those steps in. (Picture: Garmin)

    Garmin is a well established brand in the wearable tech market, and this watch has loads of great features.

    As well as the usual metrics, the Vivofit 4 also monitors your sleep and will set you personalised daily step goals.

    Xiaomi Amazfit Bip A1608, £59

    Xiaomi fitness tracker
    Stay connected with this device. (Picture: Xiaomi)

    The Amazfit Bip has 30 days of battery life on a single charge, a reflective color touch display and GPS.

    You can also use it to answer texts, emails and app notifications.

    Moov Now Multi-Sport Fitness Tracker, £53.40

    Moov fitness tracker
    The next best thing to a personal trainer. (Picture: Moov)

    The best thing about the Moov is that it has a real-time audio coach built in – so it’s like you’ll have your very own personal trainer in your ear every time you workout.

    It also tracks all of your physical activity and has a replaceable six-month battery, so there’s no need to recharge it.

    Samsung Galaxy Fit E, £27.88

    Samsung fitness tracker
    Simple and easy to use. (Picture: Samsung)

    A decent price for a well-known brand, the Galaxy Fit E integrates seamlessly with an app on your phone so you can keep track of steps, sleep and heart rate.

    Users also say that it’s really easy to set up. Bonus.

    Huawei Band 3 Pro Gold, £55.99

    Huawei fitness tracker
    We love the visuals on the app. (Picture: Huawei)

    Another Huawei option, the Band 3 was two weeks of battery life, and inbuilt GPS and is water resistant up to 50 meters.

    The app that works with the device automatically generates graphs and graphics for an accessible way to track your progress.

    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


    The best budget fitness trackers that won't break the bankThe best budget fitness trackers that won't break the bank

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    Strong Women is a weekly series that champions diversity in the world of sport and fitness.

    A recent Sport England study found that 40% of women were avoiding physical activity due to a fear of judgement.

    We hope that my normalising diverse images of women who are fit, strong and love their bodies, we will empower all women to shed their self-consciousness when it comes to getting active.

    Each week we talk to women who are redefining what it means to be strong and achieving incredible things.

    Sylvia Mac almost died when she fell into boiling water when she was three years old. The accident left her with severe burn damage and scars all over her body. She was forced to stay in hospital for years.

    Swimming has been Sylvia’s lifeline for years. The water is her escape and being active has taught her to love and appreciate her body again.

    A black and white portrait of Sylvia, topless and smiling
    ‘Strong women are survivors of life.’ (Picture: Sylvia Mac)

    Tell us what happened after your accident

    I spent many years in hospital having hundreds of surgical procedures and operations.

    People often don’t believe it when I say hundreds, but the hospital staff had to rebuild the hole in my back, which meant years and years of skin grafts, z plastic procedures, skin releases.

    The hospital kept my skin on ice so that I didn’t have to continue having skin grafts. They literally took skin from my buttocks, tops of feet, arms and legs so I was left looking like a mummy, wrapped in bandages from my neck to my feet.

    I wasn’t supposed to survive being so young, but luckily I did, just. I had my last rites read to me twice.

    How did the accident impact your life growing up?

    In my teens, I realised that I was different to my friends. They were all beautiful young ladies and I had these horrible scars under my clothes which made me feel ugly and different.

    When I look back at my photos, I can see just how model-like I looked and in fact I was scouted by a model agent. The agency asked me if I had any marks on my body and you can imagine what happened next. I was ushered out of there quickly and told I could never walk on a runway.

    Sylvia hugging a man after a swim challenge
    ‘I had these horrible scars under my clothes which made me feel ugly and different.’ (Picture: Sylvia Mac)

    Well I’ve walked on about four runways since then and modelled many times.

    Relationships were extremely difficult from a young age and I was terrified of boys. All the boys seem to make a beeline for me and found me extremely attractive with my long golden hair, olive skin, slender figure and hazel eyes. All I saw was ‘ugly’.

    I used to compare myself to John Merrick – the elephant man – because I felt the same. He had a great big heart on the inside but was deemed ugly on the outside. I watched his movie several times and cried every time. It was difficult feeling like I was the only person with scars.

    As I grew older and met someone, I told them about me and they accepted me and my scars.

    Now, I embrace myself as a person. My scars are an added unique element, showing strength and survival.

    How has swimming helped you?

    Swimming has been my lifesaver! In fact water has been my lifesaver. I can’t believe that I was burned in water and yet it also helped to rescue me.

    I remember being bullied on the poolside, but in the water I was at my happiest.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B0A1wGiFlvu/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

    I was a competitive swimmer for many years and trained mornings and evenings. The weekends were for land training and competition. I trained to be a swimming teacher and coach for the local swim club. I loved working with children and worked throughout the day in a special needs school then evenings at the club.

    I love feeling fit but also healthy so that I don’t fall back into that world of giving up and spending my life not being able to do anything.

    This is one of the reasons why I love swimming so much. Even though working out in a gym is tough for me, swimming is much easier as I can sweat in the pool. I don’t have any sweat glands in my back so I sweat profusely out of my head.

    I’ve always been physically fit from the age of nine, until my son was born 15 years ago. I couldn’t walk and had to have an occupational therapist come daily to assist me with walking.

    It was a real knockback but my Burn scars had taken its toll on my body. I had always had pain, but muscle spasms, sciatica, nerve damage and higher risk of blood clots were affecting my body as I aged.

    What are you most proud of?

    I think my biggest achievement is receiving a signed letter from Theresa May, along with a certificate ‘Point of Light Award’. I looked at the envelope for a whole week – at the words ’10 Downing Street’.

    My biggest swimming achievement was attempting and finishing the Bosphorus Outdoor Swim from Asia to Europe.

    Sylvia and two man hold up a certificate after a swim challenge
    ‘I was doing this for all those people who had suffered years of self body hating, severe depression, low self-esteem.’ (Picture: Sylvia Mac)

    On the 21st July I swam from Asia to Europe alongside the wonderful talented physical sports expert Professor Greg Whyte OBE. I approached Greg several times asking for his support on a swim challenge until and he agreed to help me out.

