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

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    Bridesmaids
    Maybe I’m naïve but I don’t think I’d have anything to fear as a bridesmaid (Picture: Erin Aniker)

    As a single woman in my 30s who works at a wedding magazine, I’m sometimes asked if I’m jealous of the newlywed couples I interview.

    But it’s not listening to their love stories that makes me envious – it’s when I hear someone talking about the fun times with their bridesmaids in the run-up to the wedding.

    I’ve never been a bridesmaid. I hope, one day, I’ll get the chance to fill the role for one of my friends. However, I don’t often say this out loud. That’s because when I do, people tend to react as if I’m confessing a secret desire to become an international arms dealer.

    Most people start by telling me their ‘bridezilla’ (I hate that word) horror stories. We’ve all heard those – the usually delightful friends and family who morph into nightmarish dictators within weeks of getting engaged.

    ‘When I told my cousin I’d be six months pregnant on her wedding day, she cried,’ said one friend.

    ‘Not because she was happy for me – because she said I wouldn’t be able to fit into the bridesmaid dress she’d picked and would have to wear something different from the others. She said it would ruin the photos.’

    One colleague told me that her friend ‘fired’ her as bridesmaid because she didn’t do ‘a good enough job’ with the hen party. Why would I want to put myself through something like that? Because my experience tells me truly bad behaviour is the exception.

    At its core, what having bridesmaids means is gathering a group of people to provide support and hopefully a few laughs along the way during a potentially stressful time.

    Over the last four and a half years I must have interviewed hundreds of couples – and their wedding parties. I’ve read countless anonymous posts on our forum from bridesmaids.

    Yes, I hear about some tricky situations, but I don’t think it’s fair to brand someone a ‘bridezilla’ because they occasionally get irritable while under the pressure of organising a complicated (and often expensive) event.

    Maybe I’m naïve but I don’t think I’d have anything to fear as a bridesmaid.

    The second reaction is more complicated: for some people, being a bridesmaid is a problematic Western wedding tradition.

    It may not be as loaded as the tradition of the bride being ‘given away’ by her father but given that bridesmaids were originally single women of so-defined ‘marriageable’ age – who were supposed to help ward off evil spirits –  it can feel at best outdated.

    ‘I don’t know exactly why, but there’s something so creepy about the whole bridesmaids thing,’ said a friend, once she’d recovered from hearing I’d like to be part of it.

    ‘The idea that the pinnacle of female friendship is a group of identically dressed women giggling over prosecco while having their make-up done, and hero-worshipping another woman because she’s found someone to marry – it’s a bit last century, isn’t it?’

    The thing is, that stereotype doesn’t give the full picture. A recent study showed that certain wedding traditions are falling out of favour. Having bridesmaids isn’t one of them, with the average number staying the same.

    What I’ve seen happening instead is that couples are putting their own twist on the idea, redefining the tradition to take it away from its roots. That translates to bridesmaids choosing their own outfits; brides-to-be organising their own hen – or having a joint pre-wedding party with their partner – or not having one at all.

    In 2019, who says being a bridesmaid has to focus on female friendship? I’ve observed a growing trend for brides-to-be to include their male friends in their wedding party, as ‘bridesmen’. I’ve never actually said that I want to be bridesmaid specifically to a female friend or relative – it would be the same honour to be part of a groom-to-be’s entourage.

    At its core, what having bridesmaids means is gathering a group of people to provide support and hopefully a few laughs along the way during a potentially stressful time.

    It’s not about who they are or what they wear or what gender (if any) they identify as – it’s a celebration of relationships. And that’s what I love the idea of it.

    MORE: Brother and sister share wedding day and manage to save £5,000 each

    MORE: Bride who wanted 50 bridesmaids settles for 34

    MORE: Humanist weddings are now more popular than religious ones


    Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrations

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    Living with an invisible illness means dealing with symptoms every day – but no one can see them.

    You Don’t Look Sick is a series that explores what it’s like to live with a hidden condition.

    Hayley Jordan, 28, is originally from New Zealand but now lives in Manchester. She lives with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC).

    AS is a type of arthritis that particularly causes inflammation to the joints in the spine but can affect other parts of the body.

    PSC is a progressive liver disease where the bile ducts inside and outside the liver progressively decrease in size due to inflammation and scarring.

    Hayley was born with the HLA-b27 gene, which means she’s more at risk of developing autoimmune conditions.

    She was diagnosed with AS in early 2015 but had been experiencing symptoms since she was 17. Later the same year, she was told she also had PSC.

    She explains: ‘I’ve always had some “back problems” since I was around 17 years old. Stiffness and pain, especially after waking up in the morning.

    ‘At the time we always thought it was just because I’m rather tall (I’m almost 6ft) and often have poor posture like many tall people do.

    You Don?t Look Sick. Hayley Jordan, Manchester 28.08.2019. (Picture: Robert Binder for Metro.co.uk)
    Hayley lives with two invisible illnesses (Picture: Robert Binder for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘It never really got out of hand, I had periods of back pain and then periods of being fine.

    ‘I remember travelling around Japan in 2013 and just thinking the beds were really hard and they were killing my back until I was up and walking for a couple of hours to loosen up.’

    In 2014, her pain started to get much worse and she thought it could be something more serious.

    ‘I was going to the gym a couple of times of week, working full time, and struggling to have the same range of motion that I used to,’ she says.

    ‘It would be very painful to get up in the morning, wincing and hobbling around my apartment until I could get loosened up enough to walk upright.

    Hayley in Melbourne
    This is Hayley around the time she was diagnosed, when she was feeling particulary unwell (Picture: Hayley Jordan)

    ‘I thought that perhaps I’d damaged my spine in some way, a disc issue maybe, so I went to my gym physio and we started doing some investigations and strengthening.

    ‘After a few sessions of it not improving, he referred me to a senior physio.’

    But following three months of sessions, Hayley wasn’t improving and her physio referred her to a sports doctor.

    He felt something wasn’t right and carried out blood tests and an MRI scan to see what was happening.

    Hayley says: ‘Blood tests were normal, MRI was less normal, and I was referred to a rheumatologist.

    ‘When I got the referral letter I had to Google what a rheumatologist did, and then I couldn’t believe that I would have to be in any way involved with an arthritis specialist. I thought “Isn’t that for old people?!”’

    She had three months of weekly blood tests, genetic tests, X-rays and another MRI before she was finally diagnosed with AS.

    A selfie of Hayley in front of mountains in Switzerland
    She hasn’t let her conditions stop her from travelling in Europe (Picture: Hayley Jordan)

    ‘I was extremely lucky,’ Hayley says. ‘My rheumatologist Rebecca was proactive and truly cared about my health, she wouldn’t stop until she got her answer.

    ‘I have close friends who have autoimmune arthritis and it took months and months from their first specialist appointment for their rheumatologist to believe the pain they were experiencing as they were “too young” to have such severe arthritis.

    ‘I remember being somewhat relieved on one level – that I had a diagnosis and now at least I knew I wasn’t making the pain up, or pretending that it was worse than it was. The chronic, life-altering pain I felt was real and it could possibly be treated.

    ‘Then set in the reality of what this disease meant. I struggled with the vision of me being in a wheelchair at 45 for a long time.’

    By then, it has been 10 months since Hayley started to experience her first symptoms and she was in a lot of pain. She found that the condition was having an impact on her physically and mentally.

    Hayley Jordan in front of some houses in Sourthern Italy
    Hayley in Italy (Picture: Hayley Jordan)

    She says: ‘I was in daily 6-7 out of 10 pain, struggling to sleep, unable to stand or walk for more than 10 minutes, and my mental health was taking a serious toll.

    ‘Day to day the pain was pretty difficult to manage. I was struggling to sleep more than 4-5 hours a night, sometimes having to sleep propped upright with pillows to relieve the pain in my spine.

    ‘Standing for longer than 5 minutes was very uncomfortable, walking for longer than 15 minutes turned me into a limping, painful mess.

    ‘I remember struggling with getting up and down from the toilet, having to hold onto the walls and hold my breath as I lowered myself.

    ‘It’s incredible how deeply connected physical health is to mental health, ever since that year of pain and the ongoing chronic nature of my illnesses since, I’ve constantly had to keep on top of my anxiety which had never really been a part of my life until then.’

    To try to relieve the flare, Hayley started trying a different medication, including a weaker chemotherapy drug (methotrexate).

    She needed regular blood tests to ensure that they weren’t causing harm to the rest of her body – it was one of these tests that led to her second diagnosis.

