Articles on this Page
- 09/24/19--03:40: _How to plant a tree...
- 09/24/19--04:04: _Limited edition Twi...
- 09/24/19--04:23: _Man admits he pipes...
- 09/24/19--05:37: _Mum has sensory dis...
- 09/24/19--05:44: _Assistance dog Nala...
- 09/24/19--08:18: _Where is hot in Oct...
- 09/24/19--09:11: _Bride-to-be horrifi...
- 09/24/19--22:31: _Using loyalty cards...
- 09/24/19--23:02: _Live, laugh, love: ...
- 09/25/19--00:01: _Couple lose 15 ston...
- 09/25/19--00:30: _Mixed Up: ‘I have a...
- 09/25/19--01:25: _The fitness industr...
- 09/25/19--01:38: _How one family-run ...
- 09/25/19--02:03: _Woman falls in love...
- 09/25/19--02:45: _Rat who made brilli...
- 09/25/19--02:50: _Man proposes to gil...
- 09/25/19--02:51: _Jessica Ennis-Hill ...
- 09/25/19--03:22: _These are men and w...
- 09/25/19--03:23: _Argos sale: What to...
- 09/25/19--03:37: _Australians are hav...
- 09/24/19--03:40: How to plant a tree for the Big Climate Fightback
- 09/24/19--04:04: Limited edition Twirl Orange is available to buy now
- 09/24/19--05:44: Assistance dog Nala loves having a day out at Disney World Florida
- You have a savings account that you regularly pay into
- You have a pension plan
- You shop around for the best deals
- You are never in your overdraft
- You pay off your credit card bills monthly
- You use loyalty cards
- You have a “rainy day” fund
- You know the exact balance of your account at all times
- You don’t lend cash to friends if you are not likely to get it back
- You prepare lunch to take to work
- 09/24/19--23:02: Live, laugh, love: The enduring culture of being a basic bitch
- Breakfast – breakfast roll
- Lunch – a pub lunch of steak pie and chips
- Dinner – Chinese or Indian or takeaway for dinner
- Snacks – Sausage rolls, crisps and sandwiches and chips
- No breakfast
- No lunch
- Dinner – Indian and Chinese takeaways, burgers, pizzas, chips and pies
- Snacks – Crisps, chocolate, fizzy drinks and cakes
- Breakfast – bacon, lean cheese, pepper, spinach, spring onion and egg
- Lunch – chicken kebabs marinated in Greek seasoning with chipotle sauce and giant cous cous
- Dinner – chicken burgers with cauliflower and garlic rice
- Snacks – homemade vanilla and chocolate chip cookies
- 09/25/19--02:03: Woman falls in love with DJ who played at her wedding
- 09/25/19--02:45: Rat who made brilliant paintings with his feet has died
- 09/25/19--03:22: These are men and women’s biggest turn-offs in the bedroom
- Men talking about sex with the ex
- He thinks sex is over as soon as he has orgasmed
- Pets in the bedroom
- Sending unsolicited sex pictures
- He says he’s a cheat
- Bad breath or BO
- Asking: “Are you close yet?” – guaranteed to kill her chances of orgasm
- Him using porn secretly
- Not wanting to wear a condom
- Having sex like a porn star – with lots of fast and furious thrusts
- Insisting on lights off during sex
- Women being silent or motionless during sex
- Bridget Jones underwear
- She says she has cheated
- More interested in her phone than me
- Pets in bedroom
- Poor personal hygiene
- Being too clingy
- Lacking body confidence
- Faking orgasms
If you were moved by Greta Thunberg’s recent UN climate summIt speech (or generally by the catastrophic signs of global warming) then you’re probably looking for ways to be green.
We know that planting more trees is one way to achieve that goal as they filter our air, using up carbon dioxide and creating oxygen.
With that in mind, a conservation charity is aiming to put up a tree for every person in the UK. But that’s going to require a lot of effort.
The Woodland Trust is launching the Big Climate Fightback, asking a million Brits to help erect more trees by the end of November 2019.
Within the next six years, the Trust hopes to have planted 64 million trees.
If the UK hopes to cut its carbon emissions to zero by 2050, it will need to plant 1.5 billion trees altogether.
That would require 50 million young trees going into the ground each year before the deadline. If that’s something you want to contribute to, here’s how to get involved.
The Woodland Trust offers tree-planting services in four areas – on an individual, business, and school level, and for farmers and landowners.
If you want to plant the trees yourself, The Woodland Trust will contribute up to 75% of the costs, depending on the number you plant.
All of the trees provided by the charity will include native broadleaf varieties, such as oak, birch and hawthorn.
Some of the options available include trees bearing apples and berries (win-win).
Once you’ve made the decision to support the Big Climate Fightback, the charity will help you select a tree suitable for you and your land size.
You can apply for a tree pack on the website but the Woodland Trust are currently experiencing a high number of requests so it’s a good idea to bookmark the page.
In the meantime, enjoy browsing through the hundreds of options available, whether you want a sapling in your garden or hundreds on your land.
The decision to get involved could make a massive contribution to the wellbeing of our environment.
METROGRAB - How to plant a tree for the Big Climate Fightback
When we first heard that Cadbury would be releasing an orange flavour Twirl in the UK, we were pretty blimmin’ excited.
Now, a month later, our eager wait is over, because as of this week Twirl Orange (yep, that’s what it’s called. Imaginative name, we know) is now available to buy.
As the name gives away, Twirl Orange is a Cadbury Twirl – so flaked milk chocolate surrounded by more milk chocolate – with a hint of orange flavour. Think of a Twirl mashed up with a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
From 23 September onwards, Twirl Orange will be available nationwide as the usual 43g two-finger packs, with an RRP of 65p.
Be warned, however, that these are a limited edition item. Cadbury hasn’t given an official timeline of when their orange delights will be snatched from our shelves, but it’s probably worth stocking up just in case.
Radhika Pai, Brand Manager for Cadbury at Mondelez said: ‘We are very excited to share Cadbury Twirl Orange with chocolate fans in the UK, especially after seeing all the recent enthusiasm and anticipation for the product.
‘Our expert chocolatiers have crafted the perfect blend of delicious Cadbury chocolate and orange. We can’t wait for people to try it for themselves and let us know what they think.’
Unfortunately we can’t see any Twirl Orange bars available online, so you won’t be able to add them to your weekly grocery shop just yet.
We do know, however, that they’re being stocked by Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco. Make sure you pop into your local to give the flavour a go.
The flavour already has fans in Australia, where it’s been sold long before rumours of its launch came to the UK. Australians have described the Twirl as ‘heaven’, so we expect good things.
If you like your chocolate with the flavour of orange, you’ll probably like this. Go forth and sample to your heart’s content, free from the hassle of having to order overpriced bars from Ebay.
twirl featured image-af08
Buying own brand products at the supermarket is usually cheaper but can you taste the difference.
Some of us insist we can and it makes us stay loyal to the more expensive brand, no matter what the saving.
But one man was fed up of his girlfriend refusing to eat cheap mayonnaise, insisting that they buy Hellmann’s instead.
So, he started buying cheaper mayo from Aldi and piping it into an old squeezy bottle, with the Hellmann’s label on it.
Posting on Reddit, the man says he has been doing this for a year and she hasn’t noticed yet.
He said: ‘Piping the Aldi mayo into the same Hellmann’s bottle we’ve had for a year so the missis will not know she’s a commoner.’
The image shows how he’s emptied the Aldi jar into a piping bag, unscrewed the lid and topped up the old bottle.
Controversy though, he’s not only tricking her about the price but he’s also deceiving her about the calorie and fat content as the bottle is labelled as lighter mayo and the cheaper version is full fat.
But he does make quite a saving, Aldi’s Bramwell mayonnaise costs around 79p per 475g jar but the Hellmann’s version is £1.50 for a 250ml bottle or it’s currently on offer at £2 for a 750ml bottle at Tesco.
Hopefully, the original bottle’s sell-by date doesn’t say it expires any time soon or she might figure out something is up.
The post has received almost 200 comments since it was posted four days ago.
One person pointed out that you might need to give the bottle a good wash first.
