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

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    A photo of a child raising their hand in a classroom as children prepare to back to school and parents want to know when the next school holiday after summer is
    Pupils are preparing to return to school following the summer break. Picture: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury

    Just as the nights are slowly drawing in, so the end of the longest holiday of the year in the school calendar is shifting into sight.

    Few schools have returned yet but pupils and parents are preparing for a new academic year beginning within the next month or so – and, in many cases, looking ahead with anticipation or trepidation to the next break.

    When does the new term begin, when are the next holidays to look forward to and what are the key dates to bear in mind this academic year and beyond?

    Here are the dates for your diary.

    When do schools go back for autumn term?

    Although some pupils will consider themselves unlucky to return in mid-August, most schools are starting again at the beginning of September.

    The new autumn term typically runs between Monday, September 2, 2019 and Friday, December 20, 2019.

    These dates will vary between schools, so it is wise to check your school’s website to confirm.

    Sunny days in the playground - but when do kids go back to school and when is the next school holiday after summer?
    The shadow of the new school term looms large over the end of the summer holidays. Picture: Dan Kenyon

    When is autumn half term?

    The summer holidays will seem a distant memory by the time of half term in mid-October.

    Most schools break up again between Monday, October 21 and Friday, October 25, 2019, with term resuming from Monday, October 28, 2019.

    As with all of these dates, parents are advised to check the exact periods with individual schools.

    When are the school Christmas holidays 2019?

    Autumn term lasts almost two months, generally finishing on Friday, December 20, 2019.

    Even if parents are feeling less enthusiastic, kids have the excitement of an extended break over the festive period to look forward to.

    They then tend to go back to the drawing boards (and classrooms) on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

    Desks in a classroom - when do kids go back to school and when is the next school holiday after summer?
    Swot up on your school term dates for the year as the classrooms await the summer break return. Picture: Klaus Vedfelt

    School holiday dates 2020

    At most schools, spring term runs from Friday, January 3, 2020 until Friday, February 14. Future term times and holiday dates typically look like this:

    • February half term 2020: Monday, February 17 2020 – Friday, February 21 2020
    • Spring term: Monday, February 24 2020 – Friday, April 3 2020
    • Easter holidays: Monday, April 6 2020 – Friday, April 17 2020
    • Summer term: Monday, April 20 2020 – Friday, May 22 2020
    • May half term: Monday, May 25 2020 – Friday, May 29 2020
    • Summer term: Monday, June 1 2020 – Friday, July 17 2020
    • Summer holidays 2020: Monday, July 20 – Tuesday, September 1 2020

    How to check the term and holiday dates for your school

    Most schools publish term times and holiday dates on their website.

    You can also use this page from gov.uk to find details of bank holidays and school holidays in every local authority area.

    MORE: Adorable grandma celebrates starting senior day care with first-day-of-school style photoshoot

    MORE: Genius trick to get a school uniform for less than £1


    Junior high school student raising hand, asking a question during lesson in classroomJunior high school student raising hand, asking a question during lesson in classroom

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    A man dancing with a vacuum cleaner at Notting Hill Carnival (Alex McBride/Getty Images)
    A man dancing with a vacuum cleaner at Notting Hill Carnival – this did not make our list of what to bring (Alex McBride/Getty Images)

    If you live in London, this year’s Notting Hill Carnival represents your final, desperate chance to make summer a good one.

    After the halcyon paradise of last year’s heatwave, a time which felt like living through the memory of an idyllic childhood summer – except with more pints – it was inevitable that 2019 was going to be a disappointment.

    But what a disappointment it’s been: a great, big, wet, dirty blanket of a season.

    And, worst of all, it’s drawing to an end. There will be no third-act redemption for this summer; no last-minute heatwave. It’s over.

    The dark nights are already drawing in. The mornings have a distinctly autumnal chill. The city is suffused, everywhere, with a sense of indescribable loss.

    It’s only going to get colder and darker from hereon in. When we look in the mirror we will only appear older.

    The point is: Carnival is your last chance to wrestle some joy and hedonism from what has otherwise been an unmitigated washout…s o don’t f*** it up.

    Here is some advice from old-school Carnival heads, who really know their stuff, on how best to enjoy, or simply survive, the event.

    What to bring

    ‘Bring a backpack filled with Rizla, a few lighters, some tinnies, a small bottle of rum and some Cherry B,’ Carnival veteran Tom tells us. ‘And definitely water.’

    ‘People love bringing weed to carnival but personally it kind of slows me down and gives me the fear – but feel free if you’re that way inclined.’

    Far be it from Metro.co.uk to advocate drug use (cannabis is against the law, guys),it’s also true that the police generally turn a fairly blind eye to the old ‘waccy baccy’ – which is what all the young people at Carnival are calling it these days. If you refer to it as that in their presence, they’ll really respect you.

    ‘Definitely bring booze with you,’ Mutya agrees, ‘and cash. Loo roll is another essential – you probably won’t be using the portaloos as the queues are so bad. It’s quite common to pay £2 to use the bathroom of a savvy Notting Hill resident, so it’s good to be prepared.’

    This is sound advice – getting caught short in a posh person’s bathroom and having to wipe your bum with a towel from The White Company doesn’t sound very festive.

    When to arrive and how to get there

    ‘Get down early, around midday or a bit before, because after that it gets way too busy to travel,’ Tom says.

    Trying to arrive into a relatively compact area of London at the same time as literally thousands of other people can have quite an apocalyptic, ‘last chopper out of Saigon’ vibe.

    One way of avoiding this, Istvan suggests, is swerving public transport altogether. ‘My only tip is really boring,’ he tells Metro.co.uk, ‘you should walk there via Regent’s Canal, which leads onto the Grand Union Canal.’

    ‘It’s just nicer, and you arrive at Glenbourne Road in North Kensington – which is where all the best stuff is.’

    How not to get lost – and how to style it out if you do

    Like any large-scale event, Carnival is an absolute nightmare both for meeting up with people and then losing them.

    ‘If you feel like going for a wander that’s cool,’ Tom says, ‘but keep your crew tight because losing people is easy and there’s never any signal.’

    Although Justina agrees how easy it is to lose your friends, for her this isn’t always a bad thing. She tells us: ‘You should try to buddy up but even if you do get lost, it’s easy to make friends. Everyone is super friendly and welcoming. I got lost last year and had a great time.’

    One way of avoiding the risk of losing your friends is keeping your circle tight. ‘Don’t go with too many people,’ Andres says, ‘otherwise things get stressful. You need a good squad – preferably someone who has been a few times before or knows the area well.’

     Women wearing costumes during the final day of the carnival. (Picture: Brais G. Rouco/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
    Women wearing costumes during the final day of the carnival (Picture: Brais G. Rouco/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

    Where to dance

    Dancing, of course, is what it’s all about.

    ‘Find one sound system you like and hang about there for a bit,’ says Tom. ‘Aba Shanti and Channel One are always good, as is Sir Lloyd.’

    ‘Make sure you check out the newish “return to Jungle” stage held by Chase and Status,’ Andres says, ‘last year was wicked.’

    According to Junior, ‘the two best stages are Sancho Panza and the Red Bull Stage. I usually float in between the two.’

    Carnival can be so hectic that it’s tempting to spend all day in the first decent spot you find, but it’s worth exploring, too.

    ‘I don’t usually chase stages,’ Justina says, ‘I find it’s better just to follow the crowd through the streets.’

    Although Istvan argues that ‘you should always keep on moving,’ not everyone agrees. Junior says: ‘You should find a spot and don’t move!’

    The answer depends on how lazy you are and how stressful you find walking through very busy streets. For the more claustrophobic among you, finding a spot and sticking to it is probably a good shout.

    What to eat

    The food options at Carnival are pretty great, and having a meal is essential if you want to last the day. Getting pissed during the day is always an endurance sport and you want to be an athlete.

    ‘You should eat some nice food around 3 or 4 to give you the energy to make it to the end,’ Tom says.

    ‘If there’s jerk chicken,’ Justina says, ‘which there will be, you have to get some. But there’s so much available, so go with what your taste-buds are tingling for.’

    When to leave

    ‘It’s distinctly possible to stay too long at the Fair,’ wrote Joan Didion, and she may well have been talking about Carnival after dark. It can get pretty messy.

    According to Andres: ‘You should try to leave slightly before the end in order to miss the carnage.’

    If you need to travel by public transport, it’s better to walk a bit further before you do so. But realistically, if you’re anywhere even slightly close to Notting Hill, it’s going to be a bit of a nightmare.

    So there you have it. If you do go to Carnival, we hope you have such a great laugh that it allows you to forget, even momentarily, how disappointing this summer has been, the chill winds blowing, and the fact that very soon, when you wake up for work in the morning the skies will still be dark. Have fun, and please do drink responsibly.

    MORE: Learn how to whine ahead of Notting Hill Carnival

    MORE: When is Notting Hill Carnival 2019?

    MORE: Quiz: What should you drink at the pub tonight?


    Women seen wearing costume during the final day of theWomen seen wearing costume during the final day of the

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    A protestor holds a poster highlighting environmental hazard, wildfires and deforestation of the Amazon outside the Brazilian embassy in Mumbai on August 23, 2019. - Brazil's rainforest have seen record number of wildfires this year. Forest fires tend to intensify during the dry season, which usually ends in late October or early November, as land is cleared to make way for crops or grazing. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP)INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images
    The Amazon needs our help… but what can we do? AFP/Getty Images

    ‘Right now we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.’

