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

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    Woman with massive open wound has a hole in her nose
    Rebekah Rupp had to wear a forehead flap for weeks which involves connecting veins from the forehead to the nose (Picture: Media Drum World)

    A mum who described herself as a ‘diehard’ tanning addict was shocked when a spot on her nose turned out to be cancer.

    Teacher Rebekah Rupp was using tanning beds six times a week without proper SPF care and would cleanse her face using wipes.

    When the 41-year-old from Oklahoma noticed a spot on her nose, she saw a dermatologist, who removed the white spot immediately and sent it off for testing.

    Rebekah was then diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma skin cancer and underwent surgery to remove the affected layers of skin.

    As a result of the procedure, she was left with a hole in her nose which was repaired via a forehead flap, where a vein from the forehead is attached to the nose.

    Since her surgery, Rebekah takes extra care of her skin, wearing sunscreen every day and a hat when in the sun. She also makes sure her children are well protected and have sunscreen in their bags.

     Rebekah with a red nose and a massive bloody nostril
    Rebekah following surgery to remove the cancerous skin cells (Picture: Media Drum World)

    Rebekah explained how her addiction came to be, saying: ‘In my earlier years, I tanned at least five to six times a week. I was told by others it was bad for me, but until it happened to me – I never listened.

    ‘I loved the way tanning made me feel. It relaxed me, it made me feel pretty, and it gave me a glow that I loved.’

    Rebekah only began paying attention to her skin when she started a side job with a beauty company. Soon, she learned the importance of using SPF.

    But by then it was too late and Rebekah was forced to prepare for the worst.

    ‘I was very scared,’ she continued. ‘Hearing the word cancer hurts. It’s the worst feeling in the world because in the back of your mind you are thinking death.’

    After doctors removed all the skin cancer from her nose, Rebekah was sent to a reconstructive surgeon to repair the hole in her nose.

    The surgeon did a forehead flap which she wore for four weeks before having it removed.

    Following on from her surgery, Rebekah still has some swelling but she’s sharing her experience to encourage others to use sun protection.

    ‘Protect your skin while you have it. Don’t tan in tanning beds or expose your skin to sun exposure without using sunscreen and wearing protection on your head.

    ‘My first advice to everyone is wearing sunscreen. If you can’t find a sunscreen, I can hook you up, but truthfully any sunscreen is better than none.

    ‘Also, make it a habit to go to the dermatologist at least once a year. If you have any concerns about any spots on your body, go get it checked out.

    ‘If it’s nothing, then at least you have peace of mind.’

    MORE: Woman who used sunbeds for 10 years shocked to get skin cancer twice

    MORE: Sunbeds are ‘death machines that cause cancer and should be banned’

    MORE: Mother with advanced skin cancer blames sunbeds for the disease


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    Mattel's new gender inclusive dolls
    The new dolls, created by Mattel are designed to be ‘free of labels’ and ‘gender inclusive’ (Picture: Mattel/PA)

    Much like the millions of queer people who are now millennial adults, as a child I was a fan of playing with dolls, and zooming around in my Polly Pocket van.

    It was a formative time of childhood, where many of us began to just play with toys that we enjoyed.

    What wasn’t something we had control over however, was the social commentary on what this ‘means’ for us as young people. The daft misconceptions that playing with ‘girl’ toys results in us all being flaming homosexuals isn’t a trope that has scientific fact behind it, and was just an amalgamation of homophobic and misogynistic bigotry.

    Hence why I am thrilled to see Mattel, one of the worlds largest manufacturers of children’s toys, take a step to introduce gender and label free dolls for all to play with.

    The new dolls, created by Mattel are designed to be ‘free of labels’ and ‘gender inclusive’.

    Senior vice president, Kim Culmone said she and Mattel felt ‘it was time to create a doll line free of labels’.

    Mattel dolls
    From wigs to clothing, the whole kit and caboodle is ungendered and targeted towards children in an inoffensive way (Picture: Mattel)

    The dolls themselves are designed with a neutral body shape, and essentially are delivered to children as a blank canvas, with an ungendered body type. They then have essentially anything and everything at their disposal to create iconic and groundbreaking looks for their new tiny friends. From wigs to clothing, the whole kit and caboodle is ungendered and targeted towards children in an inoffensive way.

    For young trans and gender non-conforming people, this is a great step in the right direction, away from the days of a visceral blue/pink split. It’s a shining example of how actually creating an ungendered and neutral toy doesn’t have to be the earth shattering drama its conservative critics would like you to think it is.

    And although it’s not necessarily going to end transphobia in its tracks, it’s a start for the incredibly gendered industry to just think a little more deeply about the impact that its products have on the development of the children playing with them. 

    Many tales from queer people now in their 20s talk about being young and having our perfectly crafted and stylised barbies snatched out of our hands, and replaced with a Hulk toy, or worse, a Ken (who let’s face it, knew his way around a Vauxhall dark room).

    This prospect of children just being allowed to play with toys that aren’t gendered isn’t only reassuring for children who are questioning or experimenting with their gender identity, but also for children who aren’t.

    That’s the point that a lot of people miss or disregard when it comes to gender neutrality, is that it benefits everyone. If a boy who is very happy presenting and being a boy wants to play with these dolls, and be able to not face discrimination for doing so, that’s obviously a great moment for all. Similarly, if a child who is gender diverse wants to play with these toys, and is able to recreate themselves in doll form as a symbol of representation for themselves, that’s equally – if not more – triumphant. 

    I for one champion this move from Mattel to allow our young people, who are truly subject to some of the worst torment and discussion around their gender identity within the media, moments of freedom of self-expression and enjoyment.

    In a world that is whipping up horror stories about young trans kids, allowing them to be just that – kids – is something we need to cherish and support wholeheartedly. 

    MORE: As a transgender captain in the US army, I worry for my future in the forces

    MORE: My parents are my biggest supporters – as a trans person it makes all the difference

    MORE: #ToyLikeMe’s Tinkerbelle doll with cochlear implants shows the importance of representing children with disabilities


    Gender inclusive dollsGender inclusive dolls

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    Amiee Ward went for a treatment to reduce her stretch marks after feeling insecure about her body after pregnancy
    Amiee Ward went for a treatment to reduce her stretch marks after feeling insecure about her body after pregnancy (Picture: SWNS.com)

    A mum who was insecure about her stretch marks after pregnancy has been scarred after undergoing a £400 treatment to remove them.

    Amiee Ward, 30, wishes she had never had the procedure after she was left with infected wounds on her stomach.

    Amiee, from Suffolk, visited Tinks Top to Toe Beauty Parlour in Felixstowe, Suffolk, last November to receive a session of fibroplast – a treatment that involves using a device to administer a ‘plasma flash’ to produce a tightening effect, reducing wrinkles and stretch marks.

    A year on, Amiee still has red scarring on her stomach.

    Amiee Ward's scars she got from a procedure to reduce her stretch marks
    The scarring shortly after the fibroblast treatment (Picture: SWNS.com)

    She said: ‘I felt so insecure about my body and because of my vanity, I have been left with all this scarring. It looks even worse than before.

    ‘My confidence is at an all time low. It has affected my marriage, I don’t want to be intimate, so I’m working on trying to accept my body now and embrace it.’

    Amiee had been nervous to have the procedure, but said the salon manager reassured her, telling her it wouldn’t be painful.

    During the treatment Amiee says she could smell ‘burning flesh’.

    Amiee Ward's scars she got from a procedure to reduce her stretch marks
    Amiee said the procedure was more painful than she expected (Picture: SWNS.com)

    ‘It was really painful,’ said Amiee. ‘She did say during the consultation that it would be relatively painless procedure so I was not expecting the pain.

    ‘Afterwards I had to pick my son up and my friend said: “Oh my God you look ill, sit down.” I just knew something wasn’t right.

    ‘I have got a really high pain threshold- I’ve got a lot of tattoos in lots of different areas.

    ‘It was worse than childbirth.’

    Amiee said she sent various photos to Gemma of her stomach through the different stages and said initially they were in regular contact with each other.

    Amiee Ward's scars she got from a procedure to reduce her stretch marks
    Nearly a year on, Amiee still has scars (Picture: SWNS)

    She added: ‘It just wasn’t getting better. She said the redness should go down and the scabs would drop of.

    ‘Everything I was told to expect didn’t happen. It was a bit worrying because I didn’t know anything about the procedure.’

    Amiee was told not to cover her stomach, not to get it wet and to apply cream that she bought at the salon for £25.

    The salon said that after 10 days her scabs would begin to fall off but that it could take up to three months to fully heal.

    But Amiee’s recovery didn’t go to plan.