They said: ‘I hope you give it a good wash and you don’t have year-old mayo mixed in there.’
Others shared tales of doing similar things to their loved ones.
One said: ‘I did this to my kids. Made the 6-year-old a tuna mayonnaise sandwich. “Mum” she goes “are you sure this is Hellman’s, it tastes funny.” I said “no it’s the usual mayo.” She goes “maybe I just don’t like tuna mayonnaise anymore.” Ffs.’
Another added: ‘My Mum used to do this with washing up liquid she would buy the big 5 litre ones of a guy that used to go door to door selling industrial sized bleach and other crap she had the same fairy bottle for years and no one noticed.’
Of course, as with many things on Reddit, it might not be true. We reached out to the poster but haven’t heard back yet.
A little girl with a rare genetic disorder has found comfort in a specially made disco bathtub.
Ailey Wales, five, was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, which means she cannot communicate verbally, walk, or play with toys.
Ailey has cognitive delays which mean she doesn’t understand what toys are for and she also struggles to hold them.
Her mum, Shannon, 25, heard about sensory baths and though they could provide comfort for her daughter.
Unable to afford a special tub, the family began to fundraise, eventually raising £10,000 for renovations on the house.
On 20 September, the bathroom was installed and ready, complete with LED lighting inside the tub, disco lights on the ceiling, speakers, and soft jet sprays.
The entire downstairs bathroom is designed so Ailey can relax and splash around in a peaceful environment.
Shannon said: ‘Ailey doesn’t really understand what toys are for, so she just enjoys watching other people playing with them.
‘But the bath is her relaxing place – she loves bubbles, and hydrotherapy jets are good for her muscles.
‘We’ve got disco lights installed in the ceiling which synchronise with music, and there are LED lights in the bath.’
The bathtub cost £7,000 before additional costs of installation and delivery, a new toilet and flooring.
Shannon said: ‘We wouldn’t have managed it if we had to pay for it all.
‘We were thinking we would have to get a loan out, but no one wants to get into debt.
‘I wasn’t keen to ask people, but friends offered to help out.’
Thanks to the generosity of friends, the family were also able to have Ailey’s bathroom fitted on the ground floor and have a fire escape installed.
All of this has transformed not only Ailey’s life, but her parents’, too, who now find it easier to take care of their daughter.
Shannon said: ‘A lot of people who have helped us have joked that they can’t wait to come round and have a bath.
‘Everybody that meets Ailey, they just fall in love with her.
‘She communicates through her smile and her eyes.
‘You can see it when she smiles how happy she is.
‘But since getting the bath, she does not approve of her little brother being in the tub with her. She does not want to share, but he is intrigued by the lights.
‘We are extremely grateful to everyone, even strangers have donated.’
little girl with a genetic disorder which means she cannot speak or play with toys has found joy with a DISCO bathroom
Nala is an assistance dog who spends her days helping her owner Megan and they love going to Disney World together.
Even though she’s still on the job, Nala loves to take time to meet some of the characters and even goes on some of the rides.
The two-year-old pup especially loved cuddling Donald Duck on her latest trip.
Nala has been helping Megan since she was an eight-week-old puppy. Megan has high functioning autism and several other conditions so she struggles in crowds and Nala helps by circling around her to create space in crowded areas.
As they live in Florida, Megan and Nala have been going to Disney World since she was little so she has been trained to deal with crowds, rides and things like fireworks.
Posting on Instagram, Megan said: ‘Disney can be a very overwhelming place for any dog, even a well-trained service dog. There are lots going on including random fireworks at magic kingdom, the crowds, the smells, etc.
‘She grew up training at Disney, so she became very easily desensitized to the environment.
‘Something else to consider is the general public can be overwhelming. Everyone points out that you have a dog and you get a lot of drive-by pets. But for the amount of people that I come into contact with at Disney, I’d say only about 5% of people are disrespectful of her/her job.’
Now they go a few times a week and Megan describes Nala as Disney’s favourite dog.
Nala loves rides like the Pirates of the Carribean and Speedway.
Megan said: ‘Nala always happily jumps right into the ride when it’s time for the Speedway. She loves the wind and always sniffs the air.’
She added: ‘At Disney, service dogs can ride any ride their human goes on as long as they don’t have a height requirement, with the exception being Peter Pan’s flight.
‘For the rides that service dogs can’t ride, such as Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, etc, there are crates specifically for service dogs.
‘You just let the cast member know you’ll need the crate when you get in line.’
But one thing Megan wants to make people aware of is that they shouldn’t pet assistance dogs like Nala without permission when they are working.
She added: ‘I respect people who come up and ask to pet Nala. I usually try to be as polite as possible by saying, “no, she’s working right now.”
‘But I tend to feel very frustrated when people read her vest then pet anyways, or run up to us and stick their hands all over my dogs face. I don’t know why the concept of personal space is so difficult to understand.’
What a beautiful bond Megan and Nala have.
Service dog has the perfect day out at Disney World Picture: helperdognala METROGRAB
Our fine British summer is almost over and just like that, the days are getting shorter and sunshine is scarce.
This summer saw us able to bask in temperatures of up to 38 degrees as the country was hit by heatwaves just weeks ago over the August bank holiday.
If you’re not ready to let go of the summer sun, here is a guide to the best destinations for a good dose of Vitamin D.
Sardinia is a popular destination all year round, boasting sandy beaches with crystal clear waters, as well as mountainous trails for the more adventurous types.
The island falls in the Mediterranean Sea and so, even in October, reaches temperatures of up to 27 degrees.
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
If you’re looking for a further-flung destination, look no further than Rio de Janeiro which sees average temperatures of 28 degrees in Autumn.
The city offers plenty to do including the unmissable Copacabana Beach, Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue.
Dubrovnik, the backdrop to Game of Thrones, is a popular European destination so may be a little busier than others.
The weather, while less humid, is still enjoyable at 26 degrees and the water warm enough for an evening dip.
The often-overlooked Oman is a must-see in the Middle East which is rich in culture and beautiful architecture.
If pristine beaches aren’t your thing, the capital also boasts a number of natural wonders – including endangered sea turtles, lava pillows and canyons – as well as average October temperatures of 30 degrees.
Gran Canaria, Spain
Gran Canaria, like many of Spain’s islands, offers a number of white sand beaches as well as hiking and cycling trails.
It’s the perfect destination for those who can’t hack extreme heat but still want warmth with temperatures of up to 25 degrees.
Saint Tropez, France
The coastal town along the French Riviera is a summer favourite and just as pleasant in autumn with its array of bars, restaurants and beaches.
While not as hot as in the summer months, St Tropez still reaches a balmy 24 degrees.
Probably one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, experience the Caribbean beaches and Mayan culture at a cheaper price in October.
And if you’re looking for heat, Cancun will give it to you with average temperatures of 33 degrees.
One of Greece’s may picturesque islands, Santorini offers an idyllic setting of steep cliffs, balconies, verandas and restaurants.
The weather may not be as warm as others at 23 degrees, but it sure offers light relief from the UK rain.
Greece - Santorini - Oia
Amber Merritt had already bought a wedding dress for £450 when she fell in love with another gown.
She decided to ask social media for some advice about what to do, but not wanting her fiancé to see, she decided to post in a private group, where she knew he wasn’t a member,
But within a few minutes, a troll using a fake account took her pictures and sent them to him in a bid to ruin the surprise.
Other members of the group had warned Amber so she had told Michael not to open any messages from unknown Facebook users.
Amber, of Farnborough, Hampshire, said: ‘I was in total disbelief. I couldn’t get over it. I can’t believe someone would take the time out of their evening to do that.
‘They clearly just get a kick out of being an annoyance.
‘I believe it’s bad luck for the groom to see the dress before the wedding so knowing someone sent it to him was really annoying.
‘It’s literally like a stranger wishing you bad luck in your marriage. It’s horrible.
‘Luckily after I put the post up people had warned me that this might happen. It hadn’t even crossed my mind.
‘I don’t have any known enemies and I didn’t think that some stranger would do that.’
Michael asked her to marry him six months ago and they’ve set a date for August next year for their dinosaur-themed wedding.