    So said David Attenborough at a climate change conference in Poland last year.

    One of the many disasters is this: the Amazon rain forest is currently burning. Hundreds of fires are currently ravaging the world’s largest rainforest.

    The northern states of Roraima, Acre, Rondônia and Amazonias are currently the worst affected. For those who don’t know this, the forest produces 20% of the oxygen on this planet, and at this present moment in time, few are doing anything to help stop it.

    In response to the fires, French President Emmanuel Macron has called for G7 talks to discuss ‘an international crisis’.

    ‘Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20 of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire,’ he Tweeted last night, along with a photo from the fires in 1989.

    Causes of the fire are far and wide. According to the National Institute for Space Research, fires are most common in the region during the dry season, which runs from July through to October. Most start as a result of isolated lightning strikes, but one of the biggest problems is farmers and loggers clearing spots for grazing.

    A rise in illegal logging activity is the result of the anti-environment rhetoric of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro who has encouraged such illegal activity, say climate change activists.

    In retaliation, Mr Bolsonaro, a long time climate skeptic accused the activists and NGOs of deliberately starting the fires to intentionally damage his government’s image. Bolsonaro also added that the state lacked the resources to fight the flames, and in response to President Macron said: ‘I regret that president Macron seeks to take advantage of what is a domestic Brazilian issue and of other Amazonian countries for personal political gain.’

    The Amazon basin – currently home to about three million species of plants and animals, many of which we depend on for our own survival – is crucial in regulating the very human contribution to global warming, with its dense forests absorbing millions of tonnes of carbon emissions every year. When these trees are cut down or burnt, the carbon they store is released back into the atmosphere and the rainforest’s capacity to absorb carbon emissions is greatly reduced.

    As a result of the fires, huge amounts of smoke and carbon are being released into the atmosphere, the latter a huge factor in climate change. In addition, deadly amounts of carbon monoxide – toxic at high levels – is being carried towards South America’s coastlines, posing a threat to millions of citizens and wildlife.

    The question is, what is it you can do to help one of the world’s great natural wonders from disappearing? Here are seven easy ways you can make a difference.

    Reduce your own oil consumption

    The burning of fossil fuels (gas, oil and coal) is the primary cause for climate change in the world today.

    Global scientists have predicted that if we continue to exhaust such resources the planet’s ticking thermostat will rise between 2 and 9 Fahrenheit in the next century.

    Oil exploration projects, like the ones happening in regions such as the Amazon, lead to pollution and massive deforestation. This not only poses a threat to our ecosystems, but also to the ingenious animal populations that call the place home.

    Go solar, keep all the lights off, shower for five minutes a day, wash at 40, and if you can walk to the shop instead of hopping into your car, do so. Small changes to your routine like this can make a big difference.

    Mandatory Credit: Photo by Xinhua/REX (10370193d) A raging fire in the Amazon rainforest in the state of Tocantins, Brazil. Fires in the Amazon Rainforest, Tocantins, Brazil - 17 Aug 2019 Data from the National Institute for Space Research show that the number of forest fires in Brazil soared by 82 percent from January to August this year compared to the same period last year.
    A raging fire in the Amazon rainforest in the state of Tocantins, Brazil (Picture: Xinhua/REX)

    Donate

    This is the most basic way you can help out. Invest in rainforest communities, and look into ‘buy an acre’ programs to help protect areas of environmental significance. Not only do such programs help sustain the local environment, but they also help fund forest’s peoples right to gain legal recognition over their lands.

    If you want to donate, the Rainforest Action Network’s protect an acre program is one of the best out there. To help support the science and arts projects that continue to raise awareness in the area, check out The Amazon Aid Foundation

    Hold businesses accountable 

    Be careful who you purchase from, which hotels you stay in, and who you bank with. Heck, even rally your employer to make sure their recycling policies are are up to scratch.

    Mega corporations account for the majority of the socially and environmentally destructive environmental practices we get lumbered with. If you feel a company’s business practices are environmentally irresponsible, boycott them. Write a letter of concern and publicly shame them for not doing their bit to help out.

    Sign this petition

    The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is currently calling on the UK government to put the Amazon emergency on top of the G7 agenda, and every agenda after that. Sign it.

    Buy rainforest safe products 

    With a growing emphasis on plastic waste, many of us are looking for alternative ways to reduce our own carbon footprint.

    Using paper straws and wooden cutlery is a step forward in the right direction, but sadly, not all are substantially produced.

    If you see something in the shop that boasts the Rainforest Alliance logo, buy it. You’re supporting global projects that replant trees and the some 1.6 billion people that depend on the world’s forests for their survival. For more info, visit the Rainforest Alliance website.

    TOPSHOT - This handout NASA Earth Observatory image obtained on August 21, 2019, captured by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite shows several fires burning in the Brazilian states of Amazonas (top C-L), Para (top R), Mato Grosso (bottom R) and Rondonia (bottom C) on August 11, 2019, while Bolivia appears on the left bottom of the image. (Photo by HO / NASA Earth Observatory / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / NASA / LAUREN DAUPHIN / HO" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTSHO/AFP/Getty Images
    The fires as seen from Space. Credit: AFP/NASA/Getty

    Ditch meat

    With vegan and healthy eating trends being the topic du jour, this could be the best time to switch. Yes, that McDonald’s cheeseburger might look uber tempting after a night out on the lash, but like most processed beef products, its origins are often linked to the Rainforest beef trade.

    The US is often dubbed the worst offender, importing over 200 million pounds of meat from Central American countries to meet demands. Whilst the laws are much more strict in the UK and throughout Europe, the overwhelming advice from climate change experts is to ditch meat or buy alternatives. Cutting back the pressure on beef farmers will in turn reduce demands and cut back on the pressure to clear even more forests, such as the Amazon, for the sole purpose of cattle production.

    If you’re in a position to lobby a company on a macroscale, even better.

    Foreign policy now dictates that one of the best ways to now protect environmentally vulnerable regions is to work with the businesses that pose them the most severe threats.

    In the case of countries like Brazil, domestic beef producers work with many international companies that now say they are ‘committed to zero carbon standards’. Though this is in principle, most are susceptible to public outcry (remember point number four). They suggest that trade, distribution, and financing deals that are dependent on protecting the rainforest and sustainability can help protect the planet and be a benefit to Brazilians who depend on the rainforest for their livelihoods. In short, avoid criticizing without action and work with companies to nurture their substantially missions and targets.

    Show your outrage

    Tweet, ‘gram, tumble. Whatever your social media platform of choice is, tell your friends, family and your loyal following what is happening.

    Highlight the environmental and politically unacceptable reasons the Amazon is on fire and put pressure on your MP to raise the issue in Parliament.

    MORE: The Amazon wildfires seen from space are truly disheartening

    MORE: Map shows huge scale of fires ravaging Amazon rainforest

    MORE: Brazil’s president accuses NGOs of burning Amazon rainforest and gives no proof


    How to help save AmazonHow to help save Amazon

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    The calendar
    This looks amazing (Picture: Boots)

    We may still be in August, but retailers are already getting us excited for Christmas with the launch of various advent calendars.

    This includes Boots, who are selling a Harry Potter beauty advent calendar this Christmas.

    The pink calendar, which comes decorated with the Hogwarts castle in white, surrounded by stars, features a load of beauty gifts.

    The calendar includes 25 gifts, including lipsticks, nail varnish and Golden Snitch bath bombs. Amazing.

    There will also be a Harry Potter eye mask decorated with Harry’s scar and glasses.

    It will be available to buy online from 1 October, and will be out on shelves from 4 November.

    Oh, and the calendar will cost £35 – more expensive than your usual chocolate option, but pretty reasonable compared to the other beauty-themed calendars out there.

    Harry Potter lipsticks
    There’ll be lipsticks in the calendar (Picture: Boots)

    Another retailer that has already announced the arrival of its advent calendars is Lush.

    This is pretty exciting news, because it’s the first time Lush has ever created an advent calendar.

    They’ve got a limited edition advent calendar coming out, with only 500 available, which will be released on 29 August.

    It will include 24 full-size Lush products, including five retro products and limited edition bath, body and shower products, too.

    Bath bombs include Polar Bear Plunge, Jingle Spells, Snowman Dreaming and Santa’s Grotto.

    Yes, it’s all very festive.

    But before you get super excited, we have some bad news: This calendar will set you back £195.

    Which yes, is a hell of a lot of money and yes, for the average person will probably be a bit too much to spend on an advent calendar.

    If you’re just desperate to have it, you could always ask for it as a Christmas gift.

    Just don’t expect much else alongside it.

    MORE: Fancy a BBQ this weekend? Morrisons is selling a mega meat pack for £10

    MORE: Spill It: How much a 26-year-old software developer drinks in a week


    Harry Potter beauty advent calendarHarry Potter beauty advent calendar

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    Roo with a toy
    Roo was born with six legs (Picture: SWNS)

    A kind stranger bought a £400 wheelchair for a puppy so that she can get around easily – because she keeps getting tangled with her six legs.

    Owner Lauren Salmon said the complete stranger offered to pay for Roo the six-legged Labrador’s wheelchair because her own dog had just died.

    Lauren said the kind lady wanted to do ‘something good’ in its memory so bought Roo a wheelchair to improve her mobility, because she gets tangled up with her extra front legs.

    Roo has six legs
    A kind stranger bought her a £400 wheelchair (Picture: SWNS)

    The ten-week-old pup was given her name because she jumps on her back legs like a Kangaroo.