    ‘I was overseas and got a call from my mum, who got a call from my doctor saying to stop my medication immediately. Turns out my blood tests were showing extremely high levels across my liver tests and something was wrong.

    Hayley on The Shambles in York
    Hayley still likes to travel (Picture: Hayley Jordan)

    ‘When I got back to New Zealand, there began another six months of investigation thanks to my amazing rheumatologist who wouldn’t give up trying to find the cause of my illness.

    ‘The three suspects were autoimmune hepatitis, drug-induced liver damage (from the huge amounts of anti-inflammatories I was taking to manage my arthritic pain), or a scary rare disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.

    ‘I remember reading that one on Google before I was diagnosed and saying to my mum “Well as long as I don’t have that one I’ll be happy!”

    ‘During this time I wasn’t able to be treated for my AS until they knew what was going on, so I had to keep popping diclofenac twice a day to take the edge off and maybe get some sleep.’

    In August 2015, Hayley was told the other conditions had been ruled out and it looked like she had PSC, which was confirmed a month later.

    She says: ‘I often say to people now that my arthritis is “child’s play” and it’s the PSC that we have to worry about.
    ‘I remember being told by my rheumatologist that PSC is probably going to be one I was diagnosed with and as such, she’d refer me to a gastroenterologist to start that journey.

    ‘I pretty much lost it in the clinic; hyperventilating, crying, struggling to breathe. I had to leave and go to the hospital bathroom so I could have some privacy while completely shutting down – ugly crying, curled up on the floor, wailing to my mum on the phone, it was awful.

    ‘It still makes me upset to remember that day. PSC is considered the “black box” of liver disease – there’s no proper cure, no treatment plan, it was lucky I was even diagnosed so early on in the disease as many times its asymptomatic and people are diagnosed only in the later stages.

    ‘10-15 years from diagnosis to transplant said Wikipedia, and I was only 23 so that felt way too soon.’

    Hayley sat in front of mountains in Switzerland
    Hayley in Switzerland (Picture: Hayley Jordan)

    Hayley started to see a psychologist who helped her come to terms with her diagnosis.

    She says: ‘It helped me accept my circumstances, grieve for what I had lost, and eventually be more positive when thinking about the future.

    ‘It was a huge step forward in learning to heal. I learnt the life is never guaranteed to anyone, maybe I’ve had some shitty luck, but I can either sit in my shitty luck or I can choose to move into the next day with as much energy and positivity as I can manage.’

    Now four years on from her second diagnosis, Hayley has both conditions under control and is currently asymptomatic.

    Occasionally she still has bad days, where she suffers from fatigue, pain and difficulty moving, and she knows she could have a flare-up at any stage.

    She says: ‘Currently my good days are 9/10, and I’m very lucky. When you’ve experienced being actively sick, in and out of doctor appointments, doing invasive tests and procedures, anything better than that is a good day that you very quickly become grateful for.

    Different medication Hayley uses sat on a table
    Hayley’s medication (picture: Hayley Jordan)

    ‘My AS is treated with a fortnightly “biologic” injection that I administer myself, it suppresses my immune system enough that I have very little pain in my spine day to day.

    ‘I still find it difficult to stand for long periods, anything more than an hour and I’m having to find a seat – concerts/festivals/long queues are a nightmare.

    ‘The injection also makes me more vulnerable to sickness, so I get infections a lot more often now and suddenly developed hayfever. Herd immunity is something I rely on!’

    ‘Some days I’m still a little stiff and so I vape high-grade CBD to take the edge off – it works amazing, I can feel the ache slip away in a matter of minutes.

    ‘I suffer fatigue more than your average 20-something. If I have a busy weekend or a late night it can have a lasting effect for the rest of the week.

    ‘It means I need to look after myself more and take recovery days following busy periods when I know I’ll need to rest.

    Hayley in Budapest
    Hayley in Budapest (Picture: Hayley Jordan)

    ‘I came to the UK to travel and meet new people, and when I go on holiday I have to pace myself and spend a little more on accommodation sometimes to avoid hostels where it’s a bit more uncomfortable or loud – sleep is my saviour.’

    Because both her conditions are rare and invisible, Hayley finds that people often don’t understand the impact they have on her life.

    She says: ‘I don’t often tell people that I’m chronically ill. When I do, I usually say it in a very matter-of-fact and casual way that most people look a bit bewildered and may ask some more questions, which I never mind answering.

    ‘Most people would say “You’d never know!” intending it to be in a nice way – that I look fit and healthy and it’s a surprise that I’m chronically unwell, which I understand. I tend to judge people on their intention rather than on the words themselves.

    ‘Just before I was diagnosed, an ex-boyfriend didn’t believe that my symptoms were solely arthritis, despite all the tests and doctors heading in that direction.

    ‘He thought that I needed to exercise more and lose weight, and that’s why I was so sore all the time. He’d also give little side remarks whenever I wanted to take medication to help the pain.

    Because her conditions aren’t visible, Hayley sometimes avoids using priority seats or disabled bathrooms, even during a flare-up, because she worries how other people will react.

    She says: ‘I’m very grateful in that my illnesses are truly “invisible”, unless my arthritis is flaring up at which point I’ll have a slight limp when I walk. In this way, I very rarely get judged for how I look or when I’m out.

    Hayley Jordan sat at a table
    Hayley wants to raise more awareness of invisible illnesses (Picture: Robert Binder for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘This is a double-edged sword – I don’t look sick, therefore I feel like people are less likely to believe me if I tell them I need help.

    ‘I don’t want to have an argument or a judgemental look in public. There have been times where I’ve been sitting in a priority seat and grateful for the pain relief on a bad day, but stood up for someone who visibly needed it more – someone with a cane or crutches or a parent with young children.’

    She also struggled with assumptions people make about her because of how she manages her conditions.

    She explains: ‘One thing that bothers me is that I can’t drink alcohol due to my liver disease. That always causes strange looks and further questioning.

    ‘Some people will assume I’ve had a drinking problem or am hiding the real reason why I won’t drink. It’s virtually unheard of for a young person to turn down a drink, so people tend to be sceptical and don’t take a simple “no thanks” for an answer.’

    Hayley wants to see people be more aware of people living with invisible illnesses and to be more compassionate when they need help.

    She says: ‘Awareness is number one. Then people in public will be less likely to give a tut or make side remarks when someone uses the priority seat or a disabled parking space.’

    How to get involved with You Don't Look Sick

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

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

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

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘Being assaulted at work left me with a brain injury that turned life upside down’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I fell down 51 steps in Vegas’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘My arm hurts so much I considered having it amputated’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘Living with an invisible illness destroyed my confidence’


    You Don?t Look Sick - Hayley JordanYou Don?t Look Sick - Hayley Jordan

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    Woman in white wedding dress covered up by large bouquet made up of green foliage
    Oh dear (Picture: Facebook)

    When it comes to weddings, everyone has an opinion on everything – the dress, the ring, the food.

    Of course, the flowers are also going to be judged if they’re particularly out there.

    And such was the case for one bride who posed with a large bouquet that online commenters said looked like a ‘hedge’.

    The woman, donned in a regal white dress with a netted cape, wasn’t praised or even condemned for her gown as is often the case with wedding shamers.

    But it was her bridal bouquet that caught everyone’s eyes – mostly due to the lack of flowers – as it seemed to be made entirely of foliage.

    Posting on a Facebook shaming group, commenters accused the bride of ‘pulling up a bunch of weeds’ on the big day,

    Ouch.

    In an image shared on the shaming group, the bride can be seen in the garden in her dress with a tulle cape.

    But users couldn’t help but notice the unconventional flower choice that had covered a large portion of the dress.

    One person asked if she was ‘holding a hanging basket’ instead of a bouquet.

    Another quipped: ‘That’s a lot of grass. Did she feed her goats and rabbits with it afterwards?’

    In the same vein, someone else said: ‘When you work as a landscaper and have to work the morning of your wedding’.

    Others wondered whether she had a florist fail on the day of the wedding: ‘When you panic at the last minute and realise you forgot to hire a florist, so you just pull up a bunch of weeds and hope no-one notices’.

    Some were a bit more measured, saying: ‘Love the dress, hate the hedge’.

    Anyone else having any unconventional elements on their big day, careful your guests aren’t roasting you on a shaming page.