Amber chose a dress about four months ago with an embellished lace corseted bodice and tulle skirt.
She does think it’s beautiful but didn’t feel excited by it and it needs a lot of alterations.
However, last week Amber was scrolling through Facebook when she spotted a £200 size 8 lace mermaid gown with a slimmer fit and a sheer button-up back.
When she tried it on, she fell in love and needed some reassurance about what to do.
She posted in a wedding group asking for advice: ‘Girls I am in a serious predicament.
‘I already have a wedding dress that I paid £450 for and I love but needs a lot of alterations and additions such as straps taken off and adding crystals on the skirt because it feels so plain on the bottom.
‘But I saw one on Facebook for £200 and I went to try it on and I am in love.
‘I want to buy it but I need some more encouragement that it’s better than the first one.
‘I feel like it fits better so needs fewer alterations, just spaghetti straps or something because it doesn’t stay up great with my big bust.
‘I can sell my original dress and get a veil for less than my current dress..’
Amber’s post was flooded with comments telling her to buy the other dress but she also got some warnings about posting the pictures.
She asked Michael to give her his phone so she could open any message requests and delete them before he saw anything.
She added: ‘Within minutes, he came over to tell me he had a message and when I opened it there were all the photos of me in the dresses.
‘I think it was a fake account because there wasn’t a profile picture and some of the girls from the group have said the same.
‘If I hadn’t been warned and Michael had just opened that message, I don’t know how I would have felt and I don’t want to know. I would have been absolutely furious.’
Amber updated her Facebook post adding: ‘Girls thanks for the warning because it actually happened. Can’t believe someone would send my partner the pictures. WTF. Sad people.
‘Luckily I told him to hand me the phone if he got any random messages so he still hasn’t seen so f*** you whoever you are with your sad life.’
Other members of the groups were outraged for Amber, branding the troll a ‘horrible cow’ who ‘doesn’t deserve to get married or have a beautiful dress’.
But Amber has now bought her dream dress and says she wishes she could wear it everyday.
The bride-to-be will wear the floor-length mermaid gown for her ceremony before changing into a shorter dress to dance the night away at her reception.
Amber said: ‘My new dress is absolutely lovely. I definitely know it’s the one.
‘I thought the first dress was the one but I never really got that emotional or excited about it.
‘But as soon as I tried on the new dress, I got so excited. I can’t wait to wear it. I wish I could wear it everyday.
‘I know Michael will like it. He’ll love it.’
Woman horrified when wedding shamer sends her fiance pictures of her trying on a wedding dress
Don’t stress if you still feel clueless when it comes to handling your money.
According to a new bit of research, most people don’t reach ‘financial maturity’ (essentially, being a proper adult when it comes to your finances) until the age of 31.
Oh, sorry to make you panic if you are in fact over the age of 31. You do actually need to sort your sh*t out.
Lending company Zopa surveyed 1,500 people to find out how people felt about their relationship with money at different ages.
They found that people felt they were their most frivolous with their spending at the age of 22, and didn’t become mature with their finances until 31, on average.
Women typically take a little longer to feel stable money-wise, with most saying they didn’t reach financial maturity until 33, versus men who said 29.
Those surveyed reckoned that when you hit 31, you’re less likely to overspend due to social media pressures to buy fancy holidays and clothes. They also thought they’d naturally start spending less on social activities after hitting thirty, because some would be spending more evenings at home raising young kids.
People also said that by their mid to late thirties they wouldn’t have to splash cash on stag dos, hen dos, and weddings every weekend, which can take up a big chunk of your salary.
The survey also looked at what people thought were the signs of financial maturity, so we can all look at the list and tick off which things we do to measure exactly how sorted we are.
Unsurprisingly, the top signs you have your finances in order are regularly paying into a savings account and having a pension plan, but you can also score points by refusing to lend your pals money and taking lunch into work.
Signs of financial maturity, according to Zopa's survey:
So, how are you handling your money?
A hand holding some coins
Stock images of Autumnal leaves on social media, pumpkin spice lattes in hand, scented candles at the ready – it can only mean one thing. It’s basic bitch season.
We don’t mean that as a pejorative, quite the contrary. People are reclaiming basicness, if the number of social media tags is anything to go by (there are currently 732k ‘basic bitch’ tags on Instagram).
Most use it self-mockingly, giving themselves the moniker whether on a post of avo on toast, a picture of them in Uggs, or an inspirational quote.
The pinnacle of motivational quotes is ‘live, laugh, love’.
The adage can be seen on many social media posts and is a firm favourite for homeware – it appears in photo frames, on wall art, badges, T-shirts and jewellery, such is its universality.
So what makes these three little words so compelling? What do they really even mean?
Where does 'live, laugh, love' come from?
The phrase is inescapable thanks to the internet but where does it come from?
The source of the ubiquitous words is Bessie Anderson Stanley’s 1904 poem, Success.
The first few stanzas are:
He has achieved success
who has lived well,
laughed often, and loved much;
who has enjoyed the trust of
the respect of intelligent men and
the love of little children…
On Etsy, ‘live laugh love’ yields 6,000 results, while on Instagram there are more than 2 million posts using the #livelaughlove tag.
Neuroscientist Dean Burnett tells Metro.co.uk that ‘inspirational’ messages like these are so popular because such mantras are easy hooks to help people summarise or crystallise their goals.
He said: ‘It’s human nature to look for easy answers and solutions to problems that require minimal effort.
‘That’s just how our brains are wired; it’s a very frugal organ and doesn’t like using energy and resources if there’s a way to avoid that.
‘People will be more willing to look for simple positive messages rather than make large and significant changes to their lives to improve their happiness and outlook.’
When your options are either ‘change your job, relationship and living situation to remove all the negative factors dragging you down’ or ‘buy a pillow with “happiness comes from within” on it’, the latter is much easier, cheaper and quicker.
Once a decision is made, the brain has a range of egocentric biases which mean we’re more likely to believe it was the correct choice and act accordingly.
Habituation definitely plays a role in the popularity of these phrases – occasionally seeing an inspirational message encourages, or a least reminds, someone to think more positively.
Studies show that seeing or saying these mantras regularly, in the form of self-affirmation (valuing one’s individual self) can lead to positive outcomes in psychological and physical health.
There’s a fake it ’til you make it aspect, too. If you want to be seen as someone who’s positive and has a life full of love and laughter, it makes sense that you’d plaster ‘live, laugh, love’ all over your living space and social media.
As is so often the case with social media, using this mantra can be about putting on a facade.
‘We want people to think we’re doing well, we like to feel superior, higher-status when compared to others,’ Dean explains.
‘One way of doing this is to constantly share life advice and positive messages in a public context, like your Facebook and Instagram account.
‘It may be totally well-meant, but it’s also a way of exerting dominance. You’re telling people to be happier, to think positively, which means you’re “in control” of them.
‘It’s a very subtle and minor thing, but it’s still a way of placing yourself above others. You’re the experienced, wise, generous one, imparting wisdom to the sad, uninformed others.’
That take may be a tad cynical. Fans of live, laugh, love argue that these are self-reminders used to assert control over their own lives, not to lord their choices over others.
If all of Twitter is gonna make fun of my fall photos, at least pick some good ones! 🤣 Super proud of these. For the record, I do like pumpkin spice lattes. Cheers! ☕️ pic.twitter.com/QzflqTwqAE
— Caitlin Covington (@cmcoving) August 12, 2019
For some, the sorts of idioms and tropes known for being basic are an effective way of creating an online persona that appeals to many.
When influencer Caitlin Covington was hit with claims of basicness for her penchant for all things autumn (pumpkin spice latte and orange leaves at the ready), she owned it.
Her social media posts may look like something straight out of Just Girly Things, but the personal brand of ‘basic’ has served her well, amassing one million followers.
Perhaps there’s merit in being basic.
Blogger Megan Napolitan is a 23-year-old from San Diego, California, who’s trying to grow her following. On her website, she calls herself ‘your stereotypical SoCal, blonde, basic bitch.’