    It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done with regards to swimming. I remember thinking about ‘finding nemo’ while I was out there as you’re alone in your thoughts.

    I swam with jellyfish, currents and had people swimming over me. It wasn’t so much about the time but more about the accomplishment.

    I was doing this for all those people who had suffered years of self body hating, severe depression, low self-esteem and of course my wonderful mum, sisters and family.

    When I climbed out I broke down in tears and just couldn’t control my emotions. I was told afterwards that I finished in one hour and 28 mins. I couldn’t believe the finishing time as I kept stopping wanting to give up but Greg really motivated me all the way to the finish.

    The term ‘strong woman’ to me means someone who goes through daily trials. These could be medical conditions, singlehandedly raising a family, supporting others, taking on challenges or dealing with their own mental health. Strong women are survivors of life.

    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

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘I was paralysed and pregnant – powerlifting gave me confidence to live again’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘My heart attack could have finished me – but now I’m back bodybuilding at 62’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘The pain was all-consuming – but tennis re-balanced my life’


    Strong WomenStrong Women

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    People at bar ordering drinks
    This country is obsessed with getting pissed (Picture: Getty)

    I never really enjoy drinking.

    These five words feel confessional and laden with guilt, on par with: ‘Sorry, I don’t really love you’. But it’s true. I don’t love you, booze, and I don’t think I ever have.

    Even at university when drinking seemed as essential as breathing – I was faking it. You were an unwanted boyfriend that I reluctantly dated.

    As a child, I remember watching wine connoisseur, Oz Clarke, swirl his wine glass as if he was waltzing a lover. He would talk of fruity bouquets of cherries and woody undertones, and at the age of 12, I would imagine skipping in this forbidden forest of adulthood, gaily picking cherries and wildflowers and drinking the sweet nectar that was prohibited until I reached the golden age of 18.

    How bemused was I when the day came and all I could taste was rotten socks.

    You would think the pressure to drink would be limited to my youthful years, but it’s not. I have never felt peer pressure to drink as much as in my adult years.

    By the time we’ve become adults, drinking is so ingrained in our culture that it’s just a hardened fact that we drink.

    Where drinking at university was part of the fun of transitioning from youth to adult, drinking as an adult is almost a much-needed antidote to the perils of adulthood.

    The stresses of working lives and stresses of parenthood have us all reaching for the bottle. Adulthood just adds more excuses for drinking. And as we’re adults we assume we can drink sensibly, so why not drink?

    This country is obsessed with getting pissed and there is a reluctance to accept or at least understand that some of us just don’t care about drinking.

    At parties, in particular, people need a reason for why I don’t drink, as my truth, ‘I don’t like the taste’, seems incomprehensible. They assume, rather condescendingly, that it’s because I’m a good little Indian girl – I’m not.

    Perhaps they think it’s because my father’s an alcoholic and is capable of drinking a bottle of whisky a night? It’s not, I just don’t like the taste.

    Or maybe I’m on a special diet? I’m not – I loathe diets.

    Others believe it’s because I’m Indian and therefore religious, which is also not the reason.

    I remember being invited to an acquaintance’s house for supper. Her children were staying at their gran’s.

    She was downing all her drinks in parental rebellion, celebrating her freedom. ‘You don’t wanna drink?!’ She said with a look of annoyance. ‘You must be one of those good girls’.

    I wanted to list all the illicit drugs I had experimented with in my past: ‘have you tried this! Have you tried?!’ I stopped myself from entering a childish one-upmanship (usually associated with drinking).

    I hate it when someone assumes things about me based on me refusing a drink. Social gatherings leave me feeling as if I am a party pooper for not joining in. Adulthood has never felt so childish.

    NHS statistics state the proportion of men and women drinking at increased or higher risk of harm decreased between 2011 and 2017 (from 34 per cent to 28 per cent of men, and from 18 per cent to 14 per cent of women).

    Despite this, there is something boorish and judgemental about our attitude to not drinking in British culture. Those who decline a drink risk the fear of being labelled as odd or plain boring.

    We have a tradition of public houses, think of Hogarth’s paintings, Dickensian gin palaces and the 1960’s film, ‘Saturday night and Sunday Morning.’ Early pub closing times limited the hours you could get drunk – so we downed our drinks.

    When we hit milestones we honour it with drink; turning 18, turning twenty-one, our first job, when we have babies we ‘wet the baby’s head’. We raise our glasses to every occasion.

    Even though stats show drinking heavily is declining and there’s a whole generation of young people abstaining from drink – my generation of those in their 40s are still drinking.

    We started drinking when alcopops such as Hooch were directly marketed at us. We were having Flaming Sambucas and Tequila Slammers.

    Alcohol UK states that alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among people aged 15 to 49 in the UK. It’s also the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages.

    Yet there only seems to be one prevailing narrative when it comes to drinking – and that is to drink.

    Even with the availability of alcohol-free wine and beer, people feel the need to add some remark on my choice of beverage: ‘Oh, not drinking?’

    When it comes to other food or drink habits, diversity is celebrated: vegan and gluten-free foods, soy milk instead of regular milk, a vape instead of a cigarette.

    However, as a nation, we still do not seem ready to accept a shift in our choice not to drink.

    My tastebuds never agree with a bottle’s poetic description of its supposedly enticing content. I’ve been to splendid chateaus in France on wine tastings, expensive fizz has tickled my nose and I’ve had my vision gloriously bathed in delusion by beer goggles.

    I don’t really like to drink. And I wish people could just accept that just as I accept those who feel they cannot have a night out that doesn’t involve drink.

    After all, we’re all adults. I’d rather indulge in our country’s other drinking habit – tea. And I bet I can drink you under the table.