    MORE: Bride caught out stealing flowers from her neighbour’s garden for her wedding

    MORE: Couple saved £1600 on wedding flowers by growing their own at their allotment

    MORE: Bride asks florist to work for free – because she’s already spent thousands on wedding


    PRI_82593210PRI_82593210

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    On the left, the Aldi mixer and the right, the Kitchen Aid version
    On the left, the Aldi mixer and the right, the Kitchen Aid version (Picture: Aldi, KitchenAid)

    It’s GBBO season again and though some of you might be watching it for the beautiful cakes, others tune in just to catch a glimpse of those pristine pastel stand mixers.

    The bakers each use a KitchenAid but starting at with prices starting around £320, it is something most of us can only dream about.

    Well, now Aldi is selling a dupe version for just £49.

    The Aldi version comes in two colours, a classic white or a slightly more exciting red version.

    It has a 4l capacity bowl and six-speed levels to help you whisk up everything from bread dough to meringue.

    It even includes a splash guard to prevent you and your kitchen getting covered in cake batter.

    METROGRAB - Aldi stand mixer dupe Aldi stand mixer
    The £49 stand mixer (Picture: Aldi)

    It uses planetary mixing action, which means the beater moves one way while the drive shaft moves the other to make sure everything is incorporated in the bowl.

    It comes with three attachments – a whisk, dough hook and beater.

    Everything is mixed in a stainless steel bowl and the tilt head function means you can lift the whole thing out easily to add the rest of the ingredients or pour the mix into a cake tin.

    There’s even anti-slip feet to stop it moving around on your kitchen worktop.

    It also comes with a three-year guarantee so if anything goes wrong, you can get a new one.

    It’s available from today but is part of the special buys so you need to be quick to get one. You can pick them up in-store or online.

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘People need to stop tutting when I use a priority seat’

    MORE: I don’t want to be a bride – I want to be a bridesmaid


    Aldi stand mixer dupeAldi stand mixer dupe

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    Lesbian couple from India and Pakistan look regal in wedding sari and sherwani
    This gorgeous couple from India and Pakistan just got married (Picture: @biancamaieli/Senna Ahmad)

    Bianca Maieli and her new wife Saima Ahmad just got married in a wedding that showed ‘love has no boundaries’.

    The lesbian couple, respectively from India and Pakistan looked regal on their big day with one wearing a sari and the other a sherwani (groom’s outfit).

    Bianca, a Colombian-Indian Christian woman met Saima, a Muslim woman from Pakistan at an event where they live in the U.S.

    Some time later, the couple decided to tie the knot in California, wearing two traditional outfits.

    South Asian fashion designer Bilal Hussain Kazimov dressed Bianca in a stunning ivory sari, complete with a maang tikka (head jewellery), gold bangles and pearl kadas (bangles).

    Saima, on the other hand, opted for a sherwani, traditionally worn by male grooms from South Asia.

    They went for similar vibes during their Mehendi too (pre-wedding ceremony).

    And they nailed the looks each time.

    Bianca Maieli and her new wife Saima Ahmad pose in traditional South Asian outfits
    Their marriage was said to ‘unite’ two divided nations (Picture: @biancamaieli/Senna Ahmad)

    Saima was also dressed by Bilal and went for a black sherwani with embroidered detail in gold hues and other colours.

    She completed the look with a dupatta (scarf) on her side and a moti (read pearl) mala

    On their wedding day, there were baraat processions – whereby both sides of the family meet, singing and dancing – and the brides also joined in.

    They then exchanged rings and officially got married.

    At their Mehendi, they were equally gorgeous, with Bianca wearing a pink lehenga (skirt-top combo) while Saima sported a kurta pyjama (a lighter version of sherwani) which she teamed up with a pink brocade jacket.

    News of the couple’s sweet union has been met with wide praise online, with many commending the couple for bringing together two divided nations.

    One person wrote: ‘Despite tensions over Kashmir, this marriage is a positive step in strengthening Indo-Pak relationship. Good luck to the couple. Congratulations’. 

    While another wrote: ‘How beautiful is love. Indeed there are no boundaries in love.’

    Saima Ahmad kisses her wife Bianca Maieli's hand
    Two queens (Picture: @biancamaieli/Senna Ahmad)

    Bianca and Saima aren’t the only couple to unite two opposing nations.

    Anjali Chakra and Sundas Malik, also respectively from India and Pakistan, were also celebrated for their union.

    They took breathtaking pics on social media entitled ‘a New York love story’ and it wowed thousands.

    Bianca Maieli and her new wife Saima Ahmad on their wedding day in California
    We stan (Picture: @biancamaieli/Senna Ahmad)

    ‘We feel good about all the young LGBTQIA girls, non-binary people, and boys looking at our photos, feeling seen and not alone’ they previously told Metro.co.uk.

    What beautiful power couples. We love to see it.

    MORE: Two women who fought against LGBT laws in India just came out as a couple

    MORE: These two Indian grooms had a traditional Hindu wedding and people are loving it

    MORE: Transgender couple from India get married in Calcutta’s first ‘rainbow wedding’


    Lesbian couple look regal in wedding sari and sherwaniLesbian couple look regal in wedding sari and sherwani

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    PLants that are good for your bedroom
    These plants are all great for bedrooms (Picture: Patch)

    If you’re struggling to get to sleep, there could be a solution that helps you nod off, while adding that Insta-worthing aesthetic at the same time – plants.

    Houseplants in the bedroom are a great idea but you need to choose some that will survive somewhere that’s often dark.

    And once you’ve made the right choices, remember to look after them properly. Leaving them in the bedroom, away from the kitchen sink can mean they get forgotten about.

    Freddie Blackett, co-founder of plant delivery website Patch, has some tips for plants that work in the bedroom

    He says: ‘The bedroom can be a tricky place for plants. Often they’re not the brightest room in the home and unless you’re very lucky to have an enormous sleeping space, they’re not always blessed with a lot of room for a plant to stretch out.

    ‘Thankfully, there are a lot of plants that will be more than happy hanging out in your bedroom and some have added benefits to help you sleep better.’

    These are Freddie’s favourite bedroom plants:

    Snake Plant

    A snake plant from Patch
    Snake Plant (Picture: Patch)

    There are two major advantages to the snake plant or sansevieria. The first is that it’s incredibly easy to look after. It is close to unkillable, able to cope with just about any light conditions and very forgiving of a lax watering schedule.

    The reason it’s great for bedrooms is that it sucks toxins out of the air during the day (things like benzene and formaldehyde) and then releases oxygen at night, so it will be purifying the air as you sleep.

    Peace lily

    A peace lily from Patch
    Peace Lily (Picture: Patch)

    Don’t be fooled by its exotic looks, with its big dramatic white flowers and glossy green leaves. This is a very unfussy plant that will still flower in fairly low light. It’s excellent for air-purification, so ideal for a bedroom, and can also boost the humidity in your room, which can help with breathing at night.

    Devil’s Ivy

    Devil's Ivy plant from Patch
    Devil’s Ivy (Picture: Patch)

    If you don’t have a lot of spare floor space, put this hanging plant up on a high shelf. It will deal with low light conditions, although it would prefer brighter, indirect light, and its very efficient at sucking impurities from the air.

    Parlour palm

    Parlour palm from Patch
    Parlour palm (Picture: Patch)

    If you want a statement plant that will live happily in a bedroom, consider a parlour palm. Mature plants are large and look dramatic, but require very little attention.

    It’s perfectly happy in most light conditions, so even a north-facing bedroom won’t phase it. It has the added benefit of being great for air-purification – NASA has it listed as one of the fifty best.

    Aloe Vera

    Aloe vera plant from patch
    Aloe Vera (Picture: Patch)

    Like the snake plant, aloe vera release oxygen at night, improving the air quality as you sleep. It’s another easy one to take care of, only requiring occasional watering.

    One thing to be aware of is that it needs a lot of light, so only choose it if you have a bright bedroom, otherwise it will look floppy and miserable.

    Aspidistra

    Aspidistra from Patch
    The Aspidistra (Picture: Patch)

    Also known as the cast iron plant because it will take a lot of neglect and soldier on. Nobody is suggesting you deliberately neglect a plant, but if your bedroom gets very little light and you’re a bit forgetful with your watering, this guy won’t care. It’s a failsafe plant for even the most inexperienced plant parent.

    MORE: Plants are now being prescribed to help people with anxiety and depression

    MORE: Why do your houseplants keep dying?