She told Metro.co.uk that it’s just a bit of fun: ‘It’s just a stereotype. Like a guy can be a jock or a douchebag. I’m a girl that loves pink, pumpkin spice lattes, am high maintenance, love wine, wear Uggs – it’s just my persona.’
‘Like anything, it can be used as a positive or a negative. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember.’
But being basic comes at a cost. The very need to reclaim the label emerged as a result of ‘basic bitch’ being used as a reductive label for women who enjoy culturally popular things.
Women’s interests and hobbies are quick to be caricatured.
Girls and women who are into certain camera filters, wearing scrunchies or caring about the envirionment are slotted into subcultures such as VSCO girls, while a woman’s choice of language, clothing, or mode of transport can get them deemed part of Fiat 500 Twitter.
By comparison, when men enjoy things such as drinking or football, their interests aren’t used to call them a cliché. There are no labels or internet phrase to categorise their interests, they’re just allowed to enjoy what they like.
While self-proclaimed basic bitches might think it’s an innocent label, multiple articles argue that the term is weaponised against women as a way of dismissing and ridiculing their interests.
Writer Jessica Lindsay, who comes from a working-class background, believes the phrase is where sexism and classism intersect.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The word “basic” is only ever ascribed to girls and women. If men like football, despite the fact that plenty of men like football, that word is never used.
‘But when women like sparkly interiors and comfy boots, it’s always basic.
‘When it comes to homewares like those baring the ‘live laugh love’ slogan and other similar ones there’s also an element of classism on top of the misogyny; these items are readily available for a low price at easily accessible stores.
‘Because these people (mainly women) want attractive interiors but can’t afford one-off, original art, it’s labelled as basic.’
*Walks into stranger's house*
*Sees "Live Laugh Love" sign on the wall* pic.twitter.com/cxPiilVwvk
— Jake Wike (@jacobwike) September 15, 2019
There’s certainly an appetite for fuzzy, inspirational and well-expressed wisdom but when a mantra reaches a tipping point, it’s often ridiculed, with people making generalisations about the poster’s personality type.
But with self-love and care being prioritised in the 21st century, more women seem to be unapologetically owning their personal brands, even if it includes basicness.
The sentiment behind it is enduring. With social media being a cesspool of negativity at times, remembering to live, laugh, and love can provide momentary relief. Women are starting to question why positive thinking is something to be ashamed of.
If that makes you a basic bitch, then so be it.
basic bitch culture - the phenomenon of inspirational messages on social media
John Clark, 39, and his partner Charlotte Deniz, 34, have lost 15 stone between them, not by spending loads of money on fancy superfoods but by batch-cooking each week’s meals for just 60p a dish.
The couple want to show that it’s possible to overhaul your diet and lose weight in a healthy way while on a budget.
Simply by planning their meals, Charlotte lost 6st 4lb while John lost more than 8st.
The couple spend around £135 a month on food, carefully planning out colourful boxed up meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Their weight loss plan was simple: Just make sure that every meal box contains just 400 calories.
They don’t just eat plain old salads, mind you. Charlotte and John’s meals include fakeaway style foods such as stuffed potato skins, pizza, and doughnuts.
Every Sunday they spend six hours preparing their meals for the week so they don’t have to bother with cooking after work.
HGV driver John, of Bolton, who now weighs 13st 5lb, said: ‘We make absolutely everything from scratch and we eat whatever we want.
‘It’s not a diet. I love what I eat and enjoy every mouthful.
‘It can be hard work. I do it on a Sunday and spend hours doing it. But I don’t cook in the week at all. It’s all done in one go.
‘It’s all about making sure your diet is balanced and sustainable. I cook really tasty food, even things that people usually think are unhealthy.
‘It’s a diet plan that allows you to eat whatever you want. What I cook are really nice meals. I’d say it’s the best diet in the world.’
John was the first to start meal prepping, using it as a way to lose weight before he met Charlotte.
Weighing 21 st 6lb at his heaviest, the driver was known as ‘Fat John’ thanks to a diet of burgers, sausage sandwiches, and pub lunches, racking up between 4,000 and 5,000 calories a day.
At 23 John booked a GP appointment when he started to struggle to buy clothes. He was told he was obese.
‘I sat in my car outside desperate, alone and cried,’ he said.
‘I was given some leaflets on what I should and shouldn’t eat but I wasn’t offered much help at all. I didn’t know where to start. I found it really difficult.’
John began working out five times a week and quickly dropped weight, but he hated getting up early to work out.
In 2004 he decided to focus on his diet instead. He took up meal prepping and said the pounds ‘just dropped off’.
Years later, in 2017, he met Charlotte, who ‘hated’ the way she looked.
In her twenties, Charlotte said she had an ‘awful’ diet and often gorged on takeaways, chips, and burgers in one sitting each day.
She took on John’s approach to prepping meals every Sunday and went from a size 18 to a size eight in the space of a year.
The couple dedicated themselves to making meals that were healthier, budget-friendly, and actually enjoyable.
Now they buy all their supplies on a Friday and cook it all up on Sunday. They spend around £80 on 5kg of chicken, burgers, sausages, mince and fish online, £25 on fruit and vegetables at their local market, and grab everything else from Aldi and Tesco.
Then John will work hard in the kitchen on a Sunday, cooking up four meals a day (breakfast, lunch, a snack, and dinner) for the next seven days for both himself and Charlotte. Each meal goes in one of 56 individual cartons, all shared on Instagram under the name @themealprepking.
Dad-of-two John says: ‘We have a very varied diet and the food we eat is amazing. Some people literally don’t believe it when they see.
‘Unlike some diets these meals aren’t grey and boring. It’s all fun food and is all about moderation and variety.
‘It is sustainable and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
‘I don’t like to think of myself as having a diet plan. I eat what I want.
‘Now I just want to help other people too. I want to inspire people to stay away from boring diets.’
The couple's typical diets before and after batch-cooking:
Charlotte and John now:
Atlante Sultana is Maltese on her dad’s side and Fijian and Irish on her Mum’s.
‘I’ve honestly always seen my mixed-race heritage as having the “best of both worlds”,’ explains Atlante. ‘I’ve more often than not seen it as a hugely positive thing and I love telling people about my unusual mix or getting them to try to guess where I’m from (which they never can).’
Atlante grew up on the Cardiff Docks, which she says was a ‘melting pot’ of different cultures. As a result, she spent the early portion of her life rarely thinking about race, because everyone around her had a different ethnic background.
‘I don’t remember being very conscious of my mixed heritage,’ explains Atlante, ‘At least not as much as when I moved to a predominantly white high school and white area later in life.
‘I think this was largely down to the fact that a lot of my peers also had mixed heritage due to the colourful history of the docklands.
‘My wider family is literally the definition of a mixed-race family. On my mum’s side (Irish/Fijian), my cousins all have dads from different backgrounds, so our family photos really do look like something from a diversity campaign.’
Atlante says the wide amounts of diversity within her family has meant that there has never been any divisions or conflict over race or culture. Everyone is different, so there’s no one who feels isolated.
‘We are all in the same boat so to speak,’ explains Atlante, ‘and I love that we are a mix of such different cultures.’
Atlante says that she doesn’t experience racism directly. She says that her racially ambiguous appearance means she isn’t subject to outright abuse or open prejudice, but she says hostility rears its head in other ways.
‘The main issue for me is that as I can be white-passing, certain people feel comfortable enough to share their ignorant thoughts with me thinking I’m “on their side”.
‘I then have to have the very awkward conversation to point out that I’m not “what” they think I am, but that I in fact fall into the pool of people they are ignorantly talking about. Then I have to call them out for their ignorance.’
Atlante only remembers one incident of outright racism. She had just started high school and will never forget what the parents of another student said about her.
‘I was invited to a girl’s party at her house and the following week she told me her parents were shocked at how nice I was “for someone, you know, your colour.”
‘This was the first and only time anyone has ever outright commented on my race in a negative way, and as a shy 12-year-old it was a real shock to the system and made me realise that, unlike my time in primary school down the docks, I was now “different” to my peers.’
Atlante didn’t always mind being seen as different though. It became a part of who she was as she navigated this new school throughout her adolescence.