    MORE: How it feels to be lonely in your 20s

    MORE: My Odd Job: I taste 250 cups of coffee a day


    riotous drinking party in public barriotous drinking party in public bar

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    QUIZ: Do you know your cocktails?
    Do you know your margs from your mojitos? (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

    How well do you know your cocktails?

    Can you tell your margarita from your mojito? If you ordered a caipirinha and you noticed the bartender faffing about with some lemons, would you be confident enough to say he was making your drink all wrong?

    It’s the weekend, you’re on the internet, and it’s highly likely you’re looking for a fun way to kill time.

    So let’s turn this moment into the most fun thing there is: a test!

    Can you figure out the name of a cocktail based purely on sight, with no menu, list of ingredients, or the ability to try a sip?

    This isn’t a particularly useful skill as far as we know, but these quiz results could provide some much needed bragging fodder for when you head to the pub tonight.

    So, do you know your cocktails? Let’s find out.

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    MORE: The heatwave cocktail guide: London bartenders advise what to drink

    MORE: Yorkshire Day quiz: How many of these Yorkshire phrases do you know?

    MORE: QUIZ: Just how well do you know dogs?


    QUIZ: Do you know your cocktails?QUIZ: Do you know your cocktails?

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    Parents moved their family-of-nine almost 3,000 miles away from home to protect their albino toddlers from the sun.

    Ally and Ryan McNallen decided to move their seven children from the desert to the mountains for the sake of their identical twin sons Aldridge and Argon, who are 18 months old.

    The white-haired, fair-skinned twins were diagnosed with albinism in the summer of 2018, a condition in which their skin, hair and eyes lack melanin pigment.

    The condition means the twins have vision abnormalities and their light skin is very susceptible to damage from the sun.

    Mum-of-seven Ally, 31, and husband Ryan, 35, were worried about the childhood their youngest kids would have in Gilbert, Arizona, USA, where exposure to sunlight is high.

    The twins in the bath together
    The twins in the bath together (Picture: theblackandwhiteblog.com / SWNS)

    The parents made the decision to relocate 2,900 miles away to Presque Isle, Maine, USA, a moderate UV zone, with their seven children in tow.

    Ally said: ‘When we found out the twins had albinism we wanted them to have a good childhood that wasn’t limited.

    ‘In Arizona, the UV index is so high.

    ‘My husband and I work from home so moving jobs wasn’t an issue and we just thought Maine would be a nicer life for our kids with special needs.

    ‘It’s been a big difference. The winter here is brutal.

    ‘Right now it’s summer so I just try to protect the boys in SPF clothing, hats and sunglasses when they’re outside. And I limit their outside time to 45 minutes.

    ‘In Maine I don’t have to worry about them as much as I would have to do in Arizona.’

    Maliah, eleven, Addison, seven, Nolan, six, Emmeline, four, and Benton, two, Alridge and Argon. See SWNS story SWNYsun; A set of parents moved their family-of-nine almost 3000 miles to protect their albino toddlers from the sun???s damaging UV rays. Ally and Ryan McNallen decided to move their seven children from the desert to the mountains to help give their identical twin sons Aldridge and Argon, 18 months, a better quality of life. The white-haired, fair-skinned twins were diagnosed with albinism in summer 2018, a condition in which their skin, hair and eyes lack melanin pigment.
    Maliah, eleven, Addison, seven, Nolan, six, Emmeline, four, and Benton, two, Alridge and Argon (Picture: theblackandwhiteblog.com / SWNS)

    The twins were diagnosed with albinism when they were seven months old after they began suffering from nystagmus, a condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements.

    When an optometrist noticed the lack of pigment in their eyes during an exam, the twins underwent genetic testing which confirmed a diagnosis of oculocutaneous albinism type 1B.

    This means that the twins, born at 32 weeks, have a reduced level of melanin pigment in their eyes, skin and hair, rather than a complete absence.

    Many people who live with albinism experience vision impairment, but mum Ally says they won’t be able to fully assess Aldridge and Argon until they can communicate better.

    Ally said: ‘At 18 months they don’t have too many issues except with their eyes.

    ‘People with albinism often have blurry vision as they have an underdeveloped retina.

    ‘Pigment plays a big part in how our eyes handle light and people with Albinism don’t have that.

    ‘We won’t know the level of visual impairment that the twins have until they get a little older, but they still have nystagmus and their heads move in certain ways to try and see the clearest they can.’

    The babies together
    Aren’t they cute? (Picture: theblackandwhiteblog.com / SWNS)

    As Aldridge and Argon were born at 32 weeks, the twins attend regular physical and occupational therapy to help them catch up on their milestones.

    Although the twins are identical, Ally said Argon and Aldridge are very different when it comes to their personalities.

    ‘Aldridge just loves his brother and wants to cuddle with him all the time whereas Argon wants to play by himself,’ she said.

    ‘Right now they’re making sounds and they love playing with blocks. They’re starting to walk and navigate their vision.’

    Ally and Ryan, who are also parents to Maliah, eleven, Addison, seven, Nolan, six, Emmeline, four, and Benton, two, said educating themselves about albinism has been a family journey.

    Ally said: ‘We were open and transparent with our kids about the twins’ condition.

    ‘Our oldest is eleven and she went online and began to educate herself about albinism.

    ‘She was great at explaining it and breaking it down to our other kids.

    ‘Sometimes people tell me the twins have such beautiful eyes, that they are angelic and unique.

    The twins together
    The family moved 3,000 miles away (Picture: theblackandwhiteblog.com / SWNS)

    ‘A few weeks ago a little girl asked what was wrong with them. That was a great opportunity for my daughter to educate someone else about albinism.

    ‘I don’t find the questions upsetting. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness. It’s not something you see very often so it is natural to be curious.’

    Ally said moving to Maine was the best decision for her family and hopes her twins will thrive in the mountainous state.

    Ally said: ‘I think about the twins and their future a lot and I just hope when they start school and grow that they will get all the support they need.

    ‘They are so beautiful and I want to do the best for them, which is why my husband and I chose to move our family here to Maine.