    Plants for the bedroomPlants for the bedroom

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    Hot_girl_semester_is_the_new_hot_girl_summer-b93c

    Remember our explainer of Hot Girl Summer – the seasonal concept of living your best life according to your whims.

    The phrase wasn’t the same as getting ‘beach body ready’ or even being hot as the name would suggest, it was just a state of mind.

    Popularised by Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, the phrase quickly became a meme and even a viral hit. It was basically the summery version of big dick energy.

    The now-famous three words were probably littered all over your social media during the warm weather but now it’s time to meet the autumnal counterpart.

    Hot Girl Semester is all about channelling the bad b*tch summer vibes as you go back to school/work/ordinary lives.

    Once again, it was coined by none other than Megan Thee Stallion, who’s ushering in the new era of boss moves.

    The rapper posted a video of herself on Twitter working away at her laptop. She accompanied the tweet with the caption: ‘Finishing my homework before my after-party #hotgirlsemester.’

    And so of course, soon, the hashtag started doing the rounds. Other university and high school students going back to their studies could relate.

    It seems Megan wasn’t just stunting online either: the artist is said to be studying for her degree in health administration at Texas Southern University.

    A full-time musician in her third year of uni? We have no choice but to stan.

    And others are totally on board. Many commended the Houston-based rapper on her efforts to juggle work and studies.

    ‘I love this woman you hear me! Getting a degree, stamping her passport, making fire music, driving boats,’ wrote one fan.

    Others said Megan was inspiring them to get their work done too.

    ‘I’ve literally done all of my upcoming assignments in the name of #hotgirlsemester and this is brand new for me,’ said another. ‘Thanks, Meg, gonna be my inspiration in getting homework done.

    Echoing the sentiment, another wrote: ”You know what…I’m about to hop on my mastering physics right now. Thank u miss Stallion’.

    All this talk of going back to school might be giving you the heebie-jeebies but like the famous hot girl summer, hot girl semester isn’t a literal concept.

    It’s not about wrapping up your breaks and gathering the gel pens and fresh notebooks to study hard.

    It’s about approaching the new season with a badass, can-do attitude, whether at a new job, new institution, a new week.

    Anyone can enjoy the fruits of a Hot Girl Semester as it’s gender-neutral too.

    So go forth and absolutely boss whatever is headed your way.

    MORE: Enjoy your hot girl summer with this Louis Vuitton volleyball for £2,113

    MORE: Rihanna shows us how slaying is done ahead of new Savage x Fenty campaign

    MORE: Mum ready for daughter to go back to school after she coloured her face purple


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    Mince pies on a spotty tablecloth
    Four Christmas mince pies, One half eaten, on a green and white spotted napkin.

    It’s officially the first day of autumn. Overnight, we’ve air kissed and clinked flutes with the summer that was, meaning it’s time for only one thing: Christmas! Right?

    Summer’s bed hadn’t even gone cold when Asda snuggled right in with a little red box of festive mince pies. Yep, they’re selling them in September.

    The package reads: ‘Juicy raisins, festive spices and crumbly pastry… because it’s not Christmas without them.’ And apparently, it isn’t September without mince pies either.

    The seemingly early roll out of the Christmas staples is getting shoppers talking, with some welcoming the pies despite them expiring in October.

    Perhaps you’re happy to butter up a hot cross bun outside of April, or you’re partial to theatrical cobwebs over the front door year-round, but we’d wager there are some of us who think indulging in these treats outside of the season is breaking tradition.

    ‘Just putting this out there @asda…Is there a demand for #MincePies in August? Best Before date is October ‘19 so I’m thinking, they must be a late summer snack for some?’ wrote one Twitter user.

    ‘Bladdy #mincepies on sale in #Asda . It is August … what’s next..January Sale in September @AsdaServiceTeam Give us a break,’ wrote another.

    Bladdy hell indeed.

    It might turn your world upside down to learn that Asda sells their mince pies year-round. Even other supermarkets sell them outside of the silly season, with Tesco and Morrisons stocking those sweet little pies from tomorrow.

    One Twitter user, who might not be sure about the non-compulsory aspect of grocery shopping, wrote: “Congratulations @Tesco for ruining this year’s Christmas!!! September 4th and you are FORCING this us on already with mince pies etc!!!”

    Over the years, Asda has been a supermarket go-to for mince pie pundits, even releasing special editions of the Christmas treat. In 2017, Asda became the first supermarket to launch vegan mince pies and in 2018, they released ‘giant’ mince pies.

    This year, the store will offer a new Christmas menu including a vegan take on the Beef Wellington, a diabolical-looking ‘centrepiece’ with 12 pigs in blankets, a mesmerising vegan dessert swirl, a penguin cake and winter spice gin.

    MORE: Aldi is selling Bake Off KitchenAid stand mixer dupes for under £50

    MORE: I don’t want to be a bride – I want to be a bridesmaid


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    A finished geometric wall
    The finished look is fantastic (Picture: Emma Hughes)

    Is your living room in need of an update but you’re short on cash after overspending this summer?

    This is the perfect hack to create a really unusual feature wall on a budget.

    People have been making these striking walls by marking out a random pattern with strips of masking tape and painting the segments with paint from tester pots.

    The cost depends on the colour and size of the wall but most spent under £20 – and one woman said she spent just £1 by using up leftover paint she already had from other decorating projects.

    Ideally, you need a white or cream wall underneath as that dictates the colour of the stripes under the masking tape.

    Applying the masking tape
    Applying the tape (Picture: Louise Power)

    Then you just need to mark out the pattern, pulling the tape to keep it straight. Most people have used £1 masking tape but others suggest using frog tape, which is slightly more expensive but helps to prevent the paint bleeding.

    Paint the segments, painting slightly over the edge of the tape to make sure it’s covered.

    Painting the wall
    Painting the wall (Picture: Louise Power)

    Depending on the shades you choose, you might need a few coats.

    Wait until it’s completely dry and then gently remove the tape to leave the straight defined lines.

    A finished geometric wall
    The finished look  (Picture: Louise Power)

    Most people have picked up tester pots, which cost around £1-£2 each, choosing colours that work together.

    Louise created a wall using shades of green by buying dark green paint and mixing it with some white paint she already had to make four different tones for the wall.

    Or you can try using up paint in your house to keep it really low cost.

    The money-saving hack has gained lots of fans online.

    A finished geometric wall with stickers
    Leanne added stickers for her sons’ room (Picture: Leanne Lcx)

    People have been sharing the results of their work in Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks.

    Emma Hughes said: ‘Jumping on the geometric bandwagon. Only paid £1 for making tape from Poundland as I had paint spare from decorating other rooms. Really pleased with how it came out.’

    A finished geometric wall
    Anya tried blue tones (Picture: Anya Louise Danson-Jarvis)

    Leanne used the hack and added Marvel stickers to the sections for her twin boys’ room. She said: ‘Turned out great and the boys absolutely love it. Great feature wall.’

    Anya added: ‘Decided to jump on the bandwagon really pleased with the outcome. Can’t wait to do the rest of my house lol.’

    MORE: Christmas is four months away, so Asda is of course selling mince pies

    MORE: Hot Girl Semester is the new Hot Girl Summer so are you ready to boss it?


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    The picture Lauren's mum posted on Facebook and the replica cake
    The picture Lauren’s mum posted on Facebook and the replica cake (Picture: Lauren Faulkner/lauzyfaulks)

    We’ve seen plenty of mum’s who don’t quite get Facebook but one mum’s social media mix-up cost her £200.

    Virginia Kavanagh posted a picture of a cake she found on Google when wishing her daughter Lauren’s friend Beth a happy 18th birthday.

    The cake was a personalised frozen cake with the name Beth on the side Olaf on the side and Elsa on top.

    She added the message: ‘Happy 18th birthday princess, hope you have a wonderful day, you have always been our favourite!! Lots of love VV & Stephen xxx.’

    But when Beth responded with a message that suggested she thought the cake was a real gift from Virginia, she panicked.

    Beth posted: ‘OMG CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!! Thank you so much, Virginia and Stephen! I’ll need to pop round today and have some xxx.’

    Not wanted to disappoint her daughter’s friend, Virginia contacted cake makers and paid for someone to make a replica cake for the next day, at a cost of £200.

    Daughter Lauren revealed the story on Twitter, three years later, and people loved it.

    One said: ‘your poor mum bless her.’

    After sharing the reaction from Twitter with her mum, Lauren shared the messages with her mum, who revealed that worst of all – Beth hadn’t even eaten any of it.