    Before getting her new wheels, Roo’s two extra front limbs meant she dragged herself around on her elbows with her bum raised in an ‘army crawl.’

    Lauren, 33, from Orpington in London, said: ‘I’m shocked at the amount of generosity from people and the attention she has received in the press.

    ‘When you Google it her name comes up in Poland and America and people have nicked her video and posted on YouTube.’

    Lauren’s son, Luke, 15, wanted a new dog and was determined to take the special pup home after seeing her online last month.

    He was worried she might be used as bait in dog fights.

    The pair are now best friends and the puppy has helped Luke, who suffers with psoriasis, with his confidence.

    Roo laying down
    Roo struggles to walk (Picture: SWNS)

    Lauren added: ‘Luke has cut the paper cuttings out of the News Shopper and the Metro and kept them.

    ‘He is happy people are becoming aware of animals born with extra limbs and he hopes people won’t look to destroy them in future.’

    The mum-of-four welcomed the offer from the anonymous donor who will soon meet Roo on a walk.

    Luke with Roo
    The wheelchair will help her walk (Picture: SWNS)

    Lauren, a carer, said: ‘Her attitude was that in her dog’s memory she wanted to do something good.

    ‘We will meet her halfway in the wheels and she can have a cuddle with Roo which she can’t wait for.

    ‘I’m overwhelmed that she donated a wheelchair to let Roo have a normal life.’

    Roo is now getting used to the wheels and will be going on walks as soon as she builds enough strength.

    Lauren added: ‘She still can’t move on the grass though.

    ‘She’s adorable, the lazy mare.’

    MORE: Fancy a BBQ this weekend? Morrisons is selling a mega meat pack for £10

    MORE: Missing dog reunited with owner after escaping to busy motorway


    Luke Salmon 15 with Roo 8 month old dog that has been borne with 6 legs. Orpington, Kent 7th August 2019 . See National News story NNpuppy. A super-cute puppy was named after a kangaroo because she hops around on her back paws - despite being born with SIX legs. Roo, an eight-week-old Labrador-cross, jumps around on her back paws because she was born with two extra front legs, that cause her a little trouble when she walks. Lauren Salmon, 33, from Orpington, Kent, bought Roo from breeders in Essex two weeks ago after her son Luke, 15, spotted the special pup online. Lauren has now contacted Dr Noel Fitzpatrick - the specialist who stars in Channel 4???s ???The Supervet??? - to see if he can help to improve Roo???s mobility, because her extra legs get in the way when she\'s walking.Luke Salmon 15 with Roo 8 month old dog that has been borne with 6 legs. Orpington, Kent 7th August 2019 . See National News story NNpuppy. A super-cute puppy was named after a kangaroo because she hops around on her back paws - despite being born with SIX legs. Roo, an eight-week-old Labrador-cross, jumps around on her back paws because she was born with two extra front legs, that cause her a little trouble when she walks. Lauren Salmon, 33, from Orpington, Kent, bought Roo from breeders in Essex two weeks ago after her son Luke, 15, spotted the special pup online. Lauren has now contacted Dr Noel Fitzpatrick - the specialist who stars in Channel 4???s ???The Supervet??? - to see if he can help to improve Roo???s mobility, because her extra legs get in the way when she\'s walking.

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    The new rose range
    Lidl’s new rose range (Picture: Lidl)

    Lidl has released a new ombré rosé range with wine from the palest pastel pink to vibrant cerise, to dispell the myth that colour strength depicts the flavour.

    The range features dark coloured, dry rosé wines among paler wines, to prove that brightly coloured rosés have ‘just as much to offer as pale styles’.

    The Lidl Wine Tour selection and everyday core wines are available in stores UK wide from just £3.99.

    Lidl’s ombré rosé range features six wines, three of which will hit shelves for the first time.

    This includes the Rosata Toscana, £5.99 – which is pale pink in colour and dry.

    There’s also the Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie – Blush, £4.29, which is ‘simply and dry’ from Italy and is also ‘light, clean and fruity’ with strawberry aromas.

    The Kamocsay Ákos Pinot Noir Rosé costs £5.99 and comes from a top Hungarian producer. It’s made from the Pinot Noir grape and has a light spritz with strawberry notes.

    Next is the Cepa Lebrel Rioja Rosado DOCa, £5.49, which is also dry.

    The Mezquiriz Navarra Rosé, £3.99, is described as being ‘fresh’ with notes of redcurrant and cherry fruit, and finally, the Australian Shiraz Rosé, £4.49, is a fruity, off-dry and easy-drinking wine.

    Richard Bampfield, Master of Wine for Lidl said: ‘Pale rosé is enjoying its moment but darker shades can offer the best of both worlds with the flavour complexities of a red wine along with the freshness of a chilled white.

    ‘Championing rosé from across the world, Lidl’s new wine collection showcases quality wines from Spain to Australia at fantastic value for money.’

    Three tips for buying and serving rosé:

    1. Don’t be fooled by the colour when buying a rosé – many deeper coloured rosés are dry

    2. Rosé from Spain, known as Rosado, is a great value choice if you’re looking for a pretty pink rosé that is dry

    3. Rosé is best served chilled – if it’s not cold enough, you could add a ice cube

    MORE: Lidl is selling a fire pit for £24.99

    MORE: Lidl introduces reusable fruit and veg bags to cut down on plastic waste


    New rose range at LidlNew rose range at Lidl

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    hack helps cool wine bottle in three minutes
    Say goodbye to warm wine (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

    With this weekend set to be a scorcher, staying hydrated is of utmost importance – and no, we’re not talking about water.*

    *But please do drink plenty of water. That is quite important. Make sure you drink alcohol responsibly, too.

    A summer heatwave means BBQs and picnics galore, with plenty of wine to be had.

    Sitting back with an ice cold glass of vino in the sunshine is what dreams are made of, but keeping wine cold or indeed getting it cold in the first place can be tricky when temperatures soar.

    Luckily, the people at mydomaine.com have pulled through – they’ve spoken to a master sommelier Brian McClintic to get all the wine cooling answers we need.

    As well as plenty of ice, Brian says there’s one key ingredient wine lovers should take note of.

    He said: ‘An ice water bath with plenty of salt. Works like a charm.

    ‘The full bottle should be submerged. It’s hard to say how much salt — let’s just say a liberal amount.

    ‘What happens is the bottle is encased in ice and therefore comes down in temperature much more quickly.”

    This is because salt creates a chemical reaction that lowers the freezing point of the water. So a sprinkling of sodium will significantly drop the temperature – helping the wine chill faster.

    Brian said: ‘To speed up the process, give the bottle a spin when submerged.’

    Of course, using ice cubes on their own will work too – just expect to be waiting a little longer for the wine to chill.

    Whatever your tipple – be it rosé, white or sparkling – there’s no need to worry about warm wine again.

    MORE: You can now get red wine flavoured gin

    MORE: Met Office bank holiday weekend UK weather forecast for heatwave

    MORE: How to keep house plants alive during a heatwave


    Chardonnay Wine Glass Isolated on White BackgroundChardonnay Wine Glass Isolated on White Background

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    Morticia, a 13-year-old hairless Chinese crested dog who struggled to find a new home as people thought she was ugly
    Meet Morticia, a 13-year-old hairless Chinese crested dog who was finally adopted (Picture: PA)

    An abandoned dog who struggled to find a new home because people thought she was too ugly has finally found a new home.

    Morissa, a 13-year old hairless Chinese crested dog, was rejected by so many would-be owners because she suffers from a number of health conditions, including bad eyesight.

    Staff at the RSPCA’s Danaher Animal Home near Braintree in Essex said they found it almost impossible to find the pooch a new home ‘because potential adopters thought she was ugly’.

    However, 28-year-old Rio Maye, from Wilstead in Bedfordshire, visited Morissa it was basically love at first sight.

    Determined to give her new friend a new lease of life, Rio renamed her adopted dog to Morticia and brought her home to live with her 14-year-old chihuahua called Pea.

    Morticia, a 13-year-old hairless Chinese crested dog who struggled to find a new home as people thought she was ugly
    Morticia with its new owner Rio Maye from Wilstead in Bedfordshire and her chihuahua called Pea (Photo: PA)

    ‘Morticia settled in straight away. She was so thrilled with her new bed that she dived straight into it and rolled around in joy,’ Rio said.

    ‘We introduced her to Pea – her new best friend – and our horses. She spends lots of her time pottering through the fields and loves to walk through the hills and woods’.

    ‘She is almost blind but she listens to me talking to her and when I call for her she is incredibly alert’, she added.

    Morticia, a 13-year-old hairless Chinese crested dog who struggled to find a new home as people thought she was ugly
    Happy pup (Photo: PA)

    With Morticia now living life to the fullest, Rio said she wants to encourage more people to rehome senior dogs and has started an Instagram page, @littleseniormoments, to help spread her message and Morticia’s story.

    Today, SPCA’s Essex South, Southend and District branch said that it was also trying to rehome a one-eyed dog called “Ugly Betty” and staff feared that potential owners “may be put off by her unusual looks”.

    If all else fails, you’ll always have a home at Metro.co.uk, Ugly Betty.

    MORE: Hero dogs can sniff out cystic fibrosis before it takes hold

    MORE: Dogs With Jobs: Meet the dog unit keeping you safe when you travel

    MORE: Is this the UK’s most unwelcoming town for dogs?