    ‘And so far, it’s going great.’

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    Illustration of a black woman looking sad/upset with a grey background
    Antidepressants can steal away your sex drive (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    For some people, antidepressants work wonders.

    The pills allow them to manage their mental health problems, but this positive change can come with negative side effects, such as a declined sex drive.

    Changing the dosage or swapping to a different type of medication can help (though there are no guarantees) but the interim can be very difficult.

    We asked people to share their own experiences of taking antidepressants and how it affected their sex life. Here’s what they said.

    Lisa*, 24, has been on antidepressants for three months

    I used to have the highest sex drive, to the point where my ex called me a Duracell bunny.

    I was always ready and felt lucky that I found it quite easy to orgasm.

    However, I started taking antidepressants a few months ago and now I only get randy like twice a month.

    It’s very weird, like I’ve gone from being ‘on’ all the time, to a flickering bulb.

    The first time I tried to orgasm after taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), it just didn’t happen.

    I recently managed to finish for the first time since I started taking them and I was so excited I called my friend with benefits, just to tell him. I am very relieved that my sexual agency is starting to come to me again (pun intended) but I’m also very upset and a bit stressed out about it because I’ve always been a sexual person.

    At one point I considered changing or stopping the antidepressants just to get the ability to orgasm back, but then realised I was a bit manic and that was a stupid idea.

    Pedro*, 30, has been on antidepressants on and off for 16 years

    I have been on Fluoxetine on and off for 16 years and Diazepam and Zopiclone sleeping tablets for three years.

    It seems to be Fluoxetine that interferes most with my sex life.

    My sex drive is non-existent and reaching orgasm is impossible. My wife and I have been trying for a baby for three years and having suffered a number of miscarriages, that is part of the reason for being on a higher dose of medication.

    Naturally, being unable to reach orgasm leads to overthinking, which is the least sexy mindset ever – the constant thought of ‘okay, this must be so annoying for my wife’ makes it even harder to ‘get there’ so in the end I give up.

    As such, it’s a bit of a vicious circle, as then the thoughts of being a failure both in sexual performance and having a baby create more depression – which means coming off the medication seems an unlikely future prospect.

    Sammy Rei, 28, has been on antidepressants for two years

    Although I think it’s important that people be aware of the side effects of antidepressants, I’ve personally had a positive experience.

    I’ve always had a very active libido and have been taking an antidepressant (SSRI) for about two years.

    I haven’t noticed any change in my sex drive or orgasmic response, though my improved mood has probably influenced my sex life in a good way. I have more energy for self-exploration and am a better partner to my spouse.

    Although I am concerned and watchful about long-term side effects of the drugs I’m using, to me, the benefits currently outweigh the risks.

    I plan to keep the dose as low as I can, while keeping an eye out for any changes in my sex drive.

    Theresa*, 35, has been on antidepressants for three months

    I have a hormone issue that exacerbates my emotions, and take Cipralex and benzodiapines to manage this.

    Differentiating between hormone and psychological symptoms can be difficult, but I have definitely noticed a decline in my sex drive.

    I’ve been in a relationship for four years and while I wouldn’t say I had a very high sex drive in the past, it was definitely a lot higher than it is now.

    My urge to have sex has gone from a weekly to a monthly need.

    It’s frustrating and you have to decide which is the best of two bad situations.

    However, while they have impacted my sex life, the antidepressants have affected my work the most.

    I actually resigned from my job, but my employer asked me to stay and offered to be more flexible – with the option of unpaid leave, a home office or reduced hours to help me.

    Kelly, 24, was taking antidepressants but stopped

    So I started taking Citalopram at first – it gave me migraines and nausea beyond just the first week and about three weeks later I switched over to Fluoxetine.

    They both ruined my sex drive, I felt ill and all I wanted to do was sleep all the time because I was depressed.

    I’d get home from work and totally ignore my partner and just get into bed. We went from sleeping together at least once a day, to once a week, to nothing at all.

    The antidepressants didn’t work for me. They made me cold and emotionless and gave my thoughts of suicide.

    I suppose with all that as it was only making me worse, it made me unable to be intimate. I felt like a piece of trash. Ill and unwanted.

    The antidepressants totally numbed me. The silver lining is that I emotionally checked out of that relationship, after six long years of mental abuse I was finally able to leave him.

    Shortly after I ditched the antidepressants, scared for my well-being, and my drive soon returned – I was still down but had a renewed strength kicking my ex and the meds to the curb.

    Please note that everyone reacts differently to various types of medication. If you’re considering antidepressants, it’s best to speak to your GP or other medical professional about your options and what could work best for you.

    Why do antidepressants affect some people's sex drive?

    ‘It is very common for antidepressants to cause decreased sexual desire, loss of sexual excitement, and diminished or delayed orgasm/ejaculation,’ Doctor Clare Morrison, GP & medical advisor at Medexpress, tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘This is because they work by increasing the level of a “feel-good” chemical called serotonin.

    ‘Unfortunately, this reduces the effect of another neurotransmitter called dopamine. We need dopamine to become sexually aroused.

    ‘If affected, it’s worth being patient, as the problem may rectify itself when the body adapts to the new circumstances. Alternatively, in consultation with your doctor, you could consider lowering the dose of antidepressant, or switching to another type. Psychosexual counselling may help. For men, taking Viagra, or similar, may be beneficial.

    ‘You could also try increasing the level of dopamine naturally by taking exercise, getting plenty of rest, and lowering your stress levels.’

    MORE: Antidepressants were supposed to help me but they ended up making me impotent

    MORE: Thank you, antidepressants, for helping me keep my sh*t together

    MORE: How antidepressants changed my life


    what is cognitive fog-cognitive fatigue and how can you deal with it-78ebwhat is cognitive fog-cognitive fatigue and how can you deal with it-78eb

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    Illustration of two people lying in bed together
    Studies show women are getting a lot less sleep than men (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Losing out on sleep is enough to put anyone in a bad mood – but women seem to be missing out on a lot more.