‘I sort of embraced being “the black friend” and it became part of my identity in high school – albeit I was still relaxing my hair to fit in aesthetically with everyone else.
‘Other members of my family have been on the receiving end of direct racism though, so there is definitely a discrepancy in how we are all seen.’
Atlante feels lucky to have been brought up by both of her parents and says that she was able to experience the cultures and traditions of both sides of her family equally.
‘Whether that was through the food we ate at home, the family parties we attended or the traditional names I call my grandparents.
‘My paternal (Maltese) grandparents met in East London. Both had separately moved to the UK when they were young – my grandfather actually snuck onto a cruise ship at the age of 16 with his belongings in a pillowcase to start a new life in the Big Smoke.
‘One day he went to a cinema and saw “the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen” working at the cinema serving snacks – he had a hunch that she was also Maltese. She sat in front of him and he pulled her hair to get her attention!
‘She swore back at him in Maltese and his hunch was proven.
‘They had six children together before moving to Cardiff where my Dad was born. Which means I have a serious number of cousins.
‘Nunu – the Maltese word for grandfather – worked in the famous Welsh coal mines where he learnt English from his West-Indian co-workers.
Atlante’s maternal grandparents met in Fiji.
‘Grampy, who is Irish, was in the Merchant Navy working out on the Islands. Much like my Nunu, it was love at first sight for him too,’ explains Atlante.
‘Grampy eventually moved back to Ireland taking Nan and my aunties and uncle with him.
‘Nan was the first black person my Irish family had ever seen and I believe it did take some getting used to for his family to accept the idea of Grampy being with a woman of colour.
‘Nan was aware of her differences the moment she stepped off the train in the UK – she told Grampy that everyone was staring at her. He responded that they were only staring at her because she was so beautiful.’
The pair ended up in Cardiff when Atlante’s ‘Grampy’ got a new job at the university. And, despite the many different elements that brought her family to that city, it is Cardiff which gives Atlante the feeling of home.
‘Since my parents were both born in Wales, I think I’ve most often identified more with being Welsh as opposed to one or the other of my multi-racial heritages,’ she explains.
‘I think growing up as a mixed-race individual in the UK, people often assume that I have one white-British parent and one who is Caribbean – as this is a common mix here.
‘It’s cool to be able to introduce people to a different idea of what mixed-race can mean.’
Atlente sees being mixed-race as a powerful tool of connection. And she doesn’t mind when people get her heritage wrong – she actually uses it to her advantage.
‘Being mixed has been the driving force behind me being able to understand and identify with lots of different people, whether in the workplace, at school or in my personal life,’ she says.
‘It’s more often than not a conversation starter and works as a nice little ice-breaker in new situations as I’m somewhat racially ambiguous and people like to try and figure out where I’m from, which I actually don’t mind at all (although I know some mixed people have an issue with this) – I love finding out people’s mixes.’
But there is one constant reminder of Atlante’s mixed heritage that has been tricky to manage over the years – her hair. She says falling into an ambiguous space between ethnicities can make it hard to find a stylist who can cope with her curls.
‘I’ve always found it difficult to find a hairdresser who could do my type of hair,’ she says. ‘The salons in my local area in Wales always saw my hair as a problem – it was “too much”, “too big”, “too curly”, which contributed to my anxiety of going to the hairdressers.
‘I always felt like a burden and would continuously apologise while they were doing my hair.
‘I’ve also been to black hair salons and have been told my hair is too soft for weave, or found they still didn’t know how to deal with my curl pattern or texture – overloading it with oily products which just doesn’t work for my hair.
‘I went through the sad stages of relaxing my hair all through high school – something I begged my mum to allow me to do so that I could fit in with the rest of my peers.
‘I call it a sad time as I feel so much more me now that I’ve gone natural and I still have the ability to straighten it as and when I fancy it – like I said earlier – best of both worlds.
‘I’ve ended up just learning how to do my hair myself. Whether that’s box braids, or bleaching it platinum blonde. YouTube is the big sister I never had when it comes to this stuff.’
Atlante wants people in the UK to understand that there is more than one way to be mixed-race. And she is more than happy to answer questions – it’s something she actually loves to talk about.
‘I love sharing the story of how I came to be,’ says Atlante.
‘I also love that my mix is so unusual as I’m able to tell people about the beautiful places that I’m from, as they may not have even heard of Fiji or been to Malta. It’s really nice to be able to tell people about these places.’
Mixed Up is our weekly series that gets to the heart of what it means to be mixed-race in the UK today.
Going beyond discussions of divided identity, this series takes a look at the unique joys, privileges and complexities that come with being mixed-race - across of variety of different contexts.
The mixed-race population is the UK's fastest-growing ethnic group, and yet there is still so much more to understand about the varied lived experiences of individuals within this hugely heterogenous group.
Each week we speak to the people who know exactly how it feels to navigate this inbetween space.
Mixed Up, Natalie Morris
Whenever I go to a spin class or a HIIT class I’m struck by the fact that the women in the room – and it’s almost always 90% women – all look the same.
And I’m right there with them. I’m wearing the same Sweaty Betty leggings, the same Lululemon tank, I’m around the same age, I have a similar body type. But there is one notable difference. I’m more often than not the only non-white person in the room.
While I don’t need to be surrounded by people who look exactly like me in order to get an effective workout, the overwhelming homogeneity of these spaces can send a message that if you don’t fit the mould – you’re not welcome.
The fitness world is booming. Hedonism is out and ‘wellness’ is in, as more of us prefer to spend our weekends breaking a sweat in the new Soul Cycle studio before heading out for green juice and vegan brunch.
It’s a tired millennial stereotype, but there is truth in it. We are collectively becoming more health-conscious than we have ever been – and the fitness industry is benefiting in a big way.
Gym memberships in the UK grew by 4.7% to 10.4 million this year, according to an annual industry report. Fitness is a £5bn industry, and with more people seeking a social experience from their workouts, boutique classes are flourishing.
So how can an industry that is growing year-on-year, and making so much money, get away with such a stark lack of diversity? And why is this problem being perpetuated?
One of the reasons has to be the cost. These boutique fitness classes are not cheap – just ask my bank balance – and that consistently high price point is fueling elitism and exclusivity.
According to the Money Advice Service, the average gym membership is £40 per month, but in London, where everything is more expensive, it can be £100 or more. Individual classes cost between £15-£25 for an hour. Five HIIT classes at Barry’s Bootcamp (just over one per week) will cost you £105 for a month. 10 spinning classes at Boom Cycle costs £160.
So is it any wonder that minority groups – who are more likely to earn less or live in deprived areas – are being pushed out?
Matilda Egere-Cooper thinks it comes down to who these gyms and studios are trying to attract.
‘Boutique fitness studios have a core target market, notably those with disposable incomes,’ she explains. ‘This explicitly points to the wider inequalities that exist within society, where class, jobs, incomes, and opportunities are concerned.’
Matilda is the founder of the Fly Girl Collective – a running and fitness community inspiring black and brown women to get active. She thinks the problem runs deeper than simple economics, it’s also about representation.
‘Even if a studio happens to be affordable, there’s a question around who’s represented in the marketing, and whether the instructors and in-house staff are genuinely diverse – and not just a tick-box exercise,’ says Matilda.
This is important. Black and Asian women are the least physically active social groups, and a significant barrier to their participation is a lack of role models.
‘Where the trainers and staff are disproportionately white, it sends a message to black and other ethnic minorities that the space hasn’t been created with diversity in mind,’ explains Matilda.
‘The industry, particularly in a diverse city like London, should intentionally represent the world around them in their marketing, be accessible and employ a more diverse range of people at all levels.
‘Everyone should be inspired to pursue a healthy, fit lifestyle, but it’s hard to be what you can’t see.’
Sharlene Gandhi loves yoga, but as an Asian woman, she is increasingly concerned by the whitewashing of the industry, and the effect it is having on the integrity of the ancient Indian practice.
‘If I go to a class run by white folks – which is most of them in the city – then the class is normally, massively white,’ Sharlene tells Metro.co.uk.