    Amiee Ward's scars she got from a procedure to reduce her stretch marks
    She claims to have properly followed the aftercare advice (Picture: SWNS.com)

    ‘After a while it started to smell and look weird,’ she said. I just knew it looked wrong and wasn’t supposed to be looking like that.’

    Amiee claimed Gemma had started to ignore her messages and out of ‘desperation’ reached out to another beautician who told her it ‘wasn’t normal’.

    She then visited her GP who Amiee said was ‘outraged’ at her injuries and gave her a burns cream to apply to her skin.

    Amiee said: ‘My GP couldn’t believe it. They said my stomach was severely burnt and they gave me some burns cream.

    ‘Obviously they didn’t mean to hurt me but it was the way they dealt with it afterwards.

    Amiee Ward's scars she got from a procedure to reduce her stretch marks. See SWNS copy SWCAscar: A mum-of-three left "insecure" about her stretch marks says has been scarred for life after undergoing a ?400 procedure to remove them. Amiee Ward said her confidence is now at "rock bottom" and wishes she never underwent the procedure after being left with infected wounds on her stomach. The 30-year-old had visited Tinks Top to Toe Beauty parlour in Felixstowe in Suffolk, last November to receive a session of fibroblast.
    Amiee is sharing her story to encourage other mums to embrace their post-baby bodies (Picture: SWNS.com)

    ‘You hear about these things and just think it won’t happen to you but then it did. Some people don’t even fully read the contract.

    ‘I was just focused on the end result and thought everything was going to be fine and my body was going to be amazing. I didn’t think about the risks.’

    A year on Amiee’s stomach is still scarred. While she’s considered more procedures to remove the marks, she is too scared to try anything else.

    The salon owner, Gemma Richardson, said the procedure was done correctly and that Amiee was to blame for the infection/

    She said Amiee had been given detailed aftercare advice on avoiding adverse reactions, which Amiee says she followed.

    Gemma said: ‘We have taken this complaint very seriously.

    ‘We have at every stage communicated with Amiee.’

    The procedure was recorded and was due to be posted on the salon’s Facebook page advertising fibroblast. Gemma told the local paper that this video was seen by an independent beautician, Ruth Munroe, who confirmed it was done correctly.

    Although Amiee has tried to seek compensation, her no-win-no-fee solicitor would not proceed because the salon was not insured for the procedure, making a pay-out unlikely.

    Gemma acknowledged that the procedure had not been covered by insurance when Aimee had it. She says the salon is now fully insured and licensed with her local council.

    The complaints received by Amiee had been referred to police as harassment by Gemma, who said they had a ‘massive effect on my health and my family’.

    Amiee said she only made comments on a Facebook post, which subsequently went viral to warn others.

    Amiee says she’s shared her story to encourage other mums to embrace their post-baby bodies rather than rushing into any treatments.

    She said: ”I wish I had just accepted my body. People should embrace the female body and be proud of their scars.’

    MORE: Mum transforms her bath into a gorgeous mosaic tub for £390

    MORE: 12-year-old girl with scoliosis urgently needs surgery on her spine so she can dance again


    mum left with scars after procedure to remove stretch marksmum left with scars after procedure to remove stretch marks

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    Woman dressed as a bush in the dark
    How far would you go for your sibs? (Picture: @theresemerkel/Twitter)

    Let’s take a moment to appreciate siblings who double as photographers so we can slay our Instagram profiles.

    One woman didn’t just tut and roll her eyes as siblings often do when you ask for pics. She went above and beyond for her sister.

    Therese Merkel wanted to capture the special moment her sister’s boyfriend proposed.

    She committed to the task by dressing up as a bush and squatting near the happy couple.

    Sharing the images on Twitter, Theresa was pictured in her bushy get-up made from bits of strings, straws and leaves for dramatic effect.

    It was all worth it as she managed to snap a pic of the moment her sister realised she was being proposed to.

    The perfect shot, taken in the dark, showed the sister with her hands to her mouth in disbelief as her boyfriend popped the question.

    Woman with hands to her mouth after boyfriend proposes
    It was all worth it for this shot (Picture: @theresemerkel/Twitter)

    Therese’s snaps soon went viral, amassing more than 170,000 likes and tickling many users who commented that they would be doing the same.

    In the tweet, Therese wrote: ‘Sister got engaged this weekend and I dressed as a bush in the wilderness to watch/capture the moment. We are one year apart…why are our lives so different?’

    It’s not clear whether Therese’s soon-to-be brother in law got her to set up shop as a bush.

    But with sisters often going above and beyond for one another it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Merkels were the ones to orchestrate the whole thing.

    After all, the bride-to-be probably knew about the upcoming proposal. Throw in a bit of feigned shock and a sister standing by discreetly, you have a picture-perfect moment that you can explain to the unsuspecting boyfriend later.

    Kim Kardashian hiding in the trees
    Therese turning up at the end like…

    Other sibling sets and friends were clearly impressed by the tactics and promised to do the same for one another, saying: ‘Let’s take notes’.

    One person tagged someone else saying: ‘I expect you to be a bush for me,’ while another wrote: ‘Y’all better do this for me if I find a man.’

    And honestly, that’s a mood.

    MORE: Sisters who developed the same cancer celebrate the birth of their miracle babies just weeks apart

    MORE: Sisters have a double wedding and get married side by side to save money

    MORE: These sisters are each other’s total opposite and now they’re Twitter famous


    Woman dresses up as a bush to discreetly capture sister's wedding proposalWoman dresses up as a bush to discreetly capture sister's wedding proposal

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    dog enjoying a puppuccino
    Look at this pup enjoying his own puppuccino (Picture: lifewith_jackson )

    If you’ve spent time in the ‘cute animals’ section of the internet, you’ve probably seen pictures of dogs with their heads burrowed deep inside a mysterious mini Starbucks cup.

    Those pooches are enjoying a puppuccino, an item on the secret Starbucks menu that pops up all over Instagram.

    A puppuccino isn’t anything fancy. There’s no coffee or flavoured syrups involved (so you can’t get matching pumpkin spice lattes with your pet, unfortunately) and no special dog-friendly recipe.

    The drink for dogs is actually just a cup of whipped cream. Easy.

    As it’s so simple, the puppuccino is something you can get from any Starbucks around the world.

    husky drinking a puppuccino
    We think he’s a fan (Picture: lifewith_titus )

    So how do you order it? Handily, that bit’s simple, too. While the puppuccino isn’t on the proper, official Starbucks menu, most people working there will know the drill – so if you ask for a puppuccino they’ll likely know what you’re on about.

    If you receive looks of bewilderment, however, don’t panic. Instead of using the catchy term you can just ask for a small cup of whipped cream for your dog.

    Starbucks will usually hand over a puppuccino for free. We’d recommend repaying them for this kindness by lifting your dog above the counter and allowing the baristas to fuss over them.

    Unfortunately, because puppuccinos aren’t officially on the menu, you can’t order them through the app in advance or through any delivery service. That’s fine, though, as you can officially make a Starbucks trip your motivation to take your pup for a walk. Fun.

    rickythatcavapoo
    A puppuccino is just a small cup of whipped cream (Picture: rickythatcavapoo )

    Once you’ve got your paws on your puppuccino, you can hand the cup over to your pooch and let them go wild digging their little snouts into the contents.

    Make sure you take a picture – it’s all very cute.

    Oh, and if you’re worrying about whether all this puppuccino chat is safe, don’t panic. You shouldn’t be giving your dog their own cup of whipped cream every day, instead ordering puppuccinos as a special treat.

    Most dogs can safely consume dairy products including whipped cream, but dogs with digestion issues can experience vomiting, diarrhoea, and gas.

    Give your furry pal a small amount of whipped cream to begin with, assess how they react tummy-wise, and then go from there. Just don’t make your dog’s puppuccino a daily habit, and always stick to a puppuccino or water rather than giving your puppy a lick of your caffeinated drink.

    MORE: How to order Jack Skellington and Sally Frappuccinos from the Starbucks secret menu

    MORE: Starbucks is selling a Pennywise-inspired Frappucinno to celebrate IT Chapter Two


    puppuccino-aa43puppuccino-aa43

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    Mena and Zena Nasir are trying to improve Muslim representation
    These two American teens are trying to improve Muslim representation (Picture: Mena and Zena Nasir)

    If you’re asked to name a book with Muslim characters, you’re probably going to mention A Thousand Splendid Suns by Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini.

    It’s a brilliant book that’s endured the years and become a classic, but its ubiquity highlights the rarity of central Muslim characters in literature.

    Noticing this lack of representation, two teen sisters decided to start a non-profit organisation to increase access to books for Muslims around America.

    Mena, 14, and Zena Nasir, 16, from Michigan, love reading but struggled to find female Muslim characters that reflected their own experiences.

    When they were assigned a project in the fourth grade about an important historical figure, using a book as a source, they both struggled to find options.