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    In an imageo ofTaylor Swift alongside an image of Shoreditch, in London (Picture: Backgrid/ Getty)
    Taylor Swift posing alongside her beloved Shoreditch (Picture: Backgrid/Getty Images)

    Today, Taylor Swift released her latest album, Lover, to a fairly positive reception.

    The one song that really captured the imagination of the British public, though – and not entirely in a good way, was London Boy – which is basically Estelle’s American Boy in reverse.

    It’s (presumably) an ode to her English boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn, and features the breathless declaration: ‘God, I love the English!’

    As someone who finds the overwhelming presence of English people the single most trying aspect of London, I’m afraid I can’t relate.

    The vision of the Big Smoke the song presents is also pretty scatter-gun. We’re not sure we fully believe that Swifty is as enthused about all of these areas as she claims, and it reads more like bus timetable or a ‘things to do’ guide.

    That said, if you want to visit some of these attractions in a way that proper Londoners (aka people who hate their very existence) do, here’s how.

    Camden

    The old railway bridge at Camden Town (picture: Alexander Spatari / Getty Images)
    The old railway bridge at Camden Town – an area we can’t really imagine Tay-tay hanging out in (picture: Alexander Spatari / Getty Images)

    I find it implausible that Taylor Swift would ‘enjoy walking in Camden Market’, on the basis she’s neither a cyber-goth nor a 16-year-old Italian tourist.

    No area of London trades on its past glories more than Camden: it’s the Liverpool of London boroughs. Amy Winehouse used to hang out there, true, and back in the heady days of 2007, you might have had the thrill of spotting Noel Fielding in an old man pub. But it’s 2019 now and Camden is, famously, no longer cool.

    If you simply must go there then the Wetherspoons is alright. It’s next to the canal which is quite pretty, and is one of the few ‘spoons that plays music, actually turning into a sort-of club late at night.

    But you might have a better time in neighbouring Kentish Town, which is colourful and pretty in a Brighton sort of way. It also has The Pineapple, which is a genuinely great pub.

    Kentish Town also features a pub in a toilet… the toilet I’m referring to being North London.

    Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

    Absolutely not. Even in its glory days, it doesn’t seem like it would have been her scene.

     

    Highgate

    People strolling by a pond at Hampstead Heath (Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
    Hampstead Heath near Highgate, where perhaps Swifty might take a stroll after a long day of watching rugby with her boyfriend’s mates (Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

    Sitting right next to Hampstead Heath, Highgate is upscale enough that it’s plausible Swift would hang out here, ‘watching rugby with [her boyfriend’s] school friends’.

    By far the best thing to do in Highgate is take a walk on the Heath – it’s a bucolic f***ing paradise! It also has Highgate cemetery, with its monument to Karl Marx. But, if Swift and her boyfriend are rugby fans, this is likely to be of little interest.

    There’s a Margaret Thatcher statue opening in Grantham soon, so they might be be better off waiting until then.

    I once worked in a really good gastropub in Highgate, but I parted there on bad terms and I’m therefore not going to tell you what it’s called, purely out of spite.

    Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

    Yes. it’s already chock-full of celebrities – although admittedly more in the vein of ‘someone in the cast of Horrible Histories’ than ‘platinum-selling superstar.’

     

    The West End/Bond Street/Soho

    Leicester Square in London's bustling West End (picture: Getty Images)
    Leicester Square in London’s bustling West End… but can you spot Tay-Tay? (picture: Getty Images)

    ‘Now I love high tea, stories from uni, and the West End,’ sings Swift. I can believe that she enjoys high tea. I can just about buy that she likes spending time in central London.

    But no-one likes ‘stories from uni’.  No matter how madly in love you are, there is nothing more boring than listening to someone else’s anecdotes of higher education, most of which amount to ‘once, I got really drunk!’

    All those nights you laid in your boyfriend’s arms, regaling him with tales of what you and the rest of the Badminton Society got up to back at Durham? He was actually bored as f***, mate.

    There’s obviously lots to do in the West End, though. It’s a place which has enough theatres, boutique shops and high-end restaurants to keep all but the most discerning popstar happy.

    If your budget is lower than Taylor Swift’s, Brasserie Zedel has the swanky, opulent vibe of the dining room in Titanic and is fairly affordable with friendly service.

    Soho has a decent vibe up until around midnight, at which point it’s a struggle to find anywhere open and it starts to feel a little forlorn.

    But The Glasshouse Stores on Brewer Street feels like something out of a 1950’s Graham Greene novel (a good thing) and, crucially, it’s really cheap.

    Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

    Yes – she’s starring in Cats so presumably likes musicals.

     

    Shoreditch/Hackney

    The centre of Shoreditch at sunset with a red bus passing through (Picture: Getty Images)
    A London bus passing through the heart of Shoreditch. But is one of its passengers…Taylor Swift? (Picture: Getty Images)

    ‘Is Shoreditch sh*t now?’ is a debate that’s been raging for a good twenty years now and I’m here to answer it once and for all.

    Yes, Shoreditch is ‘dead’, in a sense. No, it’s no longer at the vanguard of anything, nor is it exactly cool.

    But there’s still lots of good stuff there, and particularly if you’re rich – which, happily, Taylor Swift is.

    To start with, it has Lyles, which is widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in London. The area also boasts some great clothes shops, such as APC, YMC and Goodhood – the grand bazaar of expensive streetwear. If Swift were ever to become a ‘sneakerhead’, she’d find herself in hog heaven.

    Shoreditch is nice at, say, 7pm on a Wednesday evening in summer, simply because lots of attractive people who wear nice clothes work there. But on a Friday or Saturday evening, the vibe becomes is a little too boisterous. A little, dare I say, ‘basic’. Do yourself a favour, Ms Swift, and avoid.

    Hackney, meanwhile, is indisputably the greatest borough in London. From Stoke Newington to Clapton, it offers an embarrassment of riches, as well as more green space than any other district.

    If you like natural wine, then check out P Franco. It’s tiny and expensive, but the staff are passionate about what they do and the soap they have in the bathrooms is simply… Superlative.

    Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

    Swift specifically sings that she likes ‘Shoreditch in the afternoon’ so yes, this is perfectly plausible – some of her new music has been so sickly sweet that it wouldn’t be too surprising to catch her at the Cereal Cafe or Ballie Ballerson.

    Would she hang out in Hackney? She should be so lucky!

    Brixton

    Brixton at sunset (picture: Getty images)
    Brixton at sunset (picture: Getty images)

    The tragedy of Brixton is that it’s still quite good while on the verge of no longer being so. Obviously, gentrification is a problem affecting most areas of London but it feels especially pernicious here – perhaps because the gentrifiers are particularly annoying (whereas in Hackney, where I live, I am widely beloved by the local populace.)

    Brixton suffers from its proximity to Clapham, by some measure the most obnoxious area of London, and sadly its rampant Claphamisation continues apace.

    Brixton still has a great vibe though, and the Afro-Caribbean influence remains very much present. It’s a lovely place just to walk around, particularly through the market, which has some excellent shops and restaurants.

    Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

    Now? Not quite. In five years? Sadly, yes.

    MORE: Taylor Swift’s Lover review: A full spectrum of emotions that lives up to her reputation

    MORE: Taylor Swift creates dream dollhouse in Lover music video but here’s why you’ll recognise her leading man

    MORE: Where is Cornelia Street and is Taylor singing about the London road or the New York one?

     


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    metro illustrations fear of flying
    Do you dread stepping onto a plane? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    The bumper August bank holiday has finally arrived and, for many, this means jet setting off on holiday.

    But for those who suffer with a fear of flying, the lead up to a holiday can be an excruciatingly anxious time.

    There are many reasons passengers can get anxious about flying – from the gravity-defying travel method itself to the lack of control. Experts have also suggested that a fear of flying can run parallel to other related phobias, such as a fear of heights, tight spaces, social situations or leaving a comfort zone.

    It’s thought around 90% of nervous flyers worry they will be overcome with anxiety during the flight. So, here are some simple steps to help reduce the panic.

    Identify your triggers

    Working out what exactly is frightening you is a great way of taking back control. Whether it’s taking off, turbulence, crashing, claustrophobia, a fear of heights or something else, being aware of what can set you off if the first step in focusing on how to resolve it.

    A lot to do with anxiety comes down to identifying ‘rational’ and ‘irrational’ fears. Anxiety is a normal bodily response, after all.

    Once you’ve spent some time thinking about whether the trigger is a rational or irrational fear, and thought about how likely it is to occur, it should help you manage the anxiety a little better.

    Charlotte Fox Weber, psychotherapist and Head of Psychotherapy at The School of Life tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Anxiety can sometimes dupe us into believing we are just applying common sense to a situation when in fact we are angst ridden and we may not be assessing a situation as accurately as we might believe.

    ‘It can be helpful to decipher these moments so that we don’t run off with our anxious beliefs.’

    Educate yourself

    Fear of flying can sometimes stem from a lack of education of how planes work. Knowing more about aviation itself and flight procedures can help during your time in the air. For example, knowing the different noises planes make (and why they make them) can stop the mind worrying and thinking the worst.

    Getting familiar with flying statistics can also be helpful. Anxiety thrives off ignorance and catastrophic thoughts, after all.

    Most nervous flyers will probably have heard the phrase ‘flying is safer than driving’ a million times, but actually processing what that means, and then trying to rationalise your flying fear as a result of that, goes a long way.

    woman on plane looking out window
    A fear of flying can run parallel to other related phobias, such as a fear of heights (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Get to the airport early

    It may sound simple, but if you’re already feeling anxious about your flight, then it’s important to keep other stress levels to a minimum.