    This is a phenomenon referred to as the ‘gender sleep gap’.

    One British survey found the average woman estimates that she loses around three hours sleep a night because of her partner. This amounts to 1,095 hours of sleep lost a year, or, more alarmingly, 45 days a year.

    Out of the 2,000 people who took part in the survey, one in two British women admitted to feeling ‘constantly sleep deprived’.

    Here’s everything to know about an issue that’s affecting thousands of women every day.

    What is causing the gender sleep gap?

    Almost a quarter of women in the study (22%) said their partner’s snoring was to blame for their lack of sleep.

    But noisy noses aren’t the only things keeping them women at night – a number of other factors come into play when it comes to the UK’s current sleep-loss epidemic.

    Parenting was another reason women felt they were missing out on sleep, as they would frequently have to get up to settle restless children while their partners slept.

    Another study, conducted by The Times, proposed an alternative culprit. It found that work stress was a leading cause of sleepless nights for women, with half (46%) of those aged 18-24 citing it as the biggest factor affecting their sleep.

    Biological differences cannot be ignored either. Hormonal changes can cause sleep problems – be they period pains or the hot flushes and sweats associated with the menopause.

    illustrations of woman sat on the edge of a bed
    A lack of sleep is linked to anxiety and depression (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Why do we need to address it?

    Getting enough sleep is crucial for both our physical and mental wellbeing. Sleeping helps restore and repair our bodies, particularly our immune systems.

    It’s recommended that adults get a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night – ideally 7-9 hours. Those who fail to do this could face major health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

    A lack of sleep can also increase the risk of breast cancer and dementia — both leading causes of death for women.

    Natalia Bojanic, a mindfulness expert, said: ‘Sleeping is an invaluable activity for human beings. This is easily demonstrated in the absence of sleep, at which point mental health issues surface, emotional irritability increases, and the immune system significantly underperforms.’

    Mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are also linked to a lack of sleep. This impact on emotional wellbeing is something that can also be seen in the British survey, with 21% of women saying that a lack of sleep effected their self esteem, some even claiming it made them feel ‘ugly’.

    What are the solutions to solve the gender sleep gap?

    There are a number of simple solutions to ensure both men and women get the kip they deserve.

    Depending on how much your partner is affecting your sleep, a sleep divorce – or at least a trial – could be something to consider.

    ‘If your partner is restless in the night, perhaps they snore or breathe heavily, and as a result keep you awake or disturb you throughout the night, it can be a good idea to sleep apart from your partner in order to catch up on some much needed sleep,’ says mind coach Anna Williamson.

    If restless kids, however, are interrupting your slumber, then sharing out the night time shifts seems the fairest way to ensure both parties get (roughly) the same amount of sleep.

    But all in all, it seems more research needs to be carried out on the everyday worries and work-related anxieties keeping women up at night – as well as treatments to combat them.

    ‘Women are not studied as much as men when it comes to sleep,’ Katherine Sharkey, a professor of psychiatry and human behaviour, told The Times.

    ‘There’s an attempt to address it, but definitely we’re behind.’

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    Two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, survivors and North Kensington residents say they’re still waiting for adequate mental health support.

    The Central North West London (CNWL) NHS trust has been providing a Grenfell specific mental health support service in the aftermath of the tragedy but after a local campaigner for the victims of the fire killed herself and other Grenfell survivors say they have slipped through the net, community members are questioning how their recovery ought to be handled.

    Amanda Beckles, 51, a campaigner who launched the Grenfell Community Monitoring Group to scrutinise Kensington and Chelsea Council’s Grenfell recovery program, was found dead in her bedroom after police were called to her flat on 13 December last year. She lived near Grenfell Tower, on St. Ann’s Road, and left a note saying that the disaster had wrecked her life.

    Amanda previously had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was re-diagnosed after the fire. She had worked as a community consultant and found herself unable to work after witnessing the tragedy. A delayed response to a benefits application also caused her to struggle financially.

    It was said at an inquest that her financial issues combined with what she had witnessed on the night of the fire pushed her to take her own life.

    Nabil Chouchair, 44, who lost six family members in the tragedy, has also struggled since the fire but his faith as a practising Muslim has stopped him acting on thoughts of suicide.

    ‘The thoughts often cross my mind but I don’t do it firstly because of my religion,’ Nabil tells Metro.co.uk, ‘then because of my duty to my remaining family and to fight to get justice for those that we lost in the fire.’

    Every night in my dreams, I die

    Dr. Wilcox, who led the inquest, expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the NHS based mental health support services for Grenfell and questioned what learning had come out of Amanda’s case.

    She said: ‘I don’t want deckchairs moved around on the Titanic. It is intensely sad, the Grenfell fire has decimated a community and hit the most vulnerable hardest.’

    Friends of Amanda feel that her death resulted from the failure of mental health professionals to effectively risk assess her condition. She had received 90 therapy sessions post Grenfell and disclosed suicidal thoughts to her therapist.

    The police were called a few days after she missed one of her therapy sessions and her body was found with a note saying, ‘the Grenfell Tower fire has affected me badly, seventeen months on I still suffer from acute anxiety. I really don’t know why it has affected me so badly but it isn’t a life worth living.’

    Claire Simmons, 46, who lives just a stone’s throw away from Grenfell, witnessed the disaster.

    ‘Amanda could have been me or anyone I know from this community,’ says Claire. ‘We have all been profoundly affected and I understand that this is not the first suicide amongst the Grenfell affected community. The much-loved local activist, writer and film maker Tim Burke also took his own life last August.’

    Joe Delaney, 39, whose home was in the estate where the charred remains of Grenfell still stands, was evacuated after the fire. He now finds it difficult to even look at the Tower: ‘I saw people falling or jumping from the upper floors. It was brutal.’

    joe delaney, who survived the grenfell tower fire
    Joe Delaney, 39, whose home was in the estate where the charred remains of Grenfell still stands (Picture: Danielle Aumord)

    One survivor says that although he was with an early psychosis mental health team, they closed his case.