    She said: ‘I like “your poor mum”!! Yes poor me!!! I felt so bad for Beth, I wanted to cry!!

    ‘What you failed to add is she then didn’t eat the feckin thing and left it at our to go hard and I was furious!!!’

    MORE: People love this hack to create incredible feature walls using £1 masking tape and paint tester pots

    MORE: Christmas is four months away, so Asda is of course selling mince pies


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    Dad and daughter sitting on the bi-chair
    This chair is for bisexual people who ‘can’t sit straight’ (Picture: Má Matiazi)

    We’re not sure where the enthusiasm for making chairs to reflect society came from but we can get behind it.

    When we came across the anti-manspreading chair to force men to sit without taking up unnecessary space, we were into it.

    Then came the anti-bagspreading chair which we were less enthusiastic about (mostly because it came from a men rights’ page).

    And now we have what it is being called the ‘bi-chair’.

    Created by dad Israel Walker, the contraption is for ‘people who can’t sit straight’. The wooden seat comes with two parts, one to sit and the other to rest your leg.

    The savvy dad is clearly in touch with internet culture as the chair is in response to a long-standing joke online that bi folks can’t sit properly.

    But it wasn’t his design – Israel got permission from the artist who initially created a sketch of the item.

    Má Matiazi from Brazil envisioned what it could look like and Israel bought it to life.

    A wooden chair which comes with two parts, one to sit and the other to rest your leg.
    The chair in question (Picture: Má Matiazi)

    Writing on a Facebook post, he explained: ‘So, an artist named Má Matiazi drew this awesome sketch “The Bi-Chair: for people who can’t sit straight”.

    ‘My daughter (who identifies as bisexual genderfuck) thinks that she and other LGBTQ+ folks inability to sit “normally” is hilarious.

    ‘So I asked Má if I could make my own rough style of Bi-Chair and she said yes! So behold in all its glory: the Bi-chair!’

    Artist Mia was overwhelmed by all the interest. She said it all started as a bit of a joke

    Artist Má Matiazi
    Artist Má Matiazi came up with the designs as a joke (Picture: Má Matiazi)

    ‘The chair idea was just a joke. The concept is very simple: a ridiculous orthopaedic chair for anyone who sits like a bisexual,’ she explained.

    ‘It’s a joke inside another joke, and I thought it would be humourous for a very specific public. I confess, I thought no-one would give it any attention, most of my jokes are quite forgettable!’

    Naturally, people on the internet fell in love. ‘I need this bi-chair,’ wrote one while another quipped: ‘Bye-bye chair! Hello Bi-Chair!’

    Loads of people other people were here for it, saying: ‘So this is gonna be a chair that’s gonna be in our apartment or house or whatever, I don’t care. But I need this chair like I need air.’

    Others wanted to build their own versions: ‘You have the dimensions for the original chair that you built, and are willing to share? This broke bisexual amateur-wood worker would love to build one. Thanks for adding your positivity to the world!’

    One person wrote that it’s not just LGBTQ+ folks that may be interested.

    They said: ‘My daughter, who has Autism would also love this chair. She can’t sit, “like a normal human.” Either’.

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

    MORE: No such thing as the gay gene, scientists claim

    MORE: I’m bisexual and non-monogamous: It’s about time Tinder catered to me too


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    Kristen Waldbieser in her wheelchair and the picture she took where she stood up for a few minutes
    Kirsten has PoTs (Picture: Kristen Waldbieser)

    Kristen Waldbieser was on a trip to Disneyworld to visit the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area this weekend.

    She took her wheelchair because walking for long distances is difficult.

    The author has a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which means her heart rate increases abnormally when she sits or stands up.

    Kristen is an ambulatory wheelchair user, meaning she can walk or stand but sometimes needs a wheelchair to help with longer distances or on days when she is feeling really unwell.

    She grew up in Orlando, Florida and loves going to the park so she knew that her wheelchair would help her enjoy the day.

    When she arrived at the park, she posed for a picture in her wheelchair with her book Princess Audrey Saves the Prince, which tells the story of a princess with disabilities.

    A few minutes later, she stood up and took another picture.

    She says while she was standing, she heard someone say: ‘Oh, the wheelchair is a hoax!’

    Although the person told her they were kidding, the comment hurt Kristen.

    Kirsten stood up for a few minutes to take some pictures
    Kirsten stood up for a few minutes to take the picture (Picture: Kristen Waldbieser)

    In a Facebook post, she said: ‘the words stung with me. No, I don’t need my wheelchair every day. But my wheelchair helps me get places that I otherwise probably couldn’t go.

    ‘But just because I don’t need it every day, doesn’t mean it’s not real and it’s not needed. It is not a hoax.

    ‘And even jokingly, it’s not ok to say that to someone. Not all disabilities or chronic illness looks the same.

    ‘And it’s time to break that stigma that those with chronic illnesses are faking it, which, unfortunately, is heard by so many far too often.

    ‘Long story short, you never know someone else’s story, so please be kind with your words.’

    The post received over 25,000 shares, 35,000 likes and over 3,000 comments.

    Tim said: ‘This is such an important message. In general, if we could focus our efforts on judging less and being more kind things would be so much more pleasant.’

    Kaitlin added: ‘100% understand this feeling! I used to be so self-conscious on days when I needed to use my wheelchair because of the judgement.

    ‘I shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed all day or have to explain my disease to everyone! Thank you for sharing.’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘People need to stop tutting when I use a priority seat’

    MORE: Dad creates a ‘bi-chair’ for his bisexual daughter who can’t ‘sit straight’

    MORE: Mum spends £200 on emergency cake after daughter’s friend mistook stock image in Facebook post as a real gift


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    Woman eating a burger
    Do you like a burger? (Picture: Getty)

    If you’ve ever ducked out of the office for a juicy burger, devoured it and thought ‘Hey, I could go pro’, then sit the heck down. Your moment has arrived.

    Supermarket chain Iceland has released a job ad calling for the ‘UK’s top burger expert’.

    The selection criteria isn’t what you’d typically find on Linkedin. For the position of chief burger advisor, the rules are simple.

    Entrants must simply, have a mouth, have an appetite, answer five burger-related questions and snap a selfie, and preferably with burger-themed paraphernalia.

    The questions range from the basics ‘Why you should be appointed as an official burger taste tester for Iceland?’ to ones that require a little more reflection: ‘What is the best burger you have ever eaten in your life, and why?’

    Those looking for extra points might just reference an Iceland product for that one.

    If successful, the burger-lover will be tasked with tasting Iceland’s entire range of burgers, and providing thorough feedback.

    This could be anything from the supermarket’s recently released halloumi patty, to their Big Mac-inspired triple buns, to their ‘No Bull’ quarter pounder burgers.

    Iceland isn’t the first supermarket to reach out to public for such a role. Aldi recently put out an ad for 30 wine tasters to join their wine club.

    Burger aficionados can send in their details and photos to SocialTeam@Iceland.co.uk. Entries close September 18, 2019 and the winner will be announced on September 20, 2019.

    MORE: Aldi is selling Bake Off KitchenAid stand mixer dupes for under £50

    MORE: I don’t want to be a bride – I want to be a bridesmaid


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    The room and Harry Potter in his cupboard under the stairs
    Would you stay in this Harry Potter-esque cupboard room? (Picture: @_zoe93, Warner Bros)

    Rather than spending a holiday in a crowded hostel or a generic resort, some travellers prefer to find a more unique style of accommodation on Airbnb. The platform boasts a range of choices from remote treehouses to a giant hotdog.

    However quirky doesn’t always equal liveable, as British traveller Zoe Reeve recently found.

    The 26-year-old flew to New York to experience the Labor Day Carnival parade, having made a last-minute booking at Brooklyn Airbnb rental.

    Though she knew the accommodation would be small, she was shocked by what she found. Lucky for us, she documented the questionable £30-a-night lodgings on Twitter.

    The video has since attracted more than 15,000 retweets, with many users drawing parallels with a certain wizarding legend’s humble beginnings.

    ‘Harry Potter’s joint under the stairs was bigger than this,’ wrote one user.

    Despite the obvious drawbacks of the space, Zoe isn’t complaining. She admits that due to booking late, she knew she’d compromise on the quality of whatever accommodation was still available.

    ‘I find it so funny how so many people are angry on my behalf about the room/cupboard. It’s genuinely fine for me minus the dirty sheets and lack of plug socket (and they could have cleaned it a bit better),’ she tweeted.