    Rushing through the airport to make your flight will only add to your anxiety, so be sure to arrive at the airport with plenty of time.

    Take a half hour or so to wind down before your flight, be it in an airport lounge or in a coffee shop – this will help your body relax.

    Breathing exercises

    Breathing exercises can help with all kinds of anxiety and are easy to carry out on board a plane. As anxiety increases, breathing tends to turn into rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. This can cause an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and can result in an increased heart rate, dizziness and muscle tension.

    Deep breaths, however, can instantly help to reduce stress. Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose, keeping shoulders relaxed, then exhale through the mouth. Repeat this as much as necessary.

    Use positive affirmations

    There’s a lot of power in positive thinking, so make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones such as ‘I am safe’ and ‘I am fine’. The chances are that telling yourself the same thing over and over, will help you to eventually believe it.

    Have plenty of distractions

    Step on the plane armed with a plethora of things to distract you from anxious thoughts. This could be podcasts, Netflix shows or a bank of your favourite music – just be sure to choose things that make you feel good.

    Alternatively, downloading a stress-busting meditation app such as Headspace can help get you into a peaceful state of mind.

    Choose an aisle seat

    Most airlines will let you choose your seat when booking and opting for an aisle seat is a small action that goes a long way.

    An aisle seat means that it’s easier for you to get up and move around the plane, should you start to feel a little claustrophobic. It also makes it easier to avoid looking out the window, which might trigger further worry.

    MORE: Feel guilty about flying this summer? Here’s ten ways to reduce your carbon footprint

    MORE: Meet the teens making climate change memes to deal with ecoanxiety

    MORE: Red wine contains an ingredient that really does relieve stress and anxiety, study says


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    The huge joggers
    The joggers were a lot bigger than advertised (Picture: Caters News)

    A teen was left in stitches when her PrettyLittleThing order arrived and, as she says herself, made her look like a giant condom.

    18-year-old Sophie Newport had ordered a pair of baby pink jogging bottoms in a size small.

    However, they were absolutely gigantic on 5ft 2″ Sophie.

    Finding the whole situation hilarious, Sophie shared photos of her wearing the £20 jogging bottoms on social media, with the pictures showing her body almost entirely covered by the the sweatpants.

    Sophie in the joggers
    Sophie says she looked like a ‘giant condom’ (Picture: Caters News)

    The pictures went viral, with some people asking whether she’d actually ordered from the tall section, but she hadn’t.

    Sophie went back to check but confirmed she had ordered the £20 trousers in a size small.

    Sophie, from Camberley, Surrey, said: ‘I couldn’t believe it – how can Pretty Little Thing say these are a size small?

    ‘They cover my entire body and I can fit my entire body in one leg.

    ‘It’s almost like a sleeping bag, and it just looks ridiculous.

    The pretty little thing listing
    The Pretty Little Thing listing (Picture: Pretty Little Thing)

    ‘Even if they were from the tall section, who on earth is that tall?

    ‘They looked more like some sort of strange jumpsuit type of outfit.

    ‘Not to mention, the colour of them is oddly flesh-like, so I just look like some weird giant condom.’

    Her friends were quick to comment on the post, telling Sophie: ‘As if you paid 20 pounds for that – get that refund!’

    Sophie hasn’t returned the jogging bottoms just yet as she says she finds them too funny and apparently quite comfy – though she hasn’t worn them out of the house, for obvious reasons.

    And she’s not mad at PrettyLittleThing either, adding: ‘I’m hoping it’s one silly mistake because I love PrettyLittleThing, and chances are, I’ll still order from them.’

    MORE: Lidl launches new ombré rosé range with prices starting from £3.99

    MORE: Fancy a BBQ this weekend? Morrisons is selling a mega meat pack for £10


    Student left ?looking like a giant condom? when her size small Pretty Little Thing joggers arrived but covered her entire bodyStudent left ?looking like a giant condom? when her size small Pretty Little Thing joggers arrived but covered her entire body

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    woman shaving her legs
    A young woman was told to shave her legs to meet ‘hygiene standards’ at work (Picture: Getty)

    Women have to deal with a lot in the workplace, from the gender pay gap to uniform discrimination, but one 21-year-old’s story has sent the internet into a rage.

    The woman in question – who works in events and festivals – headed into the office one day to gather up some materials.

    She was met by her boss who asked to talk to her. After taking her into another room, he told her she would need to remove the hair from her legs for work – labelling it a so-called ‘hygiene’ issue.

    The woman, who remains anonymous, shared her story on Reddit’s AITA (Am I the Asshole?) forum. We’ve reached out to her to confirm the story, but haven’t heard back yet.

    She wrote in the post: ‘He was so red and stuttering but finally he told me we needed to speak about hygiene.

    ‘I was in literal shock. I was so embarrassed and asked him what he meant.

    ‘My boss then proceeded to tell me that a few people complained I didn’t shave my legs and they said it went against company policy that I wasn’t being hygienic.

    ‘I was even more shocked.’

    The rules on employers asking you to change your appearance

    Employers can enforce a dress code to ensure that employees are dressed in a manner that is appropriate for its particular business, provided this is not deemed discriminatory.

    Men and women can have difference dress codes as long as it does not put an unfair burden on one gender.

    According to Workplace Fairness, an employer generally cannot single you out or discriminate against you.

    Dress code policies must target all employees. Therefore an employer cannot ask one employee to shave their legs if this is not the rule for all employees. 

    She continued: ‘I told him I didn’t understand what that had to do with me shaving my legs and he was just absolutely quiet.’

    The woman says she then decided to throw the ‘hygiene’ issue back to her manager.

    ‘I asked him if he shaved his legs and he still said nothing,’ she continued.

    ‘I then stood up and said if we were gonna keep talking about this I’d prefer HR to be there and he just told me that we didn’t need to discuss it any further’.

    Naturally, Reddit users were quick to jump to the woman’s defence.

    One said: ‘This is some sexist bullsh*t. Wow. Absolutely incredibly ridiculous. Would they ask a male employee to shave his legs? How is it unhygienic for you but not for any man who has leg hair?’

    Another commented: ‘I am 100% supportive of anyone, male, female or other, having and displaying just as much body hair as they want.’

    Amen to that.

    MORE: Woman forced to shave head after someone spiked her shampoo

    MORE: The reasons people choose to shave their pubes

    MORE: Dogs with Jobs: How do you train a guide dog to become someone’s eyes?


    Young woman told to shave her legs by her boss to meet ?hygiene standards?Young woman told to shave her legs by her boss to meet ?hygiene standards?

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    Illustration of two men in a room, one dressed in suspenders, the other in a bowtie
    Yes it’s scary, but it’s so worth it (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    It’s great that we’re having so many more conversations about depression now, and that the stigma is starting to be broken down.

    But the work still isn’t finished and it’s still completely understandable if you feel embarrassed or awkward at the thought of talking about it. I mean, you shouldn’t, just as you wouldn’t feel awkward talking about a broken ankle, but knowing that you shouldn’t doesn’t magically make everything peachy.

    We generally spend about 45 hours a week at our workplace, and that’s not counting for commutes or any overtime or out-of-hours email checking we’re doing. With pretty much any job there’ll be deadlines and a certain amount of stress and pressure (please DM me if you know of jobs that don’t have this as I would like one thanks), and performing to a certain level or quality can easily affect or trigger depression.

    Besides the demands, there’s the whole concept of plastering on a fake face and sauntering into work every day and owning it – not such an easy task when you’re crumbling inside and your brain’s on fire.

    But just like it wouldn’t be easy for someone to come into work and be at peak performance every day if they had tonsilitis, it’s difficult (but not impossible, I dare say) for you to be constantly knocking it out of the park every day if you’re depressed.

    It makes sense for your manager to be aware of your struggles with your mental health so that they can support you in any way that you need. It’s literally their job to manage your workload and ensure their employees aren’t being over/underwhelmed, and it will help them as well as you if they understand any illnesses you might have.

    You absolutely do not have to tell anyone about your depression if you don’t want to. By all means, keep it to yourself and keep trying to manage it in a way that feels comfortable for you.

    However, if you find that your depression is affecting your ability to do your job or come into work, it’s generally better to be honest as soon as you can rather than build up layers of lies as to why you’re asking to work from home again.

    As a former manager myself, I think managing someone with mental health struggles is no different to managing anyone else – but obviously I a) have experience of being severely depressed and b) am a ~millennial~ aware of mental health struggles and very much open to talking about them. Alas, not everyone has a boss who’s that accepting.

    From the perspective of a manager, I can say that the most helpful thing to tell your boss is what you need from them in terms of support. Your boss (probably) isn’t your doctor or therapist so they’re not technically there to shoulder any emotional burdens you’re feeling, but they are there to make sure they can do whatever they can to make your work-days more productive.

    If big meetings exhaust you with your display of faux-perkiness and you need some desk time alone afterwards, ensure to schedule that in, and bring it up with your boss if it looks like it could become a problem.

    If working alone intensifies your depression, it’s reasonable for you to mention this and ask if you could do more work on group projects or in tandem with other team members or departments.

    Managers should know all their employees’ sweet spots, tough spots and preferred working style.

    From the perspective of a depressed employee, holy-hell it’s a terrifying thought to tell anyone – let alone your boss – that you’re depressed.

    Will they think you’re less capable? Will they think you’ve been slacking off for ages? Will they ask you what you’ve got to be so sad about?