    The experience got them wondering why there were so few choices of Muslim-focused books in public access libraries. So they set up their own service, Girls of the Crescent. They buy texts that feature Muslim characters and donate them to schools around America.

    Some of the books on offer
    Some of the books on offer (Picture: Mena and Zena Nasir)

    Mena and Zena told Metro.co.uk: ‘For our project we went to our local public library, hoping to find books on Muslim women in history who inspired us a lot, but we ended up not finding any books about them.

    ‘We had to switch who we were doing the project on and that was the first time we realised that there was a lack of representation and diversity in the books we had access to.

    ‘Last year, we read a book with a female Muslim main character for the first time and the feeling of seeing a character like us and feeling represented was incredible.’

    The sisters set up and designed their own website, and spend their spare time researching books for all ages that have protagonists from Islamic backgrounds.

    Two Muslim teens who set up organisation to increase muslim characters in books pictured with some of the texts they donate
    And they manage to do their homework on time too (Picture: Mena and Zena Nasir)

    That takes a lot of time and resources but luckily the sisters have a community behind them.

    They ask for donations and hold fundraisers to be able to send books around the country and to parts of the world where access is difficult.

    And they manage to do it while completing their homework on time.

    They tell us: ‘We are really busy as teenagers with homework, advanced classes, and clubs, but we always find time to dedicate to the nonprofit.’

    ‘Books have an immense impact on how children behave, socialise, and see themselves in the world, and if young kids don’t see themselves represented, there is a certain sense of not belonging.

    ‘The diverse books we are donating can mean so much for Muslim kids by providing them with a sense of acceptance and inclusion in the world that they may not see portrayed in the media or in their communities.

    ‘In addition, a lot of people are not exposed to diversity in their communities and schools and books with representation can provide that exposure.

    ‘Either way, these books are able to shape people’s perspectives of society by showcasing the diversity and providing a new point of view.

    ‘We hope that by increasing diverse books and by spreading positive messages about Muslim girls, we can create a more accepting and respectful community.’

    For those hoping to expand their literay canon of Muslim stories, the Nasirs have some recommendations: The Perfect Gift by J. Samia Mair, The Gift of Ramadan by Rabiah York Lumbard, The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian, The World is Not a Rectangle by Jeanette Winter, Ayesha Dean and the Istanbul Intrigue by Melati Lum, and Ms. Marvel by G. WIllow Wilson and Sana Amanat.

    MORE: This Muslim woman is not only an Olympic weightlifter, she also has an engineering PhD

    MORE: Children’s book teaches young Muslim girls to get into sports

    MORE: Woke Babies offers £20 book subscriptions to give black children the representation they need


    Muslim teens set up organisation to increase muslim characters in booksMuslim teens set up organisation to increase muslim characters in books

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    haunted house for cats
    With two levels for maximum chilling (Picture: Target/Getty)

    Now it’s nearly October, it’s time to get spooky.

    In the runup to Halloween we must all dedicate the same energy to this special occasion as we would Christmas, decking our halls in boughs of bats and spider webs, cooking up themed treats, and playing only Halloween themed music for the entirety of the month.

    Of course, we can’t leave our feline pals out of the festivities.

    While your cat may not take too kindly to being dressed up in little bat wings or wearing a witch’s hat, there’s still a way to get kitties on theme for Halloween.

    Target is selling mini haunted houses for cats
    Look at how much fun these cats are having (Picture: @thecatdoctorveterinarycenter/Instagram)

    Our top choice: A haunted house scratcher for your cat to snooze in, scratch, and sit and watch the world go by.

    Target is selling this wondrous creation, made by Boots & Barkley, for $16.99 (£14), describing it as the ideal ‘spooky chateau’ for your favourite cat.

    It has two stories, because no cat will settle for just one level, with a spacious cove at the bottom complete with a scratchable floor and a perch on top.

    Target is selling mini haunted houses for cats
    An essential for Halloween (Picture: @goodgollymollyy/Instagram)

    People have been sharing photos of their cats greatly enjoying their new homes, and they’re absolutely brilliant.

    You can order your own through Target (if you’re willing to pay the shipping costs) or get a similar one-storey house from Amazon.

    You could always make your own, if you’re feeling crafty.

    Just be prepared that if you buy a haunted house for your cat, they’re guaranteed to ignore it entirely in favour of the box it came in. Be prepared for this crushing disappointment.

    For dogs, we’d recommend this delightful pumpkin-shaped bed.

    MORE: Mum transforms her bath into a gorgeous mosaic tub for £390

    MORE: Homeless cat lands a job at a law firm after people complained about him hanging around

    MORE: Meet The Travelling Menagerie: Two people, nine dogs and five cats exploring Europe in a caravan


    Target is selling mini haunted houses for catsTarget is selling mini haunted houses for cats

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    What I Own: Edison, Pimlico
    Edison is a 48-year-old interior designer who owns his studio flat in Pimlico thanks to Right to Buy (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)

    For the last year we’ve been taking a look at the reality of renting in the UK.

    Now it’s time to look at the flipside; what it’s actually like to buy property, how people do it, and why.

    Don’t worry, What I Rent isn’t going anywhere. That’ll still be out every Tuesday at 10am.

    But alongside it we’re going to be sharing the ins and outs of people buying their homes, in a new series called What I Own (creative name, we know).

    We reckon it’s important to look at the buying and owning side of things because for renters hoping to get on the property ladder, there’s still a lot of mystery shrouding the process of affording your own place.

    It doesn’t help that so many people who own say it’s as simple as saving money, but neglect to mention the fact they were able to live at home rent-free for years, or that they received a load of money towards their deposit from their wealthy parents.

    We’re hoping to share all sorts of stories of homeownership, with total honesty.

    First up we’re chatting to Edison, a 48-year-old interior designer who owns a studio flat in Pimlico.

    What I Own: Edison, Pimlico
    The studio flat has a living area, a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a patio area (Picture: Matthew Chattle)

    Hey, Edison. Tell us about yourself and what you do. 

    I’m a born and bred Londoner of mixed parentage. I live and work centrally. I’m an interior designer and for nearly 10 years I ran my own business.

    I’m now exclusively employed and manage a design company in the interiors sector. It’s a varied role and I have many responsibilities that make it exciting, creative and challenging all at the same time.

    How long have you lived in the flat? 

    I rented this place for 15 years and have owned it for five years.

    To be honest, I often forget I own it and I still think that I’m renting. Maybe it’s because nothing much has really changed except for some legal paperwork.

    What I Own: Edison, Pimlico
    He rented the property for over a decade before he was able to buy it (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)
    What I Own: Edison, Pimlico
    Edison says renting and owning don’t feel much different (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)

    And the big question: How did you buy this place? 

    I bought my home through the council’s Right to Buy scheme. That makes me a previous renter who has since bought their home.

    It’s a great idea and gives many people the opportunity to get onto the property ladder whilst money from the sale of the property is injected back into building new social housing.

    Because of the way the scheme works, I didn’t need any deposit money as certain banks and buildings societies take the discount applied to the property value as the deposit amount. They then loan on the remaining value (after discount) and your discount is based on how long you have been a council tenant.

    Basically, the longer the tenancy the greater the discount.

    My personal outlay for legal fees etc came to around £2,500.

    What is Right to Buy?

    Right to Buy is a scheme that was introduced in 1980. It gives tenants living in social housing the right to buy their home at a discount.

    From 6 April 2019, maximum discounts are £82,800 across England and £110,500 in London. Discounts increase in April every year in line with any increase in inflation.

    You can apply to buy your council home through the scheme if:

    • it’s your only or main home
    • it’s self-contained
    • you’re a secure tenant
    • you’ve had a public sector landlord (for example, a council, housing association or NHS trust) for three years – it does not have to be three years in a row

    You can check the discount on your council home you might be eligible for with the Right to Buy calculator.

    Why was it important for you to own a place instead of renting forever?

    Through hard work and determination (even through some really difficult times) my situation greatly improved and I was in a position to buy my home.

    Having a mortgage on the property instead of continuing to pay rent meant only a slight increase in my monthly outgoings, so it just made financial sense.

    What I Own: Edison, the interior designer who owns a studio flat in Pimlico thanks to Right to Buy
    The flat isn’t massive, but it’s plenty for Edison (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)
    What I Own: Edison pimlico
    He’s made the flat his own (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)

    Loads of us assume that if you own a house, you must be making loads of money or have come from a wealthy family. Your situation is a bit different because you did Right to Buy… did you need to be earning a lot to own your place instead of renting it?

    When I first started out in setting up a business and a career, I was earning around £18,000 a year. It wasn’t much for London living but enough to get by, pay my rent, buy food, pay the utilities and a yearly holiday.