‘There is such a market for white-washed yoga. Right down to the music that is played when you come into a studio, to the “Namaste” at the end – all of it is disastrously white.
‘I don’t necessarily feel out of place because, if anything, I know that I am closer to some of the asanas and techniques than most people in the room are.’
Sharlene completed a diploma in Bharathanatyam, an ancient Indian classical dance form that has the same roots as yoga. She says it gave her a nuanced understanding of some of the psychology behind the physiology.
‘I think that is something which is increasingly missed out in “quick-fix” yoga,’ she explains.
‘I worry more about the dilution of an ancient practice, one that was well thought and planned out to fit in with an otherwise holistic and healthy lifestyle, into something that now is essentially an exercise routine.’
Sharlene gets frustrated by the erasure of the people who created yoga – but she has her own little ways to fight back.
‘I deliberately do not say “Namaste” at the end of a class, especially if its a white-washed class, or led by a white teacher. I’m sure nobody notices, but it is my tiny rebellion,’ she says.
‘I’ve only ever been to one class where the teacher deliberately counted in Sanskrit – as you would do in a normal yoga class to keep the breathing steady. I found that super soothing and revolutionary.
‘The class was of course, run by a South Asian woman.’
The effect of this wide-scale whitewashing of the fitness industry is that it creates a spiral. If you don’t feel welcome in a space, you’re not going to go there, which in turn prevents other people like you from going there for the exact same reason.
What’s needed is a fundamental shake-up of the industry from the top-down.
Hannah Lanel is the founder of The Fore – a new fitness space that prides itself on inclusivity. Hannah is white and acknowledges that fitness has a serious diversity problem, but she is determined to do things differently. She says it has to start with recruitment.
‘Since launching The Fore in June we’ve done everything we can to break down the barriers to fitness and well-being,’ Hannah tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Our classes are designed to welcome amateurs and athletes alike and we actively seek out instructors who don’t fit the mould in terms of both ethnicity, appearance and background.’
Hannah says this helps them to attract a diverse audience who come to class and take whatever they need from it.
‘Inclusivity is at the very heart of our business and we are proud to unite a community of both trainers and clients that dismantles socioeconomic, religious and political divides to foster meaningful relationships that celebrate people of colour, of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.’
That’s a big claim for a gym to make – is it really that deep?
Matilda thinks it is. Her ethos is that the battle can only really be won if inequality is eradicated from every aspect of life – including fitness and well-being. She doesn’t want to sit back and allow another industry to thrive off the back of exclusion.
To take this point further, Matilda trains with her Fly Girl Collective squad at a boutique fitness studio at least once a month.
‘It can be tricky because of costs, but by being there, we’re sending the message that fitness is for everyone – even black women from all walks of life,’ she explains.
‘Although the general reaction to us being there is positive, we do get a few side glances and stares, so I think there’s still some work to be done to normalise diversity in these spaces.
‘But it starts with studios being willing to recognise the issues, have challenging conversations and working proactively to move things in the right direction.’
Despite the boom in ‘wellness’, overall obesity levels are still on the rise and obesity-related hospital admissions rose by 15% last year.
The inference is that the growing fitness industry is only benefiting a privileged minority of the population. For everyone else, the gentrification of fitness is actually pushing them out and may even be making it harder to be active.
Dora Atim is a 27-year-old black trainer at The Fore, and she knows just how important it is to improve the accessibility of fitness resources.
‘In terms of instructors, we are only just beginning to see a marginal improvement in diversity being taken seriously,’ says Dora, ‘but studios have no hope of attracting a truly varied audience unless they first address their marketing.
‘Thin, white and rich is still overwhelmingly used as the ideal to attract clients with the top five boutiques in London showing a disappointing lack of diversity in their marketing campaigns.
‘It’s not until we stop breeding this idea that there is some kind of “perfect” homogeneous ideal that we will see boutiques open themselves up to a wider marketplace.’
Mel is a mixed-race personal trainer based in Birmingham, and she agrees with Dora. She says targeting a more diverse customer base isn’t rocket science.
‘We need more diverse images with a broad range of ethnicities used in their marketing,’ she suggests. ‘They should also use targeted ads to appeal to areas where the population has a high percentage of BAME groups.
‘I understand the need to be niche, but businesses need to be careful that they are not alienating an entire demographic through poor advertising.’
It is that sense of alienation that can be the most damaging.
The fitness industry is elitist in more ways than one. Women are expected to be a certain age, a certain size and conform to certain societal norms in order to be an accepted part of the community.
But women, and men, of all ages, sizes and races can be fit, strong and can smash a HIIT class just like anyone else. The industry may be growing, but there will always be a limit to that growth unless fitness finds a way to embrace different kinds of bodies.
The fitness industry is overwhelmingly white - and that needs to change
With the 17th annual Recycling Week upon us – as a celebration of all things sustainable on 23-30 September 2019 – it’s a reminder that every wo-man and their dog should get involved.
And it is important to remember just how much of an impact every action, no matter how small it may seem, can make, especially when all those actions add up to one big effort.
One brand who has recognised this early on, and is still leading the way is Butcher’s with their nourishing food for dogs range.
In 2018 it was estimated that plastic packaging (such as the way products are brought to us on the supermarket shelves) made up half of all the plastic waste in the UK,* which means that companies like Butcher’s can directly help their consumers reduce waste by making a few small changes.
Butcher’s are on a mission to cut out the plastic in their own packaging to reduce their environmental ‘pawprint’ – in a way that is affordable everyday.
Their mission has already saved up to 92 tonnes of plastic wrap a year – which is the equivalent of 4.2 million plastic bottles – and it’s already made a huge difference.
‘We’re a small family-run company so if we can do it, so can all the bigger companies,’ says Butcher’s spokesperson Rachel Collinson, who has led the plastic-free mission at Butcher’s.
The ‘war on plastics’ has long been a personal passion for Collinson, and one that she brought over two years ago to a company that has been nourishing the nation’s dogs for over 30 years.
So, what kind of changes have Butcher’s put in place?
In 2018, the company began manufacturing a new type of recyclable and biodegradable box in the UK, to house their nutritious canned food for dogs.
The plastic shrink-wrap from multi-packs of cans was replaced with cardboard that comes from sustainable forests, where the trees are always replanted after they are harvested. The switch to cardboard instead of plastic was a huge task to coordinate – changing millions of packs in 1000’s of stores.
Finally, their steel cans are plastic-free and infinitely recyclable, that means they can be easily and sustainably turned into new materials, like car parts, bicycles, or even more cans and trays once they’re finished being used to nourish our pets.
Recyling: Why bother?
It might be tempting to think of climate change as a problem that will hit us in the future. But it is already here.
A 2018 study found that England’s climate is changing and will continue to change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. The Met Office’s central England temperature series shows that the 21st century has so far been warmer than the previous 3 centuries.
Unless there’s an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures may rise to 4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. Summer maximum temperatures could rise by up to 10°C in parts of England by the 2080s. Sea levels will rise for decades and centuries ahead. Sea level rise is predicted to be between 0.4 and 1 metre by 2100, and possibly by as much as 4 metres by 2300.
All of our efforts make a difference. Recycling is one of the many ways we can help save our planet.
While brands like Butcher’s are busy spearheading the change for every home, there’s still a long way to go in the UK.
According to a 2018 report, British households typically only recycle around 45 per cent of household waste every year*.
That means that more than half goes to landfill.
This Recycling Week, the aim is to get more people than ever doing something radical that, together, will really make a difference.
One thing’s for sure, Butcher’s brand mission to get rid of plastic is far from over.
Rachel adds: ‘We still have more plastic we think we can get rid of and we are working on it.’
‘So far, a huge amount of plastic has been removed from our supply chain and we are really proud of everything we have achieved.’
It's not just their packaging: How Butcher's walk the walk
It’s not just their dog food that’s had an environmentally friendly make-over. Their HQ and manufacturing plant have, too.
Rainwater is collected and used to flush toilets in the buildings while solar panels on the roofs harness the sun’s rays and turn them into electricity that the company can use.
They’re also looking into how to reduce the amount of energy they use by 20 per cent.