    Spoiler: No, and if they do vocalise anything like this then that’s your cue to get HR on the scene.

    It can be scary, but ask your manager to schedule some time in so you don’t end up casually blurting it out as they’re washing their hands in the next bathroom sink to you/laughing it off by the vending machine. Try to talk to them in a quiet, private space where you have time to talk through your concerns. Keep in mind that you should:

    • Tell them what support you need from them currently – it could be time off, changed hours, more / less remote working, or organising therapy and thus leaving early on Tuesdays, for example
    • Flag up if there’s anything that you might need extra support with in the future
    • Not put pressure on yourself to be an expert about what will help you. It’s fine if you don’t know and just need your manager to be looking out for you.

    So many of us have mental health struggles, the chances are you won’t be the first person to mention this to your manager in either their professional or personal life. Remember this brilliant CEO response that was understanding and not patronising? That could be you receiving that.

    If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, you can find a qualified local counsellor in your area with Counselling Directory. Mental health charity Mind also offer counselling services, and you can call The Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and ROI). The NHS even have a little quiz you can take. If you can, visit your GP for further advice. To talk about mental health in a private, judgement-free zone, join our Mentally Yours Facebook group.

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

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

    MORE: Mum shares photo of what parenting looks like when you have depression

    MORE: High functioning depression exists and it might not be what you think

    MORE: Life concierges and free food among the best work perks employers are offering in the UK


    How to handle confrontation like an adultHow to handle confrontation like an adult

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    Will acne be the next move for body positivity?
    Yes, the order you apply skincare products does actually matter (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Loads of us are making skincare a priority.

    We bulk buy sheet masks, we have strong opinions on acids and retinol, and we have enough fancy serums to make our skin glow for months should we ever be trapped on a desert island.

    All this can get a tad confusing. The olden days of cleanse, tone, and moisturise are dead and gone. Now it’s perfectly normal to have a ten step skincare routine with all these additional layers of care between those standard steps.

    But what order are you supposed to apply all those products? Does facial oil go on before, after, or in place of night cream? When does serum happen? And does it actually matter?

    Lucy Hilson, co-founder of SKN Rehab, tells us that yes, it matters quite a bit.

    ‘To get the most out of each product and for the ingredients to be effective, its important you ensure what you are applying to your skin doesn’t cancel out the benefits of the previous product,’ says Lucy.

    ‘The main thing to remember when applying skincare is to start with the lightest formula first – and apply the heaviest last, since thinner products can’t penetrate through the barrier of thicker products.’

    We’re going to outline the order to apply your products at nighttime, so we don’t have to start worrying about primers and makeup (that’s a whole other complicated area).

    Before bed is when you should be applying all your snazzy skincare designed to boost your skin and target issues such as pimples or dryness.

    Sleep illustration
    Hope your serum’s on before you’re snoozing (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    This is because your skin regenerates at night, so it’s the ideal time for it to absorb those pricey active ingredients. You also aren’t applying makeup before snoozing (we hope), so you don’t have to worry about being a little shiny or sticky.

    First, you need to work out what your skin currently needs.

    Lucy explains that if you have dry or dehydrated skin, hyaluronic acid based products are ideal, for ageing skin you’ll want vitamin C or CoQ10, blemish prone skin will reap the benefits of products containing salicylic acid, and all skin types can benefit from retinol.

    First things first, you’ll need to wash your face.

    Double cleansing is a great shout, especially if you wear makeup throughout the day. Start with a cream or oil based cleanser to first get rid of all makeup, then follow up with a second cleanser of your choice to make sure your skin is really keen.

    That’s important, because if you leave dirt or makeup on your skin it will eventually clog up the pores and cause blemishes, dullness, and excess grease.

    Once or twice a week before bed you’ll also want to exfoliate. Physical scrubs have fallen out of fashion, so avoid harsh cleansers with scrubby particles and instead go for a chemical exfoliant such as Glossier Solution, Pixi Glow Tonic, or Alpha-H Liquid Gold.

    The order to apply skincare products:

    1. Cleanse to remove makeup
    2. Double cleanse
    3. Exfoliator – once or twice a week
    4. Toner – replace with a chemical exfoliant if you like
    5. Serums
    6. Moisturiser
    7. Oil

    Traditionally this is when you’d apply a toner – but a chemical exfoliant or acid can replace this step.

    You do need to be regularly exfoliating, otherwise you’re pretty much chucking all your skincare products down the drain.

    ‘Exfoliating the skin once or twice a week before bed will help remove those dead skin cells that build up,’ explains Lucy. ‘If they’re not removed, these cells can sit there and essentially create a barrier between the products you apply and your live skin cells, meaning treatments won’t work as efficiently.’

    Once you’re all cleansed and exfoliated, it’s time for serum – choose one that targets your specific skin concerns as we outlined above.

    Then it’s time for eye cream. Lucy says this should be applied before moisturiser or night cream, as eye creams ‘tend to be lighter formulas and need to be free of any barriers that might prevent them from working efficiently.’

    Next, moisturiser. Apply in an upwards and outwards motion to prevent dragging, which can lead to sagging skin.

    Any oils come after moisturiser. That’s an important thing, and one a lot of skincare lovers get wrong. Oils are not a replacement for moisturiser and they must be applied after creams, never before.

    ‘Oils seal in moisture and help keep the ingredients in the skin,’ says Lucy. ‘They tend to be heavy formulas so for best results use them after applying your other skincare products.’

    This is also when you can incorporate a bit of light facial massage, either with your fingertips while applying oils or with a snazzy crystal roller. This may help your skin better absorb the products. It’s also very relaxing.

    Once your oil is on and massaged in, you’re ready for bed. Rest up – there’s a reason it’s called beauty sleep.

    MORE: Exfoliation benefits, tips and best skincare products

    MORE: Millie Bobby Brown to launch vegan skincare line

    MORE: 10 skincare products to help hydrate your dry winter skin


    Will acne be the next move for body positivity?Will acne be the next move for body positivity?

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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.

    That moment when a cisgender, heterosexual man you’re on a date with asks about your exes… that’s when my hands get clammy.

    I wonder how quickly the word ‘threesome’ will leave his mouth. The last time it was less than 30 seconds. Maybe this guy will beat it?

    I get asked about my sexual history in astonishing detail because this is what dating is like when you’re bisexual. My history is open season for mere strangers to delve into.

     Sharan Dhaliwal sitting at a table in a yellow dress
    I’m almost gay but not quite there, so my preferences are not taken seriously (Picture: Sharan Dhaliwal)

    Bisexuality is often seen as an intersection – I’m almost gay but not quite there, so my preferences are not taken seriously. I guess that’s why it’s easier for people to ask such intimate questions.

    If I were a lesbian, for example, men wouldn’t have enough access to me to ask when I last slept with a woman.

    If I do date a man, there’s the risk I’ll face their homophobia or some may consider me ‘straight again’. Except I’m not straight. I find myself questioning whether I should actively search for a queer woman or non-binary (NB) person to avoid this.

    The erasure of bisexuality has started to grate. My thick skin has got thinner and thinner until I started to disappear.

    It has exacerbated my mental health, too. My anxiety has got worse, as has my insomnia and often I decide I don’t want anyone in my life at all. I get stuck in patterns of painful encounters and I regularly question myself – it’s quite a feat to not only come out regularly to people around you, but having to do it to yourself.

    Sharan Dhaliwal wearing a t-shirt that says Girls Kissing Girls
    I’ve had friends who have dated in queer spaces only to be met with ‘you better not be bi,’ and a roll of the eyes (Picture: Sharan Dhaliwal)

    So, does my bisexuality make any encounter disingenuous? I’m not searching for ‘the one’ but I would like to make connections.

    Dating apps have become difficult for me to navigate and I’ve since scared myself off them – I’ve had people un-match me for being bisexual. I’ve had friends who have dated in queer spaces only to be met with ‘you better not be bi,’ and a roll of the eyes.

    I went on a date recently that I thought was going really well until I brought up my bisexuality and it was followed by a long silence. It felt longer than it was – filled with large sips of beer and an uncomfortable laugh. She didn’t call me back.

    A man I went on one fateful date with kept asking me about the queer and non-binary people I had been with and even said he ‘knew someone at school who was like that’.

    He then said he wouldn’t want to come to all the ‘gay stuff’ I go to, so it probably wouldn’t work out between us. I told him I didn’t want to go to all the ‘straight stuff’ he does and walked out.

    Sharan Dhaliwal stands under the branch of a tree
    I haven’t given up on looking for love completely because I like having a crush on people (Picture: Sharan Dhaliwal)

    I can take a boring conversation, bad taste in music and awful habits but I can’t come out again, face bi-erasure or homophobia, or become instantly sexualised and rejected for my preferences.

    The fear of that happening holds me back. I’m too tired to keep going through this so just I’ve stopped going on as many dates.

    I found speaking to other bisexual people helped me. Whether it’s forming friendships or more, they understand the struggle and I no longer feel alone – I’m no longer dwelling on my sexuality as much as I used to.

    I haven’t given up on looking for love completely because I like having a crush on people. I like feeling the warmth of seeing their face on my social media or around town and smiling at how adorable people can be. Yet I’m not sure I’m ready to take steps further into romance and open a conversation about my sexuality with people whose reactions I can’t predict.

    That’s fine. A lot of people say to me ‘it happens when you least expect it!’ but I find myself wondering what happens when you have no expectations.