    Paul Menacer, 25, who escaped from a sixth floor flat that he shared with his uncle, still suffers from PTSD.

    ‘A friend called me just after 1am and urged me to get out. My Uncle was in Algeria at time,’ he tells us. ‘To be honest if he had have been here, I don’t think that either of us would have survived because he was disabled.’

    He says that he wasn’t able to keep all his therapy appointments because of the trauma he was suffering and that when his Uncle passed away last December he didn’t receive any support from NHS mental health support services for five and a half months: ‘I had good days and bad days but there was no safety net.’

    As Paul reflects on the nights’ events, he looks visibly shaken. He tells us: ‘I went down from my flat and knocked on doors on the lower floors but often I think: why didn’t I go up into the Tower to higher floors to try to get more people out?’

    Paul Menacer
    Paul Menacer, 25, who escaped from a sixth floor flat that he shared with his uncle, still suffers from PTSD (Picture: Danielle Aumord)

    Mahad Egal, 32, who escaped the fire, says that there has been a rise in poor mental health in the local community overall since the fire, not just with direct survivors.

    Figures from the NHS affirm this. The numbers of mental health admissions in Kensington and Chelsea have consistently risen since the tragedy – 360 were admitted in 2016/17, 354 in 2017/18 and 391 in 2018/19.

    Mahad, who lived on the fourth floor with his partner and two children, explains that he’s still suffering flashbacks and nightmares. ‘Every night in my dreams, I die,’ she says. ‘I’ve expressed how I’m feeling to my therapist. I’m finding these sessions somewhat helpful because I can say things that I don’t normally get to say elsewhere.’

    NHS England have allocated £50m of extra funding to provide additional physical and mental health services needed by those affected by the fire for another five years.

    A spokesperson says that this is intended to cover ‘physical health checks; drug and alcohol dependency; ongoing screening and treatment for mental health trauma. Additionally separately funded well being services are commissioned by the local authority too.’

    However Nour-eddine Aboudihaj, the founder of Grenfell Trust, a charitable organisation that supports survivors and bereaved family members is now demanding a ‘complete review’ of the mental health support services provided by CNWL since the fire.

    Nour-eddine says: ‘We have had feedback from many people who have been failed and didn’t get the support they needed. It’s been the worst crisis management of vulnerable people, both survivors and bereaved have felt that the mental health support they received has made their case worse rather than better.’

    A spokesperson for CNWL said that they can’t comment on individual cases but that ‘one suicide is one too many’. They are now taking advice from Professor Louis Appleby, the chair of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide, how best to reduce the risk of the further suicides post Grenfell. ‘We would also be delighted to meet with Grenfell Trust, to hear their concerns and their ideas,’ they said.

    Survivors and residents tell Metro.co.uk that they want a less formalised approach to their recovery and for the £50m NHS England budget to be spent in a way that facilitates this.

    Paul explains that he’s now having massage therapy at the Curve Community Centre near Grenfell to aid his wellbeing: ‘We need this centre to stay open, to continue to help survivors. Also I’d like to see more sports activities for the community where people from all parts of the community can come and participate – for stress relief and to engage with people who feel the same way as them.’

    Residents have made also the suggestion of setting up a 24-hour well being café where locals and survivors can drop in whenever they need someone to talk to.

    ‘It’s difficult to keep appointments when you’re suffering from trauma,’ explains Claire. ‘My message to CHWL is to please listen to the residents of North Kensington, please give us the support we need.’

    Grenfell estate resident Jacqui Haynes, 53, agrees and says that service providers need to understand that a one size approach doesn’t fit all.

    ‘The reaction to this unprecedented disaster calls for unprecedented service structure and delivery of mental health support,’ says Jacqui. ‘Service providers need to step out of their comfortable boxes and design a service with the community in order for it to work here.’

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    Little boy planting seeds with adult in a garden
    Learn about why plants and pollination is so important (Picture: Getty)

    In order to look after the environment, we need to first understand how nature works.

    The Natural History Museum aims to do just that with the launch of a biodiversity-themed family festival that launches today (17 August) and will run for just over two weeks, until the 1 September.

    Organisers at the museum have teamed up with Pukka Herbs, the organic tea company, to host a range of activities for parents and kids and to educate the next generation on the importance of plants and pollination.

    They can learn about plant pressing, take a dip in the Wildlife Garden pond or visit one of several pop-up science stations hosted by the museum’s scientist experts.

    There will also be opportunities to plant seeds, write a ‘pledge to the planet’ or take part in interactive craft workshops to find out how and why it’s so important to save the world’s bees.

    Once they’re done learning, families can watch performances by the Bee Boys dance group, Flutterbys and Queen Bee, as well as hang out in the relaxation lounge with a cuppa from Herbie – the upcycled Pukka tea caravan.

    We are very excited to work with Pukka Herbs on our ‘Nature’s Champions’ family festival,’ said Alex Burch, head of exhibitions, learning and outreach at the Natural History Museum.

    ‘Our work at the museum includes vital research around biodiversity and the importance of pollinators such as bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

    ‘We hope that the festival helps to inspire a love of the natural world and encourages visitors of all ages to find out more about the wildlife on their doorstep and the steps we can take to help it thrive.’

    The festival, dubbed ‘Nature’s Champions’, will be open every day from 10am to 5pm and is located on the museum’s east lawn.

    Some activities will also be held in the Wildlife Garden on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11am to 4pm.

    And the best part? It’s completely free.

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    MORE: Classroom full of names including Trapper, Zerachiel and Brantley is being mocked

     

     


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    Undated handout photo issued by Virgin Galactic of the Gaia lounge at Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico, which is "operationally functional". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday August 15, 2019. The company, owned by billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson, announced the transfer of all its spaceflight operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico on Thursday. See PA story AIR VirginGalactic. Photo credit should read: Virgin Galactic/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    The Gaia lounge at Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico (Picture: PA/Virgin Galactic)

    Anyone who’s taken a Virgin train recently might be tempted to wonder if, instead of arsing around in space, it might be a better use of Richard Branson’s time to sort out that weird smell the carriages all have.