    In her series of tweets, she included a genius germ-avoiding travel tip: always travel with a sleeping bag liner.

    ‘Staying in the cheapest Airbnbs is always interesting but this one was definitely the smallest space I’ve ever slept in. I’m definitely never going to forget it!’ Zoe told Metro.co.uk.

    The solo traveller has since spoken to the owner, who said he normally did the cleaning himself, but was away this time. The person he’d asked to do the cleaning simply hadn’t. He refunded the cleaning fee and apologised.

    The original listing, titled ‘Economy Brooklyn Space for your NYC Adventure!‘, surprisingly has an average review score of 4.5 out of 5 – and it is clear about the size of the room.

    The listing says: ‘The space is ideal for backpackers and other budget travelers who are comfortable sleeping on a self-inflating camping pad with another camping pad underneath. I most certainly would NOT recommend the space for anyone over 6’1 or who otherwise is not comfortable sleeping in small spaces for individual persons.’

    Previous guests have described the place as a ‘good small place to crash’, ‘small, but clean and safe!’, and even the ‘best place in Brooklyn’. Some were blunter in their approach: ‘It’s exactly as described.’

    Since posting the video, an Instagram friend of Zoe’s offered her a place to crash. She swiftly traded the camping mat for a couch, making for a true New York happy ending.

    We contacted the host for comment and will update the article accordingly.

    MORE: The best houseplants for your bedroom to help you sleep

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    Croatia
    Discover a different side to Croatia and find greenery, natural beauty and plenty of space to embrace your active side (Picture: Aleksandar Gospic)

    World-famous cuisine, beautiful weather and bright sapphire seas; just some of the reasons why Croatia has long been considered an ideal spot for a summer holiday.

    But this enigmatic destination offers so much more than just a beach break.

    Into autumn and winter, Croatia’s natural beauty really comes alive. It’s the ideal time to discover where the mountains meet the sea in the hidden realms of this traditional holiday hot spot.

    Then there’s the pleasant year-round climate and a calmer, more authentic Mediterranean vibe during the off peak ‘shoulder season’ which make for the perfect conditions to explore on foot or by bike, along one of the 400 mountain trails or 400km of marked cycle routes.

    It’s this little-known side of Croatia that’s attracting active holidaymakers to the country as soon as the beachgoers head home.

    Hundreds of exhilarating hiking trails

    From the Krka River waterways to the Roski Slap and Visovac Krka mountains, National Parks in Croatia are a feat of true natural beauty (Picture: Croatian National Tourist Board)

    Think of Croatia and you no doubt think of its much-celebrated Adriatic coastline, but you might be surprised to learn that over 60 per cent of the country is mainland, punctuated by some very impressive mountain ranges.

    Here you’ll find over 400 organised mountain trails that range from comfortable beginners’ routes to some of the most demanding in Europe, better suited to experienced mountaineers who fancy a challenge.

    One of Croatia’s best-kept secrets is a mountainous region called Gorski Kotar. Ideal for an isolated week in the wilderness, this peaceful central-continental retreat boasts forests, caves and leafy landscapes just crying out to be explored.

    Find areas of natural beauty on foot

    Croatia
    The Plitvice Lakes is one of the sights that tourists flock to Croatia to see every year (Picture: Luka Esenko)

    Exploring Croatia on foot is a delight when you discover that there are 19 national and natural parks, including protected areas of incredible natural beauty, spread across the landscape.

    The largest of these is Plitvice Lakes National Park, which was not only Croatia’s first national park in 1949 but one of the first in the world to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List 30 years later.

    Nestled between the mountains of Mala Kapela and Plješevica, this awe-inspiring park is made up of 16 interconnected lakes, as well as one of the most jaw-dropping sights in all of Croatia, the Plitvice Waterfalls.

    Connect with Europe by bike

    Croatia
    Explore Croatia on two wheels with the many hundreds of exciting cycling trails (Picture: Aleksandar Gospic)

    Thanks to quick and easy direct flights from the UK and many other European countries – like Italy, Germany and France – Croatia has always been a popular destination for short breaks.

    But these days, it’s so easy to get to Croatia you can now connect by bicycle.

    Among Croatia’s incredible 400km of marked cycling routes, there are four international EuroVelo routes directly connecting Croatia with the whole of the European continent.

    These include the Danube Route (EuroVelo 6), The Iron Curtain Trail (EuroVelo 13), The Mediterranean Route (EuroVelo 8) and The Baltic to Adriatic Sea Route (EuroVelo 9).

    Take a historical tour on two wheels

    Croatia
    Steeped in history, the trails through Croatia take you on a real journey through time (Picture: Domagoj Blazevic)

    For more cultural trails through the heart of Croatia, tours of this unique destination are some of the best ways to discover the rich history of the country.

    Many cyclists flock to Croatia to follow the old Roman roads that are lined with ancient landmarks, like Split Archaeological Museum dating back to 1820, the medieval town of Vrana near the port of Drage and the archaeological site of Bribirska Glavica, near Skradin.

    One of the oldest cycle routes in Croatia takes you along a 24-centuries-old path through Stari Grad Plain on the island of Hvar, where vineyards and olive groves meet sumptuous smelling lavender fields. It’s a feast for the senses, a work out and a wonderful way to see all that this beautiful island has to offer.

    Fish for your supper

    Croatia
    A million miles from summer’s busy beaches and bustling city streets, the quieter and more authentic side of Croatia is a unique experience (Picture: Aleksandar Gospic)

    For those yearning to get out on the beautiful lakes of Croatia, sports fishing is an extremely popular pastime here.

    The crystal waters draw a huge variety of salt-water species like sea bass, dentex, gilt-poll and tuna as well as freshwater species such as trout and even enormous catfish. So a great catch is practically a certainty.

    And up north, the Gacka River Valley is home to one of the coldest and cleanest Croatian rivers, which is superb for trout fishing.

    Otherwise, to the east, is Kopački Rit, a zoological and botanical reserve with the largest and most well-preserved swampland in Europe where getting out on the water brings a whole new adventure.

    Hit the slopes in a snowy inland region

    At the height of winter, you might be surprised to see snow on the ground in certain parts of Croatia (Picture: bingokid / Getty Images)

    While the coast of Croatia has a typically Mediterranean climate, which stays mild even into winter, you might be surprised to learn that heavy snow is possible in some parts of inland Croatia at wintertime.

    Thanks to its many mountain ranges, these conditions have helped to create a thriving environment for ski resorts.

    Croatia’s main ski areas include Platak, 150km from capital Zagreb, as well as Mount Sljeme, located on the northern slopes of Medvednica Mountain.

    The largest is the Croatian Olympic Center at Bjelolasica near Karlovac, which gets less snow, but offers a wide variety of winter weather activities including snowboarding and cross-country skiing, as well as ski lessons if you’re just starting out.

    For more information on your next adventure in Croatia, click HERE


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    Embargoed to 0001 Friday August 30 Undated handout photo issued by ZSL of the Cuban Greater Funnel-Eared Bat, one of the world's rarest bats, which are being treated to a pampering session as experts use nail varnish to count their numbers. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday August 30, 2019. Less than 750 of the bats remain in a cave in western Cuba, and scientists are identifying individual bats by using four different nail varnish colours to paint their "nails", enabling them to create thousands of combinations for unique markings to identify each creature. See PA story SCIENCE Bats. Photo credit should read: ZSL/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    One of the world’s rarest bats gets a manicure. (Picture: ZSL/PA Wire)

    When you hear the word manicure, supple and soft cuticle beds or some Insta-worthy nail art might come to mind.

    You’ll be forgiven if it doesn’t immediately conjure a visual of an endangered, previously thought to be extinct, species of bat.

    On the Guanahacabibes Peninsula in Cuba, conservation efforts are underway to protect the greater funnel-eared bats.

    Inside a humid cave known as Cueva La Barca, there are 750 of the bats. This is believed to be the last remaining population of the species.

    Embargoed to 0001 Friday August 30 Undated handout photo issued by ZSL of Cuban Greater Funnel-Eared Bats, one of the world's rarest bats, which are being treated to a pampering session as experts use nail varnish to count their numbers. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday August 30, 2019. Less than 750 of the bats remain in a cave in western Cuba, and scientists are identifying individual bats by using four different nail varnish colours to paint their "nails", enabling them to create thousands of combinations for unique markings to identify each creature. See PA story SCIENCE Bats. Photo credit should read: ZSL/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    The bats live in a remote ‘hot cave’. (Picture: ZSL/PA Wire)

    The Cuban greater funnel-eared bats are furry, tan-coloured creatures with a spine-tingling snarl and an appetite for moths and crickets. They’re also certified cuties that happened to have recently had their nails done.