    Having had my own business as well as studying and working in some very creative environments has kept me continually focussed on one thing: property. It’s just in my blood and I’m continually encouraged. It’s what has helped me build on what I have today and what I strive for tomorrow.

    How much do you now need to pay to live here?

    My mortgage is £650 a month.

    I have another 19 years on the mortgage, but it gets reviewed every few years for a new fixed-rate term, so the monthly payments will change over time.

    The total mortgage was £140,000.

    Broadband and line rental is £40 a month, water is £27, council tax is £44. It’s about £80 each quarter for electricity and I have a maintenance charge of £900 a year. The maintenance also covers my communal hot water, heating and buildings insurance too.

    When I was renting, I was paying approximately £500 a month.

    What was the process of getting a mortgage like? 

    I wasn’t really prepared and I have to say the council and the building society (Nationwide) took care of everything. The council organised the survey report and Nationwide had recommended solicitors, so I didn’t have to search for them.

    The mortgage application was straightforward and the total loan amount was calculated on how much I could safely borrow, which was enough to secure the loan.

    I didn’t find anything too confusing and if I had any questions I just asked the appropriate department to explain.

    What I Own: Edison pimlico
    Look at that mini bar in the kitchen! Lovely (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)

    What do you like about the flat?

    Unlike most home buyers, I didn’t have a choice in what I would buy. I bought what I knew and had rented for 15 years.

    I love my tiny home, all 30 sqm meters of it! It’s easy to manage in my busy life, just a perfect London base for a single guy like me. I can literally clean the whole flat and change the bedsheets within an hour.

    Before moving in as a tenant, I was interviewed by a panel made up of a Housing Officer, Estate Manager and Head representatives of the Tenant’s Association that were managing the estate at the time, so it wasn’t handed to me on a plate.

    I’m really fortunate to have the private patio space. It’s quite unusual to find a small studio flat attached to a large patio which overlooks some well-maintained communal gardens, complete with parakeets, exotic plants and bee hives.

    It’s a perfect area for summer days and it offers me an additional 15 sqm of floor space to live and breathe in.

    What I Own: Edison pimlico
    Yes, we do enjoy the pig (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)
    Edison, Pimlico
    The ideal kitchen for one (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)

    Was it important to own a property in Pimlico?

    Having my base in London for work is essential and Pimlico is perfectly situated. It’s zone 1, so it’s super central.

    There are excellent connections to all other parts of London by tube or bus and it’s only a 5-minute walk to the Thames and Pimlico underground, 10 minutes to Victoria and a 25-minute walk to the West End or Chelsea. I walk everywhere!

    It also has a real community/village feel, with various shops and small boutiques. I’m often saying ‘hi’ or having conversations with other locals who live or work in the area on my many walks.

    How have you made your flat feel like home?

    I’m a collector of things but I have to be careful not to overcrowd my space.

    I’m not into contrived interiors. I’m more eclectic in my taste. I’ll mix vintage pieces with modern finds; chuck in some kitsch and I love colour and pattern, even if they clash. It makes it all the more interesting for me.

    Homes should express something about their occupiers. It gives the space a soul. And if you go for what you like rather than just replicating a look, it should come together naturally and in harmony.

    Things have to be functional too. My vintage Danish Metamorphic coffee table doubles up as a dining table, so I can still invite family and friends around for dinner.

    Edison, Pimlico
    And again, look at that patio space (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)

    The only improvements I’ve made since buying my home are new flooring to the kitchen and bathroom, a new kitchen worktop and sink unit and I had a fitted wardrobe installed. That, and a fresh lick of paint here and there.

    I’ve had the same ‘Kashmir Beige’ on some walls for almost as long as I’ve lived here. I just keep repainting it the same colour when it needs refreshing. It’s timeless.

    At some point, I do want to put in a new bathroom with a walk-in shower but that’s for when I can find the time and patience to do so.

    Do you feel like you have enough space in the flat?

    There is never enough space although too much space requires more maintenance and a higher financial burden. This is a difficult question to answer.

    How are thing different now you own the flat rather than renting it?

    As a leaseholder, I’m now responsible for the upkeep of my property so most repairs are now financed by me. Any structural damages such as an external broken drainpipe or leaking roof, the council are still responsible for and this is paid through my annual maintenance charges.

    If there are any additional estate improvements works, such as a new intercom system installation, then I may have to contribute financially to those works.

    what i own: Edison, studio flat in pimlico
    The bedroom area (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)
    Edison, Pimlico
    One great thing about owning: You can hang as many pictures as you like without worrying about your deposit (Picture: Matthew Chattle/Metro.co.uk)

    My day to day living here is the same as when I rented, although I take a lot more care about my space as I have the responsibility of maintaining it to a good standard.

    If I ignore any little problem and let them develop over time, then it only means I will have to pay more to put it right.

    What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Will you stay here forever?

    As my London base, this is all I really need and am probably able to afford if I want to remain in central London. Although prices have stagnated across the country due to the Brexit situation, they still remain ridiculously high in London.

    There might be an opportunity sometime in the future to rent this place out and spend more time in the sun.

    Although born here, not far from where I live and work, I still can’t get used to the British weather but that really is such a small price to pay for what I have managed to achieve so far.

    How to get involved in What I Own

    What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people's properties, to take an honest look at what it's like to buy a home in the UK.

    If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email whatirent@metro.co.uk.

    You'll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates! You'll also need to be okay with sharing how much you've paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that's pretty important.

    If you're renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you'd like to get involved just email whatirent@metro.co.uk.

     

    MORE: What I Rent: Jamie, £895 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Brighton

    MORE: What I Rent: Leia and Evan, £1,600 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Kennington

    MORE: What I Rent: Charlotte and Jon, £495 a month for a two-bedroom flat in Halifax, West Yorkshire


    What I BoughtWhat I Bought

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    Men competing in beauty pageant in their national dress
    The crown was won by Korea’s Jong Woo Kim (right) (Picture: Missosology)

    Mister Global, an annual beauty pageant for men, has been around for five years and just crowned its 2019 winner.

    Korea‘s Jong Woo Kim was handed the crown during the finals held last week in Bangkok.

    The 23-year-old police administration student beat 37 other competitors to win the contest.

    Runners up include Tunisia’s Houssem Saïdi, second runner-up José Luis Rodrigo Navarro from Spain, third runner-up Kenan Murseli from Switzerland, and fourth runner-up Braulio Encarnación from the Dominican Republic.

    As part of the competition, each model was asked to wear their national dress to represent their country’s heritage.

    While that included some spectacular outfits, the competition doesn’t just operate on an aesthetic level. Each contestant has to show environmental awareness and work with different charities and projects.

    As part of the Inspiring Gentleman category, the Mister Global competition was able to raise money for an organisation that takes care of elephants in Thailand.

    The winner, Jong Woo Kim is expected to now become an inspirational role model for young men all around the world.

    But his victory was predicted by the folks at Missosology who report on all things pageant. The overall coordinator of the contest told Metro.co.uk that Jong Woo Kim was predicted to win as he was really a strong candidate.

    Of course, the other contestants were also dazzling. Take a look at them below, each in their national dress.

    Mister Global contestants wear national dress for men's pageant Picture: Mister Global page METROGRAB
    The people’s winner (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional sri lankan dress worn by man
    Stunning (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Guam worn by man
    Now that’s an outfit (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Haiti worn by man
    Intense (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Czech Republic worn by man
    Good catching skills too (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Cuba worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    Oh Cuba (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Nigeria worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    Majestic (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Laos worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    Loving the hat (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Brazil worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    Good idea to get the flag there (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from North Cyprus worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    The happiest contestant (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Egypt worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    Beautiful accessories (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Dominion Republic worn by man
    Striking (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from US worn by man
    Would you say that’s the national American dress? (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from China worn by man
    Top pose (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Nepal worn by man
    Coming through (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Japan worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    Can’t forget the umbrella (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from India worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    Suitable for a wedding (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Indonesia worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    That’s got to be a heavy outfit (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Hong Kong worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    Signature red dragon (Picture: Missosology)
    Traditional dress from Chile worn by man (Picture: Missosology) 
    Solid pose (Picture: Missosology)

    MORE: ‘It’s in our DNA’: These are the men of Notting Hill Carnival

    MORE: Mum spends £9,000 in nine months to make daughter’s beauty pageant dreams come true

    MORE: Holocaust survivor beauty pageant is won by 93-year-old great-grandma


    Mister Global contestants wear national dress for men's pageant Picture: Mister Global page METROGRABMister Global contestants wear national dress for men's pageant Picture: Mister Global page METROGRAB

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    Last week, Facebook announced two new Instagram policies with the aim of creating a healthier culture around dieting and improving its users wellbeing

    First, Instagram will prevent users under the age of 18 from being shown any adverts related to dieting whatsoever. Second, it will ban outright any adverts which make ‘a miraculous claim about certain diet or weight loss products.’ Goodbye, detox lollipops.