    At the very least, he could get rid of that annoying anthropomorphised toilet that talks to you about your ‘hopes and dreams’ while you’re trying to take a p*ss.

    But, like it or not, Virgin Galactic is very much going ahead. The enterprise has just unveiled its Gateway to Space, in New Mexico, the point from which its future commercial space flights will depart.

    Designed by British architecture firm Foster + Partners (of the Gherkin fame), the building comprises two storeys.

    Undated handout photo issued by Virgin Galactic of the company's new commercial spaceport, which is "operationally functional". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday August 15, 2019. The company, owned by billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson, announced the transfer of all its spaceflight operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico on Thursday. See PA story AIR VirginGalactic. Photo credit should read: Virgin Galactic/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    The spaceport is now ‘operationally functional’ (Picture: PA/Virgin Galactic)

    The first floor is called Gaia, who is the Greek god which represents Earth and also the name which all psytrance raves legally have to go by. It contains the departure lounge.

    It has to be said, it doesn’t look particularly space-agey. With warm colours, Scandinavian furniture, and plenty of natural light, it has the slightly anodyne vibe of a first-class lounge in an airport.

    Undated handout photo issued by Virgin Galactic of the Gaia lounge at Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico, which is "operationally functional". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday August 15, 2019. The company, owned by billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson, announced the transfer of all its spaceflight operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico on Thursday. See PA story AIR VirginGalactic. Photo credit should read: Virgin Galactic/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    The design is quite Scandi, no? (Picture: PA/Virgin Galactic)

    Which is essentially what it is: tickets are estimated to cost £200,000 so it’s hard to imagine Virgin Galactic will be doing budget flights any time soon.

    The second floor is called Cirra (which is Latin for ‘a lock of hair’ and also a type of cloud…struggling to see the symbolism here) and contains the mission control centre.

    The design is airy and white-heavy, so much so that design director Jeremy Brown compared the experience of ascending from one floor the other to ‘rising through the clouds and flying.’

    Undated handout photo issued by Virgin Galactic of the Gaia lounge at Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico, which is "operationally functional". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday August 15, 2019. The company, owned by billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson, announced the transfer of all its spaceflight operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico on Thursday. See PA story AIR VirginGalactic. Photo credit should read: Virgin Galactic/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    We don’t see the port offering budget flights any time soon (Picture: PA/Virgin Galactic)

    According to CEO George Whitesides, this launch is intended to signify that the project is ‘operationally functional’. But when will it actually be ready?

    Well, if you’re able splash out £200k, then you may be able to jet into space as soon as 2020.

    But Branson has made some wild promises before about when it will be ready, so maybe take that with a pinch of salt. Also, the experience only guarantees two minutes of weightlessness, so maybe not worth it, tbh.

    MORE: Space tourism a step closer after successful flight for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic

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    MORE: Take a look at Richard Branson’s new space rocket (that’s not a euphemism)


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    Smiling through the post-wuk sweat at crop over in barbados
    Smiling through the post-wuk sweat (Picture: Megan Roberts)

    If you’ve never heard of Crop Over before, you’ve definitely seen it. It’s the festival that occurs annually on the island, publicised each August with multiple pictures of Rihanna wearing the best outfits you’ve ever seen.

    Although Crop Over isn’t to be confused with a carnival, the costumes, dancing, and music are fairly similar. Whereas carnival in Trinidad, for example, happens right before Lent as one big blowout before fasting begins, Crop Over is a celebration of the sugar cane season being over for Bajans.

    Rum – and sugar production in general – have always been at the heart of Barbados’ economy, and the two-month long festival culminates on the first Monday of August each year, a time when the harvest would officially have been done and dusted.

    Bacchanal is a word you’ll hear a whole load of if you attend. It comes from the Greek god, Bacchus, who was the god of revelry, wine, and general abundance of all things good. Essentially, if Crop Over was a person.

    It’d be impossible to condense the whole Barbados experience down to one piece, but if you’re planning on visiting Crop Over, here are some things you should know based on my 2019 trip.

    All inclusive fetes

    Fetes do not discriminate against time of day. These can happen all night long, during the day, and sometimes before the sun comes up.

    Each has a different vibe, but the thing that makes them all the same is that, for the price of your ticket, you’re treated to all the drinks and food you could wish to consume.

    For the early birds, Mimosa Breakfast Fete gets going at around 4am. Soca legends like Lil Rick took the stage while we ate our eggs and downed some actual mimosas to wake us up. By the time most people had had their morning shower, we were well past tipsy, wukking up as the sun rose (and with it, our sweat beads).

    If you’re after something a bit more chill you can head to Island Mas, which is situated in the historic George Washington building. It’s not as busy, for those who don’t like big crowds, but the jovial, festival atmosphere is certainly out in force.

    Wukking up at Mimosa Fete
    Bajans bring their A-game for fetes (Picture: Megan Roberts)

    If evening parties are more your thing, though, the Bliss All Inclusive Fete is the one you want. It’s set in the country’s botanical gardens, which is absolutely huge. The food court alone could fill a few football pitches, and you can get yourself everything from curry goat to steamed dumplings with slaw, while drinking and dancing to Soca.

    Soca is an integral part of loving Crop Over, and songs like Savannah Grass, Sometime, and Famalay will be the soundtrack to your time in Barbados, along with the tracks of Red Plastic Bag, Kes, and Farmer Nappy.

    Bring this positive energy (and wear your best get-up), and you’re guaranteed to enjoy yourself.

    The beauty of night partying, is that it’s much less sweaty (Picture: Megan Roberts)

    Get cultural

    As well as all that partying, you’d be mad not to spend some time getting to know the island and soaking up the rich culture of Barbados.