    I like to think that the love I receive from my friends and family is enough and the last thing I need is someone who isn’t worth my love taking up space in my bed held by my favourite jacket and laptop.

    In all seriousness, I know that I live a vital life in the work I do and that romance isn’t a priority, it’s an option.

    We’re told that we need to get with someone, have a wedding and then some children, but I think we just need as many beautiful and important connections with as many people as possible – that’s what true love is to me. It enriches our lives.

    When I’m comfortable enough, I’m looking forward to inhabiting that space again.

    Sharan Dhaliwal is the founder of queer speed dating night Oh Queer Cupid

    Last week in Love, Or Something Like It: Being a virgin makes love so much harder to find

    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: For non-binary people like me, true love means loving myself first

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

    MORE: I met my husband on a sex website


    Illo request for Ella: Love Or Something Like It, Sharan Dhaliwal - I'm bi and have given up on datingIllo request for Ella: Love Or Something Like It, Sharan Dhaliwal - I'm bi and have given up on dating

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    Young woman wearing a hijab stands in a gym
    (Picture: Getty)

    Hafsah Sharif loves working out – but when she first started on her fitness journey she found it challenging because of her hijab.

    The 19-year-old wanted to remove her hijab so she could work out, but she chooses to wear the headscarf in front of men who aren’t her relatives – so gyms and fitness classes were tricky.

    She knew that this problem was affecting other women in her community and she wanted to do something about it, so last year she set up women-only classes to provide a safe space for Muslim women to get fit comfortably.

    ‘My relationship with fitness and exercise began during a stressful period in my life,’ Hafsah tells us. ‘The pressure of exams was getting the better of me, causing a myriad of health problems.

    ‘It was then that I found the one thing that consistently cleared my mind, balanced my moods, and made me feel stronger, was exercising.

    ‘As clichéd as it sounds, exercising really can become a form of therapy, it’s just a matter of finding the class or the sport that you enjoy.’

    Hafsah Sharif head shot
    ‘We need spaces where we can go to exercise without feeling uncomfortable.’ (Picture: Hafsah Sharif)

    Last year, Hafsah approached Southampton Council’s Youth Forum with a desire to find a space for Muslim women to exercise, but she has since found that female-only spaces in fitness have a much wider appeal.

    ‘It began when I wanted to start taking exercising seriously myself but realised there was not a lot available to me that accommodated my hijab. However, I quickly realised that this problem wasn’t exclusive to just Muslim women,’ explains Hafsah.

    ‘During puberty, there is a sharp decrease in the number of girls participating in sport, as they feel uncomfortable in their bodies, but these kinds of insecurities can occur at any age and I believe that having a safe, positive environment to work out in, where women can encourage one another, is the most effective way to motivate yourself to exercise.

    ‘We decided to do a “This Girl Can Southampton” campaign during the month of September, to not only provided a whole range of women’s-only classes from Pilates to kickboxing, but to also connect women like me throughout the city, so that they could form their own support networks to encourage each other on their fitness journeys.’

    Women often report that gyms can be quite hostile spaces, and that they don’t always feel safe and confident. So it is no wonder that the women’s-only classes were an instant hit.

    ‘The reaction was so positive,’ says Hafsah. ‘Throughout the month of September, we recorded the responses towards the campaign through questionnaires, and the information we collected confirmed my belief that if women’s-only classes were available, the majority would prefer to attend those, regardless of their religion or culture.’

    So beyond the practicalities of wearing a hijab, there definitely seems to be a much larger demand for women’s-only classes.

    According to Sport England, 40% of women say that they are put off from exercise altogether because of a fear of judgement, and black and Asian women are the groups least likely to get enough physical activity every week.

    Hafsah wants to change this, and she thinks that creating accessible spaces for women to exercise without these external pressures and the presence of men could be a huge step forwards.

    ‘Exercise is known to have countless health benefits, not only physically but also mentally, which is why I believe that exercise is so important for everyone,’ says Hafsah.

    ‘Minorities, like Muslim women, are often overlooked, but having things like women’s-only classes or gyms serves as an acknowledgment of their struggle (however small or large it may be to the individual).

    ‘This is something that is so precious to a group of women who so often feel ignored, unless it’s in a negative capacity.

    ‘Following the #MeToo movement, we have finally been forced to confront the ugly truth about the everyday harassment women endure, which just reinforces the importance of having safe spaces for women where they can go to exercise without feeling uncomfortable.’

    For Hafsah, not having to worry about her hijab allows her to focus solely on her workout and put all of her efforts into getting fit, without any distractions.

    ‘It’s not only freeing,’ she says, ‘but also therapeutic, as it allows me to clear my head and just focus on the exercise.

    ‘Due to the success of our first campaign we’re hoping to make it an annual event.

    ‘Apart from just the month of September, I hope that the positive response we have received will serve as an example to different fitness centres and organisations that there is a demand for women’s-only classes, and that it becomes the norm for gyms to provide safe spaces for women all the time.’

    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


    IMG_2458-bcffIMG_2458-bcff

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    Hayley Hassell LOL Pencil Case
    Don’t mess with your mum (Photo: Haley Hassell/Facebook)

    This is some advice for all the little girls in the world right now: Don’t mess with your mum.

    A Florida mother has gone viral after she was praised for teaching her ‘ungrateful’ daughter a lesson after the little girl threw her brand new pencil case in the trash.

    In shock, Hayley Hassel, the little girl’s mother, uploaded a ‘long mom rant’ to Facebook.

    In the post, she described how her six-year-old Presleigh asked her to buy her a popular ‘LOL’ pencil case.

    Wanting to surprise her, the single working mother bought the pencil case in the hope that her little one would be ‘ecstatic’ when she saw it.

    However, things didn’t go as Hayley had expected.

    A Florida mom has been praised for teaching her ungrateful daughter a lesson after the little girl threw her brand new pencil case in the trash. Haley Hassell uploaded a 'long mom rant' on Facebook, explaining that her six-year-old daughter Presleigh had asked for the popular 'LOL pencil box' but changed her mind, tossing it in the garbage
    Hell hath no fury like a mother scorned (Photo: Facebook/Haley Hassell)

    On giving her daughter the present, Presleigh angrily reacted throwing her new stationery accessory into the trash yelling: ‘That’s stupid, everyone in my class has that…I don’t want it anymore.’

    Furious, Hayley used the opportunity to make a point and proceeded to call out her daughter in a Facebook post.

    ‘By this time there was probably smoke coming out of my ears and I’m trying real hard not to completely lose it on this kid that I have worked so hard to completely take care of financially on my own [and] make sure she always gets what she needs and then some,’ Haley said.

    ‘But I thought I had always taught her to be grateful [and] know how lucky she was but apparently sis needed a small wake up call, she continued.’

    As another option, Hayley presented her daughter with an alternative pencil case: a plastic sandwich bag with the words ‘Presleigh’s pencil bag’ scrawled on it.

    A Florida mom has been praised for teaching her ungrateful daughter a lesson after the little girl threw her brand new pencil case in the trash. Haley Hassell uploaded a 'long mom rant' on Facebook, explaining that her six-year-old daughter Presleigh had asked for the popular 'LOL pencil box' but changed her mind, tossing it in the garbage. Provider: Facebook/ Haley Hassell
    In the trash (Photo: Facebook/Haley Hassell)

    After telling her daughter to go and grab the discarded pencil case from the trash, Hayley suggested that they should give it to someone who would actually appreciate it.

    ‘I explained to her she’s not entitled to anything special and she is taking for granted how lucky she is… I will personally deliver the nice box to a child that could benefit from it’.

    Reflecting on the incident, Hayley said: ‘Maybe I over react sometimes but I would’ve done anything to have all the things she does as a child. I truly believe changing your perception [and] just being grateful can turn around any situation in life’.

    We just now hope Presleigh values things that little bit more.

    MORE: Ziploc bags have upgraded from sandwich holders to fashion accessories

    MORE: Should pencil cases be banned?


    Pencil case girlPencil case girl

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    Bacchanalia Mas Band costumes by Kelly Rajpaulsingh
    Some of Kelly’s stunning costumes (Picture: Bacchanalia)

    It’s nearly time for Carnival, which means people across Notting Hill and the surrounding areas are either boarding up their windows or stocking up on rum.

    Each year on the August Bank Holiday, around a million people descend upon North West London to listen to the sweet sounds of Soca and Calypso and eat roti and jerk chicken.

    Decorating the route are hordes of people jumping up with sequinned costumes and plenty of feathers like a body halo. When you think of carnival, you think of these revellers.

    But, have you ever thought about everything that goes into their outfits? It’s a whole lot more work than simply turning up on the day to whine and wuk up.

    Kelly Rajpaulsingh is the brains behind the Bacchanalia Mas Band of Notting Hill Carnival, and has been making costumes and organising jumps for years.

    ‘I was born in Trinidad but moved to the UK in the mid-nineties, and carnival has always been a part of my life,’ Kelly tells Metro.co.uk.

    In Trinidad, she says, ‘you are taught about the meaning behind it at schools, how to make simple costumes etc and of course each year Trinidad hosts one of the greatest shows on earth itself with its carnival.’

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BnLd0s6B-94/

    When she came to England to study, Kelly decided to stay, and despite working in finance full time, began getting involved in carnival 14 years ago.

    Kelly initially started off on one of the sound systems before moving on to make costumes, and Bacchanalia has now become one of the most well-known bands in the UK.

    ‘Our style is unique and we try to offer something new each year – a featherless piece, fabric we created, trims we made, etc,’ says Kelly.