    This week the company also announced that it’s trying out hiding ‘likes’ on Facebook, as it has already trialed with Instagram.

    These policies might not be perfect, nor solve all of Instagram’s problems. A 2017 study found it to be the app with the worst effect on its users’ mental health, and it has also been linked with eating disorders and body image issues.

    It’s easy to be cynical about Facebook’s motives, which presumably aren’t entirely altruistic. After all, it’s good PR for the company – particularly with the involvement of a high-profile celebrity such as Jameela Jamil.

    We shouldn’t imagine that large corporations care about our wellbeing more than their own profits. But even if Facebook’s motives are cynical, that doesn’t mean its efforts are bad (it makes sense, from a business standpoint, that the company would want its platforms to be less toxic). The policies do seem to be a step in the right direction.

    Few would argue, however, that they are sufficient in their own right. So what can else can social media companies do to safeguard the mental health of its service users? And is there a limit to what they can achieve?

    To find out, we spoke with Dr Yysabel Gerrard, a lecturer in Digital Media and Society at the University of Sheffield, and one of the experts with whom Instagram consulted while drafting these new policies.

    We also spoke with Emmy Brunner, CEO of the Recover Clinic and a psychotherapist who specialises in eating disorders and body image issues.

    Brunner, it has to be said, is not particularly impressed with these recent announcements. She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘There still needs to be more of a relationship between service users and the company. Because Jameela Jamil has a large profile, they’ve said “thank you for telling us what to do, Jameela Jamil!”, and they’ve gone and done it.

    Influencers are in therapy
    Will removing likes make a difference? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘Why aren’t they having normal users feedback to them? They’re so massive that it feels like they’ve got away with not providing any sort of relationship with their users. They’ve become a faceless powerhouse.’

    For Brunner, the biggest problem with Instagram is a lack of vigilance and specificity when it comes to reporting harmful content.

    ‘When you want to report something on Instagram,’ she says, ‘it just gets flagged as reported. There’s no criteria as to why you’re reporting it, or why it might be problematic or offensive to you.

    ‘Why don’t they have more specific criteria? I think it’d help them screen things a lot more efficiently. It would clarify whether it’s something that’s just offending one person because it’s particularly triggering or if it’s something that’s really damaging that needs to be removed.’

    Brunner is not convinced that the new policies are anywhere near sufficient to tackle the problem.

    ‘On the face of it,’ she says, ‘it seems as though they’ve done something really amazing but, really, is that the case?

    ‘Or is it that they’ve done the bare minimum to make everyone go away? The issue goes beyond just diet products.’

    Dr Gerrard, on the other hand, takes a far more positive view of Facebook’s efforts. She tells us: ‘They are consulting with experts, they are reaching out to activists and health practitioners – all of which indicates a level of care.

    ‘There’s always going to be scepticism with social media that it could just be a PR stunt. But at the end of the day: they didn’t have to do this.’

    That’s not to say that she thinks the policies are perfect.

    ‘One of the main challenges they’re going to have is deciding what counts as a “miraculous” claim about a product and how that gets defined,’ Dr Gerrard explains.

    ‘Already, we’re seeing things which need to be ironed out. But it’s a good first step.’

    What does she think comes next?

    ‘For me, the main thing they have not figured out, and I’m worried they might never do, is how harmful content gets recommended to people. If you like a certain post or engage with certain people, you start seeing more and more content, which is sometimes harmful.

    ‘Sometimes you just need a day off from content about your eating disorder, or depression and anxiety, but you can’t get that.’

    In 2017, a British teenager named Molly Russell took her own life after suffering from depression. Her father later discovered that she had been getting graphic images of suicide and self-harm recommended to her on Instagram for months prior.

    She was even getting automatic emails from Pinterest, in which these images of death and violence were described as ‘things you might love’.

    YouTube has had similar issues, with users being recommended ever more extremist, conspiratorial and often far-right content.

    ‘It’s not even technically a criticism,’ Dr Gerrard says, ‘because at the end of the day, if these platforms are recommending you content based on your behaviour, however harmful, then they are working exactly as they should.

    ‘Social media would have to work very differently for that not to be a problem.’

    What about Facebook’s plans to hide ‘likes’? Is this something she thinks will help?

    ‘I think that it was a really interesting move. What it does is send the message that there has become a greater attachment to metrics and numbers and likes – your value as a person is defined by all this.

    ‘And in some ways we’ve always had that: for example, how much money you earn has often been seen as a barometer of your worth.

    Instagram has changed the way we eat
    What can social media sites do to safeguard their users? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘But I think it’s really helpful that they’re recognizing that the likes problem is something new, that that is something that has happened as a result of social media. I think hiding likes could have a positive effect.’

    Whether it’s hiding likes, having a greater level of vigilance when it comes to reporting harmful content, or changing the ways in which harmful content is recommended, there is a lot more than Facebook could be doing to protect the wellbeing of its users.

    But it’s also true that social media is ultimately a platform reflecting wider values and larger problems in society – however much it may amplify them.

    As such, when it comes to eating disorders and mental health, there may be a limit to the change which any one company, or any one policy, can enact.

    ‘These dialogues aren’t just happening on social media,’ Brunner says, ‘they’re happening everywhere. What social media does is give us an insight into what people are thinking and feeling.

    ‘I don’t think it’s Facebooks’s sole responsibility to control that dialogue.’

    The worry is that taking this view risks letting companies off the hook.

    ‘Recognising there are larger problems is not to say that Facebook couldn’t be doing more to keep people safe,’ Brunner says.

    Dr Gerrard agrees that the problem extends further than social media alone. She tells us: ‘Fixing one policy isn’t going to fix decades, if not centuries, of women in particular (but increasingly men) being told how they should look, being sold products and creams, and the existence of normative standards of beauty.

    ‘The cosmetic and beauty industry, and the mass media, have been propagating this stuff for too long. Social media is shouldering too much of the blame.’

    It seems that a lot of the emotional distress caused by social media is, at heart, a problem of comparison; it’s about looking at other people, and the lives they lead, and feeling inferior as a result. Obviously, this is a tendency which predates the internet.

    ‘What’s new, though,’ says Dr Gerrard, ‘is the form that comparison takes. Prior to social media, we often only saw images of celebrities or models.

    ‘But a big part of the appeal of influencers is that they’re just “normal people” who worked their way up. I feel it’s more problematic to compare yourself and your body to someone who you think is normal.

    ‘There’s an ordinariness to influencer culture which increases that feeling of comparison. You’re not going to look at Angelina Jolie in a film and compare yourself to her in the same way. With celebrities, you might think “well, they have to look that way.”’

    This doesn’t just apply to professional influencers: it can also be true of people in your social circle who might, say, go to the gym more often than you, or take more holidays, or eat at nicer restaurants, or wear more expensive clothes.

    Comparing yourself to an old friend from university who now earns a couple thousand a year more than you, and has a boyfriend, probably cuts deeper than comparing yourself to Kendall Jenner.

    But no matter the degree of cynicism to which you assign its motives, it’s a positive thing that Facebook is beginning to take these issues seriously. Hopefully, its actions will have a positive influence on the industry at large.

    Ultimately, the biggest catalyst for change might end up being that it’s in the vested interests of social media companies to tackle these problems. However addictive they may be, if using certain apps continues to make us miserable, surely it’s only a matter of time before we begin to look elsewhere.

    MORE: Untrained and overworked: The hidden lives of Facebook group admins

    MORE: Live, laugh, love: The enduring culture of being a basic bitch

    MORE: The Caroline Calloway and Natalie Beach friendship dynamic is destructive, but totally addictive


    Cyber flashing - What to do if you're a victim and how to report itCyber flashing - What to do if you're a victim and how to report it

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    ketchup cleaning trick for metal stool
    A quick scrub with ketchup can clear rust and water stains (Picture: Facebook)

    We’ve all come across food items doubling as cleaning products… which often makes us worry exactly what those things are doing to our insides (Coke, we’re looking at you).

    There’s an appeal to multi-purpose tools, whether it’s a bathtub that helps to clean greasy oven trays or a pumice stone that gets animal hair out of the carpet.

    The latest hack (though it’s been around for some time) is using ketchup to clean rust and other stains off steel furniture.

    Shared by Facebook user Jo Nichol, images show a stool before and after being rubbed with tomato ketchup.

    The hack, shared on Facebook group Mrs Hinch Cleaning tips, racked up 1,200 likes and more than 5,000 comments.

    In the post, Jo wrote: ‘Before and after with the ketchup, five-minute job, amazing.’