    A group of Cuban and international scientists on ZSL’s Edge of Existence programme used four nail varnish colours to mark the bats on their nails.

    The multiple colour combinations allowed them to identify, distinguish and count the bats, with one of the aims being to highlight just how critical their endangered status is.

    Embargoed to 0001 Friday August 30 Undated handout photo issued by ZSL of the Cuban Greater Funnel-Eared Bat, one of the world's rarest bats, which are being treated to a pampering session as experts use nail varnish to count their numbers. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday August 30, 2019. Less than 750 of the bats remain in a cave in western Cuba, and scientists are identifying individual bats by using four different nail varnish colours to paint their "nails", enabling them to create thousands of combinations for unique markings to identify each creature. See PA story SCIENCE Bats. Photo credit should read: ZSL/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    Only 750 of the bats remain. (Picture: ZSL/PA Wire)

    Considering the bats are between 3.5 to 5.5 cm in length, you can imagine the dexterity – and patience – required for such a task. That’s right, no more complaining about grooming your giant Labrador.

    The population has been in sharp decline for several reasons, one of them being their highly specific habitat of hot and humid caves.

    Let’s hope their fresh glow-up is set to change that.

    MORE: Rent a closet with a dirty camping mat on Airbnb for £30 a night

    MORE: Mum spends £200 on emergency cake after daughter’s friend mistook stock image in Facebook post as a real gift


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    Teenager Hayden Montross might have lived with alopecia for most of her life but she sees the funny side of it.

    The autoimmune condition – where the body attacks hair follicles, triggering hair loss – first began for Hayden when she was five.

    Now the 17-year-old from Georgia, U.S, is left without any body hair. But she isn’t letting it get her down.

    She’s been creating clips of her life as a bald teenager on video-sharing platform TikTok.

    Her videos, which show what it’s like to date a girl with alopecia, have racked up to three million views.

    Among some of the perks of being in a couple with her is free food (courtesy of do-gooders who feel bad about her condition).

    Other times people mistake her for losing hair due to cancer treatment and give her freebies.

    Hayden also jokes that she takes an exceptionally short time getting ready as she doesn’t have to do her hair.

    Teen with alopecia with no hair making a TikTok video
    Hayden made a hilarious TikTok video showing what it’s like to date her (Picture: @haydenmontross/TikTok)

    Naturally, the hilarious clips have tickled many a TikTok user.

    In one of the clips, Hayden brushes her bald head, saying: ‘I don’t take as long to get ready – no body hair’.

    In fact, the teenager had to go out and purchase a hairbrush just for the skit as she doesn’t normally own one.

    Another part of the short clip, she reveals ‘hair won’t get caught in your face when we cuddle’.

    Teen with alopecia holding her bald head
    We see only perks (Picture: @haydenmontross/TikTok)

    The high-school student has delighted other TikTok users with her candid humour, amassing 141,000 fans

    While entertaining her fans, Hayden also informs them about her condition which has affected her since she was a toddler.

    Hayden pictured with her mum as a toddler
    Hayden’s hair started falling out when she was five (Picture: @haydenmontross)

    In a Youtube-style video, Hayden lists all the insensitive questions directed at her which include: ‘Do you have cancer?’, ‘Are you a boy or a girl?’, and ‘Can I touch your head?’

    And Hayden’s been commended for her efforts within the TikTok community too.

    Hayden on her prom pictures with her mum
    Hayden during her prom (Picture: @haydenmontross/TikTok)

    Commenting on the videos, one person wrote:

    ‘I love people that can see the positive side,’ while another wrote: ‘I love how she uses it as an advantage instead of seeing it as a bad thing’.

    MORE: Model who struggled with career after alopecia is ‘glad it happened’

    MORE: Woman with alopecia gets a tattoo covering her whole head to help her embrace being bald

    MORE: What it’s really like to have sex when you’ve got alopecia


    Teen with alopecia finds the funny side of itTeen with alopecia finds the funny side of it

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    On the right, Casper's rash in his groin area and on the left, Casper laughing in the grass
    Casper’s rash was initially diagnosed as eczema (Picture: PA Real Life)

    When Emma Royle spotted a rash on her three-month-old baby son, she knew he’d caught chicken pox from his big sister Nora.

    A few days later, the spots disappeared but the rash remained and she took him to the GP.

    She was told it was just eczema – a skin condition common in babies – and he was prescribed some steroid cream to clear it up.

    But three weeks later, the rash started to spread and a few weeks later, he started to vomit non-stop.

    Emma and his dad Nick Southall, 40, rushed him to hospital, where luckily, the consultant on duty at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital was a paediatric oncologist.

    He recognised that the rash wasn’t eczema at all but was actually a tell-tale sign of Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH), which develops in about 50 children a year in the UK, according to the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group.

    Student recruitment manager Emma, 37, of Exeter, Devon, who was told the condition has a high survival rate, said: ‘It was July 19, 2018, and I’d called the NHS 111 helpline, as Casper had been vomiting for 12 hours straight and I was advised to take him to hospital.

    ‘The consultant took one look at his rash and said, “I hope I’m wrong, but I think I know what this is.”

    Casper's rash pre-diagnosis (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Casper’s rash pre-diagnosis (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    ‘It all started to fall apart from there really, but in a sense, if there hadn’t been an oncology specialist working that night, who knows when Casper would have got the diagnosis.’

    Casper was born on February 5, 2018, 10lb 2oz and was a healthy baby until he caught the chickenpox from his sister and developed an angry rash as well as the usual spots.

    ‘I took him to the doctors for his chickenpox because of his age,’ said Emma. ‘When he saw the rash, he said to come back if it didn’t clear up in a week alongside the spots.’

    Weeks later, she went back and was then told it was eczema and given the steroid cream, but at the start of July 2018, the rash spread to his neck and leg.

    Emma went back to the doctor, who thought it had become infected because Casper was wearing a nappy and prescribed antibiotics.

    ‘I wasn’t convinced by the diagnosis,’ she continued. ‘Nora has had very light eczema and it seemed completely different to her’s, but when a doctor tells you something you take their word for it.’

    Casper and his sister Nora in hospital
    Casper and his sister Nora (Picture: PA Real Life)

    Heading off on their first family holiday to Brittany in France the next day, doctors advised Emma that Casper would be well enough to go.

    But just a day in, he ‘screamed the house down,’ as his rash became more and more inflamed.

    ‘We tried putting him in the bath to ease the pain, but he was uncontrollable,’ she said. ‘You could tell he was in agony, so we took him to the local hospital.

    ‘We were in there for three days, as doctors wanted to ensure he wasn’t dehydrated, but the general consensus was that he was fine, although one nurse did suggest we weren’t bathing him enough, which was the last thing we needed to be told.’

    The day after they got back from holiday, Casper started vomiting and they took him to A&E at their local hospital. It was there that he was diagnosed with cancer.

    First doctors took a biopsy from the affected area around his groin to test for LCH – which has no known cause, but sufferers of which have too many histiocyte cells which normally protect the skin, but sometimes move around the body causing damage – and he was transferred to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, awaiting the results.

    Four days after the biopsy it was confirmed that Casper, who was in the high dependency unit, had multi-system LCH, meaning the condition – which some experts describe as ‘cancer’ while others believe it is not and simply shares some characteristics – affects more than one part of the body.

    Unlike most cancers, it can spontaneously resolve itself and has a survival rate of 90 per cent, although multi-system LCH can and often does return after treatment.

    With Casper’s diagnosis confirmed, in August 2018 he began a gruelling 12-week course of chemotherapy once a week, to kill the rogue cells which were causing potentially life-threatening lesions in his skin, bone, gut and bone marrow.

    ‘Doctors told us that although there were no tumours, the lesions were effectively zapping Casper of healthy cells that usually help the immune system to function properly,’ said Emma.

    ‘At first, the chemo seemed to be working, as his rash cleared up and he started to seem more like a normal baby, but just when we thought we were over the hill, Casper started deteriorating again.’

    When his three-month treatment programme finished in November 2018, with no signs of improvement, Casper’s family were told he could have more chemo or get a place on a clinical trial.