    ‘Our presentations carry a heavy female bias as we are keen to use the opportunity to profile the strength and character traits of women. Of course men are part of it – a very healthy part – but this platform offers a great opportunity to showcase women in their absolute glory.’

    To make that glory, the time frame is anything from on hour to weeks. Kelly says, ‘It depends on the complexity and the idea that you are trying to conceptualise and execute.’

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B1Ggf_DAvJO/

    Some of the tasks involved before you even begin sewing include ‘building a mood board, researching a theme, collecting fabrics and trim samples and working out what approach you are going to employ to tell the story.’

    This is the longest part of the process but, according to Kelly, ‘once you have everything in place it can move forward pretty quickly.

    ‘Once the prototype is made, then you can go straight into production – and that takes the bulk of time in getting the hundreds of costumes with so many components ready.’

    These components are comprised of bodywear, arm and leg accessories, headpieces, collars, and wings amongst other things.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B0o1UHoAxdm/

    Bacchanalia sell their costumes as part of a package, so while the average cost of a backline costume can be from to £25 to £60 depending on materials, people pay for a an all-inclusive package along with the clothing.

    That means you can dance along with trucks, sounds systems, security, food, drinks, and everything that goes along with that. This year, packages with Bacchanalia are from £225 for men and from £275 for women.

    You can add on extras to your standard costume, with headpieces from £75, and feather backpacks from £175.

    Kelly has had her costumes worn by models and actors (although she remains tight-lipped about who), but says ‘it’s great to also see someone like Rihanna helping to profile our culture when she attends the carnival in her hometown of Barbados each year and wears a costume.’

    For the designer, though, carnival means many things depending on how you approach it: ‘If you asked most people involved in it, they will most likely say it is an expression of freedom – that day where they can extract themselves from everyday life and just have the best time without worry or care.

    ‘It is quite liberating and wonderful to be able to experience this level of euphoria as there is nothing else quite like it – being with your friends, dancing in the streets to what we call happy music, revelling and being part of a community that welcomes everyone.’

    In terms of tips, Kelly advises people to ‘Participate! Don’t just spectate!’

    ‘We are in one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world that is so cosmopolitan and this amazing event is happening right here on our doorsteps – join it!’

    MORE: I’ve had people un-match me for being bisexual

    MORE: How to do Barbados’ Crop Over festival like a proper Bajan


    Everything that goes into the stunning carnival costumes you\'ll see at Notting Hill Picture: bacchanalia METROGRAB https://www.bacchanalia.london/product/anka-male/Everything that goes into the stunning carnival costumes you\'ll see at Notting Hill Picture: bacchanalia METROGRAB https://www.bacchanalia.london/product/anka-male/

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    An illustration of two people holding hands, with only the hands visible and a heart design on top in pink, with a purple background
    Are you micro-cheating? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    It’s no news that cheating sucks. It’s horrible and often leads to a sudden painful breakup that can take months, even years to get over.

    While we all know physical cheating – from BJs to full penetrative sex – is a big no-no if you’re taken, there’s now a new tinier form of cheating (yay, another dating trend) that hurts just as much: Micro-cheating.

    What is micro-cheating?

    Micro-cheating, in its most basic form, is cheating without physically crossing the line.

    It’s sort of like when you like someone for the first time; you buy them a small gift, slide into their DMs, touch them a lot, hold their hand when you’re a little tipsy or just give them a hug for no damn apparent reason. With every ounce of affection, you’re giving someone all the emotional and physical signs you like them, without actually telling them you like them. It’s the new basic bitch buzzword for infidelity, in other words. You’re being naughty, when you really shouldn’t be.

    These small opportunities you purposely create for affectionate behaviours that fall outside your relationship to create a bond are what relationship experts refer to as ‘micro-cheating’.

    So the question is…

    Are you micro-cheating?

    The most telltale clues you are micro-cheating include everything from dressing differently when you see the person you like to not telling bae who you are hanging out with after work – or just plain lying. You also step into murky territory when you suddenly jump on Instagram to like and comment on a girl or guy’s Instagram pic, or constantly check into your stories to see if they’ve seen what you’ve been up to in the last 24 hours.

    ‘No I am not a stalker, and it’s just harmless fun,’ you say. Okay, but what about when you start to get that flutter. Is it all innocent then? Probably not.

    The thing with micro-cheating is that if you’re actively thinking about getting someone else’s attention when you shouldn’t be, you’re actively being unfaithful. The point is, putting in that extra effort (did you really need to slap on that extra bit of concealer?) is now basically a form of shady infidelity. You cross the sacred line of romance when you feel that your actions would make your partner feel uncomfortable. #deletingthosetexts

    Still confused?

    Signs of micro-cheating

    Liking old social media posts

    Did you really need to like that post from 2014? No, of course you didn’t.

    Your dating profile is still live

    We’ll just wait for the next Taylor Swift album, shall we? This is not OK, and if you think it is, you need to talk to someone, and now.

    Meet the women who lie about their age on dating apps
    If the dating profile is still live, you’re cheating (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Constantly visiting their social page

    Whether it’s an ex or not, clicking on their handle just to see their sweet face counts as micro-cheating.

    Lying about your relationship status on Facebook

    Do we really need to answer this one? #Cheater.

    Illustration of a woman holding a phone
    Friends, eh? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Building a ‘platonic’ relationship online

    Imagine you start talking to a colleague in the industry who works at an entirely different company to you. For some unknown reason, you add them on Facebook or start following them on Instagram.

    From there, you naturally start chatting, but then suddenly as things progress, you exchange personal numbers because they want to talk about work (eye roll). Here you’re actively creating an emotional bond, which your partner could misinterpret if you keep it from them. That level of secrecy is when it goes from platonic to otherwise.

    Contacting an ex and hiding it

    Being friends with an old flame is one thing, but actually going to see them without telling your partner opens up a whole new can of worms.

    Lesson? Be mindful the next time you send that text. It could be the very thing that actually ends up destroying your relationship.

    MORE: Eight signs your partner is cheating on you

    MORE: Does cheating run in the family?


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

    Rather than presenting a singular image of the ‘ideal’ female form, this series champions women of all ages, races, sizes and abilities who are fit, strong and love their bodies.

    Sport England found that 40% of women are put off being physically active because of a fear of judgement, and that is what we want to change.

    Each week we speak to inspirational women who are redefining what it means to be strong and challenging preconceptions.

    Shirley Thompson is 61 and only took up rowing last year. In three months she will attempt to become the oldest woman to row the Atlantic solo.

    She attempted the challenge last year but had to be rescued by a helicopter when her boat began to sink – but she’s not going to let that put her off.

    Shirley Thompson on a boat
    ‘I have become increasingly frustrated by how society tends to discount older women.’ (Picture: Shirley Thompson)

    What inspired you to undertake such an incredible challenge?

    I wanted to do something monumental to celebrate being 60.

    As I have got older, I have become increasingly frustrated by how society tends to discount older women – especially in the career arena and once we reach menopause and beyond.

    I want to prove to myself and to others that age is just a number and that someone ordinary can do something extraordinary.

    What does rowing mean to you?

    I only took up rowing last summer, which is also when I learnt to swim!

    I am an ultra runner and have been since my early forties, but I wanted to take on a challenge outside of my comfort zone, hence the ocean row – as I don’t really like the water.

    In fact I set off last November, but after 17 days at sea my boat started to sink, I lost all my electrics and I had to be rescued.

    I am determined to get across so I have put all my energy into rescuing my boat and getting it repaired and back on the water in a couple of months.

    Shirley Thompson rowing her boat
    ‘If I feel frightened, I will close my eyes and think of Paddington Bear my dog.’ (Picture: Shirley Thompson)

    What has been the hardest thing about training?

    To be honest, the hardest part of this whole process is getting to the start.

    Buying a boat, preparing it, raising corporate sponsorship, preparing for three months at sea. I try to keep fit, and of course I have spent many, many hours on the water and on a rowing machine.

    I am most nervous about capsizes and also having to get into the ocean and clean the hull of the boat knowing the ocean can be can be 5km deep.

    What will it mean to you to complete this challenge?

    I will be happy to have tested myself to the max and having managed the crossing.

    I know things could get really tough out there, but I have several things that will keep me going. Firstly, my mantra: ‘how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!’ One coping mechanism I have is to never look at the challenge as a whole – just in little pieces.

    If I feel frightened, I will close my eyes and think of Paddington Bear my dog, and snuggling up to him – that will help me to feel comforted.

    Also, I recently had to put my other dog, Pixie Belle, to sleep. I am taking her ashes with me to scatter in the ocean (she was a Newfoundland, so a water dog) and I expect I will talk to her ashes when I feel low.

    Shirley's boat on the ocean at sunset
    ‘I am strong because I am a woman, but no less or more than other women.’ (Picture: Shirley Thompson)

    What does the term ‘strong woman’ mean to you?

    I think all women are strong. Despite attempts to change the balance, women still often have to fight to be heard, appreciated or valued.

    I am strong because I am a woman, but no less or more than other women. We all have an incredible inner strength.

    I would love people to realise that older women are as capable as older men and as capable as younger women.

    For me, age has brought increased my wisdom, my mental tenacity and my determination. As I am a firm believer that the mental drives the physical, it will be my mental strength that will hopefully get me across.

    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: ‘The burns almost killed me – strong is being a survivor of life’

    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’


    Strong Women: ShirleyStrong Women: Shirley

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