Changes such as the site lighting have been made by replacing bulbs with more efficient LED lighting, complete with energy-saving motion sensors.
Any food waste is removed by an external company and used to produce Bio Energy and cardboard is compacted on-site and sold for recycling.
The changes Butcher’s have made to their packaging have already been a big hit with the public.
‘We’ve had some really nice, supportive messages on social media, thanking us for our initiative, which is fantastic,’ says Rachel.
‘It’s important – every company should be looking at ways to reduce plastic, regardless.’
Young woman with dog
A woman who hired a man 23 years older than her to be the DJ at her wedding didn’t expect to fall in love with him.
Nanny Megan Willis from Baltimore, Maryland, met Mark Stone, 49, while she was in New York to arrange her wedding.
The 26-year-old was there to see her sister Kirsten, who booked Mark for Megan’s upcoming wedding, in the summer of 2016.
A year later, married life proved to have some difficulties for Megan, who flew back to New York for some support from Kristen.
When they both went to the bar Mark DJed at, Megan got chatting with him and the pair hit it off.
Mark had opened up about his own 27-year marriage at the time and the couple bonded over their crumbling relationships.
They remained friends until 2018 when Megan’s divorce was finalised. Eight months later, the pair moved to North Carolina to officially be together.
In the infancy of their relationship, Megan confided about the reasons her marriage was breaking down
She explained: ‘Talking with Mark really led me to the realisation that I shouldn’t have to beg my husband for attention.
‘Mark was just a friend yet every day he took time to check in on me. We both really enjoyed our chats no matter how silly or serious they were.
‘His support through it all really meant a lot to me. Going through something like a divorce you really need to have someone there to support you and to vent to and that’s exactly what Mark was for me and I’m forever thankful for that.’
At the time she worried about their 23-year age gap, what people would say and whether they’d wonder if she’s a gold digger.
‘Being together all negative thoughts went away,’ she continued. ‘I’m an older soul and he’s a young soul so it’s almost like we meet in the middle and it’s perfect.’
Mark also opened up about his marriage in which he shares a son, 22, and daughter, 20, with his ex-wife.
He struggled to come to terms with the end of his marriage but once he accepted it, he was able to open his heart to Megan.
‘Once I realised my marriage was over, I opened my eyes to the love I felt for Megan,’ said Mark.
‘As I got to know her, I discovered underneath a person who filled your heart and soul with everything that defines love.’
Soon their respective families got on board with the relationship.
Megan and Mark have overheard strangers whispering about their relationship when they’re out in public. But they vow to never hide their love and want to encourage other age gap couples to embrace their bonds.
They also hope to have children of their own.
‘Mark needs a vasectomy reversal to do so,’ explained Megan.
‘He got his vasectomy done 21 years ago so we hope that having a kid will still be an option for us. We already have names picked out, Rhett Michael for a boy and Taylie Mae for a girl.
‘We really don’t care what other people think. We’re happy and our relationship works and that’s all that matters to us.
‘Love is love. Never feel ashamed for who you love. Never hide your love. Embrace it, shout it from the rooftops because it’s the most amazing feeling to love and be loved.
‘I hope people see our age gap and the love that we have for each other and for an age gap relationship to be less ‘odd’ and to remove the stigma that if a female is with an older male that she’s with him for money.’
The couple is documenting their journey on their Instagram account to break the stigma surrounding age gap relationships.
Woman falls in love with the DJ who played at her wedding
We interrupt your day to bring you a super talented rat who’s helped his owner with their business.
No, this is not the plot of Ratatouille. It’s the real-life story of Darius, the rat who’s made delightful paintings with his feet for his human, art student Amalie Markota Anderse.
We’re calling him Rat-art-touille.
Amalie, from Aksim, Norway has built quite the following on social media, with updates of Darius’s fabulous watercolour paintings.
The student first got into the trade when she let Darius walk around after he dipped his feet into a non-toxic watercolour set until the work ‘looked like something’.
She then took a picture, posted it on Tumblr and went to bed. When she woke up, the image had gone viral.
Soon people started messaging about buying the paintings. Amalie managed to sell three or four and with the profits, bought Darius things he needed.
Though the two had a special bond and an almost-lucrative business, Darius sadly passed away this year. But Amalie has all the sweet memories of her beloved pet and his paintings to commemorate him.
Amalie told Metro.co.uk: ‘All rats have different personalities, and are all wonderful in their own ways.
‘Darius was something special, he was very timid and shy. Usually, rats have an urge to explore and run around, but not Darius. He was just fine sleeping in my bed or cuddling in my lap. He was like a little baby, always clinging to me, not very independent.’
When he died earlier in 2019, Amalie found life without Darius difficult.
‘It was extra hard to let him go when the time came,’ she said. ‘He was very attached to me, and I got extra attached to him as well.
‘Darius made such a huge impact on me, I had him in a weird time of my life where I was trying to figure out who I was as a person and also where I should be going in life.
‘He was my light in the darkness. And I’ll be infinitely thankful for him, even if he never knew what kind of impact he had. Not only on me but the thousands of people who fell in love with him and his little painting.’
Thankfully, Amalie has another pet rat, Mango, who helped her get through the difficult time.
When she got Darius in May 2017, Amalie had no intention of exploring his creative capabilities, much less selling his work.
But people kept messaging to ask whether she accepted commissions and so eventually she did, using the money to buy a harness so he could explore the outdoors safely.
Amalie added: ‘I regret selling the original painting a little bit but it also makes me very happy thinking that his works are out there somewhere, hopefully still intact and well!’
She doesn’t know how old the rat is but estimated his birthday being around March and randomly selected the 24th to celebrate it.
All the attention Darius received in his life made Amalie a very delighted owner.
‘I was so happy people liked him,’ she continued. ‘It is what he deserved! I remember showing my friends and family, it was strange but also very fun.
‘The comments especially make me very happy. People are still commenting to this day, and every one of them puts a smile on my face.’
An art student trained her pet rat to make paintings with his feet
A forward-thinking man hedged his bets on a carrot when he decided to bury an engagement ring to propose to his girlfriend.
Canadian man Johnny Neville played the long game and hoped the carrot would grow right into the diamond ring he planted in June.
He then had to wait three months before harvest time, when his hopeful fiance-to-be could find the ring in the backyard of their home near Pingchut Lake in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The expensive jewellery sat buried in the dirt all those months while Johnny nervously moved Deejay away every time she attempted to get near.
Johnny had planned for the big reveal by putting the ring in a five-gallon bucket filled with soil. He then pushed a pencil down inside the ring, gingerly planting the seed and loose soil through the hole, hoping it would go straight into the ring.
Lo and behold, it did. Deejay pulled the carrot out one evening while preparing for dinner.
Luckily, she spotted the ring. And she said yes.
‘I started to wriggle it out, and as I was pulling the carrot out John had said, “I love you very much”,’ Deejay told Canadian radio channel St. John’s Morning Show.
‘And as I pulled it out, had it in my hand, he was on one knee in front of me and asked me to marry him.
‘I was in complete shock when I saw the ring on the carrot.’
The couple were happy that Johnny had been there to complete the proposal, otherwise it would’ve left Deejay with many questions.
It was all a bit of a gamble for Johnny but it all worked out.
Deejay added: ‘For a while he wondered if it was going to bust the ring, or did it grow in the ring, and we didn’t know until I pulled it out.’
She shared the happy news on a gardening group on Facebook, where fellow green-fingered enthusiasts applauded the bold move.
The bride-to-be also appreciated all the effort.
‘He’s been thinking about it for a while,’ she continued. ‘He has had the ring for quite some time.
‘Of course, he wanted to do something unique and imaginative. There were a few other ideas he had. He just wanted the perfect idea to come along, and I guess it was worth the wait.’
We wonder what he’s got planned for the big day – a carrot cake?
Do you have an amazing proposal story you’d like to share? Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.
We love Autumn. It’s the glorious pre-cursor to the depths of winter – fantastic TV, crunchy leaves, everything in pumpkin spice flavour.
It also means it’s getting colder, wetter and darker. And we absolutely do not want to workout.