    Casper has come on leaps and bounds in just one year (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Casper has come on leaps and bounds in just one year (Picture: PA Real Life)

    Worried that Casper might not have the fight in him for another round of chemotherapy, he was given a clinical trial drug Dabrafenib, a cancer growth blocker, which stops the signals cancer cells use to divide and grow. It also inhibits the production of the BRAF gene, which can mutate and is thought to be largely responsible for LCH.

    The trial was for children over one but Casper was only eight months. Doctors spoke to the drug company and he was given a year’s supply of the drug on compassionate grounds.

    Within a week of taking the drugs, which Casper has twice a day, the rash had completely cleared, and blood tests showed the mutated cells were no longer active.

    ‘By Christmas you would never have known anything had been wrong with him, it really was mind-boggling how quickly he recovered,’ said Emma.

    ‘It was like we finally had our baby boy back and could be a proper family again, just in time for our first Christmas together.’

    Emma’s maternity leave was due to finish in January 2019, and she felt his illness had robbed them of the precious time new mums usually spend bonding with their babies.

    Fortunately, Emma had taken out an insurance policy with Vitality when she gave birth, covering children with serious illness and when she looked into it, she was entitled to a £20,000 payout, meaning she could take another eight months off to spend with Casper.

    Sadly, Casper is not completely out of the woods yet, as the LCH can return.

    Emma explained: ‘It’s likely it will come back and we can’t expect the drugs company to provide free medication indefinitely.

    ‘When it stops, we don’t know how quickly the LCH could return and, even if Casper’s lucky enough to be on the clinical trial for years, we don’t know what side effects it might have later down the line.

    ‘Not having a time frame is hard and, while we’ve steered clear of any prognosis, the fact is nobody knows what affect this will have on Casper’s health as he grows older.

    ‘We’re just grateful for being allowed to make memories and start living like a normal family again – for however long that might be.’

    MORE: Teen with alopecia shows what it’s like dating her in hilarious TikTok video

    MORE: These rare bats have been given manicures in the name of conservation


    comp-1567409473comp-1567409473

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    My Kipling mint fondant fancies
    Mr Kipling’s new mint flavour (Picture: Mr Kipling)

    Mr Kipling’s famous fondant fancies have undergone a minty makeover.

    The new mint chocolate flavour treats are available to buy at Morrisons and Tesco.

    A chocolate-flavoured sponge cake forms the basis of the new bite, with a mint creme topping and a chocolate fondant icing covering.

    The sweet treat was first spotted yesterday by Instagram account NewfoodsUK, with a post showcasing the minty flavour alongside two other new products: chocolate, caramel and pecan slices as well as apple, pear and crumble tarts.

    The mouthwatering post in question has racked up over 3,100 likes so far.

    Many Instagram users were quick to share their excitement around the new baked good.

    One commented: ‘The mint ones, neeeeed’

    While another simple said: ‘The mint ones look lush.’

    Others were quick to compare the likeness to another after-dinner treat.

    Another user commented: ‘After eight french fancy can’t decide what I think about this!’

    The new mint fancies are on sale in Morrisons, though they aren’t online yet and they’ve been spotted on the Tesco website.

    The new 28g mint creations contain 106 calories a pop as well as 15.3g of sugar – marginally better than Mr Kipling’s traditional French fancies which contain 107 calories and 16g sugar each.

    Mr Kipling is well-known for its inventive cakey creations. The British brand launched bridal-themed cakes back in 2018, to mark the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

    MORE: Mum spends £200 on emergency cake after daughter’s friend mistook stock image in Facebook post as a real gift

    MORE: Libraries are loaning elaborate cake pans so you can make a showstopper

    MORE: Huge drugs bust at Gatwick Airport turned out to be vegan cake mix


    PRI_82733223PRI_82733223

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    Five tweets on a blue background and the Twitter logo with its mouth taped across
    After all, if you can’t tell an incredibly sexist man to shut the f*** up, who can you tell? (Picture: Twitter)

    A few weeks ago, after seeing yet another insanely bigoted tweet pop up on my timeline, I had the idea to create a Twitter account dedicated solely to telling misogynistic men to shut their mouths.

    I was hesitant – concerned that by replying to them I would be, though not endorsing, amplifying their voices.

    Plus, I was worried that telling them to shut up was not the best way to counter their ideas. Would they not just dismiss me as an overly emotional woman?

    Research from Amnesty International found that ‘Twitter [is] a place where violence and abuse against women is widespread and where inadequate remedies exist for those who experience such abuse’.

    And at a time when female MPs and journalists are receiving abuse every 30 seconds on Twitter, I felt like I had to do something.

    The account was an outlet to express the frustration I felt after consistently seeing incredibly demeaning and outright offensive tweets. After all, if you can’t tell an incredibly sexist man to shut the f*** up, who can you tell?

    So I made the account, settling on the handle @bequietasswipe after I’d found @shutupasshole to be taken. I quoted three tweets in quick succession, eloquently telling each of the men to ‘shut the f*** up.’

    Immediately after the third tweet I got a notice that my account had been suspended for 12 hours for a violation of Twitter’s rules. Due to the speed of the suspension, it was probably due to my account getting flagged for spam or foul language.

    Twitter has previously admitted it does not do enough to protect people from the abuse they receive on the platform. In 2015, the then CEO Dick Costolo said: ‘We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform… I’m frankly ashamed at how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue.’

    While current CEO Jack Dorsey has said this is more of a priority now, there is no doubt in my mind that more must be done.

    For example, while my account was temporarily suspended, all the sexist ones I quoted still stand.

    Of the tweets I replied to, one called for the restoration of the patriarchy and women having the vote stripped from them, one was ageist and sexist and another explained how the author’s daughter would never be sexually assaulted because he taught her not to be a victim.

    As shown in my case, it seems Twitter is more concerned with the strong language people are using to respond to racism, homophobia, or sexism than the actual racism, sexism, or homophobia.

    With women fearing for their physical safety from online trolling the need to protect them cannot be overstated.

    My account is back now but I would not be surprised if it got suspended again while these men are allowed to continue spreading their harmful ideologies.

    I recognise that they have a right to free speech. I also recognise that this means I have the right to tell them to f*** right off.

    I’ve seen these hateful tweets since the day I joined Twitter. Before that, I saw it on Instagram or heard it from classmates at school.

    More than a quarter of women have received abuse or harassment online at least once, and of these women, nearly half said this abuse made them fear for their safety. Over 40 per cent of them said this abuse was misogynistic and nearly 60 per cent said it came from strangers.

    With women fearing for their physical safety from online trolling the need to protect them cannot be overstated.

    If Twitter allows this hateful content it has no right to censor my reaction.

    I am not threatening violence, nor am I repeatedly harassing these men. I am simply telling them, albeit with strong language, that I do not welcome their opinions. If their content is left up, I see no reason why mine should not be.

    I posted some screenshots of the ordeal on my main account and received positive reception from my followers. It was nice to know I had support, but this feeling was almost outweighed by the disgust I felt towards the content I was seeing on these men’s accounts.

    The blatant sexism, other Twitter users agreeing in the replies, the insinuation that any man who does not fit the stereotypical picture of masculinity is a ‘gamma male,’ and any woman who disagreed with this was a ‘feminist harpy.’

    At a time when even the President of the US, Donald Trump shows no respect for women and where women are shot and killed for rejecting men, this behaviour seems especially dangerous.

    It comes as no surprise that the men who send these hateful messages online have been emboldened by the increasing acceptability of real-world misogyny by high profile figures.

    It turns my stomach that anyone thinks this way, but it’s worse knowing most of these men are fathers, passing down their hateful rhetoric to another generation.

    I know I am not going to be able to change their minds. These are men that believe they could beat Serena Williams in a tennis match.

    Knowing this, no argument of mine could convince them they are fundamentally wrong. So I simply suggest to them the one thing they could do that would be beneficial: shutting the f*** up.

    While I don’t think I’m realistically going to achieve that, what I am hoping is that these men will realise that women – especially my generation – will not adhere to their ideas about what a woman should or should be.

    Women deserve to exist in online spaces without having to worry about feeling unsafe.

    It is time for Twitter – as well as other social media sites – to make preventing online abuse towards women a priority.

    MORE: Boris Johnson has a lot to prove if he’s really a feminist

    MORE: If your partner needs a chore chart to get stuff done, dump him

    MORE: Oxford Dictionary needs to update its sexist definition of ‘woman’


    I made an account telling sexist men to shut the fuck up and it got deactivated after 12 hoursI made an account telling sexist men to shut the fuck up and it got deactivated after 12 hours

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