    Embarking on a whistlestop tour of the country – which you can do by car in around an hour – was certainly sobering among all that rum. Of course partying is at the forefront of this time of year for Bajans, but the whole story behind how it came to be is as fascinating as it is saddening.

    A country built on slavery, most Bajans you’ll speak to will say that they don’t hold grudges about it. However, you’ll never look at a palm tree the same once you know that they were planted to help slaves get back to their plantations. Or feel the same when you see hotels called The Colony Club frequented by wealthy, white tourists while you’ve just looked at lists of people who spent their lives in servitude.

    Tour Guide Dawn Lisa in Barbados
    Our amazing tour guide, Dawn Lisa (Picture: Jessica Lindsay)

    As our tour guide Dawn Lisa says, though, it’s not about wallowing in it, but learning from what happened in Barbados, and understanding how it makes it such as diverse culture to this day.

    You can head to any number of bakeries on the island and pick up sausage rolls (or meat rolls, as they’re called here) that are distinctly British, or end up chatting to red-headed Bajans with a twinge of Irish in their accent from their ancestors.

    St. Nicholas Abbey is a perfect spot to learn all about this history, and you can take the train there up to Cherry Tree Hill and get the most fantastic views of the East Coast. There are rum tastings during the tour, and don’t forget to ask them about Benedict Cumberbatch (whose descendants lived here). You will learn some things, let me tell you.

    Cherry Tree Hill Barbados
    The view from Cherry Tree Hill is unmatched (Picture: Jessica Lindsay)

    Cruising and snorkelling

    Aside from your packed party schedule, you’d be mad to miss the incredible natural beauty of Barbados.

    We went on the Tiami lunchtime catamaran cruise, and were able to snorkel in the shallow, clear waters, even spotting some turtles among all manner of fish. On top of that, we were provided with drinks, food, and plenty of music to accompany the bucket-list scenes we were experiencing.

    Cool Runnings is another popular option, but have a look online first to see which cruise is right for you. Alternatively, you can grab yourself a snorkel and jump into the sea and have at it. There are no private beaches allowed in Barbados, so the coastline is all yours (be safe, of course).

    Barbados Catamaran Cruise
    Pro tip: Don’t put your sunglasses on on these, as they will fall into the sea (Picture: Jessica Lindsay)

    Foreday Morning

    If you didn’t learn about wukking up before, you’ll need to do so for this. We had lessons like the shy Brits they clearly knew we were, but for the uninitiated it’s a type of high-energy dance that involves a whole load of waist movement. Jumping is also another term you’d be best to get acquainted with; it doesn’t refer to the act of pushing yourself off a surface, but instead parading through the streets with a band.

    We jumped with the Jambalasse Foreday Morning Band, who provided us with T-shirts to customise, and plenty of paint at the meeting point so we could get ourselves covered in it.

    By the time we were on the road, we were shaking our hips no bother, with the whole thing going from around 10.30pm to 8.30am the next morning. Word of warning, only wear clothes you don’t mind getting covered in paint, go for comfy shoes, and get ready for the night of your life.

    Foreday Morning with Jambalasse
    This was the before picture – we were absolutely covered in paint by the after photo (Picture: Yousif Nur)

    Kadooment Day

    The final day of Crop Over is Kadooment, and this is when you’ll see the most beautiful costumes and the most prominent people jumping around Bridgetown.

    Watching Rihanna in all her finery was a major highlight for many of us, but the infectious happiness of the whole day is impossible not to catch.

    Jump on Kadooment Day at your own peril, as you’ve likely been partying for days on end at this point, and you’ll be out in the blazing sun all day. If you do brave it, take sun cream and hat and have water between drinks to avoid a rum-induced bout of sunstroke.

    Crop Over outfits 2019
    The attention to detail in these costumes will blow you away (Picture: Megan Roberts)

    What to eat

    The phrase eating’s cheating does not compute here, with food in abundance everywhere you go, and delicious, hot morsels available even from the likes of the local petrol station.

    Those after something filling and hearty should head to Ocean 2 for their Friday breadfruit roast, or for a special dinner to Primo in St Lawrence Gap. The gumbo and fish goujons, in particular, are unreal.

    A lunchtime spot with food that matches breathtaking views is The Crane, and the same goes for Champers, who’ll serve you the juiciest prawns you’ve ever had.

    It’s not all about gourmet meals though, and you can just as easily pick up Trini Doubles (chickpea filled roti wraps) and fish cakes at vendors on the street. Super-sweet street vendor snowcones compete with Barbados’ fast food giant Chefette for your treat money.

    Where to stay

    Worthing Beach, Barbados
    Our garden for the week, complete with ocean (Picture: Dasha Horova)

    We stayed at the new Worthing Beach hotel, The Sands, for our trip, which is set on the buzzy South Coast. This would be ideal for those looking for a personal touch, with staff that go above and beyond to make you feel at home. You’re also right next to the party strip of St Lawrence Gap, and less than 15 minutes’ drive to Bridgetown, so you can head out in the evenings and lay on the white beaches by day. Prices for The Sands start from £1299, based on two sharing, for seven nights all inclusive.

    As a country that relies on tourism for income, however, you really are spoilt for choice. For a traditional (and perhaps less authentic, but we’re not judging) feel, Sandals have an all-new luxury retreat here. For the true bougie squad, there’s also Sandy Lane, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious resorts in the world.

    The Sands, Worthing
    The pool at The Sands (Picture: Yuriy Horovvy)

    Flights go from all over the UK, with Virgin Atlantic offering a year-round direct daily service from London Gatwick, twice-weekly service from Manchester and a once-weekly service from London Heathrow during the winter. They start from around £500.

    In the words of Lil Rick, ‘Crop Over’s a blessing, not a curse’, and it’s something that has to be seen to be believed.

    Metro.co.uk were invited to Crop Over festival by Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, who provided complimentary travel and accommodation at The Sands, Worthing Beach. 

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