    People have called the trick amazing and brilliant.

    Breakfast stool covered in rust and stains
    Before (Picture: Facebook)

    A few people worried about ingesting something that can clean steel, saying: ‘doesn’t this make you think, what does ketchup do to our guts’ and ‘worries me what we put in our bodies.’

    One person claimed that the condiment is generally useful for cleaning, commenting: ‘Ketchup is also good for cleaning stainless steel sink draining boards.’

    Kitchen stool clean and shiny after using a ketchup scrub
    And after (Picture: Facebook)

    So what exactly about the red stuff makes it a good product to use?

    Ketchup has acetic acid content of around 4%, from the vinegar used in the recipe. Thanks to its high viscosity (the gloopiness) it’s great for shining brass, copper and silverware.

    It’s also been recommended as a conditioner for blondes whose hair takes on a green hue after swimming in a chlorinated pool.

    Award-winning hairdresser Charles Worthington says the stuff is good at neutralising the greeny effect.

    Turns out ketchup isn’t just banging with chips.

    MORE: Whiten your trainers with this cleaning hack using a razor and nail polish remover

    MORE: Mum says this 17p coke cleaning hack completely removes greasy stains from clothes

    MORE: Man shares genius hack for cleaning bathroom grouting with a drill


    Ketchup cleaning hackKetchup cleaning hack

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    Genesis and the glitter glue implant she created
    Genesis and the glitter glue cochlear implant (Picture: gpolitron_)

    Genesis Politron teaches preschool and kindergarten in a school for children who are deaf or heard of hearing.

    Watching the kids play, she realised there was a problem as none of the toys were like them.

    The teacher, from California, decided to use glitter glue to create hearing aids and cochlear implants to make the kids feel more represented.

    Posting the images of her creations on Twitter, she said: ‘I teach preschool and kindergarten for Deaf/Hard of Hearing kids, and my students never see toys that resemble their hearing devices (Hearing Aids/Cochlear Implants), so I added some to our new baby dolls on my own.

    ‘I wish everyone could see their faces playing with these.’

    A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound by directly stimulating the cochlea.

    Hearing aids amplify sounds but cochlear implants are more complex and work directly with the auditory nerve and the brain.

    People on Twitter loved the idea, and it had over 156,000 likes and 30,000 retweets.

    Other parents and teachers shared their own stories of how showing kids things that look like them help them realise it’s ok to be different.

    Joanna said: ‘This is the sweetest thing ever!!!! My friend has two deaf daughters and she got them custom American Girl dolls with hearing aids… to see their faces light up was priceless! Nice job teach!!! You’re a hero!’

    Rhi added: ‘I bought an American Doll insulin pump for a Type 1 child who was a friend to our little one.

    ‘Her mother was so happy, and the little darling went around for the next six months showing everyone in our town. Just a little thing but it made such a difference for her.’

    MORE: Ketchup might be the answer to getting rusty furniture squeaky clean

    MORE: How to order a free puppuccino for your dog at Starbucks


    Teacher makes hearing aids for dolls to make her deaf pupils feel more representedTeacher makes hearing aids for dolls to make her deaf pupils feel more represented

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    Olive and Rosie cuddling (PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)
    Olive and Rosie cuddling (Picture: PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)

    Rosie the dog and Olive the hedgehog might seem like unlikely friends but the pair are inseparable

    They’ve become Instagram stars after owner physiotherapy assistant Victoria Wright, 28, who first adopted Welsh terrier mix pooch Rosie from a local shelter in April 2014, brought African pygmy hedgehog, Olive, home in July this year.

    Now they love to play and snuggle up together and together they have support Victoria with her own problems with anxiety, which had become so bad she was afraid to leave the house.

    She said: ‘Rosie had a really tough beginning. She was found as a stray in a bad way. She had barely any fur on her ears and scarring on her nose.

    ‘She was in the shelter for months before I found her. Hearing that gutted me – it was heartbreaking to feel like nobody wanted her.

    ‘But when I saw her, I loved her right away. Her and Olive are great with each other, too.

    ‘Olive may be tiny, but she rules the roost.’

    When Rosie first came home in April 2014, professionals told Victoria she was so nervous she might never be able to mix with other dogs.

    But Victoria started slowly encouraging her to come out of her shell.

    Victoria said: ‘The first time I took her for a proper walk was such a big thing. She is still very nervous, but is so friendly and absolutely loves playing.

    ‘When she sees her dog friends, she gets absolutely ecstatic.’

    Olive and Rosie (PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)
    Olive and Rosie (Picture: PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)

    And last year, the lifelong fan of hedgehogs decided one to add another pet to her little family.

    She added: ‘I found one up for adoption locally, as the owner could no longer take care of it. I’ve always loved hedgehogs so I jumped at the chance.

    ‘I was a little bit worried about how Rosie would be around my new addition, but I figured that I could keep them apart if needed, especially as the hedgehog would mainly be living in its own little house.’

    In July this year, Victoria brought little Olive, who is two, home with her – and although it took a little while to get used to each other, Rosie and Olive soon became friends.

    Recalling the animals’ first meeting, she said: ‘Rosie, who is about seven now, was very inquisitive, but Olive was really shy.

    ‘She would ball herself up a lot, and huffle, where they puff their spikes up, which is a sign that they think they’re in danger and so get defensive.

    ‘It took a good four weeks for her to get used to everyone. There were times when I thought, “Have I done the wrong thing?” But I persevered.’

    Now, while Rosie is still spooked when Olive rolls up into a ball, they are best friends – cuddling up and enjoying naps together and even sharing food.

    Victoria laughed: ‘Olive is the fussiest eater. She doesn’t eat any live food like mealworms or bugs, which are the mainstay of most hedgehogs’ diets.

    ‘Instead she likes dried mealworms and cat biscuits – which Rosie is always pinching.’

    Olive and Rosie (PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)
    Olive and Rosie love spending time together (Picture: PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)

    And to give them some space if they need it, Olive has a little hedgehog house, handmade from upcycled wood by a family member, fitted with its own security camera so Victoria can see what Olive has been up to at night.

    Victoria needs to keep Olive warm so the self-taught seamstress, she has made several special little pouches – perfect for burrowing into – and also uses heat pads to keep her hog’s temperature up.

    She’s even sewen handles into them so she can take Olive almost everywhere she goes. This has helped hugely with Victoria’s anxiety, which she has battled for years.

    She explained: ‘I stay over with family quite a lot, and she’ll come for a little sleepover.

    ‘I either carry her in one of her special pouches, or she can sit on a heatpad in my bag.

    ‘Having her has helped me so much. I struggled for years with anxiety, to the point where I was afraid to even go out by myself.

    ‘Last year, I finally accepted I needed help, and have had medication and talking therapy – but nothing has helped quite like Olive.

    ‘She’s like a therapy pet. And Rosie, too – she is great at picking up when I’m feeling down. She’s so gentle and always comes over for cuddles.’

    Ignorant strangers have criticised Victoria for keeping a hedgehog, saying Olive is ‘disgusting’ and ‘full of disease,’ but she insists that her beloved hog makes the perfect animal companion – both for her, and for Rosie.

    Now, she has even set up an Instagram, where she delights her thousands of followers with enchanting snaps and videos of Rosie and Olive – who are never left alone unsupervised together – in action.

    She concluded: ‘I never expected people to like the pictures as much as they do. I’ve met some really lovely people through the Instagram, though, and Olive and Rosie are good as gold having their pictures taken.

    ‘They have very similar temperaments really. They’re both gentle, chilled and happy to be handled and cuddled.

    ‘They are unlikely friends, but they love each other to bits.’

    Follow Victoria’s Instagram www.instagram.com/olive_the_hedgehog_

    MORE: Teacher creates glitter glue hearing aids and cochlear implants for dolls to make her deaf students feel represented

    MORE: Ketchup might be the answer to getting rusty furniture squeaky clean


    PA Real Life-Victoria Wright-Hedgehog and dogPA Real Life-Victoria Wright-Hedgehog and dog

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    A successfully smashed Terry's Chocolate Orange
    A successfully smashed Terry’s Chocolate Orange (Picture: Getty)

    That moment when most of your household is out and you hear a noise can send you into a panic.

    So when Chelsea Morris, from Edinburgh, heard a banging noise, she thought the worst – someone was trying to break in.

    With just her brother Ryan at home and not wanting to let the intruder know she was there, she sent a text asking him for help.

    She said: ‘I think someone’s banging on the door. Go check I’m scared. Like not tapping proper banging.’

    But after a few moments, Ryan replied and calmed her down.

    It turns out he was just trying to break open his Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

    The popular treat famously needs a bit of a tap to separate the segments of chocolate so you can nibble on each one.