To make sure your fitness schedule doesn’t take a total nosedive as we head into Autumn, we asked Olympic gold medallist and athletics leged Jessica Ennis-Hill for her top tips to stay on track even when the weather is against you.
‘Everyone finds exercise hard at this time of year and I definitely did when I did my winter training, but the sense of achievement is even higher when you commit on those cold, dark rainy days,’ Jessica tells Metro.co.uk.
‘I also think it makes you so much stronger. Here are a few tricks I’ve picked up over my career to help me stick at it.’
Do a weekly workout with a friend
If you have a fixed date to work out with a friend or partner, you’re more likely to stick to it even when the weather is grim.
My husband Andy and I always do a Monday night Jennis Fitness Circuit when the kids go to bed.
It’s hard as it’s at 7 pm and Netflix is calling, but because we’ve committed to do it together, we always stick to it.
Think about how you are going to feel when you are done
Even 20 minutes of outdoor activity can make a big difference to how you feel that day, so when the weather is less than friendly, I’ll still brave the elements because I know that getting outdoors to do a run or hill run training session will make me feel so much better.
In those instances, it’s about thinking about how you’re going to feel after getting it done, rather than the effort it’s going to take to get started.
Get creative with your outdoor sessions
To make the prospect of heading outside to work out more enjoyable, I like to mix up my sessions to keep it interesting.
One of my favourite sessions is a HIIT Run, where I do alternate fast and slow runs within the same session against the clock.
It’s really good for distracting you and before you know it, you are done.
Plan your sessions each week
It sounds super-organised, but at the same time each week, I write down what sessions I plan to do that week on a planner. This means that I can see what else I have going on that week, then realistically work around them.
And because I’ve written it down, I’m more likely to stick to it – even when the weather is bad.
Be clever with your indoor sessions
If you do the right indoor bodyweight sessions and keep mixing up your sessions, it’s often more effective than a run or gym session.
The circuits in my app only feature exercises that work multiple muscles, which means they are really intense but really effective, they’re all 30 minutes or less and you don’t need to brave the elements to get started – you can do it in your living room.
Jessica Ennis-Hill’s new fitness app jennis fitness is available on iOS and Android for £9.99 per month.
Autumn workout comp
The old adage goes that women are from Mars and women are from Venus. However, rather than the differences between the sexes being planetary, it appears there might be more to do with pants and pets.
IllicitEncounters.com – a website for those wanting to have affairs – completed a survey of 2,000 people looking for their biggest turn-offs, with the results showing that, while there were one or two similarities, there was also a whole lot of differences too.
For women, it appears that bad technique and being inappropriate were among their top concerns, while for men it was women’s confidence levels in the bedroom.
Two-thirds of women (64%) said they would rather not hear about sex with the ex, while 58% said they most hated when men thought that sex was over the moment they orgasmed.
Men’s biggest turn-off was women who insist having the lights off during sex, with 57% saying this had been an issue for them, while second was women who are silent or motionless during sex – 53% said this had been an issue.
In third place was Bridget Jones underwear – more than half of men (52%) said they had been turned off by big knickers or underwear that is old. We hope they’re bringing their A-game when it comes to the brief and boxer department.
Both men and women hated pets in the bedroom, with it coming in sixth for men and third for women.
Cheating in the past also didn’t go down well with either party (we realise the irony given who made the post) as 37% of women said they didn’t like this, while 48% of men did.
IllicitEncounters.com sex and relationship expert Jessica Leoni: ‘New relationships are all about discovery and learning about people’s past lives, but some topics are a real no-no, especially in the first few weeks of dating.
If you admit that you are a cheat on one of your first dates, expect your new partner to do the same – creating mistrust on both sides which could well kill the relationship before you get started.’
Or perhaps just try not to cheat? But what do I know…
Women’s top 10 turn-offs
Men’s top ten turn-offs
Christmas is officially less than 100 days away and if you fancy getting the presents in early this year, you’re in luck – as Argos has announced a mega sale across its stores.
The retailer is offering up to 50% off a range of toys to ensure that children who are on Santa’s nice list get lots of pretty things this December (and that their parents save a pretty penny).
As for what you can buy, you are spoilt for choice with brands including Lol, Lego, Chad Valley and Peppa Pig up for grabs at a bargain. However, it’s worth doing a price comparison online, as you may well find some cheaper options elsewhere.
So, what can you buy and how long will the sale go on for? Here’s everything you need to know.
What to buy in the Argos sale
You can search for toys based on your child’s age, and some are both educational and fun – like the VTech Touch & Learn Activity Desk, which now costs £40 or treat them to the Disney Pixar Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway Track Set, which has been discounted from £99.99 to just £40.
For the older kids, there’s the snazzy Razor Hovertrax 2.0 Hoverboard, but you might balk at the price. Despite being half off, it still costs £224.99. The Razor Drift Electric Tike is slightly cheaper, at £124.99.
If your children are all grown up and on their way to university, we’ve got you covered there too, with our ‘back to university’ shopping list.
Argos is also offering a sale on its Tu clothing line, in case you need to pick up some extra bits for the school year.
Which Argos stores are offering the discount?
The sale is offered across all Argos stores in the UK, as well as online – though the latter comes with a delivery charge of £3.95.
Alternatively, you can order the items you want for collection in store, and find your nearest Argos by using the store locator tool on the brand’s website.
When does the Argos sale end?
The special toy sale starts today (25 September) and ends on 1 October.
Home Retail Group Plc's Argos Store
What you’re about to read will cause you either hunger or deep distress.
Over in Australia, people are apparently eating toasties filled with baked beans and tinned spaghetti.
Yes, we’re talking about toasted sandwiches with tinned spaghetti or saucy baked beans as the filling. Nothing else.
Apparently this concoction is called a ‘jaffle’, and is made by popping cold Heinz beans or spaghetti from a tin between two slices of white bread, then toasting the sarnie in a toasted sandwich maker.
We were alerted to this baffling item by a gamer called Amber Wadham, who innocently tweeted the question: ‘A great Australian debate, choose your side, spaghet or bean.’
Naturally, the tweet sparked horror, outrage, and intrigue from all those who had never considered putting canned goods in a toasted sandwich.
Amber said: ‘I eat them all the time, but they’re particularly best when you’re really hungry.
‘I couldn’t believe how many people had never heard of it.
‘Of course it matters which beans and spaghetti you use – the beans have to be Heinz, and spaghetti jaffles taste best when they’re SPC, an Australian brand, but others will do.
‘You can use others, I suppose, but they’re not authentic.
‘I think the best part about a jaffle is that it’s like a crunchy bowl for your fillings – with no extra mess to clean up.’
A crunchy bowl… the mind boggles.
Amber adds that the snacks, which are vegan (as long as you’re careful with your baked beans, as some contain a non-vegan sweetener), can be customised with cheese and coleslaw.
Personally that makes me vomit in my mouth, but some people might find the idea appealing.
‘That’s what we call a Jaffle Raffle – you just go for it and hope it’s good,’ said Amber.
‘My Australian fans were about 50/50 whether they preferred beans, or spaghetti.
‘For me it’s spaghetti all the way.
‘Loads of Americans commented saying they were undecided because they were disgusted.
‘I thought it was a bit rich, because they seem to deep fry literally everything.
‘I honestly thought it was a normal snack – I had no idea that jaffles are only popular in Australia.
‘This isn’t the first time I’ve had a tweet blow up, but it did make me smile how a simple sandwich could entertain thousands of people.
‘I’ve even had a couple of angry Italians messaging me.
‘They got very upsetti over some spaghetti.’
At least the jaffle isn’t as harrowing as lettucetti, which caused far more outrage when shared online.
Some people have bravely tried the dish after seeing Amber’s tweet, and report that it’s actually quite good.
One new jaffle fan said: ‘It takes all the mess out of beans on toast.
‘It was my birthday yesterday, so I made a jaffle with spaghetti hoops and sausages.
‘I even sprinkled some Parmesan on top to make it extra fancy.’
There’s only one thing for it. We’ll need to try this for ourselves at home. We imagine it could be quite nice as a drunk or hungover treat when anything goes.