    After calming down from her fright, Chelsea saw the funny side and posted the exchange on Twitter.

    She said: ‘When you text ur bro from your room thinking the house is getting broken into and he replies with this[sic].’

    She did clarify that her brother had really gone for it when it came to smashing his chocolate treat.

    Replying to a friend, she explained: ‘My whole house was shaking. I thought someone was trying to come through my front door.’

    But other people on Twitter said they’d had their own Terry’s related incidents.

    Rachel Hawkins said: ‘I’ve put chips in tables doing mine before, so I can really appreciate this.’

    Nadine tagged a friend and said: ‘When you shouted at me last week when I was breaking mine.’


    Terry's Chocolate OrangeTerry's Chocolate Orange

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    Funeral floral arrangement reading 'nan'
    These home-made funeral flowers were made without spending a fortune (Picture: Sarah Smith)

    It’s no secret that funerals are expensive. Even in death, we incur costs which can be tough for family members who have to make the arrangements.

    Sarah Smith, from Margate, Kent, lost her grandma Mary Dallaway recently and Sarah was left to sort out the flowers.

    Though prices often vary for floral arrangements, depending on the style you want, the more intricate ones tend to be very pricey.

    Wanting the best for her beloved grandma, Sarah decided to make her own floral wreath with the word ‘nan’, using her favourite colours.

    While you can get store-bought ones from the likes of Co-Operative which offers them for upwards of £100, Sarah spent less than £40.

    Sarah, who works as a waitress, bought the lettering from Amazon for £15.99 and flowers and other bits from Aldi to put the colourful look together.

    She shared the finished product on Facebook group Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK group where nearly 10,000 people liked it.

    Funeral flowers cost breakdown

    Nan Funeral Tribute on a Stand from Amazon – £15.99

    Ribbon from Amazon – £2.49 x2

    Pins from Amazon – £2.49

    Chrysanthemums from Aldi – £2.59 x6

    And it was all for a good cause as Sarah and the family decided to save money on the funeral so they could donate costs to a Parkinson’s Disease charity.

    Grandmother Mary had passed away after having the condition for six years so it was important to Sarah to honour the people at the charity who supported her grandparents.

    Sarah told Metro.co.uk: ‘I think it was more personal doing it myself I could add the colours that’s she loved.

    Picture of grandmother Mary
    Mary always loved purple (Picture: Sarah Smith)

    ‘Florists were charging upwards of £100 I know she wouldn’t have wanted me to spend that on flowers. I enjoyed doing it and think she would have loved it as my grandad Roy does.

    ‘I would definitely encourage more people to do this, it also takes your mind off things at a difficult time. I feel proud that I did it for her and I’ll always have that memory.’

    To learn how to put it all together, Sarah watched videos on YouTube.

    She said: ‘I decided I’d have a white border filled with coloured flowers. My nan’s favourite colour was purple so I was lucky with the colours they had at the time.

    ‘I attached the ribbon in advance so all I had to do on the morning of the funeral was fill the oasis with water and then place the flowers in how I wanted them. It only took around an hour to fill them.’

    A useful trick when you don’t want to spend a fortune on a funeral.

    MORE: Frugal couple spend just £70 on both their wedding dresses to save money for a house

    MORE: Teen wore her mum’s 20-year-old wedding dress to prom to save money

    MORE: Mum reveals how bulk buying allows her to feed family of four for 76p per meal


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    A bowl of spaghetti bolognese on a colourful background
    Munch on pasta, pizza, cured meats, cheese, olive oil and more (Picture: Getty)

    If Italian food makes you go weak at the knees, sit yourself down because we have big news.

    Eataly, the international marketplace and franchise of Italian cuisine, has finally decided to open up a flagship food hall in London.

    The 42,000 sq ft site is located in Broadgate and will open in 2020, though the exact date is yet to be confirmed.

    Munch on pasta, pizza, gelato, smoked cheese, cured meats and olive oil in myriads of restaurants and bars, or pop into the on-site production laboratory.

    There’s also a cooking school, for those who want to learn how to make arancini balls, get the creamy risotto just right or take their spag bol to the next level.

    For inspiration, take a course, sign up for a guided tasting event or watch the chefs work their magic.

    Eataly already has 40 stores across the globe, including its home country, as well as New York City, Munich and Stockholm, to mention a few.

    ‘Eataly’s original idea is very simple,’ a statement from the company sent to Eater reads.

    ‘To gather all the high-quality Italian foods under one roof, where you can eat, shop and learn.’

    The food hall will be modelled after London’s Borough Market, but will only feature items and dishes from Italy, and will embody the friendly, lively atmosphere that the country is known for.

    In addition to dining, you will also be able to purchase food products to take home and recipe books to work off from.

    Next year can’t come soon enough.

    MORE: Cheese lovers prepare yourselves for Lidl’s festival with prices from £1.49

    MORE: How to order a free puppuccino for your dog at Starbucks

    MORE: Vegans rejoice, you can once again drink steins and eat bratwurst in October


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    The new milk and white version of Lindt Lindor chocolate balls
    The new milk and white version (Picture: Getty/Lindt)

    Lindt is launching a new flavour of Lindor chocolates and honestly, we can’t wait to have these under the tree this Christmas.

    The limited-edition chocolates include the delicious Lindt chocolate shell with a creamy white chocolate truffle centre.

    Of course, white chocolate Lindor balls have been around for a while but this time it’s the mix of both milk and white that makes them special.

    The new flavour, which is just for the festive season, comes in a 200g box.

    The website for the Swiss chocolate brand says: ‘This Christmas, indulge in Lindor Milk with White truffles – delicious Lindt milk chocolate enrobing delectably smooth white centres.

    ‘Perfect for sharing, entertaining and gift giving.’

    We’ll probably just keep them all for ourselves, to be honest.

    If you want to pick up a packet, they are currently on offer at Tesco for £4.

    The chocolates were spotted by uknewfood on Instagram and people were excited to try them.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B28-dunnMAS/

    One tagged a friend and said: ‘please get me these’.

    Lindt isn’t the only chocolate brand embracing white chocolate this year.

    In August, we revealed that Malteasers is releasing a white chocolate version of their truffles.

    And in Septemeber, Cadbury launched a whole new white chocolate range, featuring white chocolate bars, giant buttons and Freddo Treasures.

    The range is only available at Asda but it looks great.

    Other big white chocolate releases in 2019 include Coco Pops and Twix.

    It’s really been a big year for fans of the creamy stuff.

    MORE: Woman spends just £39 on home-made funeral flower arrangements for nan

    MORE: Woman hears banging and thinks she’s being burgled – but it’s just her brother opening a Terry’s Chocolate Orange


    Lindor milk and white chocolate ballsLindor milk and white chocolate balls

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    Londoners Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth are seen enjoying their big day as they hos the first Bollywood wedding - at Disneyland Paris. See SWNS story SWSCdisney. A couple exchanged vows in the first Bollywood wedding at Disneyland Paris - and even had their first dance with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Varun Bhanot, 29, and Anisha Seth, 29, both from London tied the knot in a spectacular two-day bash which looked just like a Bollywood film. They exchanged vows in a midnight ceremony outside the iconic castle in Disneyland Paris, cementing their civil union, and later had another Hindu ceremony by the theme park's lake. The Disney-mad couple shared their first dance with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Goofie was on hand dancing to bhangra at the elaborate do.
    Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth had what is said to be the first Bollywood wedding at Disneyland (Picture: Rashpal / SWNS)

    A Disney-mad couple decided to add a bit of their Indian heritage to their wedding.

    Varun Bhanot, 29, and Anisha Seth, 29, didn’t just opt for a Bollywood-themed wedding though, they had a Bollywood-themed wedding at Disneyland Paris.

    And in doing so they are said to be the first couple to bring Indian cinema to the magical kingdom in Paris.

    The couple even had their first dance with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

    They exchanged vows in a midnight ceremony outside the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle castle, cementing their civil union, and later had another Hindu ceremony by the theme park’s lake.

    Of course, they wanted to mark the occasion with a bit of traditional dance so Goofy was on hand, dancing to some bhangra music.

    And if you thought their wedding was extra, their proposal was even more elaborate.

    Varun proposed last year after whisking Anisha away on a helicopter ride – and popped the question with a crop circle in a field of wheat. As you do.

    Bride Anisha seen in her traditional dress outside Disneyland Paris
    ‘Bollywood meets Disney’ (Picture: Rashpal / SWNS)

    On the big day, 350 guests sat down to a banquet inspired by Aladdin, where Middle Eastern and Indian food was served.

    In typical Bollywood fashion, the bride wore four dresses, including a traditional white wedding gown and colourful lehengas (Indian style crop top and skirts).

    Anisha, whose favourite Disney films are Cinderella and the Lion King, described the day as their ‘happy ever after’.

    She said: ‘It was amazing but tiring, and I know our guests had a great time. I think it was definitely one of those things that you know has never been done.

    Londoners Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth are seen enjoying their big day as they host the first Bollywood wedding
    The couple exchanged vows in a midnight ceremony outside the iconic castle in Disneyland Paris (Picture: Rashpal / SWNS)

    ‘People just enjoy the magic of the place. When we went on the rides, it was nice to see all the children enjoying the Disney magic.

    The London-based couple, who share a background in events organising and also run a charity together, spent nearly a year planning the wedding.

    Varun said: ‘It was quite something, we wanted something really different. It was really quite magical.

    ‘The idea was Bollywood meets Disney.’

    Their plans for the big day included prior trips to Disneyland to organise the whole thing.

    But they were prepared to put in the work. Even during the proposal, Varun asked a farmer to write ‘Anisha, marry me?’ on a field of wheat which could be seen from the sky at 200 feet.

    Londoners Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth during their Hindu ceremony at Disneyland
    They had a Hindu ceremony too (Picture: Rashpal / SWNS)

    Internet entrepreneur Varun added: ‘Paris is the city of love – that all played into the idea. We have been Disney fans for years.’

    The wedding was estimated to cost tens of thousands of pounds, but the couple, who have been together for five years, said that Disneyland Paris chipped in to subsidise it.

    Londoners Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth are seen enjoying their big day as they hos the first Bollywood wedding - at Disneyland Paris. See SWNS story SWSCdisney. A couple exchanged vows in the first Bollywood wedding at Disneyland Paris - and even had their first dance with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Varun Bhanot, 29, and Anisha Seth, 29, both from London tied the knot in a spectacular two-day bash which looked just like a Bollywood film. They exchanged vows in a midnight ceremony outside the iconic castle in Disneyland Paris, cementing their civil union, and later had another Hindu ceremony by the theme park's lake. The Disney-mad couple shared their first dance with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Goofie was on hand dancing to bhangra at the elaborate do.
    The Disney-mad couple shared their first dance with Mickey and Minnie Mouse (Picture: Rashpal / SWNS)

    Wedding packages at the resort are advertised on the Disneyland Paris website as costing between €32,000 (£28,406) and €55,000 (£48,824).

    The hectic weekend also featured a Moulin Rouge-themed disco and partying went on until 3 am.

    We can only imagine what they have in store for the honeymoon.

    Please enjoy all the glorious pictures of the spectacular wedding:

    Londoners Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth singing on their wedding day
    They had plenty of song choices to belt to (Picture: Rashpal / SWNS)
    Londoners Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth arrive at their wedding in pink convertible
    The bride changed outfits four times (Picture: Rashpal / SWNS)
    Londoners Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth are seen cutting the cake
    A true fairy tale wedding (Picture: Rashpal / SWNS)
    Londoners Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth dancing on their wedding at Disneyland Paris
    Prince Charming goes Bollywood (Picture: Rashpal / SWNS)

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    MORE: Indian-Pakistani lesbian couple get married – with one bride wearing a sari and the other a sherwani

    MORE: Artist creates embroidery of celebs like Beyoncé and Bollywood stars


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    Illustration of couple lying in bed together, the woman's skin is pink and the man's is orange and the bed is blue
    Some of the colleagues ended up dating (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Sleeping with a colleague is a very common fantasy.

    After all, many of us meet our future partners through work, so it makes sense that we would get freaky with them.

    As we know, sex doesn’t always end in love. It can be incredibly awkward (especially if the sex was bad) and then you’re forever stuck in the same space as Peter, who you shagged during a work outing or Leslie, who gave you a blowjob at the Christmas party.

    Beyond being a cringe-worthy moment, it can also make for a very funny story – which is exactly why we asked eight people to share their experiences. Here’s what they told us.

    Anna*, 24

    My colleague had tried to get with me a couple of times and I was like nah mate, not my type.

    Anyway, I’d just handed in my notice and he was doing a charity boxing match.

    Turns out boxing really turns me on (even though he lost) so we went out after and hooked up.

    I was too embarrassed to bring him home so we went back to his. He kept warning me that the sex would be really disappointing (charming, right?).

    It was in fact terrible. We tried again the next morning but it was still awful and our boss called him halfway through.

    When I left I patted him on the shoulder and said ‘at least boxing wasn’t the only thing you were shit at this weekend’.

    Alana*, 22

    Louisa*, 24

    I was a bartender and we had a delayed Christmas party in January.

    The managers closed down the bar and let us go wild on raiding the stock (which they ended up regretting). We were playing very stupid drinking games and I was spending a lot of time goofing around with my colleague.

    Because we were totally trashed and fawning all over each other, the other people at my work started making jokes about how we were flirting and were definitely going to hook up. They meant to embarrass us but it actually put the idea in our heads, because I was not thinking about that until they said it.

    Without saying much we went into the disabled loos and banged it out while everyone else continued playing drunk musical chairs.

    We thought we were geniuses for choosing to do it during a game with loud music, but of course the music stops intermittently because that’s the point of the game.

    Everyone I worked with heard me get loudly banged over a sink.

    Sally*, 25

    I had a sexual relationship with a colleague while we were filming abroad.

    I hadn’t met him before – he was a freelancer – but we hit it off immediately and ended up spending every evening together.

    We kept it as our little secret for the first night, but apparently we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other, so the rest of the team figured it out pretty quickly. For me it was just a bit of fun, but by the end of the trip it became apparent that he would have further reaching consequences than me.

    As a freelancer he said they probably wouldn’t hire him again, as he was a fair bit older than me and it could be portrayed that he pursued me (not the case at all, I pursued him).

    It ended the minute we landed back in the UK.

    Lars*, 29

    It was basically five years in the making.

    I met her at work and we were on and off for years, but finally got together seriously this year.

    We’re expecting a baby in 2020.

    Susanna*, 30

    So we’d been flirting for months and kissed once while drunk at a work thing.

    Then, one evening during the summer I was working late so was alone in the office and he came in. We flirted, then he kissed me and we got carried away but there were these huge windows and I was like ‘everyone can see us’, so we went upstairs where there was a shower room in one of the bathrooms and did the nasty there.

    He stayed to do a night shift and I went out to a comedy night with a friend.

    We snogged again at Christmas, but he went home early and I stayed out. I still get 6am booty calls from him (but who can be bothered at 6 am, right?).

    Steffan*, 34

    We just used to flirt a bit, but one night things escalated.

    It was during an after work thing, and we ended up doing lots of drugs, so I stayed at her house.

    The sex was messy – the good kind – with dirty foreplay, but it was also a bit emotional.

    I left the next day, feeling super confused.

    It was awkward for a couple of weeks, I was a little bit into her but it didn’t go anywhere. The good sex disillusioned me into thinking my heart was telling me things, but it was very much my dick.

    *Names have been changed.

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    Golden retriever lying on a bed, with a blanket over his head and a happy expression
    Good boys and girls will be in with a chance to become ‘furrfluencers’ (Picture: Getty)

    If you are the lucky owner of a particularly good boy or girl (who are we kidding, dogs/”>all dogs are amazing), why not put your pooch forward for the job of a lifetime?

    Snaptrip, a marketplace for last-minute cottage getaways, is offering two dogs the chance to review cottages across the UK – and get paid for it.

    The ‘furrfluencers’ as they will be known, will embark on journeys to 10 dog-friendly properties in Cornwall, Wales and the Lake District over 12 months.

    Once they arrive, the pooches will get the chance to try all the doggy features, as well as visit the local area.

    Each property will be judged on ‘dog enjoyment, dog practicality, access to local walks and dog-friendly establishments like pubs and garden spaces’, according to Snaptrip’s job description.

    Their humans will score a free holiday with all expenses paid, but are responsible for sending in a review of at least 500 words, to be shared on the company’s blog.

    They will also need to take some Insta-worthy photos that any furrfluencer would be proud to have on their account.

    In addition to staying in hotels for free, the dogs will be paid £300 per review – to be spent on treats and tennis balls, obviously.

    So, how can your dog become a furrfluencer?

    All you need to do is submit a form on Snaptrip’s website and answer the big question: Why should your dog be Snaptrip’s furrfluencer?

    You’ll also need to provide some basic details, such as the age of your dog, and describe his/her character and interests.

    If your pup doesn’t get the job, you could always treat them to a puppucino at Starbucks as a consolation prize.

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    MORE: Yorkshire Terrier and hedgehog become best friends and help their owner tackle anxiety


    Happy smiling young golden retriever dog under light gray plaid. Pet warms under a blanket in cold winter weather. Pets friendly and care concept.Happy smiling young golden retriever dog under light gray plaid. Pet warms under a blanket in cold winter weather. Pets friendly and care concept.

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